2024 All Saints Episcopal Costa Rica Program

Dear Families, Friends, and Travelers – Welcome to the 2024 All Saints' Episcopal 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: October 8, 2024 - October 14, 2024
Group Organizer(s):
WTT Contact:
Program Tuition: $2,390 USD
Airfare not included in program tuition
Confirmed Airfare: $797

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 abide by  itineraries as originally planned, but decades of experience teachers that we must flexible in our planning. Changes to a trip’s schedule are uncommon, but Walking Tree reserves the right to make adjustments to programming in the best interest of the group. 

DayLocationDescriptionLodging
October 8USA - 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 to discuss the upcoming trip in detail.Villas Aracari
October 9Alajuela - San GerardoAfter breakfast we we'll head to our host community San Gerardo de Rivas. After arrival we'll tour the town, we will get settled into our accommodation, we will meet our local guide and learn more about ChirripoHotel El Descanso
October 10Base CrestonesToday, we will start our adventure to hike to the tallest mountain in Costa Rica, Chirripó. We will hike up to 14.5 kilometers to reach the Base Crestones Lodge. Once we are in the lodge, we will rest and prepare ourselves to see the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea from the top of ChirripóBase Crestones
October 11San Gerardo- UvitaToday, we will say goodbye to Chirripó. In the afternoon, after lunch, we will head to Uvita on the central Pacific coast. We will settle into our hotel and then head to the beach, where students can witness the first sunset.El Tecal
October 12UvitaAfter breakfast students will take surf lessons from professional instructors along a wide, expansive and empty stretch of coastline that has a reputation for breaks that are great for beginners. After surfing and enjoy the beach for the afternoon before enjoying a delicious dinner overlooking the Pacific Ocean.El Tecal
October 13Uvita- AlajuelaToday we'll end the trip with a splash during a whitewater rafting trip along the Savegre River! Navigate class I, II and III rapids as you descend from the mountains towards the ocean. After lunch we'll make the drive back to the big city for a cozy farewell dinner ahead of our international departure the following morning.Villas Aracari
October 14Alajuela - USAAfter breakfast, we will head to the airport for a morning departure back to the USA.Your 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 group accommodations. Walking Tree partners with hotels and guest houses which are centrally located, locally operated, clean and safe.  We inspect each partner hotel to ensure they meet these standards.

Below are the accommodations we anticipate using on your program, 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.

Hotel El Descanso

This is small but cozy hotel that typically hosts travelers that come to the region to hike Cerro Chirripo, Costa Rica’s highest peak. This family owned hotel has great views of the surrounding mountains and is located only a short walk away from the community’s center  by  The hotel also has its own restaurant where students may get a wide variety of food. Free Wi-Fi access throughout the building keeps everyone feeling connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.

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.

Group Flight

Type Carrier Name Carrier Code Flight Number Departure Airport & City Departure Date and Time  Arrival Airport & City Arrival Date and Time 
Outbound
American Airlines
AA
1053
DFW – Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Dallas-Fort Worth, United States
October 08, 2024 at 10:05 AM
SJO – Juan Santamaria International Airport, Alajuela, Costa Rica
October 08, 2024 at 01:21 PM
Inbound
American Airlines
AA
1080
SJO – Juan Santamaria International Airport, Alajuela, Costa Rica
October 14, 2024 at 01:56 PM
DFW – Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Dallas-Fort Worth, United States
October 14, 2024 at 07:20 PM

Once your flight schedule 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 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. 

The region of the country you will be visiting is in a lush tropical rainforest and next to the ocean and therefore humidity is omnipresent and it can take a while for clothes to dry. Keep this in mind when selecting your clothing fabric.

Most importantly, be sure to remember your PASSPORT and STUDENT ID.

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
  • Long sleeve quick dry shirt (for activities under the sun such as rafting or surfing)
  • 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)
  • Thick long socks (for the sand fleas)
  • Bandana for work site (optional)
  • A hat that can protect your neck
  • Swimming suit, for surf classes a rash guard is recommended for sensitive skins

TOILETRIES: BRING THE BASIC TOILETRIES YOU NEED PLUS:

  • 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)
  • Band Aids and Neosporin
  • Anti-itch cream
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Medication in properly marked original container. It’s important that medication travel in its original container, as customs officials have the right to confiscate it otherwise.

MISCELLANEOUS:

  • Sunglasses
  • Eyeglass straps (such as Croakies, Chums, etc.) for water activities
  • Journal and pen
  • Book
  • Camera (digital, disposable, waterproof)
  • Debit card/US Dollars (we recommend about $50-$150, depending on number of desired snacks, souvenirs, extra items etc.)
  • Durable water bottle
  • 1 quick-dry towel
  • Flashlight/headlamp
  • Batteries
  • Deck of cards or other portable games

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 staff in all destinations and 24/7 support from our headquarters in Denver, Colorado. Below you’ll find the the team members involved in the preparation, planning and execution 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.

Group Roster

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

  • 1 Brooke Terry
  • 2 Celeste Thompson
  • 3 Ellie Robertson
  • 4 Eva Keisler
  • 5 Hadley Reasor
  • 6 Hannah Ross
  • 7 Isaac Turpin
  • 8 Ryan Beard
  • 9 Susan Hayes
  • 10 Xzavius Turpin
10 Travelers

Blog and Communication

During travel we work hard to keep families updated as frequently as possible with blog posts and photos, giving you peace of mind that your traveler is safe and thriving on their program.  Students regularly contribute to these posts, providing families bak home a great way to vicariously track the progress of the trip. You will be notified when the first update is posted, after which we recommend checking in regularly via the black “Program Blog” button at the top of this webpage.

Assuming your school allows the use of cell phones, most destinations are wired enough to allow participants access WiFi at different moments in the program, allowing them to communicate directly with home. 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 vital that travelers are prepared to be on their best behavior and bring enthusiasm and interest to each and every day. A communal atmosphere of trust and mutual respect is the foundational.  As such, all individuals participating on a Walking Tree program are required to take responsibility for their actions and adhere to a high standard of personal conduct.

IMMEDIATE DISMISSAL

  1. Possessing, consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs.
  2. Associating with participants while they are in possession of 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. 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 travelers and 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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