Phokojwe wrote:Far Schools programme 2016 Report– Augrabies Falls National Park
The “Far’ Schools programme was initiated in 2012, with the first 77 learner’s and 8 Educators from four schools participating in the programme in April 2013, which was funded by the Virtual Honorary Rangers. During February & October 2015 two groups of two schools were also brought into the park for an overnight visit as part of the programme. In October 2016 another 3 schools were fortunate enough to become part of the programme.
Therefore, with a total budget of R87 042.00, 229 learners and 24 adults from 11 schools have benefitted from the Virtual Honorary Rangers Far schools programme since 2013.
2016 Far schools programme
The Augrabies Falls National Park (AFNP) is a unique park situated in the Northern Cape in a semi-desert environment, and it has the mighty Orange River flowing through it, coupled with a 56m high waterfall, extremely interesting geology including rocks that are 1.4 billion years old and a rich biodiversity. These features are very unique, especially in the arid Northern Cape. It should therefore form part of every local learner’s childhood experiences to at least be able to visit the Park to learn and experience these features of their natural heritage.
Due to the continued support of the Virtual Honorary Rangers, another 70 learners and 8 adults were given the wonderful opportunity of visiting the Augrabies Falls National Park on the Far Schools programme in October 2016. The three schools, Topline, Wilgenhoutsdrif and Leerkrans are from the Groblershoop area to the east of Upington. They are all fairly close to the Orange river, upstream from the Park. Topline Intermediate school is 195km from the park, Wilgenhoutsdrif Primary school about 182km and Leerkrans Intermediate approximately 150km. None of these schools have had the opportunity to bring learners to the park in the past. Only three learners from Leerkrans Is had been to the park before with the remaining total of 75 having their FIRST opportunity to visit the Augrabies Falls National Park and this included the adults. The visit included a whole bag of ‘firsts’ - first time to sleep away from home, first time in TENTS, first time to go on a nature trail, first time to see a waterfall and first time to see baboons, giraffe and Eland in real life! This makes the Far Schools programme so special and worthwhile!
The three group visits were scheduled between 24-27 October. The schools all arrived just before sunset with just enough time for the orientation and settling into their new accommodation. The hamburger and chips dinner was enjoyed under the stars (much to their delight) and then they were taken on an interpretive walk to view the illuminated waterfall. Although fear was ever present, they gasped at the sight of the beautiful waterfall. Their heads spun (most probably because it was the first time that they had been so high up looking down) and their legs felt wobbly but they were so excited. The next morning they had a picnic breakfast at the campsite before we embarked on the Dassie interpretive trail. The trail proved to be quite challenging for the groups, especially the adults, as they were not used to walking on uneven ground and actually being active. The learners were initially scared at having to cross little wooden bridges over running streams but soon they were thoroughly enjoying themselves and asking plenty of questions regarding the information they were being given about plant and animal adaptations and the geology. Scaling Moon rock was the final challenge and once on top of Moon rock they felt very proud of what they had achieved. Unfortunately, the Educator from Leerkrans Is suffered from a bit of heatstroke and I had to find a shorter route through the veld to the vehicle for her instead of going over Moon rock. From Moon rock the groups were transported with the park bus to the Oranjekom viewpoint with stops enroute where information was shared about the ecology. At Orangekom viewpoint they were in awe of the view and spent some time relaxing and enjoying their well deserved snack packs. On the journey back to the rest camp they were fortunate enough to see baboons, vervet monkeys, klipspinger, eland, gemsbok, springbok and giraffe. The much anticipated swimming time was up next and it never failed to please, especially as each day was hotter than the day before. After receiving lunch and a snack pack for the road, they departed on their journey back home after having had a most memorable experience, whilst getting to know their natural heritage.
MANY, many thanks to all who have made it possible for Augrabies Falls National Park to host yet another successful Far Schools programme.
Christine du Plessis (People & Conservation Officer – AFNP)
Feedback from Wilgenhoutsdrif Students
Pictures of Far School Kids
Kids in a rock
Investigating a Pop-up
In awe of the Twin falls
Happy @ Oranjekom viewpoint
First Sighting of Baboons
Enjoying a shady spot
Early morning trail
Dudes @ Arrowpoint lookout
A girly tent
We made it
Triumphant on Moonrock
On the Dassie trail
On Dassie trail
Negotiating a rocky crossing
Learners refreshing themselves
Learners at Arrowpoint lookout
What a bunch of happy, proud kids! They certainly crammed a lot into the time available and must have talked a streak to their families on returning. Great initiative and hopefully will be a permanent and important memory.
- Legendary Virtual Ranger
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Good to see such happy children enjoying the simple things in life definitely want to see more of this . well done to the SHRs and others for their hard work in making this happen. I think us mites must help to make this so more children can go on these trips . for some its a life time experience
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