Rachel on a high

PUBLISHED: 11:33 17 January 2008 | UPDATED: 12:46 06 May 2010

Rachel and her guide on Kilimanjaro

Rachel and her guide on Kilimanjaro

ZOOLOGY student Rachel Pinnock s love of animals is strong enough to for her to climb any mountain. And it was enough to spur her to spend part of her gap year on a wildlife conservation programme in Africa — during which she scaled Mount Kilimanjaro. Rac

ZOOLOGY student Rachel Pinnock's love of animals is strong enough to for her to climb any mountain.

And it was enough to spur her to spend part of her gap year on a wildlife conservation programme in Africa - during which she scaled Mount Kilimanjaro.

Rachel, aged 19, of Homewood Road, St Albans, spent three months living with a Maasai tribe in Tanzania.

She carried out surveys for the African Wildlife Foundation to help the local people and animals to live in balance.

Rachel raised funds for the trip by getting up at 5am every day to work in a shop and she travelled to Arusha in north Tanzania with the other volunteers last April.

They lived in a Maasai camp site where tribesmen taught them basic culture such as how to start a fire using sticks, how to climb trees and how to throw spears.

Although they spent time surveying the local wildlife, a lot of it visited their camp.

Rachel said: "A giraffe used to wander through our camp and hyenas often walked past the tent. There were loads of snakes - I saw a black mamba and a puff adder, and one even crept into the shower where I was which was frightening."

The volunteers also helped to teach the Maasai English and by the end of their stay the tribe was speaking fluently.

Rachel also decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. The climb took six days and as the only volunteer keen on the ascent, Rachel had a guide, 10 porters and a cook all to herself.

Although she suffered from altitude sickness, she made it to the Uhuru peak at 5,896m.

Rachael is planning to go back to Africa to study mammalogy at a South African university after she finishes her degree at Sheffield.

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