On Wednesday 25th June fifteen intrepid student explorers from Girvan Academy and two of their teachers Miss Lyn Wilson and Mr Alan Drennan headed off on a near 24 hour journey to reach the Nepali capital of Kathmandu.
After a couple of days sightseeing in Kathmandu to help the group acclimatise to the temperature and altitude they headed off on an eight hour bus journey to reach the beautiful lakeside town of Pokhara which was the start point for the nine day Annapurna Base Camp trek.
The group had several hard days of trekking and some of the group were battling to cope with sickness, fatigue, altitude and really hot conditions but they stuck to schedule and rewarded themselves by staying in a lovely hotel, The Crystal Palace in Pokhara.
After a good nights kip the group were up at 5:30am to get another eight hour bus south to Chitwan National park. Chitwan was incredibly hot with temperatures above 40 degrees celsius and humidity around 65.
They crammed several safari tours into their two day stay there.
There was a guided walk tour where we bumped into Martin Clunes who was filming an endangered animals documentary, a boat tour, a bird watching tour and a two hour elephant back safari. The group saw wild elephant, black rhino, crocodile, deer and warthog. They also visited the elephant breeding centre at Chitwan before another monster nine hour bus journey back to Kathmandu.
After a night in Kathmandu the group headed to the neighbouring town of Bhaktapur to work on the project phase of the expedition.
The group spent five days living and working at the Shree Mahendra school. The school is funded by the Hope Worldwide Foundation which provides education for children that cannot afford to go to state schools.
The Girvan team had to dig ditches which were then filled with large foundation stones. When the foundations were set the group were then tasked with building a perimeter wall around the school to give the security it needs in a fairly rough part of the city. Our 15 students were mixing cement, unloading bricks and laying bricks to get the wall built. They were also tasked with clearing two outbuildings which are then going to be developed into another two classrooms.
Girvan Academy provided the funds to buy the bricks, foundation stones, cement and also paid for the bricklayer who taught the students how to build the wall. When the students were not building the wall they were in the classroom having fun with the students and their teachers. They took part in lessons and taught the kids many songs and dances.
Strong bonds were forged between the Girvan team and the students and staff at the Shree Mahendra school and it was a sad day when we left for Kathmandu for our final day. The group had budgeted really well and stayed in an amazing hotel called the Royal Penguin. The group then went to do some final souvenier shopping and more importantly have a wash after five days of hard graft!
The Girvan Nepal team would like to thank all the local businesses and individuals who contributed towards our fundraising for this expedition which started in September 2012. The group would not have managed to have this life changing experience without the support of the Girvan community.