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2019 North Tahoe Costa Rica Program

Dear Families, Friends, and Travelers – Welcome to the 2019 North Tahoe Costa Rica Service Adventure! 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 22, 2019 - July 4, 2019
Group Organizer(s):
WTT Contact:
Program Tuition: $2,649 USD
Airfare not included in program tuition
Confirmed Airfare: $735
Deadline(s): All families must be paid in full by March 18th, 2018

What to Expect

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

Itinerary

We do everything possible to run safe, engaging, and immersive programs 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. 

DayLocationDescriptionLodging
June 22ndUSA - AlajuelaToday the group will travel from the USA to Costa Rica, and flights usually arrive in the evening. After arrival, the group will settle into their hotel for the evening and have an orientation meeting where the group will discuss the upcoming trip in detail.Rosa de América
June 23rdAlajuela - Pura SuerteAfter breakfast we will head to Pura Suerte, an ecological farm in the heart of the rain forest, about 4 hours south of the capital city. Upon arrival we will tour the farm for an introduction to the bountiful flora and fauna in the area, visit a nearby coffee plantation and enjoy a delicious dinner made from ingredients sourced directly from the forest. Throughout the program, we'll have the opportunity to interact with community members in Spanish, participate in cultural exchanges, and explore Costa Rican culture.Jungalows
June 24thPura Suerte - DiamanteAfter breakfast, we will head west to the Diamante Waterfall area very close to La Florida. We will hike, swim, explore and enjoy dinner right next to the tallest waterfall in Costa Rica. We will learn about the ecosystems and experience the jungle in a very unique way.La Cueva
June 25thDiamante - Pura SuerteAfter hiking back from the Diamante Waterfall the group will have lunch and will be introduced to the community and the service project in La Florida.Jungalows
June 26thPura SuerteToday the group will have the unique opportunity to interact with the local community of La Florida de Baru. Students will be working together with community members to complete a service project that the community will chose. In the afternoon a Scavenger Hunt will give students the opportunity to immerse in the culture.Jungalows
June 27thPura SuerteToday the group will be working together with community members to complete the service project. In the afternoon a soccer match or other activities will give students the opportunity to immerse in the culture.Jungalows
June 28thPura SuerteAfter work in the morning and lunch we will hike down to Nauyaca waterfall, one of the most beautiful in the entire country. We will spend the morning swimming and relaxing by the riverside and enjoy lunch at the waterfall before returning to the farm and receiving a cooking class. We will have a farewell dinner.Jungalows
June 29thPura Suerte - Manuel AntonioAfter breakfast we willl head north to Manuel Antonio on the central Pacific coast. We will settle into our hotel and then head to the beach where students can take surf lessons on a stretch of coastline that has a reputation for being great for beginners. We will also explore Manuel Antonio National Park, famour for its idylic beaches and bursting wildlife.Villas Mymosa
June 30thManuel Antonio - La FortunaToday we will travel to La Fortuna, a rural city in Alajuela that is home to one of the world's most active volcanoes. The afternoon will be spent relaxing at the natural hot springs heated by the erupting lava of the Arenal Volcano. After an extravagant dinner, we'll stay the night in La Fortuna.Hotel La Fortuna
July 1stLa FortunaThe day will go between ziplining, souvenir shopping in downtown La Fortuna and a night hike that will allow us to see frogs and some other night creatures.Hotel La Fortuna
July 2ndLa Fortuna - PacuareThe final few days of the trip are action-packed and adventurous! We will head to the Pacuare River for a half-day of whitewater river rafting and an afternoon of relaxation at the Pacuare River Lodge on the banks of the river.River Lodge
July 3rdPacuare - AlajuelaWe will have a day full of class 3 river rafting under the canopy of the rainforest then return to Alajuela in the afternoon for a final dinner together.Casa Cielo Grande
July 4thAlajuela - USAAfter breakfast, we will head to the airport for a morning departure back to the USA.Your own bed!

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!

START FUNDRAISING  

WTT coffee

Accommodations

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

Below are the accommodations we anticipate using on your trip, subject to availability. 
Rosa de America

A beautiful and affordable boutique hotel near the airport yet in a relaxing setting. This hotel is complete with updated rooms, fresh towels and linens, free Wi-Fi, and land lush gardens. Students will be grouped according to gender.

Finca Pura Suerte

A grouping of bamboo cabins and impressive communal spaces, this farm is nestled deep in low-land rain forest with views of the Pacific coastline. The accommodations are comfortable, the food fantastic, and the surreal setting provides an ideal introduction to the country’s impressive flora and fauna.

La Cueva

Located in a natural cave behind the impressive Diamonte waterfall, La Cueva is not your typical hotel. Students sleep in bunk beds and there is no electricity, providing an opportunity to unplug and truly appreciate the natural beauty of these rustic accommodations behind a waterfall. 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.

Pacuare River Lodge

Along a hillside overlooking the Pacuare River, this one-of-a-kind lodge sits amid exotic primary rainforest, indigenous reserves and isolated valleys, and is only accessible by raft, 4X4, or horseback. A collection of rustic yet cozy cabins, each allowing to enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding pristine jungles and experience the wilderness.  Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability. There will be limited cellphone reception and no Wi-Fi during this part of the trip.

 

Hotel Casa Cielo Grande

Casa Cielo Grande is a beautiful property ideally located just twenty minutes from the airport. Close to the city center yet perched high in the mountains, the views of the Central Valley are breathtaking and the new pool is a delightful respite after a hot day. Spotless rooms and friendly staff will make you feel at home the moment you drop your bags.

Group Flight

Type Carrier Name Carrier Code Flight Number Departure City Departure Date and Time  Arrival City Arrival Date and Time 
Outbound
UA
1185
SMF – Sacramento International Airport, Sacramento, USA
June 22, 2019 at 12:25AM
IAH – George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, USA
June 22, 2019 at 6:03AM
Outbound
UA
1055
IAH – George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, USA
June 22, 2019 at 11:55AM
SJO – Juan Santamaria International Airport, Alajuela, Costa Rica
June 22, 2019 at 2:42PM
Inbound
UA
1099
SJO – Juan Santamaria International Airport, Alajuela, Costa Rica
July 4, 2019 at 1:23PM
IAH – George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, USA
July 4, 2019 at 6:15PM
Inbound
UA
6332
IAH – George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, USA
July 4, 2019 at 7:40PM
RNO – Reno-Tahoe International Airport, Reno, USA
July 4, 2019 at 9:32PM

Once your flight has been secured the itinerary will appear here.

Remember that Walking Tree is not responsible for checked baggage fees. Please visit the airline’s baggage webpage to learn if you should expect to pay anything.

We will provide a group manifest – complete with reservation codes and ticket numbers – to the Group Organizer/s before departure but travelers will need to check in at the airport in order to receive their boarding pass. We recommend arriving no later than three hours prior to the scheduled departure but for specific details on exactly where and when to meet on the day of departure, please contact your Group Organizer/s.

FLIGHT INTERRUPTION DELAY OR CANCELLATION 
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.

Host Community and Project Details

North Tahoe will be working for a couple of days helping build a roof between the local school’s classroom area and the cafeteria. During rainy season kids get wet when walking between both buildings.

Packing List

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.

“Less is more” is a packing tip we encourage for all our travelers. The below list should cover everything you would need, but we frequently hear that travelers feel “overpacked” if they follow all of our suggestions. Know yourself and what you are comfortable traveling with. We suggest bringing only as much as you would be able to carry on your own.

Please consult the 10-day weather forecast in https://weather.com and enter the cities listed in your itinerary if you desire a more detailed look at the weather you might encounter. Most importantly, be sure to remember your PASSPORT and STUDENT ID.

CLOTHES (quantities depend on your trip length) :

  • Underwear
  • Socks (a mixture of good hiking socks and casual socks)
  • T-shirts (some quick dry)
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Lightweight sweater (especially if doing service work in the communities of San Gerardo de Rivas, Herradura de Rivas, Canaán or Chimirol)
  • Rain jacket or poncho
  • Travel/athletic shorts that are breathable and light
  • 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, boys may want to opt for a polo shirt or button up shirt with jeans)
  • Durable athletic/hiking shoes with good grip
  • Sandals (Chaco/Teva/Keen/Merrel sandals are great to have for water activities)
  • Work gloves – required for service work
  • Bandana for work site (optional)
  • A hat that can protect your neck
  • Swimming suit, for surf classes a rash guard is recommended for sensitive skins

TOILETRIES: BRING THE BASIC TOILETRIES YOU NEED PLUS:

  • Sunscreen (You will use a lot. Natural products/lotions are preferred over aerosol, especially for the beach)
  • Mosquito repellent (non-deet/lotions are preferred to reduce environmental impact)
  • Band Aids and Neosporin
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Medication in properly marked original container. It’s important that medication travel in its original container, as customs officials have the right to confiscate it otherwise.

MISCELLANEOUS:

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

Support Team

At a minimum, one experienced Program Leader will travel on every trip. 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. Below you’ll find a list of the team members involved in the planning, organizing, and leadership of your program.

Gabriel Duncan
Gabriel Duncan
Co-Founder of Walking Tree Travel and Business Lead - Denver, CO


Colby College – B.A. International Relations and Government

While at Colby, Gabriel spent a semester in Spain at the University of Salamanca studying contemporary Spanish politics and Spanish language. He also lettered for four-years on Colby’s lacrosse team and earned All-American honors. After graduating, Gabriel hit the road. He fished commercially in Alaska, taught in Chile and China, led programs for students in Spain and Costa Rica, and traveled to over 50 countries and all 50 states in the USA. Regardless of where Gabriel is located, he is constantly haunted by his naive faith and unconditional love for Denver sports teams.

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.

Guillermo Montoya Berganza
Guillermo Montoya Berganza
Guatemala & Belize Country Director


Universidad Rafael Landivar – B.A. Marketing with emphasis on Advertising
Postgraduate studies in Business Management, Costa Rica and India

Guillermo was born and raised in Guatemala. He has traveled throughout North and Central America, and parts of Europe and India. His first intercultural experience took place in North Dakota and Canada as an exchange student. He then volunteered with an international organization in Guatemala that provides educational opportunities to young students. Through this organization, he became a guide for a Latin American student group in Norway and Denmark, giving him the opportunity to explore several European countries and find his traveler spirit. Guillermo lives in Antigua, Guatemala, where he works to support independent coffee farmers and an artisan community and leads programs throughout Central America. He speaks both Spanish and English and enjoys adventure travel, photography and history.

Group Roster

Below is a list of the travelers enrolled on the program.

  • 1 Brian Fink
  • 2 Claire Roberts
  • 3 Jamie Lanza
  • 4 Joseph Lanza
  • 5 Josephine Johnson
  • 6 Mariana Mondragon Lara
  • 7 Michelle Salas Nevarez
  • 8 Samuel Sheridan
8 Travelers

Blog and Communication

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 apps such as Viber, Whatsapp, Skype, and Wechat for free. We do our best to keep families and friends updated as frequently as possible with blogs and photos. If parents would like updates regarding the group beyond these blog posts and email updates, they should direct all general inquiries to blogs@walkingtree.org. For any general program inquiries, please refer to the WTT/SSA representative listed on your program webpage, or email 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. Guardians, Participants, and Group Organizers will receive a program-specific blog link leading up to your departure date, and an email notification each time a new blog is posted for the program.

GLC Curriculum

Walking Tree has developed a curriculum of activities meant to help travelers get the most out of their trip before departure, during travel and after they return home. These simple and engaging activities 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

In order to run a safe and successful program, 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
  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.

Insurance

While we work hard to ensure the safest experience possible for our travelers on program, experience has taught us that travel can come with risk. For this reason, we recommend that all travelers consider protecting their trip and travel investment by purchasing a travel protection plan with a Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) provision.

To make this process as easy as possible, we have partnered with Travel Insured International, one of the most respected providers in the industry.  Begin by taking a few minutes to get a quote here.

IMPORTANT NOTE: in order to secure coverage with CFAR included, you must purchase the plan within 21 days of the date your initial payment or your deposit for your trip is received. You must also insure 100% of the prepaid, non-refundable trip costs that are subject to cancellation penalties or restrictions and cancel 48 hours or more before your scheduled trip departure date. Please note that CFAR is not available to residents of New York.

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