Meals and Lodging Accommodations With Earthwatch
People frequently ask me about living conditions with Earthwatch Institute – my answer is that they depend a lot on the research site. The scientist follows the problem to be solved, and that may involve remote areas where the only lodging accommodations are your own tent and sleeping bag! Or, you may sleep in large platform tents with comfortable cots, or rental houses with beds and bedding. There may be a cook, or volunteers and staff may team up to prepare dinner! Or, you may be in a nice hotel with all meals provided and even amenities such as a swimming pool! Here are a few examples:
On DANCING BIRDS in Costa Rica we were in a house on a Quaker dairy farm about two kilometers from Monteverde. There was cloud forest behind us, pasture in front and a distant view of the Gulf of Nicoya. Trees in front attracted a variety of colorful birds! There was a modern bathroom, and a kitchen to prepare our own breakfasts and lunches – plenty of fresh fruit, local shade-grown coffee, and cheese, milk and ice cream from the local creamery. The wife of the farm manager prepared traditional Costa Rican dinners. A couple was in one bedroom, another couple in a small cabin in back, three ladies in one room and I had a small private room. Although details will vary, this is a fairly common arrangement.
The JACKSON HOLE BISON DIG site was about an hours’ drive over rough trail in the National Elk Refuge north of town. We brought our own tents and sleeping bags, but there was a large dining shelter where a gourmet camp cook provided excellent meals! There were portable toilets and a screened shower area with solar showers for evening clean up. It did get cool at night at this altitude, but I had driven out and brought extra bedding and warm clothes that I loaned to others not as well equipped!
SPANISH DOLPHINS out of Almeria, Spain was on a converted Norwegian sailing ketch. Two younger volunteers opted to sleep on deck, but I need something softer, so shared co-ed lodgings in stacked fold-up bunks in the main cabin. We left harbor at dawn and the research assistant served breakfast on deck as we motored out to find the common, bottlenose or pilot whale dolphins. For lunch he also brought out the fixings, including delicious canned anchovy olives, which we ate between dolphin sightings. Each evening we returned to port, sailing if the wind was right, where teams of two then took turns preparing dinner in the small galley. A couple of times we opted to eat ashore at local restaurants.
Our base on EASTER ISLAND CULTURES was a modern rented house with gender separated shared bedrooms for all volunteers. Two local ladies did all of the cooking and cleaning, preparing excellent breakfasts, lunches (which we took to the field) and dinners, including a wonderful farewell luau cooked in a pit! Volunteers contributed to a wine club so we had a good selection with dinner, and we did help with the dinner dishes.
The most luxurious expedition I’ve been on was AMAZON RIVERBOAT EXPLORATIONS on the Amazon, Maranon and Samiria rivers out of Iquitos, Peru. Nineteen volunteers shared small air-conditioned cabins with bath on the renovated old riverboat Ayapua. Laundry was done for us, all meals were prepared by the kitchen crew and served in the ornate restored ding room, and wine was served with dinner. Cocktail hour was on the open upper deck where we could watch the pink river dolphins and other rainforest wildlife! It was almost like ecotourism, but we did a lot of work on studies involving the dolphins, caimen, fish, turtles, manatees, river otters, macaws, wading birds, monkeys and other land animals every day!
This is a small sampling of the expeditions I’ve enjoyed with Earthwatch Institute, but it should provide a general idea of what you might expect. The lodging accommodations and food arrangements for each expedition are spelled out in detail in the briefing that is provided, and there are many expeditions each year all over the world, so it is easy to choose the level of comfort and convenience that you prefer!