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  • Overview
  • Objectives
  • Skills you gain
  • Costs to Consider
  • Site Conditions

2025 Dates

2 weeks: 1 week terrestrial & 1 week marine – 15 June – 28 June 2025
2 weeks: 1 week terrestrial & 1 week marine – 13 July – 26 July 2025
2 weeks: 1 week terrestrial & 1 week marine – 20 July – 2 August 2025

4 weeks: 2 weeks terrestrial & 2 weeks marine – 6 July – 2 August 2025
6 weeks: 2 weeks terrestrial & 4 weeks marine – 22 June – 2 August 2025

North Buton Forest biodiversity experience

The Langkube Valley lies within the North Buton Nature Reserve (82,000 ha) and represents a vast area of unexplored, primary rainforest. The region supports an array of different habitats that remain largely unknown to science. Importantly, it is also a stronghold for the endangered Anoa, a CITES listed dwarf buffalo. After completing training in jungle survival skills (which can include a canopy access course for an additional cost) and learning about Wallacean wildlife and conservation, volunteers will assist a team of biologists documenting the valley’s rich biodiversity. Biologists will focus on mammalian, avian and herpetological assemblages together with forest structure and carbon surveys. Particular attention will be given to records of endangered Sulawesi endemics, such as the Anoa and the Maleo, both rarely sighted but critically important species for local conservation efforts. There exists a high likelihood that new species records for Buton Island will be made given that this expedition will be working in remote and previously unsurveyed forests. Survey techniques include the use of camera traps, distance and patch occupancy estimates for large mammal species, mist netting for bats, Pollard counts for butterflies, standard search transects for reptiles, spotlight surveys for amphibians, and point counts for birds. There is also the opportunity to complete a half day course which will train you into how access the tree canopy using ropes and ascenders (this is an optional course costing £190).

The field teams will spend time at two different forest camps during the expedition allowing for data collection over a greater area.

Marine part of the expedition

The Hoga Island Marine Centre is based on a car and bike free island which is in the heart of the Wakatobi Marine National Park and is one of our most heavily published research sites. The Centre hosts up to 90 students and marine biology specialists a week each summer, so you have the opportunity of learning a range of marine survey techniques. You will begin with some training, starting with the opportunity to complete a PADI Open Water dive training course if you would like to learn and aren’t already dive qualified, followed by a compulsory Indo-Pacific reef ecology course with practicals by diving or snorkelling. Once the Indo-Pacific reef ecology course has been completed you will then join the research teams and help them to collect data from the coral reefs around the island. This will include the opportunity to learn survey techniques including stereo-video surveys of reef fish, video surveys of benthic transects, 3D mapping of coral reefs, coral regeneration, behaviour studies on cleaner fish, community structure of butterflyfish, seagrass and mangrove ecology, and marine plastics.

Indonesia - Wallacea Marine Research Objectives

There is a triangle of reefs that spans across Indonesia and some of its neighbouring countries known as the Coral Triangle. It is recognized for having the highest diversity of hard coral genera, the proxy commonly used to assess overall diversity of coral reefs, anywhere in the world. The Hoga Island Marine Station is located in the heart of the Wakatobi Marine National Park, which is right at the centre of the Coral Triangle. For over two decades, a series of scientists have been based at this site during the Opwall survey seasons and as a result, this is now the most published site in the Coral Triangle, with more than 200 papers having been published using data collected by the teams here. For the last 15 years a series of constant monitoring sites around Hoga and eastern Kaledupa have been monitored for macroinvertebrates, fish communities, coral cover and community structure. The 2024 season will continue this reef monitoring programme, and also be focusing on coral regeneration studies, plus some additional projects.

Indonesia - Wallacea Terrestrial Research Objectives

The Wallacea region comprises islands of the central part of the Indonesian archipelago that are separated by deep ocean trenches which prevented them from being joined to the main continental land masses during the lowered sea levels of the Ice Ages. As a result of subsequently long periods of isolation, a large number of unique species evolved. The forests of the Wallacea region are one of the least biologically studied areas in the world and one of the most likely places to discover vertebrate species new to science. Since 1995, the Opwall teams have been surveying the biodiversity of Buton Island in SE Sulawesi, so that more information is now available on the wildlife of this well studied area than anywhere else in the Wallacea region. The Opwall gathered data are being used to assess the impacts of potential carbon offset funding schemes in protecting the carbon and biodiversity of the forests and ensure that local communities have a financial benefit from this conservation programme.

  • Attend lectures/workshops about the Wallacea region and its ecology from published research
  • Learn survey methods to sample birds, butterflies, large mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and bats
  • Learn how to conduct habitat surveys and calculate the carbon biomass of an area of forest
  • Learn skills to work and live safely in a remote rainforest research site
  • Live and work with local people and learn about Indonesian culture, customs and language
  • Work with a team of Indonesian and International scientists from around the world
  • Gain an internationally recognized SCUBA qualification
  • Option to undertake additional PADI dive qualifications above Open Water (additional cost)
  • Diving and snorkelling on some of the most diverse reefs in the world
  • Diving and snorkelling in the Wakatobi Marine National Park in the Coral Triangle
  • Working alongside specialist marine scientists
  • Attend evening lectures given by the science team on marine ecology
  • Participation in the Reef Survey Techniques course
  • Learn a variety of survey and monitoring techniques for both fisheries and in-water data collection
  • Participation in reef monitoring and reef restoration projects
  • Opportunity to interact with the local Bajau community
    • Opwall fee.
    • Cost of international flights into and out of Jakarta or Bali.
    • Cost of internal travel to/from the start/finish point of the expedition, plus any hotels you might require. The standard package costs approximately £132 or $172 (Jakarta) or £176 or $289 (Bali). This does not factor in internal flights so please get in touch for internal flight quotes.
    • Extra nights’ accommodation in Jakarta or Bali costs around £28 or $36 (breakfast included).
    • Park entrance fees are £50 or $66.
    • Visa costs of approx. £25 or $32 for a VOA for 30days. Approx. £75 or $95 for 60 day visa necessary for stays of 31-60 days. Please get in touch with someone from Opwall for more detailed advice.
    • Dive equipment rental – £60 or $75 per week for a full dive kit. If you only wish to snorkel and want to hire snorkel equipment, the cost is £35 or $45 per week. Please note that wetsuits cannot be provided – you must bring your own full-length wetsuit.
    • PADI manual and PIC card (if you are completing your Open Water qualification) – £69 or $89 approx.
    • Vaccinations and prophylactic medicines – cost can vary depending on your healthcare provider.
    • Spending money for snacks/drinks/laundry – Indonesian rupiah only.
    • All prices in GBP or USD unless specified.
    • Standard travel insurance – cost can vary, for 2 weeks it can range anywhere from £40-80 or $40-150.

    Most of our volunteers fundraise for their expedition costs. Find out more.



In the tropical rainforests of Indonesia is is generally warm during the day (around 25 degrees Celsius), and humid, with up to 80% humidity. At night the temperatures drop lower, but not usually lower than around 15 degrees Celsius. It rains very frequently, and very heavily at times, but for short periods.

At the marine sites during the day, the weather is normally sunny and warm (around 30 degrees Celsius), and the night temperatures drop to around 20-25 degrees Celsius. Being on the coast means there is often a pleasant breeze so it does not always feel this hot. It rains rarely, but when it does it tends to be very heavy for short periods of time.

Fitness level required

High for the forest sites. You will need to hike for long periods, over steep and muddy terrain, at times with your large rucksack. At the marine sites some fitness is required for in water activities, but conditions are relatively easy.

Creature comforts

The Langkumbe Valley Forest Camp is a basic field camp that enables access to primary rainforest habitats found in a remote corner of the North Buton Nature Reserve. A camp kitchen, communal eating area and change-rooms are set alongside a river where washing is done after a long day of forest surveys. All guests sleep in high-quality Hennessy hammocks that are set in the forest immediately surrounding the camp. The camp has no reliable phone signal.

The Hoga Island Marine Station is an established facility that lies within the Wakatobi Marine Park of eastern Indonesia. The station was rebuilt in 2016 and supports a dive centre, lecture theatre, class room spaces, data analysis labs, as well as a large dining room and kitchen facility. Simple huts owned by members of the local fishing community surround the station and serve as guest accommodation. The island supports reliable phone signal that allows limited internet access.


  • Indonesia
  • Hoga Island Marine Station
  • Langkumbe Valley
  • North Buton Forest Camp
  • Central Buton Forest Camp

Want to get involved with this project?


Want to get involved with this project?

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