Please find below a couple of reports from Richard Case on the 2011 Biology trip to Indonesia.
Thursday 4th August
We are now in Bau Bau in southern Sulawesi having completed all our flights. It has been a long and exhausting journey but all are well and in good spirits. Our transfers have all gone smoothly and in a few hours time we will begin a three hour journey by road to the village of Labundobundo (5 mins from Lawele on your schedules). We will spend the night in the village in local houses before our 5hr trek into the forest tomorrow.
Bau Bau is a small place and all are excited by the atmosphere and sights. As Ramadan has just started, the evocative call to prayer resounds everywhere and the local karaoke bar (which sounds remarkably similar) evidently stayed open for most of the night as the locals celebrate.
I'll try and report back on our jungle experience before we head for the Island of Hoga - opportunity permitting.
We have now completed our time in the jungle and are now on the Island of Hoga. Apart from a few minor upset stomachs, all remain in good health.
We spent three nights in Labundo Bundo with local villagers which was a fantastic experience. On each day we went into the forest in small groups with scientists choosing which groups we wanted to go with. Options included birds, civets, bear cuscus (google it!), butterflies and bats. We then trekked deeper into the jungle to the remote and lovely Bala camp where we spent the following three days. Highlights included seeing frogs which are so new to science they have not yet been named and the third ever specimen of a new skink species. We have bathed in jungle pools, swung from lianas and seen some great wildlife. Conditions have been tough. In the humidity it is impossible to remain dry, the terrain has been very tough (steep and muddy) and leeches were abundant. Fortunately, everyone in the group has dealt with the hardships with great fortitude (indeed some have flourished) and all have made the most of their time, enjoyed the experienc and learned much from the encyclopedic scientists on site (all of whom have trench foot after ten weeks in the forest).
Hoga is another world and the ideal antidote to the rain forest. It is a tropical, coconut-fringed paradise (search on Youtube for diving on Hoga to see for yourselves). Today we completed our first dives (a refresher dive first and, after lunch, the first dive of the Reef Ecology course looking at coral identification). We also had a chance to snorkel which is as good as the diving. On these first dives we have seen colourful nudibranchs, camouflaged scorpion and crocodile fish, banded sea kraits (very poisonous but docile sea snakes), blue-spotted rays and a multitude of beautiful fish, invertebrates and coral.
We have another three full days of diving before we begin the very long journey home. We are all looking forward to home comforts, sit-down loos and settled stomachs, but it will be difficult to leave!