Enroll today and get a 100% refund if you don’t travel. See here for details.

2021 DSA Costa Rica Program

Dear Families, Friends, and Travelers – Welcome to the 2021 DSA Costa Rica Program!  We have created two webpages dedicated to this once in a lifetime experience so that travelers are as informed as possible throughout the process. This first page, the Pre-Enrollment page, 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 gorgeous Costa Rica! Pura vida!!
Travel Dates: February 6, 2021 - February 13, 2021
Dates are tentative
Group Organizer(s):
WTT/SSA Contact:
Program Tuition: $2,190 USD
Airfare not included in program tuition
Estimated Airfare: $650
Deadline(s): Enrollment deadline forthcoming

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 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. 

DayLocationDescriptionLodging
February 6USA - 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 to discuss the upcoming trip in detail.Casa Cielo Grande
February 7Alajuela - Pura SuerteAfter 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
February 8Pura SuerteAfter 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. After lunch by the river we will return to the farm for a cooking class, we will make tortillas, empanadas and picadillo. After dinner we will enjoy a relaxing evening.Pura Suerte Jungalows
February 9Pura Suerte - UvitaAfter breakfast we will head west to Uvita 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. In the evening, we’ll have time to relax and swim on the pool.Hotel El Tecal
February 10Uvita - Manuel AntonioAfter a hearty breakfast, we will head to Manuel Antonio where we will visit one of the most stunning national parks in the country. We will have time to enjoy what many call Costa Rica's most beautiful beach, hike through the national park and spend time surrounded by wildlife, including monkeys. After lunch we will have time to explore the town before heading back to the hotel.Hotel Manuel Antonio
February 11Manuel Antonio - La FortunaAfter breakfast we’ll get to soar through the jungle canopy while ziplining before starting our 4 hour drive to La Fortuna, home of Costa Rica's most famous volcano, Volcán Arenal. This evening, we will relax at some luxurious hot springs and enjoy a buffet dinner. Hotel La Fortuna
February 12La Fortuna - AlajuelaToday we will hike to La Fortuna's most famous waterfall and have time to relax and swim. After lunch, we will head back to Alajuela for our final farewell dinner and reflect on how this trip has impacted us.Casa Cielo Grande
February 13Alajuela - 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 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. 

For rooming, travelers are grouped by gender, and will never share rooms with people who are not associated with their group.  Non-binary travelers are accommodated. Group Organizers and Program Leaders, along with any other traveling adult, are roomed separately from students.
Below are the hotels we anticipate using on your trip, subject to availability. 
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.

Hotel La Fortuna

Located right in the heart of La Fortuna in San Carlos, Costa Rica. La Fortuna Hotel offers visitors a very convenient location with all the services within walking distance from our facilities. This hotel boasts amazing views of the Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna Downtown you won’t forget! Guests have access to free Wi-Fi throughout the building in order to stay connected. Students will be grouped according to gender in their rooms.

Group Flight

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.

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

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

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)

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

Spanish/English Dictionary

Support Team

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!

Juan Pablo “JP” Rabanales
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.

Luke Mueller
Luke Mueller
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.

Group Roster

See below for a list of travelers enrolled on the program.

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 info@walkingtree.org. You can also reach us by dialing 303-242-8541 from the United States.

 

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 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.

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

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.

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 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-

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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