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
Baggages fees, airline minor fees, personal shopping, passport or visa fees, and activities not listed in the itinerary.
Tuition is an estimate until dates and itinerary are finalized.
We believe that cost should not prevent enthusiastic students from having the opportunity to join an WTT program. We are pleased to offer opportunities for fundraising and payment plans to help make this goal a reality. Please visit our Tuition and Funding page to find out more about tuition, fundraising, payment options, referral discounts, and more.
Visit Tuition & Funding
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.
Vaccination information and requirements can change frequently. Because of this, and for more information, we suggest that you consult your local travel clinic and/or family physician for specific details.
Our experience has taught us that international travel can sometimes be unpredictable. As such, WTT will purchase basic secondary travel and medical insurance for all WTT travelers via Travel Insured International. This service provides the following coverage at no additional cost to our participants:
$500 Return Airfare for Trip Interruption
$750 ($150 per day) Trip Delay of six hours or more
$500 (Three or more hours) Missed Connection
$1500 ($250 per article) Baggage/Personal Effects
$300 Baggage Delay – 24 hours
$25,000 Accident & Sickness Medical Expense
$100,000 Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation
Emergency Assistance Non-insurance Worldwide Emergency Assistance Services Included
ADDITIONAL OPTIONAL COVERAGES
The following additional optional coverage upgrades are available upon request for an additional premium charge to the traveler. For further information on the premiums associated with these optional coverage enhancements, please email your inquiry to our travel insurance program administrator, Hayashi Insurance Solutions: firstname.lastname@example.org
– Trip Cancellation Coverage – Reimburses the traveler up to the trip cost insured up to a maximum of $10,000 per person if the trip must be cancelled for unforeseeable life events including but not limited to; medical/health reasons, bereavement, etc.
– Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) – Reimburses the traveler for 75% of the non-refundable trip cost. Cancellation must be made 48 hours or more prior to scheduled departure. Must be purchased at the same time as initial plan purchase and prior to final trip payment. *This benefit is not available to residents of New York State.
The Plan is administered by Hayashi Insurance Solutions (CA DOI 0F61680) a licensed Insurance Agency authorized to transact this insurance under the express authority of Travel Insured International, Inc. and its representatives, and on behalf of Walking Tree Travel, Inc. The Plan contains insurance benefits underwritten by the United States Fire Insurance Company. Fairmont Specialty and Crum & Forster are registered trademarks of United States Fire Insurance Company. The Crum & Forster group of companies is rated A (Excellent) by AM Best Company 2015. The Plan also contains non insurance Travel Assistance Services that are provided by an independent organization, OnCall International, and not by United States Fire Insurance Company or Travel Insured International. Review the Plan Document for complete terms, including benefits, conditions, limitations and exclusions that apply. Coverages may vary and not all coverage is available in all jurisdictions.
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 their experience, and prepare them 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.
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
Flights will be posted here once they are decided upon.
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. Please read below to see who will be part of the support team on your program. Below you’ll find a list of the Walking Tree staff involved in the planning, organizing, and leadership of your program.
Conservation Program Director
College of William and Mary – B.S. Biology and Environmental Science & Policy
Morrison is an obsessive and experienced traveler, having been to more than 50 countries in pursuit of the life-changing experiences offered by the wild places of the world. Fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, and broken French, he is an avid wildlife photographer whose favorite subjects are beetles, spiders and the oft overlooked microcosms they inhabit. Morrison is a percussionist at heart and has performed nationally and internationally with groups ranging in style from symphonic to experimental rock and traditional Turkish music. During his undergraduate years, Morrison conducted research in Brazil and Madagascar with conservation organizations that are actively working with communities to strike a sustainable balance between humans and the ecosystems that support them. Education is surely the most rewarding aspect of his work; Morrison constantly strives to inspire positive change by communicating his overwhelming awe of the natural world to others. Morrison hopes to build a career in biodiversity conservation and is currently in charge of developing and implementing new Conservation Expeditions.
Ecuador Country Director
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus Rotterdam University – M.A. Development Studies, Environment and Sustainable Development
Born in Cali, Colombia, nestled in a family-oriented, tropical environment surrounded by dance and nature, Natalia grew up between two countries during her childhood and youth: Ecuador and Colombia. From a very young age she developed strong skills in intercultural understanding, particularly between Latin American sister nations. Through her passion and talent in athletics, she has had opportunities to travel to many different countries and cities in South America. Natalia studied at a university in Germany, which allowed her to travel around Europe, where she experienced a vast array of countries and Western cultures. She later pursued a master’s degree in social studies in Holland, focusing on environmental studies. She completed research on natural biosphere reserves in the Ecuadorian Amazon and the issues facing indigenous communities there. After many adventures and experiences, Natalia fell in love with Ecuador’s natural and cultural diversity and has lived and worked in several different places along the coast, highlands, mountains and Amazon regions of the country.
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 email@example.com
- 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 MotamedElle Reder
Community & Project Details
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!