Sun Destinations recently supported Campfire Academy’s fundraising initiative in aid of the Wild Bird Trust (WBT). The initiative involved an arduous trek to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro, combined with a tour of popular safari destinations in Africa. The logos of the trust and a select few projects were displayed on a banner that travelled with the adventurous team. The #Camp2Kili students from Campfire Academy were part of the crew that tackled the famous route up Kili. The Academy decided that the #Camp2Kili students should climb for a cause (WBT being the cause), which is how the Two Birds One Mountain idea was born.
Who is Campfire Academy?
We are a conservation training centre from Hoedspruit in Limpopo, South Africa. We train nature guides and conservation workers, facilitate academic internships for students of the natural and environmental sciences, and conduct educational volunteer programmes and learning holidays.
We believe that the students, beneficiaries and lovers of nature should be among the first to take responsibility for conserving the places and systems that play such an important role in our education and our livelihood. We realised that the Kilimanjaro trek scheduled during our Camp2Kili Overland training tour held in its scale and visibility a powerful opportunity to meet that responsibility.
What is #Camp2Kili?
Every year we conduct an overland nature guide training programme. This year we went big and toured from Hoedspruit, South Africa to Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. The tour culminated in a trek to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro.
What is #TwoBirdsOneMountain?
We decided that we should climb for a cause. We selected the Wild Bird Trust and their research projects in the Okavango Delta after seeing the documentary film Into The Okavango. We want to volunteer our Camp2Kili students and travellers to act as fundraisers for the WBT. On behalf of the Trust, we would like to engage people, businesses or organisations and motivate them to make financial contributions in aid of the project.
Why the Wild Bird Trust?
We recognise the ecological and socio-economic significance of the Trust’s work, as exemplified in initiatives like the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project. We understand the need for scientific investigation that can inform sensible and sustainable conservation policies and actions. We appreciate what needs to be invested to conduct such investigations and we stand in sheer admiration of the commitment and determination that drives the WBT. Campfire Academy strives to instill in its students and visitors the same values of scientific curiosity and environmental custodianship evident in the work of the WBT. We believe that we stand to gain as much as we give through this initiative when we consider the opportunity to participate and learn
Details of the Adventurous #TwoBirdsOneMountainTour
The core group was:
- Laetitia Cronjé (RSA)- Campfire Chairperson, Co-founder & Principal Trainer
- Ludwig Spies (RSA) – Campfire Marketing & Communications, Campfire Graduate & Campaign Lead
- Emmeline Le Brun (FRANCE) – Campfire Graduate & Tour Logistics Support
- Karen Bongrain (FRANCE/HONG KONG) – Campfire Graduate & current Campfire volunteer (signed up for further learning)
- Marie-Hortense Vincent (FRANCE) – Campfire Graduate (signed up for further learning) & Drone Photographer
- Paul Swanepoel (RSA) – Campfire Graduate (signed up for further learning)
- Laurence Forget-Lacoursière (CANADA) – current FGASA Student & former Campfire academic intern
- Gina Backman (SWEDEN) – current FGASA Student & former Campfire academic intern
- David (UK) and Simona Allen (ITALY), former Campfire students, met up with us at Elephant Sands in Botswana, and travelled with us to the Tanzanian border. For the Kilimanjaro trek we were joined by : Eduard Cronjé (RSA): Campfire Camp & Facilities Manager, Christopher Schoeman (RSA): Campfire Trails Guide Mentor, Jake Searle (USA): Campfire graduate, Sarah Molesky (USA): previous Campfire visitor, Carolyne Devens (USA): Campfire friend and Craig Webber (RSA): Campfire friend.
Where Did You Go?
Our journey took us through 7 countries (South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania & Mozambique) along the following route:
NORTHBOUND: Hoedspruit (RSA) – Planet Baobab & Makgadikgadi Salt Pan (BOT) – Okavango Delta (BOT) – Elephant Sands (BOT) – Vic Falls (ZIM) – Mana Pools (ZIM) – Lusaka (ZAM) – South Luangwa (ZAM) – Kande Beach (MAL) – Arusha (TAN) – Kilimanjaro (TAN)
SOUTHBOUND: Arusha (TAN) – Kande Beach (MAL) – Gorongosa (MOZ) – Vilanculos (MOZ) – Tofo (MOZ) – Letaba & Satara, KNP (RSA) – Hoedspruit (RSA)
What did you do along the way?
Planet Baobab & Makgadikgadi: camped at Planet Baobab, home of the ‘Kalahari Surf Club’, famous for its giant baobabs; trailed a meerkat colony in the grassland surrounding the salt pan; explored the salt pan on quad bikes and spent a moonlit night in the pan.
Okavango Delta: met with representatives of The Wild Bird Trust in Maun before we headed into the Delta; 4-night mokoro safari in the Delta; bush walks.
Elephant Sands: camped one night at this desert oasis that attracts elephants from many miles away; elephants march through the camp to reach the water and drink mere metres away from the restaurant, bar and pool area.
Vic Falls: visited the Falls and walked along the gorge trail; sunset cruise on the Zambezi.
Mana Pools: camped on the banks of the Zambezi; birdwatching, bushwalks and game drives.
South Luangwa: camped on the banks of the Luangwa River; game drives and bushwalks in South Luangwa National Park.
Kande Beach: camped on the shores of Lake Malawi; travelled alongside the Lake to Tanzania.
Arusha: camped at the legendary overland spot Meserani Snake Park, our departure point to Kilimanjaro.
Kilimanjaro: trekked to the summit via the Machame Route.
Gorongosa: visited Gorongosa National Park; game drive; toured the ecological research labs (herbarium, zoology collections, genetics and molecular systematics labs).
Vilanculos: visited Bazaruto National Park (Bazaruto & Benguerra Islands); snorkelled and viewed dugongs.
Kruger National Park: camped at Letaba and Satara; game drives.