2022 Westgate Thailand Elephant Conservation Expedition
May 10, 2022 -
May 22, 2022
Dates are tentative
Airfare not included in program tuition
|Deadline(s):||Enroll with the promo code "letsgo2022" before June 15 and save $100!|
Review all materials
What to Expect
Please read through all of the information below. More details will be added as your departure draws closer.
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.
|May 10||USA - Thailand||Fly from USA to Bangkok, Thailand||Airplane|
|May 11||Bangkok||Sawatdee 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 12||Bangkok||Spend 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 13||Salakpra||Today 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 14||Salakpra||After 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 15||Salakpra - Sai Yok||Team 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 16||Kanchanaburi||After 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 17||Kanchanaburi||Spend 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 18||Kanchanaburi - Kui Buri||We 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 19||Kui Buri||After 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 20||Kui Buri - Bangkok||After 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 21||Bangkok - USA||Say 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Socks (a mixture of good hiking socks and casual socks)
T-shirts (some quick dry)
Long sleeve shirts
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)
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
Medication in properly marked original container
Journal and pen
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
Deck of cards or other portable games
Host family gift for each host family
Pictures of family, friends, home
***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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
- Possessing, consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs
- Associating with participants while they are in possession of or are consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs
- 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
- Getting a piercing or tattoo
- Stealing, or deliberately damaging or defacing any personal property, buildings or materials
- Threatening with or using weapons
- Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle
- Being out of designated area or accommodations after curfew
- 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.
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.