Please read the following information before leaving for your expedition.

It provides the most accurate information available and will likely answer any questions you have about the project. You may also reach out to your Program Coordinator with any questions you may have.



Searching for Fossils and Fauna in Zambia

Expedition Briefing


Download Packing List


Click on the images to view full size!


COVID-19 Safety

Please test for COVID-19 before traveling to your expedition; do not travel if you have tested positive, and call Earthwatch right away for the next steps. Visit earthwatch.org/covid-19 for more information on how you can help reduce the risk of COVID-19 impacting your expedition.



The Research

Zambia is well known for its populations of endangered carnivores, variety of wildlife, and preserved natural areas. Scientists and conservationists have been working on the ground to safeguard Zambia’s animals and ecosystems in the face of pollution, poaching, and land degradation. These efforts are becoming increasingly urgent as the climate crisis further threatens the country’s biodiversity by increasing the severity and unpredictability of flooding, droughts, and seasonality in Zambia (Hamadudu & Ngoma, 2019). To understand how to best manage these impacts in the future, we’re looking to the past to learn how climatic changes affect species’ distribution and survival.

On this project, you’ll work alongside an expert team of scientists to combine bone surveys, live-animal surveys, and fossil surveys to explore how climate and mammalian communities have changed through time in the Luangwa River Valley. By conducting surveys to document the bones of recently deceased animals, researchers will be able to study what taphonomic processes (the processes that affect animal and plant remains as they become fossils, like burial, decay, and preservation) are at play in present day bone assemblages, allowing them to better interpret the fossil record (Behrensmeyer, Western, & Dechant Boaz, 1979).

The live-animal surveys are one of the most accurate and cost-effective ways to estimate population sizes and assess the influence that climate change has had on the population of a given species (Schuette et al., 2018). By systematically assessing the species present in the park and their numbers and locations, researchers can accurately assess the park’s current mammal communities and how current environmental conditions are influencing those populations.

Lastly, the fossil surveys along the Luangwa River conducted during this project will allow researchers to explore how wildlife communities were distributed in the valley throughout time. Combined with information about the current animal communities, these data will add considerably to our understanding of how African mammals evolved and how their distribution changed over deep time. Some of these data will also be used to help scientists better understand human history in this region.

These three approaches will provide powerful tools for identifying changes in community structure, species richness, habitat utilization, and predator-prey interactions over extended time scales (Dietl et al., 2014). This long-term approach to analyzing the wildlife communities of South Luangwa National Park will not only give us invaluable insights into the past, but also help us make a plan for conserving biodiversity in the future.


Searching for Fossils and Fauna in Zambia




Research Aims

The goal of this project is to explore the relationship between communities of modern and ancient African mammals and ecological conditions over time in South Luangwa National Park. Data from this project will be used to address the following two research questions: 

  1. Do mammalian communities differ across habitat types in the Luangwa River Valley? 
  2. How do mammalian diets vary over time and space in the Luangwa River Valley? How can we use this information to better predict ecological responses to continued climate change?


Searching for Fossils and Fauna in Zambia




How You Will Help

When you first arrive at camp, you’ll receive an orientation and intensive training on research methods, and during the days that follow, you’ll work in small teams or pairs on the following tasks:

Bone Surveys

In groups of 2–4, accompanied by a scout, you’ll walk transect paths in various habitat types to search for bones from recently deceased animals. For any bones you find, you’ll record the bone’s GPS coordinates, taxon, age, weathering stage, breakage, tooth marks, and degree of burial.

Wildlife Surveys

From a safari vehicle, you’ll travel the park to survey wild animal populations. You may spot impalas, pukus, buffalo, waterbucks, the endangered Thornicroft’s giraffe, hippos, elephants, and even leopards, lions, or wild dogs. For each sighting, you’ll record the time, GPS location, distance from the vehicle, and taxonomic identification of the animal.

Fossil Surveys

You’ll walk along transect lines in areas that have been identified as places where fossils are likely to be recovered. You’ll scour the ground, which can include crawling, as you search for fossils. Each specimen will be photographed and collected for further analysis. You may also assist in digs to search for specimens, including sieving the excavated dirt. 


Searching for Fossils and Fauna in Zambia




Life in the Field

The expedition begins with an introduction to the research and training. You’ll then spend your mornings out in the South Luangwa National Park alternating between the three types of research tasks: fossil surveys, bone walks, and live animal census drives. Once back at the lodge in the afternoons, you’ll have time to rest, help with data entry, watch the spectacular Zambian sunsets with your teammates, and attend scientist lectures to learn more about their research.

You will also have the occasional opportunity to participate in a recreational game drive for an added cost of $50–$60 USD per person. Additionally, you will have the chance to visit the local shops selling beautiful handmade goods in the Mfuwe town center. Exact days and times for these activities will be determined while you are in the field. 


Weather and research needs can lead to changes in the daily schedule. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.

  • 7:00 a.m.: Breakfast at the lodge
  • 8:00 a.m.: Drive to the park
  • 8:00–12:00 p.m.: Alternate between the following tasks as needed: 
    • fossil survey walking transects, 
    • bone walk transects, 
    • live animal census driving transects.
  • 12:00 p.m.: Lunch in the field
  • 1:00 p.m.: Drive back to the lodge (can take anywhere from ~30 minutes–2 hours)
  • 3:00 p.m.: Downtime
  • 4:30– 6:00 p.m.: Recap of the day/data entry
  • 6:00 p.m.: Optional team reflection time while watching the sunset (“sundowner”) 
  • 6:30 p.m. Dinner at the lodge
  • 7:30 p.m. Occasional lectures and presentations by the scientists/Downtime

Day 1: Meet in Mfuwe, travel to the lodge, settle in, and begin training

Days 2–9* Fieldwork

  • fossil survey and bone walk transects 
  • live animal census driving transects 
  • data entry 
  • occasional lectures 
  • optional recreation activities 

Day 10: Pack and depart 


Searching for Fossils and Fauna in Zambia




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.


Volunteers will stay at the Marula Lodge, located just a few minutes’ drive from the entrance of the South Luangwa National Park. The lodge sits along a river and is fully immersed in the local wildlife. You’ll fall asleep each night to an orchestra of nature’s sounds, from the swimming hippos to the swinging baboons (earplugs recommended for lighter sleepers). 

Volunteers will be housed in semi-permanent canvas tents, with each tent holding two single beds with mosquito netting, two type G electrical outlets, and one small bedside table. Mattress, bedding, and towels are provided. Volunteers of the same gender will be assigned two people per tent. Couples may be able to be accommodated but must inform Earthwatch of their request in advance. Tents available for couples will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. Volunteers will need to bring their own toiletries (except for hand soap) and should also bring their own torches/ flashlights (a headlamp/torch is best). Please see the packing list for more details about what to bring with you.

* Earthwatch will honor each person’s assertion of gender identity respectfully and without judgment. 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.


The bathroom facilities at the Marula Lodge are located outside behind the tents. There are four bathrooms in total, each with a toilet, sink, and shower. Each bathroom will be enclosed for privacy, although the shower and toilet facilities will not be separate for males and females. Bathroom facilities will have access to flush toilets and hot water. In the event you need to use the bathroom after dark, you must contact the lodge watchguard to accompany you from your tent to the bathroom. This is very important as the lodge is not gated, and wildlife may be present. 


Electricity is available 24 hours a day at the Marula Lodge. Each tent is equipped with two type G outlets of voltage 220V. Electricity can sporadically go out throughout Mfuwe; however, the Marula Lodge has a backup generator. There will be on-site refrigeration at the lodge, but there are limits to the quantity that can be stored.


Generally, communication with the outside world from the lodge is difficult. Wi-Fi is not reliable and may not be accessible for the full duration of your team. When you transit through the airport in Lusaka, you might consider acquiring a Zambian sim card for your phone and purchasing data for use. Some American cell providers also have international data options for purchase; most of these seem to provide LTE access in the Mfuwe town center. Contact your provider to learn more about what may or may not work for you.  

Please note: 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.


Laundry service is included at the Marula Lodge for no additional charge.

The Marula Lodge has a small swimming pool. Volunteers may use the pool during daytime downtime. Swimming alone, at night, or after drinking is not permitted.


The transects will typically be anywhere from 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) to 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) from the lodge. It can take about 30 minutes to 2 hours to get from the lodge to a transect as the driver must move slowly over the unpaved roads. 


All teams will have dedicated cooking staff that will prepare all meals. Breakfast and dinner will be served at the lodge accommodations. Lunch will be packed and eaten in the field each day. All dishwashing and kitchen cleaning will be the responsibility of the lodge staff.  

Tap water is not safe for drinking. Bottled and filtered water will be provided at the lodge. Please bring reusable water bottles to limit the use of plastic bottles as much as possible.  

The following are examples of foods you may find in the field. Variety depends on availability. We appreciate your flexibility.

  • Breakfast: tea, coffee, juice, fresh fruit, eggs, peanut butter, jam, toast, and/or cereal
  • Lunch: Bag lunches will be prepared for daily fieldwork, often including sandwiches, fruit, and other snacks (e.g., chips, nuts).
  • Dinner: Dinners are substantial and will vary (e.g., potatoes, grilled meats, pasta, nshima/cornmeal, rice, and bean dishes),
  • Beverages: water, sodas, tea, coffee
  • Morning/Afternoon Tea Breaks: tea, coffee, biscuits/cookies, alcoholic drinks available for purchase at the lodge bar

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 participant forms.

The lodge can accommodate vegan, vegetarian, Gluten-free, and Lactose-free diets, though a combination of several of these may limit options. 

Severe peanut allergies cannot be accommodated as peanuts/ground nuts are commonly used in the local cuisine. Though peanuts may not be in every dish, all meals will be prepared in a kitchen that will have exposure to peanuts.


Searching for Fossils and Fauna in Zambia




Project Conditions

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

The South Luangwa National Park showcases the Luangwa River. During the dry months, the river is low, and sandy riverine deposits and beaches are exposed along its banks. The habitats bordering the river include riverine forests, Mopane and Miombo woodlands, bushy shrublands, and seasonally flooded grasslands. Most of the areas where you will be doing walking transects and surveys are relatively flat, but the terrain can be rocky, sandy, thickly vegetated, or muddy. Access to the river sandbars for fossil surveys can include some scrambling a few feet up and down the riverbank and will require walking on often very sandy substrates. The weather during June and July in Mfuwe is consistently warm/hot and clear, and during fossil surveys, especially, there may be very little shade. Early mornings and evenings can be chilly, however, especially when driving in the back of open vehicles to and from transects or on excursions. 


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


Searching for Fossils and Fauna in Zambia




Essential Eligibility Requirements

All participants must be able to:

  • Be 18 years or older at the time of the expedition
  • Provide passport number and nationality to Earthwatch by June 7, 2023, to be included in the research permit to enter the National Park
  • Comfortably traverse up to 10 kilometers (about 6 miles) per day over potentially sandy, rocky, and vegetated terrain (while looking around for bones and fossils) without significant fatigue for a period of 8 days. Transect-walking begins in the early morning and is generally completed by mid-day. It generally takes about 4 hours per day to complete.
  • Get low enough to the ground to comfortably see potentially small fossil and bone fragments, and to carry out activities related to collecting specimens.
  • Regularly get oneself up and down from the ground during fossil and bone collection tasks for up to four hours a day, which can potentially cause strain on the neck, back, and knees. 
  • Be comfortable searching under strong sunlight conditions for wildlife, bones, and fossils for several hours at a timer
  • See clearly (with corrective lenses is fine) up to 500 meters (1,640 feet), as well as close-up to read the instruments used during the project.
  • Get up into and down out of project vehicles unassisted. Steps to enter and exit vehicles are 0.6 meters (2 feet) off the ground.
  • Sit or ride in project vehicles (4x4 safari trucks) near other team members while traveling over rough and bumpy roads for up to approximately one to four hours per day.
  • Take immediate evasive action in the event of an animal encounter, e.g., by moving quickly. Those not able to complete the transects without difficulty or take evasive action can endanger themselves, their teammates, the field scouts, and the animals.
  • Hear well either naturally or with a hearing aid to follow instructions in the field, particularly in the event of an emergency.
  • Enjoy being outdoors working in the sun and the potential presence of wild and sometimes dangerous animals, snakes, and insects.
  • Be comfortable falling asleep at night to the loud sounds of surrounding wildlife, especially hippos, at an ungated lodge .
  • Independently follow and immediately comply with project/park staff and field guide instructions, whether verbal or visual. Work comfortably alongside armed park scouts. Weapons are for your protection, and scouts are well-trained in their use. Volunteers are NOT permitted to handle weapons at any time.
  • Carry personal daily supplies, including at least two to three liters of water and some small field equipment (e.g., GPS unit, compass, binoculars, clipboard).
  • Search for wildlife while moving in a single file, 2 meters/6 feet or less behind the guide, over rough, uneven, sometimes sandy, or rocky terrain with areas of dense, thorny vegetation, while steering clear of obstacles and animal holes.
  • Keep as quiet as possible while walking and working in the park.
  • Follow verbal and/or visual instructions independently or with the assistance of a companion.
  • Take an active role in your 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). Always comply with project staff instructions and recommended safety measures.
  • Effectively communicate to the staff if you are experiencing distress or need assistance.
  • Get along with a variety of people from different backgrounds and ages, often in close proximity, for the duration of your team.
  • Be comfortable being surrounded by a language and/or culture that is different from your own.


Searching for Fossils and Fauna in Zambia




Health and Safety


Field scouts, research and management staff, and camp managers will carry two-way radios. Lodge staff and scientists will also have mobile phones, but reception is limited. There are ranger posts throughout the park, so scouts may be of assistance for emergency communications.

Earthwatch has a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week emergency hotline number. Someone is always on call to respond to messages that come into our live answering service.


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

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

Staying up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations, including receiving booster doses, as applicable, is strongly encouraged.


Searching for Fossils and Fauna in Zambia




Project Risks and Precautions


Roads may be corrugated, or dirt or gravel, and may be very bumpy and dusty. Thorny brush can lead to tire punctures and/or scratches while driving past. Other road hazards in Zambia include fast and reckless drivers, livestock and wildlife, poor or no lighting, and banditry. Traffic moves on the left side of the road. Project vehicles used in the field are game-viewing 4x4 trucks. Volunteers will be exposed to the elements during drives. You should, therefore, bring appropriate clothing, including eye protection and warm wind-proof clothing for the mornings when being driven to the start of transects (this clothing can be left in the vehicle when you disembark). Volunteers are not permitted to drive. Volunteers should remain quiet and not move around on the back of the vehicle when potentially dangerous animals are seen while driving. Volunteers should only get out of the vehicle when the driver confirms it’s safe to disembark and make sure both hands are free to use the handrail when stepping into and out of the vehicle, as the step is 0.6 meters (2 feet) off the ground.


Most of the areas where we will be doing walking transects and surveys are relatively flat, but the terrain can be rocky, sandy, thickly vegetated, or muddy. Access to the river sandbars for fossil surveys can include some scrambling a few feet up and down the riverbank and will require walking on often very sandy substrates. It is important to walk slowly and carefully and be aware of surroundings at all times, watching for uneven terrain, animal dens, and other holes that may not be immediately visible under grass. Teams will walk in a single file or close proximity behind the guard when deemed necessary. Exhaustion and injuries such as scratches, sprains, and broken bones are possible. High quality well-worn (NOT NEW) hiking boots with ankle support and socks should be worn to avoid blisters and other injuries. Appropriate clothing (e.g., Long sturdy trousers that won’t rip easily in vegetation, a hat, etc.) should be worn during fieldwork. 


There is a range of large and potentially dangerous animals, including hippos, lions, leopards, spotted hyenas, elephants, buffalo, crocodiles, and a variety of snakes. Any wild animal is potentially dangerous if provoked. Never approach, antagonize, or tease any animal. During research tasks, well-trained and experienced armed field scouts will be in the field with volunteers to reduce the potential risks associated with encountering wild animals. After dark at the accommodations, night watch guards will accompany people between buildings, bathrooms, and tents. It is of the utmost importance to obey the orders of the scouts and watch guards in the case of an animal encounter. When walking in the bush with armed scouts, volunteers should walk in single file and always in the eyesight of the scout. They should not linger behind but always keep within a meter or two of the team. Volunteers will be trained on how to behave in the field and avoid incidents with wildlife. The best rule is to keep your eyes open, pay attention, and be aware of your surroundings at all times. The guards are instructed to avoid close encounters with wildlife, but they can still happen. Participants must be able to move quickly if the team gets too close to a buffalo, hippo, or elephant. Volunteers should never leave the lodge perimeter on foot nor approach wildlife that may enter the lodge premises at any time. 


A range of venomous snakes are present in the area, especially puff adders and spitting cobras. Volunteers should stick to paths whenever possible, and must not attempt to pick up, catch, approach, and/or provoke any snakes. Ankle-high, closed-toe hiking boots should be worn for protection while walking transects. Training in snakebite prevention and what to do in the event of an incident will be given prior to fieldwork. Anti-venom is not held at camp, as most hospitals prefer to treat the symptoms rather than take a risk that the snake has not been identified correctly. In the rare event that a team member is bitten, he/she will be immediately taken to the local clinic. Additional dangerous Zambian snakes include the Gaboon Adder, Bibron's Stiletto Snake, Banded Water Cobra, Photo Bill Branch, Forest Cobra, Common Boomslang, Southern Twig Snake, and Forest Twig Snake. 


Biting insects (e.g., ants, spiders, flies, centipedes, and mosquitoes) and stinging insects (e.g., scorpions, bees, and wasps) are present in the field areas. Care should be taken to prevent insect bites/stings, and volunteers with the potential for allergic reactions should bring medication (antihistamines*, at least FOUR Epi-Kits, etc.) as appropriate. Ticks, which are very small and can transmit tick bite fever, may also be present. To minimize risk, bring and use insect repellent, check your body daily for ticks, and wear proper neutral-colored field attire, including long pants tucked into socks. Thin, long-sleeved shirts are also recommended. Ticks that are latched onto the skin should be removed with tweezers. 

*Benadryl is illegal in Zambia; consult your doctor as needed to find alternative to bring


Heatstroke, heat exhaustion, sunburn, and dehydration are possible when working in the sun. Appropriate clothing (including a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeves/trousers, and sunglasses) and high-factor sunscreen are essential. Each volunteer should carry at least two to three liters of water into the field and be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Inform a staff member right away if you are feeling tired or ill. Exposure to wind/cold, especially during early morning drives, may cause chills or overexposure, so bring layers. Participants will often be exposed to the sun for long periods of time. Although it is usually cool at the start of the transect, it can be up to 35°C/95°F by the end, so you must be prepared for the sun, stay hydrated, and be able to continue walking when hot. Transect work will not occur during the hottest time of the day; 2:00–4:00 p.m. Wildfires are possible. In the event of a fire, team members will be removed from any areas of danger and must always follow staff and field ranger instructions.


Entering and exiting some transect locations, one may experience scratches on the legs and arms from vegetation. Staff will aid in the identification of potentially harmful plants. Wearing long trousers and sleeves can help protect against scratches. You need to keep your eyes open to avoid walking into these and causing injury. Antiseptic and plasters and/or bandages will be available. Some plants may also cause allergic reactions. If you have any known allergies, please inform Earthwatch and the research staff, and bring medication (antihistamines*, at least FOUR Epi-Kits, etc.) as appropriate. Even those without known plant allergies may have reactions, so you may wish to bring antihistamines. If you have allergies to antihistamines or other medications, again, please make sure you inform Earthwatch and the research staff.

*Benadryl is illegal in Zambia; consult your doctor as needed to find alternative to bring


Eye irritation/ infection. Searching for bones and fossils in the sun and driving along unpaved roads (stirring up dust and grit) can cause infection or discomfort to the eyes. Eyeglasses or sunglasses should be worn while in the field to help protect from the elements, and instruction will be given regarding keeping eyes safe.

Injury from tools. Volunteers will be instructed in the correct use and safe storage of tools. Staff will supervise the use of tools, and volunteers must listen carefully to instructions.


Field scouts will carry heavy caliber weapons for your protection. The scouts are well-trained in the safety and firing of these weapons. Volunteers will NOT handle the weapons at any time. 


Volunteers should always heed lodge and Park policies. Particularly when outside of the park, on the roads, and in towns, there is a risk of hijacking and mugging. Being alert and keeping valuable items, such as cameras, binoculars, and jewelry, out of sight can reduce this risk. Use sensible precautions, particularly when traveling in urban areas: avoid carrying money conspicuously (e.g. in bulging wallets or bum-bags/fanny packs); avoid walking alone, especially at night whenever possible and ignore persons who approach to solicit for donations; avoid wearing jewelry, “tourist outfits” such as safari shorts, jackets, cameras, and binoculars, and very short skirts or shorts, tank tops, etc. (more conservative clothing is recommended); always take a taxi when going out after dark; and select and use ATMs with caution. It is always wise to leave unnecessary valuables at home.


There is a swimming pool at the lodge accommodations. There will be opportunities during downtime to use the pool. Please note that there is no lifeguard on duty, so volunteers swim at their own risk. Always notify a staff member when you will be swimming, and never swim alone, at night, or after consuming alcohol. Do NOT go swimming or wading in any of the natural water bodies in the area due to the risk of drowning, crocodiles, and hippos.


The nearest hospital is a clinic in Mfuwe located 50km from the project site, and it may take up to 1–2 hours to arrange transport and reach the hospital. The nearest fully-equipped hospital is 130 km. And may take up to 2–3 hours to arrange transport to reach. If you have a chronic condition that could require immediate 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.


Traveler’s diarrhea affects many international travelers.

Diseases found in Zambia include Malaria, chickungunya, plague and African sleeping sickness, cholera, typhoid, tuberculosis, hepatitis, measles, haemorrhagic fevers, and rabies. Please see the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov) or the World Health Organization (who.int/) websites for more information on these conditions and how to avoid them.

You can decrease your risk of many diseases by avoiding mosquito bites, practicing good hygiene, and drinking only bottled or filtered water when appropriate.

If you feel ill once you return from your trip, make sure you inform your doctor that you have recently returned from a tropical region.

Malaria: Chloroquine-resistant malaria is present in this region. Malaria is also present elsewhere in Zambia. Speak with your doctor about appropriate prophylaxis. Be aware that some medications may increase your sensitivity to sun and heat.

Rabies: Vaccinations are not compulsory for this expedition, as volunteers are not going to be handling any rabies-carrying wildlife as part of their assignments. However, volunteers may wish to consult with their healthcare providers about the rabies vaccine, given the regional prevalence of loose and stray dogs. Team members should always avoid stray dogs. The rabies pre-exposure vaccination consists of three doses over a 28-day period. Please be sure to consult your physician or travel health clinic well in advance to ensure you have time for the full vaccination series. If you have previously been vaccinated, you must have a medical professional check your antibody levels; a booster shot may be required. Rabies is a fatal disease. Treatment after rabies exposure requires immediate care (within 24 hours), and this type of rapid response may not be available to volunteers on this project due to the remote locations. Pre-exposure vaccination does not eliminate the need for post-exposure medical attention and treatment, but it does provide additional protection against the disease in the event of a delay in treatment. In addition, any bites or scratches should be immediately and thoroughly washed with soap and clean water and a topical povidone-iodine solution or ethanol.


COVID-19 remains an evolving risk to communities and individuals around the world.

Earthwatch strongly encourages you to stay up to date with your vaccinations, including receiving booster doses if available and to continue to limit your exposure before your program, such as wearing a mask during travel and frequently washing your hands. Persons with a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should consult with their healthcare provider before participation. 

If you, or another person on site, display symptoms of illness or test positive for COVID-19, you may be required to wear a mask, test for COVID-19, seek medical advice, isolate/quarantine on- or off-site, cease or limit participation in program activities, and/or take other precautions. If local conditions or recommendations from authorities change, additional requirements may be implemented. 

If you must isolate or depart from a program due to COVID-19 or other illness, you will not be entitled to a refund of the contribution for the program, nor any expenses resulting from your participation in the program or a disruption of your travel plans. We strongly encourage you to purchase travel insurance that will cover this eventuality.


Searching for Fossils and Fauna in Zambia




Travel Planning

IMPORTANT for participants on all 2023 teams:

All research activities on this project take place within the South Luangwa National Park. To enter the park and participate in the research, you will have to be included on the scientist’s research permit. Initial application for this permit must be submitted by April 30, 2023 

In order to include you on that research permit, we must receive the following information by April 30, 2023, at the absolute latest:

  • Full Name
  • Passport country of issue
  • Passport Number

Special exceptions will be made only for anyone who signs up between May 1 and June 7, 2023. For those signing up between these dates for any 2023 team, passport details will be due by June 7 at the absolute latest. 

All 2023 teams will close to new bookings on June 7, 2023.


Mfuwe International Airport, Mfuwe, Zambia

Daily flights to Mfuwe are limited, so you may need to arrive in Zambia a day before your team begins to ensure you arrive in time for the team rendezvous in Mfuwe. 

* 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.


You are responsible for reviewing and abiding by your destination's entry/exit requirements. 

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 before travel. Please apply early for your visa (we recommend starting six months before the start of your expedition). Refunds will not be made for volunteers canceling 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: travisa.com.

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 to expedite and simplify the process.


Searching for Fossils and Fauna in Zambia





  • Adams, J.S. and McShane, T.O. The Myth of Wild Africa. W.W. Norton Company. 1992.
  • Walker, R. A Guide to Post-Cranial Bones of East African Animals. 1974. Note: Project scientists will provide a PDF of this useful resource to participants.   
  • Carruthers, V. (editor). The Wildlife of Southern Africa: A Field Guide to the Animals and Plants of the Region. Southern Book Publishers. 1997. 
  • Estes, R.D. The Safari Companion: A Guide to Watching African Mammals. Chelsea Green Publishing Company.1999. 
  • Kingdon, J. The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. Academic Press.1997.
  • Newman, K. Newman’s Birds of Southern Africa: The Green Edition. University Press of Florida. 1983. Note: Essential for birdwatchers.
  • Sinclair, I., Hockey, P., and Tarboton, W. Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa. 2nd ed. Cape Town: Struik Publishers, 1998. Note: Essential for birdwatchers.
  • Stuart, C. and Stuart, M. A Field Guide to the Tracks & Signs of Southern, Central & Eastern African Wildlife. Struik Nature. 2013


Searching for Fossils and Fauna in Zambia



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