2019 North Tahoe Costa Rica Program

IMPORTANT: PLEASE CHECK YOUR SPAM FOLDER FOR EMAILS FROM @WALKINGTREE.ORG AND BE SURE TO ADD THEM TO YOUR CONTACT LIST.
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/SSA 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 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. 

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, shade-grown, 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 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.
Rosa de America

A beautiful and affordable boutique hotel near the airport. A hotel with updated rooms, fresh towels and linens, land lush gardens.

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.

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.

Villas Mymosa

Hotel Villas Mymosa is a modern 10 room condo hotel located in the tranquil setting of beautiful Manuel Antonio.  Our 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.

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 cozy cabins, the Pacuare River Lodge provides and opportunity to explore this beautiful river in comfort and style.

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.

Group Flight

TypeCarrier NameCarrier CodeFlight NumberDeparture CityDeparture Date and Time Arrival CityArrival 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

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.

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/SSA 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/SSA 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.

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.

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

WTT/SSA will send a minimum of one experienced Program Leader on every program. In addition to this Program Leader, we also have support staff in our host countries and 24/7 support from our headquarters in Denver, Colorado who are available to the group for additional help when 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!

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 and Belize Operations


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

Please take a moment to ensure your name is spelled correctly. For any changes needed, please email admissions@walkingtree.org to let us know.

  • 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

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, engaging, tools are meant to spark discussion, frame their experience, and prepare participants to travel ethically and effectively both on our programs and on their future endeavors.

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

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 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 while on program, experience has taught us that travel is never without risk. For this reason, we suggest you consider purchasing travel insurance which would cover you in the event your student needs to withdraw before travel due to a covered reason, loses baggage in route or encounters an emergency while traveling, among other unforeseen circumstances. 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-

Premier*
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.

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