It was a trip that took them half way around the world!

For some exceptionally lucky youngsters attending Balfron High, a journey to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands created some lifetime memories this summer.

Students posing behind one of the worlds longest-lived vertebrates, the Galapagos Giant Tortoise.

But, it wasn’t all plain sailing either. To get there took them three flights and a total travel time of 28 hours - and then a road journey began to their camp for the duration of the trip.

First stop was at the centre of the earth, while those students still awake managed to snap some pictures as they stood at the Equatorial Line. And it’s not often one drives past a volcano en-route to your accommodation at Camp Kuri Kucho.

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The students spent time at this location working on projects which included, gardening, repairing mud walls, building a dry toilet and workingn with local schoolchildren.

The next port of call was the Galapagos Islands, which once more necessiatated a 600 mile flight offshore.

The students told The Herald how they could hardly walk two steps without stepping on a marine iguana or seeing a sea lion sunbathing. Luckily they also managed to see many of the Galapagos species including Darwin’s Finches, Blue Footed Boobies and Galapagos tortoises.

But it wasn’t all work with the group enjoying snorkelling sessions with dolphins, sea turtles, black-tipped sharks and rays.

Having finished that trip, another long day of travelling ensued as the party moved on to Camp Esmereldas in the heart of the cloud forest back on the mainland.

Isolated and far from any large towns this was where the students worked with some of the most deprived communities of theirexpedition.

It was only the beginning of a week full of demanding (both physically and mentally) activities but also the start of some of the most fulfilling projects they had worked on.

From their first evening it became apparent just how poor the local community they were working in really was. The village was not only tiny but crudely built with the basic materials that they could afford.

This, they said, was a humbling and hard-hitting experience seeing such levels of poverty and understanding the reality of how people worldwide struggle to survive.

The shocking truth about the deprivation that the community of Chura, the village the group lived in was incredible motivation to help despite the sweltering heat and overpowering humidity. At this camp the students helped build a medical centre and toilets for the school who were in desperate need of proper sanitation facilities.

“The whole experience of Ecuador and the Galapagos was without doubt one of the most incredible experiences of our lives and something that we will remember forever.

“It broadened our horizons of the world and made me realise how lucky we are”, said students, Anna MacDonald and Laura McKenzie.

To read the full report of this amazing trip see this weeks District News section.

If you’re one of our local schools and have been on a trip during the summer, why not let us know: [email protected]