Pre-expedition planning - Operation Wallacea

Pre-expedition planning

Information Collection

In November/December before the expedition starts the teacher will need to check that all the students have passports with more than 6 months left on them before the return date of the expedition (if not they need to order replacements immediately). In addition, the teacher will need to check that all students have the required vaccinations for their country of visit.  Each of the school group participants will be sent a password so they can log into our on line database and enter their own personal details (passport numbers, nationality, passport expiry, health issues, dietary issues etc). If the group is diving the PADI forms (health, assumption of risks and liability forms) will need to be completed by the students and signed by their parents (and doctors if necessary).  These forms will need to be collected ahead of the expedition and copies sent to Opwall.  The originals of the forms are retained by the teacher and taken into the field with them.

Expedition Preparation

A few months before your expedition Opwall will email the lead teacher for each group, a link to a webpage that has a kit list video to help the students take the right equipment, a webinar recorded PowerPoint presentation that gives details of exactly what the students will be doing and the facilities at each camp and links to various additional information pages on the Opwall website.  This email and the links can then be forwarded to all the group participants so they and their parents can study it at their leisure.  Once all group members have been through this information, it is then a good idea to organize an evening meeting with all the students and their parents so that they can have a Skype video conversation with the Opwall Country Manager for the expedition to clarify any remaining issues.

Your group may also want to consider some extra training, first aid courses or team-building activities before heading out on expedition. Below are a few ideas to get you on your way.

Optional pre-expedition camping trips (UK)

We know that travelling overseas can be daunting, especially if it is your first time away from home. Therefore we have teamed up with expert outdoor camping organisations that can arrange for your group to spend a night or two in a tent in conditions that are similar to those that you will experience in the field. This will be a great opportunity to really get to know your fellow travellers and you will also get to try out the equipment you have bought to take on your expedition, and break in those boots!

The camping excursions are very flexible according to your group’s needs, but they all include one night’s camping in a tent, a long walk carrying your bag (just like you will in the field) and basic survival skills. This will mean that you will learn navigation techniques, basic first aid, and receive tips and training on field skills to make life on expedition that little bit easier!

This is ideal for those groups with very little experience of outdoor living, and for groups that may require a little more team bonding. It will demonstrate the level of fitness that is required, and help them to be much better prepared both mentally and physically. It will also help to make them even more excited about what they will be doing in the field, and enable them to get the most out of their expedition.

Please contact the following organisations to enquire about a camping excursion, and mention that you are booked onto an Operation Wallacea expedition in order to get an exclusive Operation Wallacea discount:

Southern England:
Wilderness Expertise Limited
Justin Tarrant
Tel: 01344 466393

Scotland and Northern England:
Addventure Awards Limited
John Roberts
Tel: 01484 644 217

Wales and the Midlands:
Peak Mountain Adventure Limited
Dave Nolan
Tel: 07743 357535

To help your group hit the ground running when they arrive, we are working with Discover Ltd. to run an expedition training week over the Easter holidays before your expedition. Discover Ltd has been a leading provider of biology and geography fieldwork since 1986, with field centres in both France and Morocco.

The pre-expedition training courses have been tailored to prepare groups for their time in the field, as well as delivering some of the academic content of their biology exam specification for IB, the different exam board A and AS level biology exams and Scottish Highers. The training course is based at the Eagles Nest Field Study Centre, in the Cevennes National Park, Southern France, a striking and remote rural upland landscape with high biodiversity and is available for UK based students for £460 for the week and including all the transport to and from the UK. During the week students will become conversant with the vocabulary of ecology and learn about energy flow, ecosystems, communities and populations and the techniques used by biologists to investigate these in the field. This is invaluable training whether or not your students are coming on the summer Opwall expedition. There will also be a day spent trekking and overnighting in a tented camp to help prepare and bond the teams joining the Opwall research teams.

For further details contact Sam Hillcox (

First Aid qualifications (UK)

Want to improve your UCAS application with an additional qualification? Get an Outdoor First Aid certificate! We have arranged with Fieldskills, experts in field medicine training, to provide a one day first aid course that will cover the basics when it comes to first aid in the field. Fieldskills will come to your school to provide the training, so to find out more please contact Dominic Hall, and mention that you are booked onto an Operation Wallacea expedition in order to get an exclusive Operation Wallacea discount:

Dominic Hall
Tel: 0845 293 7296

Camping and the first aid course (UK)

Should your group wish to incorporate both the first aid course and the camping expedition this is also possible; for those in the North please contact John Roberts from Addventure Awards, and for those in the South please contact Justin Tarrant from Wilderness Expertise (all contact details above).