Field Studies Patagonia

Overview Details Itinerary What to Pack FAQs Before You Go

Overview

Patagonia in the snow—Overland heads south, far south for adventure.

We’ll start our adventure in vibrant, historic Buenos Aires. Our group will brush up on our Spanish, explore a bit and seek out opportunities to serve a community.

Below the jagged peaks of Patagonia, we’ll serve a variety of organizations in El Calafate. Our projects are simple, but important: working at a bilingual grade school and volunteering at a local wildlife reserve. Watching the sun hit the snowcapped peaks, we’ll explore the area as we serve.

We will then spend time in the small frontier town of El Chaltén. We will see the northern end of Los Glaciares National Park on day hikes in the surrounding Fitz Roy Range and serve with the Argentine National Parks administration.

We’ll hike in Nahuel Huapi, Argentina’s oldest National Park. With stunning views of the Seven Lakes Region set in the forground of the Andes, we’ll engage with the culture of the small city of Bariloche, situated on the shore of Lake Nahuel Huapi. Nestled in the foothills of the Andes, Bariloche offers a unique rural and cultural experience.

Every step of the way our group will become closer. Stories and laughter, friendship and fun will fill our days in Patagonia. With Overland leaders guiding and supporting us, we will make Field Studies Patagonia as much about the group and our time together as it is about exploring Patagonia.

Questions? Contact us!

Want to learn more? Find a presentation near you!

I had many favorite parts—from the long hikes with breathtaking views to late nights playing cards to laughing around the dining table. The whole trip was a highlight.


- Alex Durham, Atlanta, Georgia
Itinerary may vary by group and is subject to change.

Day 1: Trip Start and Explore Buenos Aires

After meeting at the airport in Buenos Aires, we’ll head to our downtown accommodations to settle in before heading out to explore the city. We’ll spend our first afternoon touring the Plaza de Mayo—the hub of political life in Argentina–and the President’s Palace, La Casa Rosada.

Days 2 & 3: Spanish Lessons and Service in Buenos Aires

In the bustling capital city of Buenos Aires, we’ll practice our Spanish with two half-days of native-speaker instruction. Our classes will focus on the foundations of the language as well as key phrases and words to know for our three weeks in South America. Our teachers will incorporate information about Patagonia and the places we plan to visit into our lessons. In the afternoons, we’ll get a glimpse of Argentine culture as we tour parts of the city and volunteer at a local school.

Days 4-7: Exploration and Service in El Calafate

We’ll head south on a domestic flight from Buenos Aires to El Calafate. This city will serve as a homebase for our group during our time in Patagonia. For three days, we will work at a bilingual grade school and at a local wildlife reserve. At the grade school, we will teach English to Argentine students and improve our Spanish. At the reserve on the shores of Lago Argentino, we will assist with trail maintenance, signage improvements, species cataloging and general maintenance. We’ll ice skate on Lago Argentino and check out the Glaciarium, a renowned museum dedicated to the glaciers, history and geography of Patagonia.

Days 8-13: El Chaltén, Service and Hiking

Located within Los Glaciares National Park, El Chaltén is known as the hiking capital of Argentina. The town offers access to the breathtaking Fitz Roy range. Throughout Los Glaciares National Park, we will hike along potentially snowy trails to glacial lakes like Laguna Torre and Laguna Capri—both offering stunning views of Cerro Torre and Cerro Fitz Roy. We’ll learn about the geology and history of the area from National Park Rangers and work alongside them both on the trails and inside their headquarters in El Chaltén. Through our cooperative relationship with the National Park Service, we’ll gain a greater understanding of the history of Los Glaciares National Park and discuss conservation and development throughout Patagonia. We’ll return to our warm accommodations in town at the end of each day. At the end of our time in El Chaltén, we’ll head back to El Calafate for one more adventure before flying north to Bariloche.

Day 14: Perito Moreno Glacier

Located at the western end of Lago Argentino, the Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the most famous glaciers in Patagonia. We’ll cap off our time in Patagonia with a full-day guided trip to see the glacier, both walking in front of it on a series of viewing platforms and also seeing its massive prominence from a motor boat. We may even have the opportunity to see some of its 60-meter-high walls of ice calve off into the water and become icebergs. In the evening, we’ll fly to Bariloche.

Days 15-18: Nahuel Huapi National Park Exploration and Hiking

We’ll spend four days of winter hiking and exploration in Nahuel Huapi and Bariloche. Within the park, we’ll hike on trails in the foothills of the Andes to see stunning panoramas of the Seven Lakes Region.We’ll challenge ourselves with a full-day winter hike to a mountain Refugio. Along the way, we’ll catch great views of a number of beautiful lakes in the region. We’ll have some time to experience the mountain culture of Bariloche before returning to Buenos Aires for trip end.

 

Days 19-20: Flight to Buenos Aires and Trip End

We’ll say goodbye to Patagonia and head north on a domestic flight to Buenos Aires. Our final dinner together will take place in the city, as we look back on our three weeks of exploration in Patagonia.

 

ACCOMMODATIONS

4 nights in a hostel in Buenos Aires with showers and kitchen facilities.

15 nights in private group accommodations with heat in El Calafate, El Chaltén and Bariloche.

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Things to know

  • We travel light on Overland trips; please only bring items on your packing list.
  • Your group will have access to laundry periodically.
  • Please do not bring any electronics (including your cell phone). See FAQs for more information on our cell phone and electronics policy.
  • Do not bring any type of knife or multi-tool (such as a Swiss Army knife or Leatherman tool).
  • Pack everything in your backpack or day pack. Do not bring additional luggage.
  • Linens and pillows are provided at most group accommodations. Students may choose to use their sleeping bag for additional warmth if necessary.
  • There are no reimbursements for lost, damaged or stolen items.
  • Please wear the navy Overland shirt that you will receive from the Overland office to your trip start location.

Clothing

  • Navy Overland Shirt (1)
    We will send students an Overland shirt prior to their trip, and we encourage students to wear their Overland shirt to trip start. We highly recommend this for students flying to their trip start location.
  • Pants (2)
    One pair for traveling and walks through cities in towns. A second pair, synthetic, suitable for hiking
  • Fleece Pants (1)
    Please do not bring cotton sweatpants (they are heavy and bulky and will not keep you warm if wet).
  • Synthetic Long Underwear Top & Bottom (2)
  • Synthetic T-Shirt (3)
    Short-sleeve T-shirt or tank top.
  • T-Shirt (2)
    Short-sleeve T-shirt or tank top.
  • Shorts (1)
    Shorts or skirts to wear while hiking, traveling or exploring towns and cities. At least one pair must be an appropriate length for visiting cultural sites (with your arms at your sides, shorts or skirts must extend beyond fingertips).
  • Underwear (5)
  • Wool and/or Synthetic Socks (4)
  • Athletic Socks (pair) (2)
  • Winter Hat
  • Gloves or Mittens (pair)
    Insulated, warm and waterproof. Avoid knit and porous materials.
  • Neck Gaiter or Buff
    To protect the neck and face from the elements
  • Pajamas (optional)
    Students sometimes prefer to sleep in shorts and a T-shirt instead of bringing pajamas.

Outer Layers

  • Packable Synthetic or Down Jacket
    Lightweight, compressible, synthetic (Primaloft or similar) or down jacket. Full zip or 1/4 zip are acceptable.
  • Fleece Jacket or Pullover
    Medium to heavyweight and reasonably compact.
  • Waterproof Raincoat
    Waterproof material required (not just water resistant). Rain coats provide protection from wind and rain and serve as an extra warm layer. Your jacket should be large enough to allow layers underneath. We recommend hoods and breathable materials. Gore-Tex is a well-known waterproof and breathable fabric but there are many other quality fabrics. Ponchos are not acceptable.
  • Waterproof Rain Pants (1)
    Waterproof material required (not just water resistant). Rain pants provide protection from wind and rain and serve as an extra warm layer.

General Gear

  • Internal Frame Backpack
     65-85 liters or 4,000-5,100 cubic inches. Before purchasing a backpack, find your backpack size by measuring your torso length and your hips (instructions are available here). We recommend getting fitted at a store and trying on multiple packs.
  • Waterproof Pack Cover
    If your backpack does not come with a cover, we recommend buying a cover one size larger than your pack.
  • Sleeping Bag
    A lightweight, compact sleeping bag rated to 20 degrees Fahrenheit or less. We recommend either synthetic or treated down material. Your sleeping bag should compress into a stuff sack no larger than 20" in length.
  • Day Pack
    Basic two-shoulder backpack large enough to hold your lunch, two water bottles, snacks, extra layers and rain jacket. Use your day pack as a carry-on for your flight and for daily activities or hikes. A standard school backpack is usually fine (no satchels or shoulder bags).
  • Adjustable Trekking Poles
    To add stability, reduce strain on the knees and improve balance while crossing unstable surfaces.
  • Gaiters
    Calf-height, waterproof gaiters to protect your legs and feet when hiking through brush, across snow fields or streams.
  • Headlamp & Extra Batteries
  • Sunglasses
    Polarized sunglasses that wrap around to protect from glare are ideal.
  • Water Bottle
    One 1-liter bottle (a smaller size is acceptable).
  • Insulated Plastic Mug (optional)
  • Kahtoola Brand Microspikes (pair)
    To wear over your boots for traction on snowy and icy surfaces during hikes. Test the Microspikes on your boots prior to travel. Kahtoola microspikes are the only brand permitted.

Footwear

  • Waterproof Hiking Boots
    Choose comfortable boots designed for hiking with a pack (i.e., mid to high cut for ankle support).  Boots should be waterproof. Break them in before the start of your trip.
  • Sandals (pair)
    Flip flops or Crocs work well
  • Sneakers (pair)
    Comfortable shoes to wear on daily activities. Shoes should be supportive and have a good tread on the bottom for traction.

Travel Documents

  • Passport
    A passport that is valid until at least six months after your trip end date
  • Passport Photocopies
    Make at least four photocopies of your passport and visa (if applicable). Leave one copy with your family and put photocopies in both your checked luggage and carry-on luggage for the flight, separate from your original documents.
  • Photo Identification
    A current school or other kind of photo identification (if you have one).

Miscellaneous

  • Synthetic Camping Towel
    A medium-size synthetic camping towel (synthetic camping towels dry much faster than regular towels).
  • Package of Moleskin or Molefoam
    To protect your feet from blisters.
  • Toiletries
    All items should be travel size (if necessary, you will be able to restock during the trip).
  • Sunscreen (SPF 15+) & Chapstick (with SPF protection)
  • Spending Money
    $30 per week in local currency or a debit/ATM card (please notify your bank of international travel before trip start).
  • Gallon Sized Ziploc Bags (10)
    To organize and waterproof your gear and small items.
  • Large Trash Bags (4)
    To waterproof your gear.
  • Spanish-English Dictionary
    Travel-sized to use in class and around town.
  • Personal Journal or Book (optional)
  • Camera, Charger & Extra Batteries (optional)
    A digital or disposable camera and, if necessary, a charger and large enough memory card to accommodate your pictures (4 to 8 GB).
  • Health Insurance Card
    Please bring an original or copy of your health insurance card.
  • What is the weather like on Field Studies Patagonia?

    Field Studies Patagonia travels to Argentina during the winter season. Average temperatures will range from the 20s to 40s during the day and teens to 20s at night in Patagonia. Temperatures in Buenos Aires are slightly warmer with the average in the 50s. Our packing list takes these variables into consideration. Layering is the best strategy. Please follow the packing list.

  • What are the arrival and departure airports for my child's trip?

    You will need to arrange transportation for your child to and from Ministro Pistarini International Airport (EZE) at trip start and trip end. We will provide more specific travel information once we have placed your child on a program.

  • Please tell me about safety at Overland.

    Safety and risk management are at the forefront of our decision-making–from trip planning to leader training to supporting our groups in the field. We cannot guarantee absolute safety–no program can. All recreational activities include inherent and other risks. Therefore, we strive to manage the risks that we can, knowing we cannot eliminate them. We work hard to recruit, train and support our trip leaders so they can create the kind of trips that have made us successful for over 30 years. Please click here to read more about our approach to risk management and our accreditation by the American Camp Association.

  • Does my child need to have previous experience?

    While no previous experience is required, we have high expectations of our students. We expect your child–with your help–to select a trip that is appropriate for his or her interests and abilities. You should spend some time familiarizing yourself with the details of the specific program and help your child understand what to expect. We also expect our students to prepare ahead of time: to review the packing list, gather clothing and gear and complete whatever training the trip requires (for recommended training please see the Before You Go tab). Once the trip begins, your child should be ready–and excited–to contribute to a wholesome and enthusiastic group where each group member feels welcomed and valued.

  • Please tell me about Overland’s admissions process.

    For more information, and to access our application, please visit our Apply page.
    When we receive child’s application, if the first choice is available, you will receive a phone call and an email containing a link to our Overland Portal where you will find our Admissions Review Forms. We will accept your deposit to hold your child’s place in the program pending a favorable Admissions Review. If the first choice is not available, we will call you to confirm that the second choice is acceptable. If neither the first choice nor second choice are available, we will call you to discuss options. For those students placed on our waitlist, we will notify you as soon as a spot becomes available.


    We seek to admit students who have demonstrated that they possess the personal qualities and experience necessary to succeed on an Overland trip. While Overland is always supportive and nurturing, an Overland program is unlike a traditional camp in that our small groups–12 students and 2 leaders–travel, live and work as a group, making all of their own meals, helping each other and cooperating in ways big and small, and they do all of this far from home. As a result, every student must be able to thrive in an environment that places equal emphasis on:


    1. 1. Teamwork and Shared Responsibilities.

    2. 2. Independence and Self-Reliance.

    3. 3. Support of Others and Consideration for Others.

  • What are Overland’s policies on phones, electronics and communication?

    PHONES:
    To maximize independence and self-reliance, we do not permit phone calls, emails or text messages to or from our campers (the exceptions to this are: your child will call home on arrival and departure with our phones and assistance, and in the case of an emergency). If your child brings a phone for use while en route to Overland, please do not send him or her with an expensive smartphone; instead bring an inexpensive prepaid cell phone. All phones will be collected on arrival and returned at departure. While we will take reasonable steps to prevent damage, theft or loss to phones, we take no responsibility for phones and we will not make any reimbursements for lost, damaged or stolen phones.


    ELECTRONICS:
    Cameras are welcome but please do not bring any other electronics (e.g., iPods, iPads, Kindles or other readers, GPS or similar devices). All electronics (except cameras) will be mailed home on arrival (at your risk and expense).


    COMMUNICATION:
    We are committed to providing extraordinary support to you and your child; to that end, the Overland office is staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. seven days a week during the summer (outside of office hours our answering service provides emergency coverage). Our leaders in the field are in touch with our office regularly; they carry cell phones (and in some cases satellite phones). Anytime a camper is treated for an injury or illness by a doctor or medical personnel, parents are notified by our office. A director will call the parents to explain the nature of the injury or illness, the sequence of events leading up to the injury and/or the steps leading to the treatment. Parents are typically able to speak with the medical personnel, with the leaders and with their child.


  • What vaccinations and medications does my child need in order to travel abroad with Overland?

    Overland strongly recommends that families of students traveling abroad consult their child’s doctor and visit a travel clinic well before the start of the program to discuss options for travel-related vaccinations and medications. These are in addition to your child’s routine vaccinations and regularly prescribed medication.


    You and your doctor are encouraged to generally review information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. State Department, the World Health Organization (WHO) or other sources, in addition to the specifics of your selected program, to consider health issues and determine what, if any, travel-related vaccinations and medications are appropriate for your child. Overland will provide a “Travel Vaccinations & Medications” form to assist with this process.

  • Can my child get credit for service hours?

    You should check with your child’s school about whether or not Overland's service hours meet their requirements. The approximate number of hours of service are listed in the sidebar. We will provide your child with proof of participation after completion of his or her service work.

Explore, volunteer and hike in Patagonia while engaging with local communities.

Students going on Field Studies Patagonia should prepare for:

  • Winter conditions
  • 6 days of hiking with an average of 7 miles per day
  • 7 days of volunteer service for an average of 4 hours each day
  • 2 days of Spanish class for 4 hours each day
  • Traveling internationally
  • Travel to and from the trip
  • An Overland experience

We expect you to arrive to your trip fully prepared for all activities.

Preparing for Hiking

On Field Studies Patagonia, you should be prepared for day hikes in a variety of hiking conditions. You will hike on established trails through forests, meadows and alpine environments and you may experience winter hiking conditions. The terrain can be steep and snowy at times. Overland will provide you and your group with snowshoes if they become necessary but you are responsible for bringing microspikes (see the packing list for specifics) with you for hiking on potentially icy and snow-packed trails.

Before your trip, we strongly advise you spend time breaking-in and adjusting to your hiking boots. We expect you to prepare adequately so you can keep up physically and participate in all of your group's activities. Please follow our guidelines as you prepare for your program.

Pre-trip training:

  • 5 weeks before your trip: wear your boots for 15-30 minutes a day. Walk around your house or neighborhood so your boots begin to conform to your feet.
  • 4 weeks before your trip: take three 30-minute hikes or walks in your boots.
  • 3 weeks before your trip: take three 1-hour hikes or walks in your boots.
  • 2 weeks before your trip: take three 1 ½ -hour hikes or walks in your boots with a backpack loaded with 10-15% of your body weight.
  • 1 week before your trip: take two 2-hour hikes or walks in your boots with a backpack loaded with 20-25% of your body weight.

June through August correspond to the winter season in Patagonia. Average daily temperatures typically crest just above freezing and nighttime lows typically drop into the teens. Winds in Patagonia during the winter are typically very calm to non-existent though there are sometimes exceptions. Snow accumulations range from a small dusting to several feet, depending on the elevation. Regardless of snow cover, you should expect to explore the region and hiking trails using microspikes, trekking poles and gaiters (see the packing list for more information).

You and your group will make the most of the daylight hours by starting hikes as the sun is rising—first light occurs around 8:45 AM and sunrise around 9:30 AM. Groups typically take multiple breaks throughout the day while hiking—for water, snacks, lunch, to adjust packs, etc. The sun sets around 6:00 PM, though the sky remains lit until around 7:00 PM, and you and your group will typically spend evenings indoors with a service organization or together as a group cooking dinner.

Preparing for Service

Trips involving service work require a positive attitude and willingness to work hard as a volunteer. You will participate in service work both indoors and outdoors. While the weather will dictate our work outside, you should anticipate work like trail maintenance and trail sign construction. Our indoor work includes mentoring youth, painting and establishing environmental education materials. The projects your group work on will depend upon the availability of service opportunities and the needs of the local community.

Preparing for Class

No prior language experience is required for this trip. At the start of the trip, you will take an introductory course in the country's language, learning specific vocabulary and phrases that pertain to your group's travel in the region. All language levels are welcome as the classes are small. If you have prior experience in the language, your teachers may challenge you with a more specific assignment.

Preparing for International Travel

International travel requires planning and preparation. You must have a valid passport and the necessary visas, travel vaccinations and travel medications. We will provide additional instructions regarding international travel preparation once we have placed you on a program. More information is also available in the FAQs.

Preparing for Travel to and from the Trip

Families are responsible for arranging flights to and from the designated airport during a specified window (please do not purchase flights until you have received an email confirming our review of your health forms and school reference). Overland staff will be at the airport to welcome you at the start of your trip and to assist with your departure. You may also be dropped off and picked up at the airport. If you are flying to and from your trip, we will have you call home upon arrival and before departure. We will provide more specific travel information once we have placed you on a program.

Preparing for an Overland Experience

Overland programs are wholesome, structured experiences with high expectations of each student’s behavior. You are expected to be supportive of your trip mates and your leaders, enthusiastic, positive and helpful. We ask that you leave your cell phone and electronics at home (cameras are always welcome), so you can fully engage with your group and your trip. You will have the opportunity to send letters and receive mail at designated mail stops, which are shared in the spring.

All trips have a range of challenges. You should come prepared and recognize that some days will be more difficult, more challenging and longer—in terms of hours hiking or volunteering—than others. Changes occur due to a wide range of variables beyond the control of you, your group or your leaders. Service projects can change at a moment’s notice due to weather or the varying needs of local communities. You, or someone in your group, might develop blisters while hiking or encounter another issue that could delay your group.

Arriving ready for a challenge—and prepared to contribute to an enthusiastic group—will go a long way toward creating a successful trip. Please contact us if you’d like to discuss preparing for your Overland program.