Restoring Fire, Wolves, and Bison to the Canadian Rockies

Expedition Briefing


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The Research

For nearly one hundred years, ecologists have recognized the powerful link between wolves (Canis lupus), elk (Cervus elaphus), aspen (Populus tremuloides), grass, and fire (Leopold et al., 1947). Large carnivores, such as wolves, and disturbances, such as fire, have been identified as forces of nature that increase biodiversity, create more resilient ecosystems, and help energy to cycle more vigorously through communities (Eisenberg et al. 2013). These cascading direct and indirect food web interactions affect songbird and invertebrate species diversity, and are called trophic cascades.

By the 1920s, as was the case in much of North America, European settlers killed wolves to the point of near extinction. Without wolves preying on them, elk and deer exploded in number. Burgeoning elk populations ravaged plant communities, including aspen forests (an important elk food). Literally eating themselves out of house and home, elk damaged aspen to the point that few saplings survived to grow into mature trees. At the same time that we wiped out wolves, we eliminated fire and bison (Bison bison).

Beginning in the mid-1970s, with the passage of powerful environmental laws in the U.S. and Canada, we began to conserve wolves and other large carnivores. We also began to realize that fire is as important of an ecological force as wolves. With the return of wolves, we’re noticing changes in elk behavior and density (Smith et al. 2003). This means that elk may not be eating aspen in places where wolves are present, because it is more difficult to escape a wolf in an aspen thicket than on open terrain (Eisenberg et al. 2014). This effect is called “the ecology of fear” (Brown et al. 1999). We’re also finding that wolves in some places reduce elk numbers to a more sustainable level. With the return of fire we’re noticing that aspen are sprouting more vigorously and growing faster. The combination of wolves and fire is leading to aspen rapidly growing above the height that elk can eat them and into the forest canopy. However, lacking bison and frequent fire, aspen are encroaching on shortgrass prairie. Additionally, our study has a climate change component. Climate change has increased the severity of wildfires worldwide.

Some big changes occurred in 2017 on our project. First, bison were reintroduced just north of our study site (in Banff National Park, Alberta), and south of our study site, in the Badger-Two Medicine and Chief Mountain area of Montana. These animals will be roaming the prairie in our study site eventually. Additionally, in fall 2017, an extremely high-severity megafire, the Kenow wildfire, burned our study site. While large wildfires have occurred in this fire-adapted ecosystem for the past 10,000 years, usually these fires are quite patchy, with mostly low to medium severity. Understanding the impacts of catastrophic fire is an essential aspect of adapting to and mitigating climate change.

Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), defined as the knowledge, practice, and belief concerning the relationship of living beings to one another and to the physical environment held by native peoples worldwide (Berkes 1993; Kimmerer 2002), is an essential component of healing the damage done to this ecosystem by Euro-American settlers during the Colonial Era. Our research design, methods, and implementation are deeply informed by TEK, in our work with the Blackfoot (Kainai) First Nation. Our Kainai elders and the Kainai field technicians on our project advise us and teach us how best to incorporate TEK in our research.

Research Aims

Our overarching goal is to learn more about trophic cascades and how fire, wolves, and bison can help us create a healthier, more resilient grassland and aspen forest communities (Estes et al. 2011). Of critical importance is to document the impacts of fire severity (both prescribed and wildfire) in this ecosystem on wildlife habitat, particularly bison.

Our study area, Waterton Lakes National Park (WLNP), is in one of the most intact temperate ecosystems in North America. This ecosystem contains all the large carnivore species present at the time of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and six million acres of protected wilderness and reserves. As such, it makes the perfect natural laboratory to investigate the complex interactions between apex forces of nature—fire and wolves—on a landscape scale, and to explore what could happen when bison return.

Our study sites lie in primary elk winter range in this park, where elk density is very high from September-May. Indeed, the elk density recorded here is among the highest recorded in North America. This historically was also an important bison range.

Additionally, we are working on the Blood (Blackfoot) Timber Limit—a lush timberland immediately adjacent to the park. In fact, our research would not be possible without a rich collaboration with the Kainai First Nation (also known as the Blackfoot), and WLNP and Parks Canada, as well as other research partners, such as the Wildlife Conservation Society.

To learn about how food web relationships between top predators and their prey—also known as trophic cascades (Paine 1980)—operate in a grassland-aspen community, we’ll measure the dynamics of each food web link in our study—wolves, elk, aspen—and the presence and severity of fire. Fire severity has a positive relationship with post-fire aspen sprout density. We’re focusing on elk and wolves because they are key players in food-web effects involving grasslands and aspen.

We’ll achieve our goal of learning about how fire, predation, and herbivory operate in grassland-aspen communities via 
the following steps:

  1. Test the effects of prescribed fire and wildfire on aspen regeneration and recruitment
  2. Measure elk presence and feeding behavior in WLNP
  3. Measure wolf presence in WLNP
  4. Investigate the effects of elk herbivory on post-fire aspen regeneration and recruitment
  5. Examine the potential for wolves to influence elk feeding choices
  6. Identify the species of native and non-native grasses present in aspen and on the prairie

How You Will Help

From the inception of our research in 2007, we’ve incorporated volunteers on each field crew. As volunteers, you’ll be conducting five types of surveys:

  1. Fire Severity Surveys: These spring surveys take place in May through early June, between snowmelt and green-up, and are designed to determine the severity of fires in our study sites. Data collection involves measuring the burn evidence on tree trunks, the amount of the tree canopy killed by fire, and the amount of exposed (burned) mineral soil in our pre-established plots, both in aspen stands and on the prairie. We will also be conducting fire severity assessments after late-summer prescribed burns. These data will provide information that will increase the understanding of how climate change is affecting fire-prone systems. This is exciting work that goes rapidly and in which we cover a lot of ground. Wildlife encounters and viewings are frequent during these surveys. This is very physical work in at-times winter conditions. These surveys will also help us identify “action” sites where human intervention using ecological restoration may be needed—and begin to take those actions (e.g., native seed collection, replanting, preventing soil erosion).
  2. Track Transects: These spring surveys take place in May between snowmelt and greenup, before the grass grows tall. Track transects require 6–10 miles of walking per day, working off-trail on level, uneven terrain. We’ll be collecting data on the presence of all the large carnivores and their prey, and also locating and investigating the carcasses of wolf-killed animals. Wildlife encounters and viewings are frequent during these surveys. This is very exciting, physical work in at-times winter conditions in an area that contains a high and very active wolf population.
  3. Aspen Surveys: These surveys can take place from late June to mid-September, after trees leaf out and begin to grow. Aspen surveys require 6–10 miles of walking per day on level and sloping uneven terrain, working off-trail. Data collection involves measuring aspen sapling height, shrub diversity, shrub height and percent cover, elk and deer browsing on the aspen, aspen encroachment on the grassland, and forest community characteristics.
  4. Grass plot surveys: These surveys take place from mid-June through early August, after the grasses have blossomed, but before their seed heads deteriorate too much. Data collection involves measuring grass extent, species present, and shrub presence in plots.
  5. Wolf Surveys: Visits to wolf rendezvous sites and travel corridors can take place at any time throughout the project, though we do all we can to avoid disturbing or disrupting the natural behavior patterns of wolves while we’re in the field. Field days when we track will require 3–10 miles of walking per day on uneven terrain, working off-trail. We conduct wolf surveys one day per week.

Specifically, you’ll be able to assist with the following research tasks:

  • Pulling transect tapes and marking plots
  • Measuring understory characteristics, such as aspen sapling heights, tree diameters, shrub cover, browsing, and grass presence
  • Measuring overstory characteristics, such as canopy cover, tree mortality, and tree diameters at breast height
  • Tracking ungulates and carnivores in established transects (May teams only)
  • Tracking wolves in high wolf-use areas

Upon arrival, we’ll take you shopping as needed for any missing required personal field gear (see packing list). You’ll travel by project vehicle to the Waterton research house, where upon arriving, you’ll receive an orientation and room assignment. Next, we’ll prepare dinner together. After dinner you’ll receive an introductory lecture on research methods and equipment. You’ll also receive a safety and logistics briefing. In the morning you’ll receive a bear safety briefing. You’ll then proceed to help us collect data on how fire and wolves are shaping food web relationships in this ecosystem. On the last day after dinner, we’ll talk about the results and trends we’re finding and the relevance of the data collected. We’ll also discuss coexisting with apex predators. In general, research days will include up to eight hours per day in the field, plus one hour of briefings. Informative lectures will often be conducted in the field, during lunchtime, or during dinner.

Life in the Field

Each morning, we’ll make our own breakfast and prepare a packed lunch before gathering in one room to “gear up.” All volunteers will be expected to get up in the morning at 6:00 a.m. in order to go into the field between 7:00–8:00 a.m., depending on conditions.

Each day during lunch we’ll discuss pertinent topics, such as the ecological history of the area and how predator extirpation and fire suppression—and the return of both—are shaping the patterns we see in this landscape. We’ll also discuss the ecological and cultural role of bison in this landscape and grassland restoration. In the field (and once or twice per week after dinner) we’ll discuss data quality. You will interact with Kainai tribal members daily and deeply, including visits to the field by esteemed tribal elders and participation at times in tribal ceremonies pertaining to our study and visits to spiritually important sites on Kainai land. These activities are an essential part of incorporating TEK into our research.

After a long day of fieldwork and data collection, we’ll all return to the research house for showers and to cook dinner together and relax. Then, we’ll convene for a group dinner and evening wrap up of the day’s events. Some evenings you’ll have the opportunity to attend community lectures, if you wish.

Volunteers on teams 1–3 will spend all of their time tracking wildlife (elk, deer, moose, wolves, bears, cougars, and coyotes). Volunteers in the field for the remaining teams will spend all day for seven days measuring fire severity and one day tracking wolves.


The following itinerary is subject to change due to weather and wildlife hazards.

  • Day 1: Arrival and Intro
    • Arrive at the rendezvous airport and meet project staff
    • General intro to research background during drive
    • Arrive at accommodations in Waterton
    • Unpack and settle before having a welcome dinner in the research house
    • Briefing on research, field methods and equipment
  • Day 2: Training
    • Introduction to fieldwork
    • A.M.: bear safety training
    • P.M.: data collection techniques
  • Days 3–5 Fieldwork: Data Collection
    • Plant/ecosystem surveys
  • Day 6 Fieldwork: Observation
    • Wolf tracking
    • Evening: program summary
  • Day 7: Departure
    • Depart for the airport @ ~6:00 a.m.

Note: Teams 1–3 consist of wildlife tracking all day, every day on fieldwork days.

  • Day 1: Arrival and Intro
    • Arrive at the rendezvous airport and meet project staff
    • General intro to research background during drive
    • Arrive at accommodations in Waterton
    • Unpack and settle before having a welcome dinner in the research house
    • Briefing on research, field methods and equipment
  • Day 2: Training
    • Introduction to fieldwork
    • A.M.: bear safety training
    • P.M.: data collection techniques
  • Days 3–8 Fieldwork: Data Collection
    • Wildlife/fire severity surveys
  • Day 9 Fieldwork: Observation
    • Wolf tracking
    • Evening: program summary
  • Day 10: Departure
    • Depart for the airport @ ~6:00 a.m.

Note: Teams 1–3 consist of wildlife tracking all day, every day on fieldwork days.

Accommodations and Food

* Please note that not every expedition has couples’ or single's accommodations available. Please call or email Earthwatch to check for availability prior to reserving your space(s) on the team.


You’ll be staying at the Waterton Lakes National Park research house, a Parks Canada located in a premiere site in town and available exclusively for our project’s use during the late spring into early autumn. The research house is newly remodeled and fully furnished and has a large kitchen for group cooking. There are five bedrooms with a total of ten beds. Genders will be roomed separately. Couples accommodation may be arranged, depending upon availability. We are unable to provide private rooms.

* Earthwatch will honor each person’s assertion of gender identity, respectfully and without judgement. For both teen and adult teams, where logistics dictate single-sex accommodations or other facilities, participant placements will be made in accordance with the gender identity the participant specified on their Earthwatch Participant form and/or preferences indicated in discussions with Earthwatch.


There are two shared bathrooms with hot water showers and conventional toilets. There is also a laundry room with a washer and dryer available to volunteers at no additional cost.


You are welcome to bring electrical equipment. All facilities have standard electrical outlets. The Canadian standard voltage used for small appliances, hair dryers, electronic equipment, etc. is 120 volts, 60Hz, supplied through type A or B sockets.


There is unreliable Wi-Fi access at the accommodations. Wi-Fi is available at a local café—please bring your own laptop if you plan to use this. If you plan to use your cell phone, please obtain an international data plan through your cell service provider. Depending on your mobile phone carrier, cell service can be found near the accommodations, but is highly variable in the region.

Please note that personal communication with outsiders is not always possible while participating in an expedition. Earthwatch encourages volunteers to minimize outgoing calls and immerse themselves in the experience; likewise, family and friends should restrict calls to urgent messages only.


Our field sites within the park are within 10 miles of the accommodations. Our field sites on the Blood Timber Limit 
are within 15 miles of the accommodations—you are never very far from home!


Everyone will take turns to help prepare and clean up from meals. Planned menus will be provided, and will include as many local ingredients as possible, including bison, elk, and salmon. Due to the high caloric demands of this project’s 
hiking-based fieldwork, a strong focus is placed on providing volunteers and staff with plenty of quality high-protein, high 
fat, and mineral-rich foods. Food is locally sourced, including bison, vegetables, and eggs produced by the Kainai First Nation.

The following are examples of foods you may encounter during this experience. Variety depends on availability. We appreciate your flexibility.

  • Breakfast: Cereal or granola, yogurt with fruit, eggs/egg dishes, juice, fair-trade coffee
  • Lunch: Sandwiches (peanut butter or deli meats), dinner leftovers
  • Dinner: Salad, antipasto, wild salmon,risotto, bison spaghetti, roasted vegetables, homemade pizzas, elk loaf, mashed potatoes, Thai chicken curry , rice, elk lasagna, crepes , various veggies
  • Dessert: Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, carrot cake, baked lemon pudding, apple pie, fruit cobbler, ice cream
  • Beverages: Water (tap water comes straight from a glacial aquifer), juice, coffee, tea

Please alert Earthwatch to any special dietary requirements (e.g., diabetes, lactose intolerance, nut or other food allergies, vegetarian or vegan diets) as soon as possible, and note them in the space provided on your volunteer forms.

Vegetarian, gluten-free and lactose-free diets can be accommodated with advance notice, and with your help in preparing special foods to appropriately accommodate your specific needs.

Note: This project cannot cater to the full nutritional needs of vegan diets in this high-intensity work environment. If you are vegan, please plan to bring a supply of supplemental high-fat, high-protein foods to allow for an approximately 7,000-calorie day. We are unable to meet the needs of individuals with celiac disease or severe nut allergies, or other restrictions that require a cross-contamination-free kitchen, due to our close quarters.


Alcohol consumption in moderation is allowed on this project when minors are not present on the project. Please limit alcohol consumption to 1–2 glasses of beer or wine with dinner, or to 1–2 drinks at any of the local pubs. Persons under the age of 21 will not be allowed to drink alcoholic beverages. No consumption of alcohol is allowed outdoors at the research house property, because this is a federally-owned building and our research team, including all Earthwatch volunteers, is expected to behave in an exemplary professional manner. As stated in the Earthwatch Participant Code of Conduct, excessive consumption of alcohol or underage drinking are grounds for dismissal from this project.

Project Conditions

The information that follows is as accurate as possible, but please keep in mind that conditions may change.

Summer conditions can be hot, with thunderstorms in the afternoons. However, because the research site is in the Rocky Mountains, and lies on the Continental Divide, the weather can change unexpectedly and without any prior warning. Frost and snow have occurred in our field site during every month of the year. Mosquitoes are present, mainly in July, and are moderate. Research is conducted on rolling terrain, off-trail. We gather data if it is raining, but do not work during thunderstorms.

For track transects (May teams), expect winter conditions, with snow possible at all times. This is the most physically active of all the surveys, with high potential for hypothermia. All participants are required to be in good physical condition, have heavy duty winter gear with them, and a larger-capacity pack (50 liters) in order to be able to carry extra winter clothing layers, including gloves and a hat. Additional recommendations will be provided in the packing list and in a letter to all volunteers two months prior to fielding. Note that wildlife encounters and viewing are more likely during track transect work, but can occur at any time.


For weather and region-specific information, please visit and search for your project location.

Essential Eligibility Requirements

All participants must be able to:

  • Hike throughout the day, off-trail, or uphill on slippery vegetation and uneven terrain. Totaling about 6–10 miles per day. “Light teams," teams 4 and 6, involve hiking in the same conditions, but for shorter distances - only 3–5 miles per day.
  • With training provided, be prepared for likely encounters with wild animals, including grizzly bears. This involves carrying bear spray and a radio, and during an encounter following instructions exactly in order to leave the area calmly, but quickly, in a group, so as to not upset the bear and not to endanger teammates.
  • Follow verbal and/or visual instructions independently or with the assistance of a companion.
  • Take an active role in one’s own safety by recognizing and avoiding hazards if and when they arise (including, but not limited to, those described in Earthwatch materials and safety briefings). Comply with project staff instructions and recommended safety measures at all times.
  • Be able to effectively communicate to the staff if experiencing distress or need assistance.
  • Be comfortable being surrounded by a language and/or culture that is different from your own.
  • Be able to get along with a variety of people from different backgrounds and ages, often in close proximity, for the duration of the team.
  • Enjoy being outdoors all day in all types of weather.
  • Be able to keep up with the team as we move in and out of the field, for safety reasons (e.g., avoiding grizzly bear encounters).
  • Complete all required transects in a timely manner to avoid putting strain on the rest of the team.
  • Tolerate the presence of insects such as mosquitoes and wasps.
  • Independently carry personal equipment (food, water, various layers of clothing), as well as a small amount of research equipment (up to ten additional pounds per person), totaling 30 lbs. Be able to wear a pack all day, including while gathering data, for safety reasons (see packing list suggestions for appropriate backpacks for this).
  • Protect oneself from dehydration and exposure to sun and heat by carrying two liters of water and drinking plenty of water throughout the day and wearing appropriate clothing and sunscreen.
  • Sit on the ground to eat lunch or record data; designated rest places (e.g., benches) are not available.
  • Get low to the ground (bend, crouch, kneel, squat, or sit) while taking measurements, while wearing a pack.
  • Be comfortable with the idea of encountering, and investigating, animal carcasses in the field. They will provide important information about the carnivores in the area.
  • Get oneself up into and down out of a vehicle and ride, seated, with seatbelt fastened.
  • Remain respectful of the wildlife we’re studying, as well as their habitat. This includes not approaching any wildlife we see, such as elk, grizzly bears, or wolves, and not photographing wildlife during fieldwork (you will have non-research-time opportunities to photograph local wildlife).
  • Be comfortable to be trained in the use of a GPS, compass, densitometer, diameter-at- breast-height tape, leveling rod, and other equipment.
  • Be responsible for carrying and keeping track of the assigned field equipment listed above.

Health and Safety


Accommodations and vehicles all have first aid kits. In the event of a medical emergency, the Earthwatch scientists will administer first aid, and depending on the seriousness of the injury or condition, either take the volunteer to the hospital using one of the project vehicles (always available) or call emergency services by cellphone. While in the field, the scientists will carry a park radio, portable two-way project radios and each will carry a cell phone for emergency communication. Volunteers will also be encouraged to bring cellphones into the field for emergency use. If a volunteer has to leave the expedition early for emergency reasons, the Earthwatch scientists will determine the most appropriate form of transport to the airport (either one of the project vehicles or ambulance).


Please be sure your routine immunizations are up-to-date (for example: diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella and varicella) and you have the appropriate vaccinations for your travel destination. Medical decisions are the responsibility of each volunteer and his or her doctor. Visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization for guidance on immunizations.

If traveling from countries or region where yellow fever is endemic, you must have a certificate of vaccination.

Project Risks and Precautions


Only project technicians and the principal investigator will transport participants in project vehicles. Seat belts must be worn at all times. Volunteers are not permitted to drive. Field staff will avoid driving at night or while tired. While driving, staff will maintain appropriate distance between vehicles and travel at safe speeds to allow stopping when necessary. Cell phone, first-aid kit and water will be in the vehicle in case of an accident/breakdown on the road. No operation of cell phone is permitted while driving. Participants susceptible to motion sickness are to consider taking medication as appropriate.


Participants will be advised to walk carefully, wear heavy-duty hiking boots (suitable for backpacking) with ankle support. Persons with existing injuries (e.g., knee injuries) will not be allowed in the field. Staff will encourage participants to inform a staff member immediately if feeling tired or ill, and to take regular breaks and to avoid overexerting themselves. Participants will be monitored for general health and ability to keep up with the group at all times.


Participants sensitive to small altitude changes may need a few days to acclimatize. Participants will be reminded frequently to stay well hydrated and apply sunscreen regularly. Participants are to not overexert themselves and to inform a staff member when feeling tired or ill. Staff will encourage participants to carefully monitor their own condition and report any symptoms (headaches, lethargy, appetite loss, nausea, etc.) to project staff. Participants should be aware of illnesses that may be aggravated by altitude (sickle cell and chronic heart and lung diseases) prior to fielding.


All project staff are Wilderness First Aid certified (at a minimum). Some field technicians are Wilderness First Responder certified. Participants will be instructed (and reminded frequently) to drink plenty of water throughout the day and to bring at least two liters of water into the field each day; to wear high-factor sunscreen and appropriate clothing, including sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat and/or scarf; to not overwork when jet lagged or tired, and to inform a staff member when feeling tired or ill. Team will take regular breaks as needed, and monitor participants for general health at all times.


Hypothermia is a frequent hazard on this project. It has snowed in our study area, often with no forecast, due to the site location on a notch in the Continental Divide, during every month of the year. The weather is unpredictable, with frequent abrupt changes that include snow in May, June, July, and August. The gear required reflects the need for everyone to have multiple layers, dry feet and body, and a warm head and hands, which are key preventative measures for hypothermia. Participant’s gear will be checked to ensure that everyone has adequate winter gear.


Project staff will explain protocols and safety measures during orientation for addressing any encounters with wildlife such as grizzly bears, cougars, and elk. No photography is allowed in the field when encountering wildlife. Radios are to be worn at all times to communicate about wildlife hazards. Participants are encouraged to carry binoculars to help spot wildlife hazards (e.g., bears) at a safe distance. Trained staff will carry pepper spray. Additionally, adult participants will be trained in the transport and use of wildlife pepper spray, and will be encouraged to carry pepper spray canisters in the field.

Forest fires

Participants should be aware of the risk of forest fires, particularly later in the season during dry conditions. Smoke from fires can make breathing more difficult and can cause a minor burning sensation in the eyes, throat and lungs. Participants will be instructed in the prevention of forest fires; PIs and staff will model appropriate behavior. Our project has an evacuation plan in place, which we fine tune under the direction of WLNP managers. The park keeps us informed immediately as fires arise in the area to help keep us as safe as possible.


Participants will be instructed on identification and avoidance of barbed vegetation. Participants with allergies to hay, sage, or other common Western US plants should bring appropriate medications (antihistamines, etc.).


Participants will be instructed to check carefully for ticks after they’ve been outside, checking places such as the back of the neck and the backs of legs and clothing where ticks might hide. Everyone will use insect repellent containing DEET or picaridin in order to prevent insect bites. Participants with allergies to biting and/or stinging insects must bring medications (antihistamines, at least two Epi-Pens, etc.) as appropriate.

Personal Security

Participants should take standard precautions such as keeping aware of money and personal belongings, especially in crowded places (e.g. airport).

Distance from Medical Care

The nearest full-service hospital is 80 miles from most field sites (1.5-hour drive), with a smaller hospital located 30 miles away (40-minute drive). It may take up to two hours to arrange transport and reach the full-service hospital. If you have a chronic condition, which could require immediate urgent medical care (e.g. heart conditions, kidney problems, severe asthma, etc.) or if you are pregnant, please discuss your participation on this expedition with your physician.

Travel Planning

RENDEZVOUS LOCATION: Lobby of Holiday Inn Express, Calgary, Alberta, Canada           

* Additional information will be provided by Earthwatch to meet your team. Please do not book travel arrangements such as flights until you have received additional information from Earthwatch.


Earthwatch strongly recommends that travelers investigate their destination prior to departure. Familiarity with the destination’s entry/exit requirements, visas, local laws, and customs can go a long way to ensuring smooth travel. The U.S. Department of State's Traveler’s Checklist and Destination Guides are helpful resources. For LGBTI travelers, the U.S. Department of State's LGBTI Travelers page contains many useful tips and links.


Entry visa requirements differ by country of origin, layover, and destination, and do change unexpectedly. For this reason, please confirm your visa requirements at the time of booking and, again, 90 days prior to travel. Please apply early for your visa (we recommend starting 6 months prior to the start of your expedition). Refunds will not be made for volunteers cancelling due to not obtaining their visa in time to meet the team at the rendezvous. You can find up to date visa requirements at the following website:

If a visa is required, participants should apply for a TOURIST visa. Please note that obtaining a visa can take weeks or even months. We strongly recommend using a visa agency, which can both expedite and simplify the process.

Generally, passports must be valid for at least six months from the date of entry and a return ticket is required.


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