#Trailblazing for NMMU – Where are they now?

BY JESICA SLABBERT - SEPTEMBER 2, 2016

On the 1st of September the team of #Trailblazers set off on their journey up the Inca Trail in Machu Picchu, Peru in order to raise their goal of R4 million for 160 students at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), who are academically exceptional but cannot afford their University fees.

The team is made up of 21 people, consisting of NMMU Chancellor, Santie Botha; Vice-Chancellor, Derrick Swartz; NMMU Alumni, Dr Bridgette Gasa, and student representative, Nandipha Jack.

On the first day, they set off at 4am in Machu Picchu (11am South African time) and walked 12km until they reached the first campsite. Ollantaytambo was one of the villages they went through, after which they passed through the ruins of the Inca hillfort of Huillca Raccay, the day then ended at the village Wayllabamba.

The 2nd of September marks the second day of their climb up the difficult Inca Trail, and it is probably the most challenging part of the trail. The team will climb from 3000m and head on through the ‘Dead Woman’s Pass’, so named because when it is seen from the valley below, its crests resemble the form of a woman’s body.

This part of the trail makes the climbers go from 3000m to 4215m, where conditions are harsh as the air quality is thinner, terrain becomes rockier and weather conditions can go from scorching from the sun to cold rains and strong winds.

They have recently arrived at their campsite after successfully clearing the gruelling 11km for the day at Pakamayo campsite. The trail is 43km in total, and so far the team has cleared 23km.

The Inca Trail will take four days to complete until the team reaches the end at Machu Picchu on the 4th of September. Their hope is for this to earn them R1 million a day for each day they are on the trail in the hopes of reaching their goal.

If you want to keep up with news of the #Trailblazing team, their whereabouts and their condition, the NMMU Computing Science first-year students have created an app in order to track their progress and keep in contact with the team called BlazeIT.