2020 Fall Creek Junior High Osa Costa Rica Conservation Expedition
|Travel Dates:||July 15, 2020 - July 25, 2020|
Airfare not included in program tuition
Review all materials
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.
|July 15||USA - Alajuela||Today 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 to discuss the upcoming trip in detail.||Casa Cielo Grande|
|July 16||Alajuela - Pura Suerte||After breakfast we will depart for Pura Suerte, an ecological farm in the heart of the rain forest, about four hours' drive south of the capital city. Upon arrival we will tour Pura Suerte's organic 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 and nearby farms. Throughout the program, we'll have the opportunity to interact with community members in Spanish, participate in cultural exchanges, and explore Costa Rican culture.||Pura Suerte Jungalows|
|July 17||Pura Suerte - Osa||After breakfast we'll hike down to Nauyaca waterfall, one of the largest and most beautiful in the entire country. Spend the morning swimming and relaxing by the riverside. We will take lunch at the waterfall and then hike back to Pura Suerte, where we will pack up and drive south down the coast to the Hacienda Barú Research Station. Here we will settle in and meet the researchers and rangers with whom we'll be spending the next few days. We'll receive an introductory talk and learn about local and national wildlife conservation efforts. After dinner, we will go on a night hike through the surrounding tropical rainforest to get our bearings on the local ecosystems in the Osa region.||Hacienda Barú Field Station|
|July 18||Osa||After breakfast we'll begin our day with a lecture on sea turtles to learn about the year long sea turtle conservation efforts of this reserve. We will participate in the sea turtle conservation project by helping prepare the hatchery for the upcoming nesting season. Even though this is a very laborious, it is a crucial first step to ensure the turtles eggs have the appropriate conditions to hatch. In the evening, we may continue to explore the reserve's trails in search for more animals.||Hacienda Barú Field Station|
|July 19||Osa||We'll walk along the beach in the morning and conduct a clean-up of marine debris to ensure a clean nesting habitat for sea turtles. In the afternoon, we will continue to survey for animals in the reserve's trails as well as having a structured reflection at the reserve's viewing spot overlooking the ocean to discuss our experiences. In the evening we will have some free time to reflect on what we've learned throughout the projects we are participating on.||Hacienda Barú Field Station|
|July 20||Osa||Today, we'll pay a visit to the local community, where yearlong environmental education campaigns are conducted. We may organize a nature walk with local students, create and maintain signs for the reserve or national parks, build structures from reclaimed plastic, or have an afternoon on the beach with local students. In the evening we'll take break from our projects and practice our spanish by visiting a waterfall popular amongst many locals.||Hacienda Barú Field Station|
|July 21||Osa||Today, we will continue our environmental conservation work and conduct a joint activity with the reserve's staff such as maintenance of trail and signs, creation of educational material or checking trap cameras. In the afternoon, we'll continue our important work at the hatchery or go on another wildlife hike through the jungle.||Hacienda Barú Field Station|
|July 22||Osa - Uvita||After breakfast we'll say goodbye to our friends at Hacienda Barú, then head northwest to the beach town of Uvita. We will spend the afternoon 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. In the evening, the group will have time for souvenier shopping and pool time at the hotel.||El Tecal|
|July 23||Uvita - Savegre River - Alajuela||Today 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|
|July 24||Alajuela - USA||This morning we'll enjoy a final breakfast together at the hotel before heading to the airport for our flight home. We fly home in the afternoon, arriving just after midnight on July 25th.||Airplane|
|July 25||Home||Welcome back! We are currently scheduled to land at 12:30AM early this morning.||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!
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.
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.
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. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability. There will be no internet access during this portion of the trip.
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.
Refugio Hacienda Barú
The station is dedicated to the research and restoration of the Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor, on the south Pacific coast of Costa Rica. It has a large laboratory, a wet lab, and a classroom. The dormitory consists of four bedrooms, each of which sleeps up to four people in bunk beds, and unisex bathrooms. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender. Its insulated high ceilings create a naturally cool environment, and its covered passageways provide protection from the elements. Its ample corridors provide work and relaxation areas. The facility has Internet and laundry services and is protected by 24-hour security.
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 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
Reserva Playa Tortuga is a scientific research and conservation center located on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, right next to the Osa Peninsula — Costa Rica’s crown jewel for biodiversity. It was founded by local citizens and 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, Sea Turtle Conservation, and various long term environmental education and citizen science initiatives in the nearby exemplary community of Ojochal. Students will have the opportunity to assist researchers on some of these projects, which vary in intensity throughout the season. Depending on the length of the program, environmental education service projects can be organized alongside the local school.
Overview: Sea Turtle Conservation
As part of volunteering with sea turtles program, participants will have the opportunity to learn about the biology of sea turtles, especially the Olive Ridley or ‘Lora’ (Lepidochelys olivacea) which is the most common on Playa Tortuga. Depending on the season (while different types of turtles may be spotted year round at RPT, the primary nesting period extends from July to December, with the peak of nesting and hatching in the months of September and October), participants will see adults, babies and eggs, and learn about its life cycle.
By helping with this project participants will be part of a serious scientific research project, which provides important data for the conservation of sea turtles. Upon arrival, sea turtle volunteers will receive training about the research project in which they are participating, how to use the equipment, and what kind of work they will do, as well as proper behavior in the field. Volunteer groups will always be working with experienced staff members, who will show volunteers the proper scientific methods for working with sea turtles during night patrols, hatchery work, handling nesting females, eggs, and data collection.
Overview: Mammal Monitoring Project
Within the Reserva, there are more than eleven species of mammals – the most common being raccoons, coatis, kinkajous, weasels, river otters, 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. These mammals are important to the balance of the forest dynamic, and the data generated on their behavior, diet, and local movements offers information that can be used for reforestation plans in the coastal area to establish Biological Corridors.
Overview: Environmental Education Initiatives
It is part of the Reserva’s core mission to educate and actively involve the youth and the community of Ojochal in these areas. RPT does this by conducting workshops and activities for children from schools in the region and their families. These initiatives aim to create environmental awareness and active stewardship through lectures, guided tours, field trips and volunteering. RPT implements a yearlong curriculum based on the different ongoing conservation projects and natural resource management projects undertaken by the Reserva. Our students will have the opportunity to prepare materials and conduct or work with children of local schools during environmental education workshops.
Overview: Crocodilian Monitoring Project
The main objective of this study is to collect real-time information about the crocodilians at the Reserve: their location, relationship with the environment, and the human impact on the ecosystem. RPT is conducting a 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.
Since this is a comprehensive 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 witness the Reserva’s wildlife experts tagging selected individuals for continued observation.
Accommodations are dorm style, simple, but clean and hospitable, and there is a sweet ping pong table on site! Rooms are kept neat, and we can assure you they’ll be welcomed after a long day of activities and nights patrolling the beach! The rest of your time in Costa Rica will be spent in hotels where you’ll share rooms with 1 or 2 of your fellow participants. Please refer to the Accommodations section for links to our planned lodgings.
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
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)
BRING THE BASIC TOILETRIES YOU NEED PLUS:
Reef-safe or mineral sunscreen (mandatory), mosquito repellent, and aloe vera – Read list below
Band aids, Neosporin and other basic first aid supplies
Medication in properly marked original container
*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
CORAL REEF SAFE TOILETRIES
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
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
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!
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.
Juan Pablo “JP” Rabanales
Country Director, Country Operations Manager - Costa Rica
Earlham College – B.A. International Studies, Minor in Economics
Born and raised with a big family in Guatemala, JP spent seven years living and studying in the US where he was exposed to highly diverse communities. JP worked as a Wilderness Leader guiding expeditions in the Southwest of the US. After spending two years in New Mexico studying the International Baccalaureate, he moved to Indiana where he spent the next four years at Earlham College. His passion for international affairs brought him to spend a semester in China, and several other Southeast Asian countries. During his time abroad, he spent his summers traveling and backpacking through 15+ different countries, and participating in several service projects. Today JP is based in Costa Rica where he works full time with the Walking Tree team. Juan Pablo also enjoys hosting friends and travelers coming to visit. He’s always down for an exciting road-trip around the country, or even better, around Latin America. He is a long time art and design enthusiast, and a photography aficionado.
Antonio Moreno Ortiz
Puerto Rico Country Director
Universidad de Puerto Rico – Bachelor’s in Animal Science
Antonio was born and raised in Puerto Rico. During his bachelor degree in Animal Science, he took agriculture classes that opened his mind in different ways. He learned about the importance of giving back to youth living on the island, and he did so by visiting schools around the country to educate them about agriculture and food sustainability. A hobby of him is taking care of small ruminants, as sheep, and growing his own plants as well as making ornamental gardens. He loves to use recycled materials for all of his projects. One of his goals is to help youth understand the importance of utilizing resources that nature provides us in sustainable ways. Also, he is passionate about helping youth achieve their goals, both short and long term, by giving them advice and helping them along the way whenever he can. He really loves his island and also loves to show the island to anyones who would visit Puerto Rico, including Walking Tree Travel groups!
See below for a list of travelers enrolled on the program.
- 1 Alexandra Gukasyan-Baykova
- 2 Anne Eisinger - Group Organizer
- 3 Carmen Rufatto
- 4 Charlee Lewkowicz
- 5 Damon Smiley
- 6 Eland Savage
- 7 Eli Hannon
- 8 Eric Sturges - Group Organizer
- 9 Georgios Tsimerakis
- 10 Jack Waren
- 11 Sarai Parks
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach us by dialing 303-242-8541 from the United States.
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.
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.
- Possessing, consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs
- Associating with participants while they are in possession of or are consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs
- 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
- Getting a piercing or tattoo
- Stealing, or deliberately damaging or defacing any personal property, buildings or materials
- Threatening with or using weapons such as firearms, knives, explosives, etc.
- Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle
- Being out of designated area or accommodations after curfew
- 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.
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 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.
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 email@example.com.