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2022 Westgate Thailand Elephant Conservation Expedition

Any enrollment cancelled before 120 days from departure is guaranteed a 100% refund of the Program Tuition
Dear Families, Friends, and Travelers – Welcome to the 2022 Westgate Thailand Elephant Conservation Expedition! We have created two webpages dedicated to this exciting program 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 meant to prepare travelers for participation on the adventure ahead. Please be sure to review the information on the appropriate page thoroughly and we hope you are excited for all the amazing things Thailand has to offer!
Travel Dates: May 10, 2022 - May 22, 2022
Dates are tentative
Group Organizer(s):
WTT Contact:
Program Tuition: $2,690 USD
Airfare not included in program tuition
Estimated Airfare: $1,250
Deadline(s): Enroll with the promo code "letsgo2022" before June 15 and save $100!

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 10USA - ThailandFly from USA to Bangkok, ThailandAirplane
May 11BangkokSawatdee ka! Welcome to Bangkok, Thailand! We will hold an orientation meeting and cultural introduction, and then rest after our long day of travel. We'll have some free time in the evening to explore the neighborhood around our guesthouse, soaking up the new sights, smells, and sounds!Bangkok Guesthouse
May 12BangkokSpend the day exploring the busy and bustling capital city with a longtail boat ride through the small canals of Chao Phraya River, visit the famous religious temples Wat Pho and Wat Arun and colorful flower market.Bangkok Guesthouse
May 13SalakpraToday we will head to Kanchanaburi Province. We will partner with the organization Bring the Elephant Home, and learn about wild elephant conservation, the farmer/elephant conflict in the area, what action is being done to help, and how we can contribute!Group Homestay
May 14SalakpraAfter having a traditional Thai breakfast in our homestay community, we will have a busy day working in the tree nursery, helping the park rangers build a check dam in the wildlife sanctuary, and visiting a local school.Group Homestay
May 15Salakpra - Sai YokTeam up with local community members and students in a tree planting event, to help sustain both local farmers as well as provide a larger habitat for the wild elephants. In the late afternoon, we will head to Sai Yok National Park, where we will spend the night camped on a houseboat, swimming in the river and sleeping underneath the stars.Houseboat
May 16KanchanaburiAfter an early morning boat cruise, we will make our way to an elephant sanctuary close by. Meet the elephant herd, feed them delicious treats, and bathe with them in the river.Elephant Haven
May 17KanchanaburiSpend time walking with your new friends in the forest, preparing their food, taking care of them, and helping with an ongoing reforestation project.Elephant Haven
May 18Kanchanaburi - Kui BuriWe will wake up bright and early and head to Kui Buri National Park. Once we arrive, we will go on a tour of the park and have our first opportunity to see elephants in the wild!Elephant Haven
May 19Kui BuriAfter an early morning safari tour, we will begin our service project, working alongside park rangers to help construct check dams and watering holes. In the late afternoon, we will take a tour of the surrounding farm plantations and relax at our guesthouse.Kui Buri Resort
May 20Kui Buri - BangkokAfter a leisurely morning, we will start the drive back to Bangkok. We’ll have time in the evening for last minute shopping and delicious street food!Bangkok Guesthouse
May 21Bangkok - USASay your goodbyes to Thailand, we're off to the U.S!Airplane

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, 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. 
Bangkok Guesthouse

Bangkok Guesthouse is centrally located as it’s walking distance from Bangkok’s Skytrain, market places, restaurants and other street food vendors. Bangkok Guesthouse can accommodate 2-3 students  per room. Some of the amenities include private bathrooms, air conditioning and hot water. Free Wi-Fi access throughout the building keeps everyone feeling connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.

 

 

Elephant Haven Thailand

Students will stay in a comfortable, air conditioned hotel that is located right next to the Elephant Sanctuary. Staying at the Elephant Haven offers students a once in a lifetime experience to interact with these magnificent creatures. Each room is equipped with a TV, private bathroom and hot shower. Free Wi-Fi access throughout the common areas keeps everyone feeling connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.

Baan Chan Chai Resort – Kui Buri

Baan Chan Chai Resort is a comfortable guest house located near Kui Buri National Park. Students will be roomed in small bungalow style cabins and split between gender. Students can expect to be in double, triple or quadruple rooms based on the guest house availability. Wifi is available in the common areas and all rooms have AC. Meals will be prepared by staff members, and students will have the opportunity to participate in a cooking class with them prior to lunch one day.

Group Flight

Once your flight has been secured the itinerary will appear here.

Remember that Walking Tree is not 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. We recommend arriving no later than three hours prior to the scheduled departure but for specific details on exactly where and when to meet on the day of departure, please contact your Group Organizer/s.

FLIGHT INTERRUPTION DELAY OR CANCELLATION 
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.

Host Community and Project Details

Located just 2.5 hours South-West of Chiang Mai, amongst beautiful mountain scenery and lush countryside, BEES is a community-based elephant sanctuary that serves as a home for old, injured and retired elephants needing rest and permanent care. Each day will be different day, and activities could include preparing their food, feeding, bathing and walking with the elephants into the jungle, as well as the general care and husbandry of other rescued animals, such as cats, dogs, owls and more! You’ll also have the opportunity to get more involved in the community by teaching English to staff and students, cleaning up the village, or planting trees and grass. You will walk away from this experience with a stronger appreciation for elephants and a deeper understandings of the problems they face in Thailand and what is being done to help them.

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.

Most importantly, be sure to remember your PASSPORT and STUDENT ID.

CLOTHES:

Underwear
Socks (a mixture of good hiking socks and casual socks)
T-shirts (some quick dry)
Long sleeve shirts
Sweater
Rain jacket or strong poncho (it will be the rainy season in July, although rain is possible year round)
Swim suit (at least two swim suits – please note that Thailand is a very conservative country, so more revealing swimsuits are discouraged. During water activities in the countryside, girls will not be allowed to wear bikinis for cultural reasons. However, they may swim with a t-shirt if they prefer to bring a bikini.)
Travel/athletic shorts that are breathable and light (no short shorts please)
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 and guys a polo or button up shirt with jeans for such occasions. Please have the skirt reach your knees.)
Durable athletic/hiking shoes comfortable for walking in the city and the countryside
Sandals (Teva/Chaco style with a strap around the heel are ideal as they can double as water shoes)
Closed toed shoes for the worksite (an old pair of sneakers that you don’t mind getting dirty is perfect)
Work gloves
Work pants
Hat
1 sarong/scarf (something to cover knees when entering Temples and holy places *this may be purchased in country if desired)
Rain boots (for volunteer activities – *we encourage you to be purchase these when in country for cheaper)

TOILETRIES: BRING THE BASIC TOILETRIES YOU NEED PLUS:

Sunscreen (you will use a lot)
Mosquito repellent (you will use a lot)
Band Aids and Neosporin
Hand Sanitizer
Medication in properly marked original container
Anti-diarrhea medicine

MISCELLANEOUS:

Sunglasses
Journal and pen
Book
Camera (digital, disposable, waterproof)
Power Converter (220 volts AC)
Alarm Clock and watch
Debit card/US Dollars (we recommend about $50-$150, depending on amount of desired souvenirs, extra items etc.)
Durable water bottle
1 quick-dry towel
Flashlight/headlamp
Batteries
Deck of cards or other portable games
Host family gift for each host family
Pictures of family, friends, home
Student ID
Thai/English Dictionary

***Please keep in mind that the villages we will be staying in are generally more conservative. The people usually wear long covered up clothing and do not appreciate seeing a lot of exposed leg, cleavage, or bare shoulders.

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.

Prae Supcharoen
Prae Supcharoen
Thailand Country Director


Bowdoin College – B.A. Interdisciplinary major in Geology and Physics. Minor in Biology

Born and raised in Thailand, Prae is a native Thai who has passion for science and the environment. After she finished high school, she was awarded a scholarship to earn a bachelor’s degree in the United States. In college, she joined International Student Association to exchange Thai cultures with others. One of her most memorable experiences in college was the spring break volunteer trip in Thailand, where she helped organize and lead the trip to work with non-profit organizations as a volunteer teacher for a northern hill tribe village in Chiang Rai. That meaningful experience inspired her to apply and work at Walking Tree Travel. Currently, Prae is pursuing a PhD in marine science in Bangkok. She loves Thai food and traveling around Thailand.

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

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

  • 1 Blake Adauto
  • 2 Derek Longcrier
  • 3 Ian Lopez
  • 4 John Paul Alvarez
  • 5 Orion George
  • 6 Seth Roberts
  • 7 Zachary Zorack
7 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. 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
  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 Thailand 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.

Beyond these recommendations, 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 has taught us that travel can come with risk. For this reason, we recommend that all travelers consider protecting their trip and travel investment by purchasing a travel protection plan with a Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) provision.

To make this process as easy as possible, we have partnered with Travel Insured International, one of the most respected providers in the industry.  Begin by taking a few minutes to get a quote here.

IMPORTANT NOTE: in order to secure coverage with CFAR included, you must purchase the plan within 21 days of the date your initial payment or your deposit for your trip is received. You must also insure 100% of the prepaid, non-refundable trip costs that are subject to cancellation penalties or restrictions and cancel 48 hours or more before your scheduled trip departure date. Please note that CFAR is not available to residents of New York.

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