For two weeks in April 2018, a team of four traversed a route not travelled since #TEP2012, from Soweto to Cape Town, re-visiting towns and projects as well as identifying new collaborators. Read on for a daily recap of the volunteers’ activities!
The EXPEDITION Project 2018
From Soweto to Cape Town, passing through Hoedspruit (Panorama Route), Kruger National Park, St Lucia, Hluhluwe National Park, Drakensberg, Coffee Bay, Chintsa, Natures Bay and Oudtshoorn, our volunteers undertook the Coastal Adventure Route and drove an impressive 4481 km overall!
Day 1, April 14th – Soweto, Johannesburg
Activity: check-in and meet and greet
The EXPEDITION Project 2018 started in Soweto, Johannesburg. The volunteers met during a braai (South African BBQ) at the Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers, a nice place to stay with good food, a cosy and colourful atmosphere and friendly staff. They received goody bags containing a reusable coffee cup (as part of our #rethink campaign), a The EXPEDITION Project t-shirt, a water bottle and detailed information about every day. It was a quiet and pleasant afternoon in which the volunteers got to know each other.
Day 2, April 15th – Soweto, Johannesburg
Activity: tree planting and Soweto cycle tour
Tree planting in the Lebo’s Soweto property was the first charity project that the volunteers undertook, converting a space that used to be a dumpsite into a garden for the community. Each volunteer planted his or her own tree. Wildlands grew these trees as part of their Trees for Life Project. Each tree was grown at a local homestead in the village and bartered for livelihood support.
The volunteers then participated in a Cycle tour of Soweto. It was full of culture, dances, songs, traditional food and drinks, all surrounded with a positive vibe. The guide was passionate about his culture and his history, making the tour fun and interesting. In Soweto, there are people dancing and singing at almost every street corner, who we greeted as we cycled along the streets giving children high fives. After cycling, a delicious traditional meal followed – pap with stew (a local staple diet).
After a well-deserved rest in the afternoon, the volunteers went to the Rosebank Rooftop Market to do some shopping, have a drink and a good time, before returning to Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers for an evening campfire and to enjoy each other’s company.
Day 3, April 16th – Acornhoek and Hoedspruit
Activity: Panorama Route Sightseeing
On the way to Acornhoek, the volunteers drove through the beautiful Panorama Route, with monkeys, ‘God’s window’ viewpoint and potholes. In the evening, the volunteers arrived at Nourish in Acornhoek and met the guide before enjoying dinner and an early night to recharge.
Day 4, April 17th – Acornhoek and Hoedspruit
Activity: volunteering with Protrack Anti Poaching and Nourish
In the morning, the volunteers went to Protrack Anti Poaching Unit to learn about how poachers work and Protrack’s work to prevent poachers behind the scenes.
The volunteers then enjoyed delicious pancakes with a nice view of the ‘Upside Down’ Baobab (a famous tree in this part of South Africa – it looks like its roots are in the air).
At Nourish, the volunteers got a tour and played with the Library Kids, reading them children books, laughing and playing games, which made the kids very happy.
Dinner was spent with the staff of Nourish for a delicious braai (South African BBQ) and an evening around the campfire.
Day 5, April 18th – Kruger National Park
Activity: safari day
The volunteers left early to go to the world famous, Kruger National Park. The sun was rising when they entered Kruger to see buffalos, hyenas, elephants and giraffes. A particular sight was a giraffe carefully approaching a buffalo to drink at the watering-hole side by side.
At night, the volunteers stayed in Kruger overnight in cosy huts and saw a lot of interesting nocturnal animals.
Day 6, April 19th – St Lucia
Activity: drive to the east coast and the Zulu Cultural Village
An early start for our volunteers who drove 7-8 hours to arrive at Veyane ZULU Cultural Village. After a friendly welcome, they headed for a drink in the nearby town. A delicious meal and a party awaited at Zulu Cultural Village that night. They danced outside in a parking area under the rain, met the locals and were even featured on the local radio.
Day 7, April 20th – Hluhluwe
Activity: Hippo and Croc Cruise and Hluhluwe National Park
The Hippo and Croc Cruise was the first stop of the day, on the journey towards Hluhluwe National Park. It was a true east coast experience including sightings of hippo babies and crocodiles along the water, as well as meeting people on the boat.
The volunteers arrived at Hluhluwe in the early afternoon and stopped by at the accommodation, Wildebees Eco-Lodge, before leaving for the National Park to see thirty rhinos, a lion, buffalos and even wild dogs. They saw 4 out of the big 5 in under two hours! At the end of the game drive, they saw three rhinos rolling in the mud.
Day 8, April 21st – Drakensberg
Activity: volunteering morning with Eco-Label
The volunteers woke up surrounded by horses. Some people even had horses in their rooms, this is only possible in South Africa! They left for their next destination – Sani Lodge Backpackers in Drakensberg. On the way, they visited Eco-label, a charity project that educated kids left parentless due to HIV/Aids. Those kids are full of life, they love to sing and dance – they even put on a performance! The founder of the project told the volunteers that the children feel your heart, how you truly love them. What an emotional and blissful day! It was difficult to say goodbye.
Then, after 6-7 hour drive to Drakensberg through beautiful panoramas between the mountains the volunteers enjoyed a meal and a drink around the campfire in the evening, playing cards.
Stay tuned for the recap of the second week, more details on the #TEP2018 route, projects and activities!
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