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Operation Wallacea - South Africa
Operation Wallacea Operation Wallacea

Operation Wallacea - South Africa

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    8

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Into the wild

South Africa with Opwall was the best trip I have ever been on in my life. The megafauna was phenomenal and we saw everything from the common antelope species; impala, kudu, waterbuck, red hartebeest, to the classical giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, hippos, to the elusive big 5; buffalo, rhino, elephants, lions... And of course there was that breathtaking moment when we spotted the cheetah hiding in the long yellow grass...

Along with the fantastic animals and the fantastic sights that we got to see, we were also making a huge difference to the Dinokeng game reserve where we were carrying out the biodiversity surveys. This research is vital for improving the management of the reserve and monitoring the impacts of the elephant population on the habitat and other species in the reserve.

I would highly recommend this trip to anyone who has a passion for wildlife, breath taking scenes, conservation, or who just wants a bit of an adventure.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    6

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    2

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Incredible.

Volunteering in South Africa with Operation Wallacea was one of the best experiences of my life. Not only did we get to see amazing animals every day and contribute to their conservation, we got to do it with great people and passionate research scientists. We all learnt so much during our stay, through the lectures and fieldwork. Would definitely volunteer again, if money wasn't an object.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Community Engagement

    6

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Day to Day Life

    9

Amazing

Staff were all really helpful with helping to prepare you for the trip and supporting you whilst away. Met some incredible people and had life changing experiences and got to see animals in the wild!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Community Engagement

    8

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

My South African adventure

Coming across the Operation Wallacea leaflet on campus was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I will cherish the moments spent in South Africa for ever and I wish everyone to have such an eye opening experience. For the first time in my life I felt like I was doing the right thing. No doubts, no second thoughts. I was in the right place, making a difference.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

South Africa

South Africa is truly an amazing place!! I have learnt a lot about its landscape, methods of conservation and its natural history. This was gained not just from lectures, but camera traps, bird point counts, habitat assessments and scuba diving. I met such amazing people from all over the world, seen all sorts of creatures big and small on land and sea, and went beyond my limits more than ever before. I even tried some African traditions from food to dance and culture. If you have never been to Africa or been scuba diving, then I would recommend this trip!!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Amazing

One of the best experiences of my life! Everything was extremely well organised and it was a pleasure to meet everyone involved in the programme. I would recommend the trip to anyone in the future and there are very few realistic improvements I could suggest.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    7

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Opwall S.Africa

Incredible experience. Eye opening to the world of research and current conservation issues. I met inspirational people with amazing stories. Camp life was so much fun. The whole thing was the most incredible experience. Everything was amazing from the spectacular scenery to the incredible sightings. Would throughly recommend.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

South Africa 2017

I can honestly say, Operation Wallacea was the best decision I have ever made! I have experienced things that I could only dream of thanks to them! If you are considering joining them for a trip, DO IT!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    5

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

A truly amazing opportunity that should not be missed

All in all, my experience with Opwall has been the best time of my life. The field staff were all very helpful and provided us with all of the information we needed, so there was no doubt as to where we stood with our responsibilities. But as most of the staff were around the age of 20 there was also a very good relationship between us.
The living conditions were comfortable, although at first I was skeptical of living in such close proximity to 6 other people. However, when it came time to depart, I missed the community feel of the camp. We were all a big family and we were genuinely enjoying every second of the experience. A warm sleeping bag will be needed though, as the nights can get cold.
In conclusion, this was the best time I could ever have hoped for. Many friends were made and I was able to witness some truly spectacular sightings. From the sound of Crested Francolin waking us up in the morning, to the resident Nyala population in the camp, I could easily have stayed for another 6 weeks
This was an amazing opportunity, allowing me to experience one of the most spectacular places on earth.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Best opportunity I have ever taken

I have always wanted to study the megafuana of Africa and Operation Wallacea brought me closer to living with nature than I have ever been before. I discovered that I have a passion for camera trapping and I am now considering this as a potential career field. The field guides always made sure that we were leaning about the smallest things, such as tracks and other signs of wildlife that are often overlooked. It was an unforgettable experience and it has encouraged me to try more full immersion trips in order to fuel my adventurous lifestyle

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    8

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    9

Fantastic trip to Seth Ifrica

I had the most amazing time in South Africa with Opwall. The first week in Dinokeng was a blast, involving some early starts in the bitter cold on the back of a truck and many beautiful African sunsets. As well as seeing some incredible animals in the wild, I learnt a lot about the ecosystem, the local communities and the difficulties facing conservationists. I feel very lucky to have had such a wonderful expedition group and staff team, I miss them all loads. A 10 hour minibus drive took us to Sodwana Bay, where we learnt to scuba dive, 100% the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done! Very grateful to have the PADI qualification under my belt but the best part was experiencing the stunning, surreal underwater world. We did a beach clean-up (would have been good to do this perhaps every morning rather than just the once) and attended a lecture by a shark conservationist which was FAB. The whole experience was invaluable to me and I leave with some unforgettable memories, a deeper understanding of the interplay between South African people, land and animals, plus inspiration for future conservation work. Thank you Opwall!

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Dinokeng 2017

It was a very good experience! We were well looked after by the staff, who were all very friendly and we all learnt a lot about the biodiversity in South Africa and Dinokeng in particular about elephant conservation.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    6

  • Community Engagement

    N/A

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Day to Day Life

    10

An unforgettable experience in Southern Africa

Having seen plenty of documentaries based in Africa, it does not compare to actually being there, not even close. I learned a lot of things, and changed what I thought I knew about Africa. The landscape in Gondwana is fairly unique and definitely stunning in its rough beauty - thick tall bush mixed with scrub land and rewilding ex-farmland: fynbos. The kind of habitat where an elephant or lion could just walk out at any given moment! We met so many great people and became like a family by the end - parting was tearful. We all bonded as we carried out scientific surveys and thus gained new skills. We learned much about the animals living there, the biome itself and the interaction between the two. With 4 experts in a range of fields on site with us, every conversation we seemed to gain another nugget of new information! It was so great to be surrounded by knowledgeable people! The thrill of seeing animals such as Zebra, Wildebeest, Kudu, Eland, Springbok, Impala and baboons every day, was something I could never get enough of. The amazing experience of seeing cheetahs (unbelievably beautiful when seen in real life), elephants, buffalo and giraffes up close was also something i will never forget and would love to have again!
I absolutely had a great time, felt like family with everyone, learned a lot about the local ecology and biology, gained new scientific survey skills, and experienced some of the cultural food too - brys and biltong and pap. Also staying on site with the APU wardens (Anti Poaching Unit) was great as we learnt about the issues around reserve management, which we didn't appreciate before, and the lengths the APU guys had to go to to keep the populations safe.

Overall an absolutely brilliant experience, one which i would have loved to extend or even repeat in the future!

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    8

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

An unforgettable experience of South African culture and wildlife!

This summer, I took the leap to sign up to a 4-week Operation Wallacea expedition to volunteer in terrestrial conservation in South Africa. It was my first time flying on my own and I had never done anything like this before. However, I needn't have been nervous because OpWall was so supportive throughout this trip, from fundraising advice beforehand to excellent teaching on the expedition itself. I saw more large African mammals than I ever knew existed, had moving encounters with lions and elephants, and most importantly learned the challenges and ways to succeed in conservation in South Africa through stimulating lectures. The staff were always enthusiastic, charismatic and made this a truly great experience! The trip was well-structured and although not stressed out, we always had something to learn and to do. In my expedition, we cooked meals together which was a great bonding experience and I learned some cultural dishes which I now also cook at home! This experience has been a great support to my undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences and I eagerly look forward to signing up to another OpWall expedition in the near future. Thank you OpWall!

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Rebecca

The trip was amazing. The camp site was beautiful and had everything we could need! The heated showers were great! I learned so much doing the research and data collection. I would go back in a heartbeat!

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    7

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Day to Day Life

    8

(Hopefully not) a once in a lifetime experience

If you can afford it, I would highly recommend going. Stunning scenery, close encounters with amazing animals and making a difference with research that's fun and fulfilling. The month went by way too fast, and given half the chance I'd go again.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Community Engagement

    8

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    8

Dinokeng/Sodwana Bay

Great experience in an amazing country, wish I could go back. I spent 4 weeks in South Africa, 3 weeks in Dinokeng and 1 week in Sodwana Bay. The camp in Dinokeng is the perfect balance of true African bush experience crossed with a couple comforts such as electricity in your tent. The Opwall staff were so friendly and helpful making the whole experience that much better. Couldn't recommend a trip with Operation Wallacea highly enough.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    8

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Community Engagement

    8

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Day to Day Life

    9

Opwall South Arica

Amazing experience!!! First week was all i hoped for. We did research everyday and our days were packed with learning experiences. Made such good friends that made the experience better than ever. The second week had informative lectures and practicals but lacked the research aspect for me. So i would ensure you make sure that research experience on all sites you are visiting, because the research aspect of the trip is the best part. The funa we sighted was brilliant both marine and terrestrial
I would defiantly want to do another trip!

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    4

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    4

  • Community Engagement

    1

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Ask about the projects success in previous years

Due to the nature of the project I was on I found little in the way of the long term impact as I was part of the first expedition at the site. It was rapidly discovered the time of year we went was not suitable for the data we were collecting, a let down on the part of opwall as minimal research would've have uncovered this. I recommend asking how many years the project you're interested in has been running and how successful previous findings have been in order to get the most out of what you're doing. I still thoroughly enjoyed my experience and cannot rate the staff there highly enough, whatever you choose will be worth it

Overall Rating

6/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    7

  • Program Administration

    5

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    7

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Day to Day Life

    7

Two sides of the coin

I've been to South Africa on a two week expedition, the first one in Dinokeng Game Reserve and the last in Sodwana bay.
First of all, I have to say that minding the payment, I was a bit frustrated because the true cost of this entire expedition wasn't just the 1200£ they told us in the beginning, but instead, we had other extras we had to pay. So we ended up paying around 1800£.
About the expedition itself:
The 1st week was perfect: the conditions in the camp, the STAFF people, the data collection around the reserve, the lectures about South Africa's biodiversity... We learned so much in that week and we met such nice people that showed us a all new world!
When we got to Sodwana, we realized that the marine week wouldn't be about research projects anymore, instead it was just a week spent on the beach, learning how to dive and buying souvenirs.
The STAFF people were nice as well and we also had lectures about the marine life but the week experience wasn't the best.
So, I ended up having an amazing experience in Dinokeng, something I absolutely loved and would repeat if I could, but at the same time, I've had some problems with the organization, because the information wasn't clear from the beggining.