NOLS National Outdoor Leadership School: Semester in East Africa
A Semester in East Africa means two and a half months of camping in the bush, exploring the wonders of Tanzania, developing leadership and outdoor skills, meeting new people, learning of new cultures, and pushing yourself physically and emotionally.
This course will take you from the high peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro to the valleys of Ngorongoro Crater and Olduvai Gorge, the home of early man. You will train your binoculars on wildlife that you have only ever dreamed of seeing and mingle with Maasai, Bushmen, Chaga, and Meru people in rural villages. Work hard hiking with all of your gear on your back in adverse weather conditions ranging from rain, dense fog, and possibly snow on steep, rocky terrain and through dense tropical forests.
This is an action-packed learning adventure designed to leave you with the leadership and skills necessary to travel in the wilderness long after your course ends.
For the first 17 days of your semester, you and your coursemates will learn to live in this unique equatorial environment and explore its remote areas.
From the start, the emphasis will be on building individual and group outdoor skills necessary to allow your group to function as an expedition team throughout the entire semester, skills like camping, cooking, map reading, route finding, effective communication, and first aid. You might get to see some wildlife like giraffe, elephant, zebra, colobus monkey, and bushbuck, and you will interact with the Maasai culture that use the same environment to graze their large herds of cattle.
The climax of the section will be the summit of Oldonyo Lengai, an active volcano standing at 9,469 feet.
Culture and Safari
Focusing on cross-cultural orientation, human evolution, and hunter-gatherer history and ecology, we will visit the pastoralist people of the Mangati/Datoga tribe, the nomadic Hadza and Watindiga groups of the Lake Eyasi Basin, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA).
The combination of permanent water, excellent food supply, and the natural boundary of the Embakai Crater shelters the unusually diverse and concentrated wildlife population that has earned Ngorongoro its reputation. This is where you’ll spend about three days on safari, traveling in vehicles and observing Tanzania’s famous wildlife.
Classes are focused on wildlife conservation, animal identification and behavior, and the geography of animal habitats. From here we will also visit the world famous archaeological site of Olduvai Gorge. After successful practice with daily independent student travel, and if your instructors think your group is ready, the section may culminate in a student-led expedition.
In addition to continuing to hone your backcountry skills learned thus far, the mountain section of your semester will include other topics such as high-altitude trekking, weather, and compass navigation. Most days will involve hiking for five to eight hours, sometimes in dense fog and heavy rains that are common on the mountain. As the course gains more elevation, it is possible to experience sleet and snow.
You’ll also study the geology, glaciology, and unusual flora and fauna found on Mt. Kilimanjaro. As a course, and depending on weather, group dynamics, group health, and common interest, you will attempt the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro (19,340 feet).
Homestay and Service Project
This five-day section gives you a chance to practice your Kiswahili as you live with a rural Tanzania family. You will be partnered with one other student and assigned to a family with whom you will sleep, eat meals, and interact through day-to-day activities. At designated times, you will join your coursemates to work on a local service project.
NOLS is widely recognized for its outdoor education, leadership and conservation curricula. As different as these may be from traditional academic programs, Western Washington University recognizes the educational value of a NOLS course. WWU students must register for University of Utah credit.
Students must pay for the University of Utah credit fees, in addition to the course tuition, before the course begin. Registration forms and payment submitted after a course begins will not be accepted. More information about this process can be found on the NOLS website