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Kilimanjaro Expedition 1984

Tags:Kilimanjaro, Expedition, 1984
Description:To commemorate the 700th anniversary of the founding of this Independent school, it is proposed to take a group of nine students, aged 16 - 19, on an expedition to Tanzania for six weeks in the summer of 1984.
To commemorate the 700th anniversary of the founding of this Independent school, it is proposed to take a group of nine students, aged 16 – 19, on an expedition to Tanzania for six weeks in the summer of 1984. The aims of expedition are three fold:-

1) TO ASSIST IN A PROJECT organised by the World Wild Life Fund directed by Mr. J. Lovett of Oxford University Botany Department. This project number 3204 the Tanzanian Rain Forest evaluation, is intended to assess the value of the heavily-forested Uzungwa Region as a future National Park. Work will be carried out in conjunction with the University of Dar es Salaam. The Project is a contribution to the International effort for 1983 – 1984 which has been designated Rain Forest Year.

2) TO CLIMB MOUNT KILIMANJARO – the highest mountain in Africa at 19,340 feet and Mount Meru.

We have made arrangements with a school in Dar es Salam which will afford our Expedition Members the opportunities for sporting and cultural contacts with young Tanzanians including, if possible, a joint mountaineering venture as described above. As a memento of our visit, we intend to make a gift of our expedition Land Rover to the school.
A number of the students will also be using the expedition to satisfy the requirements for the Gold Standard of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme.

We intend to fly from London to East Africa direct and then use a Land Rover which we shall export directly from the U.K. The total cost is expected to be about £14,000. The expedition will give the participants valuable experience in a number of areas:

(1) Ecological field work carried out under difficult condition. They will have opportunity to work with acknowledged experts in the rain forest ecology of Tanzania.

(2) Survival in hostile and relatively unpleasant surroundings. To live reasonably comfortably will demand resourcefulness and strength of character.

(3) The ascent of a high mountain. The team will have to adjust to the physical and mental stresses associated with this kind of activity.

(4) Contact with a culture dramatically different from our own.

In addition to this we intend to give the students a chance to relax in the Ngorogoro Crater National Park before returning home.


Mr. B. M. Cokell will lead the expedition. He is Head of Chemistry at Ruthin School and has travelled extensively. He has organised and carried out expeditions to Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan and was assistant leader in the planning stage of a major school expedition to Northern Alaska in 1977. Within Ruthin Ruthin School he co-ordinates the activities of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme and runs a Potholing Club. In his previous schools he led parties of boys mountaineering in the Dolomites and Western Alps, as well as in Scotland and Snowdonia.

Mr. M. K. Parsons is Group Scout Leader of North Sutton Scouts in Surrey. He has been actively involved in Scouting for many years, an interest which has brought him into contact with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Scheme, within which he has been responsible for both training and assessing. He has been involved in expedition work for some ten years having led groups of Venture Scouts to Norway, the Bavarian Alps, Andorra and the Black Forest as well as on numerous expeditions within the U.K.

Dr. J. Carr is Head of Biology at Huddersfield New College and will take charge of scientific training. He has carried out much research work in the Department of Wildlife Management at the University of Alaska. In 1974 he was Goldsmith’s Company fellow at the University and has been scientific adviser to the B.B.C. for one of its “World About Us” programmes. He has taken parties of young people to Arctic Alaska, Artic Finland and Sweden. He has been a member of the Council of the British Ecological Society and was Secretary of its Expeditions Grants Sub-Committee from `976-1982. As such, he was responsible for administering the Society’s system for grant-aiding overseas biological expeditions. He is also a member of the Resources Committee of the Council for Environmental Education.

The names of the boys involved are listed below, with their ages in July 1984:

  • Graham Burke 16.4
  • Richard Greatorex 16.11
  • Andrew Graham 17.6
  • Mark Harrison 17.3
  • David Lovatt 18.9
  • Ian Mc Millan 16.9
  • Frank Pilling 16.6
  • Michael Vine 17.4
  • Edmund Young 19.1


There are considerable difficulties in trying to plan travel within Tanzania too far in advance. Tanzania experiences hard currency shortages and so oil products are not always freely available. These occasional fuel crises are not predictable and so our travel arrangements within the country need to be relatively fluid at this stage.

However, we feel that the benefits of having independent transport are great enough to outweigh the extra cost and slight uncertainty. We intend to obtain an ex Army Landrover. This will be overhauled through parental contact prior to shipping to Dar er Salam by container freight. This will have the added advantage of enabling us to send all our heavy stores ahead at the same time. The Landrover will be used for most of the travel within Tanzania but for our work in the forest we shall have to use locally-hired porters.

On completion of our part of the research work we shall travel to Moshi by Landrover.


The students involved have been working in pairs on all training exercises. We shall continue to operate in two-man units for living in Africa. Expedition members already possess between them enough small tents to satisfy our requirements. In the forest large nylon tarpaulins will provide shelter during the day.


Food can present problems in Tanzania, the range of foodstuffs available is limited, and specialist mountaineering food is unobtainable. Tinned food is scarce and expensive and in rural areas fresh meat will be bought on the hoof. We will avoid most of these problems by sending out a large part of our food with the Landrover. This will be supplemented by locally obtained food, the logistics of which are being dealt with by John Lovett.

Cooking in Tanzania is generally by wood or charcoal. We will supplement this with gas cylinders which we will send on in the Land Rover.


As with other such expeditions, medical problems can be a major cause for concern. We will take an extensive medical kit and require each student to have a medical and dental check before going. All members of the expedition will have protection against the following diseases:

  • Rabie
  • Cholera
  • Typhoid
  • Paratytyphoid A and B
  • Tuberculosis
  • Small-pox
  • Hepatitis
  • Malaria
  • Yellow fever
  • Diphteria

In addition, boosters for polio and tetanus will be required.

Each member of the expedition will hold the Adult First Aid Certificate and will be well aware of the need for personal hygiene when living in tropical habitats.


The picture of Africa which most of us have in our minds is that of the dry savannah – with herds of wild game moving over dry grassy plains. The enormous public interest in the wildlife of these areas has ensured that they have been given a certain degree of protection. However, there is another Africa, that of the tropical forest. Though we all know it is there, this forest attracts much less public attention than the grassland. There is a general assumption that there is plenty of “jungle” in Africa, and there is no particular problem about its future.

In fact, the rainforest is disappearing faster than any other natural environment in the world. This is true in Africa, South America and Asia. Part of this destruction is the result of commercial logging for hardwoods such as teak, mahogany and iroko, and part of it is caused by population pressure and the need to clear land for agriculture. The rain forest is disappearing so quickly that there is a real danger that it will all have gone before we have even had a chance to examine it properly.

Perhaps half of all the species of plant in the world are found in tropical rain forest, and as plants are our largest single source of biologically active chemicals, we are quite certainly allowing a store house of potentially valuable medicines to disappear for ever.

In Tanzania this is particularly critical, as the rain forests there are very different from the more widespread Congo basin forest. Tanzanian forests consist of about a dozen scattered, relatively small-mountain areas, where the rising air produces heavier rain than on the surrounding lowlands. This gives a pattern of “islands” of mountain forest in a sea of savannah. Because of the isolation of these fragments over long periods of time, the animals and plants in them have evolved along separate and distinct lines. For example, in just one of these fragments in the North of Tanzania there are 150 species of woody plant that are found nowhere else in the world. About half the area of this particular fragment has been cleared for agriculture since 1955. The other areas of forest have not been described, and we do not even know just how much is left of them. It is becoming a matter of urgency, both to preserve some of the surviving forest and to find out of what they consist. The National Park system of Tanzania is perhaps the best in the world, but at present it gives protection almost exclusively to the savannah. The Uzungwa region has been suggested as a potential National Park for the preservation of an area of rain forest. Uzungwa is not well known, except for the mammals, one sub-species of which the Uhehe Red Colobus monkey is not found anywhere else in the world. The World Wildlife Fund is sponsoring a two-year investigation into the special features of this forest, its present condition and its suitability as a National Park – The Tanzanian Forest Project. This work is being carried out by a group of botanists led by John Lovett of the Botany Department of Oxford University. John is keen to have the assistance of a group of volunteers such as ours, and has already had meetings with the organisers and with the students at Ruthin School.

At first sight, it may appear that the biological exploration of a largely unknown area is something to which a group of young people with little academic expertise could contribute very little, it is the very lack of the most elementary description of the area which makes it possible for us to be of real use.

The most outstanding characteristic of tropical rainforest is its complexity. It is common to find 100 or more different species of trees in one hectare. To build up a description of such a vegetation pattern, it is necessary to locate each of the species, identify it, and build up charts showing the way in which each species fits into the structure of the forest. This measuring and plotting is very labour intensive and enthusiasm and hard work are as much, if not more, value as academic expertise.

In doing this work our students will lift a great burden of drudgery from the shoulders of John Lovett, who will, of course, do all the identification involved. John will carry out the preliminary exploration and select suitable areas. This work naturally involves specialised knowledge and experience which our students do not have, but it will prepare the way for a concentrated period of measuring and plotting by our party which will save Jon several months of routine work. As the whole project is funded for only two years , we shall in this way be making a real contribution to biological knowledge and to the conservation of this unique habitat.


We intend to climb Kilimanjaro by the Marangu route, which takes five days. The route is not technically very difficult and we shall employ local guides as required by the National Park authorities. The main problem is the effects of the rarefied atmosphere nearly four miles above sea level, which makes each step a considerable labour. Not only is the body affected but also the brain, in that resolve can weaken; so strength of purpose on setting out is most important. Kilimanjaro is of volcanic origins and the summit is a crater. The highest point on the crater is Uhuru peak at 19.340 feet. We hope to record there the name of Ruthin School in the book provided for signatures of climbers who reach the highest point in Africa.

Our second mountaineering goal is Mount Meru, some 45 miles to the South-West. Meru is also an extinct volcano and although lower than Kilimanjaro at 14,979 feet it is technically rather more demanding. We expect the ascent to take two days and again we will employ a guide.


Frankly it is difficult to train in the U.K., either for living in a rain forest or for climbing 20,000 feet peaks. We have devised a schedule to promote the team’s self-reliance and self confidence as well as toughness and specialist skills. This is being done by a series of hikes and camps of progressively increasing severity. We started with weekend back packing trips and progressed via a five -day exercise in Snowdonia to two weeks back packing in the Alps, walking around Mont Blank – a total of 125 miles. All participants are to take an Adult First Aid Certificate course and a course on survival techniques. In these ways we are hoping to produce a Team which can react positively to virtually any situation we might expect to face in the forest or on the Mountain.

Scientifically, the boys are being trained by Dr. Carr in the techniques of vegetation analysis. Training has taken the form of learning the basics of quadrat analysis in the field and statistical interpretation of results back in school. Later on in our training programme, the boys will work in a U.K. Forest Area to practice the kinds of work to be undertaken in the Uzungwa.


There are three sources of potential revenue:

1) Contributions from expedition members. These are expected to total £8,000.

2) Income acquired from fund raising efforts arranged by the group. This is expected to amount to £2,000.

3) Grants / goods contributed by outside organisations. We are hoping for £4,000 from this source.

Flights London-Dar es Salam5,040
Medical 800
Photographic 200
Insurance 450
Guides / Porters 320
Postage 50
Telephone 100
Stationery (including prospectus and Report) 500
National Park Fees 300
Hut Fees 210
Camp Fees 400
Accommodation in Moshi 175
Purchase and renovation of Land Rover 1,000
Fuel 1,000
Shipping 800
Hotel and living expenses for advance party 150
10% contingency 1,318
Grand Total 14,493
Updated:Wednesday 09-06-2021 14:09

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