Operation Wallacea Conservation Research Expeditions for Schools

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About

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

Questions & Answers

Reviews

97%
based on 72 reviews
  • Growth 9.3
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 8
  • Housing 9
  • Safety 9.1
Showing 1 - 15 of 72
Miles
9/10

Unforgettable experience in Madagascar

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Alisha
8/10

A magical splash in the ocean

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Katie
10/10

South Africa

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.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Emily
10/10

AMAZING experience

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Andrew
10/10

Expedition to Mexico

"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!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Rosa
8/10

Vulcanology Day

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Valentino
10/10

My trip to Dominica

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
Yes, I recommend this program
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Maya
10/10

Sensational South Africa

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.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Tom
9/10

Ecuador and The Galapagos

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!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Sarah
10/10

Reflection of Peru

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.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Janette
10/10

Cuba 2016

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.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Bella
10/10

Madagascan treasures

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Katie
10/10

Once in a lifetime experience in the Amazon , Peru

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.

Yes, I recommend this program
Louis
10/10

An amazing experence

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
Yes, I recommend this program
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Natalie
10/10

My experience in Honduras

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
Yes, I recommend this program

Interviews

Meet the Alumni

Meet the Staff

About Operation Wallacea

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...