I have recently signed up as an Expedition Leader for World Challenge, a UK-based company which sends groups of young people on Expeditions to exciting destinations across the globe.
As a Leader, my role is one of ensuring the safety of the group, while the students, or Challengers, organise all details such as budget, transport, food and accommodation. This provides fantastic experiential learning opportunities in spheres such as teamwork, decision-making and cross-cultural understanding.
The Expeditions consist of various phases such as: Acclimatization, Project, Trekking, and Rest ‘n’ Relaxation. What follows are some highlights of the Trekking phase in the Western Ghat mountains. This spectacular range stretch the length of India, and in the South divides the tropical Kerala state in the West, from the semi-desert of Tamil Nadu in the East.
The terrain consists of high peaks up to 2000m, with dense canopy forest in the valleys. Under the canopy the undergrowth has been replaced by cardamom, pepper and coffee plantations. Kerala is the heart of the Indian Spice-lands.
The trekking (hiking) is generally not too demanding, but dealing with the blood-sucking leeches takes nerves of steel! The other major challenge is the heat and humidity. The temperature is only in the mid 20’s, but the air is thick and moist, so the sweat rolls freely. Once up on the high peaks however, there are cool breezes and awesome views to restore your energy. the trek was very ably supported by Kalypso Adventures, an outdoor adventure company based in Cochi.
This was a training Expedition for me, and I received excellent advice from Phil Kennedy, who is a UK based outdoor instructor and guide, and a veteran of eight World Challenge Expeditions.
In June 2013 I will return to India to lead my own Expedition with Rustenburg Girls High School from Cape Town. This is a great new phase of my career which promises many rewarding experiences!