Study Focus: mangrove forests, island geology/ecology, celestial navigation
- Students are met at Padang International Airport in West Sumatra and driven directly south along the coast to the point where our adventure begins. After a delicious lunch and group bonding session on the beach, we set sail in traditional outrigger canoes (sampans) on our voyage of discovery.
- Any number of marine animals may be encountered as we cruise along this wilderness coast – dolphins, sea turtles, frigate birds, sea eagles, hornbills and more. We stop to explore a mangrove forest where trees set roots out over the sea, germinate their seeds before they leave the parent tree, and shed excess salt through a variety of intriguing ways. In the mangroves we may encounter mudskippers, fiddler crabs, crab-eating macaque monkeys and mangrove snakes.
- Upon reaching our destination island, we get settled in to our beach bungalows, set up our hammocks and get into the groove of our Robinson Crusoe-style weekend. Sipping juice from green coconuts while we barbeque fresh seafood on the beach and make shell necklaces is a good start.
- Lessons in celestial navigation using the constellations as guides will be offered if the night sky is clear.
Overnight: Beach bungalows
Study Focus: Coral reef ecology, inter tidal zones, survival skills
- Today we have a full day to explore the many offshore islands and the mainland coastline that makes up this little-known archipelago. Right after breakfast we set off to snorkel several dive sites and discover remote beaches where the only tracks we are likely to encounter are those of animals – monitor lizards, macaque monkeys and shore birds.
- Following a picnic lunch on an isolated beach, we will begin our ‘Survivor Challenge’. Teams of students will pretend they have been shipwrecked on a remote island and be challenged to build a fire, erect a shelter and forage what they can for dinner. This might include coconuts, wild banana, fish, crab, clams, squid, rock oysters and edible greens from the surrounding forest. Expert local guides will be on hand to help instruct and ensure that this is a safe, educational and exciting experience for all involved.
- A late night dinner will be served back at our bungalows for those that didn’t fare so well on their survivor challenge. We will also hold a big beach party starting at sunset to celebrate everyone’s accomplishment and to mark our last night together.
Overnight: Beach bungalow
Study Focus: waterfall micro climes, stream invertebrates
- We have a final morning to watch the sun rise between the islands and stroll along an unspoiled beach before eating breakfast and setting sail back to the mainland.
- Once there, we set off trekking to a nearby waterfall where Sumatran tiger are sometimes sighted. After a refreshing dip in the waterfall pool, we’ll break up into student teams to discover the fascinating invertebrate life along the rivers edge.
- Lunch will be served at a seaside restaurant before everyone is seen off at Padang International Airport. Unlike the 3 to5-star establishments’ students stay at on family weekend getaways; they are not likely to ever forget their 10000-star hammocks on the beach during this wet, wild and truly wonderful weekend.