World challenge expeditions

World Challenge offers Vandyke Upper School students the opportunity to go on an overseas expedition and an experience of a lifetime. It teaches them life skills, stretches their comfort zones and expands their minds outside the classroom.


World Challenge trip to India - July 2016

On the 23rd of July ten students from Vandyke embarked on a World Challenge expedition to Kerala in southern India for two weeks.

On our adventure we took part in a project over three days at a tribal school in a very rural area. Whilst we were there we helped build a kitchen for the school, including buying the materials, and we also painted the inside of the school, making it look brighter and more of a learning environment for the children of the village.

On our last day in the village the community gave us an amazing farewell as they took out all their musical instruments and everyone was dancing and singing together. For me this was my favourite moment of the whole trip, as it was when we were most engaged with the community, where we had got involved and helped to make their lives better, just by doing the simple things.

The next part of the trip was a four day long trek through the Munar Mountains. We walked an average of 12km a day, through all sorts of terrain, including the depths of the jungle. This was the most challenging phase for a lot of us, however we all worked amazingly as a team. We encouraged each other to continue and finish together, which we managed to do on the last day, making us all so proud of what we had achieved.

On our last day before we travelled home, we used our remaining money that we had saved throughout the project to explore the backwaters of Kerala. Lucy Aguilar, Beth Young, Kate Stiles, and Rosie McDiarmid went on a river boat and the rest of us went kayaking along the backwaters; Beth Hill, Michael Carter, Poppy Barrett, Niamh Jones, Daisy Molyneaux, Tess Bettle, and Mrs Green.

The views in India were stunning, it has created memories that I will never forget. I would encourage anyone who is thinking of taking part in World Challenge to do so, as I have gained experiences and friends who I would never have thought I would be friends with without opportunities like this.

Beth Hill


World Challange trip to Malawi - July 2015

After twelve hours of flying and two flights later, we arrived in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi where the cars and buses wouldn’t have passed an MOT test in England! The following day we were taken to Blantyre where we would stay for the next week helping out at the school and orphanage.

When we arrived at the orphanage in pitch black, all we could hear were screams and laughs of children: it was the most moving moment of my life. During this phase of the expedition, we taught lessons at the school; brought school books and teacher books; taught the orphans basic skills such as IT and Geography through an inflatable globe and celebrated our leaving with a party at the end where the orphans had put together a choir and sang beautifully to us.

On the trek, we climbed 2,600 metres and brought eight of the orphans with us! This made the six day trek much more exciting as both cultures came together. We experienced waterfall swimming, sleeping in huts and having showers in a bucket! One day, we saw the most amazing sunset on the mountain where we were able to see the river leading into Mozambique. On day 5, everybody made it to the peak which was an achievement in itself.

Next up was the Rest and Relaxation phase. We went on safari for two days, where we saw elephants swimming in the river and crocodiles and hippos swimming.


For the final part of the expedition, we took a boat ride on Lake Malawi where we circled a small island. For our final meal, we ate out and it was luxury - despite our accommodation still being tents!
After three weeks and the experience of a lifetime completed, it was finally time to fly home.

Stephanie Dawson
Year 13 student



World Challenge trip to Morocco - Easter 2014

During the Easter holidays 30 students from Vandyke went on an adventure of a lifetime as travelled to Morocco for two weeks. They undertook a challenging expedition in the Atlas Mountains with breath-taking views and carried out some voluntary work at a school where they had the opportunity to live and experience community life as a Moroccan. They also had chance to experience Marrakech with its bustling souks.




Team 1

Over the last year we've been building up to our World Challenge expedition to Morocco, which took place between  5th-18th April. World Challenge is more than a 2 week trip; it’s a year long process. It’s a challenge at every stage of this process, from fundraising to team building to vaccinations.

We landed in Casablanca and had a very quick change of plane to head to Marrakech and the Hotel Farouk, where we spent our first night.  The next day we travelled to our project at the Moulay Zidane Primary School in the walled city of Taroudant. We split into several teams to focus on key areas for improvement in the school. One team built a bike shed, one team were responsible for re-painting a wall of murals, another team were responsible for improving the sports facilities in the school and the other team replaced broken glass and doors around the school. These fairly easy sounding tasks were made incredibly difficult by the language barrier in Morocco, the lack of quality materials available and the lack of tools!

We travelled up into the mountains by minibus to the Gite D’Etapes at 1690 metres. The small mountain village was a complete contrast to Taroudant and the big tourist attractions!  In the mountains we shared our gite with a local family and the expedition support team.

The challenging aspects of the trip were endless: making a budget, the language barrier, altitude, staying healthy and hygienic, teamwork and the culture shock. The smallest challenges seemed like the biggest ones to us, a prime example of this is having to live out of a backpack, purifying all our water and having to go without a shower for four days!

Before we ventured to Morocco our team was made up of people who hardly knew each other. During the course of the trip we all bonded incredibly well and the banter within the team will be our abiding memory of the trip of a lifetime!  What makes a trip like this are the people, and we can safely say that was the case here.

Team 1 would like to thank Mrs Green for all her hard work and commitment to organising extra curricular activities at Vandyke. She worked tirelessly to ensure that we all had the trip of a lifetime!

Matt Nash and Joe Davies 

Team 2

I was lucky to be selected to go to Morocco for the World Challenge Expedition with 27 other students from Vandyke over the Easter holidays. Each of us had to fundraise in order to go.

On arrival in Marrakesh, we split into two groups.  I was in a group of 15, which included Miss Gibbs, Mrs Gouldsbrough and JR, our World Challenge leader.  The first half of our trip was taken up with our project.  Our challenge was to paint a classroom in a Women and Children’s centre. Whist  we redecorated the children’s classroom we stayed at the association. We were also taken on daily  cultural visits which included going to a local artist’s gallery, garden, museum, market, Berber tea house, festival and Hamman (steam room).  On our last day we were given a great send off by the women and children who performed a show, dancing and singing for us.

The second half of our trip saw us trekking through the Jebel Sahro Mountains and camping each night.  We had lots of fun while we were walking, even though it was a very challenging hike every day.

Our last night was spent in Marrakesh in the Hotel Ali.  We had a meeting on the roof top where we met up with Team 1 and exchanged stories.  The view from the top across the souks was fabulous.

We were allowed to go to markets where we bartered for items with the locals.  In the evening  the trip was rounded off with a full Moroccan meal and then a little more time to soak up the scenes around the main square in Marrakech.

By Poppy Barrett, Year 10


World Challenge trip to Tanzania - July 2013

On the 21st of July 2013, 6 Pupils in years 11 and 12 arrived at school for the one-day build up to their 24 day expedition in Tanzania, East Africa, with the adventure company, World Challenge. The 18-month build up had been strenuous at most due to the considerable amount of fundraising that had to take place. Each member of the team had all fundraised differently, some had done bake sales and others 10k and half marathon run however those with part-time jobs found it easier to raise the money required.

On the 23rd of July the team landed in Dar es Salam the capital on the east coast along with the leader and assistant leader provided by World Challenge. Roles had been established before arrival with tasks designated to each challenger. For example, one person was the designated accountant and in charge of the groups finances while in country, this was extremely important in order to make sure we stuck closely to the budget guideline established by World Challenge.

Arrival in Dar es Salam was more of a ‘culture shock’ than expected. Firstly, we were all amazed by the rules of the road (or lack of them). The streets were bedlam with no sign of lanes, speed limits or basic driving etiquette. Our first nights’ accommodation was fairly basic however looking back we were actually staying in relative luxury compared to what was yet to come...

The expedition was split up into four sections; acclimatisation trek (day 1 – 5), main trek (days 6 – 12), followed then by a one-day safari in the Ruaha National Park (day 13). The project phase lasted from day 14 to 17. Finally we enjoyed two days rest and relaxation before leaving. Day 20 and 21 blurred together into one long 48 hours as we had to do the worst part of the trip; saying goodbye to the country and culture we had all fallen in love with.

Acclimatisation Trek:

We spent two days trekking in the Undzungwa National Park. Day one involved departing from a German owned campsite ironically named ‘Crocodile Camp’ which we think was a ploy to pull in gullible tourists because we didn’t see any crocodiles at all! We then had to cross The Great Ruaha River in a traditional dug-out canoe. We were all nervous of crossing the crocodile-infested river however one challenger, Joe Churchill year 12, was particularly scared. Our first day ended at Msosa campsite; a pleasant bush campsite with a stunning setting in the heart of the National Park. The campsite was unoccupied however we soon got to know the locals (the vervet monkeys when they tried to steal our food and moved noisily above our tent). Day 2 led us on a trek through the blistering heat to a small cave known to the locals as ‘goat cave’, though we only found scorpions and hornets.

Main Trek:

We travelled the length 9 hour bus journey to Mbeya, the second largest city in Tanzania. Our accommodation, which would soon become to feel much like a second home, was the Karibuni Centre – a Swiss-missionary lodge. The first morning of the Trek we met our guide Felix. His attitude, intelligence and personal story was one that will stay with the entire team for the rest of our lives. The trek took us from stunning crater lakes high up in the jungle to volcanic craters and finally to the peak of Mt. Rungwe at 2960m, over double the height of any UK mountain. After 3 days of intense trekking with rucksacks in excess of 15kg, we were looking forward to summiting Rungwe, and taking in the Spectacular views. We should have been able to see Lake Malawi, and all the way to the Zambian border. We saw nothing, as we were so high we were within the cloud-which meant it didn’t stop raining until we left the cloud- 24 hours after the rain had started. The next day we spent looking round Mbeya, recovering after the Trek, and enjoying the sunshine after days of heavy rain and mud.


What you see on Safari is completely based on luck. You could spend a week on Safari and see nothing, or a day and see everything. We were lucky enough to see four out of five of Africa’s ‘Big Five’ (elephants, Buffalo, Lion, Giraffe and Rhino-although we didn’t see the Rhino). We left very early in the morning (Tom nearly froze on the way).


Aside from the Weather, all had gone to plan so far. However that was soon to change. With challengers falling ill it seemed like our team were dropping like flies! We arrived at Msosa two members down, they would later re-join us after being discharged from hospital, but we were determined to make a lasting impact on the village! Day one on project we carried all our gear the 3.6 mile trek through the bush in the blistering midday heat to reach the campsite. There we could rest, regroup, plan and then get up the next day with a game plan! Again, that didn’t quite go to plan. On arrival at the campsite all was well and everyone got cleaned up. As the sun went down it became apparent Tom and Joe were not well and the night ended with Tom being violently ill to say the least. The team was now down to just 4 from 8. With determination still strong within us, the four surviving challengers, plus one returning from hospital, drove to the neighbouring city of Iringa with the challenge of locating over 100 new textbooks for the village school. We succeeded in collecting 95% of the books the school required spending over $550USD of our own fundraised money. The next day the whole team found the energy to make it to the school and be there when the books were presented to some of the students. It was exactly like you see on TV! Kids full of excitement just because westerners had done something for them, it gave you a unique feeling inside one I had certainly never had before to such an extent. After the presentation some of the students lined up to sing us their school song followed by a game of football. We couldn’t help but feel embarrassed as our opposition kept running around in the sun at half time when we had to go and lie down in the shade. Overall I think I can say for most of the team, the project was an extremely rewarding part of the trip and reminded us just how happy the children were even though, in respect to us, they didn’t have much.


To end the trip we, along with other World Challenge groups we had met along the way, descended upon Kippepeo Beach report on the southern beaches around the capital, Dar es Salam. This was an excellent way to end the trip and gave us time to reflect and discuss the experiences we had and all the people we had met along the way. We spent one day snorkelling in the Indian Ocean diving off a local hand-made boat Dhow and on the second we played volleyball against a group of large Lebanese men. It seemed Kippepeo was popular with World Challenge groups as we met three others in our two days there. This was a good time to share stories with other people our age who had been to similar places but at the same time had completely different experiences.




Report by Nick Ryan and Tom Wyatt














World Challenge trip to India - July 2011


worldchallenge1114 students went to Ladak, India on the first World Challenge trip for Vandyke Upper School. Each student had to fund raise over £3,000 which they all did without the help of their parents.

The students undertook some voluntary work where they worked with children of all ages with very severe learning difficulties. They were also asked to complete two projects. The group was split into two and then given a project each to complete. One was to build a Sensory Box and the other was to complete a shelter for the garden, so that the children could play outside.

The students unfortunately were unable to do their expedition due to an injury amongst the group, however all the other students went on day walks and saw some magnificent views as well as villages.

The students also undertook white water rafting and enjoyed an elephant ride in Agra. One of the highlights was a visit to the Taj Mahal. This was the most incredible sight anyone in the party had ever seen.