During the summer 38 sixth form pupils had the opportunity to undergo a 25 day expedition to Bolivia and Peru to embrace the culture, work with orphaned children and trek the Ausangate Circuit.
The team began their expedition visiting Copacabana and taking a boat to Isla del Sol, a beautiful barren island that sits upon a lake. The island is home to small communities with no paved roads or cars and was the perfect place to aid their acclimatisation. The group trekked from one end of the island to the other and camped along the beach with views of the Cordillera Real. Head boy Charles Longson said:
The experience made me want to travel when I’m older. It was an eye opener and gave me a different outlook on life. They’re not as reliant on technology. It was life changing.”
Following their stay on the island, the pupils travelled to Cusco where they spent four days working with the local community. They took part in projects which benefit the influx of tourism to the local area and experienced a glimpse into the Andean culture.
The team camped near hot springs and glacier-fed multi-coloured lakes as they began the Ausangate circuit. Their route took them among herds of llamas and alpacas in remote indigenous Quechua villages as they trekked up to Abra Campo at an impressive 5,068 metres.
Their next visit was to Machu Picchu. After climbing all 1,700 steps the pupils spent the day in the mountains walking around the Incan citadel.
Upper sixth pupil Jordon Kong described the life changing experience:
Beforehand I knew it would be an unbelievable experience so I prepared myself to enjoy every minute of my time whilst I was there. There were many wonderful moments, the freedom to explore the towns like true travellers and see the contrasting cultures was amazing. Sandboarding and dune buggying in Huacachina is definitely up there in my list of top days, as we chilled and enjoyed the barbecue with the local dune buggy drivers before sleeping round the campfire under the stars. Spending a month travelling with the group gave me the unique chance to bond with friends. Being able to share our adventure and experiences with one another made the holiday more enjoyable and memorable. I truly believe that by the end we became a family with the trust and care we shared on this expedition. My favourite experiences were playing football with the local children, despite not being able to fluently communicate in English or Spanish other than the odd cry of ‘gol’ we connected through our shared passion for football. I have developed my cooperative and listening skills when working as a team throughout this adventure.
Travelling back toward the Pacific coast, the group spent a day relaxing in Huacachina, an oasis in the desert surrounded by spectacular landscapes before enjoying a final team meal to celebrate their accomplishments. Head of life studies Alex Ehegartner said:
A trip of this nature is a life changing experience. We offer a trip like this to the pupils because it helps them prepare for their adult life. It has been 2 years in the planning and the pupils are the ones who set the itinerary and run the trip. It is not a holiday, yet an opportunity to learn about other cultures, basic travel skills, independence, budgeting and a chance to push themselves to the limit. I am extremely proud of this group of individuals and they were a pleasure to work with.