I chose this program for the chance to travel the world and go into a region of the Amazon Rainforest that is not open to the general public. I was also drawn by the opportunity to work directly with the wildlife and learn from professionals.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
I was fortunate to have the chance to go on this project through school; everything was organized for me aside from my injections and packing.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
I would advise anyone going on one of these projects to always take advantage of any opportunity presented to them. If you are asked if you want go take part in extra research or data logging just go for it.
You never know if you will get the chance again so just do everything you can while you are there.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
From waking up to incredible sights in the morning, to completing surveys during the night, everyday is different and unexpected. You typically start the day with a survey and nearly always have a lecture after lunch, followed by an afternoon survey and then potentially an evening survey. Sometimes there is an activity, such as salsa dancing, at night.
The activities and surveys are different every day and you could go from ringing birds in the morning to measuring caiman at night. Nearly everyday brought a trek into the jungle where you would see many different monkeys and other animals, or a trip upriver in a small canoe where you would see river dolphins and kingfishers.
Every day brings a different temperature as well; the weather went in three to four day cycles from burning hot to a massive storm with winds reaching up to 80mph.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
My biggest fear was actually about the food, as I was up for pretty much everything else. When I got there we were given three big and filling meals everyday. I may have become sick of eggs, rice and pasta - but it was nowhere near as bad as I imagined.
What are your favorite memories from your time abroad?
I had so many incredible times and am left with amazing memories that it is difficult to pick a best moment. If someone had told me that on the way back from a survey I was going to see a Harpy Eagle eating a baby two-toed sloth I never would have believed them but that is a rare sight I will never forget.
One of my favorite memories has to be in the caiman survey when the guide told us to calm the caiman down we just had to stroke its tummy. We didn't believe them at first but the effect was incredible.
Just living in a boat for two weeks right alongside the jungle was amazing.
I loved visiting the Cocama tribes village and playing games with the local children, that was a highlight for me. I would recommend the Operation Wallacea program to anyone who has the chance to go.