2019 Doral Academy Costa Rica Program

Dear Families – Welcome to the homepage for the 2019 Doral Academy Costa Rica Program. Walking Tree is thrilled to be partnering with Doral Academy Preparatory School! Please read through the details about your program below and peruse our Resource Center, which contains lots of helpful information about our organization, tuition, safety, insurance, and more. We hope you will join us on the adventure of a lifetime in Costa Rica!
Travel Dates: May 1, 2019 - May 7, 2019
Dates are Tenative
Group Organizer(s):
WTT/SSA Contact:
Program Tuition: $2,290 - or - $2,176 with discount if paid in full
Deadline(s): Enrollment deadline is forthcoming

Tuition Calculator

Our admissions team makes the payment process simple, offering multiple payment options and easy monthly payment plans.

Program Tuition: $2,290

Pay in Full

Pay in full at the time of enrollment and receive a 5% discount off your program tuition! Your program tuition with this discount would be:


Costa Rica

From white sand beaches to misty cloud forests, from towering volcanoes to beautiful rivers that cut through tropical canyons, and to hospitable, friendly communities, Costa Rica has it all. Having abolished its military over 70 years ago, this tiny democratic republic has long been known for its pacifism, commitment to environmental protection, and its status as a destination for those seeking safe yet exciting adventure travel set against breathtaking scenery. However, despite an extensive tourism industry, in many parts of Costa Rica there remains a need for help and service. Our programs offer unique access to Costa Rica’s best-kept secrets and friendliest communities. We are confident you will love the land of Pura Vida as much as we do.

Service Adventures

Service Adventures

Service Adventures combine local homestays, adventure travel, and meaningful service projects. Students will be truly immersed in our host communities allowing them the time to reflect on their complex and important role as global citizens.

Program Highlights

Check out some of the possible featured experiences of your coming adventure! Each customized itinerary is unique, but these are just a few of the activities which may be available during your program.

Immerse yourself in the local language and culture by staying with a host family

Work side by side with the Organization for Tropical Studies' scientists in one of most studied ecosystems in the world.

Learn about the history of the chocolate industry while assisting in its preparation process.

Zip-line though the jungle

Trek to a beautiful waterfall deep in the jungle

Visit one of Costa Rica's most beautiful volcanoes

Stay in quaint jungle bungalows

Take private surf lessons from some of Costa Rica's best surfers

Practice your Spanish language skills with locals

Raft down one of Costa Rica's best rivers

Release baby sea turtles into the wild (seasonal)

Hike through the tropical rainforest and learn about local ecosystems

Explore a cloud forest, guided by a local naturalist

Assist with research efforts at the Playa Tortuga Research Station

Assist with surveys of marine and terrestrial wildlife

Clean up marine debris to ensure an unspoiled nesting habitat for sea turtles

Contribute towards an environmental service project

Discover the gorgeous beaches and world-class national parks of the Pacific coast

The Itinerary

We work hard to create engaging, educational, and truly immersive itineraries for our travelers. However, we also know that travel can be unpredictable, so we always design our experiences to be flexible enough to allow for adjustments based on group interests, unexpected opportunities, and any weather or safety concerns that may arise during your program. Should changes to the itinerary occur, we will notify travelers and families as quickly as possible. 

1USA - PanamaFly to Panama City at night, then drive across the glittering city and along the Panama Canal to Gamboa, where we'll check into our lodge next to Soberanía National Park, our home away from home for the next few days.Soberania Lodge
2GamboaAfter our first Panamanian breakfast, we'll have an orientation meeting and introduction to the center and the work of some of our hosts, all of whom are Panamanian researchers and biodiversity conservationists. Then strap on your hiking shoes! Today we dive in and spend our first full day in Panama observing and documenting wildlife in the rainforest in Soberania National Park, right around our lodge. We may be lucky to see some of the different species of toucans, motmots, trogons, and tanagers found here. We may even spot agoutis, perhaps an armadillo, or a coati exploring the grounds. In the afternoon, we will stop by the Panama Canal Museum and the Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal, to learn firsthand about the operation of this globally important waterway. You may be lucky to see how some gigantic ships, called PANAMAX vessels, just barely (but always successfully) squeeze through the immense locks.Soberania Lodge
3GamboaToday we will start the day with another early wildlife hike, with an introduction to the diversity of birds found in Panama by professional ornithologists. We'll also take some time to visit the local Wildlife Rescue Center- Asociación Panamericana para la Conservación (APPC). We will assist in activities that promote the Center's core mission and goals. In the afternoon, we'll take a boat tour of the Panama Canal itself and see even more wildlife that congregates around Lake Gatun. And after dinner, we will make a visit to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute's Bat Lab and learn about the diversity of bats in Panama. If we're lucky, we'll even catch, measure, and weigh some tropical bats!Soberania Lodge
4GamboaThe morning will be dedicated to volunteering in local reforestation or invasive species removal projects with the national or municipal park service. In the afternoon, we'll go ziplining across a section of Lake Gatun, a manmade lake that was created to form the Panama Canal. In the evening we'll receive a lecture from a Panamanian primate researcher and conservationist, to learn more about the animals we'll be observing and researching over the coming days.Soberania Lodge
5GamboaWe'll continue our volunteer work in the morning, then in the afternoon, put our observational skills to the test as we conduct behavioral research on howler monkey populations in Soberania National Park. After dinner in the evening, we'll hear from Guido Berguido, the founder of a Panamanian organization that protects hundreds of acres of pristine primary rainforest. We'll learn about what each of us can do individually to positively impact the conservation of global biodiversity.Soberania Lodge
6Gamboa / Panama CityToday we'll drive into Panama City and visit Smithsonian's Punta Culebra Marine Exhibition Center. We'll stop in at the Smithsonian Amphibian lab to learn about what researchers are doing to create a virtual "Noah's Ark" for species on the brink of extinction. We'll then visit the old quarter of the city, to learn about the French and Spanish influence on this important port. We'll spend the day walking amongst this patchwork of crumbling and renovated historic buildings, having ceviche in the fish market, and strolling through the vibrant artisan markets in Casco Viejo. We'll have raspados (traditional Panamanian shaved ice) before heading back to Soberania for dinner.Soberania Lodge
7Altos de Campana National ParkEarly today we will travel towards the Altos de Campana National Park to see a completely different ecosystem. At the heart of the mist-covered cloud-forest, we will be on the lookout for a few organisms unique to this ecosystem, giant trees, tree ferns, orchids, and an array of epiphytic flora. Here you will have the opportunity to conduct comparative observations of your study subjects to gain a sense of whether elevation represents a significant variable in the ecology of organisms. In the afternoon, we will visit a nearby community where we will have the opportunity to meet some of the local students, deliver some school supplies, and see firsthand what a Panamanian school looks like.Soberania Lodge
8PortobeloAfter an early breakfast this morning, we will enjoy a panoramic ride towards the Caribbean Sea. At Portobello we will have the opportunity to snorkel on a reef further away from human activities. Here, we will learn more about the various marine ecosystems that work together to maintain marine life populations including: seagrass beds, mangroves, and coral reefs. Later we will visit the historical town of Portobelo, including many historical landmarks, like the forts that were built to protect the town and its riches against pirates and privateers.Soberania Lodge
9EmberaToday, we will travel outside Panama City for a journey back in time. We will spend the day with the Embera natives living in the rainforest. Covering over 320,000 acres, the Chagres National Park is the largest protected area in the Panama Canal Watershed. Even though they are found close to Panama City, the Embera retain most of their ancestral traditions. We will learn about the local culture as our host answers all your questions. In addition, you will have an opportunity to buy some hand crafts created by the Embera, including wood and nut carvings, as well as gorgeous bright colored baskets. We'll spend some time relaxing in the river, then head back to Gamboa for our farewell dinner!Soberania Lodge
10Panama - USAThis morning we will drive back through Panama City one final time before heading back home!Your own bed!


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

Travelers will always be grouped in rooms and/or sleeping areas by gender, and will never share rooms with people who are not associated with their Walking Tree group. 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.
Hotel Casa Cielo Grande

Casa Cielo Grande is a beautiful property ideally located twenty minutes away from the airport. Close yet high in the mountains, the views of the Central Valley are great 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.

Finca Pura Suerte

Situated high on the hills overlooking the Pacific coast, the open-air cabins of Pura Suerte are the ideal accommodation for exploring the surrounding farm, primary forest, and countless waterways. This comfortable setting is a center where ideas can be exchanged and practiced to promote sustainable living.

Safety and Support


This was a great opportunity for [my daughter]. Thank you for being so professional and for teaching her things we never could. It was awesome to work beside Smithsonian scientists and learn. Travel is such an education that cannot be taught in a classroom.

Parent of Emily, traveler on 2017 program to Panama

Your Adventure Includes

Program Tuition Excludes: Travel insurance, baggage fees, airline minor fees, passport/visa fees, laundry, souvenirs, and activities not listed on itinerary.

Need to Raise Money? We have you covered.

Our travelers are provided with fundraising opportunities that are easy to implement and fun to take part in. Our flagship fundraiser involves selling bird-friendly, fair trade coffee from our host countries. There is no limit to the amount you can raise, so get started now by selling coffee or referring your friends to earn credit toward your program!


WTT coffee
Resource center

Resource Center

Why should high school students travel abroad? What happens if a participant gets sick? How quickly do we need to enroll? We’re sure you have plenty of questions and we’ve got you covered! Visit our Resource Center to discover the answers to your most pressing questions and contact us anytime with additional questions.

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