Operation Wallacea Conservation Research Expeditions for Schools
97% Rating
(72 Reviews)

Operation Wallacea Conservation Research Expeditions for Schools

Operation Wallacea is a research and environmental organisation, working with university and college academics to build long term datasets to put towards conservation management goals. We recruit school groups to help out with the data collection, and train them in the skills and background that's needed to help effectively. The project lets school students get involved and help out with true research in a number of very special and unique locations. We aspire to educate and inspire, with a lecture series and experience gained from over ten years of running school expeditions. By 2017 we'll be operating in fourteen different countries worldwide, each project unique in it's own way.

School groups participating get the full support of our experienced team, with everything from advice on how to fund-raise, to what to expect when joining us and how to prepare. Some of the projects are not for the faint of heart!

A 2 week expedition is $1,925 - but this excludes flights/transfers

Program Categories
Student Tour
Adventure Travel
Length
1-2 Weeks
Timeframe
Summer
Accommodation
Hostel
Hostel
Language
English
Starting Price
$500.00
Currency
USD

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Growth
    93%
  • Support
    93%
  • Fun
    80%
  • Housing
    90%
  • Safety
    91%

Program Reviews (72)

Miles
Male

Unforgettable experience in Madagascar

9/10

This was an amazing experience and definitely one of the best trips I have been on. All of the different animals that we saw were so different from anything I had seen before. I discovered a new interest in snakes and many other animals that we studied. I made many new friends who will stay with me for a long time. This experience has opened my eyes to the different living conditions and cultures of different people in other countries.

How can this program be improved?

Improve the sleeping and travel arrangements.

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Alisha
Female
37 years old
Bexley

A magical splash in the ocean

8/10

On the long travel up the coast, as we stopped in the resort for an evenings rest, myself and the other teacher snuck away for a quick dip in the ocean. As we entered, the waves and fleeing fish turned bright blue with luminescence. Soon the whole camp was out for a midnight swim, chasing blue fish and painting blue snow angels in the water. It was a magical splash that was uncapturable by a camera and left only in memories and stories.

How can this program be improved?

The dive site was not ready for us as the first group and provided very little scientific value.

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Katie
Female
17 years old
Wordsley

South Africa

10/10

When we arrived on the outskirts Balule National Park we began the drive in we began the journey of a life time, within 5 minutes an Elephant was only 20 metres away, and every single on of us on that vehicle we speechless. However moments later we drove for the maximum of 1km before we saw not one but two black rhinos. They are one of the rarest animals on the planet and we had the privilege of seeing not only an adult female, but also its calf. The reality of what we had just seen finally set in when our ranger, had to call in on his radio the location and time we saw these two rhinos. We had only been there 10 minutes and we had already seen of the rarest animals on the planet, that is when I knew this was going to be the trip of a lifetime.

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Emily
Female
18 years old
Nashua
Other

AMAZING experience

10/10

This trip was definitely the most unforgettable trip I have ever experienced. It was the perfect balance between learning and fun. Academically, I gained so much knowledge about ecology while on this trip as well as about the forest itself. However, when we got back for the night things got really fun as well. I made lifelong friends on this trip and I feel like since we shared this trip together we're all connected through it. I also feel like I had more opportunity to learn about the Amazon river than anyone else my age. I was completely surrounded by experts who knew the answer to just about any question that came to mind. It was fascinated to be surrounded by such knowledgeable people and this trip is the reason I have decided to go to college for science. In addition to the positive social environment and environment filled of knowledge, it also helped me practice my Spanish skills. I am a seventh year Spanish student and I feel like the staff and native people taught me more about the language than I have ever learned sitting within a classroom.

How can this program be improved?

Honestly, I feel like this program is so solid and amazing as it is. I would not change one part of it if it were up to me.

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Andrew
Male
32 years old
Glasgow
University of the West of Scotland

Expedition to Mexico

10/10

"Not just the best school trip but the best holiday I have ever been on." This was a quote from a pupil after our expedition to the Yucatan Peninsula and Akumal and it pretty much summed up the trip for the group. The staff were fantastic, the journey was challenging and the experience a once in a life time. The pupils went on the trip from a range of different backgrounds and friend circles but after a week in the jungle became close friends. Bring on the next trip in 2017!

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Rosa
Female
16 years old
Copenhagen
Other

Vulcanology Day

8/10

On the last day of our terrestrial week we went on a vulcanology tour around the island Dominica. It was amazing as we had our own expert tour guide and went to see all these volcano ruins. We also went to a waterfall site and got to swim in small bodies of fresh water, which was absolutely beautiful and a once in a lifetime experience. On the same day we hiked up a sulfur deposit area on the side of a volcano which led to one of the prettiest sights I have ever seen. All in all this day was filled with amazing views and opportunities and was most likely the best day of the entire trip.

How can this program be improved?

By preparing the students more for exactly what they're expecting and what they will need to bring for where they are staying.

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Valentino
Male
16 years old
Hillsdale

My trip to Dominica

10/10

My trip to Dominica was a life changing experience. I got to see and try things I never did before. I learned about the culture and people of this beautiful island. I enjoyed learning how to snorkel in prestine waters and hike up a mountain. It was exciting to work with knowledgeable scientists and study bats, birds, marine life and lizards. Charlotte was a great help.
I definitely trip to any high school or university student seeking a life changing experience.

How can this program be improved?

I thought it was awesome. Even though the quarters and food were different ; if you changed it, it would not be a true experience

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Maya
Female
17 years old
Wellington

Sensational South Africa

10/10

Life is just better 12,000 km from home, 60 feet deep in the Indian Ocean, at the mouth of a cave, quietly watching a reef shark go about its day. Our South Africa expedition was hands down the best thing I've ever done. From start to finish, everything was new, exciting and insanely fun! The experience and knowledge we gained was invaluable and the memories we made unforgettable. The trip was made even better by the cool people we counted impala and had impromptu swims with.

From the moment I signed up for this trip I have been interested in Wallace. I had never heard about him before but I think it's incredible that Opwall was founded on and is dedicated to his research. If you have the opportunity to go on an expedition, go!!! It will literally change your life.
Hopping on the back of a game viewer to chase lions is an experience I'll never forget. However, my favourite moments have to be the sleepy early mornings eating toast and watching the breathtaking African sunrise, waiting for the day's adventure.

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Tom
Male
19 years old
Aston by Budworth

Ecuador and The Galapagos

9/10

Stayed in the Sani site in the Amazon and worked with an amazing crew to help gather research and protect such a rare environment. The camp was basic but well equipped when you consider its remoteness. The crew was absolutely increadible with their knowledge and willingness to help us in our tasks.

Then we went to the Galapagos island where we went diving and had another amazing team teach us not only about the ecosystem on our island but also the history of the island.

Both teams were fantastic and very professional in their approach. The future of these environments would be in safe hands if they were put in charge!

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Sarah
Female
17 years old
Hickory

Reflection of Peru

10/10

My trip to Peru was a time of personal growth and deepening cultural understanding, ranging from conversing with a local seatmate on a plane returning to her hometown of Iquitos, to visiting the indigenous community of San Martin. Being a part of something that aids in ecological conservation and the sustainability of the communities that live there, gave me a greater sense of purpose. It was my first trip out of America, but the Opwall staff, tour guides, and students made the distance from home seem small. My friends and family often asked me how I could stand living on a boat for weeks or the manual flush toilets, and I told them seeing a harpy eagle catching a sloth for dinner, or stumbling upon a tree with twenty monkeys made every experience worth it. If you decide to take this trip remember to take pictures with everyone you meet, because ….lasting impressions.
I was lucky enough to be in Peru for Peruvian Independence Day. On the river, we could hear the neighboring villages’ celebration all weekend long. The boat deck read “Felicies Independencia Dias.” Everyone joined together to sing the Peruvian national anthem and afterward we had cake and other snacks. Without this trip, I would never have found my love for Peruvian culture and their rich history or our guide Segundo’s salsa lessons. In an email to my parents, I wrote, “So many things are better with dolphins, drinking tea in the morning, reading a book in the afternoon, and watching the sunset shoot colors across the sky and water alike.”
Remote Iquitos was filled with street vendors selling delicious fruits and cooked meats. The streets themselves were filled with dozens and dozens of bicycle cabs carrying people to cafes, playgrounds, the arcade, supermarket, and one really nice air-conditioned shoe store. Along the waterfronts, the people attached logs to their homes so they could float as the water levels rise and fall 30 feet every year. The dramatic rises in the water level left more than a few beached boats dotting the landscape. One of our group mused “Imagine canoeing to your neighbor’s house on the weekends!”
Meeting the fantastic team of biologists lead me to understand the real-world applications of our field research. Seeing how biologists live and work has given me a real-life peek into the possibilities of a career in biology. Immersing myself in the culture of Peru and the cultures of our fellow students and shipmates has broadened my personal horizons as well.

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Janette
Female
40 years old
Melbourne

Cuba 2016

10/10

In 2016 eight Year 11 Parade College students attended our first overseas Opwall Science expedition. We were the first Victorian school to participate in this program and the first Australian school to visit the Cuba site.

We participated in the 2 week marine research program where we got SCUBA qualified and
undertook scientific fieldwork. This experience allowed the boys to access a largely unvisited marine park and allowed the boys to gain valuable experience in responsible tourism and marine conservation, while also undertaking a cultural immersion. The lectures, activities and staff were all amazing. Upon returning one student said it cemented his interest in an ecology career, which is evidence to the immense impact such an experience had on the boys.

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Bella
Female
18 years old
Totnes

Madagascan treasures

10/10

It was a wonderful expierence which I will remember for the rest of my life. Madagascar was very different from the UK such as the climate, the diet, the species ect. One of my favourite memorys was at the first camp we went to which was a two hour walk away from base camp and we were really lucky to have crab and chips for dinner except I'd never tried eating crab claws before
 I was sitting at the table with the local guides and they tried to teach me how to open them but I was hopeless. The guides found it very humorous very time the claw slipped out of my hand bit with a lot of coaching I managed a small but to large victory to me that I managed it. Another small but for me great success was the walk back to Base Camp because I really thought i wouldn't be able to make it up the, what seemed like, a vertical slope but when I got to the top being in front of my other peers I felt a rush of adrelile and I was breathtaken as I looked over the landscape. The feeling of awe I felt standing there is a feeling I'll never forget. I also did some scuba diving and how could anyone forget driving down and swimming with turtles at a arms length away from you. At just 17 and to have this amazing personal victory is amazing and I'd defiantly recommend doing a exhibition.

How can this program be improved?

The program for Madagascar was very good and I struggle to think of any way in which it can be improved. The only thing I wish I could of done is travel the country a bit more to see a wider range of lemurs and reptiles. However I do realise that this means a lot of sitting in buses and traveling which a lot of people wouldn't want to do. It would also take a lot of time so in consideration I would say you guys have a good balance of everything.

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Katie
Female
18 years old
Cockermouth

Once in a lifetime experience in the Amazon , Peru

10/10

The two weeks I spent in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest were two of the most incredible, unforgettable weeks of my life. I would recommend Operation Wallacea expeditions to anyone who has the opportunity to go on one, as I would go back again in a heartbeat.

From early morning breakfasts in the rainforest for mistnetting (where we ringed and measured birds such as Wire Tailed Manakins and even a Toucan!) to late night canoe trips upriver to catch and measure Caiman (and stroking their stomachs to keep them calm) everything we did was absolutely amazing. What made the trip more amazing were the groups we worked in, the people we became close to and the funny times we shared as people fell into the swamps in the jungle or couldn't catch a fish in a survey.

Nearly everyday we had lectures about the local area or different types of birds and animals native to the Amazon Rainforest. All the lectures were really interesting and made the surveys we carried out more meaningful as we understood more of what we were seeing and doing. The lecturers, biologists and guides were honestly some of the kindest people I have ever met and had the pleasure to work with.

From floating upriver counting pod size of dolphins to trekking into the jungle and recording monkey group size and activity, there was never a boring moment and always something new to try out whilst on the surveys (such as GPS, filling out data forms or using different measuring devices). The skills you learn whilst on an Operation Wallacea trip are so valuable and you don't even feel like you are learning difficult techniques as everything is so fun and interesting.

Nothing could ever beat waking up on the boat that has become your home and seeing dolphins jumping outside the window on one side and the jungle teeming with life on the other. Exotic birds and butterflies fly over and around the top deck where you can spend free time washing, reading or just getting to know everyone you are sharing the incredible experience with. The sunsets that lit up the sky every evening were absolutely breathtaking.

There may have been a few unexpected visitors in the rooms at night but it was nothing a bit of bug spray couldn't fix! Another concern I had before going was about what food I might get to eat but there was nothing to worry about as we got three very filling meals everyday... as long as you liked rice, pasta and eggs.

My experience in Peru is one that I will treasure for ever and I hope to join future Operation Wallacea teams travelling to other parts of the World.

Louis
Male
25 years old

An amazing experence

10/10

Operation Wallacea was an amazing experience that anyone who has an interested in the natural world should be part of. Leaving civilisation behind and going to live in the south african bush was a surreal experience, arriving late and night and waking to the noise of the hippos was such a contrast from life in rural Lincolnshire. Seeing four of the big five was a truly unforgettable experience. After a week in the bush we were transferred to Sodwana Bay to take part in a reef ecology course. diving in a world heritage site, swimming with dolphins and seeing humpback whales was a once in a lifetime experience. overall the trip pushed me out of my comfort zone, made me more confident and cemented my desire to study Biology at a higher level. I would fully recommend this trip to anyone with even a slight interest in nature.

How can this program be improved?

Improved evening/social activities on the second week

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Natalie
Female
18 years old
Lancaster

My experience in Honduras

10/10

The two weeks in Honduras were an amazing experience that’ll I’ll never forget. The first week in the cloud forest, I collected different data from different species of animals along international scientists. This enabled me to learn about the National Park and how important it is in order to keep many species alive, this I enjoyed seeing and investigating for myself. From identifying and locating birds by their calls to exploring a wider context of our A level syllabus in biology. For example, the ‘mark, release, recapture method’ with snakes. A challenge for me but also one of my highlights was canopy access, where we got to climb into the canopy, it was pretty strenuous and scary at times, but once at the top the view was extraordinary.
The second week in Utila was an unforgettable experience, here we had the chance to become a qualified PADI open water diver. Some of these skills we had were pretty unnerving and took several attempts, although we did all manage to do it with the strong support from the staff. It took a lot of perseverance but it was well worth it to be able to explore the outstanding beauty of the reef. Exploring the reef itself was the main highlight of the trip, as we got deeper it almost seemed as if we were in a completely different place. We saw many types of sea life, including sting rays, eagle rays, parrotfish, pufferfish and lionfish. We were lucky to dive in such a preserved reef as it was one of the few which hasn’t been affected by coral bleaching.
Ultimately, the trip was an incredible experience, that I would definitely recommend doing and would love to do it all again.

How can this program be improved?

More information on what clothes to bring for the second week e.g. more casual
Emphasis on bringing wellies/ hire out wellies as limited luggage

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David
Male
50 years old
Oxford

Go go go go go go!

10/10

I was responsible for 16 students aged 16-19 from my English school. We had an extraordinary time. We travelled to Calukmal in Mexico for a week in the forest, trekking and surveying with expert scientists, visiting the Mayan ruins, enjoying fascinating lectures and just living the jungle life. Accommodation was basic but gave a real experience, and we would not have wanted it to be more touristy. The second week was spent diving in the Caribbean at Akumal, with more glamorous accommodation (air con and flushing toilets!) and expert tuition from Akumal Dive Centre.

Throughout the expedition Opwall staff were professional. We felt safe, but not too safe (it's the jungle in Mexico, not the New Forest in the UK). Arrangements were impeccable. We would go again - in fact we are, to Honduras with Opwall in 2018. Can't wait!

On the back of their experiences a number of my students changed their university plans, wrote EPQs or founded their UCAS statements on their travels. All have university offers, some unconditional, some expressly as a result of their work. Opwall changes lives. Go. Go now.

How can this program be improved?

I've got nothing. It was the best, the very best, experience of my 25 year career in school science and adventure holidaying.

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Andrew
Male
19 years old
Bowie, MD
Salisbury University

Best trip of my life

10/10

During my time in the Amazon I will say was the best trip of my life. During my stay I experienced people and cultures that I never would have experienced anywhere else. The trip also was an eye opener to what I want to do in my life. I also made some very good friends through the trip that even after two years I still keep in contact with. I was also able to use the trip as a good resource in school by contacting the biologists from the trip for information as well as insight on what or how to do something.

How can this program be improved?

Not in my case but based off what I observed with others on my trip people were not prepared, so prior to the trip inform the people on what the trip entails

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Celia
Female
18 years old
Washington, DC

My Experience in Dominica

10/10

After getting off the plane, in Roseau Dominica, I had no idea what was to come. All I knew is that I was excited. I heard we were working with scientists but wasn't sure if it'd be more like a vacation then actually learning.

To my surprise, everything was great. Obviously, theres things we would all like to change about any experience but looking back I think it just what I needed. We had comfortable sleeping arrangements, we had authentic food, and beautiful scenery. I couldn't ask for anything better.

My favorite part was when we began to work with the scientists. They were so interesting! They all had their own story on how they got to where are and all had an immense passion for their work. That was truly inspirational. We also got to know them as people and they were really cool and knew how to make us all laugh.

Another favorite part was diving. I found a new passion of mine. It was incredible discovering a new world up close and in person. I know that in the future I'll definitely go on more diving adventures.

I can go on and on for how much I liked it, but if you're some one who craves adventure, and loves the outdoors, and is curious about nature. I cannot think of a better trip for you. This is FOR you.

I'm planning another trip with OpWall in the summer of 2017 as a research assistant to Croatia! I can't wait!

~Celia

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a
Male
37 years old
bhma

Madagascar 2016

10/10

Staying at Matesdroy was paradise. Where else in the world can you be relaxing in a hammock, enjoying the tranquillity and watching a group of Sifakas in the trees? The scenery was beautiful. The lake was like an oasis teeming with wildlife. The ability to disconnect from the rest of the world was refreshing, in stark contrast with the fast pace materialistic life full of distractions we generally live. Highly recommended for anyone, really.

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Alistair
Male
20 years old
Whitley Bay
Newcastle University

Operation Wallacea Madagascar 2015

8/10

I thoroughly enjoyed my expedition to Madagascar with OpWall, a few of the many highlights of the trip included diving in Nosy Be and staying at Matsedroy. I feel that the staff and University students were friendly, helpful and well informed, ensuring that the trip ran smoothly. I would recommend the trip to any sixth form or University students who are looking for an extra curricular activity to broaden their outlook.

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Mo
Male
18 years old
London

Over Summer...

9/10

This summer, 2016, I went on this research expedition via my school to Samos and Lipsi islands in the Aegean sea near Turkey. I was not sure of what to expect per se but I was very satisfied with the trips I was part of over the Island of Samos. I first took part in a chameleon survey one night on which we were told the rarity of them and the importance of species conservation which I am very interested in.

I also took part in an insect survey which was great as this was done at night, same with the jackal survey which was very scary! Especially when we actually heard the reply of the packs of jackals roaming around us in the foresty area when we played the stock jackal sound.

Aside from the deep sea diving course which was great, as well as gaining a certified qualification, these trips to scour the island were really enlightening for me, and the classes we went on really opened my mind to the bigger picture of species conservation all over the Galapagos of islands.

How can this program be improved?

Bigger rooms for groups of students. The room I was in was very small at the hotel on Samos and had 8 students living in a very small area with one bathroom/shower. Also provide more fans in the summer as it gets hot!

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Victoria
Female
19 years old
Norwich

One of the best experiences

10/10

I went on Op. Wall to Sulawesi in Indonesia in 2015 and it was amazing. I knew before I went that I wanted to go down the ecology route in my studies but my trip to the Indonesian rainforest cemented my passion for my subject. I was amazed by the knowledge and zeal of the staff and how they taught us so much in so little time. One of my highlights had to be the canopy access course where by using high ropes we were able to climb to the top of one of the emergent trees in the canopy and could see for miles around not to mention the fact that a Draco lizard was on the branch opposite us. This is truly the adventure of a lifetime and the hammocks are so comfortable !

How can this program be improved?

I would have liked to spend more time in the jungle and less in the village.

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Mike
Male
58 years old
Manchester
Bangor University

South Africa 2016

9/10

Our base in Balule was a game lodge set on a river bank. There were crocodiles basking on the sand bank and hippos grazing or sleeping on the far shore. The day –to-day activities consisted of game drives (to identify animals), game transects and walks on foot. We had some memorable encounters; lions, elephants, leopard, hyena, giraffe and baboons. We came across elephants on the third day. We found ourselves in the middle of a herd of 13, crossing the road. The guide said: “don’t say a word, don’t even take photos, just shut up”. One of the matriarchs flared her ears at us and the leader gave her a nudge to stop her charging us. You could imagine her saying “leave it, they’re not worth it”. The only way the encounter could have been closer was if the truck had been rammed. Even the guide got out of the truck afterwards, visibly pale, and said “I need a cigarette after that - you’re not supposed to get that close.”
One evening, during the meal, the camp leader came in and said “stay quiet and go to the fence - there’s a leopard hunting”. And there was. A large male leopard walked past us, not bothered by the numerous lights trained on him.
For the second week we transferred to Sodwana Bay, near the Mozambique border. When not diving, we spent most of our time in the café which served coffee and toasties. The entertainment was provided by a troop of vervet monkeys who raided at random intervals. You could have your chips taken out of your hand if not careful. Sometimes they would steal food from the counter. The old lady who ran the place would come out with a catapult, which was less-than-effective but good for a laugh.
Sodwana Bay is a world-renowned dive site. The marine life is spectacular. Ironically, the snorkelers saw the most. They saw humpback whales in the distance, dolphins and a manta ray. The divers had some spectacular encounters including two huge potato bass, (black and white groupers, about 6 foot long), turtles, white-tip sharks and big morays.
Overall, it was a stunning trip. We ate impala stew and Mopani worms (actually caterpillars), saw how far we could spit impala poo (it’s a game, honest), danced with Zulus, slept under the stars and played football with elephant dung. It beats going to Southport.

How can this program be improved?

The dive week involved a lot of hanging around. Those who weren't qualified didn't see the beach until the 4th day - its all in my feedback.

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Mandy
Female
58 years old
Northampton
Nottingham University

Indonesia..

9/10

This was probably the most personally challenging two weeks of my life, in particular the week spent in the rainforest, coping with the rain (not surprisingly) and the week was topped with the awesome experience canopying. The staff were incredibly knowledgeable and helpful, and although conditions were hard, everyone had a sense of achievement at the end of this week. The second week diving and snorkelling was an amazing experience too, the unspoilt beaches and reef wildlife meant it was an absolute privilege to be able to visit and enjoy the location.

Sarah
Female
19 years old
Abu Dhabi

Operation Wallacea: Indonesia, August 2015

10/10

This trip was amazing for my development academically and aided the inspiration of a project I did in my final year of school towards the conservation of dugongs in the UAE. It also made me see the different aspects of the world and what parts need more conservation to be promoted.
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It made me understand more as to why we need to help conservation of marine and land life and I've found more of a passion towards wanting to help this conservation movement. The Operation Wallacea team also helped me in figuring out how I could do that. I especially liked listening to the dissertations of the university students on Hoga Island, as well as the classes we had with one of the dive instructors who gave us more of an insight into marine life and conservation.
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As a whole, the trip was a massive adventure which was what I really needed at the time. I made many new friends, as I only came over with a small group with 3 other girls. We met Norwich Girls School and managed to get along really well with our team. The support staff were also amazing, especially in teaching and explaining their topic areas to us.
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I wouldn't even complain about the accommodation as it was an experience of living like a local. The family we stayed with were absolutely lovely and hospitable. Going on the jungle trek was also an amazing experience of sleeping outside (despite the leeches and spiders we may have found in our hammocks) and having to use a ditch as a toilet.
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I would also like to especially mention the Canopy Access crew, the opportunity they gave us was amazing and even support after when I had mentioned that I would further like to take up canopy climbing and getting my BCAP.
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As well as that, the guides we had on our tour were amazing and captured our interest in the way they described what they knew of the Indonesian jungle. This gave me a real sense of how important the conservation in Indonesia is and how much they considered it to be home.

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Melissa
Female
36 years old
Rickmansworth

Mexico

10/10

The stand out memories from this are about the staff in the forest section of this two week experience. They were so knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their field of work, and this definitely inspired our students throughout the week.

We really enjoyed taking part in all of the activities - the bat surveys were amazing, and all of our students thoroughly enjoyed painting the bats nails with nail varnish and measuring them before releasing them back in to the wild - a once in a life time opportunity!

How can this program be improved?

The accommodation in the marine section of this trip was lacking in shower and toilet facilities in Akumal, however I believe this has already been addressed and the location of the accommodation was set to be moving after our trip.

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Jonathan
Male
43 years old
Bangkok

Indonesia 2016

10/10

Operation Wallacea is one of those rare opportunities in life for students to experience something completely life changing; to get a sense of the real world, its challenges, rigors and beauty. This was my second year leading a group of my students on Operation Wallacea to North Buton and Hoga island in Indonesia and despite the awful weather. It rained for the entire two weeks, and trust me if anything is going to dampen spirits its sleeping in a wet sleeping bag, there was no dampening of spirits among our cohort. The rain was greeted like an old friend and boots squelched on, whilst sipping coffee in the dim morning mist, as minds wandered to the hill of death that awaited us on our long trek to the forest transects. Indeed as one student recalled with a broad smile - "Operation Wallacea, its kinda like saving the world, one terrible trek at a time." After days in the field we would always return to our little boondock which became the epicenter of our jungle experiences. So much so that one night an improptu disc started with the locals and students sharing dances, music and magic. Pak Dessar - the local village headman - was left shaking his head as the cards move, the dancers swayed and the music played...all the time to the drum of the rain on the roof and the chirp of the Tarsier's which surround the camp.

Our week in the jungles could be summarized as incessant wetness, treks, transects, lectures, learning, friendships, dancing challenges and huge, huge enjoyment. We all left, treking out from our little camp, deep in contemplation, realizing that we had all experienced something far greater than the sum of its parts.

Week 2 - Diving and Hoga. As soon as we were met and whisked onto the boat, with some anticipation we awaited Hoga as it slowly chugged into view from behind a skirt of rain. It had a lot to live up to. Hoga is one of the most picturesque and stunningly beautiful islands in the world and it did not disappoint. As an active research base with many more university students from around the world Hoga feels very different. Its buzzes with activity, people zipping around on their own little missions all under the watchful eye (and instruction) of Pippa!

If I am honest you come to Hoga to dive - The diving is incredible - two dives a day for 5 days pushes students to their limits, but it is so, so worth it. The coral, the biodiversity of the marine ecosystem that rings this small island is stunning - out highlight was the school of Eagle rays, just hanging out off the reef, not doing much, just mooching around.

Then suddenly, it's over..at least for another year.

Operation Wallacea is one of the most incredible journeys any high school or secondary student can and should do. It pushes students to go beyond their envelope, their boundaries and opens their eyes to what was only heard of in school and through books

Opwell - see ya in 2017

Jon

Kalina
Female
21 years old
Litchfield, Connecticut

Honduras 2015

10/10

This trip was truly the most remarkable 2 weeks of my life. Experiencing a new culture while having the opportunity to live in the breathtaking cloud forests and diving off Utila was a time I'll never forget. One of my favorite things on the trip were the herpetology walks. At first, our group moved slowly and clumsily, carefully scanning unfamiliar terrain for creatures we'd most likely never seen before. Occasionally, someone would point out a frog disappearing into the jungle or a snake retreating into a burrow. But as the week progressed, there was a universal development of a connection with our environment. Our eyes adjusted to the jungle landscape, and became familiar with the Craugastor and Exquisita frogs native to Cusuco National Park. It became normal to dive into the bushes without a moment's notice in pursuit of a species, and we all learned to treasure the accomplishment of finding a creature worth documenting. On one particular night walk, our group was fortunate enough to encounter a baby green pit viper dangling from a vine, and we waited and watched until a herpetologist came to safely capture and tag the snake. Nothing can beat being able to fully experience the environment at all times.

How can this program be improved?

Providing students with more fundraising support and more in depth counsel on how to pack would be helpful.

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Liam
Male
17 years old
Anacortes

Great Trip!

10/10

The staff are all super friendly, the overall trip quality is great. Safety is off the charts- I felt as safe as I did at home. You'll learn a great deal of tricks and many new things, but you'll also find beautiful sights and creatures. Housing is not a problem at all, the one problem I had was getting a fly out. Travel was easy and quick, everything was taken care of and there was no hassle. Totally recommend signing up!!

Danny
Male
56 years old
Sacramento, California
California State University- Sacramento

Honduras was lit!

10/10

When choosing to take a group of teenagers abroad, there is bound to be something that creates a lasting memory. More often than not, it is an injury, lost student or some small 'tragedy' that arises from the under-development of the teens frontal cortex. For me, the lasting memory involves two separate days but one incredible experience. When leaving base camp, I had endured a few days of prima dona experiences with one of my students. She complained too often about...well..everything! and to top it off her boyfriend was overly protective and over-involved in everything that she encountered from too heavy a backpack to having to use the rugged outdoors as a loo. When arriving at our high altitude camp, everyone set up their potential sleeping arrangements and we went to dinner and after dinner, in the rain went to gather data on amphibians. While on the evening adventure, my student went to bed. Upon our return the camp was alive with excitement about a rare viper that had been found at camp! As it turns out, the viper was quietly coiled up under the hammock of my student! Upon seeing the snake she calmly walked to the scientists and stated, "I think there is a snake under my hammock and you might be interested in seeing it." Here was this individual who we had come to believe couldn't handle the outdoors and she is the one who so calmly informed the scientists that there was a snake that might interest them.
Needless to say, the event changed our view of her and in fact changed her own outlook about the trip. Throughout the remainder of the trip, she was often the most active and engaged student. And....upon her return to the States, she was one of the most vocal about how great her trip had been. You never know what can happen!

How can this program be improved?

The only difficult part was all of the educational PowerPoints and talks and the timing of these events. They often fell after a long day and it made it difficult for some students to stay focused. As for me and my wife, it was all fantastic and even encouraged me to do another trip but to Indonesia.

In retrospect, I probably should have returned to Honduras.

About The Provider

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Operation Wallacea is a network of academics from European and North American universities, who design and implement biodiversity and conservation management research programmes. Research is supported by students who join the programme, to strengthen their CV or resume or collect data for a dissertation or

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