Earthwatch, the international environmental charity, is launching its expeditions for 2009, and top of our list is a cycling trip with a twist.
In 2009 the charity is offering 350 expeditions to 61 research projects in 31 countries. On a new research expedition to Vallée des Baux, in picturesque Provence, volunteers can mountain bike from site to site, working with leading scientists to find out about the stunningly colourful European roller bird. You will discover more about the bird’s populations and habitats, to find out how conservation is working, checking nest boxes, weighing the birds, and measuring plants. Volunteers stay at a field centre with swimming pool six kilometres east of Arles. Volunteers can join a 10-day team in summer 2009.
If pedal power doesn’t ring your bell, get in gear on another Earthwatch expedition, this time surveying brown hyenas in South Africa. Much of your work will take place in Pilanesberg National Park, in the remains of an extinct volcano, where you will carry out wildlife surveys, looking for animals, their footprints and other signs. Volunteers stay at a field camp in the heart of the stunning Mankwe Wildlife Reserve. You can join 12-day teams in January, August or November 2009.
As an Earthwatch volunteer you can stay close to home on a UK expedition, venture into Europe, or go further afield; you could survey whales and dolphins in Scotland or Greece, photograph endangered zebras in the Samburu region of Kenya, or study giant otters in the Pantanal, Brazil.
Earthwatch expeditions range in price from £850 to £1,995. The cost includes training, food, accommodation, medical emergency evacuation and the offsetting of greenhouse gases. It is also a charitable donation which helps to support the research. Flights are extra. Volunteers must be over the age of 18, unless participating on a teen or family team. To find out more or to book call +44 (0)1865 318831 or visit earthwatch.org.