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

2021 Farmington Costa Rica Conservation Expedition

Dear Families, Friends, and Travelers – Welcome to the 2021 Farmington Costa Rica Conservation Expedition!  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 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 review the information thoroughly and get excited for COSTA RICA!
Travel Dates: June 7, 2021 - June 16, 2021
Group Organizer(s):
WTT/SSA Contact:
Program Tuition: $2,690 USD
Airfare not included in program tuition
Confirmed Airfare: $869
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
June 7USA - San JoseToday 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.Hotel Casa Cielo Grande
June 8San Jose - 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
June 9Pura Suerte - OsaAfter 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 Turtle Reserve Field Station. Here we will settle in and meet the researchers with whom we'll be spending the next few days.Reserva Playa Tortuga Field Station
June 10OsaAfter breakfast we'll take a hike through the surrounding tropical rainforest in the morning to get our bearings on the local ecosystems in the Osa. We'll then receive an orientation for the research we'll be conducting -- surveys of mammals such as monkeys, river otters, and kinkajous, and sloths. We'll take a break for lunch and continue to conduct these surveys in the afternoon, in addition to receiving a lecture on local and national wildlife conservation efforts. The next few days will consist of us working with researches on a variety of research projects. See below sections for more information on the kinds of research projects we'll be working on over the next few days.Reserva Playa Tortuga Field Station
June 11OsaContinue field research. Evening activities will vary.Reserva Playa Tortuga Field Station
June 12OsaToday, we'll pay a visit to the local community, where Reserva La Tortuga conducts yearlong environmental education campaigns with local schools. We may organize a nature walk with local students, build structures from reclaimed plastic, or have an afternoon on the beach with local students. In the evening we'll have some free time in the local town of Ojachal, and learn some useful Spanish phrases.Reserva Playa Tortuga Field Station
June 13OsaWe'll continue our environmental education work with local schools today, and conduct a joint activity such as a beach cleanup. More exact details on the nature of the project will be posted in the months leading up to departure. In the afternoon, we'll have free time in the town or go on another wildlife hike through the jungle.Reserva Playa Tortuga Field Station
June 14Osa - Manuel AntonioAfter breakfast we'll say goodbye to our friends at Reserva Playa Tortuga, then head northwest to Manuel Antonio on the central Pacific coast. 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 Manuel Antonio are perfect for beginners and almost everyone is able to stand up. In the evening, the group will have time for souvineer shopping and pool time at the hotel. Hotel California
June 15Manuel Antonio - San JoseToday 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.Hotel Casa Cielo Grande
June 16San Jose - USAFly home!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!

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.

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.

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

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.

Living Conditions
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.

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.

CLOTHES

Underwear

Socks (a mixture of good hiking socks and casual socks)

T-shirts or work shirts (some quick dry)

Long sleeve shirt

Set of pajamas

Light sweater

Rain jacket

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

Swimsuits

Sandals (Chacos/Tevas etc)

Long-sleeve rash guard, to protect from sun while snorkeling (mandatory)

Hat

 

TOILETRIES

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

Hand Sanitizer

Medication in properly marked original container

Lip balm

*Those with long hair, a small bottle of conditioner for tangled hair

 

MISCELLANEOUS

1 small backpack

Sunglasses

Journal and pen

Book

Camera

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)

Flashlight/headlamp

Batteries and/or portable cell phone power banks

Deck of cards or other portable games

STUDENT ID

 

CORAL REEF SAFE TOILETRIES

Sun Block.

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

 

Mosquito repellent

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

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!

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.

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.

  • 1 Isabella Thuras
  • 2 Laura Pearce (Group Organizer)
  • 3 Maggie Oehlerking
  • 4 Mary Pearce
  • 5 Paige Ostgaard
  • 6 Samuel Vickery
6 Travelers

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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