Field Studies Patagonia

Few places match the grandeur and natural beauty of winter in Patagonia. Hike in the spectacular Fitz Roy Range of Argentina and explore the Perito Moreno Glacier. Partner with national park rangers and serve Patagonian communities.

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 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 snow-capped peaks, we’ll explore the area as we serve.

We’ll then spend time in the small frontier town of El Chaltén. We’ll 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 foreground 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. With a pair of caring, capable Overland leaders guiding and supporting us, we’ll make Field Studies Patagonia as much about the group and our time together as it is about exploring Patagonia.

Questions? Contact us!

I loved that Field Studies Patagonia allowed me to experience so much of Argentina; I got to practice my Spanish, meet new people, explore a beautiful city, hike in the mountains, watch the sunrise, see the stars and have an unforgettable experience.


- Emma McDermott, Wilmette, Illinois

Day 1: Trip Start & Explore Buenos Aires

After meeting at the airport in Buenos Aires, we’ll head downtown 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 & 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 & 5: Exploration & Service in El Calafate

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

Day 6: 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 travel to the glacier by bus, then walk along a series of viewing platforms to see the glacier–we may even have the opportunity to see some of its 60-meter-high walls of ice calve off into icebergs.

Days 7-13: El Chaltén, Service & 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’ll 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 afternoon of volunteering.

Days 14-18: Nahuel Huapi National Park Exploration & Hiking

We’ll fly from El Calafate and then spend four days winter hiking and exploring 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 & 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

11 nights in hostels in Buenos Aires, El Calafate and Bariloche with showers and kitchen facilities.

nights in private group accommodations with heat in El Chaltén.

nights in mountain huts in Bariloche with limited facilities.

Itinerary may vary by group and is subject to change.
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Clothing

  • Navy Overland T-Shirt (1)
    We will send every student an Overland T-shirt prior to the trip. Please wear this T-shirt to trip start.
  • 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).
  • 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).
  • Synthetic T-Shirt (3)
  • T-Shirt (2)
  • Lightweight Long-Sleeve T-Shirt (1)
  • Synthetic Long Underwear Top & Bottom (2)
  • Underwear (5)
  • Wool and/or Synthetic Socks (4)
  • Athletic Socks (2)
  • Winter Hat
  • Gloves or Mittens
    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

  • Lightweight, Packable Synthetic or Down Jacket
  • Insulated Vest
    Insulated fleece, Thinsulate or down vest to wear on cold days and evenings.
  • Fleece Jacket or Pullover
  • Waterproof Raincoat
  • Waterproof Rain Pants (1)

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.
  • Day Pack
    1,300-2,000 cubic inch (20 - 30 liters) two-shoulder backpack with a hip belt and chest strap 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. No satchels or shoulder bags.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Sunglasses
  • 1-Liter Water Bottle
  • 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
    Flip flops or Crocs work well
  • Sneakers
    Comfortable shoes with good traction.

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.
  • Travel Size Toiletries
  • Sunscreen (SPF 15+) & Chapstick (with SPF protection)
  • Gallon Sized Ziploc Bags (10)
    To organize and waterproof your gear and small items.
  • Large Trash Bags
    To waterproof your gear.
  • Insect Repellent (4)
  • 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.

Important Documents

  • Health Insurance Card
    Please bring an original or copy of your health insurance card.
  • Passport
    Please bring 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.

Spending Money

  • Spending Money & Miscellaneous Expenses
    Each student should bring a debit card, an ATM card or a prepaid Visa card to cover spending money and miscellaneous expenses. Spending Money: While all meals and activities are included in the trip fee, we recommend $25/week for spending money (for example: for souvenirs or an occasional drink or snack beyond what is provided to the group as a whole). Miscellaneous Expenses: Most Overland students will incur some expenses while traveling (for example: an equipment repair or baggage fees at trip end). Please add $100 to the debit/ATM/Visa card (in addition to spending money), to cover these expenses.

Things to know

  • We travel light at Overland; please only bring the items on your packing list.
  • Your group will have access to laundry periodically.
  • Please do not bring your smart phone (or any other electronics).
    Please visit the FAQ tab 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 schedule expensive items—phones, cameras, bicycles, etc.—on your homeowners insurance policy.
  • Please wear the navy Overland T-shirt that you receive from Overland to your trip start location.
  • What is the weather like on Field Studies Patagonia?

    Field Studies Patagonia travels to Argentina during the winter season. Average temperatures in Patagonia will range from the 20s to 40s during the day and teens to 20s at night. Temperatures in Buenos Aires are slightly warmer with the average in the 50s.

  • 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 trip.

  • Please tell me about the currency on this trip.

    Argentina uses the Argentinian Peso. Some US banks may be able to order pesos. Students can also exchange money in airports throughout the US, or leaders can help students withdraw pesos using a debit card or exchange US dollars upon arrival in Argentina.

  • 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 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 trip 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.

    When we receive your application, if your first choice is available, we will: (1) call you to acknowledge our receipt of your application, (2) send you an email with a link to our Admissions Review Forms, and (3) charge a deposit of $795 to your credit card to hold your place in the trip pending a favorable admissions review. If your first choice is not available, we will call you to discuss your second choice, third choice or other options. For more information, and to access our application, please visit our Apply page.

  • 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. 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 an expensive smartphone, instead, an inexpensive prepaid cell phone will do. All phones will be collected on arrival and returned at departure. While we will take reasonable steps to prevent damage, theft or loss, 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 other 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.

  • Can I send mail to my child during a trip?

    Getting a letter, card or postcard while on an Overland trip is always exciting. Please keep in mind that sending mail to your child on an Overland trip is different than sending mail to camp because your child will be on the move. Our experience has been that mail often does not arrive on time, and, sometimes, even when it does, post offices, campgrounds and other mail stops do not reliably deliver mail to our groups. For these reasons:

     

    1. Please do not send anything valuable – please send letters, cards or postcards only.  If mail is late, lost or misdirected, Overland’s leaders and staff are not able to return to the post office (or other mail stop) to collect it.

    2. Please use the US Postal Service first-class mail only; do not use UPS, FedEx or DHL (many of our mail stops accept US Postal Service mail only).

    3. Please do not send overnight letters: many overnighted letters arrive before or after we arrive and are then sent back. For this same reason, please do not send mail that requires a signature upon delivery.

    4. Please allow one week for postal delivery to U.S. mail stops.

    5. Please allow two weeks for postal delivery to international mail stops.

Explore Patagonia!

Students going on Field Studies Patagonia should prepare for:

  • Full days of outdoor activities led by two caring Overland leaders
  • Day hikes to viewpoints and mountaintops in winter conditions
  • 6 days of volunteer service for an average of 4 hours each day
  • 2 days of Spanish class for 4 hours each day
  • A fun, supportive and wholesome Overland experience

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

Preparing for the Hiking

On Field Studies Patagonia, you should be prepared for day hikes in a variety of hiking conditions. June through August are winter months in Patagonia. Average daily temperatures typically crest just above freezing and nighttime lows drop into the teens. You will hike on established trails through forests, meadows and alpine environments. 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.

In the month before your trip, you should break-in your hiking boots (wear them a lot!) and complete the pre-trip training (see below). Once on your trip, you'll find that enthusiasm and a positive attitude will help to make the trip a success for you... and for everyone in your group.

Pre-trip Training:

  • 4 weeks before your trip: three 30-minute hikes or walks in your boots.
  • 3 weeks before your trip: three 1-hour hikes or walks in your boots.
  • 2 weeks before your trip: three 90-minute hikes or walks in your boots with a backpack loaded with 10-15% of your body weight.
  • 1 week before your trip: three 2-hour hikes or walks in your boots with a backpack loaded with 15-20% of your body weight.

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 will 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 an Overland Experience

Overland trips are wholesome, structured experiences with high expectations of each student’s behavior. You are expected to be enthusiastic, positive, helpful and supportive of your trip mates and your leaders. 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. 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 trip!