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World Challenge - Chile 2011

During the month of August 2011, twelve students from Fulston Manor School enjoyed the experience of a lifetime when they took part in a month long expedition to Chile.  The school participates in the scheme run by World Challenge, a company specialising in co-ordinating expeditions for young people with destinations across the globe.  During an 18 month period the students raise funds through a series of carefully planned events and prepare themselves for expedition life.  In order to raise the total this year the team’s activities included hosting jazz evenings, car washing for local businesses and running a night of Chilean cuisine at the school.  As the date of departure grew nearer, the team faced new challenges, preparing an extensive kit list ready for expedition life and participating in a training weekend in subzero temperatures in Epping Forest.

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Eventually the build-up came to an end and the group finally departed for Chile.  Despite missed flight connections and lengthy bus journeys, the team braved the bustle of Santiago’s streets before setting off to the lofty peaks of Chile’s Elqui valley.  The team camped under the clearest skies in the world and endured a surprise night-time earthquake before ascending to near-frozen lakes at a height of 3500 metres.  Following this trekking phase the students headed west to the unspoilt coastline around Punta de Choros for another stretch of trekking under the warm breezes brought in by the Pacific Ocean.  Sightings of penguins, sea-lions, and a plethora of sea-bird life was enjoyed on a remote island off the coast before the group headed north through Chile’s expansive Atacama desert.  In the town of San Pedro the group began the voluntary phase of the expedition.  Working even during dust storms whipped up by the aggressive desert winds, the group dug nearly a mile of irrigation ditches at a local high school, bringing vital water to arid crops.  After more trekking and sand-boarding experiences in the ‘Lunar Valley’ the team headed north to the Bolivian border and the Lauca National Park.  Here altitudes of 5000 metres were traversed as the students viewed the world’s highest lake, ascended a volcano and watched alpaca graze on the vast Atacaman plateau. 

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From here it was a long return trip to Santiago for a range of fine cuisine and well-earned relaxation time before heading home.  Emotional reunions took place at Heathrow airport and photos were discussed and exchanged before all of the team settled back into their home lives and studies at Fulston Manor School.   

To see a full selection of photographs from the expedition please visit our Chile 2011 Gallery.