Conservation Research Assistant Program in Guyana
100% Rating
(3 Reviews)

Conservation Research Assistant Program in Guyana

Operation Wallacea is a research and environmental organisation, working alongside university and college academics to build long term datasets to put towards various conservation management goals. We recruit volunteers to help out with the data collection, and train them in the skills and background that's needed to help effectively.

The Guyana project is a 4 week expedition based in the heart of the Guiana Shield, in an incredibly remote area of Iwokrama. The Opwall project here is very much a true expedition, travelling over a period of four weeks through the forest collecting scientific data, in an area virtually undisturbed by man. Volunteers spend the first week or so in the base camp, followed by three weeks of canoes, forest, rough terrain and pitching camp every night, while doing surveys on a number of different aspects, such as herpetofauna, birds or mammals.

Locations
South America » Guyana
Length
2-4 Weeks
1-3 Months
Language
English
Starting Price
$0.00
Currency
USD

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Impact
    97%
  • Support
    97%
  • Fun
    93%
  • Value
    100%
  • Safety
    90%

Program Reviews (3)

Paige Marie
Female
20 years old

Best Experience of my Life!

10/10

It was my first time abroad- a scary step, for saying I'd never stepped out of Britain before, and certainly never travelled alone before. It took a long time to plan, raise money, buy kit, get vaccinated, book flights... quite a lot more goes into travelling than I had originally thought. But it's safe to say, despite the headaches, negative bank balance, mental exhaustion and nerves, it was easily the best fortnight of my young life so far, and I wouldn't change a single second of it. Right from landing in Guyana and meeting some of the other volunteers, until the moment I touched back down in Britain, I have never been so happy. The differences between Guyana and UK! The heat, the brightness, the WILDLIFE!!!!! That was by far the best bit- totally immersed, day and night, by the mind-boggling multitude and variety of species. The jungle hits you in the face- you've never felt so far from humans, or more certain that this is where you're meant to be. I felt like I'd finally come home. Waking at 4 am in my cosy hammock, greeted by howler monkey calls, having a quick wash in the river before heading out to ring birds- it was a privilege to do. Staying up until 1 am with the cicadas yelling their heads off, and getting soaking wet in a tropical storm, all the while collecting bats from the mist nets and taking IDs- an absolute joy! I cannot recommended the entire experience enough; words don't cover how much I miss Guyana and Iwokrama; the staff, the guides, my friends, the WILDLIFE! One day I hope to go back and experience it again, but until then, I have memories to last me a lifetime. To coin an overused phrase; an unforgettable journey of a lifetime. Take the plunge- go for it! You won't regret it. I promise.

How can this program be improved?

In absolutely no way. It was the best time of my life; please don't change anything about it! (although making it less expensive would always be appreciated!).

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Vicki
Female
22 years old
Kirkcaldy
University of St Andrews

Weaving in the Wild

10/10

Doing conservation work in Guyana was such a fantastic experience. The wildlife was phenomenal, I saw more than I ever thought I would, including the giant black caiman hanging around the Iwokrama Research Centre on our first day: the largest caiman species in the world. I loved all the preying mantis species which seemed to be highly attracted to me - I kept finding them on my shirt. But most fantastic of all was coming nose to nose with Timbo the baby Tapir.

The best thing about the trip however was the interaction we had with the locals. We were living and working alongside them in the rainforest, the whole time learning about their culture, way of life, and the unique skills that they tried to pass onto us. They may have laughed at my attempt to weave a basket out of vines, but I very much value that skill which they taught me and my basket now sits cheerily on my desk, a reminder of a fantastic once in a lifetime trip.

Default avatar
Jaclyn
Female
24 years old
Ontario, Candada
University of Guelph

The Real Jungle Experience

10/10

The first time I heard about OpWall was when I was sitting in a lecture, NOT being distracted by facebook at all. We were called to attention by a young girl, who told us about these cool trips we could go on. I thought "Hey, I wanna go do weird stuff. You only live once." I didn't know that at that moment, I had already made my decision. I wanted to go on an adventure, and that's exactly what I did.

After I had it all finalised, paid (because anything worth doing has to be expensive, sigh), and got my gigantic rucksack packed, I lugged my bag into the airport. I remember thinking I was going to die falling over because of that thing.

Never the less I did not die. In fact, I had the time of my life. I got to the research centre after hours on the bumpy road that had potholes big enough to wallow cars (I'm serious, I saw it), and met the funniest and nicest group of people there. We were trained to do cool stuff, like which animals/plants were poisonous, how to collect certain specimens, etc. But the best part, which we had been oblivious of at the time, were the plumbing and beds. Yes, after that point we slept in glorious hammocks and pooped in boxes. It was actually surprisingly easy to get used to.

Once we got into the field, we got down and dirty, collecting samples and data. My highlight was the bat research. We would go out at sunset around 5:30 and end our rounds at about 1:30am. It was so interesting trekking out to the mist nets in the dark, hearing the nightlife come alive as the sun set, seeing the bug life change. The nights where we caught just as much, if not more, odd bugs and snakes than bats, were the nights were my sense of adventure was sated.

Each night we would all squish onto little benches to eat, and I would feel so connected to these people I had only known for a few short weeks. We had come together from around the world and yet were so similar. We ate together, made our hammocks around each other to feel safe, bathed together in the river, rubbed suntan lotion on each other, helped each other out of water and mud, and most importantly checked each other for parasites. You make lasting bonds with people who trust you enough to check their body for ticks and such.

Needless to say, we got very close, and I still keep in contact with them, even across seas. I remember the ride back to civilization, singing and chattering excitedly. We were excited to see our families, but when I got into the taxi and saw everyone standing there, the people I had laughed with, slept beside, relied on, trusted, I didn't want to leave. I'm willing to admit that I cried, and totally hid it from the others. I still miss it.

I am very happy that I went on this trip. I now how hard the work is, and that I would like to do research in the future. I wan to protect areas like this one, which could make those 4 weeks of my life so unbelievably unforgettable.

If anyone still wants to go on a great adventure like this after my rant, I have two words for you: bring SOCKS. And I don't mean the 4 or so they advise on the form. Bring as many as will fit in your bag. In fact, forget everything else, just bring socks. Fill your bag with them, tie them to it, wear them as jewellery, tie them around your head like a bandana. Just BRING SOCKS. But seriously, there is nothing better than putting your sore feet in a pair of nice clean socks. Nothing dries in Guyana, so dry, clean, socks became money. Also, a good tip would be to put a complete set of clean clothes in a ziplock for the plane; can't be stinky when you see your folks.

I hope my story helps you guys to know more about this trip from a research assistant's perspective . It was hard work, and it didn't always go smoothly, in fact a lot of the time it didn't, but we were always positive. If you are too, then you will have the time of your life, I know I did.

Adventurer
Jaclyn Hickson

How can this program be improved?

I would recommend that there be more vehicles to transport us out of, and back to the city, we had quite a few break downs and had no choice but to painfully squish into the remaining ones. We did have a blast with it though. I heard from others that had gone before that they used to fly, but pay extra. It would be interesting to have that option again.

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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