2023 Manitou Springs Ecuador Program

Dear Families, Friends, and Travelers – Welcome to the 2023 Manitou Springs Ecuador Program!  To learn the basics of this once in a lifetime opportunity, you'll begin by using 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. If you enroll, you'll begin using the Post-Enrollment webpage, which offers a much greater level of detail.  Please be sure to review the information thoroughly and get excited for Ecuador!! 
Travel Dates: July 24, 2023 - July 31, 2023
Dates are tentative
Group Organizer(s):
WTT Contact:
Program Tuition: $2,150 USD
Airfare not included in program tuition
Estimated Airfare: $750

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 abide by  itineraries as originally planned, but decades of experience teachers that we must flexible in our planning. Changes to a trip’s schedule are uncommon, but Walking Tree reserves the right to make adjustments to programming in the best interest of the group. 

DayLocationDescriptionLodging
July 24USA – QuitoEvening arrival to Quito and transfer to hotel.Sol De Quito Hotel or Hotel San Francisco de Quito
July 25Quito – PululahuaStart the day with a walking tour of historic downtown Quito, one of the most well preserved historic districts in all of South America. After lunch we'll ascend the spires of the Basilica del Voto Nacional. In the afternoon, we'll visit the Intiñan Museum located at the equator and enjoy the disorienting coriolis effect. We'll then have dinner on the edge of Pululahua Volcano, one of the only inhabited volcanic craters in the world.El Crater Hotel
July 26Puluahua - NanegalToday we will make the beautiful drive to the cloud forest region outside of Quito to our host community of Nanegal. Here we'll meet our homestay families, orient ourselves in the town, and learn about our community service project. In the afternoon, we'll take a hike to a lookout to see the entire valley in which Nanegal is situated. Throughout the program, we'll have the opportunity to interact with local community members in Spanish, participate in cross-cultural exchanges, and learn more about the rich culture of Ecuador.Maki Pukuna
July 27NanegalDuring our stay in Nanegal, we'll wake up early to work on our community service project and spend time with host families in the afternoons and evenings. Evening activities will vary, ranging from hikes to waterfalls, swimming in the river, dancing, playing music, farm visits, and generally getting to know the beautiful and unique culture and history of Nanegal.Maki Pukuna
July 28NanegalToday, we will continue working on our service project. Evening activties may vay. Maki Pukuna
July 29NanegalToday we will finish work on our community service project. This evening we will enjoy a fiesta de despedida with community leaders and our host families for a final thank you meal to celebrate our time shared in Nanegal together.Maki Pukuna
July 30Nanegal – Quito - USAIf time permits, we'll stop and go on a zip-line tour of Nanegalito's cloud forest canopy before heading back to the capital, depending on our international flight time. Back in the Quito we will ascend Pichincha Volcano by cable car for some panoramic views of the city. After a final meal on the panecillo, we will make our way to the airport and connect onward to the USA.Airplane
July 31USAArrive home!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 group accommodations. Walking Tree partners with hotels and guest houses which are centrally located, locally operated, clean and safe.  We inspect each partner hotel to ensure they meet these standards.

Below are the accommodations we anticipate using on your program, subject to availability. 
El Crater Hotel

Situated on the precipice of the Volcano Pululahua, the hotel’s supreme location is unlike any other accommodation on the planet. Each room contains large windows from which travelers can admire the beauty of this setting and watch the quickly-changing climate of the area from the comfort of their rooms.

Hotel Sol de Quito

This hotel in Quito’s commercial and financial districts offers comfortable accommodations and modern amenities in a charming colonial style. The hotel is family owned and operated and boasts a large collection of historical artifacts that give it a unique character. Free Wi-Fi access throughout the building keeps everyone feeling connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.

Maqui Pucuna Eco Hotel

Maqui Pucuna Eco Hotel is located next to the Umachaca River in an ecological reserve just a short distance from Nanegal. Owned and operated by a local couple, the accommodations are surrounded by nature and boast a variety of quaint, cozy homes, cabins and research station. It will be the perfect place for our group to be situated during the time in Nanegal.

Group Flight

Once your flight schedule 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

Walking Tree groups have the unique opportunity to live and work together with the local host community. The service project depends completely on the needs of each community and can vary greatly from year to year. Service projects are planned together with our Country Director and community liaisons. The project will always benefit the entire community and is chosen and approved by community leaders. Projects are always proposed by local community leaders as they are most in tune with the needs of the community.

Service projects are intended to be both challenging and rewarding for participants and community members. Generally, the work entails renovating or replacing an existing structures (health clinic, community center, school, etc.) that needs work. Usually, there are little or no funds available to complete these projects, so WTT plays an important role in the community. Some past projects include renovating health clinics, constructing bathrooms, building sidewalks, repairing decaying retaining walls, and constructing a soccer stadium.

Packing List

What follows is just a guideline so please adjust per your needs and preferences.

For luggage,  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.

Please note that seasons in South America are opposite ours in the United States so we will be traveling during South America’s late fall. With that said, late fall and early winter are the driest parts of the year and often the most pleasant times to visit. Most of our program will be spent at high altitudes where daytime temperatures can reach the 70’s and it can freeze at night. Layering is the best way to prepare for variable conditions.

CLOTHES:

Underwear
Socks
T-shirts, tank tops or work shirts
Long sleeve shirts
Sweatshirt/jacket
Shorts
Jeans/pants
Swimsuit
Rain jacket
Sturdy shoes (appropriate for lots of walking/athletic activity)
Sports sandals ie Chacos/Tevas etc. (optional)
Flip flops (optional)
Sun hat & a warm hat

TOILETRIES (IN ADDITION TO THE BASICS)

Sunscreen – you will use a lot.
Mosquito repellent
Band Aids and Neosporin, anti-diarrhea meds, basic first aid kit.
Hand Sanitizer
Medication in properly marked original container (better to pack this in your carry on luggage)

MISCELLANEOUS:

Sunglasses
Journal and pen
Book/s
Camera (digital, disposable, waterproof)
Universal adapter
Debit card/US Dollars (we recommend about $100-$200, depending on amount of desired souvenirs, extra items etc.)
Durable water bottle (optional personal water filtration system – Walking Tree will always provide drinking water)
1 quick-dry towel
Soap for washing your own clothes while in the host community
Flashlight/headlamp
Batteries, if needed
Deck of cards or other portable games
Student ID
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 staff in all destinations and 24/7 support from our headquarters in Denver, Colorado. Below you’ll find the the team members involved in the preparation, planning and execution of your program.

Natalia Avila Angel
Natalia Avila Angel
Ecuador Country Director and Program Leader


International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus Rotterdam University – M.A. Development Studies, Environment and Sustainable Development

Born in Cali, Colombia, nestled in a family-oriented, tropical environment surrounded by dance and nature, Natalia grew up between two countries during her childhood and youth: Ecuador and Colombia. From a very young age she developed strong skills in intercultural understanding, particularly between Latin American sister nations. Through her passion and talent in athletics, she has had opportunities to travel to many different countries and cities in South America. Natalia studied at a university in Germany, which allowed her to travel around Europe, where she experienced a vast array of countries and Western cultures. She later pursued a master’s degree in social studies in Holland, focusing on environmental studies. She completed research on natural biosphere reserves in the Ecuadorian Amazon and the issues facing indigenous communities there. After many adventures and experiences, Natalia fell in love with Ecuador’s natural and cultural diversity and has lived and worked in several different places along the coast, highlands, mountains and Amazon regions of the country.

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.

Blog and Communication

During travel we work hard to keep families updated as frequently as possible with blog posts and photos, giving you peace of mind that your traveler is safe and thriving on their program.  Students regularly contribute to these posts, providing families bak home a great way to vicariously track the progress of the trip. You will be notified when the first update is posted, after which we recommend checking in regularly via the black “Program Blog” button at the top of this webpage.

Assuming your school allows the use of cell phones, most destinations are wired enough to allow participants access WiFi at different moments in the program, allowing them to communicate directly with home. 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 vital that travelers are prepared to be on their best behavior and bring enthusiasm and interest to each and every day. A communal atmosphere of trust and mutual respect is the foundational.  As such, all individuals participating on a Walking Tree program are required to take responsibility for their actions and adhere to a high standard of personal conduct.

IMMEDIATE DISMISSAL

  1. Possessing, consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs.
  2. Associating with participants while they are in possession of 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 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 Ecuador 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 travelers and 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.

Top