2023 Galloway School Costa Rica Program

Dear Families, Friends, and Travelers – Welcome to the 2023 Galloway School Costa Rica Program! The Pre-Enrollment page is meant to share exciting highlights and important info that participants will want to know before signing up. If you enroll, 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 opportunity in Costa Rica! Pura vida!  
Travel Dates: February 19, 2023 - February 28, 2023
Group Organizer(s):
WTT Contact:
Program Tuition: $2,490 USD
Airfare not included in program tuition
Confirmed Airfare: $1,239

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
February 19USA - AlajuelaToday 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 where the group will discuss the upcoming trip in detail.Hotel La Rosa de America
February 20Alajuela - La FortunaAfter breakfast, we will leave the central valley and head to La Fortuna, a small city right next to the Volcán Arenal, an impressive volcano that stands out in the middle of the flatlands. We will visit a nearby coffee plantation and coffee shop where we will participate in a coffee tour and learn about its important crop and its delicate production process and even taste some delicious coffee. Upon arrival, we will have our first Spanish class!Poshpacker
February 21La FortunaAfter breakfast, we will head to La Fortuna Waterfall. After hiking down to the waterfall, students will enjoy a refreshing swim in the waterfall's swimming hole. In the afternoon, we will continue our Spanish lessons in La Fortuna.Poshpacker
February 22La FortunaAfter breakfast, we will continue our Spanish lessons in La Fortuna. In the afternoon, we will relax at some luxurious hot springs and enjoy a buffet dinner. Poshpacker
February 23La FortunaThis morning we will explore Volcán Arenal National Park which bursts with wildlife. Afterwards, we will have our final Spanish lesson of the program.Poshpacker
February 24La Fortuna - Puerto ViejoAfter breakfast, we will head to the Sarapiqui River for a day of whitewater river rafting and then we will continue with our journey to Puerto Viejo in the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, a vibrant seaside town with gorgeous beaches, crystal clear blue waters and exotic flora and fauna.La Costa de Papito
February 25Puerto ViejoToday we will leave Puerto Viejo and head to Cahuita National Park, one of Costa Rica's oldest National Park created to protect the coral reef and the incredibly diverse flora and fauna. After a long day hiking in Cahuita we will have time to relax and explore the town's center and have the chance to buy some souvenirs from the local artisans. La Costa de Papito
February 26Puerto ViejoAfter breakfast,we will have time to explore Punta Uva and relax at any of the incredible beaches of the Caribbean coast which include Playa Chiquita, Playa Grande and Cocles. In the evening, we will get moving with a dance lesson where we will learn learn and enjoy the basic steps and moves to dance to Afro-Caribbean Latin beats. After dinner, we will relax back at our hotel and have time to reflect about our experiences in Costa Rica. La Costa de Papito
February 27Puerto Viejo - AlajuelaAfter breakfast and a few more hours on the beach, we will make the drive back to San Jose for a farewell dinner before our international departure the following morning.Hotel La Rosa de America
February 28Alajuela - USAAfter breakfast, we will head to the airport for a morning departure back to the USA.Your own bed!

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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. 
Rosa de America

A charming ranch-style hotel on the outskirts of San Jose, Rosa de America 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.

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
Delta Air Lines
DL
1937
ATL – Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, United States
February 19, 2023 at 09:45 AM
SJO – Juan Santamaria International Airport, Alajuela, Costa Rica
February 19, 2023 at 12:56 PM
Inbound
Delta Air Lines
DL
1756
SJO – Juan Santamaria International Airport, Alajuela, Costa Rica
February 28, 2023 at 02:26 PM
ATL – Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, United States
February 28, 2023 at 07:37 PM

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

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.

Finally, we recommend consulting a weather forecast for your destination. 

The region of the country you will be visiting is in a lush tropical rainforest and next to 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.

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

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 activities under the sun such as rafting or surfing)
  • Rain jacket or poncho
  • Travel/athletic shorts that are breathable and light
  • 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 for such occasions, boys may want to opt for a polo shirt or button up shirt with jeans)
  • Durable athletic/hiking shoes with good grip
  • Sandals (Chaco/Teva/Keen/Merrel sandals are great to have for water activities)
  • Thick long socks (for the sand fleas)
  • Bandana for work site (optional)
  • A hat that can protect your neck
  • Swimming suit, for surf classes a rash guard is recommended for sensitive skins

TOILETRIES: BRING THE BASIC TOILETRIES YOU NEED PLUS:

  • Sunscreen (You will use a lot. Natural products/lotions are preferred over aerosol, especially for the beach)
  • Mosquito repellent (non-deet/lotions are preferred to reduce environmental impact)
  • Band Aids and Neosporin
  • Anti-itch cream
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Medication in properly marked original container. It’s important that medication travel in its original container, as customs officials have the right to confiscate it otherwise.

MISCELLANEOUS:

  • Sunglasses
  • Journal and pen
  • Book
  • Camera (digital, disposable, waterproof)
  • Alarm Clock and watch
  • Debit card/US Dollars (we recommend about $50-$150, depending on number of desired snacks, souvenirs, extra items etc.)
  • Durable water bottle
  • 1 quick-dry towel
  • Flashlight/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.

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.

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 Abigail Feldstein
  • 2 Alejandro Meza
  • 3 Ashaar Bakshi
  • 4 Chelsea Larson
  • 5 Cooper Brown
  • 6 Daniel Drouin
  • 7 Davin Goodman-Gary
  • 8 Dean Seltzer
  • 9 Ella Bohntinsky
  • 10 Ellis Balser
  • 11 Gabrielle Vanzandt
  • 12 Jesus Martinez-Saldana
  • 13 John Murnane
  • 14 Juliet Oeltmann
  • 15 Katherine Parrish
  • 16 Kelli Flicek
  • 17 Kendall Jones
  • 18 Lily Duran
  • 19 Lily Nelson
  • 20 Logan Smith
  • 21 Manuel Goico
  • 22 McKenzy Cash
  • 23 Nora Sweeney
  • 24 Olivia Williams
  • 25 Rachel Graves
  • 26 Riley MacDonald
  • 27 Sariah Robbins
  • 28 Shaheen Bagheri
  • 29 Shira Lipton
  • 30 Skylar Haimes
  • 31 Violet Kottke
31 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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