2023 Regis Jesuit Colombia Program
June 1, 2023 -
June 12, 2023
Dates are tentative
Airfare not included in program tuition
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.
|1||USA - Medellin||Today we'll travel from Denver, CO to Medellin, Colombia. We'll likely have an evening arrival, after which we'll head straight our hotel for dinner and some rest after the long day of travel.||Hotel San Pedro del Fuerte
|2||Medellin||Our first full day in Colombia! After a breakfast of bunuelos, coffee and other delicious local treats we hop the modern metro and head into the center of Medellin. We'll take a short walking tour of the historical city center before checking out the Museo de Antioquia where many of Fernando Botero's paintings, sculptures and other works are housed. After a couple of hours in the museum we'll enjoy lunch of traditional bandeja paisas, a favorite in this particular department. In the afternoon we'll check out an awesome tour of graffiti street art through Comuna 13, formerly one of Medellin's most dangerous barrios. These days Comuna 13 is an internationally renowned example of how innovative urban regeneration projects can be used to transform and revitalize communities. Our guide will be a member of the Casa Kolacho community center, responsible for 90% of the graffiti art in Comuna 13. As you climb the outdoor electric escalators they'll explain the controversial history of the transformation of Comuna 13 and the importance that graffiti & hip hop play in the community.||Hotel San Pedro del Fuerte
|3||Medellin||After breakfast we're back on the metro, this time headed to the extreme west of the city. Our destination is Parque Arvi, a lushly forested public park high above the city center. To get there we'll board an impressive gondola that not only serves to ferry tourists up the mountain and into the park but also provides people in the impoverished hillside communities an efficient mode of transportation down into the city. The group will spend the day hiking along the different trails, shopping in the market place run by local vendors that has sprung up at the park's center and enjoying a delicious barbecue lunch. Around mid-afternoon we'll head back down the mountain en route to our hostel in Poblado.||Hotel San Pedro del Fuerte
|4||Medellin and surroindings||The adventures continue as we spend the day on one of the two following itineraries. We can either visit Guatapé, a city about 1.5 hours away from Medellin. Here we can see the colorful zocalos, historic town center and bustling boardwalk of this lake resort, take an optional boat ride, as well as ascend the infamous Piedra de Peñol. Or, alternatively, we visit Sante Fé de Antioquia. Here we would learn more about Colombia's first colonial city before visiting the Occidente Bridge on this full-day tour from Medellín.||Hotel San Pedro del Fuerte
|5||Medellin||Today we will enjoy our Spanish lessons so that we can start warming up for our spanish at the homestays! We will have some time to spend across other great spots of the city.||Hotel San Pedro del Fuerte
|6||Medellin - Jardin de Antioquia||Today we will leave the city life to stay with our homestay families in the beautiful village, Jardin de Antioquia. The small town of Jardin is one of the most beautiful pueblos in all of Colombia and has remained virtually unchanged for more than a century. Located approximately 4 hours to the south of Medellin if traveling by car, it sits in the southernmost stretches of the department of Antioquia. The pueblo is famous in Colombia for its preserved and colonial appearance as well as its striking mountain views and lush green, garden filled landscapes. We will arrive in Jardin this afternoon and begin our homestay experience after a short community orientation.||Homestays or local hotel|
|7||Jardin de Antioquia||The days spent in our homestay community represent the heart and soul of the program as students will be volunteering on a selection of meaningful service projects during the day while also enjoying sufficient free time to hang out with their host families and fellow travelers, practice their language skills, play soccer, make friends with local youth, attend community gatherings and explore the surrounding area.||Homestays or local hotel|
|8||Jardin de Antioquia||Service projects, community activities, family time.||Homestays or local hotel|
|9||Jardin de Antioquia||Service projects, community activities, family time.||Homestays or local hotel|
|10||Jardin de Antioquia||After our service work today, we will end our time in the host community by throwing a fiesta de despedida, or going away party, to celebrate the time spent with our new friends and family and say goodbye to the community that has become our home.||Homestays or local hotel|
|11||Samana River region||Today we'll make our way back to Medellin, but not before we embark on a rafting adventure on the Samaná river! After breakfast with our families we'll travel by bus to this full day activity, settling back into Medellin tonight. After we get cleaned up, we'll enjoy a final dinner in country together and reflect on our journey together ahead of our international departure tomorrow.||Hotel San Pedro del Fuerte
|12||Medellin - USA||Fly home||Your own bed, eventually!|
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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.
Hotel San Pedro del Fuerte
Hotel San Pedro del Fuerte is centrally located in Medellín. Located just 10 minutes from Plaza Mayor, this hotel is the perfect location for our group. Students will be split between double or triple rooms based on gender and hotel availability. The hotel has wifi, air conditioning and includes breakfast each morning.
This will be the best part of your trip! Staying with a host family immerses you in the language and culture of the destination, and can lead to deep and lasting relationships with your hosts. Initially intimidating but ultimately unforgettable, there’s no better way to begin to truly understand the place you’re visiting.
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
Long overlooked and too often underestimated, Colombia has made a triumphant return to the travel scene in the past few years thanks to a successful peace process that ended the country’s long running civil war. People should feel safe and be excited to finally be able to explore the beaches, mountains, jungles and cities that have always made Colombia a traveler’s paradise. We have been exploring the country for years now, building a network of contacts and providers for the day when we could return with student groups and we couldn’t be more excited that time has finally arrived! Viva Colombia!
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.
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.
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.
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.
For more information about student learning objectives and the format of the curriculum, click on the ‘learn more’ button below.
To view and complete the Pre-Program Activities, visit our online portal at the button below.
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.
- 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
- Failure to abide by COVID-19 restrictions.
- Stealing, or deliberately damaging or defacing any personal property, buildings or materials.
- Possessing weapons.
- Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle.
- Getting a piercing or tattoo.
- Being out after curfew.
- 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
Walking Tree requires all travelers and staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before travel with limited exceptions. We also require proof of a negative COVID test within 72 hours of travel.
We strongly recommend visiting the CDC Colombia 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.
Vaccination information and requirements are constantly changing. For more information we suggest that you consult your local travel clinic and/or family physician.
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.