NMMU gives #Trailblazing team a huge send off to Machu Picchu, Peru


Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) Vice-Chancellor, Derrick Swartz, and student flag bearer, Nandipha Jack, were on Tuesday given a massive send off by the university’s students and staff as they jet off to Machu Picchu in Peru.

They are on a campaign – dubbed the #Trailblazing initiative, to raise around R4 million, which will help fund 160 academically deserving but underprivileged students at the institution in the 2017 academic year.

On Tuesday, the university organised a 4.3km obstacle walk symbolic of the 43km Inca trail that the trailblazers will tackle, titled ‘Blaze the Trail’.

“I am very proud to be associated with this University carrying the name of Nelson Mandela,” Prof Swartz told the gathered students.

“The Chancellor, Santie Botha, will also be on the trail with me, we will all have cell phones with satellite connections to communicate and share our trials and tribulations - and hopefully triumphs of this journey.”


At the event, four NMMU first-year Computing Science students also unveiled an app that will also ensure that everyone back home is kept up to date and experiences the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu together with the #Trailblazing team.

“The challenge on the trail is that there is no cellphone reception or electricity, so the trailblazers will carry a small, satellite Wi-Fi hotspot, a foldable solar panel and battery packs to ensure they have power and connectivity throughout their journey,” described Gareth Andrews, who developed the app with Qaanita Fataar, Keanan Flowerday and Josh Parker.

Flowerday added; “The trailblazers can share their experience whenever they feel like it and when they stop for a break they can switch on the satellite hotspot and it will transmit their messages and photos, with the GPS coordinates pinpointing with a marker exactly where on the trail they stopped to do these.”

The #Trailblazing team will begin their four-day Inca trail challenge to Machu Picchu from the 1st to the 4th of September. They hope to raise R1 million on each day.