2023 Colorado Springs Thailand Elephant Expedition

Dear Families, Friends, and Travelers – Welcome to the 2023 Thailand Elephant Conservation Expedition! We have created two webpages dedicated to this exciting program so that travelers are as informed as possible throughout the process. The Pre-Enrollment page is meant to share exciting details, highlights and pertinent info that participants will want to know before enrolling.  Once enrolled, the Post-Enrollment page, will prepare travelers for participation on the adventure ahead. We hope you are excited for all the amazing things Thailand has to offer!!
Travel Dates: May 31, 2023 - June 12, 2023
Group Organizer(s):
WTT Contact:
Program Tuition: $2,790 USD
Deadline(s): As of 4/10, new enrollments will pay live cost of airfare. All group seats at $1779 are accounted for.

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
May 31USA - Bangkok, ThailandFly from USA to Bangkok, ThailandAirplane
June 1USA - Bangkok, ThailandIn transit, continue flying to Bangkok, ThailandAirplane
June 2BangkokSawatdee! Welcome to Bangkok, Thailand! After our long day of travel, we will check in and rest for a bit at our guesthouse. In the evening, we will have welcome dinner and explore the neighborhood around our guesthouse, soaking up the new sights, smells, and sounds!56 Surawong Hotel
June 3BangkokWe will have an orientation meeting and brief Thai culture introduction in the morning. In the afternoon, we will explore 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
June 4Bangkok - SalakpraToday we will head to Kanchanaburi Province. We will partner with the local community and the organization 'Our Land' to learn about wild elephant conservation, the farmer/elephant conflict in the area, what action is being done to help, and how we can contribute! Before heading to Our Land's conservation center, we will learn about river and jungle ecology in during our hike of the area. OWL HOUSE Community Cabins
June 5SalakpraAfter a traditional Thai breakfast prepared by our hosts, we will start our training session on Human Elephant Conflict and begin helping village leaders and local community build a check dam in the wildlife sanctuary that allows water resources to be available for humans and elephants. Later, we will visit a local school before heading back to our lodge. OWL HOUSE Community Cabins
June 6Salakpra - Sai YokTeam up with local community members to work at the tree nursery as part of a project meant to help sustain both local farmers as well as provide a larger habitat for 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.Sai Yok House Boat
June 7Sai Yok - KanchanaburiAfter our relaxing breakfast on the river, we will make our way to 'Elephant Heaven', a nearby elephant sanctuary where we'll spend the day learning more about the conservation movement and helping with the daily activities of the sanctuary and interact with elephants. In the afternoon, we will make a visit to the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum to learn about story of the Thailand to Burma Railway built in 1942/43, largely by Prisoners of War of the Imperial Japanese Army.Pavillion Rim Khwae Resort
June 8Kanchanaburi - Kui BuriToday we will participate in BTEH's Coexistence Walk to learn how the local community of farmers coexist with the local population of elephants sharing resources and finding alternative sources of income other than do not depend on crops that the elephants feed from, such as pineapples, mangos and durian. We will finish this walk with a workshop on how to make soap and candles, products that the farmers are encourage to make as part the Tom Yum Project that looks teach farmers to rely on crops that are not affected by the elephants and avoid conflict between theses groups. Baan Rai Kong Mun
June 9Kui BuriAfter breakfast we will begin our service project. Today we will continue working in BTEH's tree nursery and learn about alternative crops such as lemongrass and chili. After lunch we will learn how the local community makes natural dyes, pineapple leaf paper and beeswax as an alternative to agriculture. We will end the day swimming at the reservoir and a cooking class with our friends from the Tom Yum project where we will prepare our own dinner. Baan Rai Kong Mun
June 10Kui Buri - BangkokToday we will head back to the city but before we will get the chance to enjoy nature one last time. We will wake up early to catch breakfast at a viewing spot and on the way back we will do some birdwatching. We will then pack out bags and start the drive back to Bangkok in time for a celebratory dinner ahead of our international flight the next day.56 Surawong Hotel
June 11Bangkok - USAToday we'll spend some time exploring some city markets for last-minute souvenir shopping before heading to the airport for our flight. Say your goodbyes to Thailand, we're off to the U.S!Airplane
June 12USAArrive homeYour own bed

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. 
56 Surawong Hotel

56 Surawong Hotel is centrally located as it’s walking distance from Bangkok’s Skytrain, market places, restaurants and other street food vendors. 56 Surawong Hotel can accommodate 2-3 students  per room and everyone will have their own bed. Some of the amenities include private bathrooms, air conditioning and hot water.

 

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.

Baan Rai Kong Mun – Kui Buri

Baan Rai Kong Mun is a comfortable lodge located near Kui Buri National Park surrounded by nature and wildlife. This hotel offers air conditioned rooms with private bathrooms, TV and a mini fridge.

Group Flight

Type Carrier Name Carrier Code Flight Number Departure Airport & City Departure Date and Time  Arrival Airport & City Arrival Date and Time 
Outbound
Lufthansa Airlines
LH
447
DEN – Denver International Airport, Denver, United States
May 31, 2023 at 05:35 PM
FRA – Frankfurt Airport, Frankfurt, Germany
June 01, 2023 at 11:10 AM
Outbound
Austrian Airlines
OS
212
FRA – Frankfurt Airport, Frankfurt, Germany
June 01, 2023 at 04:15 PM
VIE – Vienna International Airport, Vienna, Austria
June 01, 2023 at 05:40 PM
Outbound
Austrian Airlines
OS
25
VIE – Vienna International Airport, Vienna, Austria
June 01, 2023 at 11:25 PM
BKK – Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok, Thailand
June 02, 2023 at 02:40 PM
Inbound
Lufthansa Airlines
LH
773
BKK – Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok, Thailand
June 11, 2023 at 11:00 PM
MUC – Munich International Airport, Munich, Germany
June 12, 2023 at 05:20 AM
Inbound
Lufthansa Airlines
LH
480
MUC – Munich International Airport, Munich, Germany
June 12, 2023 at 11:55 AM
DEN – Denver International Airport, Denver, United States
June 12, 2023 at 02:25 PM

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

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
  • Light weight rain jacket
  • Swim suit/s
  • Travel/athletic shorts that are breathable and light (no short shorts please)
  • Comfortable/hiking/everyday pants (NOT all jeans)
  • Durable athletic/hiking shoes
  • Sandals
  • Work gloves
  • Hat/s
  • 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/s
  • Camera
  • Power Adapter
  • Debit card/US Dollars (we recommend about $50-$150, depending on amount of desired souvenirs, extra
    items etc.)
  • Durable water bottle
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Headlamp
  • Deck of cards or other portable games
  • Host family gift
  • Pictures of family, friends, home

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.

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.

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!

Joey Hebl
Joey Hebl
Program Leader


Pomona College – B.A in Biology and Spanish

Joey is a proud cheese-head, born-and-raised in Western Wisconsin, who currently resides in Portland, Oregon. He attended Pomona College for undergrad where he played third-base for the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens, while also pursuing majors in Biology and Spanish. Joey was fortunate to study abroad in high school and college, traveling to Ecuador and Argentina, respectively. He was most recently in medical school but is now seeking to reconnect with his life’s great passions, including clinical research, travel, speaking Spanish, and divining the intricacies of home-made sour-dough bread. Joey seeks new environments, people, and experiences that help provide him a greater understanding of and appreciation for the human experience. Additionally, Joey is passionate about mentorship, and enjoys encouraging and guiding others through challenges, successes, and everything in between

Group Roster

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

  • 1 Khurram Khan
  • 2 Tiffany Willard
  • 3 Samir Khan
  • 4 Hoa Hoang
  • 5 Ivy Webb
  • 6 Ceirra Carter
  • 7 Jasmine Le
  • 8 Alyson Le
  • 9 Jon Simeraro
  • 10 Michael Faricy
  • 11 Neil Vogt
  • 12 Laura Koselak
  • 13 Kaden Koselak
  • 14 Cassian Koselak
  • 15 Kaci Guthrie
  • 16 Khurram Khan
  • 17 Tiffany Willard
  • 18 Samir Khan
  • 19 Kaden Koselak
  • 20 Cassian Koselak
  • 21 Laura Koselak
21 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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