2022 Teton Science Schools Costa Rica Expedition

Dear Families, Friends, and Travelers – Welcome to the 2022 Teton Science Schools Costa Rica Expedition!  You are currently on the Pre-Enrollment page, the purpose of which is to share exciting highlights and important info that participants will want to know before signing up. Once enrolled, you'll begin using the Post-Enrollment page which offers a greater level of detail.  Please be sure to review the information thoroughly and get excited for a once in a lifetime experience in Costa Rica!! Pura vida! 
Travel Dates: May 18, 2022 - May 28, 2022
Group Organizer(s):
WTT Contact:
Program Tuition: $2,490 USD
Airfare not included in program tuition
Confirmed Airfare: $1,297

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, 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
May 19USA - San Jose, Costa RicaToday the group will travel from the Jackson, WY to San Jose, Costa Rica, likely arriving in the evening. After arrival, the group will settle into our charming hotel, have dinner and hold a short orientation meeting to better prepare for the adventure ahead.Casa Cielo Grande
May 20San Jose - Pueblo Nuevo, ZarceroAfter breakfast we'll jump on the bus and head to our host community a few hours north of the city. Upon arrival we'll meet our host families, tour the community, and learn about the service project/s we'll be working on. Throughout the program, we'll have the opportunity to interact with community members in Spanish, participate in cultural exchanges, and explore Costa Rican culture.Host Families
May 21Pueblo Nuevo, ZarceroOur days in the community will be anchored by our community service project. In the afternoons and evenings, activities vary, but may include time with host families, excursions around the village, or events with the local community.Host Families
May 22Pueblo Nuevo, ZarceroToday we will finish work on our service project. In the evening, we will have a final celebratory group dinner! Host Families
May 23Pueblo Nuevo, Zarcero - La FortunaAfter saying goodbye to our host families, we will make the trip to La Fortuna, a small city at the base of Volcán Arenal, an impressive volcano that stands out in the middle of the flatlands. We'll start our day soaring through the forest canopy while ziplining. In the afternoon we will have time to explore town and do some souvenir shopping. We will finish our day relaxing in thermal hot springs at the base of the volcano. We'll take some timeto reflect on the time spent in the host community and prepare for the conservation part of the program. Arenal Poshpacker Hotel
May 24La Fortuna - Widecast Field StationToday the group will travel to the Caribbean coast. After a beautiful and scenic boat ride, we will arrive at the WIDECAST 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.WIDECAST Field Station
May 25Widecast Field StationDays at the WIDECAST 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.WIDECAST Field Station
May 26Widecast Field Station - Playa ChiquitaIn the morning, we will take a boat ride out from WIDECAST 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
May 27Playa Chiquita - San JoseToday we will enjoy a full day of white water rafting along the Pacuare River, famous for its' spectacular setting and exciting rapids. After navigating 13 miles of river, we will head back to San Jose for our final dinner together before heading to the airport this night for our flight home. Casa Cielo Grande
May 28San Jose - USAArrive homeYou own bed!

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Accommodations

In order to provide a safe and memorable experience, 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 and safe. 

Below are the accommodations we anticipate using on your trip, subject to availability. 
Hotel Casa Cielo Grande

Casa Cielo Grande is a beautiful property ideally located just twenty minutes from the airport. Close to the city center yet perched high in the mountains, the views of the Central Valley are breathtaking and the new pool is a delightful respite after a hot day. Spotless rooms and friendly staff will make you feel at home the moment you drop your bags.

Homestay

This will be the best part of your trip! Staying with a host family immerses you in the language and culture of the destination, and can lead to deep and lasting relationships with your hosts. Initially intimidating but ultimately unforgettable, there’s no better way to begin to truly understand the place you’re visiting.

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.

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.

Group Flight

Type Carrier Name Carrier Code Flight Number Departure Airport & City Departure Date and Time  Arrival Airport & City Arrival Date and Time 
Outbound
Delta Air Lines
DL
696
SLC – Salt Lake City International Airport, Salt Lake City, United States
May 18, 2022 at 9:26pm
LAX – Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, United States
May 18, 2022 at 10:25pm
Outbound
Delta Air Lines
DL
1974
LAX – Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, United States
May 18, 2022 at 11:21pm
SJO – Juan Santamaria International Airport, Alajuela, Costa Rica
May 19, 2022 at 5:55am
Inbound
Delta Air Lines
DL
1972
SJO – Juan Santamaria International Airport, Alajuela, Costa Rica
May 28, 2022 at 8:00am
LAX – Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, United States
May 28, 2022 at 1:20pm
Inbound
Delta Air Lines
DL
2495
LAX – Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, United States
May 28, 2022 at 4:45pm
SLC – Salt Lake City International Airport, Salt Lake City, United States
May 28, 2022 at 7:32pm

Once your flight has been secured 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, but 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 is unpredictable, especially in a pandemic.  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

Walking Tree’s approach to service is a collaborative one.  Staff and community leaders deliberate on project options before jointly deciding how best to use the resources available. Groups will typically complete ~6 hrs of service a day, broken up by a mid-day meal on site.

Generally, the project work entails renovating or replacing existing community infrastructure such as a health clinic, church, or school. Program leaders will work to develop additional opportunities such as interactive time with local school children; picture everyone playing a raucous game of ‘Simón dice’!

Specific details about your work will be available in the lead up to departure.

 

 

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/hiking shoes with good grip
  • Sandals (Chaco/Teva/Keen/Merrel sandals are great to have for water activities)
  • Work gloves – required for service work
  • Thick long socks (for the sand fleas)
  • Quick drying dark clothes to patrol
  • Bandana for work site (optional)
  • A hat that can protect your neck
  • 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 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 $50-$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
  • Spanish/English Dictionary

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
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.

Amelia “Ame” Garita Castillo
Amelia “Ame” Garita Castillo
Country Operations Manager - Costa Rica


University Nacional, Costa Rica. Business Management/Sustainable Tourism

Amelia was born in San Gerardo de Rivas, Costa Rica, close to the highest mountain Cerro Chirripo. While a young girl Ame had the opportunity to climb Cerro Chirripo with her father over 50 times before she turned 18, and fell in love with the outdoors and wilderness. After having these amazing experiences she went on to study tourism and business management in the National University of Costa Rica where she graduated with a bachelors degree. Since then she has worked for the Costa Rican tourism board, before moving on to guiding. She has worked guiding students in outdoor adventure working for Outward Bound Costa Rica, Outward Bound Mexico, and Outward Bound Hong Kong. She also guides wilderness therapy with Pure Life by Aspiro in Costa Rica. She has had the pleasure of traveling in Europe and South America which further confirmed her love for traveling, the outdoors, and guiding. She has traveled to over 14 countries and loves to share her experiences with others and also help them discover their own passion, and worldly views. She speaks fluent Spanish and English, and most enjoys her time by guiding and helping others. She now works for Walking Tree full time as a part of the Country Operations Team in Costa Rica.

Group Roster

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

  • 1 Alexis Valencia Reyes
  • 2 Augustus Moeller
  • 3 Charlotte Holding
  • 4 Kelsey Mitchell
  • 5 Marigely Mut
  • 6 Miles Goodell
  • 7 Sebastian Ortega
  • 8 Skylar White
8 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. 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. Failure to abide by COVID-19 restrictions.
  2. Stealing, or deliberately damaging or defacing any personal property, buildings or materials.
  3. Possessing weapons.
  4. Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle.
  5. Getting a piercing or tattoo.
  6. Being out 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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