This month’s Travel Tale is by Steph, our Senior Trip Coordinator. Steph reminisces about her experiences in each of our destinations, and give some tips for future travellers. Read her travel story below…
My name is Steph and I have worked in the Groups Team at African Adventures since January 2015. I actually travelled to Kenya as an African Adventures volunteer with a school before I started working here, but since joining the company I have also travelled to Ghana and Zanzibar.
Our destinations are all very different. The town of Nakuru in Kenya is an urban centre of real contrasts – you’ll be walking through a slum one minute, then you will turn a corner and find a high-end golf course. The Volta region of Ghana is more rural, with a lively, vibrant culture. Zanzibar, which I visited this summer, is historical and traditional, and the locals are immensely proud of their heritage and idyllic islands.
I’m often asked which of our destinations is my favourite. It’s a question which is really difficult to answer, because each location is so varied and offers such different experiences – all of which I’ve loved! I am a huge fan of animals, so I really enjoyed the safari drive on the Rift Valley Adventure Day in Kenya. On the other hand, when you visit Ghana, you truly get the chance to experience another culture. The rich colours of the fabrics worn by the locals, the sound of drums, and the sight of dancing is something that will stay with you long after you return home. Who can say they have not done the chicken dance during a trip to Ghana!?
Whilst I found that Kenya and Ghana are at opposite ends of the spectrum, I think that Zanzibar, as a destination, sits nicely in the middle. To some extent, Zanzibar even feels like a mixture of Kenya and Ghana – there was no chicken dancing, but you are still surrounded by electrifying colours and fabrics just as you are in Ghana, and the whole island has a bustling, energetic feel, similar to Nakuru in Kenya. Plus, who doesn’t love to watch the sunset at the beach after a hard day’s work?
However, at the heart of our trips is the volunteering aspect. The experiences that you’ll get from each destination are very different, but whether you are in Ghana, Kenya, or Zanzibar, you’ll find that everyone is so welcoming and friendly. The children at the schools want to learn and are excited to go to school every day. It will make you realise the things that you take for granted and this should change and challenge our own behaviours – it certainly did for me!
There are so many benefits to volunteering, and you’ll find that you end up learning loads of new skills. Volunteering helps to build resilience, as well as your communication and interpersonal skills. These are developed not only through the act of volunteering itself, but also through your fundraising journey before you travel. Your entire travel story is shaped by this part of the experience, so make the most of it!
Volunteering offers a chance to gain a whole new perspective. We often become caught up in what is going on immediately around us. Having the opportunity to take a step back and experience something new will make you think with a completely new mindset and may even change your view on the world and your place in it.
When I look back at my different experiences in each of our destinations, the one thing that is common to all three is the feeling of being welcomed into a new community, and of knowing that you really are making a difference to the children at our partner projects.
Top Tips for Travellers –
- Get involved with the local community! Get to know your destination by spending time getting to know the locals. I learnt a great game whilst in Ghana, and this summer discovered a similar version is also played in Zanzibar!
- Get stuck in with anything and everything. I learnt how to be an expert cabbage shredder whilst in Kenya – certainly not something I first thought I would learn whilst volunteering!
- Always be prepared! In Zanzibar, there were often a few unexpected trips to the beach. Had I had my swimming costume, it would have been lovely to swim in the water after a day at our partner projects!
- For all destinations, it really doesn’t matter about fashion! Plus, trousers tucked into socks in the evenings really does help to stop the mosquito bites.