This summer 21 students and staff from CRGS Sixth Form took part in a conservation expedition to the wilds of South Africa with Operation Wallacea.
On arrival at Oliver Tambo Aiport, Johannesburg we boarded our transfer to Balule Game Reserve, in the Greater Kruger area. Arriving at the game reserve at around six that evening the group gathered to listen to a camp briefing, an interesting activity even though we had just travelled for 34 hours! However the promise of warm home-cooked food by the camp chef, Ben, soon lifted everyone’s spirits and we slept that night, excited as to what we would be doing over the next few days.
For the next week we spent our time split between fieldwork, both on vehicles and on foot in the Bushveld and lectures back at the main camp. We managed to pack a lot into the week, including encounters with four of ‘The Big Five’, insect anatomy practicals and even a night telling stories around a fire and sleeping out in the Bush at the rudimentary Bush Camp. Here we learned of the numerous encounters the guides have had with the local wildlife, many of which sounded interesting to say the least, including stand-offs with lions and being charged by an elephant.
After a week we paid an emotional farewell to the OpWall and guiding staff at Balule by means of a series of presentations using powerpoints, acting, comedy and even a poem/rap!
After departing Balule at 05:00 the following morning we left for Sodwana Bay, an exhausting 13 hours away! However upon arrival the tiredness soon left us as we began preparing for the week of exciting diving that awaited us. Over the next 7 days we enjoyed a variety of diving, both Scuba and snorkelling, on the reefs of Sodwana Bay, in the Western Indian Ocean. These included encounters with turtles, dolphins, moray eels and sharks to name a few!
After our last week on the expedition we were sad to be leaving. The natural beauty of South Africa and the hospitality of the people, many of whom lived in relative poverty by our standards, only heightened everyone’s feeling of appreciation.
Thank you to all staff, both at OpWall and Clitheroe Royal Grammar School for a trip to remember.