We caught up with two of our Sahara Trekkers, Will Chapman and Stephen Scotland, who are taking on the challenge for Willen Hospice on 18th – 25th March 2023.
There are only a few spaces left, so if you’re left inspired by Will and Stephen, then make sure to sign up quick!
Why did you decided to take on the challenge?
“I decided to take on the Sahara Trek challenge for a few reasons. Obviously Hospices are always well regarded, and unfortunately we’ve both been through it and we’ve had family who have needed the Hospice. When an opportunity came up to support Willen and do a challenge, we saw it well worth doing.”
“You kind of get the best of both with this challenge. If we can help support this fantastic cause in any way, shape or form we’re more than happy to do so.”
How have you been fundraising?
“We’ve been really lucky in that local businesses have been very supportive of us. I did a challenge at work where I was on a treadmill for six hours, and people sponsored me to do fun things. One company asked me to wear a padded jacket, body warmer and my rucksack to try and emulate the heat that would be in the Sahara. I did that a couple of weeks ago and managed to raise just over £1200.”
“The onus is now on me to kind of ‘up the ante’ with what Will did. I’m getting some ideas together, working out how best to not only raise as much as possible, but to also beat Will’s effort.”
What are you most looking forward to about the challenge?
“I can’t wait for the nights. The organisers recommend sleeping outside your tent to see the night sky. I think that will be amazing. I’m also looking forward to seeing a few animals hopefully while we’re out there, and completing the challenge.”
“There is also a section at the end where we’re helping either a school or a local charity in Marrakech, so that will be rewarding. Not only are we helping a local charity here, but actually we’ll be helping others on the other side of the trek too.”
“We also both enjoy pushing ourselves too. We like the competitive side of it, egging each other on. It’ll be good fun to try and one up each other – safely of course! We don’t want a desert rescue team coming out!”
What are you least looking forward to?
“The creepy crawlies! I’m looking forward to seeing animals from a distance but I’m not looking forward to any risk of snakes or spiders. But we’ve been told by the experts that won’t happen. They are more scared of us, than we are of them – allegedly.”
“They say you have to sleep out under the stars, which is great because I want to do that, but I don’t want to be eaten by anything. It’s a risk (laughing) but you’ve got to weigh up the benefits. No, I’m looking forward to all of it.”
What would you say to anyone thinking about taking part in the challenge?
“I think anyone that’s ‘humming and harring’ about signing up to the challenge, if it’s the physical side that’s putting them off, speaking from experience when I did the cycle ride from MK to Amsterdam for Willen, it was broken down in a way that anyone with a reasonable level of fitness could achieve it.
“I was a bit worried before I went on that trip that I wouldn’t be fit enough, but as long as you do a little bit of training and prepare yourself, you’ll be fine and enjoy it. For our training for this challenge, we’re going out on walks and hikes, carrying a small rucksack and making sure we get used to it.
“Also when I did MK to Amsterdam I met a really great bunch of people, who I still speak with years on, and I expect the same will happen here from the people we’ve met so far. So it’s well worth doing, if you’re having any doubts, just go for it.”
“Everyone knows this is a fantastic cause and life is too short to think ‘Oh can I, can’t I do it?’ The team here have been fantastic, they really set it out so you can manage your expectations of what this challenge may be and what to expect. We’ve got plenty of time to practice before hand and we will all support you with our Whatsapp group, and meet up and go for walks. I’d highly recommend anyone to do it if they can.”
“It’s basically a walk on the beach, just a bit of sand. It’ll be alright!”
The first part of this charity challenge starts with the tough but rewarding trek across the Moroccan Sahara. As you walk deeper into the desert, you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’re on Mars, passing ancient dried up river beds and vast sun-baked plains with huge sand dunes which can rise up to heights of 150 metres. Your only giveaway that you’re still on planet earth will be the blue, open skies, contrasting against the orange vista, and beautiful flora and fauna. After a challenging day’s walk in the heat, you’ll set up camp before taking a well-earned rest around the campfire, looking up to the stunning night sky and getting to know your fellow trekkers.
You’ll be accompanied by professional English-speaking Berber guides, an ethnic group of nomadic people indigenous to North Africa, whose culture can be traced back over 4,000 years. Your friendly guides will immerse you in the Berber way of life, cooking you traditional cuisine and sharing their expert knowledge of culture and hiking in the region. Read more here.