2019 Colorado Academy Cuba Program

Dear Families, Friends, and Travelers – Welcome to the 2019 Colorado Academy Upper School Cuba Program! We have created two webpages dedicated to this once in a lifetime experience so that travelers are as informed as possible throughout the process. This page, the Pre-Enrollment page, is meant to share exciting details, highlights, and pertinent info which participants will want to know before enrolling. Once enrolled, the Post-Enrollment page is intended to prepare travelers for participation on the adventure ahead. Please be sure to review the information thoroughly and get excited for Cuba!
Travel Dates: May 26, 2019 - June 1, 2019
Group Organizer(s):
WTT/SSA Contact:
Deadline(s): Interested travelers should enroll by November 9th

What to Expect

Please read through all of the information below. More details will be added as your departure draws closer.


We work hard to create safe, engaging, and immersive itineraries for our travelers, but given the unpredictable nature of international travel we must remain flexible in our planning. Changes to a schedule are uncommon but if inclement weather pushes us off course or an unexpected opportunity arises which travelers are excited about, we reserve the right to adjust programming in the best interest of the group. 

DateDay LocationActivity Lodging
May 26SundayDenver, CO & Havana, CubaAfter a night time arrival in Havanna we'll head straight to our casas for dinner and a short orientation meeting. Havana Casa Particulares
May 27MondayHavanaThis morning we'll enjoy a tour of Old Havana, focusing specifically on some of the more interesting architecture and public spaces. After lunch we have the unique opportunity of visiting a boxing gym and drumming workshop, both of which cater to teens. Havana Casa Particulares
May 28TuesdayHavanaAs much as any other country on earth, modern-day Cuba is tightly associated with two personalities: Che & Fidel. How did a medical doctor and avid traveler turn into two of the world's most famous revolutionaries? Today we'll delve into the story of the friendship that changed the history of Cuba forever with visits to the Cuban Revolution Museum, Che Guevara's home, la Plaza de la Revolucion.

In the afternoon we'll visit Fusterlandia, a neighborhood which was claimed by a community of artists and converted into folk art kingdom. We'll also meet with Emprendadores, a local group of young entrepreneurs. Did we mention you'll be rolling through Havana the entire day in classic convertibles?
Havana Casa Particulares
May 29WednesdayHavana & Las TerrazasThis morning we're off on a day trip to Las Terrazas, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and secluded eco-village of artists, coffee growers and ecologists about one hour from Havana. We'll visit Hotel Moka, one of first ecological hotels in the world, and check out an old coffee plantation. We'll also do a beautiful hike in the surrounding hillsides which culminates with an relaxing dip in some natural swimming holes. Then we head back to our casa particulares in Havana for the night night. Havana Casa Particulares
May 30ThursdayHavana, Santa Clara & TrinidadAfter breakfast we are off to Santa Clara! On the way you'l check out Finca Vigia, where Hemingway spent much of his time. We'll also visit Muraleando which is an inspirational community arts center. After lunch we arrive at Che Guevera's Mausoleum and the famous, if quirky, train museum. This day will provide the group an opportunity to engage in open debate about Che and his role in Cuban revolution, the circumstances of his death and his legacy throughout wider Latin America.

After our afternoon in Santa Clara we head to the idyllic town of Trinidad, a one of a kind, perfectly preserved Spanish colonial town and UNESCO World Heritage site on the southern coast of the country.
Trinidad Casa Particulares
May 31FridayTrinidad & CienfuegosWe'll take a walking tour of the city this morning before heading to the Playa Ancon for the afternoon. After sunset we'll enjoy a celebratory dinner before our flight back to the States the following day. Cienfuegos Casa Particulares
June 1SaturdayCienfuegos, Havana & DenverToday we're up early for breakfast and a departure back to the airport in Havana for our flight home.Your own bed, eventually!

Need to Raise Money? We have you covered.

Our travelers are provided with funding opportunities that are easy to implement and fun to take part in. Our flagship fundraiser involves selling fair trade, organic, carbon-neutral coffee from a women’s collective in Peru. There is no limit to the amount you can earn, so get started now by clicking the link below!


WTT coffee


In order to provide a safe and memorable experience for travelers, we follow strict guidelines when choosing our accommodations. Walking Tree partners with locally-operated, three-star equivalent hotels which are centrally located, clean, safe and wifi-enabled. 

For rooming, travelers are grouped by gender, and will never share rooms with people who are not associated with their group.  Non-binary travelers are accommodated. Group Organizers and Program Leaders, along with any other traveling adult, are roomed separately from students.
Below are the hotels we anticipate using on your trip, subject to availability. 
Casa Particular

Enjoy staying in a casa particular for a memorable Cuban experience, these small scale businesses are run by local families. Students will be grouped by gender in double or triple rooms based on availability.

Group Flight


Airline: American Airlines
Flight: AA2445
Date: May 26, 2019
Departs: Denver (DEN) – 10:00 AM
Arrives: Miami (MIA) – 4:01 PM

Airline:  American Airlines
Flight: AA2699
Date: May 26, 2019
Departs: Miami (MIA)– 6:55 PM
Arrives: Havana (HAV) – 8:10 PM


Airline: American Airlines
Flight: AA2706
Date: June 1, 2019
Departs: Havana (HAV) – 12:55 PM
Arrives: Miami (MIA) – 2:10 PM

Airline: American Airlines
Flight: AA2793
Date: June 1, 2019
Departs: Miami (MIA) – 9:34 PM
Arrives: Denver (DEN) –11:54 PM

We will provide additional details on your Group’s Flight and travel day details here.

We 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 Group Organizer.

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 Walking Tree Travel (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 visit the airline’s baggage webpage to find out about baggage fees and options. It is also important to 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.

Host Community and Project Details

Community Overview

We will be using Casa Particulares throughout our time in Cuba. These are homes that have been transformed into small, private hotels or guest houses, something akin to renting an entire home on Airbnb. The host provides breakfast, and is available for anything that the guest might need during the day time, but is not staying with the guests at night. Casas Particulares are essentially a fusion between a bed and breakfast and host family. Travelers will have time to share meals and socialize with the families who run the casas. This option is much preferable to government-operated hotels and has emerged as the most common option for accommodations in Cuba as well as one of the few places in which free enterprise is flourishing.

Project Overview

WTT/SSA groups have the unique opportunity to live and work together with the local host community. The service project depends completely on the needs of each community and can vary greatly from year to year. Service projects are planned together with our Country Director and community liaisons. The project will always benefit the entire community and is chosen and approved by community leaders. Projects are always proposed by local community leaders as they are most in tune with the needs of the community.

Service projects are intended to be both challenging and rewarding for participants and community members. Generally, the work entails renovating or replacing an existing structures (health clinic, community center, school, etc.) that needs work. Usually there are little or no funds available to complete these projects, so WTT/SSA plays an important role in the community. Some past projects in Cuba have included constructing a ceramic center and print-making area, and spending time with the elderly.

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.

T-shirts, tank tops or work shirts
Long sleeve shirt 
Light weight pants, jeans too heavy for  Cuba in May/June
Rain jacket
Good walking shoes
Sports sandals ie Chacos/Tevas etc. (optional) 
Flip flops (optional)
Good sun hat/s

Sunscreen (you will use a lot)
Mosquito repellent 
Band Aids and Neosporin
Hand Sanitizer
Medication in properly marked original container

Journal and pen
Camera (phone, digital, but you’ll want to take pictures).
US Dollars (we recommend about $50-$150, depending on amount of desired souvenirs, extra items etc.) Please no credit cards, due to embargo these will not work. 
Durable water bottle
1 quick-dry towel
Deck of cards or other portable games – 
Spanish/English Dictionary

Support Team

At minimum, one experienced Program Leader will travel on every program. In addition to this full time leadership presence, Walking Tree has additional support staff in all destinations and 24/7 support from our headquarters in Denver, Colorado where we remain available to the group for additional help whenever necessary. Below you’ll find a list of the team members involved in the planning, organizing, and leadership of your program. Meet your support team!

Luke Mueller
Luke Mueller
Co-Founder of Walking Tree Travel and Business Lead - Denver, CO

Emory University – B.A. Sociology and minor in Latin American History

During college, Luke spent a semester living and traveling in rural Mexico. His experience sparked a fascination with Latin America and a commitment to community service that continues to this day. Upon graduating from college, he joined WorldTeach and lived with a local family in a small village in Costa Rica while teaching elementary English. After this experience, he moved to San José, the capital and largest city of Costa Rica, and wrote for The Tico Times newspaper. Luke has since traveled to over 60 countries on five different continents.  Now settled in Denver with his family, he continues to crave massive helpings of rice and beans.

Jorge Luiz Acanda Gonzalez
Jorge Luiz Acanda Gonzalez
Program Leader

Jorge is in-country partner and manager for Walking Tree Travel. He has been working with academic groups and private tours for the last 3 years. He really enjoys people and is exceptionally gifted in turning all our clients into good friends. Born and raised in Havana, Jorge is an expert on a history of Havana and personally knows many local chefs, entrepreneurs, professors and local celebrities.  He has traveled extensively abroad, most recently to Spain, Switzerland and Germany.

Group Roster

See below for a list of travelers enrolled on the program.

  • 1 Alexander Main
  • 2 Andres Guevara
  • 3 Britt Lochhead
  • 4 Caroline Burke-Dullinger
  • 5 Carson Stone
  • 6 Christian Agelopoulos
  • 7 Christopher Marchetti - Group Organizer
  • 8 Christopher Wachuta
  • 9 Daniela Torres Rivera
  • 10 Elle Smith
  • 11 Henry Chesley-Vogels
  • 12 Jack Lewis
  • 13 Jane Kelly - Group Organizer
  • 14 Joshua Estrada
  • 15 Juliet Cramer
  • 16 Kendall Beall
  • 17 Lillian Greenberg
  • 18 Lisa Todd - Group Organizer
  • 19 Margarita Diaz
  • 20 Maya Rutherford
  • 21 McCue Behrhorst
  • 22 Parker Beasley
  • 23 Peter Carpenter
  • 24 Samantha Moore-Thomson
  • 25 Sophie Link
  • 26 William Ungar
26 Travelers

Blog and Communication

We work hard to keep families updated as frequently as possible with blogs and photos, giving you peace of mind that your traveler is safe and thriving on their program.  Students regularly contribute to these posts, giving parents a great way to vicariously track the progress of the trip. You will receive an email notification when the first blog is posted, and can check back any time via the black “Program Blog” button at the top of this page or the link included in the email.

Beyond our proactive approach to communication during the trip, most destinations are wired enough to allow participants semi-regular access to WiFi. Ask your Walking Tree representative about the degree of connectivity on your program.

For any general inquiries during travel, please email your Walking Tree Representative (see top of page) or info@walkingtree.org. You can also reach us by dialing 303-242-8541 from the United States.


GLC Curriculum

We have developed a curriculum of activities designed to help each of our travelers mature as global leaders before, during, and after their travel program. These simple and engaging tools are meant to spark discussion, frame experiences, and prepare participants to travel ethically and effectively both on this trip and on future adventures.

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

Standards of Behavior

Walking Tree 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.


  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.


  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 us.

Health and Safety

We strongly recommend visiting the CDC Cuba 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 Premier travel insurance which would cover you in the event your student needs to withdraw before travel due to a covered reason or loses baggage in route or encounters an emergency while traveling, among other unforeseen circumstances. While most travelers have opted in for us to purchase basic travel insurance on their behalf during the enrollment process, this plan does not cover trip interruption or trip cancellation. 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.

-Recommended Travel Insurance-

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.

Medical Protection: 
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 Protection
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.

Assistance Services
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. Non­ Insurance 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 800­-284­-8300 or 9950 Mayland Drive, Richmond, VA 23233 or customerservice@allianzassistance.com.