The ultimate option when choosing expeditions is getting a mix of both terrestrial and marine research, for those wanting to get maximum benefit from their time in the field, the 6 week expedition is the one we recommend, if you are not able to commit to 6 weeks then this 4 week expedition is the next best option. Splitting your time between Calakmul and Akumal, you will complete YC001, followed by a week working with the biodiversity survey teams YC002. Then you will travel to Akumal and spend the next 2 weeks at the marine site. If you are not already dive trained and wanting to learn you will not join the research teams and your options will be YC04/05. If snorkelling or already dive trained your first week will be YC05/06 and in your final week you will be able to assist with data collection and the researchers YC007.
Terms and Conditions
The following conditions form the basis of your contract:
1) MAKING A BOOKING AND PAYING YOUR DEPOSIT AND FINAL BALANCE
A deposit of 10% per person must be paid when booking and accepting these terms and conditions. In order to help spread the payments we require a further 10% payment 150 days prior to your expedition start date, and 20% payment due by March 31st in the same year as your expedition. If you are booking within 8 weeks of your intended departure date then we require full payment. Should we be unable to process your booking for any reason then your deposit will be returned to you.We must have the full balance payment at least 8 weeks (56 days) prior to departure.
There is an early-payment discount available if you pay either 50% or more of the total sum owed, or 100% of the total sum owed, prior to the 150 day payment date. The discounts available are as follows:-
- For 2 week expeditions, $25 discount for greater than 50% payment or $50 discount for 100% payment
- For 4 week expeditions, $40 discount for greater than 50% payment or $80 discount for 100% payment
- For 6 week expeditions, $60 discount for greater than 50% payment or $120 discount for 100% payment
- For 8 week expeditions, $75 discount for greater than 50% payment or $150 discount for 100% payment
All correspondence will be sent to you at either of the addresses you enter at time of booking. In the event of the alteration or cancellation of a confirmed booking by you, conditions in section 3 will apply. Please note that the person completing the booking form undertakes full payment of all the expedition components booked, therefore should have the full consent of the person named on the form. Payment of your deposit confirms you comply with these booking conditions.
2) THE PRICE OF YOUR EXPEDITION AND SURCHARGES
While we reserve the right to amend prices upwards or downwards at any time, it is our policy to offer expeditions at a clear and firm price. However, the factors which may force us to surcharge you are government action, changes to the cost of currency or fuel – unless full payment is made six months or more prior to your departure date.
3) IF YOU NEED TO CANCEL YOUR BOOKING
Should you have to cancel your booking we ask that you advise the us promptly in writing or by email. The cancellation will take effect from the day the written confirmation is received. Cancellation will incur a $95 handling charge. Additional cancellation charges, which become effective more than 30 days after the date of booking*, are as follows:
|More than 185 days before departure
||No further cancellation charges
|185 days before expedition start date to 150 days before expedition start date
||Loss of 10% of total expedition costs
|149 days before expedition start date to 70 days before expedition start date
||20% of your total expedition costs
|69 days before expedition start date to 42 days before expedition start date
||40% of your total expedition costs
|Less than 42 days before the expedition start date
||100% of your total expedition costs
* this applies only to bookings taken before 1 March in the year of the expedition. Bookings taken after the 1 March in the year of expedition are subject to the cancellation charges as shown in the above table.
Note if you are doing a dissertation/thesis topic then you are able to cancel up to 15 April in the year of your expedition with no loss of deposit, if documentary evidence can be produced that your university will not permit you to undertake the dissertation or thesis topic chosen.
4) IF OPERATION WALLACEA CANCELS YOUR BOOKING
In the unlikely event of Operation Wallacea deeming travel to your particular destination unsafe for any reason, more than 3 months before departure, we will provide a suitable alternative. As a result we are unable to refund any monies, beyond the conditions outlined above. We undertake not to cancel any expedition closer than 3 months to the expedition start date unless in exceptional circumstances such as war, riots, civil strife, industrial action so severe that alternative transport and accommodation cannot be provided, terrorist activity, natural and nuclear disaster, fire, adverse weather conditions, technical problems with transport and similar unforeseeable circumstances where compensation payments cannot be made.
5) IF OPERATION WALLACEA CHANGES YOUR BOOKING
We undertake not to make any significant changes to your booking. However since this is a field research project, from time to time certain aspects will change between the planning stages and the project delivery. These can include (but are not limited to) details of the accommodation, survey methods and transportation between sites. We will inform you of any significant changes and will provide a suitable alternative to the original project. Such changes will not constitute being offered a refund when a suitable alternative is made available.
6) IF YOU WANT TO TRANSFER YOUR BOOKING
If you want to transfer your booking to the following year or to another named person who does not currently hold a booking with Operation Wallacea then you need to obtain prior approval from the Opwall office. In the event that you make your decision to transfer after 1 January in the year of the expedition, then you need to pay an additional 10% to secure the transfer. If the decision is made before the 1 January in the year of the expedition then no further payments beyond the 10% deposit are required. No transfers are allowed after 1 April in the year of the original booked expedition. Only one transfer to a future year or of the named person per application is allowed and once that transfer is made then all monies paid would be forfeited in the event that the completer of the form wanted to cancel.
7) IF YOU WANT TO CHANGE YOUR BOOKING
If you decide to move on to another project or expedition, you can do this free of charge, capacity allowing, until 1 April of the year of your expedition. You will be asked to fill in a new booking form to confirm the change of project. If the project or expedition you want to move to is longer you will be invoiced for the difference in price. If it is shorter, your payment schedule will be adjusted to take the new total amount payable into account. If, following you confirming that you wish to change your booking, you should decide to cancel, cancellation charges will apply in line with your original booking rather than the new booking.
8) JURISDICTION AND LEGAL ASPECTS
Please note that when you have read the booking conditions above and completed the booking form, and when a confirmation invoice has been issued by or on behalf of us or the relevant supplier, you enter into a binding contract which will be governed and interpreted in accordance with the law of England and Wales. As a member of the Association of the Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT), an Association approved by the BIS, Operation Wallacea Ltd has provided a Bond to meet the requirements of the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992. In the event of the Company’s insolvency this Bond provides security for all non-flight inclusive packages provided by Operation Wallacea Ltd. In the above circumstances, the following will apply:
- A refund of your package pre-payments if you have not yet travelled; or
- Transport costs back to the start point of the expedition and a refund of the unused portion of the package price if you have already travelled
Operation Wallacea has insurance in place to provide medical and repatriation cover up to £1million for all participants on the expedition. This insurance does not cover other insurable costs such as cancellation and curtailment of your expedition due to your ill-health, flight and travel delays, loss of personal baggage or theft of possessions etc. It is a condition of your booking with Operation Wallacea that you take out travel insurance to cover these items.
7) WHAT DOES THE BOOKING WITH OPERATION WALLACEA NOT INCLUDE?
- Costs of flights and transport to and from the start and finish points of each expedition
- Accommodation and food costs before or after the expedition start and end dates
- Additional insurance cover beyond the £1 million expedition medical and evacuation insurance cover provided by Opwall
- Costs of additional elective training (e.g. canopy access course, dive training beyond PADI Open Water)
- Dive equipment rental
- PIC cards and PADI training Manuals (or BSAC equivalents)
- Local taxes
- Park or Reserve entrance fees
- Visa costs
- Vaccination or prophylactic medicine costs
YC001 Introduction to the Ancient Maya and Mayan Jungle Ecology Course
Runs on weeks 1, 3 & 5
This course involves a series of lectures relating to the conservation issues in the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve and the conservation aims of the Operation Wallacea project, the concept of biodiversity hotspots and the importance of the Yucatan Peninsula, methods for biodiversity monitoring, and the ecology and conservation of key taxanomic groups that are included in the monitoring programme. Each lecture is accompanied by practical sessions in which students receive training in the biodiversity monitoring techniques they will use during surveys in subsequent weeks of the expedition. The course also provides information relating to the Ancient Maya, their relationship with nature and their impact on biodiversity in Calakmul. This information will be delivered through lectures and during a guided tour of the ruined city of Calakmul.
YC004 PADI Open Water Dive Training
Runs on weeks 1 – 8
This course involves a combination of theory lessons, confined water dives and open water dives to gain an official scuba diving qualification.
YC005 Caribbean Reef Ecology Course Ecology with practicals by diving
Runs on weeks 1 – 8; need to be dive trained or have completed YC004
YC006 Caribbean Reef Ecology Course Ecology with practicals by snorkeling
Runs on weeks 1 – 8
The course consists of lectures and in-water practicals and teaches identification of common genera and species of coral and other macroinvertebrates, identification of the major reef-associated fish families and common species. Designed to introduce a variety of methods and practices used for scientific research in the marine environment.
YC002 Mayan Jungle Biodiversity Surveys
Runs on weeks 2 – 8; need to have completed YC001
At each of the four camps there are teams of field biologists completing standardised surveys of a series of key taxa. As a research assistant you will be able to rotate between the different teams at the start of your stay and, if you have a particular interest, to then specialise working with that team. The data gathered from these standardised surveys across Calakmul are integrated into the management plan for the reserve to assess the impact of climate change on biodiversity and to monitor the efficacy of a wide range of sustainable development projects within buffer zone communities that aim to maintain forest cover and abundance of fauna.
• The habitat team quantify forest structure and carbon biomass using a range of measurement in survey plots.
• Herpetofauna will be monitored using diurnal and nocturnal visual encounter surveys along forest transects, combined with pitfall and funnel trap arrays and timed searches of herpetofauna around aguadas.
• Bird abundance and diversity will be assessed using point counts and mist net surveys where birds are identified in the hand and morphometric measurements are taken prior to release.
• Large mammal surveys involve recording primate sightings (distance sampling) and terrestrial mammal tracks (patch occupancy sampling) encountered along forest transects during morning surveys accompanied by afternoon sessions analysing camera trap data.
• Butterflies will be monitored using baited fruit traps in different forest types.
• Bats will be monitored each night using mist net surveys in which bats are identified, morphometric measurements are taken and the bats are marked prior to release to enable abundance estimates using mark-recapture methods. If you wish to specialise in bats by completing your dissertation, you will need a full course of rabies vaccinations before joining the expedition.
YC003 Remote Biodiversity Surveys
There is a rainfall gradient from the north to the south of the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve resulting in notable changes to forest structure, tree species composition and fauna abundance and diversity. The remote southern section of the reserve that borders Guatemala contains humid forest with large fruiting trees and an abundant food supply resulting in a high density of wildlife. Due to the remoteness of the area, no biodiversity data existed for this part of the reserve prior to the Operation Wallacea project. Initial data indicates that these humid forests are crucial for the conservation of flagship species such as jaguar, tapir and spider monkeys and have the highest diversity of birds, bats and herpetofauna in the reserve. However, cattle farming is becoming increasingly popular in this area and deforestation is starting to approach the reserve. Data are desperately required to enable communities to apply for funding for ecosystem services provided by the forest and to enable more communities to opt out of cattle farming in favour of sustainable honey production and shade grown crops that do not require deforestation. Students working in this area will conduct surveys on forest structure and carbon biomass, birds, bats, herpetofauna, primates and large terrestrial mammals using the same methods as the standard biodiversity surveys and will experience a high number of animal sightings and captures. There are limited places on this option since the survey teams have to be kept small due to the terrain and remote location of the camp. On this project the volunteers will need to help with running the field camp as well as assisting with surveys and a good level of fitness is required due to the hilly terrain.
YC007 Marine Ecosystem Monitoring
Runs on weeks 2 – 8; need to have completed YC004 or YC005 dive trained if participating in dive based elements of this project
This option can be done for multiple weeks. The beaches and seagrasses in Akumal are a safe haven for a large sea turtle population. Tourism in the area provides important income for local people and has virtually eradicated problems with overfishing and consumption of turtle eggs. However, Akumal is becoming increasingly popular with tourists and, if not managed correctly, the increased volume of people could lead to the loss of important turtle nesting grounds and serious problems with water contamination and sedimentation that damages the reefs and seagrasses. The coral reefs in Akumal are undergoing phase shifts from healthy coral dominated to macroalgal dominated benthic communities, reducing the productivity and longterm resilience of the system. Operation Wallacea are gathering the data necessary to determine the carrying capacity of tourists in Akumal to ensure that the delicate marine ecosystem is protected and a sustainable income is generated for local people. Data collection aims to determine the impact of tourism and water quality on the seagrasses and reef system, to assess the relative importance of Akumal beaches and seagrasses for sea turtle populations, and to investigate the impact of snorkel based tourism on sea turtle behaviour. In addition, the degree of coral cover and abundance of sea urchins and key fish species on the reefs will be monitored as indicators of reef health and the health and connectivity of mangrove systems will be investigated. Students participating in this monitoring programme will have an active schedule that involves dive or snorkel based surveys to assess the health of the reefs, snorkel and kayak surveys to monitor mangroves, snorkel surveys for seagrass monitoring and green turtle identification, and beach surveys to identify nesting preferences of green and loggerhead turtles.