2023 NWC Thailand Conservation Expedition

Dear Families, Friends, and Travelers – Welcome to the 2023 NWC Thailand Conservation Expedition! We have created two webpages dedicated to this exciting program so that travelers are as informed as possible throughout the process. The first page, Pre-Enrollment, 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 can't wait to start our enriching adventure!
Travel Dates: June 13, 2023 - June 25, 2023
Group Organizer(s):
WTT Contact:
Program Tuition: $2,990 USD
Airfare not included in program tuition
Estimated Airfare: $1,100

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
1USA - ThailandFly from USA to Bangkok, ThailandAirplane
2BangkokSawatdee 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!56 Surawong Hotel
3BangkokSpend 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.56 Surawong Hotel
4Salakpra, KanchanaburiToday we will head to Kanchanaburi Province. We will partner with the organization Our Land, 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!Community Cabins
5Salakpra, KanchanaburiAfter 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.Community Cabins
6Salakpra - Sai Yok, KanchanaburiTeam up with local community members and students in a tree planting activity aimed 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
7KanchanaburiAfter an early morning boat cruise, we will make our way to Elephant Haven, hand-on elephant sanctuary, close by. Meet the elephant herd, feed them delicious treats, and observe their behaviors while they bathe in the river.Legacy River Kwai Resort
8KanchanaburiWe will visit Somboon Legacy, hand-off elephant sanctuary. Prepare elephant fruit salad, plant some trees for elephants, visit an interactive elephant museum, and observe elephant bathing with their mahouts in the river. Legacy River Kwai Resort
9Kanchanaburi - Bangkok - PhuketToday the group will depart from the western part of the country and head back to Bangkok to catch a domestic flight to the southern region of Thailand. We will travel from Kanchanaburi back to Bangkok by van and then we will fly from Bangkok to Phuket. Upon arrival to Phuket, we will settle in our hotel. If time allows, we will do some sightseeing of Phuket in the late afternoon/evening before heading for dinner. Kui Buri Resort
10Phuket - Phang NgaToday we will spend our day exploring the blue waters and characteristic limestone rock formations of the famous Phang Nga Bay by boat. Our boat tour will take us to several islands in this bay. Along the way, we will get to do some kayaking to explore one of these beautiful islands. Kui Buri Resort
11PhuketAfter a long week of conservation work, we will have a relaxing beach day in Phuket. After lunch the group will have time to do some final souvenir shopping and exploring the streets of Phuket. Tonight we will also have our final dinner and reflection in Thailand before heading back to our hotel to prepare for our international departure tomorrow. Kui Buri Resort
12Phuket - USASay your goodbyes to Thailand, we're off to the U.S!Airplane

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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. 
Thai Thai Sukhothai Guesthouse

Thai Thai Sukhothai Guesthouse is surrounded by nature. The rooms are spacious and clean, with all the comforts and a pleasant layout. This guesthouse offers 3-star accommodation with private bath, WiFi, and air conditioning. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and 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.

Talu Island Resort

Talu Island Resort is a 3-star establishment that prioritizes ecotourism and the cleanliness of the island. This resort hosts a variety of activities and experiences such as coral and sea turtle conversation activities. Free Wi-Fi access throughout the building keeps everyone feeling connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.

 

 

Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai hotel is a beautiful estate within walking distance of Chiang Rai’s City Center. They offer comfortable guesthouses with modern amenities 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.

Group Flight

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

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 but you know yourself better than we do so please adjust accordingly. 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 daily outings, 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. 

Most importantly, be sure to remember your PASSPORT!

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 shirts
  • Sweater
  • Swim suit
  • 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
  • Sandals
  • work gloves
  • Work pants
  • Hat
  • 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)

*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.

TOILETRIES: (in addition to the basic toiletries)

  • 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.

Gabriel Duncan
Gabriel Duncan
Co-Founder of Walking Tree Travel and Business Lead - Denver, CO


Colby College – B.A. International Relations and Government

While at Colby, Gabriel spent a semester in Spain at the University of Salamanca studying contemporary Spanish politics and Spanish language. He also lettered for four-years on Colby’s lacrosse team and earned All-American honors. After graduating, Gabriel hit the road. He fished commercially in Alaska, taught in Chile and China, led programs for students in Spain and Costa Rica, and traveled to over 50 countries and all 50 states in the USA. Regardless of where Gabriel is located, he is constantly haunted by his naive faith and unconditional love for Denver sports teams.

Group Roster

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

  • 1 Aaron Soomekh
  • 2 Citlali Casillas
  • 3 Connor Wang
  • 4 Shelby Steele
  • 5 Shylah Mizrahi
  • 6 Sofia Hampton
  • 7 Veronica Colton
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.

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 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 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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