Andes Leadership Semester

Patagonia to Peru: A 3-month semester in South America


A Where There Be Dragons and High Mountain Institute Collaborative Expedition

The Andes mountains are the world’s longest mountain range, stretching over 4,000 miles from Tierra del Fuego to the Caribbean coast of Venezuela. They contain some of the world’s greatest ecological diversity: from wind-swept tundra, vast ice fields, and lenga forests in the south to the dizzying biodiversity in the rainforest and cloud forest of the upper Amazon, draining heavily glaciated summits rising over 22,000 feet. In these dramatic landscapes, one encounters cultures whose livelihood is reliant on an intimate connection with the land: gauchos herding sheep and drinking yerba mate in Patagonia and traditional Quechua farmers harvesting quinoa and potatoes on ancient terraces in the Peruvian Andes.

This rugged course offers mountain-loving students the opportunity to study Spanish and to explore the high peaks, mountain communities, and rock climbing opportunities in two of the most intriguing parts of the range – Chilean Patagonia and the Southern Peruvian Andes. Students will gain a variety of outdoor and expeditionary skills such as expedition planning, navigation, remote wilderness travel, high-altitude experience, and rock climbing. Participants will also improve their Spanish and leadership skills, gain a deeper understanding of Andean mountain culture and spirituality, and examine various perspectives on environmental conservation. Through these themes, students will be challenged to consider their own relationship to important global issues and their capacity as leaders to address them.

This unique partnership between HMI and Dragons leverages the respective experience and expertise of each organization, with HMI’s Patagonia Gap program and Dragons Andes and Amazon Semester. Students will participate in extended homestays in a Quechua community, Spanish language classes, 1-2 weeks of single pitch rock climbing and multi-week wilderness expeditions. The course concludes with several student-directed opportunities: an independent student project and a student-planned expedition.

View a Sample Itinerary.