Expedition Information

Indonesia site facilities

The following page is designed to give you an insight into the types of environment you will be working in whilst you are with Operation Wallacea. This should help you choose what you need to bring, and may also assist you in deciding which projects to participate in. The main forest research sites for 2018 will be the Lambusango forest in the south of Buton island and Buton Utara in North Buton. Node camps are being constructed at various points in the Lambusango to North Buton forests to incorporate different forest types and disturbance levels.Together these sampling sites give excellent geographical coverage across the forests and span habitats of differing disturbance levels.We also have additional mobile expeditions running in the northwest of Buton. The two marine sites are: Hoga Island, and Pantai Nirwana (Bau Bau).In addition there are some projects based on a research ship – KM Bintang Sedang, as well as surveys on Ambuea and Sampela.

Forest Research Sites

Lambusango (South Buton)

The main base for the university students doing the jungle training course, and the starting point for school students in south Buton is the village of Labundo.  Accommodation is in picturesque local village houses with a mandi (bathroom) in or near the house, consisting of a traditional squat toilet and bucket style shower, and each room having a mattress with mosquito net. Staying in Labundo is an ideal way to get to know local people and experience how they live.  Meals, evening lectures and briefings take place in the village hall.  There is also a medical clinic with a medic on site.

South forest camp –  Bala

For school groups visiting south Buton, after their first night in Labundo they will move to the forest camp of Bala. This will involve a 30 min drive, followed by a 3-6 hr (dependent on group) hike across fairly steep terrain. Accommodation here is in hammocks, covered by tarpaulin. There are basic washing facilities built into the river, and a trench style toilet – this is proper jungle living! There is a covered eating area, and all meals are cooked in camp by local staff. Further lectures will also be held in camp. From here students will trek out into the forest daily for surveys. The terrain on transects is very steep, and, due to heavy rainfall, often very muddy!

Central forest camp –  Waculaeya

This is the newest of our forest camps. It is a 6hr drive from Bau Bau, followed by a 1-3hr trek (dependent on the group). Accommodation here is in hammocks, and there are basic washing facilities built into the river, and trench style toilets. There is a covered eating area and all meals are cooked in camp by local staff. Lectures will also be held in camp. Students will trek out to the forest from the camp daily for surveys. The terrain around this camp is not as steep as the south camp, but it is very muddy and there are many river crossings. River shoes are imperative for this camp.

North Buton forest camp – Anoa

This camp is approximately an 8hr drive from Bau Bau and is accessed via a 1-2 hr hike over fairly flat terrain. This hike includes several river crossings, so rover shoes must be packed at the top pf your bag.  The north Buton forest camp is set up with camp beds under tarpaulin. There is a communal eating area, and a forest lecture theatre. There is a basic field toilet and shower system. The experience of living and working at these remote forest camps is one that few people forget, and the skills that you will develop, both in terms of fieldwork and forest living, will be invaluable. The terrain on transects is very steep, and, due to heavy rainfall, often very muddy!

Rapid Biodiversity Assessment Team –  Northwest Buton

Students joining the rapid biodiversity assessment team will be trekking into the forest in northwest Buton as part of a small team of guides, field biologists and volunteers. The core 4 week volunteers will assist with setting up and running of temporary camps, which will include basic washing facilities and toilets, and the camps will have everyone sleeping in hammocks. On this expedition the location will be moved each week, so there will also be some local homestays whilst completing some surveys from nearby villages. On occasion there are also hotel stays, dependent on the location, and of course, fly camps with hammocks. The core 4 week students will also assist in cutting the transects where they will survey for herpetofauna, megafauna and birds. The survey team will trek to as many habitat types as possible within the survey area of each camp/location. Students joining this programme must be prepared for last minute changes to locations or plans, as the team are visiting new areas, so often there are interesting findings that require plans to change. Feedback from this expedition has been excellent in previous years, as it carries a real sense of adventure and excitement.

Marine Research Sites

There are two main research sites and a live-aboard vessel from which Operation Wallacea undertakes all scientific research. For university students, and school groups visiting Hoga, the marine biology research is based on the small, uninhabited island of Hoga whilst social science, fisheries and mangrove research activities are co-ordinated from the village of Ambuea on the nearby island of Kaledupa. In addition, a new purpose-built research vessel the MV. Bintang Sedang, has been commissioned by Operation Wallacea enabling surveys and studies to be undertaken more widely throughout the entire marine park. For schools groups and university students visiting Bau Bau (Pantai Nirwana) they will be staying on the island of Buton, near to the airport city of Bau Bau.


Students based at the Hoga Island Marine Research Station will be living on an idyllic tropical island surrounded by white sandy beaches and pristine coral reefs. Traditionally-built wooden houses serve as accommodation on the island and are complete with their own bathroom and private balcony. There are a series of separate buildings within stunning surroundings including a large, open-air restaurant with bar and small shop. There are extensive wet and dry lab facilities on site that have been constructed by the Wakatobi government to assist in the development of the Hoga Research Centre as the principal centre for marine research in the Coral Triangle in eastern Indonesia. In addition, there is a lecture theatre where the Indo-Pacific coral reef ecology course is delivered and regular scientific talks are presented. There is a fully operational dive centre where all of the in-water activities begin and the rental of dive equipment is arranged for all those on expedition. The base also has a medic and medical clinic that is stocked with a large range of medical supplies and equipment.

Ambuea – All students involved in social science and fisheries research will be based in Hoga with daily visits to Ambuea village on Kaledupa whilst also having the opportunity to move out and work in other coastal communities. Ambeua is one of the most traditional of the villages on the main island of Kaledupa, and is located just a short boat ride from the research station on Hoga Island. Operation Wallacea works hard to maintain positive relations with the people of Ambeua and its surrounding communities providing students with a unique opportunity to both undertake intensive research and experience first hand the warm and generous nature of these local people. Experiencing day to day life on Kaledupa gives volunteers the opportunity to get a greater experience of how remote Indonesian communities live.

Sampela – Sampela is a Bajo village just off the east coast of Kaledupa. The Bajo people tend to build their settlements over the reef flats away from dry land, and Sampela is no exception to this: The houses are built on stilts, and if you are undertaking a social science project, some of your research will be undertaken on Sampela where you will get around either via wooden walkways or dug-out canoes. The Bajo community has a strong sense of cultural identity, and the experience of working with the community here will be quite unique.


Bau Bau (Pantai Nirwana)

The Bau Bau marine site is located in the south of Buton Island. As this site is on Buton Island, it requires less travel to get to than the Hoga site, and all travel is overland from the forest camps.  The site itself is based on cliffs, overlooking the sea and a white sandy beach. Accommodation at this site is shared rooms with stand up showers and flush toilets. There is hot water, but this is solar powered so it is variable. There is a restaurant area as well as a small shop which sells snacks and drinks. In addition, there is a lecture theatre where the Coral Reef Ecology course and regular scientific talks are presented, as well as a small medical clinic. Internet signal can be gained using an unlocked smart phone and a local SIM card, although this is slow and often unreliable.

General facilities and conditions

The weather is likely to be hot during the day (around 25 – 30 degrees Celsius) but it will be cooler at night (20-22 Celsius) and early mornings. In the forest the humidity is very high so it will feel even hotter, whilst on the marine side there is a steady sea breeze which keeps humidity down and temperatures very pleasant. Rain is possible at any time in the forest and it is normally torrential and very refreshing! This does mean that the terrain can become very muddy, and river shoes are a must. On the marine side rain is very unpredictable but is less common from mid July onwards.

There is limited 230V electricity available at Labundo, Hoga, Bau Bau, Sampela and Ambuea camps but you will need to bring your own plug adaptor with 2 round pins, In the forest camps we will have electricty from a generator, so this is limited and priority is given to running the laptop and projector.

If you need to contact home or friends when on expeditions you won’t be able to do so when you are in the forests. In an emergency messages can be passed to you by ringing the satellite phone and from there it will be radioed through to your node camp. In Labundo, Hoga, Bau Bau and in Ambuea your handphone should work. We recommend bringing an unlocked phone and purchasing a local SIM card for the best reception. At Ambuea there are telephone facilities and all the marine sites and the research ship are in radio contact with each other.

Please also be aware that even though it’s a tropical country there isn’t THAT much fruit and veg about! So to expect a largely rice and carbohydrate based diet. Chicken or fish is served occasionally, as well as other sources of protein, such as lentils. In the forest node camps meat/fish is rarely served, as there are no facilities to store this. Vegetarians and vegans can be catered for, but vegans may wish to bring an additional source of protein with them.