I was fortunate enough to travel to Bolivia early in my career to work on a biological inventory project deep in the Amazonian lowlands of the north of the country. We spent a month collecting all flowering plants, select orders of insects and all herpetofauna. The aim was to provide biodiversity inventory data in unstudied areas of Bolivia in support of the establishment of the Madidi National Park. The trip and work resulted was an epiphany for me.
Aside from the remarkable biological experience in a very remote part of lowland Amazonia, collaborating with extraordinary local students and conservationists, it was inspiring to work with a group of self-funded 24-26-year-old biologists entirely driven by their passion for conservation. It showed me what was possible as a young biologist and fundamentally altered my aspirations. After a month in the field, we spent a further two months in the herbarium in La Paz collating and identifying the thousands of samples, the data which ultimately resulted in the declaration of the new national park.
A life-altering trip in all, which highlighted that serious conservation work could be an adventure second to none.