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A young arriero leads a mule across fresh snow in the Peruvian Andes. Photo by Benjamin Swift (2016 Fall Semester Photo Contest Finalist), South America Semester.

Expected Itinerary

Hello everyone. As the semester is approaching I’m sure you are all excited to get start. We your instructor team are as well. Below is a prospective itinerary. We want to emphasize that this itinerary will probably change. There is always the possibility for new opportunities to arise during course, or for an unexpected event to change plans. We want to be flexible and ready for these changes and opportunities. For this reason view the following as a framework we will work under. Be excited but don’t fixate on a single activity. The whole of this will be awesome.

Andes Leadership Semester: Patagonia to Peru

February 7 Students arrive in Balmaceda, Chile

February 8 – 10 Course orientation and wilderness expedition preparation: Chile Chico, Chile

February 11 – 26 Backcountry wilderness and service expedition: Parque Patagonia, Chile

During this two-week self-supported backcountry expedition, we will learn and practice the fundamentals of wilderness travel. From learning backcountry cooking techniques on a single burner stove, map-reading and off-trail navigation, and how to assess risks inherent in mountain environments, students will walk away with the ability to comfortably live outside. In addition, students will practice and reflect on leadership and intentional community, taking on leadership roles among their peers and working toward building a supportive, cohesive community of shared responsibility. Frequent conversational Spanish lessons and discussions about environmental studies will add an important dimension to this expedition and a foundation for future sections in the semester.

Feb. 27 – February 29 De-issue and prep for climbing and service expedition: Chile Chico, Chile

Upon arriving to the hostel, students will clean and organize their group and personal gear, take showers, and get to eat some fresh food. The next few days will be spent exploring the town of Chile Chico while also preparing for the next section.

March 1 – March 10 Sport climbing and service expedition: Villa Cerro Castillo, Chile

Students will travel the 3 ½ hours from Chile Chico to the small town of Villa Cerro Castillo, nestled below the impressive mountain massif of the same name. Students will camp at a local hostel and split their time between climbing and learning about the increasingly recreation-based tourist economy. Depending on local partners we may spend time in the nearby National Park, exploring and/or doing a service project to increase the parks sustainability.  During this section, students will gain a basic knowledge of sport climbing: belaying, basic movement, rappelling, and building/cleaning anchors. Spanish classes, community-building, and conversations about sustainable development will also be a part of everyday life.

March 11 – 12 We will deissue gear and prep for travel to Peru: Villa Cerro Castillo, Chile

March 13 – 15 Fly to Cuzco, Peru; we will take several days to acclimatize and orient ourselves to the new country and surroundings while also beginning to set goals for self-defined learning.

March 16 – March 30 We’ll spend around two weeks in Urubamba in homestays. Here students will begin independent studies, organized Spanish lessons, and cultural immersion in the Sacred Valley, Peru.

March 31 – April 18 After two weeks in Urubamba we will take a week to move our bodies. Working with local guides we will leave the Sacred Valley and make our way through mountains and small indigenous communities. We will pass through sacred landscapes and start to understand how these communities live and interact with the land. We’ll pass the second half of this section in a small rural community high above the Sacred Valley. In homestays students will have the opportunity to interact with indigenous culture and language while learning about local agriculture and food systems.

April 19 – April 25 Final Group Expedition in southern Peru. As a culminating experience, students will craft a student-planned expedition that draws on all of the skills introduced and practiced throughout the semester. This expedition will likely take place fully in a backcountry, wilderness environment, but may also be a continuation of a cultural exploration. Students will be given specific parameters and resources to plan, as well as designate specific roles within the group to share leadership and responsibility.

April 26 – 29 Deissue, course end, and transference, Cuzco, Peru