Plains, Peaks, Rides & Reefs
UWCEA is committed to building on the legacy created by International School Moshi (ISM) and to continuing and developing ISM’s successful 50 year history of running Outdoor Pursuits (OP) opportunities for students.
The Moshi Campus has always been fortunate to have one of the most iconic and challenging hiking landmarks in the world in its backyard. Mt Kilimanjaro, standing at 5895m above sea level, is the highest land-based free-standing mountain in the world and highest mountain on the African continent. It attracts thousands of tourists every year. From the beginning ISM school trips have been taken on this mountain and over the years this has grown into a programme to create a pathway for young students to learn about the challenges and the skills required in mountain hiking. Students start with shorter expeditions to mountains in the Northern Tanzania region, before getting ready for the more demanding hikes.
Arusha Campus is not without its own landmark, albeit lesser known. The campus has Mt Meru, 4566m, as its backdrop and, although a mountain with less altitude than Mt Kilimanjaro, in many ways it is more of a technical hiking challenge. We use this as our Level 4 expedition to prepare students for the rigours of performing at altitude.
Having these amazing landmarks to challenge and push our UWCEA students is not all that we are about! Yes, they are extremely prestigious and demanding challenges, however there is so much more that Tanzania has to offer your child in the pursuit of outdoor enlightenment. As we have moved to join the UWC movement we have recognised the need to diversify our programme to offer more variety to cater for the vast array of landscape, nature, and experiences in Tanzania.
This has led to the development of 3 more branches of the UWCEA OP over the past 3 years. We have always had the Mountain Hiking which we have branded as our “Peaks” program. The first new addition was the cycling branch where students can cover a large amount of terrain, riding through local villages, forested areas of both Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Meru, go on game rides through Arusha National Park as well as many more adventures. We have branded this as our “Rides” program. The next addition has been a water-based programme where, for the first time, we have introduced service learning with our OP programme. In this branch students are introduced to some rigorous swimming/snorkelling challenges in the early levels to make sure that by level 3 they are ready to become PADI Open Water Divers. They then become ocean advocates as they build coral nurseries and help to regenerate coral reefs. This we have branded as our “Reefs” programme. Lastly, we have taken advantage of the amazing mammal diversity and density in Tanzania and created what is essentially a walking safari program. Students will walk in protected areas, accompanied by rangers, to view natural wonders such as the great migration and be exposed to giraffe, zebra, antelope, hyena, and many more wonderful Tanzanian animals. We have branded this our “Plains” programme.
If walking on the same trail as Hyena has passed in the night is something that excites the adventurer in you then this is the branch of the OP for you. It is the newest instalment to our programme and started with the idea that not all students want to hike up and down mountains, but still want to explore and camp with their friends and this has morphed into a Safari hiking programme.
The early levels, like the Peaks program, is about learning how to pack your bags properly to be prepared for any eventuality, resilience through covering large distances, setting, and breaking camp and working as a team to ensure all members of the trip enjoy and can succeed on expeditions. During these trips students will hike through areas which are not protected or are known as game corridors, so what animal life they will see is always a surprise.
By Level 3 they will be walking through game areas, seeing wildebeest, zebra etc. The Level 5 trip will involve a hike starting at the border of the Serengeti at the time that the Great Migration will be in the area and having their calves. Students will make their way across the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, taking in the vistas of Nasera Rock and finishing through the Ol Karien Gorge where students will witness the nesting cliffs of the Griffon Vultures.
This is truly a nature lovers’ programme, which will constantly inspire, enthral, and challenge students.
As with all our OP trips, we have a five level Peaks system to ensure that we have taken students into some of the most challenging environments, prepared and ready to face whatever is thrown at them. As the first programme, and by far the longest running, we have several trips for each level to ensure that our students have a variety of opportunities to complete levels and diverse experience options.
Our Level 1 trips take students all over northern Tanzania, from Longido to the Pare Mountains. They will learn how to set up camp, pack bags, hike with their equipment, look after themselves regarding nutrition and hydration, and work as a team to ensure all members of the group are successful.
As they progress through the levels, they will build on the aforementioned skills and by level 3 will be expected to take on Mt Hanang, a short though very steep and challenging hike, or the Usumbaras which have less of a challenging terrain. However, they will get the miles into their legs as they cover much greater distances. This then prepares them for the challenges of Level 4: Socialist Peak (Mt Meru) is a technical test and will introduce them to the hardship of hiking at altitude, and the Ngorongoro trip will have them covering vast distances each day while walking amongst the Tanzanian wildlife.
As our new National Committee Diploma students essentially only have 1⅔ years to go through the levels, we have designed special Level 1B trips to test the students a little more and give them the chance to progress straight to our Mt Hanang Level 3 trip, making it more likely that any students wishing to progress to the Kilimanjaro summit trip can do so.
This is the second branch of the programme started here at UWCEA. It has been a slow burner gathering momentum over the last 3 years. It starts off with some beautifully picturesque lower-level trips in the foothills of Mt Meru and Kilimanjaro where students will get to see the real Tanzania as they ride through villages scattered through the forested mountains and on the dusty plains.
By Level 4, students have proven their ability to control a bike and so are ready to go on a safari ride through the Arusha National Park, where they will encounter giraffe, zebra, waterbuck, water buffalo, warthogs, and many more of Tanzania’s wonderful wildlife, all with Mt Meru as their backdrop. From here they will continue down the Maasai step to the Chemka Hot Springs to relax and bathe their aches and pains in some of the clearest and perfectly temperate water on the planet.
These levels again are designed to prepare students for the challenges of Level 5 where students will be taking on the 250km circumference of Mt Kilimanjaro. Starting at our Moshi Campus students will be taking hidden trails through the Mweka and Marangu forests, stopping to refresh themselves at waterfalls along the route. They will continue onto the northern face of the mountain where they will be greeted by vistas of Kenyan plains. As they approach the western side of the mountain, they will come across vast areas of farmland with views of the Maasai step and the high probability of an elephant encounter.
This programme was introduced as an alternative to the hiking/biking OPs for those students who love the water. After finding a suitable location which could safely cater for 40 students in kayaks, on boats and diving we quickly learnt about the plight of the northern Tanzanian coast and the issues facing our oceans today. That is why our Reefs Programme is the first to offer sustainable and impactful service as part of the programme. Through the levels students will engage in beach cleans, artificial coral reef ball construction, coral nursery creation, coral planting, artificial coral reef creation as well as cleaning and maintenance of artificial reefs and coral nurseries.
The first two levels are dedicated to building students’ confidence in the ocean and discovering the huge variety of marine life in and around the Tanga coast. They will also witness firsthand the destruction caused by drag, dynamite, and over fishing in the same area. Here we hope they will develop a real appreciation for the sea and develop authentic concern for the plight of our oceans.
On the Level 3 trip students will obtain their PADI Open Water diving certification or, if they already have this, their Advance Diver, as well as taking part in service learning. This is all preparation for the Level 4 & 5 trips where students will hone their diving skills during recreational dives, service dives cleaning artificial reef balls, creating coral nurseries and planting corals.
Our OP store has most items for hire for our expeditions. However students who are determined to progress well through the levels may wish to purchase their own equipment. Our information booklet lists appropriate items to buy.
To offer all these unique experiences to your child there are obviously going to be costs to be covered.
Although we do try to keep the costs as low as possible there are several factors out of our hands, such as the Tanzania National Parks Authority charges, the regulations for number of porters, rangers’ fees etc. For some trips you will find different pricing depending on the student’s status, for example Ngorongoro Conservation Area charges far less for a Tanzanian citizen than for an expatriate. Usually for trips into national parks or wildlife management areas there are 3 cost tiers, they are Tanzanian citizen, expatriate resident or expatriate visitor. The price also usually differs for students below 16 and for students 16 and above.
To help students to attend more trips UWCEA has budgeted for new students to get one first trip fee, meaning they can take a Level 1 or 1B trip for free in our Plains, Peaks or Rides branches of the programme during their first school year in UWCEA. Otherwise level 1 trips typically cost expatriates between US$25 and $75, and progressively rise, with costs for Level 5 trips from $300 to nearly $1000 for Uhuru Peak; costs are often lower for Tanzanian students.
Meet the Team
Isaac Foya – Campus OP Leader, Moshi Campus
Isaac is the very meaning of UWCEA Outdoor Pursuits. He has been leading mountain hiking trips for the school for over 20 years and has summited Kilimanjaro over 100 times.
Isack Igenge – Campus OP Leader, Arusha Campus
Isack is the newest member of our team having joined to better facilitate Arusha Campus participation in the programme. He loves the outdoors and is hugely experienced, whether it be running expeditions or running ultra-marathons in the mountains.
Salimu Ismail – Equipment & trip Coordinator, Moshi Campus
Salimu has been with the Outdoor Pursuits programme for nearly 10 years. He is the go-to man for equipment borrowing or repairs, and also assists with leading various mountain hiking trips.
Baden Dowie – Head of Experiential Learning, Moshi Campus
Baden has just joined the Outdoor Pursuits team, his experience in leading groups through various mountains and trails of South Africa, makes for a great addition to the OP team. When Baden isn’t exploring the trails on foot or on the bike he is teaching Design on Moshi campus.
Olivier Emond – Head of Experiential Learning, Arusha Campus
Olivier has returned to Arusha Campus after two years’ experience at UWC Thailand. Here he is pictured the other day having cycled from Montreal to Times Square in New York! With such energy he is the ideal person to lead our Experiential Learning Programme.