2022 Evergreen Costa Rica Sea Turtle Expedition

Dear Families, Friends, and Travelers – Welcome to the 2022 Evergreen Costa Rica Sea Turtle Expedition!  We have created two webpages dedicated to this once in a lifetime experience so that you are as informed as possible. 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 registered, the Post-Enrollment page is intended to prepare travelers for participation on the adventure ahead. Please be sure to review the information thoroughly and get excited for Costa Rica! Pura vida!
Travel Dates: June 4, 2022 - June 13, 2022
Group Organizer(s):
WTT Contact:
Program Tuition: $2,250 USD
Airfare not included in program tuition
Confirmed Airfare: $665

What to Expect

Please read through all of the information below. More details will be added as your departure draws closer.

Itinerary

We do everything possible to run safe, engaging, and immersive programs for our travelers and given the unpredictable nature of international travel we must remain flexible in our planning. Changes to a schedule are uncommon but, we reserve the right to adjust programming in the best interest of the group. 

DayLocationDescriptionLodging
June 4USA - Costa RicaToday the group will travel from the USA to Costa Rica, with flights usually arriving in the evening. After arrival, the group will settle into their hotel for the evening and have an orientation meeting where we'll discuss the upcoming trip in detail.Hotel La Rosa de América
June 5Alajuela - La FortunaIn the morning, the group will head to La Fortuna. We will enjoy a traditional Costa Rican lunch before jumping straight into our first adventure activity: ziplining through the rainforest! This evening we'll explore town and enjoy a great dinner.Hotel Arenal Poshpacker
June 6La FortunaAfter breakfast, we will go on a wildlife and nature hike en route to La Fortuna Watefall. After a long and exciting day, we will be able to relax and soak in the hot springs at the base of Volcán Arenal, one of seven active volcanoes in the country.Hotel Arenal Poshpacker
June 7La Fortuna - La Tortuga FelizToday the group will travel to the Caribbean coast. The bus can only take us so far before we need to board boats and make the final part of the journey by boat! After navigating the canals that carve their way through the mangroves, we will arrive at the La Tortuga Feliz Field Station. After an introduction and tour of the station, we will begin our nightly beach patrols in search of female leatherback and green turtles.Field Station
June 8La Tortuga FelizDays at the La Tortuga Felize Field Station will be dedicated to helping research assistants with their personal research projects or camp maintenance tasks, such as beach cleanups or equipment inventories. In the nighttime, we will continue the important task of patrolling the beach in search of nesting (or hatching!) turtles. Field Station
June 9La Tortuga FelizThe morning will be spent assisting with the research projects and camp maintenance tasks. After a hearty lunch, we will go on an exciting river biodiversity tour with a local expert who will help us identify the diverse plants and animals that call the river home.Field Station
June 10La Tortuga FelizIt is our last day to assist on the ongoing research projects and help out around the camp. After lunch, we will have time to play soccer with the local community and in the evening we will celebrate with our new friends with a fiesta de despedida!Field Station
June 11La Tortuga Feliz - Playa ChiquitaIn the morning, we will take a boat ride out from Tortuga Feliz and travel to the southern Caribbean coast. After all of our hard work at the station, we will enjoy some much deserved time at the beach to relax, swim, and do last minute souvenir shopping.La Costa de Papito
June 12Pacuare River - AlajuelaIn the morning we'll be picked up for a full day of white water rafting along one of the most beautiful rivers in the world. The Pacuare River flows from the top of the countries highest mountains, carving its way down the eastern half of the country before emptying in to the Caribbean Sea. Under the steady guidance of our guides we'll navigate class I, II and III rapids through gorgeous canyons covered in primary rainforest. Wildlife is abundant. We'll stop for lunch along the banks of the river and once finished travel back to Alajuela for our final night together.Hotel La Rosa de América
June 13Alajuela - USAAfter breakfast, we will head to the airport for a morning departure back to the USA.Your own bed, eventually!

Fundraising

Need to Raise Money? We Have You Covered.

Walking Tree Travel is proud to team up with Equal Exchange, a worker-owned cooperative that distributes organic coffee, tea, sugar, bananas, avocados, cocoa, chocolate bars, and more.  There is no limit to the amount you can earn, so the sooner you can start, the better!

Learn more here.

WTT coffee

Accommodations

In order to provide a safe and memorable experience, we follow strict guidelines when choosing program accommodations. Walking Tree partners with hotels and guest houses which are centrally located, clean and safe.  We vet and inspect the accommodations to ensure they uphold the ethos of our programs, are great values for our travelers and nice places to rest after enriching days of travel.  

Below are the accommodations we anticipate using on your trip, subject to availability. 
Rosa de las Américas

A charming ranch-style hotel on the outskirts of San José, Rosa de  las Americas is a great spot to unwind after a long day’s travels. This hotel is complete with a lush gardens, a big pool, updated rooms, and friendly staff.

Arenal Poshpacker

Located right in downtown La Fortuna, Arenal Poshpacker offers a great location, a pool, restaurant and cozy bedrooms. This is the ideal location from which students can the nearby waterfalls, caves, thermal hot springs, and of course the amazing Arenal Volcano. All rooms are equipped with A/C with free Wi-Fi to keep everyone feeling comfortable and connected.

WIDECAST Field Station

WIDECAST Field Station is situated on a beautiful isolated beach right behind what people refer to as “The Amazon” of Costa Rica, a network of mangrove rainforest, rivers, canals and lagoons. This program is run by volunteers for volunteers, and students will share dorm-style rustic lodging with separate dorms for boys and girls, shared bathrooms, and no electricity or hot water. The basic accommodations at WIDECAST align with their commitment to environmental conservation.

La Costa de Papito

La Costa de Papito is nestled in verdant lowland jungle and just steps away from the white sand beach of Playa Cocles. Chosen for its great location, laid-back vide and effusive hospitality, students will have a truly Caribbean experience in this cozy hotel. Free Wi-Fi access throughout the facilities keeps everyone feeling connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.

Group Flight

Type Carrier Name Carrier Code Flight Number Departure Airport & City Departure Date and Time  Arrival Airport & City Arrival Date and Time 
Outbound
American Airlines
AA
1817
DEN – Denver International Airport, Denver, United States
June 04, 2022 at 11:55 AM
MIA – Miami International Airport, Miami, United States
June 04, 2022 at 05:58 PM
Outbound
American Airlines
AA
1939
MIA – Miami International Airport, Miami, United States
June 04, 2022 at 06:43 PM
SJO – Juan Santamaria International Airport, Alajuela, Costa Rica
June 04, 2022 at 07:36 PM
Inbound
American Airlines
AA
1600
SJO – Juan Santamaria International Airport, Alajuela, Costa Rica
June 13, 2022 at 12:52 PM
MIA – Miami International Airport, Miami, United States
June 13, 2022 at 05:55 PM
Inbound
American Airlines
AA
2191
MIA – Miami International Airport, Miami, United States
June 13, 2022 at 09:10 PM
DEN – Denver International Airport, Denver, United States
June 13, 2022 at 11:35 PM

Once your flight has been confirmed, the itinerary will appear here.

Walking Tree will secure a seat on the group flight for each participant unless otherwise instructed.

Travelers are responsible for checked baggage fees. Please visit the airline’s baggage webpage to learn if you should expect to pay anything.

We will provide a group manifest – complete with reservation codes and ticket numbers – to the Group Organizer/s before departure, and travelers will need to check in at the airport in order to receive their boarding pass and have documents verified. We recommend arriving no later than three hours prior to the scheduled departure, but contact your Group Organizer for specific details on exactly where and when to meet on the day of departure.

FLIGHT INTERRUPTION, DELAY OR CANCELLATION 
Air travel can be unpredictable.  Regardless of proper planning, there may still be instances when a flight is delayed or cancelled due to staffing shortages, weather, mechanical problems, etc.  Please note that in such an event, Walking Tree Travel (WTT) is not financially responsible for unanticipated costs incurred by travelers en route.  Our programs officially begin and end in the destination country, and because our staff doesn’t fly with the group, Group Organizers (the traveling faculty member/s) become the front-line advocate for the group in the event of a delay. In most cases of cancellations or delays, the airline will be the one who re-books travel or possibly arranges a hotel and food the night.  Our primary role will be to  keep families updated and provide support to the Group Organizer to reach a  quick and effective resolution.

Host Community and Project Details

The project is located on a remote Caribbean beach in Costa Rica, 2km north of the Pacuare river mouth. It covers 7,1 km of coastline of a black sand barrier, surrounded by rain forest and several coastal lagoons and palm swamp forests. The beach is part of the 50 km stretch between Tortuguero National Park (famous for its sea turtles) on the north Caribbean coast and the Port of Limón city. Fresh water canals and the tropical vegetation in Pacuare provide habitat for not only an abundant quantity of birds and mammals such as monkeys, tamanduas, raccoons, coati, sloths, but also for manatees and fresh water dolphins, turtles, crocodiles and iguanas. The area is not only unique in every way, but is also a famous nesting site for many Leatherback, Hawksbill and Green sea turtles that come ashore to lay their eggs. Illegal egg poaching and hunting for sea turtles, pollution and beach erosion are threatening the survival of the already critically endangered animals in Pacuare. This has caused an alarming decline in turtles being born on this beach. In particular the 7.1 km covered by the project are in danger, it has no legal protection whatsoever. Volunteers play a very important role in changing this situation. In Costa Rica the poaching of sea turtles or sea turtle eggs is considered a crime, but the enforcement remains rather difficult.

Between March and November volunteers, international research assistants and local research assistants of the community of Pacuare patrol the beach in three sectors ( 2.4 km each) and two shifts from 8 pm to 12 am and 12 am to 4 am. It takes at least 4 hours to patrol the beach effectively and if a nesting turtle is found, the eggs are collected and relocated into a hatchery. The turtle work is done following an official protocol and involves tagging, taking biometry and other important data of the turtle. Former poachers, now trained in conservation techniques together with previously trained volunteers carry out the important work and are also responsible for guarding the nests at the hatchery and releasing baby turtles. Additionally, volunteers help maintaining our rescue center and play an essential role in taking care for injured sea turtles. The remoteness of Pacuare beach and the basic living conditions at the project site offer an exclusive condition for volunteers. The lack of phone signal, cars, shops, and other modern life facilities enriches the quality of an extraordinary experience and allows a connection between people and nature, creating the best environment for making a difference in the life of these amazing creatures – the marine turtles.

Packing List

What follows is a sample packing list that is provided as a guideline. Feel free to augment as you feel necessary.  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 list below should cover everything you would need, but 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.

The sea turtle reserve is located between the lush tropical rainforest and the ocean and therefore humidity is omnipresent and it can take a while for clothes to dry. Keep this in mind when selecting your clothing fabric.

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
  • Long sleeve quick dry shirt (for night patrols and work under the sun)
  • Rain jacket or poncho
  • Travel/athletic shorts that are breathable and light
  • Comfortable/hiking/everyday pants (NOT all jeans)
  • Durable athletic shoes with good grip
  • Sandals (Chaco/Teva/Keen/Merrel sandals are great to have for water activities)
  • Thick long socks (for the sand fleas)
  • Quick drying dark clothes to patrol
  • Hats for sun protection
  • Swimming suit/rash guard

TOILETRIES (in addition to the basic toiletries):

  • Two rapid COVID tests. Program Leaders will carry additional tests and will also administer the one to be verified by a medical professional within 24hrs of return to the US.
  • Face masks
  • Reef-safe, biodegradable sunscreen
  • Deet-free mosquito repellent
  • Band Aids and Neosporin, other basic 1st aid
  • Anti-itch cream
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Medications (any prescription meds should travel in the original bottle with patient’s name)

MISCELLANEOUS:

  • Sunglasses
  • Journal and pen
  • Book
  • Camera (digital, disposable, waterproof)
  • Debit card/US Dollars (we recommend about $100-$150, depending on number of desired snacks, souvenirs, extra items etc.)
  • Durable water bottle
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Headlamp
  • Batteries
  • Deck of cards or other portable games

Support Team

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. Below you’ll find a list of the team members involved in the planning, organizing, and leadership of your program.

Juan Pablo “JP” Rabanales
Juan Pablo “JP” Rabanales
Global Country Operations Manager


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.

Joey Hebl
Joey Hebl
Program Leader


Pomona College – B.A in Biology and Spanish

Joey is a proud cheese-head, born-and-raised in Western Wisconsin, who currently resides in Portland, Oregon. He attended Pomona College for undergrad where he played third-base for the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens, while also pursuing majors in Biology and Spanish. Joey was fortunate to study abroad in high school and college, traveling to Ecuador and Argentina, respectively. He was most recently in medical school but is now seeking to reconnect with his life’s great passions, including clinical research, travel, speaking Spanish, and divining the intricacies of home-made sour-dough bread. Joey seeks new environments, people, and experiences that help provide him a greater understanding of and appreciation for the human experience. Additionally, Joey is passionate about mentorship, and enjoys encouraging and guiding others through challenges, successes, and everything in between

Rachel Feldman
Rachel Feldman
Program Leader


Metropolitan State University of Denver and Boston University- B.S. Global Sustainable Development

Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) – Tropical Habitat Conservation Diploma 

Born and Raised in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Rachel spent much of her time exploring the outdoors and bonding with nature. Although a Tree Hugger at heart, she is also equally passionate about connecting with people and experiencing new cultures. During middle school, Rachel and her family moved to Costa Rica where her love for international travel began. At 18, Rachel took her first trip to Africa teaching English and AIDS awareness seminars in Uganda, later researching genocide and peace resolution in Rwanda and within refugee camps of South Sudan. Rachel became hooked on Africa, spending a total of 6 years working back and forth in several different countries, including Madagascar where she received her diploma in tropical habitat conservation. She then returned to Colorado to complete her B.S. in Global Sustainable Development, and finished it up with an internship in Barcelona working for the Spanish government in their urban sustainability department. Rachel has since been living in Denver and is always itching for another adventure!

Group Roster

Below is a list of the travelers enrolled on the program.

  • 1 Clayton Sayre
  • 2 Grayson Sayre
  • 3 Leslie Derat
  • 4 Tyler Guyton
  • 5 Taylor Steffe
  • 6 Sydney Stiles
  • 7 Lochlan DaRonco
  • 8 Kai Varela
  • 9 Sawyer Wellman
  • 10 Jude MacKerracher
  • 11 Campbell Thomas
  • 12 John Thomas IV
  • 13 Ann Thomas
  • 14 John Seevers
  • 15 Evelyn Seevers
  • 16 Ella Seevers
  • 17 Katherine Mahler
  • 18 Leah Hartman
  • 19 Landon Hartman
  • 20 Stephanie Seevers
  • 21 Molly Mortier
  • 22 AnnThomas
  • 23 StephanieSeevers
23 Travelers

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, after which we recommend you check in regularly via the black “Program Blog” button at the top of this page.

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.

 

GLC Curriculum

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.

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

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.

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.
  4. 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 physical or emotional harm, or brandishing a weapon.
  4. Possessing, consuming, or distributing tobacco or nicotine, including vape pens.
  5. Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle.
  6. Being out of designated area or accommodations after curfew.
  7. Breaking group rules.

These standards of behavior are essential for the successful completion of your program. Please take the time to review these as a family and make sure everyone understands and agrees to them.

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 on program, experience teaches that travel is never without risk. For this reason, we recommend that all travelers consider a travel insurance policy with  two additional provisions: Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) and Bed Rest. Detailed explanations of both provisions can be found on the link below.

To provide families with a quality option, Walking Tree has partnered with Travel Insured International, one of the most respected providers in the industry.  Begin by getting a quote here.

IMPORTANT NOTE: in order to secure coverage with CFAR included, you must purchase the plan within 21 days of your deposit/first payment. You must also insure 100% of your trip cost, so program tuition + flight.

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