2024 Lake Oswego Middle School Costa Rica Cultural Journey

Dear Families, Friends, and Travelers – Welcome to the 2024 Lake Oswego Middle School Costa Rica Cultural Journey! We have created two webpages dedicated to this exciting opportunity: this first page, the Pre-Enrollment Page, is meant to share exciting details, highlights and pertinent info that potential travelers 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 hope you are excited for all Costa Rica has to offer!!
Travel Dates: June 20, 2024 - June 29, 2024
Group Organizer(s):
WTT Contact:
Program Tuition: $2,990 USD
Airfare not included in program tuition
Confirmed Airfare: $1,468

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 20USA - 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.Rosa de las Américas
June 21Alajuela - Pura SuerteOur journey begins at Pura Suerte, a beautiful ecological farm deep in the southern rain forest of the country 4 hours away from Alajuela. Upon arrival at Pura Suerte we will tour the farm as well as a nearby coffee plantation that produces some of the highest quality beans in the area. Throughout the program, we'll have the opportunity to interact with community members in Spanish, participate in cultural exchanges, and explore Costa Rican culture.Pura Suerte Bungalows
June 22Pura SuerteIn the morning we will hike down to Nauyaca waterfall, a spectacular three-story waterfall not far from the farm. We will spend the day here, getting to know one another, swimming and taking in the natural beauty of the jungle. After lunch by the river we will return to the farm for a cooking class, we will make tortillas, empanadas and picadillo. After dinner we will enjoy a relaxing evening.Pura Suerte Bungalows
June 23Pura Suerte - UvitaAfter breakfast, we will depart for the central Pacific coast. We will spend the afternoon having private surf lessons from some of Costa Rica's best surfers. Never surfed before? No problem! The waves at Uvita are perfect for beginners and almost everyone is able to stand up. In the evening, the group will have time for our group reflection and pool time at the hotel.Hotel El Tecal
June 24Uvita - Matapalo - DominicalToday we will explore the Matapalo mangrove located half an hour away from Uvita. While on our kayak or SUP, we will navigate the mangrove canals while we learn about this very important ecosystem and its flora and fauna. On the way back to Uvita, we will make a stop in Dominical where we will have to chance to put our bargaining skill at the town's street artisan market. After our dinner in town, we will have time to relax at the hotel.Hotel El Tecal
June 25Uvita - Manuel AntonioAfter a hearty breakfast, we will visit Manuel Antonio, one of the most stunning national parks in the country. We will have time to hike through the national park, enjoy a beautiful beach, and spend time surrounded by monkeys and other animals. In the evening, we will have some down time at the hotel pool to relax.Hotel Manuel Antonio Park
June 26La FortunaAfter lunch we will start our 4 hour drive to La Fortuna, home of Costa Rica's most famous volcano, Volcán Arenal. On our way, we will stop at a secluded swimming hole to cool off, then settle in to our hotel near the heart of the town.San Bosco Inn
June 27La Fortuna - SarapiquíToday the group will hike to La Catarata de la Fortuna for a refreshing swim at the base of the magnificent waterfall that cascades from a height of over 70 meters. The strenuous hike is a perfect segue to an afternoon of relaxing at the Baldí Hot Springs, a luxurious natural hot springs heated by the volcanic activity of the Arenal Volcano.San Bosco Inn
June 28La Fortuna - Sarpiquí - San JoséWe will start our final full day with an exciting zip line tour through the jungle canopy, then have a bit more time for shopping and last minute souvenirs in La Fortuna.

In the afternoon, we will return to San Jose for our going away dinner and final reflection.
Villas Aracari
June 29San José - USAAfter breakfast, we will head to the airport for a morning departure back to the USA.Your own bed!

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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. 
Rosa de las Américas

A charming ranch-style hotel on the outskirts of San José, Rosa de  las Americas is a great spot to unwind after a long day’s travels. This hotel is complete with a lush gardens, a big pool, updated rooms, and friendly staff.

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.

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 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.

San Bosco Inn

Located right in downtown La Fortuna, San Bosco Inn offers a great location, a pool, restaurant and cozy bedrooms. This is the ideal location from which students can the nearby waterfalls, caves, thermal hot springs, and of course the amazing Arenal Volcano. All rooms are equipped with A/C with free Wi-Fi to keep everyone feeling comfortable and connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.

Hotel Manuel Antonio Park

Hotel Manuel Antonio Park is located a 3-minute walk from Manuel Antonio National Park and features an outdoor pool and a garden. We have a tour desk and a restaurant. We offer free WiFi .All our rooms are equipped with a wardrobe and air conditioning. We are just a 10-minute drive from the town of Quepos.

 

Group Flight

Type Carrier Name Carrier Code Flight Number Departure Airport & City Departure Date and Time  Arrival Airport & City Arrival Date and Time 
Outbound
UA
1090
June 20, 2024 at 07:05 AM
June 20, 2024 at 01:20 PM
Outbound
UA
1280
June 20, 2024 at 04:58 PM
June 20, 2024 at 07:37 PM
Inbound
UA
1087
June 29, 2024 at 06:35 AM
June 29, 2024 at 12:08 PM
Inbound
UA
2662
June 29, 2024 at 03:55 PM
June 29, 2024 at 05:38 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 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 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.

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.

Hillary Mora
Hillary Mora
Spain Country Director


Hillary was born in Sarapiqui, a small but pretty town on the Caribbean slope in Costa Rica, one of the most biologically intense places in the country.  She grew up climbing trees, going hiking around rivers, swinging on vines and everything you can imagine in the forest. She is truly a nature lover.  When she finished high school, she thought she wanted to study business administration, but eventually figured out that was not her passion. She began studying English and started working on the airport which opened her eyes to the world of tourism. She soon found out that nature and education are her passions. She began working in Tirimbina Biological Reserve, where she fell in love with the forest once again.  Hillary is  focusing her career on environmental education, where she coordinates a project called the Leaf Cutter Project which helps students get in contact with and learn about conservation, interpretation and everything about nature. She has traveled to Europe, Belize, and Panama. Hillary loves traveling and learning about other cultures, but what she loves the most is helping others.

Group Roster

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

  • 1 Ava Holder
  • 2 Avery Miller
  • 3 Elle McCan
  • 4 Ellie Rogers
  • 5 Emma Irwin
  • 6 Jackson Douvris
  • 7 Jovan Dransfeldt
  • 8 Juliet Weber
  • 9 Logan Imus
  • 10 Luke Leonhardt
  • 11 Mitchell Carlson
  • 12 Peyton Fowler
  • 13 Piper Barney
  • 14 Rithik Sekar
  • 15 Ryan Casey
  • 16 Siena Miller
  • 17 Tamia Grosser
  • 18 Valerie Karyukin
  • 19 Zoie Senzaki
19 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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