Wednesday, 14 December 2011

The final group blogs...

Zulu 1 final blog

6th December
Today we walked 12km, 10 of which were up hill, we passed many farms and coffee plantations in order to reach the electricity pylons where we had to camp(which was a first for all of us)!

On the 7th December we headed into the jungle and had to cross a precarious ‘Indiana Jones’ style bridge. Reaching our first peak ‘chunta’ 2582 m above sea level gave us extra motivation and after more muddy and unpredictable terrain we reached our next peak ‘Esperansa’ 2842m up. This was beautiful, as we were looking over the whole jungle. The community centre was already in use but we managed to stay in the back of a charcoal warehouse. On a good note, it was supposed to take 9 hours, and only took us 6!!

The 8th December was a very long day in terms of distance but all the walking was along a highway.

The 9th December was another very long tiring day but with some amazing scenery.  Despite being just one long track we had views of the Pacific and walked very high up. The campsite itself was great, high up in the hills we had to prepare for our tough day of climbing ‘The Dragon’.

On the 10th December we climbed the mountain known as ‘The Dragon’, the sun was out so the views at the top were the best we could have asked for. We passed two snakes called ‘mata’ (or as Bruce explained meaning ‘ox killer’) and an armadillo on our way up. Matt decided on the way down we would skip going back through the jungle and just climb down the face of the hill. This meant sliding down our backsides for most of us! We then continued to the destination of our next stop, a large wooden building that we soon found to be occupied by scorpions!!

The 11th December our travels took us to a river which because of the chemical reaction turned the water a green aqua colour. We didn’t complete the amount intended because the hills slowed us down so much. We were lucky enough to be taken in by a family who let us camp in their drive as struggled to find a suitable place to sleep!

On the 12th December, we had the final push to the beach. With a 3am wake up we had to trek the final 25km. This was a long never ending road, surrounded by palm trees eventually leading us to the main road. All of us were so excited when we finally got to the last stretch and could see the sea in the distance. We all threw off  our rucksacks and boots and ran into the sea fully clothed! What an amazing moment, everyone was so thrilled and congratulated each other. We had the beach to ourselves, surrounded by coconut trees and we celebrated with marshmallows on the bonfire.

What we have achieved: milestones accomplished
We walked from the Caribbean to the Pacific ocean,
We climbed Volcan Turrialba
We saw the Costa Rican monument
We climbed the Dragon Mountain
We all made it to Playa Palo Seco
All this by walking through jungle, clay tracks, main roads, national parks, gravel, mud, rain drenched farms and lots of different terrains.

Favourite moment of trek:
Sarah: “When we climbed to the top of Volcan Turrialba and the mist cleared, after we’d been walking in the rain all day, so we got to see all three craters in the beautiful sunshine and look down from above the clouds..amazing!!

Cristiany:’The very first day going through the jungle surrounded by all the wildlife and so many different types of trees’

Heading into the jungle.

Volcan Turrialba

Zulu 1 going strong...
....fuelled by energy bombs!

Zulu 2

Zulu 2 have now finished their trek in Nicaragua, taking in some amazing views, braving blisters, bites and sunburn to emerge triumphantly at our final destination with the magnificent scenery of Lake Asososca.
Throughout the trek, we stayed at a combination of schools, farms, community centres, and tents, relying on the kindness of the locals to guide and host us with somewhere to sleep for the night and they were always extremely helpful and friendly.

In the last few days we summited Volcan Cerro Negro and reached the top for sunrise. We all sat on the warm rock and admired the astonishing views from the edge of the crater.

Whilst the ascent took an hour or so, the way down was an exhilarating 2-minute sprint and Zulu 2 ran down Cerro Negro in a cascade of black sand.

Later that day we tackled another mountain to reach a picturesque campsite overlooking Volcan Miratombo and Lake Managua.

We finished on a high by running into the lake all holding hands with a necessary and well-deserved swim.
The trek was hard work and challenging at times but was hugely rewarding.

'I reckon it's this way!'

Just one of many stunning views
The group check the map again!
A brief stop off at El Cebollal...where Alpha and X-Ray groups built a community centre

Lake Asososca: the group's final destination

Cerro Negro - the descent

Zulu 3
We survived! Zulu 3 have finished their amazing jungle phase and are back a t fieldbase for a final few days. We managed to lay 218m of pipes and are now eagerly awaiting the cake that the PMs promised us if we reached 200m!! The rangers were also really pleased with our work and so made us a lovely celebratory dinner on the final night.

We all agree that this has been a really enjoyable phase with the highlights including dressing up with costumes made from our surroundings fro the ‘jungle rave’, swimming in the beautiful Rio Negro next to our camp, and eating the ingenious mess-tin cakes.

It has been a truly unique experience living and working in the jungle. We are all proud of the positive contribution that we have made to the park and have taken away many great memories. Pura vida!

The farewell meal

Jesus treat the group to empinadas.

The jungle rave!!!

Ally completes the Raleigh sign

 Zulu 4 final blog:

Life’s a beach!
Zulu 4 are still enjoying life at the beach, liberation was even more exciting for Jeanette and Gemma when they found 47 natural born turtles just hatched on the beach. With the help of Don Marco they were rescued from the driftwood and released with the other turtles.

After a week of hard work with the turtles and rangers along came a day off and a trip into the local town, Playa Hermosa.

After a 7km walk, it was time for an amazing lunch.

“The tuna steak was amazing, so fresh and tasty.” Hilmar relished in not having to eat re-fried beans and Daisy counted her strawberry milkshake as the best she’s ever had.

Tummies full, it was time for an afternoon stroll along the beach back to camp, where they were met by returnees Alice, Gemma and Jeanette.

A birthday weekend lay ahead of us! With energy bomb birthday cakes and homemade presents, Alice and Gemma celebrated quite possibly their best birthday yet. As night patrols were cancelled, we had a lot more time to spend on hatchery shifts and with the group. Lucky-oke with Bon Jovi and a Scottish Eminem (PM Julie!) performing and a very competitive Brainiac quiz definitely kept us entertained.

The last sunset and saying goodbye to the turtles and the rangers was a perfect ending to an amazing phase.

Birthday celebrations for Alice and Gemma

Skit practice!

A fond farewell to Playa Hermosa
Zulu 5
The final week in Las Brisas, Achuapa saw Zulu 5 working very hard to finish the water project. Two wels were made from scratch, two were improved, 15m3 of rocks were collected, trenches were dug and pipes were laid. This will benefit 26 families, almost 200 people in total.

Before this project a single person would walk at least 300m to collect water and carry it home but now they have water readily available in their homes. This will enable people in Las Brisas to spend more time on daily tasks.

“It was a great experience working with the locals and making a real difference in this community,” said venture Josue.

The venturers and the PMs formed a tight knit bond with the community and the families they stayed with. There was always something happening in the village where the locals and Raleigh volunteers interacted, be it a football match or a trip to the waterfall.
The time spent in Las Brisas has enabled those who speak Spanish to practice their speaking skills and those with limited Spanish to learn new words and phrases. The group even attended a Spanish lesson run by a local lady who gave her time voluntarily.
“The lessons were extremely useful and helped me interact with my family,” said venturer Jayne.

The final days of phase 3 were tough, especially in the scorching heat but Zulu 5 came together with blood, sweat and tears to complete the project. Community leader Don Eladio stated: “Raleigh has really made difference in this community. The family thoroughly enjoy having the volunteers staying in their homes.”

On the penultimate day, Zulu 5 were lead up a mountain by the some of the locals. They saw a spectacular view of Achuapa, a volcano and a beautiful sunset. The evening was spent singing songs, both Spanish and English, and playing guitar around the campfire. Early next morning the descended the mountain and returned home to pack and spend time with their families before their departure.

Zulu 5 then met at Don Adrian’s house to see the first tap turned on. “It made me realise that people would have more time now that the water was readily available in their own home,” said Jasper on seeing the tap turned on.

The last night in Las Brisas was spent partying! The locals organised a huge party, with a live band, a piñata, food and dancing. It was an unforgettable night.

Emotional goodbyes and gift exchanges between venturers, PMs and the residents of the village took place as Zulu 5 left Las Brisas.

The group take a well-earned rest

Spanish lessons

Hot work

Hi ho hi ho, it's off to work we go!


  1. Clare Jones - Zulu 5
    Hi Clare, very last post - just been having a read through the blog this morning - your time sounds amazing. Have a safe trip back. Snow and storms expected here on Friday, so hopefully by the time you arrive back all will be back to normal! Saw Saff and Gemma yesterday - Saff was just so lovely, you will see a real difference in her talking. Looking forward to seeing you very soon. Love Julie and Matthewxxx

  2. Tom Coombs 11L, Zulu 5

    Hi Tom,

    Just got the latest news about your return from Nicaragua. Hope you enjoy a wonderful send off in Costa Rica before you’re back with us in London. We’ll track your progress and will pick you up at Heathrow at whatever time you arrive, hopefully even your scheduled arrival time at 10.15 a.m.

    Weathers cold here but clear, 4°C expected on Saturday, which is going to seem really cold to you, so we’ll bring some Polar exploration gear for you to wear.

    We’re all in Manchester over Christmas and have an amazing ‘Loft Apartment’ in the Northern Quarter. Mum and I are going there on Friday 23rd until 27th December.

    Looking forwards, so much to seeing you.

    All the Best


    Mum and Dad. xx

  3. Laura and Catherine16 December 2011 at 09:10

    Zulu 4 - Molly Sanquest


    Looks like your having a fab final week! We've been writing on the other wall sorry if thats wrong.

    Well done for saving the turtles we are so proud, you are such a legend! But enough is enough come back now, we need to take you to the arch angel.

    All our love Arch Mother Cathreen and Sister Laurina x x x x

  4. To Brie, Tom, Reggie, Ross, Julian, Pedro, Kei and the amazing 11L VM's
    Hi all been following the blog and looked amazing I especially liked the road trip fancy dress pics. Hope you all had an amazing expedition.
    Have a great end of expedition Christmas party and enjoy Cahuita!

    Happy Christmas to you all and all the best for 2012.

    Abi x
    P.S. My ankle is alot better now.

  5. Para Don Martín y Sandra

    Me gustaría desear a ambos una feliz Navidad y todo lo mejor para el 2012

    Los mejores deseos
    Abi xx



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