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Serbia Project – Day 3

19th August 2013

This small farm at the border to Tara National Park is normally a quiet place not many people visit.

But from today on it will be busy!

When the group of peer leaders arrived this noon we turned the grass field into a camping ground pitching big tents, building a kitchen, toilet and campfire spot.

As most of the group members didn't know each other before we had some really fun games and team building activities to build up a group spirit that will lady for the next three weeks.

At one point the group had to find a way through a 'spider web' without anybody touching the ropes and it was fantastic to see how all of the students supported each other and we're fighting for the same goal.

The group seems to be very motivated and ready to accept the challenge of hiking competitions, project planning and from next week on leading their own group of younger students during the second Eco-camp in which 30 elementary school pupil will join us.

There's nothing better than finishing off the first day with a nice camp fire eating Serbian specialties the peer leaders brought from back home.

Serbia Project – Day 1,2

Five months of planning and organizing and finally our team of young explorers from Germany, Switzerland and Serbia arrives in Kraljevo, three hours south of Belgrade.

We're all very excited but also a bit nervous as this is the first big project we organize completely by ourselves.

 

The Pangaea Ecocamp 2013 takes place in Tara National Park in the north of Serbia. It will take three weeks of which two will be spent in the national park and one in the Twin of Kraljevo.

 

The first week is for high school students whom well yeah about project planning and leading a team so that in the second week when 30 you get students will join us they can help us organizing the second Ecocamp.

 

The two weeks will be filled with outdoor activities such as hiking, rafting and games but will also contain workshops on healthy nutrition and project management. Another goal is to show the kids the beauty of their own country just as Mike did it with us.

In the third week we'll do some small projects like a clean up and a flash mob in the town of Kraljevo.

 

When we were finally standing in front of the kids and their parents on the evening of the parents meeting to explain the whole project to them and distribute the last important information we got really excited to go to Tara on the next day to prepare everything for the group of peer leaders who will start their first Ecocamp week on Monday.

We can't wait to meet all of them!

Peru Project – Day 16

Young Explorers Blog – Day 16

Wayrasacha is an ecological spot where farmer, Cesar Ramirez Garcia has incorporated organic agriculture into his family owned terrain. Mr. Garcia has worked for many years trying to recover which have been mismanagement by other farmers. The method he uses revitalizes the soil by re-introducing natural minerals, microorganisms and compost into it. He teachings about the interrelationship between science, art, philosophy and the mystic, as the four pillars of life that inspire us to respect the order that natural environments bring to us humans. This almost mystic experience filled us with peacefulness, which made the next stop at the Urku animal rescue center come as a big shock.

While we were there we saw various animals that have been rescued from the illegal animal trade. And helped the workers at the center take care of the animals. We learned that the rescue center operates without governmental support, which surprised us all. The time spent there greatly enhanced our understanding of the illegal animal trade.

Now armed with more knowledge about the different ways to manage wildlife, we presented our experiences to an audience filled with ecological youth volunteers, and members of the regional ecological police. We put an end to our trip by celebrating together at an eco-bar we were invited to.

Peru Project – Day 15

Young Explorers Blog – Day 15

Everyone was happy this morning as we woke up, dry, under the gazebo we used as shelter from the rain last night. Our hard work paid off when our lovely host, Maria, served us scrambled eggs and yucca. We also had the opportunity to taste the local cheese and delicious panela, handmade from cane sugar.

A full tummy and a few pictures later, we headed up to our last destination, the city of Tarapoto. After an 8 hour drive, the hungry crew savored some local dishes before heading to our stunning campsite, Tambo Ilusion, a private conservation area where we set up camp under the moonlight.

The sun was so hot that the usually dreaded cold shower turned into a welcomed relief. This last refreshing moment revitalized our minds and prepared us all for the final day of the project; where we will presentation in front of an audience of youth volunteers and local authorities.

 

Peru Project – Day 14

 

Young Explores Blog – Day 14 

As we woke up this morning we never thought that this would be one of the most intense days of the expedition! After a quick breakfast we left for a trekking day through the Pre Amazonia jungle, hoping to find two species of endangered monkeys, the yellow tailed woolly monkey and the nocturnal monkey. As soon as we took our first steps in the jungle we got assaulted by mosquitos. Nevertheless, we were lucky to reach the place where the nocturnal monkeys had been observed early in the morning by our guide.

There, the monkies were hanging up 10 meters over our heads. We spend some time, contemplating their behavior and attempting to take some good photos through the dense wilderness. Unfortunately, after 3 hours of exploration, we didn´t managed to find yellow tailed woolly monkey. However, there were plenty of colorful butterflies and tropical birds camouflaged among the never-ending trees.

On our way back to the camp site, our guide told us about a desolated cave, which definitely turned our exploration sense on! To our surprise we discovered an enormous cave. As we started exploring it, we discovered that the cave was actually a tunnel that sinks into the mountains. Our excitement increased as our guide revealed us no one had ever explored this deep dark and humid tunnel. We ran to our camp to grab our headlamps and start our speleological expedition.

After only 20 meters progression we couldn´t see the daylight anymore. Turning our headlamps off, feeling the flapping of the bats right next to our faces, was an unbelievable feeling. We walked about 200 meters in this muddy place, trying to touch the mud as less as possible since we knew it contained a lot of bat excrement which is toxic. Even though we thought we reached the end of the cave, another cave twice as big as the one before was awaiting for us! Even though our excitement increased in each step of our progression, we had to start thinking about our way back since it was turning dangerous and we had not the right equipment.

After a “cave shooting”, walking our way back to the campsite, our attention got caught by some kids who were playing with a wild rodent, which they had attached with a rope. We managed to convince them to release the animal but as soon as it was, a woman furiously run out questioning us about the animal’s release, as she wanted to keep it for her animal-loving daughter. A long discussion later, she came to understand this animal’s priorities and why it cannot be petted. Coming back, the rain forced us to move our campsite elsewhere. To close the day, we were delighted by local women showing their typical dance to the taste of local drinks.

 

Peru Project – Day 13

Young Explorers Blog – Day 13

Another day of travel was awaiting us! As we were about to leave, our attention was caught by a 97 year old local couple, who told us about the traditional lifestyle of Cocachimba. We then managed to leave relatively early for our 8 hours’ drive to our next destination, Corosha. We made a quick stop at the Huembo Biological Interpretation Centre to admire two stunning different kinds of hummingbirds, including the marvelous and unique “Colibrí cola de espátula”. In the afternoon we finally arrived to our destination and set up our tents in the town square.

As we started setting up our camping, the local children immediately showed interest and came out to help us. It turned into a big game and we spent the whole evening playing volleyball and football with them, as well as sharing a kind environmental education conversation. To our big surprise as we questioned them about how they manage to separate their garbage, we received admirable, knowledgeable answers. That’s because a group of volunteers from Yunkawasi organization came some time ago with the idea of teaching the Corosha slight population how to adopt eco-friendly, sustainable behaviors and take care of their natural resources.

Peru Project – Day 12

Young Explorers Blog  – Day 12

Before sunrise, we started our walk to a massive waterfall. Walking through the jungle, we saw hummingbirds, toucans and heard the ‘flagship’ Peruvian bird, Gallito de las Roca’s singing in the distance. It was a breathtaking sight as we arrived at the third largest waterfall in the world. The beautiful site reenergized us to keep going. Under the 771m long falls, we were all soaking wet before we started to make our way back to the agricultural village again. Once back, a local woman treated us to a traditional meal. Later, we walked to a nearby town of 300 inhabitants, where we visited a sugar cane refinery and a family-run cane distillery, the two main local industries. Before bedtime, we had a bonfire with Telesforo, a 70- year old man who, together with the German explorer Stefan Ziemendorff, made the falls known to the world, and finished by telling us the nerve-racking legends which surround the Gocta waterfall.

Peru Project – Day 11

Young Explorers Blog – Day 11

This morning we woke up with an exhausting, 10+ hour day of travel awaiting us. It was also the Independence Peruvian National holiday. During the journey, we went past dry forest, desert, the lowest part of the Andean mountain chain, and finally came into the “pre-jungle.” On our way, we stopped by at Bagua Grande, for a traditional Peruvian lunch, which also served as dinner. By the time we got to Cocachimba (the town where we would be staying for the night), it was already dark, and being so exhausted, we called it an early night.

Peru Project – Day 10

Young Explorer Blog – Day 10

It was still dark when we left our Chaparri campsite and traveled south to “Santa Catalina de Chongoyape.” This small community uses sustainable tourism as the base of their economy, providing free health and educational and security services. Tina Montalvo (USA), a volunteer from the NGO Peace Corps, was waiting for us with a visionary project, which she presented a whole eco-auditorium destined for community use built out of recycled plastic bottles.

We started with separate the bottles by size and then started building one of the walls. In the evening, we put our heads together and brainstormed ideas of how we could design the internal layout and content of the eco-auditorium. Finally, we observed the sunset at Tinajones water reservoir.

Mike is in a constant state of travel and adventure , so keep up to date on all his expeditions !