[MUSIC PLAYING] SPEAKER 1: Since I was little, I've always wanted to go to the rainforest and study biodiversity. And so it was a really great opportunity to do that. And tree climbing is your entry into that.
SPEAKER 2: I've never done any big international travel like this. So I thought this would be a really great way for me to travel with a group of people who I'm comfortable with in a community that I know.
SPEAKER 3: I think the lemurs brought me here here mostly. Yeah. Super into lemurs.
SPEAKER 4: I've never been in a true tropical rainforest before. So that was super cool.
SPEAKER 5: Seeing is as much of the world as I can. It's getting a broader perspective on the way people live their lives and putting things into context.
SPEAKER 6: I really like collaborating with different organizations. There's been tons of collaborators, I mean, from the beginning.
SPEAKER 7: We're in Madagascar enjoying the cultural aspects. But we're also climbing the trees. And two main types of trees that we're climbing here are the baobab trees, those iconic, very fat trunked trees with really interesting views to them, and then the tropical rainforest trees of the East coast of Madagascar in Ranomafana National Park.
SPEAKER 1: I've never been tree climbing. So it was tree climbing in a completely new climate. Never been to the Eastern Hemisphere or the Southern Hemisphere. So just everything is completely different.
SPEAKER 2: I've done tree climbing just through the classes. But this seemed like a really cool way to expand the skills because they're just completely different trees than the sycamores we climb at Stewart Park.
SPEAKER 8: Climbing the baobab trees was an awesome experience, getting up to them and seeing them and looking out over it. It wasn't as physically challenging as I thought it might be.
SPEAKER 7: They were pretty interesting trees to climb. The were a lot simpler to climb than we thought they would be.
SPEAKER 2: There was a lot of good handholds just on the trunk of the tree, which I've never seen before.
SPEAKER 3: You basically climbed a tree as if it was a rock face.
SPEAKER 7: It was an amazing experience of grabbing into these little pockets. It was exactly like rock climbing.
SPEAKER 1: You get up in the tree. And you just look out for miles over this landscape. And there's just these giant baobabs everywhere.
SPEAKER 3: And you can just see all the stars. And that was the most stars I've seen in my whole life.
SPEAKER 2: I really liked traveling from Tana to Morondava and then to Ranomafana after because we saw a lot of different parts of the country. When we started in Tana, it's a big city. But as we were driving, it was clay, a lot of green rice paddies.
SPEAKER 5: It was really interesting seeing, I guess, the perspective that you get driving through the whole countryside from the capital to some remote area where we were climbing trees.
SPEAKER 3: It's very mountainous. And because of that, they've got these terraced farms, where I think it's mostly rice.
SPEAKER 4: You know, you've seen them in pictures before, but not in person out on the side of the road. And that was pretty sweet.
SPEAKER 8: The jungle was incredible, just being in that surrounding, in those environments, the beautiful waterfalls, the trees, the vines, everything.
SPEAKER 7: When you go out and climb in the rainforest, I mean, you're dealing with vines and undergrowth and all of these other plants that are keeping you from even just seeing the canopy to know what branches you're going for.
SPEAKER 3: We went up in a tree. And then, across the canopy, there were these two lemurs just screaming at each other. The most awful noise I've ever heard. They're pretty big, pretty gnarly creatures. That was a pretty awesome way to end the trip.
SPEAKER 6: I started working with a couple of the Madagascar Center for Biodiversity students. Incorporating the Malagasy people with our Cornell community has been really an enjoyable thing.
SPEAKER 8: I love the people that we've dealt with locally. They're just all very kind. It means a lot to me. It makes me very sentimental.
SPEAKER 6: In the end, this project has involved six or seven large institutions' cooperation and cooperation. And that's a really exciting thing for me.
SPEAKER 7: The reason that I teach these courses, it's not for the money, and it's not for the tree climbing for myself, it's for teaching other people. It's, I think, the reason why I got started doing it. And it's still the reason why I take off time from work to come here.
SPEAKER 4: They were all fun and interesting and were more than willing to laugh at some of the stupidest things.
SPEAKER 1: But also, learning, this is going to help me in my career field. I'm in environmental science, so we talk about rainforests and all this stuff constantly, kind of like glorify it. But now I've actually seen it in person.
SPEAKER 5: I think it's a great way to get people stoked about something is having them learn it in some kind of crazy environment like this.
SPEAKER 4: If you're considering it, I'd say definitely do it because I'm really happy that I did it.
SPEAKER 1: It's something I've wanted to do since I was little. And it's been a great opportunity.
SPEAKER 2: It's been really fun. I'm really enjoying the trip a lot. And I'm sad that it's ending.
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Last winter break, eight Cornell Outdoor Education instructors traveled to the remote reaches of Madagascar to climb the Baobab trees, explore the tropical rainforest canopy and teach local Malagasy researchers safe tree climbing techniques. The effort also served to aid in the study and preservation of critically endangered tropical forest habitats.
Learn more about Cornell Tree Climbing Institute's expedition-style courses at