2019 Cleveland High Costa Rica Osa Conservation Expedition

Dear Families, Friends, and Travelers – Welcome to the 2019 Cleveland High Costa Rica Osa Conservation Expedition ! We have created two webpages dedicated to this once in a lifetime experience so that travelers are as informed as possible throughout the process. The first page, Pre-Enrollment, is meant to share exciting details, highlights, and pertinent info, that 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 on the appropriate page thoroughly and get excited for Costa Rica! Pura vida!
Travel Dates: June 18, 2019 - June 27, 2019
Group Organizer(s):
WTT Contact:
Program Tuition: $1,890 USD
Airfare not included in program tuition
Confirmed Airfare: $709
Deadline(s): Interested travelers need to enroll by February 28th.

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. 

June 18North Carolina, USA - San Jose, Costa RicaToday the group will travel from North Carolina to San Jose, Costa Rica. After arrival, the group will settle into their hotel, grab dinner and find time for an orientation meeting.Casa Cielo Grande
June 19San Jose - UvitaAfter breakfast we will have some latin dance lessons and then depart south to Manuel Antonio National Park on the central Pacific coast. We will spend the afternoon enjoying the trails and beach. After we will head to Uvita. Dinner will be at the hotel and in the evening students can relax in the pool.El Tecal
June 20OsaAfter breakfast we will be having private surf lessons from some of Costa Rica's best surfers. Never surfed before? No problem! The waves at Uvita are perfect for beginners and almost everyone is able to stand up. After lunch we will depart for Reserva Playa Tortuga. Upon arrival we will tour the Reserva for an introduction to the bountiful flora and fauna in the area. Here we will settle in and meet the researchers with whom we'll be spending the next few days. Night crcodile watch today!Reserva Playa Tortuga Field Station
June 21OsaAfter breakfast we'll take a hike through the surrounding tropical rainforest in the morning to get our bearings on the local ecosystems in the Osa. We'll then receive an orientation for the research we'll be conducting -- surveys of mammals and reptiles. We'll take a break for lunch and continue to conduct these surveys in the afternoon, in addition to receiving a lecture on local and national wildlife conservation efforts. The next few days will consist of us working with researches on a variety of research projects. Reserva Playa Tortuga Field Station
June 22OsaToday, we'll pay a visit to the local community, where Reserva La Tortuga conducts yearlong environmental education campaigns with local schools. In the afternoon we will visit a waterfall and have some down time to break from the heat.Reserva Playa Tortuga Field Station
June 23OsaContinue field research. Evening activities will vary.Reserva Playa Tortuga Field Station
June 24Manuel AntonioAfter breakfast we'll say goodbye to our friends at Reserva Playa Tortuga. We'll head north to Manuel Antonio National on the central Pacific coast. We will spend the afternoon souvenir shopping and enjoying the sunset!Villas Mimosa
June 25San JoseToday we'll end the trip with a splash as we whitewater raft down the Savegre River! After lunch we'll make the drive back to San Jose for a farewell dinner ahead of our international departure the following morning.Casa Cielo Grande
June 26San Jose - FlyingWe'll have a relaxing morning before making our way to the airport for our flight home in the early afternoon. Hasta luego!Airplane
June 27HomeArrive home just after midnight on June 27th. 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. 
Hotel Casa Cielo Grande

Casa Cielo Grande is a beautiful property ideally located twenty minutes away from the airport. Close to the city center yet high in the mountains, the views of the Central Valley are breathtaking and the pool is stunning. Perfect for groups, the house offers clean and fresh rooms that will make you feel at home as soon as you land in Costa Rica. Students will have free Wi-Fi access and will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.

Camping y Cabinas El Tecal

Cabinas El Tecal is a locally owned and operated three star hotel close to playa Uvita in the Marino Ballena National Park. Off the beaten path, the hotel comes with modern amenities, a private pool, and great service. It’s the perfect place to relax away from the crowds. Free Wi-Fi access throughout the building keeps everyone feeling connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.

Villas Mymosa

Hotel Villas Mymosa is a modern 10 room condo hotel located in the peaceful setting of beautiful Manuel Antonio.  These spacious rooms are fully equipped to provide you with all the amenities of your own home.  Each Villas Mymosa villa has a private terrace or balcony or both.  You have the option of peace and quiet at your villa or interacting with other guests around our beautiful large centrally located pool. Free Wi-Fi will keep everyone feeling connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender.

Group Flight

Type Carrier Name Carrier Code Flight Number Departure City Departure Date and Time  Arrival City Arrival Date and Time 
RDU – Raleigh-Durham International Airport, Morrisville, USA
June 18, 2019 1:44pm
ATL – Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, USA
June 18, 2019 3:19pm
ATL – Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, USA
June 18, 2019 6:17pm
SJO – Juan Santamaria International Airport, Alajuela, Costa Rica
June 18. 2019 8:20pm
SJO – Juan Santamaria International Airport, Alajuela, Costa Rica
June 26, 2019 1:10pm
ATL – Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, USA
June 26, 2019 7:27pm
ATL – Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, USA
June 26, 2019 11:49pm
RDU – Raleigh-Durham International Airport, Morrisville, USA
June 27, 2019 1:15am

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

Reserva Playa Tortuga is a scientific research and conservation center located on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, right next to the Osa Peninsula â one of Costa Ricaâ s most wild and undisturbed rainforests. It was founded by local citizen scientists and Costa Rican scientists with the primary objective of gathering environmental data relevant to local conservation initiatives and making the data widely accessible in order to facilitate future environmental monitoring and research ventures. RPT accomplishes this through a variety of programs, such as the Mammal Monitoring Project, Crocodilian Monitoring Project, and various long term environmental education and citizen science initiatives. Students will have the opportunity to assist researchers on some of the below projects, which vary in intensity throughout the season.

Overview: Mammal Monitoring Project

Within the Reserva, there are more than eleven species of mammals â the most common being raccoons, coatis, kinkajous, weasels, tayra and monkeys. Capuchin monkeys are easy to find into the Reserva forest.
Anteaters, opossums, and sloths are also common in the area, but are a bit harder to observe.

Students will have the opportunity to help place and collect/analyze data from camera traps, which, when place on trails are an excellent tool to determine the presence and abundance of mammals in the area. The mammals are important for the forest dynamic balance, and the data generated on their behavior, diet, and local movements offers information that can be used in reforestation plans for the coastal area to establish Biological Corridors.

Overview: Environmental Education Initiatives

It is part of the Reservaâ s core mission to educate and actively involve the youth and community at large in these areas. We do this by conducting workshops and activities for children and their families from schools in the region. These initiatives aim to create environmental awareness and active stewardship through lectures, guided tours, field trips and volunteering.

To this end, RPT implements a yearlong curriculum of modules based on the different ongoing conservation projects and natural resource management projects undertaken by RPT. Our students will have the opportunity to be part of the workshops, prepare materials, make crafts, or conduct and work with children of local schools during environmental education workshops. Depending on the time of the year students will work in a small service project in the local school

Overview: Crocodilian Monitoring Project

The main objective of this study is to collect real-time information about the crocodilians at the Reserve: their distribution, relationship with the environment, and the human impact on the ecosystem. RPT is conducting an initial profile of the population, in order to help the conservation and management of these species by adding new information about crocodilians’ status in the South Pacific of Costa Rica.

Because it is an initial study, the research consists of nocturnal monitoring multiple times per week, where the eyes of the animals will be detected with flashlights. Students will count the number of animals and mark their locations with a GPS unit. Smaller individuals may be captured to determine the species, size, sex, and other variables. Students may also observe the Reserva’s wildlife experts tagging of selected individuals.

Overview: Turtle Monitoring and Conservation Project

Four species of turtles nest on the beach in Reserva Playa Tortuga. The nesting period extends from July to December, with the peak of nesting in the months of September and October. During this period it is possible to observe an individual turtle nesting every other night, sometimes up to two or three at a time. Hatchlings continue to emerge in January and February.

Due to an inherent poaching threat, most nests are moved to the Reserveâ s protected nursery/hatchery where staff and volunteers monitor and observe the area 24/7.
In the hatchery, important data about the biology of the turtlesâ nests is gathered, such as the incubation period, nest temperature and how this influences the sex of the hatchlings, as well as observing environmental factors such as precipitation and physical environmental factors. In the past two seasons Reserva Playa Tortuga has successfully protected over 140 nests and released 5,000+ hatchlings.

Will vary on different applied ecology activities, and will receive an introduction to the different themes of biological research going on at the station. Mini-training and research introduction to prep the students for the work, then every day there will be programmed activities: sea- turtle monitoring – night patrols, turtle release and nest construction depending on season, cayman and crocodile monitoring – researchers will capture juvenile crocs from the boat and show the kids how to weigh, measure, and tag them. Basic environmental monitoring in the area (temp, water, salinity, etc). Students will set up camera traps, program them, then retrieve data. Can conduct bird observations. There is the potential to make their own research project, design their own methodology.

During the school year they visit schools to do environmental education work.

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.



Socks (a mixture of good hiking socks and casual socks)

T-shirts or work shirts (some quick dry)

Long sleeve shirt

Set of pajamas

Light sweater

Rain jacket

Travel/athletic shorts that are breathable and light

Comfortable/hiking/everyday pants (NOT all jeans)

2 nice shirt/top to be worn to more formal dinners (girls might want a skirt or something a little nicer for such occasions)

Durable athletic/hiking shoes


Sandals (Chacos/Tevas etc)

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





Reef-safe or mineral sunscreen (mandatory), mosquito repellent, and aloe vera – Read list below

Band aids, Neosporin and other basic first aid supplies

Hand Sanitizer

Medication in properly marked original container

Lip balm

*Those with long hair, a small bottle of conditioner for tangled hair



1 small backpack


Journal and pen



Alarm Clock and watch

Ziplock bags to keep valuables out of humidity and water.

Debit card/US Dollars (we recommend about $50-$150, depending on amount of desired souvenirs, extra items etc.)

Durable water bottle (NALGENE)

1 quick-dry towel (1 big one or 2 small ones)


Batteries and/or portable cell phone power banks

Deck of cards or other portable games




Sun Block.

1) Badger Broad spectrum SPF 35 zinc oxide

2) Thinksport SPF 50 Sunscreen

3) All Good SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen Lotion

4) Babo Botanicals SPF 30 Clear Zinc Lotion

5) Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen

6) Raw Elements SPF 30 Certified Natural Sunscreen

7) Stream2Sea SPF 30 Mineral Sunblock

8) Mama Kuleana Waterproof SPF 30 Reef-safe Sunscreen


Mosquito repellent

It is very important to know that all items must be Deet Free.

1) ANYTIME Combination 30+ SPF Sunscreen & Mosquito Repellent. All Natural Sunscreen Lotion for Kids & Adults – Safe, INDEPENDENTLY Tested and Effective, Water-Resistant, Dry to The Touch.

2) Reef Safe™ Eco-Friendly Sprayable BackCountry Expedition

3) Skedattle® Anti-Bug Spray And Mosquito Repellent – Travel Size

4) Badger Balm Anti-Bug Repellent

5) Cutter Mosquito Spray

6) EcoSmart 33106 Organic Insect Repellent, 6-Ounce


After Sun Bath

1) Coral Safe Natural Aloe Vera Gel – Biodegradable and Reef Friendly, 8 fl Oz

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!

Sara Lavell
Sara Lavell
Country Director - Costa Rica & Panama

Universidad de Costa Rica – B.Sc. Geography

Proudly born a ”tica” with a British father and a Panamanian mother, Sara was raised in the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Sara started traveling the world at a young age and has visited 4 continents. Passionate about conservation, sustainable development and education Sara spent her college years volunteering in different communities during mid-term vacations and later found herself sharing some of her interests with US students and volunteers traveling all over Central America. Nowadays, Sara is finishing her master’s degree in Planning with an emphasis on Socioeconomic Project Management.

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.

Christian Hernández-Gracia
Christian Hernández-Gracia
Program Leader

University of Puerto Rico – B.S. Agricultural Science, Major in Animal Science 

Once Christian graduated from high school, he decided he wanted to study agriculture and moved from his hometown, half way across the island, where he could pursue his dream. In the short 3 years he spent there, he made some wonderful friends, got involved in different activities and worked at a recycling program and as a librarian and in the chemistry laboratory. All of these different experiences motivated him to continue his dream. He moved again, now from the central area to the west side of the island. There he got the opportunity to work has volunteers for 3 years on the college educational agricultural fair “5 Días con Nuestra Tierra” where he gave basic information to families visiting the animal and butterfly exhibitions. He also went on several student international trips focused on animal production in Colombia, Costa Rica and Peru. Right now, he is finishing his master’s degree in animal science and working as a laboratory instructor at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez.  Christian has always been passionate about animals, plants, the environment, food and teaching others.

Group Roster

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

  • 1 Abigail Stancil
  • 2 Bryanna Poore
  • 3 Chloe Holland
  • 4 Gail Clougherty - Group Organizer
  • 5 Julia LaBrack
  • 6 Lillian Abel
  • 7 Miranda Monge
  • 8 Raleigh Poore
  • 9 Richard Hopper
  • 10 Sherie Conner
  • 11 Victoria Yauch
11 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 Costa Rica 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.