Conservation Research Assistant Program in Honduras

Video and Photos

Local (Lempira) guide leading a group of research assistants through the narrow and muddy paths from El Cortecito site camp to the village of Santo Tomas.
Some of the Pre-Med team take an afternoon to relax at a waterfall
Stabilising and extracting a herpetologist from the rainforest


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. There's also the option to complete dissertations or senior theses at our sites.

The Honduras project has both a terrestrial component, based in Cusuco national park, and a marine component, based on the islands of Utila and Tela. One of Operation Wallacea's oldest sites, there are a large number of ongoing projects going on - all centred around monitoring the biodiversity change in a highly endangered environment. Volunteers can get involved with everything from herpetofauna surveys, to invertebrate surveys, bats and small mammals, among many other things. There's also the option of doing a canopy access experience.

Questions & Answers


based on 10 reviews
  • Impact 8.7
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 7.2
  • Value 9.4
  • Safety 9.5
Showing 1 - 10 of 10
Yes, I recommend this program

Research assistant and PADI advanced open water

I gained significant ecological surveying experience during a course at Utila (Honduras). Where I worked as a research assistant for Operation Wallacea, and trained over a 6 week period in Caribbean reef ecology and surveying techniques. I also assisted a research team into tropical ecosystem ecology, conducting linear transects to survey bivalve and arthropod diversity within fallen mangrove material. I then helped investigate sea sponge diversity and distribution using fixed linear transects and quadrat sampling to survey reef systems. I concluded my trip by carrying out controlled culls and dissections of lionfish. By participating in various research roles I also became proficient in multiple sampling and analysis techniques, whilst integrating and performing effectively within a variety of research teams.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Heaven on Earth

Coral view on the island of Utila is truly heaven on Earth. This was the best money i could have spent after finishing my Bachelor of Science to not only gain essential hands on experience in the conservation biology field, but also make important contacts for future endeavors. The staff are always smiling and helpful and if you cant find what your looking for, its just a short walk into town for almost anything you could want. The health of the reefs are fairly good, considering all of the ocean problems, with an abundance of sea life to be seen on every dive.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Opwall RA experience was truly incredible

Terrestrial Experience:
If you're interested in ecology or any kind of organismal or environmental biology - this is the experience for you. Each day you can choose to help out one (or several) of 7 teams: Birds, Amphibians/Reptiles, Small Mammals, Big Mammals, Habitat, Invertebrates, or Bats with their data collection. You get to be incredibly hands on - sorting dung beetles by species, releasing birds from mist nests, catching and measuring endangered frogs. You hike through mind-blowing scenery every day, and at the end of the day, get to chill at camp where you hang out with an awesome group of scientists - discussing science but also playing cards, goofing off, and getting to know each other. Would 10/10 recommend to a friend!
You can go for 2 weeks to 2 months - it's incredibly flexible!

Yes, I recommend this program

Honduras: more than the bad press

When I first arrived in Honduras, the streets lined with armed guards were just as I had imagined due to the news articles I had read prior to my trip. However, once I looked past this, I embraced the rich culture of Honduras and gained experiences like no other. When I ventured into the cloud forest I was immersed by this alien territory which was as beautiful every morning I woke up as the first time I saw it. The wide range of activities set out for us was often overwhelming and tiring but it ensured that the no 2 days were the same and each were as good as the last. When we left the cloudforest, we went to Roatan, a carribean island off the coast of Honduras. It was here that I learned to scuba dive - something that I have kept up and taken a huge interest in since returning from the trip. The location was breathtaking and inbetween dives you could easily go snorkelling on the mesoamerican coral reef as it is so large, it was on one of these snorkelling trips that I found 2 loggerhead turtles swimming with each other as well as seeing a barracuda and an octopus - a trully magical experience. My experience in Honduras has provided me with a burning desire to travel and explore.

What would you improve about this program?
Organisation of the scuba diving visit was lackluster and rooms were cramped - 16 boys aged 18 proved challenging in 35° heat
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Yes, I recommend this program

Border issues

A story not many have heard about or even experienced.
My very first minutes after I arrived at San Pedro Sula International Airport after a very long and exhausting flight from the other part of the world were full of enthusiasm as well as anxiety! Miles away from where I meant to be in less than 12 hours a place full of adventures and cool stuff, I was stuck at the very last stage of leaving the airport. The border control had some kind of an issue regarding my passport/nationality. So they had to do their routine check, of course, without providing me with any details on whatsoever. Therefore, I had to wait for more than 40 long minutes which were the longest forty minutes in my whole life! As I am sure most of us hate to wait, just imagine how nervous I was while being in this clueless position...
However, at the end everything was good. Obviously, I wasn't a criminal smuggling anything into their beautiful, lush country. But a young backpacker ready to enter the virgin cloud forest of Cusuco National Park as soon as possible.

P.S. Tip when travelling to a non-English speaking country is that you make sure you know at least the basic, essentials of the language of the country you are visiting.

What would you improve about this program?
So far so good, I literally have nothing bad to say regarding the program.
Keep it up and keep going!
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Yes, I recommend this program

Honduras School Trip

I took 15 students with me and another member of staff to Honduras in summer 2015. I didn't organise the trip m colleague did - she commented on how straight forward it was and so I have taken on the task of organising a second trip to Indonesia in summer 2017.
As soon as we landed we were greeted by OpWall staff and from the word go we felt supported, safe and well looked after. The first week was mentally and physically challenging but we grew closer as a group as we helped each other trek through the Honduran rainforest. The second week was a well deserved break - the marine site was beautiful and we forgot we were on a school trip! The diving instructors were informative, helpful and great fun! It was a skill I never thought I would learn but I am so glad I have!
Overall a fantastic experience for both the staff and the students - roll on our next trip!

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Yes, I recommend this program

Opwall Honduras Adventure

This trip was one of a lifetime for me and I will always remember it. I will always treasure the memories made, such as breathtaking hikes (literally, I was out of breath), beautiful sceneries of waterfalls, trees, and general nature nearly untouched by man, when I held deadly caterpillars (who knew?), and when we dove under the surface of the sea for hours. I loved the scuba diving so much; the creatures and scenes are so different than our normal ones, and I find water to be soothing.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Experience I Will Never Forget!!!

Operation Wallacea was an amazing experience that I will never forget. I spent one week in Cusuco National Park (rain forest) and one week on Utila (an island with beautiful coral reefs). Both weeks were filled with in-depth lectures that went far beyond any high school class room material and hands on activities. These activities included both demonstrations and hands on data collection. For example, in the rain forest my group and I took various measurements of trees which went towards calculating the monetary worth of the rain forest. Companies with large carbon dioxide emissions pay the Honduran government to keep the forests pristine to make up for the environmental damage they cause. On the coral reefs we participated in Coral Watch, by looking at various corals and recording the type and color according to a certain scale. This data was sent to a university who was conducting a large study on the depletion of certain corals.
The staff are very warm and welcoming and help all the students feel safe and comfortable. At meals the students could sit with the scientists and talk to them about their various individual studies which was a once in a life time experience. The overall environment was educational and community centered. This experience was simply outstanding!

What would you improve about this program?
The food may not have been the best, but you are in a rain forest far from any large cities or even towns or on an island so it is to be expected.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Pre- Medschool Training

OpWall advertised a pre-med training course, which was perfect for me as I was studying Biomedical Science at uni, with the intention of going on to study medicine.
I travelled out not sure what to expect initially, but soon found my place in a group of other likeminded young people interested in a possible career in healthcare. Under the enthusiastic and skilled training from two Accident and Emergency room doctors, we were soon able to carry out basic observations (i.e blood pressure, pulse, blood oxygen saturation), as well as have an understanding of tropical medicine, and the application of our skills in an extreme environment.
This was put to the test when, one night, we received a (thankfully false) radio call that one of the members of the herpetology teams had fallen off a bridge and was unconscious below.
We were able to gather the kit as a team of students, including splints and stretchers; reach the casualty; and carry him back out of the rainforest and onto a pickup truck, avoiding the bat team's mist nets along the way.
Overall the course was very good for someone looking an insight into the medical profession, with the doctors always willing to chat about their experiences in university and the workplace

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Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing fun and learnt alot

I had such a great time on my trip to Honduas. As my second operation wallacea trip it was fantastic. I did my divemaster training while I was over there and the way it was organised was great we all got given responsibility and were kept busy the whole time. Aswell as learning to become divemasters we were also able to help out on science dives.
Staff were so lovely and Utila is a very fun place!

What would you improve about this program?


Honduran Lempira
86 F / 57 F
88 F / 63 F
90 F / 64 F
86 F / 59 F
Ramón Villeda Morales International
( SAP )
Toncontín International
( TGU )
Juan Manuel Gálvez International
( RTB )

From the incredible temperature of the Caribbean to the Mayan ruins, there is always something to keep you occupied in Honduras. No matter where you end up in Honduras, there is always lush greenery to explore and pinchos to eat, all at an unrivaled price.


Staff Interviews

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...