Belize 15 Day Conservation Expedition

Belize 15 Day Conservation Expedition

Program Highlights

Belize 15 Day Conservation Expedition

Dates: TBD   |   Tuition: Request A Quote Learn More

On this program...

  • Volunteer at ECOMAR Field Station
  • Survey underwater manatees and sea turtles at Drowned Cayes
  • Kayak on the river with Maya Guides

Group Organizer/s: 

Your contact info here.

WTT Contact: 

Morrison Mast, morrison@walkingtree.org, 703-955-9718

Deadlines: TBD

Request a Quote

SAMPLE PROGRAM PAGE: This is an example of what your private program webpage and itinerary might look like, as you decide to organize a program with us. Please begin by reviewing the suggested itinerary listed under the Pre-Enrollment tab, and then feel free to read through other sections to get a sense of the in-depth information and support we provide for all programs.

Click on the sections above to learn more

Sample Itinerary

DayLocationDescriptionLodging
1USA - St. George's CayeArrive in Belize and travel directly to the ECOMAR field station on St. George's Caye, where we will settle in, meet the researchers and staff, then have lunch and receive an orientation on the biological fieldwork with which we will be assisting. In the afternoon, we will visit Swallow Caye Marine Reserve and snorkel at North Gallows.ECOMAR Research Station
2St. George's CayeMorning and afternoon activities today will focus on underwater manatee and sea turtle surveys in the Drowned Cayes. All meals will take place at the field station or between sessions in the field. In the evening we'll learn more about our study area and subjects from knowledgeable researchers. ECOMAR Research Station
3St. George's CayeFieldwork continues with an underwater survey looking for sea turtles and manatees. We will later visit Caye Caulker Marine Reserve Channel and Snorkel at Hol Chan Marine Reserve. In the evening our group will hear a lecture on coral reef and barrier island ecology.ECOMAR Research Station
4St. George's CayeIn the morning we will continue our fieldwork surveying underwater for sea turtles and manatees . Later we will visit snorkeling spots to observe the region's diverse corals and invertebrate fauna, then return to the station for an afternoon off. ECOMAR Research Station
5St. George's CayeOur morning activity will be focused on conch abundance surveys . The afternoon will feature potential beach cleanup or more snorkeling near St. George's Caye , followed by an evening lecture on the role of conchs in local ecosystems , and/or community-based conservation and sustainable development in Mesoamerican Reefs. ECOMAR Research Station
6St. George's Caye - Belize City - DangrigaIn the morning we'll say goodbye to our friends at ECOMAR and take a boat back to the mainland. We'll then venture south to embark on a river journey through the verdant jungles of Belize . Guided by expert Maya guides, we'll spend several days descending a gentle river through the forest, camping on the banks, and visiting isolated indigenous communities to learn about Maya traditions. In the evenings we will listen to stories of the Maya people by the campfire or go for night walks to look for wildlife in the surrounding jungle.Big Falls Lodge
7Moho River CommunitiesContinue our descent of Moho River by kayak, stopping at Maya communities along the way.Jungle River Camp
8Moho River CommunitiesContinue our descent of Moho River by kayak, stopping at Maya communities along the way.Jungle River Camp
9Moho River CommunitiesContinue our descent of Moho River by kayak, stopping at Maya communities along the way.Jungle River Camp
10Dangriga - San IgnacioBreakfast in Dangriga, then we'll head to San Ignacio for the last big leg of our journey. Along the way, we'll visit the famous Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center , where we will learn about a variety of terrestrial Belizean wildlife and the roles they play in their respective ecosystems. We'll settle in to our accommodations in Belize's Cayo District and enjoy some late-afternoon canoeing if time allows. Maya Mountain Lodge, Crystal Paradise Resort or similar
11San IgnacioToday we'll drive through Belize's western rainforests and visit the Green Iguana conservation center , where we can see rescued wild animals being rehabilitated by veterinarian specialists. Maya Mountain Lodge, Crystal Paradise Resort or similar
12San Ignacio - Yaxha - FloresWe'll pass into Guatemala today and visit Yaxha Lake , an ancient lake tucked into the jungle and dotted with impressive Mayan ruins throughout. At night we'll go to Flores, a quaint Guatemalan town on another lake, where we'll go out for dinner and sample some typical food from vendors along the lakeshore.Flores Inn
13FloresToday we'll take a day-trip to Tikal , one of the most famous archaeological ruins in the world. We'll spend the afternoon exploring this vast, ancient metropolis, then return to Flores for dinner. Flores Inn
14Flores - San IgnacioWe will return to Belize and spend our last full day in the country exploring the Cayo District's extensive karstic cave systems by foot, canoe, or inner tube! In the afternoon we'll spend time seeing Mayan remnants in these caves, or visiting the Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic .Maya Mountain Lodge, Crystal Paradise Resort or similar
15San Ignacio - Belize City - USADepending on the flight time, we will leave the Cayo District in the morning and visit the howler monkey sanctuary , where we have the chance to get up close and personal with these protected species and learn from local experts about the long-running, community-based conservation project that is protecting them. We'll grab a final lunch together, then board our flight home!Home!

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.

Accommodations

In order to provide a safe and memorable experience for our students, teachers, and staff, Program Leaders and Country Directors follow strict guidelines when deciding on lodging, making reservations, and assigning program participants to rooms.

Student participants will always be grouped in rooms and/or sleeping areas by gender, and will never share rooms with people who are not associated with Walking Tree. Group Organizers and Program Leaders will be roomed separately from each other and from other students. Walking Tree partners with locally-operated, three star or equivalent hotels that are centrally located, clean, safe and wifi-enabled.
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.

Toledo District: www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g2507140-d308872-Reviews-The_Lodge_At_Big_Falls-Big_Falls_Toledo_District.html

Cristo Rey: www.crystalparadise.com/

St. George’s Caye: www.ecomarbelize.org/research-station.html

Flores, Guatemala: www.hotelisladeflores.com

Tuition & Fundraising

Tuition Includes:

Tuition Excludes:
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.

ABSOLUTE DISMISSAL

  1. Possessing, consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs
  2. Associating with participants while they are in possession of or are consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs
  3. 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

  1. Getting a piercing or tattoo
  2. Stealing, or deliberately damaging or defacing any personal property, buildings or materials
  3. Threatening with or using weapons such as firearms, knives, explosives, etc.
  4. Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle
  5. Being out of designated area or accommodations after curfew
  6. 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.

Continue to the next section

Passport & Visa Check

Passport & Visa Check

US CITIZENS
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 Belize.

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 Belize 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.

Beyond these recommendations, 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.

Travel Insurance

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:

PLAN COVERAGES

$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: travelinsurance@jshinsurance.com

– 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 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

Language Resources

DUOLINGO

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.

duolingo owl logo

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Travel Day Details

Travel Day Details

Program participants will meet the group organizer at the below airline check-in counter three hours before the departure flight. If you have trouble locating the group, please notify your group organizer or contact WTT.

DEPARTURE FROM USA
Airline:
Flight:
Date:
Departs:
Arrives:

RETURN TO USA
Airline:

Flight:
Date:
Departs:
Arrives:

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.

UN-ACCOMPANIED MINORS
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.

Program Staff

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.

  • Morrison Mast 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.

    Group Roster

    Please have all travelers check below to ensure their name is spelled exactly how it appears on your passport. For edits, email lacey@walkingtree.org.

     

    Community & Project Details

    Balanced on the geographical and cultural border between the Caribbean and Central American regions, Belize is a small and often overlooked country that nonetheless harbors its own unique mix of both worlds.  The thick jungles of the western districts are some of the most pristine in all Central America, and harbor not only a wide array of wildlife, but hide the secrets of old, fallen empires, buried under centuries of tropical growth.  Not to be outdone, Belize’s relatively small coast is hosts the largest coral reef system in the Western Hemisphere, and the clear blue waters and white sand beaches make it a tropical paradise unlike any other.

    ECOMAR MARINE BIOLOGY CENTER at ST. GEORGE’S CAYE

    Historical St. George’s Caye is less than 10 miles from Belize City and one mile from the Belize Barrier Reef, making it an ideal location for getting to and from the mainland and reef ecosystems. The Caye, and the other cayes, reefs, and estuaries that surround it, collectively make up Belize’s section of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, a chain of barrier islands stretching from Mexico to Honduras that together comprise the largest coral reef ecosystem in the Western Hemisphere. This “seascape” is also the second longest reef in the world, and is home to hundreds of invertebrate and vertebrate species such as whale sharks, Antillean manatees, and hundreds of mollusks found nowhere else in the world. The unique geology of the region and the biodiversity it harbors make it a priority conservation area, and one of Sylvia Earle’s “Hope Spots.”

    During our stay in Belize, we will be partnering with ECOMAR, and organization that coordinates marine biology and conservation projects that focus on conserving the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System and World Heritage Site, along with the associated marine ecosystems and the diverse marine life that is so important to the people that live near the coast. ECOMAR’s mission is to help local people, governments, and visitors learn more about the marine ecosystems that support their livelihoods.  “When resources users are more knowledgeable about the ecosystem processes they take ownership of the environment and become involved in protecting these valuable natural resources.”

    They do this through a variety of programs that we will learn about and participate in, including sea turtle nesting and in water studies, coral reef ecology studies, manatee and conch research, and a variety of other marine biology research education programs which we will learn about during our stay. We are privileged to be guided in our work by local and visiting researchers who are experts in their respective fields.

    Belize City

    The seaside Belize City is the largest city in the country, and is the former capital of British Honduras.  We will briefly experience this populous city as we drive through its bustling streets, which originally were designed for foot-traffic and mule-carts only.  The city is an excellent showcase of Belize’s distinctly diverse ethnic makeup, with Latinos, Asians, Blacks, and Whites all living together in this vibrant port town. Just outside of the city is the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center, which allows us to see a variety of otherwise difficult-to-spot wildlife (such as Jaguars and Tapirs).  Founded in 1983, this Zoo started as a small project to keep animals that were being used in Hollywood films, and grew into a world renown and reputable small zoo, which now serves as an invaluable education tool for local Belizean students to learn about their country’s wildlife.

    St. George’s Caye

    Historical St. George’s Caye is less than 10 miles from Belize City and one mile from the Belize Barrier Reef, making it an ideal location for getting to and from the mainland and reef ecosystems.  They Caye, and the other cayes, reefs, and estuaries that surround it, collectively make up Belize’s section of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, a chain of barrier islands stretching from Mexico to Honduras that together comprise the largest coral reef ecosystem in the Western Hemisphere.  This “seascape” is also the second longest reef in the world, and is home to hundreds of invertebrate and vertebrate species such as whale sharks, Antillean manatees, and hundreds of mollusks found nowhere else in the world.  The unique geology of the region and the biodiversity it harbors make it a priority conservation area, and one of Sylvia Earle’s “Hope Spots.”

    During our stay in Belize, we will be partnering with ECOMAR, and organization that coordinates marine conservation projects that focus on conserving the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System and World Heritage Site, along with the associated marine ecosystems and the diverse marine life that is so important to the people that live near the coast.  ECOMAR’s mission is to help local people, governments, and visitors learn more about the marine ecosystems that support their livelihoods.  “When resources users are more knowledgeable about the ecosystem processes they take ownership of the environment and become involved in protecting these valuable natural resources.”

    They do this through a variety of programs that we will learn about and participate in, including sea turtle nesting and in water studies, coral reef ecology studies, manatee and conch research, and a variety of other research education programs which we will learn about during our stay.  We are privileged to be guided in our work by local and visiting researchers who are experts in their respective fields.

    Caye Caulker

    Marine Reserve Caye Caulker is a small limestone coral island about a mile 20 miles northeast of Belize City.  Its reefs are home to multiple species of sea turtles, sharks, and invertebrates.  The reserve itself includes five distinct habitats: mangrove, littoral forests, lagoon marsh-lands, sea grass beds and the coral reef.

    Hol Chan Marine Reserve

    The Hol Chan Marine Reserve is Belize’s oldest marine reserve. Hol Chan is Mayan for ‘little channel,” and the entire reserve focuses on a cut through the reef (called a quebrada) which is little more than 25 yards (23 m) wide and 30 feet (9 m) deep about 4 miles southeast of San Pedro.  It is an excellent snorkeling site, and an ideal place to view marine mammals.

    Cayo District

    In start contrast to the barrier reefs and mangrove ecoystems of eastern Belize, the western district of Cayo is host to thick, verdant rainforest laced with networks of karstic limestone caves and massive waterfalls.  Ancient Mayan pyramids and temples rise from the vegetation, reminding us that this land was once home to thriving civilizations that had metropolises larger than any of Belize’s current cities. From San Ignacio, we will take some time to visit Mayan ruins within Belize, or if time allows, cross the border into Guatemala to visit the ruins at Yaxha Lake or Tikal.  We will also visit some of the caves which the Maya believed to represent the underworld, and which hide their own, much longer geological history.

    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.

    Here is the link to your blog: -Coming Soon-

    Packing List

    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.

    Belize Packing List

    CLOTHES:

    6 pairs of underwear
    6 pairs of socks (a mixture of good hiking socks and casual socks)
    4 t-shirts (some quick dry)
    2 long sleeve shirts
    1 sweater
    1 rain jacket
    2-3 pairs of travel/athletic shorts that are breathable and light
    2 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 for such occasions)
    1 pair of durable athletic/hiking shoes
    1 pair of sandals (optional)
    1 hat

    Long-sleeve sash guard, to protect from sun while snorkeling (mandatory)

    Snorkeling gear (mask, snorkel, and fins).  Visit your local dive shop or sports equipment store and have the staff fit you with a mask.  A good fitting, comfortable mask and a well-sealed snorkel can make or break a snorkeling or diving trip, so make sure to try it on and practice at a local pool a couple times before you travel.

    TOILETRIES: BRING THE BASIC TOILETRIES YOU NEED PLUS:

    Reef-safe or biodegradable sunscreen
    Mosquito repellent
    Band Aids and Neosporin
    Hand Sanitizer
    Medication in properly marked original container

    MISCELLANEOUS:

    Sunglasses
    Journal and pen
    Book
    Camera (digital, disposable, waterproof)
    Power Converter
    Alarm Clock and watch
    Debit card/US Dollars (we recommend about $50-$150, depending on amount of desired souvenirs, extra items etc.)
    Durable water bottle
    1 quick-dry towel
    Flashlight/headlamp
    Batteries
    Deck of cards or other portable games
    STUDENT ID
    Spanish/English Dictionary

     

    Tuition Details

    Tuition Includes:

    Tuition Excludes:
    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. 

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