Operation Wallacea Conservation Research Expeditions for Schools

Video and Photos

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 46 - 60 of 72
Default avatar
Abigail
10/10

Mexico - High School 2013

Mexico gave me a chance to grow and prove to myself that I was capable of such an activity - and in fact do very well at it, and love it as well.
The expedition was varied; there was learning by classroom and by practice, and in the forest and under the sea. The knowledge and experiences were valuable beyond belief at the time, and also looking back now, almost at the end of my University career.
The accommodation was less-than-luxurious, but it was more than adequate and the whole point was to camp and settle into the natural world; nothing more was needed and what was provided was good quality and clean.
The staff were wonderful. I still miss them and have been in touch with some since. The trip would have been amazing either way, but the Operation Wallacea staff, and the temporary 'expert' staff, made it even more so.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Sophie
10/10

Amazing Experience

I had an amazing time during my recent trip to Mexico. During my time in the Jungle in Calakmul our group became a family and shared unforgettable memories together. During my time at the marine site, my passion for marine biology escalated and I felt inspired by the vast range of biodiversity I saw. I would recommend this trip to everyone, it has been an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.

Yes, I recommend
Patrick
10/10

Why getting hit in the face was ok.

I was qualified for diving before the trip, so was able to do the full week of open water dives, which were overall great fun. The one problem is I have issues with spacial awareness, so I was never quite sure where things were. This was compounded by the fact that I was underwater, and moving up and down quite a lot due to me breathing. After two days, I had settled a bit and was diving normally, but I still had issues knowing where things were. This was fine most of the time, excpet while doing transects, as while one group were doing the transect we were asked to swim round the reef in a group. This led to a problem as me and my partner were at the back. I was distracted by several fish, and swam to close to the people in front. This led to me being kicked in the face. This led me to stop, and this led me to look around-where I saw a turtle. I'd been wanting to see one all of the dive, so finally being able to was great!

How can this program be improved?
There were some issues with the toilets, at our campsite, so perhaps some form of improvements may be beneficial.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Camila
10/10

Unforgettable experience

The trip to the middle of the rainforest and then being able to enjoy the wonders of the under water world was an amazing and unforgettable experience. Initially, I believed it would be a science heavy trip, working in the heat. However, I was mistaken. Although I did learn a lot about how to collect data efficiently and effectively and about to the habitat we had entered, I actually gained more transferable skills such as team work, perseverance and independence. Arriving from a busy city with a few parks dotted here and there, my friends and I were unsure of what to expect. We arrived to the camp where we greeted by friendly people, fed, shown around the camp and then escorted to our tents, where we had time to unpack and relax before heading out again for some afternoon activities. The rest of the week was just as exciting as the first day and even more so when we causiously entered the forest for the first time and saw the beautiful habitat and habitants! The second week our excitement grew as we bused to Akumal, near Cancun, for a week of diving. Although not all of us were qualified we had the opertunity to become certified divers. Staying in dorms, we got to meet new people and make new friends. The dives were spectacular and we were garinteed to see a turtle which we did! At least 10 in just one dive!
Each day was a new experience for us all. With some of us taking science A Levels and others studying the arts, we were a varied group, nevertheless we all enjoyed it and have wonderful memories from the trip. I would strongly recommend going if you have the opertunity.

How can this program be improved?
Not sure, I really enjoyed it as it was!
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Jacob
10/10

A Great experience for my students!

After a long day in the Calakmul Forest, studying birds, reptiles, butterflies, mammals and autotrophs - we were back in camp, finishing an amazing dinner made by three women that live in the nearby village. There were a few of my students at computers, inputting data - being mentored by our amazing staff. Another group was pulling out a Twister game pad and playing twister. Pretty soon, a crowd was gathered around the game, and my high school students were laughing, playing, wrestling with some of the smartest PhDs and researchers I have met. In that moment, I realized how lucky my high school students really were. They were gaining great field experience, but just as importantly, they were treated like equals, sharing in the research and sharing in the camaraderie that develops when a group of people treat each other with respect and work hard together toward a common goal. This was just as valuable a life lesson as the research and can only happen when everyone on staff shares this value of inclusiveness and respect.

How can this program be improved?
Hard to say - they did a fantastic job. The only issue we ran into was getting picked up at the airport (we had to wait for our driver for about 45 minutes) and then we got dropped off at the wrong terminal, so had to walk with all our gear about 1/2 a mile to the correct terminal. The actual trip was amazing!
Yes, I recommend
Brian
10/10

Really amazing!

A really amazing program, run by really amazing people, in a really amazing place, doing really amazing work! This was a world perception altering experience for all of our students in so many ways. From the realities of "roughing it" in tents in a foreign country for a week, to learning about how biodiversity surveys of this type have a real and meaningful impact on the world around them. A truly excellent experience that I would heartily recommend to anyone!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Lisa
8/10

OpWall - Samos & Lipsi

This summer I participated in the conservation research expedition organized by Operation Wallacea in Samos and Lipsi (Greece). Overall I had an incredible experience. Not only did we help in monitoring vital species in the area such as the golden jackel or the chameleon (On our night survey I was lucky enough to catch, measure and tag four chameleons!) but we also had loads of fun. One of the most memorable parts about the trip was the opportunity to obtain my scuba diving license. The staff were all very friendly and supportive and helped in transitioning from the pool to the sea, reaching a depth of 15 meter. My favorite part of the trip was in Lipsi, which was not only gorgeous (especially the beaches which we helped clean up with the major of the island) but also the locals were friendly and appreciated our efforts. We also had the amazing opportunity to meet and talk to dolphin activist Richard O'Barry. We had watched his documentation "the cove" and had a great conversation about dolphins in captivity. His passion was truly inspirational and left its mark on me and my peers.

How can this program be improved?
One thing that could be improved is the accommodation in Samos as both the AC and the fan was broken, which meant incredibly hot rooms.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Vincent
9/10

Unique Experience in Greece

All in one was this two-week program not only a unique experience but it had many benefits in terms of learning new material, which included getting to know the environment and people. In these two weeks, I didn't just learn how to cooperate with people from around the world but also to conserve certain areas. As a group, we were stationed on Samos for the first week and during the second week on Lipsi. Personally, the second week on Lipsi was more enjoyable, with great evenings and adventures tasks during the day. Also, the boat tour from Samos to Lipsi was a moment in which I started to realize how beautiful the Aegean. In general, this experience helped me to understand how important our ecosystem is and how difficult it is to maintain a stable environment. Furthermore, would I definitely repeat this trip because it was fun and also very productive.

Most amazing Story of the trip:
This was by far the moment when our group arrived on Samos. The weather, the first impression and of course the beautiful and fun people around us. Even though this might not be a complete story but it was definitely something that I won't ever forget. I am very honored that I was able to take part in this two-week program. Shoutout to all the marvelous people and staff members that helped contribute to this amazing trip.

How can this program be improved?
Unfortunately, I can't think of anything. Oh, wait! Maybe extend the trip for the people like me who would want to help out more.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Chelsea
10/10

El Perezoso

My trip to Peru was absolutely amazing. There is truly no place like the Amazon. The scenery of the calm river and the huge forest was breathtaking, and all of the daily surveys are fun and educational. I loved hiking through the forest and catching birds and frogs, but I also learned a lot about the ongoing problems of conservation of the forest and how the local communities are trying to help. I also learned a lot about the different animals that live in the Amazon and how they behave and interact with other species. A highlight of my trip was during the fishing survey. My group stayed on the main boat, to fish with rods, while I went in a small, metal canoe with a guide to set up the net. We paddled along the river. It was so serene and beautiful, but then we entered a dark forest with spiky trees that we had to dodge. We set up the net, caught a couple of wolf fish a headed back to the main boat. On the way back, the guide spotted a sloth in a tree and told me to wave to it. He said if it waved back its good luck. Slowly, but surely, the sloth waved back! It was truly amazing. Back on the boat, we talked about everything we saw that day and played lots of games. From then on, my friends called me 'perezoso'. I became good friends with other kids from my own school, the other school, and the local biologists and guides. We had a big salsa dancing night at the end of the trip that was very fun, and I still talk to all of my new friends today! Overall, this trip only made me more interested in biology and ecology, and if I could, I would do go on this trip again in a heartbeat!

How can this program be improved?
This trip was amazing and I wouldn't do much to change it, but I had the most fun on the last few nights when we had salsa dancing and pub quizzes. These social events really brought the whole trip together and made it extra fun. I wish we did more activities like this before the last two days of the trip. It would have been really fun, but I had lots of fun anyway playing scattergories and card games with my friends.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Maria
10/10

Operation Wallacea

My second favorite animal is the chameleon so I as incredibly exited when I got to that expedition. After 1 hour of walking is the dark and seeing absolutely nothing we found one. We were all exited, we got to learn how to keep track of them, how to measure them and weight them. It was an amazing experiment and helped me understand how field work should be carried out avoiding to cause distress to animal.

How can this program be improved?
What I think could be better is the explanation of how the work we did will influence the target they want to achieve
Yes, I recommend
Adam
8/10

Operation Wallacea - Greece

Great time away in Greece: I learnt to dive and did it with some of my (now) closest friends. It was an opportunity to bond with peers, over everything from the antics of our Opwall representative " 'elen " to the (very) dodgy dill infused cuisine of "Manolis' Tastes" (exactly how you'd expect him to taste!!!). The volunteers and the expert scientists present were all so lovely! Overall I would do all over again!

How can this program be improved?
NO MORE MANOLIS' TASTE! The food on Lipsi was sooo rank, I felt like vomiting a few times to be honest. Other than that it was really awesome (and the bad bits just made the good bits seem even better!)
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Victor
10/10

Scuba in Cuba Tops Aruba!

The whole trip was a blast! This is in the top 5 of any diving site I've seen on the planet this far. The dive staff was both extremely knowledgeable AND professional. The food was phenomenal, the staff and other participants extremely friendly and accessible. My students continue to be in contact with students from other countries they met. I would say that my most memorable times on this trip were the dives; we would drop into a very colorful, diverse reef environment. We were given dive training with great emphasis on safety and practice. When we surfaced, we were greeted by the amazing Cuna espresso and a hearty lunch. AT the surface, there was always fun interactions where we got to know each other better as mixed country groups. The second dive was always as good or better than the first, as our skills increased exponentially. Diving takes a lot out of you, but there was always Cuban espresso and camaraderie to bring you back to speed.

How can this program be improved?
More equipment in the "Lab" to keep more kids busy with larval fish ID. The manatee prospects were oversold.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Francesco
10/10

An amazing experience, overall!

This whole "research expedition" idea was a new experience for me. I did not know what to expect, at first. I wondered whether the food or the accommodations would be good, but, more importantly, I wondered whether I would enjoy the activities. All I can say is, definitely. The things I did, saw and experienced were unique, and a first, for me. All in all, even the things I enjoyed less (waking up early, having dinner really early, being tired most of the time, ect) did absolutely nothing to extinguish my enthusiasm. Every single day, for two weeks, I woke up ready to face whatever that day's program had to offer. Chameleon or jackal night surveys? Scuba diving? Bird watching? Lectures? Lentil soup with 30°C outside? Sure, why not! I did not care about all these things, because I knew that, by the end of the day, I would be going to bed satisfied, and full of new knowledge.
This expedition left such a positive impression that I did not hesitate for one second when signing up to next summer's expedition: Ecuador & Galapagos 2017. I have high hopes for this one, and I'm sure I'll not be let down.

How can this program be improved?
Even though the accommodations in Lipsi island were, in some ways, better than those in Samos island, our facility was located really close to a night disco club. Unfortunately, this club was always up and running until really early in the morning, blearing loud music all the time. This meant that we often had a hard time falling asleep, or could never get a full night rest, even after our teachers bough earplugs for all of us.
I think that this is one thing that would make the stay in Lipsi more bearable.
Yes, I recommend
Inigo
10/10

Operation Wallacea was both fun and unimposingly educational

The trip to Cuba was truly a once in a lifetime experience. The staff were really fun and sociable, the hotel comfortable, the food stellar, and the lectures enjoyable. In the year and a bit that's passed since I went, it's still a go-to for funny anecdotes, and I think the expertise of the staff and practical work have contributed to my GCSE results in a way that school alone would have struggled to do. I would vehemently recommend Operation Wallacea to anybody keen on biology, or in search of something eye-opening and unforgettable.

How can this program be improved?
While the food itself was excellent, there wasn't much variety. That aside, I have no complaints whatsoever.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Jordan
9/10

Indonesia Conservation Expedition

I began my journey with a group of 12 people from New Zealand as part of a Biology Conservation Trip with Westlake Boys High School.

After a long trip of three flights, we finally arrived in the Labundo Village and met our local hosts for our home stay experience in the village. We were introduced to everyday village life and looked around the village at the schools and housing.

We left this behind and headed into the depth of the Lambusango Rainforest situated in the Labundo Village in Buton, South East Sulawesi. Our accommodation was the Bala Camp, hidden deep in the forest. We saw a mixture of frogs, insects, bats, snakes and skinks as we trekked around the rainforest with the scientists on a daily basis. We had a planned weeks worth of adventures which was presented on a whiteboard at the camp. The highlight of this week was touching a snake, especially the red mock viper! Worst part ... the leeches. We were joined by a group from St Albans school from the U.K and we were introduced to a life of river showers, long hikes, camp life and hammocks.

We set off from this adventure, heading to Bau Bau Marine Reserve to explore the ocean and learn more about the marine life and conservation efforts to preserve vulnerable species. I spent this week completing my PADI dive certificate followed by open diving. Highlights, apart from passing my certificate was seeing clown fish, stingrays, sea life around the coral, Moray eels, lion and frog fish. Our accommodation was shared rooms and this time, with flushing toilets, beds and the bonus of a shower.

Our food on the trip consisted mainly of rice and noodles, so this was off the menu for a while once I arrived back home.

Overall, this was an amazing adventure pushing me out of my comfort level and experiencing life far different to one I live in New Zealand. I have lasting memories of this trip, the people, the places and the adventures.

Yes, I recommend

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...