Philosophy Of Travel
Our mission is to inspire the next generation to become global leaders by taking an active interest in the world around them. With a dedication to learning, along with an enduring passion for exploring the world, Walking Tree Travel designs transformative and meaningful travel programs that uncover the authentic culture of each destination and inspire students to take action in their local and global community.
Walking Tree Travel stands for a more open, curious, and compassionate approach to travel. We partner with select schools around the world to provide memorable small-group experiences, and invest in cultivating and maintaining longterm relationships with our partner communities. If you are interested in our organization and philosophy of travel, click here to learn more about us.
Walking Tree partners with locally-operated, three star or equivalent hotels that are clean, safe, centrally located, and provide modern amenities. Below are a few examples of our partner hotels. Although these are our preferred providers, they are subject to change based on availability. Your final itinerary will provide complete information on your accommodations in the cities you will be visiting.
Santa Lucia: www.santaluciaecuador.com
Tuition & Fundraising
Program Tuition Includes
Program Tuition Excludes: Baggages fees, airline minor fees, personal shopping, passport or visa fees, and activities not listed in the itinerary.*
*NOTE: If you are traveling on a program that is completed before September 1, 2018 your basic travel insurance is included. If you are traveling on a program that departs after September 1, 2018 you must purchase travel insurance if you want to have any supplemental coverage beyond what your family’s package may provide. This change is due to new federal regulations.
International Airfare: In order to give our travelers the best possible price, we break out airfare from the Program Tuition. We will still handle all booking and ticketing via our flight partner who has access to special fares not available to the general public. We will provide full transparency in cost so that families pay what the flight costs and nothing more. You will be invoiced for the flight once we are able to secure the group’s airline contract.
Standards of Behavior
WTT provides fun, safe, and meaningful programs for our travelers. In order to achieve this goal, it is important that we create an environment of trust, security and respect. All individuals participating in our programs are required to take responsibility for their actions and adhere to a high standard of behavioral conduct. Any of the following are grounds for early dismissal or in-country consequences at our discretion.
- Possessing, consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs
- Associating with participants while they are in possession of or are consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs
- Behaving in a way that consistently damages the group dynamic or jeopardizes personal or group safety. This includes consistently displaying a negative attitude, intimidating or excluding other participants, sneaking out, disobeying group leaders, and any other behavior that is not conducive to an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.
GROUNDS FOR DISMISSAL OR IN-COUNTRY CONSEQUENCE
- Getting a piercing or tattoo
- Stealing, or deliberately damaging or defacing any personal property, buildings or materials
- Threatening with or using weapons such as firearms, knives, explosives, etc.
- Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle
- Being out of designated area or accommodations after curfew
- Breaking group rules
These standards of behavior are essential for the successful completion of a travel program. Please take the time to review these rules as a family and make sure everyone understands and agrees to them before choosing to travel with WTT.
Passport & Visa Check
Passport must be valid for six months after the final day of your travel program, including one open visa page.
No Visa Requirements for US Citizens traveling to Ecuador.
NON US CITIZENS OR THOSE TRAVELING FROM A COUNTRY OTHER THAN THE USA
Non US citizens should check with their country’s embassy abroad to verify vaccination and visa requirements.
US citizens traveling from a country other than the United States should check the State Department website (www.travel.state.gov) for more information regarding additional visa or vaccine requirements.
Please contact us for further information regarding vaccination and visa requirements.
Health and Safety
We strongly recommend visiting the CDC Ecuador website to get the most updated information on health and vaccination considerations in your destination country. In addition, we encourage you to consult with your personal family physician so you can be as informed as possible when making important decisions about vaccinations and other necessary health-related preparations before travel.
Our in-country staff prepare meticulously for all programs. Walking Tree will register our programs and travelers with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in case of emergency. In country staff also verify the safety records of our partner organizations, vendors, and transportation providers, thoroughly vet homestay families via in depth interviews and home visits, and keep up on important current events in the region.
Program Leaders are seasoned travelers who are CPR and First Aid certified, undergo thorough training in crisis management, and participate in a multi-day leadership training retreat. We do our best to prepare for any eventuality and have detailed emergency protocols for our leaders, in-country staff and U.S.-based staff.
We receive medical disclosures from all participants to ensure we are able to meet every students’ needs during the program. Please inform us immediately of any additional health issues that you did not list during your initial registration process. Program Leaders will also hold an online information session before your departure, as well as an arrival orientation in-country, in order to give participants important instructions on food safety, hygiene and preventing injury and illness. Leaders and in-country staff always respond immediately to any mental, physical or emotional health issues and follow comprehensive emergency protocols.
While we work hard to ensure the safest experience possible for our travelers while on program, experience has taught us that travel is never without risk. For this reason, we suggest you consider purchasing travel insurance which would cover you in the event your student needs to withdraw before travel due to a covered reason, loses baggage in route or encounters an emergency while traveling, among other unforeseen circumstances. Please see a summary of a plan below and follow the link for a more detailed explanation or to purchase the plan for your traveler.
Trip Cancellation Up to 100% of Trip Cost
Reimburses your prepaid, non-refundable expenses if you must cancel your trip due to a covered reason.
Maximum coverage: $100,000.
Trip Interruption Up to 150% of Trip Cost
Reimburses for the unused, non-refundable portion of your trip and for the increased transportation costs it takes for you to return home or to continue your trip due to a covered reason. Maximum coverage: $150,000.
Missed Connection $1,600
Reimburses for covered expenses resulting from a covered delay that causes you to miss your scheduled flight or cruise.
Travel Delay $1,600
Receive up to $200 per day per person to cover additional accommodation/travel expenses and lost prepaid expenses due to a departure delay of six or more hours.
Emergency Medical and Dental $50,000
-This primary coverage provides reimbursement for expenses incurred during your trip due to covered medical and dental emergencies. No deductible.
-$750 maximum for emergency dental care.
Baggage Loss/Damage $2,000
Covers loss, damage or theft of baggage and personal effects.
Baggage Delay $600
Covers the reasonable additional purchase of essential items during your trip if your baggage is delayed or misdirected by a common carrier for 24 hours or more. Receipts for emergency purchases are required.
Emergency Medical Transportation $1,000,000
Provides medically necessary transportation to the nearest appropriate facility following a covered injury or illness. Also covers the cost of your transportation back home following a covered injury or illness.
24-Hour Hotline Help Included
Help is just a phone call away with Allianz Global Assistance. Our staff of multilingual problem solvers is available to help you with a medical, legal or travel-related emergency.
*Terms, conditions, and exclusions apply. Insurance benefits underwritten by BCS Insurance Company (OH, Administrative Office: Oakbrook Terrace, IL), rated “A” (Excellent) by A.M. Best Co., under BCS Form No. 52.201 series or 52.401 series, or Jefferson Insurance Company (NY, Administrative Office: Richmond, VA), rated “A+” (Superior) by A.M. Best Co., under Jefferson Form No. 101C series or 101P series, depending on your state of residence. Plan(s) may not be available in all jurisdictions. Allianz Global Assistance and Allianz Travel Insurance are marks of AGA Service Company or its affiliates. AGA Service Company is the licensed producer and administrator of this plan and an affiliate of Jefferson Insurance Company. The insured shall not receive any special benefit or advantage due to the affiliation between AGA Service Company and Jefferson InsuranceCompany. NonInsurance benefits/products are provided and serviced by AGA Service Company. Consumer may be responsible for charges incurred from outside vendors for assistance or concierge services. Contact AGA Service Company at 8002848300 or 9950 Mayland Drive, Richmond, VA 23233 or email@example.com.
Global Leadership Curriculum
WTT has developed a curriculum that helps each of our travelers mature as global leaders before, during, and after their travel program. These simple, engaging tools are meant to spark discussion, frame the experience, and prepare participants to travel ethically and effectively both on our programs and in the future.
For more information about student learning objectives and the format of the curriculum, click on the ‘learn more’ button below.
Learn More About the GLC
To view and complete the Pre-Program Activities, visit our online portal at the button below.
Pre-Program Activity Portal
Want to learn a new language and be better prepared for your travel program? Duolingo is the easiest, most entertaining way to start learning and using a new language right away! The more you practice, the more you’ll be able to communicate with locals in your host country and help your fellow travelers navigate a foreign environment.
Tap the Duolingo owl to get started, or download the app to your mobile phone.
Group Flight Information
DEPARTURE FROM USA
Flight: CM 473
Date: June 13th, 2018
Departs: Los Angeles (LAX) at 11:20 AM
Arrives: Panama City, Panama (PTY) at 7:41 PM
Flight: CM 211
Date: June 13th, 2018
Departs: Panama City, Panama (PTY) at 9:31 PM
Arrives: Quito (UIO) at 11:35 PM
RETURN TO USA
Date: June 26th, 2018
Departs: Quito (UIO) at 3:13 PM
Arrives: Panama City, Panama (PTY) at 5:09 PM
Flight: CM 395
Date: June 26th, 2018
Departs: Panama City, Panama (PTY) at 6:45 PM
Arrives: Los Angeles (LAX) at 11:49 PM
Walking Tree will provide a group manifest – complete with reservation codes and ticket numbers – to the group organizer before departure. Nevertheless travelers will need to check in at the airport and we recommend arriving no later than three hours prior to the scheduled departure. For details on exactly where and when to meet on the day of departure, please contact your teacher/Group Organizer.
A NOTE ON FLIGHTS
Air travel is unpredictable. Although we can ensure that our groups arrive to the airport with ample time and follow all airline instructions, there may still be instances when a flight is delayed or cancelled due to weather, mechanical problems, labor strikes, etc. Please note that in such an event WTT is not financially responsible for unexpected costs incurred by travelers. Our programs officially begin and end in our host countries. That being said, our travelers’ well-being and safety is our number one priority, so please know that should flight delays/cancellations occur we will do everything we can to get travelers home in a timely manner and will do our best to keep family members updated on developments.
WTT is not responsible for fees associated with checked baggage. Please also make sure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond the final day in country.
Please confirm with your air travel provider as some airlines may require that travelers under a certain age have completed an unaccompanied minor parental consent form. Please consult the airline website to confirm if this is required on your flight.
WTT will send a minimum of one experienced Program Leader on every program. In addition to this Program Leader, we also have a support staff in our host countries that are available to the group for additional help when necessary. Below you’ll find a list of the Walking Tree staff involved in the planning, organizing, and leadership of your program. Meet your support team!
Ecuador Country Director, Program Leader
CATHOLIC UNIVERISTY OF ECUADOR- B.A. APPLIED LINGUISTICS TO TEACHING
I was born in Loja (also known as the cultural capital of Ecuador). At a very young age I discovered my love for languages and different cultures. I decided to travel to Russia right after I finished high school, an experience that changed my life in many different ways. When I came back from Russia I decided to study Linguistics in Quito (Ecuador’s capital). Most of my subjects were taught in English, meanwhile I also had to learn German and Kichwa (an indigenous language from Ecuador). After university, I worked as an English and Spanish teacher for five years. I had the chance to work for two Ecuadorian companies that were recognized in other countries for the quality of their products. I had the chance to work for a non-governmental organization in the Amazon region of Ecuador, an experience that made me aware of the difficult circumstances people from this part of the world had to face. These people were my biggest motivation while working there, especially women from indigenous communities. I strongly believe women empowerment is something we need to keep on working all around the world. My love for service made me found my own yoga school in Loja where I have the chance to teach others values like compassion, veracity, strength, self-esteem and self-respect. I strongly believe that we can make a change if we start becoming aware of the light within ourselves. So as you can see I have many passions, languages, yoga, traveling and I think I didn’t mention……… cooking! I will be ready to welcome you in this small paradise called Ecuador!
Country Operations Director
University of Kansas – B.A. Latin American Studies; Global and International Studies, Minor in Brazilian Studies
Jordan is a Midwesterner at heart, born and raised in Kansas City. He spent his first summer after high school in Guatemala where he began learning Spanish and cultivated a deep interest in everything Latin America. In college, Jordan spent almost half of his university career studying abroad in both Costa Rica and Brazil. During that time, he mastered language skills in both Spanish and Portuguese, spent a lot of time at the beach and met the love of his life in Costa Rica. After college, he moved to Costa Rica where he taught Portuguese to Costa Ricans and began his career in student travel. After almost six years of living in Costa Rica, Jordan, his partner and their two dogs moved to Denver where they currently live. As with the rest of the SSA team, Jordan has traveled extensively throughout Latin America, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia. Jordan is passionate about languages, history, social justice and eating great food.
The names below are those travelers who have enrolled on the program and paid at least the deposit. The roster is updated weekly but if you have any questions please contact our Admissions Director Lacey Merkel at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Group Organizer: Sarah Thompson
- Alexander Saltmarsh
- Julia Velasco
- Anthony Woodford
- Elodia Lunn
- Victor Bullock, II
- Gio Conversano
- Derek Dell’Angelica
- Stella Raymond
- Willow Vergara-Agyakwa
- Dylan Griffin
- Leroy Betterton Gage
- Kayden Motamed
- Elle Reder
- Rachel Grossman
- Yamileth Martinez
Community & Project Details
Service Project Description
2018: Vegetable garden reconstruction for senior citizens from Nanegal community
This is the fourth year that Walking Tree will work in this community. During this year we will rebuild the vegetable garden for Nanegal’s senior citizens’ home. We have analyzed the necessity of working in this project because when we went to see the garden, we noticed that it wasn’t under ideal conditions for the purpose it was initially built. There was a lot of land that hasn’t been used for planting; the reason for this is that, most of the senior citizens can’t do hard jobs as preparing the land for sowing. Also, senior citizens do not have money to buy all the materials required to build an optimal vegetable garden. Furthermore, it is important to provide them with some organic seeds so that they can sow different products and harvest different types of vegetables for their consumption.
According to the nursing home manager, most of the products from the vegetable garden are divided among the senior citizens for their own consumption. Here it bears explaining that the nursing home provides them with a snack in the morning, and they also give them lunch. Senior citizens do not live there, so the products from the vegetable garden are used for their breakfast and dinner.
Another important reason to work on this project is that yucca, one of the products from the vegetable farm, is used to make tortillas and tamales which are sold to townspeople. The income earned from these two products helps senior citizens settle additional expenses, such as transportation and celebrations, among others.
- Provide a well fitted green vegetable garden to senior citizens so that they can fully benefit from it.
Improve the quality of senior citizens diet. They will be able to include more organic and fresh vegetables from the area to their diet.
- The garden will keep earning an extra income not only with the sales of tortillas and tamales, but with the sales of products from the vegetable farm.
- Build interest and promote positive attitudes towards self- management among senior citizens and volunteers.
- Motivate senior citizens to work as a team to maintain the vegetable garden.
- Share new and inclusive citizen involvement experiences with the community of Nanegal since this type of experience motivates people from diverse social backgrounds.
- Promote the use of organic waste among senior citizens and volunteers to produce compost that will be used as an organic fertilizer.
- Generate meeting and communal living spaces among volunteers and people from the community.
- Contribute with the development of a project that has long term benefits for Nanegal senior citizens.
- Motivate volunteers to develop this type of project in their communities and high schools.
Nanegal has a unique history of human settlement in that for centuries it was home to one of few Amerindian tribes that was not conquered by the Inca. Nanegal’s original families are descendants of the Yumbo people, and many of the legends and folklore of this ancient indigenous group still survive today. Many of these legends center around local landmarks, large boulders and rock formations that have special significance to locals. One of these is La Yumba, a large stone sitting in the river that runs through town. Past Walking Tree groups have assisted the local sustainable development committee in trail-building projects that allow locals to access important sites of cultural and natural heritage. During our time in Nanegal, we will help maintain these trails, as well as walk paths that were tread upon by the indigenous descendants of the host families that will be taking care of us for the duration of our stay in the cloud forest of Nanegal.
The town of Nanegal itself is tucked into the verdant cloud-forest of the eastern slope of the Andes. Our relatively short bus-ride to the town will highlight the astonishingly rapid change in climate, from the high-mountain valley in which sits the sprawling metropolis of Quito, to the humid jungle which harbors one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on earth. This will be readily apparent by the sheer number of tropical bird and plant species that can be seen around the houses in which we’ll be staying, and on the farms of the local people. There is a lookout over the town, to which we may hike if we have some spare time, which gives a nice panorama of the small town of Nanegal and the surrounding villages such as Perla.
The people in this quaint mountain town have traditionally dedicated themselves to agriculture, though many now work in small local businesses or commute to Quito on a weekly basis. The “Nanegalenses”, as locals call themselves, are kind people who jump at the opportunity to offer what hospitality they can provide to the weary traveler. Most speak very little English, as tourism has only recently come to Nanegal, and currently consist of small numbers of Ecuadorian tourists that come on national holidays to take in the countryside. The rustic homes are typical of the region, with humble furnishings that represent the opposite extreme of a typical suburban home in the United States.
Santa Lucia Reserve
Situated in the cloud forest of Ecuador, the Santa Lucia Reserve is a prime example of a successful community-based conservation initiative. Local conservationists work with a variety of stakeholders to provide alternative livelihoods to people who once depended on extractive practices for their daily bread. Visitors have the chance to visit this internationally-recognized preserve, and work alongside scientists and locals to study and preserve a variety of species — many of which exist only here!
The reserve contains over 1,800 acres of primary cloud-forest ranging from 1,400 meters to 2,600 meters. Because of the differences in elevation, the small preserve of Santa Lucia is home to over 400 species of birds! Volunteers at the preserve have the chance to make a real and lasting contribution to wildlife conservation and the sustainable development of the local community. Examples of projects include working in local schools, helping construct organic gardens, maintaining trails, and assisting with biodiversity surveys.
Communication & Blog
The easiest way for students to keep in touch with family and friends at home while traveling will be using Wifi (available at most hotels and some restaurants) via Viber, Whatsapp, Skype, and Wechat for free.
WTT tries to keep families and friends updated as frequently as possible with text and photo blogs. If parents would like updates regarding the group beyond these blog posts and email updates, they should direct all general inquiries to info@WalkingTree.org. We are always checking this email inbox and will respond promptly to inquiries. You can also reach us by dialing 303-242-8541 from the U.S.
Click here to access your program’s blog page.
What follows is a sample packing list, which will be updated for each program. We recommend you bring a larger piece of luggage like a roller, duffel bag, or backpack, as well as a smaller backpack that you can bring on hikes, weekend excursions and shorter activities.
Most importantly, be sure to remember your PASSPORT and STUDENT ID.
Please note that seasons in South America are opposite ours in the United States so we will be traveling during South America’s late fall. With that said, late fall and early winter are the driest parts of the year and often the most pleasant times to visit. Most of our program will be spent at high altitudes where daytime temperatures can reach the 70’s and it can freeze at night. Layering is the best way to prepare for variable conditions.
Ecuador Packing List
6 pairs of underwear 6 pairs of socks (a mixture of good hiking socks and casual socks – some wool socks for cold nights as well)
4 t-shirts (some quick dry)
4 long sleeve shirts
1 warmer jacket for cool nights
1 warm hat
1 rain jacket
2-3 pairs of travel/athletic shorts that are breathable and light
2-3 pairs of comfortable/hiking/everyday pants (NOT all jeans)
1 nice shirt/top to be worn to more formal dinners (girls might want a skirt or something a little nicer and guys a polo or button up shirt with jeans for such occasions)
1 pair of durable athletic/hiking shoes, appropriate for hiking
1 pair of sandals (optional)
1 pair of work gloves
1 hat with good sun protection
TOILETRIES: BRING THE BASIC TOILETRIES YOU NEED PLUS:
Sunscreen (you will use a lot)
Band Aids and Neosporin, anti-diarrhea meds, basic first aid
Medication in properly marked original container (better to pack this in your carry on luggage)
Journal and pen
Camera (digital, disposable, waterproof)
Converter (Peru runs 220v, 60Hz AC electricity. Only necessary if electronic device doesn’t have built in converter)
Alarm Clock and watch
Debit card/US Dollars (we recommend about $100-$200, depending on amount of desired souvenirs, extra items etc.)
Durable water bottle with a personal water filtration system (optional- Walking Tree will always provide drinking water)
1 quick-dry towel
Soap for washing your own clothes while in the host community
Deck of cards or other portable games
Host family gift
Travelers often contact us regarding what an appropriate gift might be for their student’s host family. Host families are often curious about where our students come from and their families in the U.S. As such, we recommend a simple gift that describes, represents or depicts your home. Well-received gifts in the past have included calendars or picture/coffee table books from your city or state, a framed picture of your family, paraphernalia from a local sports team, toys, soccer balls, school supplies, or something produced or grown in your hometown, like chocolate, local candy, t-shirts, etc. The most important thing to keep in mind is not to worry about this… Anything, no matter its value, will be well received!