2024 Alice Deal Costa Rica Program

Dear Families, Friends, and Travelers – Welcome to the 2024 Alice Deal Costa Rica Program!  To learn more,  you have two webpages at your disposal. The Pre-Enrollment page shares exciting highlights and important info that you will want to know before signing up. Once enrolled, you'll begin using the Post-Enrollment page which offers a greater level of detail.  Please be sure to review the information thoroughly and get excited for Costa Rica! Pura vida! 
Travel Dates: April 13, 2024 - April 23, 2024
Group Organizer(s):
WTT Contact:
Program Tuition: $2,490 USD
Airfare not included in program tuition
Confirmed Airfare: $882

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
April 13USA - AlajuelaToday the group will travel from the USA to Costa Rica, and flights usually arrive in the evening. After arrival, the group will settle into their hotel for the evening and have an orientation meeting where the group will discuss the upcoming trip in detail.Villas Aracari
April 14Alajuela - Sarapiqui RiverThe action starts as we depart for a full day of rafting down the famous Sarapiqui River! We will safely navigate class II and III rapids through tropical canyons while bonding as a group and having a great adventure. We will stop along the river for lunch and then arrive back at our Alajuela hotel for our chocolate workshop, where we will have the opportunity to make our own chocolate. Afterward, we will have dinner.Villas Aracari
April 15Alajuela - Pura SuerteOur journey begins in earnest at Pura Suerte, which is four hours away from Alajuela, and is a beautiful ecological farm deep in the southern rain forest of the country. Upon arrival at Pura Suerte we will tour the farm on a hand on experience that involves tropical fruits and farm animals as well as a nearby family form that produces some of the best beans in the area. We will learn about the importance of organic farming and how rural farmers are taking advantage of sustainable farming practices. We will settle in our jungalows and enjoy dinner after some group activities.Finca Pura Suerte
April 16Pura Suerte - Host CommunityAfter breakfast we will hike down to Nauyaca waterfall, one of the most beautiful in the entire country. We will spend the morning swimming, relaxing, and enjoying lunch at the waterfall. In the afternoon, we will head to the host village to meet our host families. Students, normally paired, will have dinner with their own individual host families this evening. Throughout the program, we'll have the opportunity to interact with community members in Spanish, participate in cultural exchanges, and explore Costa Rican culture.Host Family- Chimirol
April 17Host CommunityOur days in the village will consist mainly of working on our community service project. Lunch will be either be on-site or at home with families. In the afternoons and evenings, activities are flexible and will vary, but may include time with host families, excursions around the village, or activities with the local community.Host Family- Chimirol
April 18Host CommunityToday, we will continue working on our service project and spending time with host families. Evening activities will vary.Host Family- Chimirol
April 19Host CommunityToday we will finish our service project and celebrate with our new friends and family with a fiesta de despedida!Host Family- Chimirol
April 20Host Community - UvitaAfter breakfast we willl head west to Uvita on the central Pacific coast. We will settle into our hotel and then head to the beach where students can take surf lessons on a stretch of coastline that has a reputation for being great for beginners. Students can relax and swim on the pool before dinner.Hotel El Tecal
April 21Uvita - Manuel AntonioToday, we will start our day with an exciting zipline and canopy tour. After lunch, we will explore Manuel Antonio National Park, which bursts with wildlife. Inside, we will find idyllic beaches and winding trails that lead through dense jungle. Students can relax, swim, and explore local artisan markets.Villas Mymosa
April 22Manuel Antonio - Alajuela - USAAfter breakfast, we will make the trip back to San Jose and go straight to the airport for our return flight to the USA.Airplane
April 23USAArrive 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. 
Villas Aracari

Villas Aracari is a beautiful property ideally located just twenty minutes from the airport. Close to the city center yet perched high in the mountains, the views of the Central Valley are breathtaking and the new pool is a delightful respite after a hot day. Spotless rooms and friendly staff will make you feel at home the moment you drop your bags.

Finca Pura Suerte

A grouping of bamboo cabins and impressive communal spaces, this farm is nestled deep in low-land rain forest with views of the Pacific coastline. The accommodations are comfortable, the food fantastic, and the surreal setting provides an ideal introduction to the country’s impressive flora and fauna.

Homestay

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.

Cabinas El Tecal

Cabinas El Tecal is a locally owned and operated three star hotel close to playa Uvita in the Marino Ballena National Park. Off the beaten path, the hotel comes with modern amenities, a private pool, and great service. It’s the perfect place to relax away from the crowds. Free Wi-Fi access throughout the building keeps everyone feeling connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.

Villas Mymosa

Hotel Villas Mymosa is a modern 10 room condo hotel located in the peaceful setting of beautiful Manuel Antonio.  These spacious rooms are fully equipped to provide you with all the amenities of your own home.  Each Villas Mymosa villa has a private terrace or balcony or both.  You have the option of peace and quiet at your villa or interacting with other guests around our beautiful large centrally located pool.

Group Flight

Type Carrier Name Carrier Code Flight Number Departure Airport & City Departure Date and Time  Arrival Airport & City Arrival Date and Time 
Outbound
Copa Airlines
CM
357
IAD – Washington Dulles International Airport, Dulles, United States
April 13, 2024 at 09:25 AM
PTY – Tocumen International Airport, Panama City, Panama
April 13, 2024 at 01:28 PM
Outbound
Copa Airlines
CM
116
PTY – Tocumen International Airport, Panama City, Panama
April 13, 2024 at 03:31 PM
SJO – Juan Santamaria International Airport, Alajuela, Costa Rica
April 13, 2024 at 03:57 PM
Inbound
Copa Airlines
CM
115
SJO – Juan Santamaria International Airport, Alajuela, Costa Rica
April 22, 2024 at 04:59 PM
PTY – Tocumen International Airport, Panama City, Panama
April 22, 2024 at 07:22 PM
Inbound
Copa Airlines
CM
404
PTY – Tocumen International Airport, Panama City, Panama
April 22, 2024 at 10:29 PM
IAD – Washington Dulles International Airport, Dulles, United States
April 23, 2024 at 04:20 AM

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

Walking Tree’s approach to service is a collaborative one.  Staff and community leaders deliberate on project options before jointly deciding how best to use the resources available. Groups will typically complete ~6 hrs of service a day, broken up by a mid-day meal on site.

Generally, the project work entails renovating or replacing existing community infrastructure such as a health clinic, church, or school. Program leaders will work to develop additional opportunities such as interactive time with local school children; picture everyone playing a raucous game of ‘Simón dice’!

Specific details about your work will be available in the lead up to departure.

 

 

Packing List

What follows is a sample packing list that is provided as a guideline. Feel free to augment as you feel necessary.  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.

“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. 

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 shirt
  • Lightweight sweater for nights in the  community
  • Rain jacket or poncho
  • Travel/athletic shorts that are breathable and light
  • 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 for such occasions, boys may want to opt for a polo shirt or button up shirt with jeans)
  • Durable athletic/hiking shoes with good grip
  • Sandals (Chaco/Teva/Keen/Merrel sandals are great to have for water activities)
  • Work gloves – required for service work
  • Bandana for work site (optional)
  • A hat that can protect your neck
  • Swimming suit/s

TOILETRIES

  • In addition to the basics…
  • Sunscreen (You will use a lot. Natural products/lotions are preferred over aerosol, especially for the beach)
  • Mosquito repellent (non-deet/lotions are preferred to reduce environmental impact)
  • Basic first aid supplies
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Medication in properly marked original container. It’s important that medication travel in its original container

MISCELLANEOUS

  • Sunglasses
  • Journal and pen
  • Book/s
  • Camera
  • Debit card/US Dollars (we recommend about $50-$150, depending on number of desired snacks, souvenirs, extra items etc.)
  • Durable water bottle
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Flashlight/headlamp
  • Batteries
  • Deck of cards or other portable games
  • Host family gift

HOMESTAY GIFTS
Travelers often contact us regarding what an appropriate gift might be for their student’s host family. Host families are often curious about where our students come from and their families in the U.S. As such, we recommend a simple gift that describes, represents or depicts your home. Well-received gifts in the past have included calendars or picture/coffee table books from your city or state, a framed picture of your family, paraphernalia from a local sports team, toys, soccer balls, school supplies, or something produced or grown in your hometown, like chocolate, local candy, t-shirts, etc. The most important thing to keep in mind is not to worry about this… Anything, no matter its value, will be well received!

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.

Amelia “Ame” Garita Castillo
Amelia “Ame” Garita Castillo
Country Operations Manager - Costa Rica


University Nacional, Costa Rica. Business Management/Sustainable Tourism

Amelia was born in San Gerardo de Rivas, Costa Rica, close to the highest mountain Cerro Chirripo. While a young girl Ame had the opportunity to climb Cerro Chirripo with her father over 50 times before she turned 18, and fell in love with the outdoors and wilderness. After having these amazing experiences she went on to study tourism and business management in the National University of Costa Rica where she graduated with a bachelors degree. Since then she has worked for the Costa Rican tourism board, before moving on to guiding. She has worked guiding students in outdoor adventure working for Outward Bound Costa Rica, Outward Bound Mexico, and Outward Bound Hong Kong. She also guides wilderness therapy with Pure Life by Aspiro in Costa Rica. She has had the pleasure of traveling in Europe and South America which further confirmed her love for traveling, the outdoors, and guiding. She has traveled to over 14 countries and loves to share her experiences with others and also help them discover their own passion, and worldly views. She speaks fluent Spanish and English, and most enjoys her time by guiding and helping others. She now works for Walking Tree full time as a part of the Country Operations Team in Costa Rica.

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.

Carola Coto Mora
Carola Coto Mora
Program Leader


Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje – Certified Naturalist Guide

Born and raised in Costa Rica, Carola is passionate about nature, education, family and sports. She is a dynamic, adventurous and friendly person who has worked with student groups for the majority of her professional career. Carola lives in one of the most lush and biodiverse places in Costa Rica, and you can always catch her with her telescope for viewing wildlife.  She loves travel and has been to almost every corner of Costa Rica showing tourists the natural beauty of her country.

Patricia Porras Gonzalez
Patricia Porras Gonzalez
Program Leader


Patricia was born in San José, Costa Rica and raised in Sarapiquí. She hold a Bachelor’s degree in Education for primary and secondary levels. Over 11 years she has worked in adventure tourism and for a non-profit organization dedicated to forest conservation. During her time in tourism, she was part of organizing the Adventure Racing World Championship in Costa Rica, hosting delegations from over 50 countries. This opportunity led her to Ecuador as a special guest for their Adventure Racing World Championship. Patricia has traveled to other countries like Peru, Guatemala, and the United States. As an elementary school teacher, she taught in a rural area bordering Nicaragua, engaging with students at various grade levels. Her passions include conservation, forests, outdoor sports and travel.

Group Roster

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

  • 1 Jaelin Romero Soto
  • 2 Gabriel Ardila
  • 3 Maxwell Anello
  • 4 Luka Bennett
  • 5 Radames Gonzalez
  • 6 Benjamin Shepard
  • 7 Martina Dudine
  • 8 Juliet Tomlinson
  • 9 Makenzi Currie
  • 10 Curial Sala Espachs
  • 11 Sydney Kass
  • 12 Catalina Siga
  • 13 Elyse Lerum
  • 14 Dmitri Goebes
  • 15 Maxwell Van Leeuwen
  • 16 Annabelle Howells
  • 17 Camille Lewis
  • 18 Amelie Dyczewski
  • 19 Adele Redmond
  • 20 Stella Ruf
  • 21 Eva Ruf
  • 22 Christopher Gomez Sanchez
  • 23 Davis Luckett
  • 24 Kate Parker
  • 25 Grace Phelan
  • 26 Ida Laitin
26 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 Costa Rica 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 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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