2021 DCIS Guatemala Program
|Travel Dates:||July 24, 2021 - August 2, 2021|
Airfare not included in program tuition
|Deadline(s):||Enrollment deadline forthcoming|
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 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.
|July 24||USA - Guatemala||Fly from USA to Guatemala City, Guatemala. After arrival, depending on time of the day we will transfer by bus to Antigua, about an hour away, where we will settle into the hotel, have dinner, and rest.||Antigua Hotel|
|July 25||Antigua||After breakfast the group will hold an orientation meeting and discuss the upcoming trip in detail, followed by salsa lessons. Following lunch, we will venture out to explore the cobblestone streets of Antigua including a visit to ChocoMuseo, a renowned chocolate factory where you get to eat your fill as well as try your hand at making your own batch!||Antigua Hotel|
|July 26||Antigua - Host Community||After breakfast, we will travel to our host community on the shores of Lake Atitlan. Upon arrival, we will meet our community hosts, tour the village, and learn about our service project.||Community Lodging|
|July 27||Host Community||Our days in the village will be anchored by our work on a meaningful community service project. Lunch will be either be on-site or at a local restaurant. In the afternoons and evenings, activities are flexible and will vary, but may include time with community members, excursions around the village, or group activities.||Community Lodging|
|July 28||Host Community||Today, we will continue working on our service project and spending time with in San Juan de la Laguna. Evening activities will vary.||Community Lodging|
|July 29||Host Community||Today, we will continue working on our service project and spending time with in San Juan de la Laguna. Evening activities will vary.||Community Lodging|
|July 30||Host Community||Today we will finish our service project and celebrate with our new friends with a fiesta de despedida!||Community Lodging|
|July 31||Host Community - Jaibalito||After breakfast and goodbyes, we will depart our host community and cross the lake by boat and relax at beautiful hotel on the shores of the lake. We will have the afternoon free to swim, kayak, relax and enjoy some of the most spectacular views in the world.||Hotel Casa del Mundo|
|August 1||Jaibalito - Guatemala City||Enjoy the beautiful views by kayaking on the lake in the morning. In the late afternoon, we will do an exciting zipline canopy tour! Before we travel back to Guatemala City and enjoy one last meal together before our early departure for the USA in following morning.||Villas Toscana|
|August 2||Guatemala - USA||After breakfast, we will head to the airport for a morning departure back to the USA.||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!
In order to provide a safe and memorable experience for travelers, 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, safe and wifi-enabled.
Hotel Euro Maya
As the name suggests, this hotel respects the blend of indigenous and European cultures as reflected in Antigua’s history. A modern structure in the Spanish colonial style, the warm and friendly atmosphere and relaxing gardens on site make this a special accommodation for our students. Free Wi-Fi access throughout the building keeps everyone feeling connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.
La Casa del Mundo
Accessible only by boat or on foot, La Casa del Mundo is arguably Guatemala’s most magical hotel. Perched on a secluded cliff, it has gorgeous gardens, swimming holes and a hot tub looking over the lake, making it the perfect place to relax and take in the wonder of Lake Atitlán. Free Wi-Fi access throughout the facilities keeps everyone feeling connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.
Once your flight has been secured the itinerary will appear here.
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.
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
We have partnered with our long-time friends at Guatemala Housing Alliance, a non-profit organization which works in our host community. Service projects in Guatemala are organized through the GHA and students will work under the watchful eye of a foreman and alongside a handful of community members to build a new home from scratch for a family that desperately needs it. According to GHA, it is estimated that there are well over a million houses in Guatemala cobbled together with cornstalks, cane, and scavenged materials. During the wet months – from June to November – wind driven rain blows through the wall, drips from the roofs, and often turns dirt floors into parasitic muck. Students work with local community members to build homes from the ground up!
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.
Most importantly, be sure to remember your PASSPORT and STUDENT ID.
T-shirts, tank tops or work shirts
Long sleeve shirts
Sturdy shoes (appropriate for lots of walking/athletic activity)
Sports sandals ie Chacos/Tevas etc. (optional)
Flip flops (optional)
For the farewell dinner at the community please bring a casual outfit
TOILETRIES: BRING THE BASIC TOILETRIES YOU NEED PLUS:
Sunscreen (you will use a lot)
Band Aids and Neosporin
Medication in properly marked original container
Journal and pen
Camera (digital, disposable, waterproof)
Alarm Clock and watch
Debit card/US Dollars (we recommend about $50-$150, depending on amount of desired souvenirs, extra items etc.)
Durable water bottle
Deck of cards or other portable games
Host family gift
Travelers often contact us regarding what an appropriate gift might be for their student’s host family. Host families are often curious about where our students come from and their families in the U.S. As such, we recommend a simple gift that describes, represents or depicts your home. Well-received gifts in the past have included calendars or picture/coffee table books from your city or state, a framed picture of your family, paraphernalia from a local sports team, toys, soccer balls, school supplies, or something produced or grown in your hometown, like chocolate, local candy, t-shirts, etc. The most important thing to keep in mind is not to worry about this… Anything, no matter its value, will be well received!
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 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!
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.
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.
See below for a list of travelers enrolled on the program.
- 1 Alexssa Dimas
- 2 Emily Pacheco
- 3 Kayla Montano-Flores
- 4 Kristen Miller (Group Organizer)
- 5 Lila Doyle
- 6 Madeleine Doyle
- 7 Morrigan Quist
- 8 Paikea Negler
Blog and Communication
During travel we will 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 this proactive approach to communication during the trip, most destinations are wired enough to allow participants semi-regular access to WiFi so you can also expect to communicate with your traveler directly. Ask your Walking Tree representative about the degree of connectivity on your program.
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.
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.
- 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 Guatemala 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 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.