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Biosphere Expeditions

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Environment, Natural Resources Conservation & Protection

Mission: Biosphere Expeditions is a wildlife conservation non-profit first and foremost. But we also empower ordinary people by taking them on our expeditions worldwide to work hands-on in wildlife research and conservation. Biosphere Expeditions is an award-winning not-for-profit conservation organisation, and a member of IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) and the United Nations Environment Programme. For us successful conservation is the collective effort of individuals. We invite everyone to join us on our wildlife and wilderness projects all over the world. Whether young or old, become a citizen scientist for one or two weeks, or more. The foundation of our work is science and local need. We focus on sustainable conservation projects that target clearly defined, critical issues that humankind has the power to change. International volunteers work hand-in-hand with local biologists and communities to drive positive outcomes for biodiversity - the creation of a protected area for snow leopards in the Altai is just one recent example. Biosphere Expeditions is a member of the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) and of the United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum. Achievements include the implementation of our conservation recommendations and species protection plans by numerous national and regional governments and NGOs, the creation of protected areas on four continents, scientific and lay publications, as well as capacity-building, training and education all over the world.

Results: Southern Africa Data collected by our expeditions in Namibia have helped our local and international partners make arguments that have led to the declaration of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, or KAZA TFCA. The KAZA TFCA is the world's largest conservation area, spanning five southern African countries; Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, centered around the Caprivi-Chobe-Victoria Falls area. Also in Namibia, fewer lions, leopards and cheetahs have been killed in farmer-predator conflict due to our data collection, awareness-building and educational work. Oman Data collected by our expeditions as well as our intensive work to influence decision-makers have led to the creation of two MPAs (marine protected areas) in the Musandam Peninsula of Oman, where all fishing except local handline fishing has been banned by a new ministerial decree. Ukraine Data collected by our expeditions in the Ukraine have helped our local partners make arguments that have led to the declaration of a national park in the Ukraine. This park now protects a unique steppe area jutting into the Black Sea and a stop-off point for many migratory birds, as well as a haven for fauna (e.g. birds & wolves) and flora (it boasts amongst other things Europe's biggest orchid field). Altai Republic Data collected by our expeditions in the Altai have helped our local and international partners make arguments that have led to the declaration of a protected area in the Altai Republic, Central Asia. This area now provides a protected habitat for a number of endangered species, including the snow leopard. Also in the Altai, we have converted local poachers into conservationists by paying them for verifiable camera trap pictures of snow leopards surviving year-on-year. This is obviously not a long-term strategy, but with so few snow leopards remaining, some stopgap solutions are needed until the long-term ones can be reached. Australia When Australia created the world's largest network of marine reserves in 2012, the Roebuck Commonwealth Marine Reserve, site of our flatback turtle study, was part of the network. Along with our local partners, we were working towards getting flatback turtles listed within the ‘major conservation values’ of the reserve and this is what happened, with the citation being ‘Foraging area adjacent to important nesting sites for flatback turtles’. SOME STATISTICS Over 150,000 hours worked in voluntourism wildlife conservation & research. Over 1.5 million pounds put directly into conservation project worldwide. Over half a million pounds put into local projects and communities as in-kind donations.

Target demographics: Wildlife conservation

Geographic areas served: Worldwide

Programs: Wildlife conservation expeditions funded mostly through volunteer and voluntourism contributions

Community Stories

46 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I joined Biosphere Expeditions in Sumatra, Indonesia, in 2015 when I was 17.
I always knew I wanted to work in conservation but was struggling to find a
place to get experience under the age of 18 other than zoos. Whilst that is
great experience I had done it before and knew it wasn't exactly where I
wanted to be - I wanted to see the work being done on the 'frontlines' of
conservation! Biosphere Expeditions were the only place I could find that
had no age limit on volunteers, and I liked their serious, scientific
approach to the projects, as I was keen to take my first steps into the
field.

As I write this, I am 20 and on an internship with a conservation NGO in
Thailand during a sandwich year on my university course - BSc Wildlife
Conservation. Without Biosphere Expeditions offering me that first step into
independent travel and grassroots conservation, I would still have studied
Wildlife Conservation at university, but I doubt I would have had the
confidence to travel alone as extensively as I have, and I would certainly
not have had enough conservation experience on my CV to gain an internship
that usually goes to Masters or PhD students!

Sumatra is a beautiful place, and the Indonesian people so welcoming and
friendly - the experiences I had there at 17 have largely shaped my world
outlook as an adult. I made friends there that I am still in contact with to
this day, and memories that I will never forget: swimming in the river with
a monitor lizard (entirely by accident, on both our parts!), delicious food,
friendly locals and pushing myself to achieve things I never thought I was
capable of.

I owe a huge part of my current success and drive to Biosphere Expeditions
and I hope one day to return to the people who gave me my first taste of
real, in-the-field conservation. I would definitely recommend them to anyone
who is looking to see what conservation work is really like, who wants to
contribute to saving our beautiful planet, or to anyone who doesn't believe
in themselves - once you have completed this, there is nothing you can't do.
Thank you Biosphere!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been on the first Expedition in Malawi.
There have been so many imaginations and questions about this in advanced.
As i arrived and worked there, all of them are just better then i thought before.

The Expedition was very well organized. And i enjoyed every day out in the field.
My highlights has been the walking transects, where i could be as close as possible with this incredible nature and wildlife that i still got Goose bumps.

i am so thankful for making this adventure and especially for helping our beautiful world, even it is just a tiny bit right now.
Thank you for open up my horizon and to learn so much more about life in this world

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Biosphere Expeditions 10/26/2018

Thank you for sharing this inspiring story and all the best for your career!

1 laurabalazs

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It was 2006 when I signed up for my Biosphere Expeditions trip – to the Peruvian Amazon. A six-hour-boatride away from the closest little town, separated from the noisy inhabitants of the jungle only by a mosquito-net, I felt – amazingly – just as at home as in a crowded big city. Or rather: even more. I was fascinated by the rainforest and I felt as if all my senses suddenly came to life. I felt ALIVE. Mosquitoes, poisonous snakes and spiders, scorpions, jaguars hiding in the dark heat – yes, please! Can I get some more?

My first jungle-encounter was followed by more trips to rainforests all around the world – to Peru again, then Ecuador, Madagascar, Costa Rica, Borneo, Australia, Bolivia. Sometimes I did volunteer work, other times I took photos of the amazing inhabitants of the forests. Exploring remote, primary rainforests became a sort of passion, and it led me to deeper questions too. How does time spent in nature, in wilderness, affect us psychologically? How can these experiences be transferred to our everyday lives? I turned to books on eco-psychology, attended workshops in deep ecology and wrote my master degree thesis with this question in mind (the title was: Facilitating Wilderness Solo Experiences for Greater Self-Awareness, Self-Actualization, Creativity and a Sense of Life-Direction)

My deepening interest led me to a one-year course in Experiential Education and Outdoor Training with a specialisation in Adventure- and Wilderness Therapy, and last year, with my trainer collegues we organised a two-week summer camp for kids in state care. It was one of the most challenging – and most rewarding – experiences of my life. It was amazing to see the changes in these boys during the time we spent in the forest – how they became more self-confident as they faced the challenges provided by nature, and how they became more open as we sat around the evening fire and told stories under the stars-filled sky. I hope I can take many more people – young and adult – to wild places and let them experience their life-changing effects. Just as my first Biosphere Expeditions journey changed my life too.

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Biosphere Expeditions 10/26/2018

Thank you for sharing your story Laura! We are so glad to have played a part in it.

2 Sj K.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Back home after my Biosphere Expedition in South Africa.
Very impressed with the scientists, expedition leader, cooks and Blue Hill Nature Reserve owners. A wonderful experience!

The huge knowledge base - whether that be via scientists or the extensive library
that was freely available to us - was amazing.

Such a variety of activities - leopard monitoring, small mammal trapping/release (finding
new species to the area!), bird surveys, establishing botanical plots for scientific research and recording/identifying bats.

I'm not only looking forward to reading the Expedition report and seeing articles or other outcomes from this well organised field work - but hoping to volunteer again soon.

I encourage you to look at the photos/reports on the Biosphere Expeditions website.
Sandi

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Biosphere Expeditions 10/26/2018

Thank you for your kind words Sandi. And thank you for your help in the field.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Before Biosphere Expeditions, little attention was paid by my government to the reefs of Musandam. This has all changed and there are now protected areas, based on scientific advice, and a local NGO, coming out of capacity-building efforts. Thank you so much for all this.

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Alan Hoffberg 10/17/2017

Thank you, Jenan, for both your participation and comment above. Alan M. Hoffberg Biosphere Expeditions - North America

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I went on the Sumatra expedition with Biosphere Expeditions and the experience really delivered. It was all it said it would be and more. Great people, great project, great impact. And ethical too. I'll be back!

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Biosphere Expeditions 10/26/2018

:) Thank you for your kind review.

5

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am a writer specializing in science and travel and I can honestly say that Biosphere Expeditions is the best citizen science organization that I have come across in the 20 years of my professional career. Just read the other reviews on here. They say it all. Great care of volunteers, effective citizen science and conservation, adventurous travel and superb staff. If you are thinking of going on a citizen science project, I can highly recommend Biosphere Expeditions.

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Biosphere Expeditions 10/26/2018

Thank you. This means a lot coming from a professional in the science and travel fields.

1 Almaz

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Hi

I am Almaz

I should say Biosphere Expeditions has done a great job in order to bring public attention on Snow Leopards of Kyrgyzstan. Which we have only few left.

Since Biosphere Expeditions started their project in 2015 situations with Snow Leopards has significantly changed. We have a lot attention.

We have a lot attention from the government and local communities to the problem of disappearing Snow Leopards. It is really brought Snow Leopards to the center of Kyrgyz society. This is really helping to save thouse animals which we are lucky to have.

Thanks to Biosphere Expeditions helping save Snow Leopard. Big privilege be part of this very important work for my country

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Biosphere Expeditions 08/12/2017

Thank you Almaz. It's a pleasure working with you too. You have helped us so much and in so many ways; we appreciate this very much. And of course the discussions about politics whenever we meet ;)

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Biosphere Expeditions 08/12/2017

Thank you Almaz. It's a pleasure working with you too. You have helped us so much and in so many ways; we appreciate this very much. And of course the discussions about politics whenever we meet ;)

5 JohnHighet

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been on three Biosphere expeditions: Slovakia (tracking wolves), The Azores (monitoring whales, mostly sperm whales) and Namibia (tracking elephants and capturing leopards for collaring). All the trips have been well organised, great fun and fascinating. They also involve a lot of work! It is great to work close up with the scientists doing this vital research, knowing that the data will eventually put to great use, for example by assisting in the creation of protected areas. Will probably do a scuba diving trip next.

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Biosphere Expeditions 08/12/2017

Thank you for this review John and we look forward to seeing you soon (underwater).

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The moment I read about BE's Wolf expedition I knew it was exactly what I was looking for. A chance to pick up skills and contribute to wolf conservation (without getting a PhD first). My week turned out exactly as Biosphere Expedition promised it would. Their staff are professional, helpful, genuine and serious about conservation first. That I liked!

The expedition definitely broadened my views on conservation work. I hope to apply all that I learnt in Germany to wolf conservation in the Indian landscape. If you are passionate about wildlife and wants to do something about it, what ever your age, I think you don't have an excuse anymore. :)

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Biosphere Expeditions 08/12/2017

Thank you Lalitha. And thank you too for offering to do so much more in the aftermath of the expedition.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I participated this year in the Maldive expedition (after doing the Malaysian last year)
Great experience! Catherine and the crew made this week really exceptional. Sharks, turtles, rays, octopi and all the other animals were not shy to show off their beauty. The team was so nice, and we worked smoothly like a machine. After one week I am an expert in laying the tape to gather data for reef check!
I appreciate that the data collected during this week is briefly analyzed at the end of the expedition and compared with past years data, to get a general idea regarding the development of the reefs. It is very rewarding to see so clearly your contribution.

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Biosphere Expeditions 08/12/2017

Thank you so much for this review C and your comments.

3 NeilG

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It was 2:30 in the morning. I was walking 5kms in soft sand, guided only by the moonlight. I was carrying a bag weighing about 6kgs, sharing the load with two wonderful colleagues. I was exhausted, drenched in sweat, covered in sand ........ and had an enormous smile on my face. The reason for the smile lay in the bag we were carrying - 75 precious leatherback turtle eggs. We had rescued the eggs from a nest, ensuring they weren't taken by poachers, and were carrying them to the safety of the hatchery at our camp. This was the highlight of my latest expedition with Biosphere Expeditions in which they partner with LAST (Latin American Sea Turtles) to protect nesting leatherbacks, hawksbills and greens - all on the IUCN Redlist - at Playa Pacuare on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.
This was my seventh trip with BE and, yet again, it provided many special memories, all wrapped up within Biosphere's highly professional approach to citizen science projects. The Biosphere leaders were exceptional and kept the team informed at all times; as a result the international team of volunteers bonded superbly and everybody contributed fully to the expedition. I can't recommend Biosphere Expeditions highly enough, if you are interested in making a meaningful contribution to wildlife conservation, no matter which expedition you choose to join.

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Biosphere Expeditions 08/12/2017

Thank you Neil for this moving review.

Previous Stories
6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I recently returned home after another fantastic expedition with Biosphere Expeditions (BE) to Tien Shan in Kyrgyzstan. This was my sixth expedition to five different locations across four continents since 2011. Each expedition (to Namibia, Azores, Amazonia [twice], Dubai, Tien Shan) was a unique and memorable experience but there are common threads that run through all of them.
The Locations
All of the places I have visited, from the Khomas Hochland to Faial to the banks of the Tahuayo River to the Dubai Desert to the Kyrgyz Ala-Too mountain range, have been spectacular and breath-taking. Well away from tourist hotspots, they offer a privileged glimpse of locations that many have not even heard of.
Undertaking fieldwork in these places generally demands a reasonable level of physical fitness and I can think of no better reason to improve my personal fitness (and lose a few kilograms along the way) than by preparing for each expedition.
The Scientists
Science is the key driver behind each expedition. In my experience, the scientists with whom BE works so closely are invariably experienced and dedicated individuals. Many have spent much of their working life researching the wildlife and the environment around which each expedition revolves. Whether it’s Kristina showing us how to camouflage a box trap in a particularly thorny acacia bush, or Steve rationalising the decision to introduce a pack of Arabian wolves into the DDCR, or Volodya pointing out the best places on the ridges and peaks of the Ala-Too to scan for ibex and snow leopard (well, maybe, one day an elusive snow leopard will be spotted!), or Lisa explaining what research is still needed to better understand how sperm whales cope the immense pressure when hunting at depth for squid, or Alfredo waxing lyrical about, quite frankly, any of the fauna of the Amazon Rainforest, it is a rare privilege to work alongside them.
The Wildlife
Each expedition that I have been on has enabled me to see plants and animals that I have never seen before. Not always the headline megafauna – indeed they invariably take a short break away from the study site when I arrive! Nevertheless, I have many wonderful pictures of, amongst others, greater kudu, steenbok, Risso’s dolphin, Macqueen’s bustard, bullet ant, ranitomeya flavovittata (poison dart frog), hoatzin, moustached tamarin, long-tailed marmot and parnassius tianschanicus (Apollo butterfly), that are more than adequate compensation for missing out on the jaguar, snow leopard and sperm whale.
The Team Members
At the end of every expedition, my abiding memory is invariably of the wonderful people that I have had the pleasure of teaming up with. Team working, shared objectives, regular feedback – these are concepts that are discussed regularly at my place of work but I believe the only occasions when such ideals have been properly achieved are on my expeditions with BE. My recent expedition in Tien Shan was a great example of this when I had the privilege of being part of an exceptional team.
Thirteen people drawn from seven countries, from Austria to Australia, ranging in age from teenager to the recently retired. A diverse group, we were united in our objective to contribute positively to snow leopard research in Kyrgyzstan. It was a physically demanding expedition and the teamwork was evident every day with everybody keeping an eye open for the safety of each other as we ascended glacial river valleys or scrambled up boulder fields and scree slopes. Each evening, after dinner, we enjoyed telling the rest of the group of our successes and failures in the day - and we were all immensely proud of ‘die harte Kern’ when they became the first BE group to discover snow leopard scat on Kashka Tor. We also had great fun during our two weeks, whether it was socialising in the warmth of the yurt each evening or admiring the bravery of our ‘four horsemen of the Apocalypse’ as they showed the local herders how to play kök böru.
What Next?
There are at least six expeditions that I would like to go on in 2017. Well, I won’t accomplish that but I hope to go on one or two. And I know that, whichever expeditions I sign up for, I’ll experience more fascinating locations, work with dedicated scientists, discover new flora and fauna, have the great pleasure of meeting like-minded people from around the world and I’ll come away with many unique and happy memories.

NeilG
October 2016

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Me and my partner took part in the Biosphere Costa Rica Sea Turtle expedition in May 2017. It is clear that the project is making a difference to turtle conservation – and it is motivating to know that your individual contribution is making a difference too. The volunteers, guides, leaders, station staff and others were all great people to be with and this makes the trip enjoyable even though there is hard work involved. I actually collected eggs ‘up close and personal’ to a Leatherback as she was laying. That kind of intimate contact with the animals was what we were hoping for and we were certainly rewarded. I would say that to get the most out of this experience, you really do need to be willing to walk 10km (or more) on soft sand at night. We are in our mid-60’s and managed it. The youngsters in the group had no problems it seems. In any case, It is certainly worth the effort!

Frank, UK.

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Biosphere Expeditions 08/12/2017

Thank you Frank. We really appreciate you taking the time to write this review.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I joined Biosphere's Dubai desert expedition in January 2017. I particularly liked the type of people this expedition attracted. All very
interesting, from different backgrounds, with a range of expertise. I also really enjoyed the landscape, people and driving through the dunes in 4x4s, as well as the level of autonomy Biosphere gives you. Would recommend this to anyone and already considering doing one of their other expeditions, possibly Amazonia.

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Biosphere Expeditions 08/12/2017

Thank you!

7 Zhi L.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I got involved with the Malaysia expedition on August 2016. From my experience, Biosphere Expeditions has brought the public to be more involved in the conservation projects, teaming up with the right people or organisation, and giving normal people the opportunity to contribute to what a field scientist would do.

For me as a local in the expedition for Malaysia, Biosphere Expedition together with its partner has opened my eyes to the ongoing status and situations of the marine life, as well as the environment, on the Island of Tioman off Peninsular Malaysia. It has definitely achieved its goal towards me in advocating for wildlife and nature.

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Biosphere Expeditions 08/12/2017

Thank you very much Zhi. We're glad you benefitted from your experience. Please recommend our placement program for local people to your friends.

8 Glenn13

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great work being done by Biosphere Expeditions! Out of all the organisations I've volunteered with, they are my favourite. Providing real world scientific results and benefits with their programmes. I like the fact that they have stringent requirements for what a project needs to provide in order to be considered something that they will offer... As well as the amount of effort, the planning and the procedures that go into making sure the they run effectively and efficiently... with all the precision of a German Military exercise. Yet they are fun at the same time.

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Biosphere Expeditions 08/12/2017

Thank you Glenn for this glowing review. We appreciate this!

10 Cathadventure

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have worked with Biosphere Expeditions as an expedition leader for three years now and am often asked why I choose to work with them and what makes them different. Primarily, I feel the work they do is very important – these are not tours, they are expeditions that take you to the heart of an environmental issue, whether that be underwater investigating coral reef health, patrolling turtle beaches to intercept poachers, or setting camera traps in jungles to get a better idea of tiger populations. I completely endorse their integral involvement of the scientist: this brings the expedition to life, adds an educational sphere that many expeditions lack, and gives the work, which is often physically very demanding, a real purpose. I enjoy the diversity of the team members Biosphere attracts, and the fact that people come back year after year to participate in different expeditions is testament to the quality of the experience they provide, it’s also great to meet up with those returnees in different corners of the globe - makes it feel like a real team effort! I’ve dedicated the best part of my life to conservation, and feel privileged to be part of an organisation with such a great ethos.

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Biosphere Expeditions 08/12/2017

Thank you Cath. We are very glad to have you on our team.

9 Ida V.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am just back from my first trip with Biosphere Expeditions as an Expedition Leader in training on the Costa Rica Leatherback Sea Turtle expedition. I was impressed with the quality of the science carried out, this is not some data gathering exercise, but real science that is guiding real conservation efforts. The caliber of the partner organisation and scientist was extremely professional and the quality of the volunteers on this expedition was exceptional. It was a great experience to carry out important conservation work with a group of like minded, hard working, and excited volunteers. Biosphere Expeditions does an excellent job in marrying important conservation projects with enthusiastic citizen scientists.

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Biosphere Expeditions 05/27/2016

Thank you for this review Ida. We're glad to have you on the team.

11

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am a freelance travel writer specialized in volunteer vacations. I have spent countless hours researching opportunities for volunteering that are responsible and effective for my guidebook Volunteer Vacations in Latin America (http://www.amazon.com/Volunteer-Vacations-Latin-America-Handbooks/dp/1612386415), and for other articles I have written. I have heard nothing but good things about Biosphere Expeditions. You can read many of my articles about responsible volunteering at my website, www.amyiswriting.com/clips.

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Biosphere Expeditions 05/27/2016

Thank you for this. It's really good to hear that the word out there is as positive as you describe and we are glad that the hard work of our volunteers, staff and partners on the ground is perceived as such by the wider world and professionals in the field. Thanks for letting us know.

9

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Having been on another trip as a travel writer with Biosphere I've come back even more convinced that not only do they absolutely deliver on what they say they will in terms of the science, but they also provide experiences for volunteers which have an authenticity you won't find anywhere else.

Their organisation inspires great loyalty despite the fact they can ask quite a lot of their volunteers. Their briefings are comprehensive and well prepared but they are also very helpful for those with questions before you all set out so you feel you are in very safe hands, even though you are heading for the middle of nowhere!

A lot of what they ask is very hard work when you are there, but absolutely everyone I've been away with has found it a good deal more rewarding, and relaxing, than a typical holiday. I think this is why people return so often - it's the best possible feedback that those who find out about these expedititions like to return, and do more because they feel they can actually help in some small way to make a difference.

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Biosphere Expeditions 05/27/2016

Thank you Holly! Coming from a travel journalist this is great to hear. Where to next?