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Africa on a budget

A South African conservation charity which runs outdoor education holidays for local children is now offering its facilities and expertise to overseas schools.

The Marine Environmental Education Trust (Meet) runs the Camp Africa environmental centre which provides short residential stays for local students. The camp is situated in Soetwater, near Kommetjie on the peninsular south of Cape Town and is run by a husband and wife team, Janis and Terry Corr. The couple have been involved in environmental education for more than 15 years and are the founder members of Meet, which has provided a variety of environmental programmes for 15,000 children since 1997.

Janis Corr says that the Meet Cape Discovery Tour will allow schools to see the sights of South Africa from a secure and scenic base. "We are situated in a beautiful wilderness area, close to the Atlantic coast with its crashing wild waves. We are close to an incredible wildlife reserve and the Slangkop lighthouse, the tallest in South Africa.There are no other residential areas and there is no crime or traffic around here," she says.

Up to 50 people can be accommodated at Camp Africa, which is situated close to a beach. And visitors sleep out under canvas lodge tents, similar to the ones used at game reserves. In addition to the regular camp staff, visiting schools can have access to local environmental guides who run sessions for local schools.

As well as an idyllic setting, the tour also offers value for money. Mrs Corr says: "Camp Africa makes a school visit to South Africa much more affordable. The biggest cost is the airfare, but we have the equipment and facilities in place to keep the costs down."

The ready-made Cape Discovery itinerary costs pound;1,200 per student and includes visits to Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for almost 20 years), a trek up Table Mountain, a tour of Kirstenbosch Gardens, mountain biking around the Cape of Good Hope, a bush camp, a visit to a penguin colony and a rafting trip.

The cost includes meals, entrance fees and the use of trained guides.

Schools can create their own itineraries or adapt the existing one to suit their needs. The initial cost of equipment and setting up accommodation for Camp Africa was paid for by a grant from South Africa's national lottery.

Continual fund-raising to subsidise visits keeps the place running, but it is hoped that income from international groups will help fund future visits for students from the poorer schools in the area.

Yolanda Brooks For more information about Meet and the Cape Discovery Tour, call 00 27 21 780 1353; email: meet@mweb.co.za or visit the website at www.meet.org.za.

Meet, PO Box, 22706, Scarborough, Cape Town, 7975, South Africa

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