Challenge yourself to connect with the sea and the mountains and to meet your leadership goals on this expedition. You’ll explore the fjords and rugged mountains of coastal Patagonia on foot and by kayak. You will form deep friendships and explore Chile’s wild and pristine landscape. By the end of this expedition, you’ll be ready to paddle and backpack on your own for many adventures to come.
This course will interweave sea kayaking and backpacking as you explore Patagonia’s remote coastline. You’ll primarily travel by sea kayak, while taking advantage of opportunities to explore inland on foot as the kayak route allows.
Your expedition will begin at the NOLS campus, or campo (our working farm), just outside the town of Coyhaique, Chile, where you will organize the necessary gear and the rations. Once you depart the NOLS base, your course will be self-sufficient until you return a month later.
Your course will begin with the basics, including camping skills, such as cooking and navigation, and developing a positive and supportive group culture. As you learn to kayak, you will develop the ocean travel skills needed to safely navigate Patagonia’s fjords. Skills such as chart reading, self care, hazard assessment, and camp craft will transfer well into the mountains as you embark on exploratory backpacking routes that may lead to an unnamed peak, an island’s unexplored interior, or a hidden pocket beach on the Pacific coast.
Although you’ll have formal classes, most of your learning will be experiential and will take place as you practice your leadership skills through backcountry living. The skills you learn will vary depending on the particular route, weather conditions, and the evolution of your expedition team.
On this course, you’ll be exploring a raw, remote and beautiful wilderness that few have ever seen. You'll learn about different ways of life—both the Patagonian culture and the NOLS expedition culture—and, in the process, learn a lot about yourself and your own culture. After experiencing expedition-style travel in Patagonia, you'll be prepared to live and travel in a wide variety of conditions, both environmental and cultural.