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Trek through the Atlas Mountains

When 20 King’s pupils signed up for the school’s spirit of adventure trek through the Atlas mountains , they might have expected breathtaking scenery and all the camaraderie of a British overseas expedition. What they would not have been dreaming of was to be woken by a herd of wild camels licking their faces and having to smash the ice off their tents before breaking camp.  But when you are 10,000 feet up in the mountains, and a day’s walk away from power, water and sanitation - you’ve got to expect the unexpected.

During October half term, under the expert guidance of chemistry teacher and qualified expedition leader Jim Street , 13 girls and 7 boys embarked on a four day, 60 km trek through the Atlas Mountains from the ancient city of Marrakech to Jebel Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa skirting the edge of the Sahara .

Jim said: “We slept outside in the desert where wandering camels were more of a danger than snakes and scorpions. A number of students jumped clean out of their sleeping bags when they were woken by wild camels licking their cheeks. We weren’t worried by the scorpions and snakes, it was sandstorms and grumpy camels that caught our attention.”  

He added: “The teenagers walked from village to village meeting local Berber school children and teaching some English in the schools as they went. The day to day running of the trip was managed by the students who arranged transport, food, accommodation and guides. They had to shop and barter for food in the souks of Marrakech as well as bartering for places to eat meals, speaking French and pigeon English.”  When you also consider that to earn their passage, they have all been fundraising for a year, this trip really is about encouraging self-reliance, initiative and a spirit of adventure.”

This is the fourth time King’s has sent children to Morocco and is the tenth such expedition to take place in the last six years. Their next trip in October 2009 is to Gozo near Malta for which 25 students have signed up to trek around the island and then spend four days learning to scuba dive on the coral reefs that surround the island. Then in July 2010, another 30 students will be going to Borneo for one month trekking, doing conservation work and diving.

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