This is a small excerpt from the literary genius that is Robyn Forsythe’s journal from her and Tori’s volunteering experience. Enjoy x


We have silly hats, as all explorers should ..I’m wearing a pith helmet. We have used our travel time wisely, by learning some skills that will come in very handy in the African bush. As Tori put it, “Eddie Izzard says this is how you walk like a giraffe…..”


Dar Es Salaam is a terrifying city…. the lady on reception is very kind –a ray of sunshine in this otherwise opaque mass of uneasiness…


…We’ve stocked up on plenty of water for the journey – it’s unbelievable how much water you need to drink in this heat! The brand is Kilimajaro Water. I wonder if that’s the African equivalent of Buxton. ….Lushoto is – as the name suggests – luscious! It’s a beautiful mountain village surrounded by rainforests and steep views onto the planes. .. Irente View itself was breathtaking. I’ve honestly neverseen anything like it! The photos speak for themselves. We stood on the edge of a cliff which was easily 500m high and marveled at how the Usumbara Mountains seem to rise straight out the plains below. At this point we could contain ourselves no longer and sang the Circle of Life at the top of our lungs, muchto the confusion of God-Living, our guide.

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Today was the day we’d been waiting for! Tori and I could not contain our excitement at the prospect of being safely in the arms of Jackson, the maasai warrior who was to be our guide for the next week. The bus to Arusha was hot and packed with people, so I exploited my talent of being able to sleep anywhere … when we caught our first glimpse of the wonderful Jackson crossing the road towards us; as Tori put it, “Oh my god he even has a stick.” Jackson is a traditional morran, or maasai warrior, and wears redcheckered clothes and beads, as well as carrying the mandatory stick. He is also the proud owner, as we were soon to discover, of a wicked sense of humour!

After shopping for everything we were going to eat for the next week (very difficult to decide on the spot), we hopped into a taxi where Jackson proceeded to attempt to teach us Maa, the maasai language. Tori picked it up much more quickly than I did, but hilarity ensued with mixed up words and Jackson’s pronounciation of words such as “gi-raf”(with a hard G) and “mil-ik”, as well as Tori managing to tell Jackson that tomorrow she would milk a giraffe. A proclamation which Jackson vowed he would ensure Tori completed.

We were greeted at the village like long lost family members, and I have never felt so welcome in someone else’s home.  The maasai know how to keep the English happy, and we were soon nestled by a fire in Jackson’s Mama’s mud house drinking strong sweet tea. We were to cook dinner over the fire, and Jackson asked us to fetch the Ugali we had bought earlier in the day (no, we didn’t know what it was either) and a whale. “A whale?!” cried Tori. At which Jackson fell about laughing and explained that he had in fact said “oil”.

Ugali turns out to be… food. I’m not sure how else to describe it. If you were playing a simple computer game and had to feed the characters units of nondescript food – it would be ugali.It is made from maze flour and then boiled up to make bowls of tasteless, textureless… food. But it wasn’t disagreeable, and we were hungry, so we wolfed it down and said “ashi” (thank you) to everyone before excusing ourselves to our little sheet metal hut for the night. 

18/10/13 – NKIITO, KENYA

The books are not wrong that the best views of Kilimanjaro are from the Amboseli. Through the morning mist it looks like a shadowy giant,silently watching as we scurry round preparing for the day, with its little snowy beanie as the only sign betraying just how distant and vast it really is.

The day began promptly at 5.30am as the sun rose with a trip to the watering hole. It was a few hundred meters from the village, and consisted of a small muddy water bowl in the ground. The cows came here on their way out in the morning, Jackson told us, after which the boys take them to graze. They walk all day and don’t return until sunset at 7pm.

After breakfast Jackson came to say “mahbey” (let’s go) and took us out into the bush. We were amazed when our destination turned out to be the slaughtering of a cow. This always takes place away from the village, so as not to attract lions …..In the afternoon there was a community meeting, which was fascinating to watch even though neither of us could understand a word of what was being said. The men sat opposite the elder women, and the young women and children sat at the side. A man would stand up to make a point, and then another was invited to present a counter point. This was directed at the elder mamas, who then delivered what seemed to be a verdict. The final point on the meeting itinerary was the arrival of the “muzungus” (the Swahili word for western/foreigners). Jackson asked us each to stand up in turn and introduce ourselves, he then translated and told everyone that we were there to make a film about their lackof water, with the aim to raising money to build a well for the community. The whole community then sang for us, which was amazing and really interesting. Miss Longdon raved about tonal similarities, and pentatonic scales (orsomething!) for days!


19/10/13 –NKIITO, KENYA

The first adventure took place at 5.30am before we’d even been awake for an hour. Jackson can’t help but grin as he points out the “gi-raf” poking it’s head over a distant tree. The two silly muzungu stalked nervously towards the tall stranger – tripping over bushes and scratching our ankles before finally coming to rest behind a prickly tree. We stared and it stared back. Eddie Izzard was not wrong with his impression of a giraffe running. They look like they are in slow motion, and not in fact moving anywhere much at all.

Whilst watching the cows being brought in for the day in the evening – they are surrounded by a fence made of thorns for the night – we learnt a curious thing. The maasai never point at the sky. It would anger the gods …instead, they put their thumb between the first two fingers (like we do when we say “Got your nose!”) to hide the fact that they’re pointing at the stars. Stars which are, by the way, unparalleled. The Milky Way really does look like a burning bara-bara (road) in the sky out here and the constellations which I always thought the people who drew the books made up a bit, really are all there.

More to follow …..