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 10, 2023 - June 22, 2023
Group Organizer(s):
WTT Contact:
Program Tuition: $2,990 USD
Airfare not included in program tuition
Confirmed Airfare: $1,897

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 and given the unpredictable nature of international travel we must remain flexible in our planning. Changes to a schedule are uncommon but, we reserve the right to adjust programming in the best interest of the group. 

DayLocationDescriptionLodging
June 10USA - ThailandFly from USA to Bangkok, ThailandAirplane
June 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!The Bangkok Christian Guesthouse
June 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.The Bangkok Christian Guesthouse
June 13Bangkok - Salakpra, Kanchanaburi Today we will head to Kanchanaburi Province to settle in the Chongsadao community. Here, 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 such as helping village leaders and local community build a check dam in the wildlife sanctuary.OWL HOUSE Community Cabins
June 14Salakpra, Kanchanaburi After having a traditional Thai breakfast in our homestay community, we will have a busy day working in the tree nursery and visiting a local school. OWL HOUSE Community Cabins
June 15Salakpra, Kanchanaburi - Sai Yok, KanchanaburiToday we will team 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. After checking in at our hotel for tonight, we will learn about Our Land’s snake rescue and rehabilitation program. Pavillion Rim Kwai Resort
June 16Sai Yok, KanchanaburiToday we will continue learning about conservation efforts with Our Land sustainable agricultural program to help better ecosystems for local commutes and elephants in the area. In the late afternoon, we will pack a day pack and 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.Sai Yok House Boat
June 17Sai Yok, KanchanaburiAfter an early morning boat ride, we will make our way to Elephant Haven, elephant sanctuary, close by. Meet the elephant herd, feed them delicious treats, and observe their behaviors while they bathe in the river. After checking in the hotel, we will head to downtown Kanchanaburi to visit River Kwai Bridge. Then, we will enjoy vegan food dinner at a local restaurant with vegan cooking class. After dinner, we will visit night market for shopping.Pavillion Rim Kwai Resort
June 18Sai Yok, KanchanaburiOn our last day in the Western region of Thailand, we 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. Today we will have discussion and dinner at Ourland, bid farewell to Ourland staff.Pavillion Rim Kwai Resort
June 19Kanchanaburi - 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. Holiday Inn Express Phuket Patong
June 20Phuket - Phang NgaAfter a long week of conservation work, 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 and have some relaxing beach time. Along the way, we will get to do some kayaking to explore one of these beautiful islands. Holiday Inn Express Phuket Patong
June 21PhuketWe will have a relaxing morning at the hotel in Phuket. After checking out, we will make a stop at the local souvenir shop, and take a flight back to Bangkok in the afternoon. We will visit Asiatique Riverfront for our final dinner and last minute shopping before we head back to our hotel to prepare for our international departure tomorrow. The Bangkok Christian Guesthouse
June 22Phuket - Bangkok - USAToday we say goodbye to Thailand. We will start out day early to catch our domestic flight back to Bangkok airport where we will wait for out international flight to the US.Airplane

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 program accommodations. Walking Tree partners with hotels and guest houses which are centrally located, clean and safe.  We vet and inspect the accommodations to ensure they uphold the ethos of our programs, are great values for our travelers and nice places to rest after enriching days of travel.  

Below are the accommodations we anticipate using on your trip, subject to availability. 
The 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.

 

 

OWL HOUSE Community Cabins

This community lodge is owned by Mrs. La-or, community leader of the Chongsadao, one of the host communities in the Kanchanaburi Province in Western Thailand. It’s simple and colorful cabins can fit 3 or 4 people each and are surrounded by nature and are only a short walk from a river where the group can freshen up after the service activities. Students will be able to engage with the host family that runs this community lodge. Students will be divided by gender.

Pavillion River Kwai Resort

Pavillion River Kwai Resort is located in Kanchanaburi, a 10-minute drive from the famous River Kwai Bridge. Its air conditioned rooms have private bathrooms with hot showers and cable TV. The hotel offers an outdoor pool with hot tub, free Wi-Fi throughout the property and free parking on site. Students will be distributed according to gender.

Sai Yok House Boat

The entire group will spend one night on their own private house boat in the Sai Yok National Park, a truly unique and Thai experience! Accommodations will be rustic and simple, but comfortable and unforgettable! A sleeping pad, pillow and light blankets will be provided. After floating down the river, the boat docks during the night. The boat also comes with a private bathroom. Life jackets are provided.

Group Flight

Type Carrier Name Carrier Code Flight Number Departure Airport & City Departure Date and Time  Arrival Airport & City Arrival Date and Time 
Outbound
Starlux Airlines
JX
1
LAX – Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, United States
June 10, 2023 at 12:50am
TPE – Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, Taipei, Taiwan
June 11, 2023 at 5:40am
Outbound
Starlux Airlines
JX
745
TPE – Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, Taipei, Taiwan
June 11, 2023 at 9:40am
BKK – Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok, Thailand
June 11, 2023 at 12:20pm
Inbound
Starlux Airlines
JX
746
BKK – Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok, Thailand
June 22, 2023 at 1:20pm
TPE – Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, Taipei, Taiwan
June 22, 2023 at 6:10pm
Inbound
Starlux Airlines
JX
2
TPE – Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, Taipei, Taiwan
June 22, 2023 at 11:40pm
LAX – Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, United States
June 22, 2023 at 8:30pm

Once your flight 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

NA

NA

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 philosophy we encourage. The list below should cover everything you would require, but you should adjust accordingly based on your needs.  We suggest bringing only as much as you can carry.

Finally, it’s wise to consult a weather forecast for your destination a few days before departure. 

CLOTHES: (quantities depend on your trip length)

  • Underwear
  • Socks (a mixture of good hiking socks and casual socks)
  • T-shirts (some quick dry)
  • Lightweight, long sleeve shirts (sun shirt)
  • Light sweater or sweatshirt
  • Rain jacket/poncho
  • Swim suit
  • Travel/athletic shorts that are breathable and light (no short shorts please)
  • Comfortable/hiking/everyday pants. Quick drying fabrics encouraged
  • Durable athletic/hiking shoes
  • Sandals
  • Work gloves
  • Hat/s with good sun protection
  • Sarong/scarf (something to cover knees when entering Temples and holy places *this may be purchased in country if desired)
  • Rubber boots/galoshes for time in jungle, can also be purchased in country

*Please keep in mind that the communities we will visit are generally more socially conservative. As this applies to dress, people do not appreciate seeing a lot of exposed leg, cleavage, or bare shoulders. Please be sensitive to this when packing, and remember to have a sarong.

TOILETRIES:

  • Your basics
  • Sunscreen (you will use a lot)
  • Mosquito repellent (you will use a lot)
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Prescription meds in properly marked original container
  • Anti-diarrhea medicine

MISCELLANEOUS:

  • Sunglasses
  • Journal and pen
  • Book
  • Camera (digital, disposable, waterproof)
  • Power adapter
  • Spending money. We recommend about $100-$200, in USD
  • Durable water bottle
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Flashlight/headlamp
  • Deck of cards or other portable games
  • Host family gift/small token of gratitude
  • Pictures of family, friends, home
  • Thai/English phrase book

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.

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.

Juan Pablo “JP” Rabanales
Juan Pablo “JP” Rabanales
Global Country Operations Manager


Earlham College – B.A. International Studies, Minor in Economics

Born and raised with a big family in Guatemala, JP spent seven years living and studying in the US where he was exposed to highly diverse communities. JP worked as a Wilderness Leader guiding expeditions in the Southwest of the US. After spending two years in New Mexico studying the International Baccalaureate, he moved to Indiana where he spent the next four years at Earlham College. His passion for international affairs brought him to spend a semester in China, and several other Southeast Asian countries. During his time abroad, he spent his summers traveling and backpacking through 15+ different countries, and participating in several service projects. Today JP is based in Costa Rica where he works full time with the Walking Tree team.  Juan Pablo also enjoys hosting friends and travelers coming to visit. He’s always down for an exciting road-trip around the country, or even better, around Latin America. He is a long time art and design enthusiast, and a photography aficionado.

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.

Bo Somboon
Bo Somboon
Program Leader


B.A. in Tourism Industry from Phitsanulok University

My name is Phanupong Somboon (my friends call me Bo) and I was born and raised in Thailand. I have been a rock climbing and outdoor educator for the past 6 years and enjoy every day of it. For the last four years, I have had the opportunity to work with International students around the world. I enjoy working with students because I have the chance to take them to explore my own country and to show them my culture and language. I also get to show them my beautiful countryside, people and way of life. I have enjoy traveling around Southeast Asia and China for several adventures of my own. I am looking forward to leading with Walking Tree Travel!

Becca Sheffield
Becca Sheffield
Program Leader


Colorado State University – B.A. Communications, Spanish Language & Literature
Middlebury Institute of International Studies – M.A. International Education Management

Becca has been part of the Walking Tree family since 2016 and fully believes in the transformative power of international experiences. She studied abroad in both Peru and Spain, has led student programs in Guatemala and Spain, and traveled to many other countries to experience new cultural adventures. Becca also helped develop the Global Leadership Activities with Walking Tree as part of her Master’s program, to help students get the most out of their cross-cultural experiences. Becca has lived in Colorado for most of her life and enjoys exploring outdoors, salsa dancing (or any dancing) with friends, and watching movies with her two snuggly pups.

Group Roster

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

  • 1 Xochitl Casillas
  • 2 Sarah Thompson
  • 3 Jake Bogart
  • 4 Brayden Quong
  • 5 Aaron Soomekh
  • 6 Citlali Casillas
  • 7 Shelby Steele
  • 8 Connor Wang
  • 9 Shylah Mizrahi
  • 10 Veronica Colton
  • 11 Sofia Hampton
  • 12 Xochitl Casillas
12 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.
  4. 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 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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