The Adventure Challenge: Expedition 17F’s final hurdle

13th August 2017

After 19 days working hard on their respective community and natural resource management projects, the 17F Zulu groups returned to basecamp with the finish line in sight. The only thing that lay between them and the end of expedition was the Adventure Challenge; a week-long competitive adventure and leadership phase in the jungles of Borneo.

The three Zulu groups were reallocated into two tribes; the Dusun and the Murut. The tribes would be locked in an epic battle with each other for the next week in a bid to be crowned with the ultimate honour: Adventure Challenge Champions 2017.

The Dusun tribe.

Back: India, Shaun, Adam (VM), Imo, Annie, James, Helen (VM), Sophie. 
Front: Giu, Hamish, Daniel, Phoebe, Lauren, Dylan – plus Soha and Liz (VM), who unfortunately were missed from the group photo.

The Murut tribe.

Left to right: Phil (VM), Ellie, Aaron (VM), Dana, Sarah, Begsie, Ross (VM), Emily, Nathan, Dan, Gareth, Jamie, Kat, Lizzie. Front: Imogen.

Provided with little more than a suggested kit list, they were placed on buses and driven to the mysterious Zulu Camp, base of operations for the Challenge. Here, the tribes were given their team colours and provided with some essential training to survive the week, including how to start a fire without a lighter or matches, how to hit a bullseye with a traditional blowpipe, and how to erect a sturdy hammock and tarp.

Learning how to start a fire.
Blowpipe training.

There was time for a few challenges for the first valuable points of the week. The tribes went head to head in an intense volleyball match, and then their stomachs were tested with eating live Bornean beetle larvae.

Eating live beetle larvae.
An intense game of volleyball.

Then they were off! Both tribes trekked out of Zulu Camp in the opposite directions and for the next week spent their days trekking from camp to camp, and completing lots of challenges along the way. They were tested physically, mentally and emotionally. The challenges included plunging into a waterfall pool to retrieve hidden underwater clues, constructing a brand new jungle camp deep in the forest, popping thirty balloons in ten minutes with bamboo spears and building a bamboo raft to race along a section of the Kiulu river.

Professional spear throwing from Pheobe.

After many trials and tribulations, one week later both tribes returned triumphant into Zulu Camp. They celebrated their success with a banquet of local cuisine and tribal performances around the bonfire and beneath a stunning canvas of stars.

In truth, everyone who took part in the Challenge was a winner. In the end though, only one tribe could be victorious. With a score of 572 points, the Dusun tribe just pipped Murut’s score of 569 and took home the trophy.

It was a challenging week, but our venturers can reflect on their own endurance and perseverance in overcoming everything that the Adventure Challenge and the jungle threw at them. See the full video of their experience here:

Think you’re tough enough to take on the Adventure Challenge? Sign up here for the 5-week Borneo Expedition.


Words by Adam Y

Photos by Saoirse













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