Language & Hiking Spain

 Live and hike in the Pyrenees. Immerse yourself in the language through native-speaker instruction every weekday morning. Spend your afternoons hiking to beautiful mountain vistas and monasteries dating back to the Middle Ages. On the weekends, hike to the high glacial lakes of the Tena Valley and through the halanyons of Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park.

Overview Details Itinerary What to Pack FAQs Before You Go

Overview

Learning a new language, really learning it, requires time, effort and fun.

That’s right, fun. And not just fun in the classroom—stories and songs and games—but fun outside of the classroom—more stories and songs and games . . . and exploration and adventures, too.

In the classroom, we’re led by native speakers: experienced teachers with a thorough curriculum and an understanding that what we really want to gain is a knowledge of and an enthusiasm for all things Spanish—the beautiful language, the rich culture, the gorgeous countryside.

Outside the classroom, we’re led by a pair of dynamic Overland leaders. Enthusiastic and energetic, your Overland leaders will lead you on hikes out of the villages and up into the mountains. Great hiking and great camaraderie every afternoon . . . and on the weekends, too.

Imagine a summer filled with fun and friends, language and exploration. Imagine yourself in the Pyrenees with us as you discover the beauty and variety of Spain.

Questions? Contact us!

My favorite part of the trip was making 11 amazing friends and getting to experience one of the most beautiful places in the world with all of them.


- Leah Watt, Lake Hill, New York

Fall in love with Spain!

Day 1: Trip Start in Barcelona

We’ll meet in Barcelona and spend the day getting to know each other before making our way to the Pyrenees, our home for the next three weeks.

Days 2-6: Language Class, Hikes & Exploration in Torla

The following day we’ll head to Torla, a small village situated along the Rio Ara in the Ordesa Valley. We will meet our Spanish teachers and tour the village, getting an introduction to the language, culture and history of the area. In the mornings, we will attend Spanish class. Interactive and fun, classes will emphasize speaking skills and cover grammar and vocabulary. One class will take us to a nearby farm where we’ll spend time with local goat farmers and learn how to make cheese. In the afternoons, we’ll hike in the Ordesa Valley, passing waterfalls, rolling green meadows and an abandoned village. The hikes will start small and build to our first weekend excursion.

Days 7 & 8: Weekend Hiking Trip in Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park

On the weekend, we’ll take a break from classes to explore the mountains. We’ll hike through the deep canyons of Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park—reaching about 7,000 feet—where we’ll spend the night at a mountain hut. The next morning, we’ll explore the dramatic glacier-carved landscape around the hut before hiking back to Torla, admiring the canyon’s high walls and waterfalls along the way.

Days 9-13: Language Class, Hikes & Exploration in the Tena Valley

Next, we’ll head to the beautiful Tena Valley, our home base for the second half of the trip. We’ll continue to hone our language skills through morning classes and explore the valley by foot every afternoon. One day, Spanish class will take the form of a guided excursion. With our teachers, we’ll visit a monastery dating back to the Middle Ages. Spanish language learning through a lens of local history and culture is the focus. Each afternoon hike offers something different—a new view, landscape and opportunity to tackle a challenge and grow as a group.

Days 14 & 15: Weekend Hiking Trip in the Tena Valley

On our second weekend, we’ll head out for another excursion in the mountains. We’ll spend a full day hiking to a mountain hut situated on the edge of a gorgeous alpine reservoir—just a stone’s throw from the French border. The following day, we’ll explore the rocky landscape around the hut before returning to our accommodations in the heart of the Tena Valley.

Days 16-18: Language Class, Hikes & Exploration in the Tena Valley

For our final days together in the Pyrenees, we’ll resume our normal weekday schedule and continue to explore, hike and build confidence in the Spanish language through activities. As a final challenge, we’ll hike to a nearby summit for spectacular panoramic views. From this spot, we will view all of the places we’ve visited over the past week and reflect on our time spent discovering the beauty of the Spanish Pyrenees.

Days 19 & 20: Trip End

On our last full day together in Spain, we’ll return to Barcelona for our final dinner, where we’ll celebrate three incredible weeks of fun, friendship and accomplishment.

 

ACCOMMODATIONS

15 nights in private group accommodations in the Pyrenees with private group rooms.

2 nights in alpine huts with toilets,  sleeping bunks and no showers.

2 nights in a hostel in Barcelona with private group rooms.

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

  • Medium-Sized Duffel Bag or Backpack
    3,000-5,000 cubic inch (50-80 liters) backpack or duffel bag.  

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.
  • Synthetic Hiking Pants (1)
    Lightweight and quick dry material. Non-cotton warmup style pants are acceptable.
  • 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 (1)
  • Synthetic Shorts (3)
  • Synthetic T-Shirt (4)
  • T-Shirt (1)
  • Underwear (7)
  • Wool and/or Synthetic Socks (4)
  • Athletic Socks (2)
  • Casual Dress Outfit
    Appropriate for dining out with your group. For boys, khaki pants or shorts and a casual, nice shirt. For girls, a skirt or dress. Do not bring an extra pair of shoes for this outfit.
  • Winter Hat
  • Gloves or Mittens
  • Swimsuit
  • Neck Gaiter or Buff (optional)
    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.
  • Hat with Visor (optional)

Outer Layers

  • Fleece Jacket or Pullover
  • Lightweight, Packable Synthetic or Down Jacket
  • Waterproof Raincoat
  • Waterproof Rain Pants

General Gear

  • 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). The pack must be between 20 and 30 liters in capacity.
  • Sleeping Bag Liner
    Linens and pillows are provided at most group accommodations; however, students should bring a sleeping bag liner to use on weekend trips to mountain lodges. We recommend either synthetic or down material. Your sleeping bag liner should fit in your fully-packed day pack.
  • Headlamp
  • 1-Liter Water Bottle

Footwear

  • Waterproof Hiking Boots
    Hiking boots that are low to high cut, depending on your desired ankle support. Choose comfortable boots and make sure to break them in before the start of your trip.
  • Sneakers
    Comfortable shoes with good traction.
  • Sandals (optional)
    Flip flops or Crocs work well

Miscellaneous

  • Synthetic Camping Towel
    A medium-size synthetic camping towel (synthetic camping towels dry much faster than regular towels).
  • Travel Size Toiletries
  • Sunscreen (SPF 15+) & Chapstick (with SPF protection)
  • Insect Repellent
  • Sunglasses
  • Package of Moleskin or Molefoam
    To protect your feet from blisters.
  • Gallon Sized Ziploc Bags (5)
    To organize and waterproof your gear and small items.
  • Spanish-English Dictionary
    Travel-sized to use in class and around town.
  • Notebook & Pen
    To use in class.
  • 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 should bring a sleeping bag liner to use on weekend trips to mountain lodges.
  • 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.
  • Is the language level appropriate for my child’s language experience?

    We require that your child arrives with at least one year of classroom instruction in Spanish or equivalent experience (time spent studying abroad). Language learning apps (e.g. Duolingo) are not sufficient. Overland groups are divided into smaller language classes upon arrival. Classes focus on speaking and listening comprehension and accommodate varying levels of language abilities.

  • Is this a language immersion program?

    No. All of Overland's language programs require dedication to learning a language and appreciating a new culture. Although there is not a language pledge, classes are conducted exclusively in Spanish, and leaders will engage the group in Spanish outside of the classroom for approximately two hours per day.

  • What are the teachers like?

    Overland partners with a language school in the Pyrenees with professional Spanish teachers who create lesson plans to engage our groups. The teachers speak Spanish as their primary language. Overland leaders will sit in on classes, but the professional teachers are responsible for classroom language instruction during the program.

  • Does my child need to have previous international or group travel 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.

  • What is the weather like on Language & Hiking Spain?

    The weather on Language & Hiking Spain varies. Sometimes it is sunny and warm, other times it is rainy and cold; typical summer temperatures in the Pyrenees range from the 60s to 80s during the day and cooler at night.

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

    You will need to arrange transportation for your child to and from Barcelona-El Prat Airport (BCN) 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.

    Spain uses the Euro (€). Some US banks may be able to order Euros. Students can also exchange money in airports throughout the US, or leaders can help students withdraw Euros using a debit card or exchange US dollars upon arrival in Spain.

  • 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.

  • Can my child get school credit for the language program?

    You should check with your child’s school about whether or not Overland’s language programs fulfill their requirements. The approximate number of hours of language instruction are listed in the sidebar.

  • 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.

Improve your Spanish, hike in the Pyrenees and experience Spanish culture.

Students going on Language & Hiking Spain should prepare for:

  • Full days of outdoor activities led by two caring Overland leaders
  • Day hikes to viewpoints and mountaintops
  • 12 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 Language & Hiking Spain, you should be prepared for day hikes in the Pyrenees Mountains on well-established trails through alpine environments. The terrain of the Pyrenees ranges from gentle and rolling to steep and rocky and can be challenging at times. You may reach an elevation higher than 8,000 feet for portions of the hikes in the Pyrenees. 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% of your body weight.
  • 1 week before your trip: three 2-hour hikes or walks in your boots with a backpack loaded with 20% of your body weight.

Preparing for Class

Overland's language programs require dedication to learning a language and enthusiasm about experiencing a new culture. Your classes will be conducted exclusively in Spanish and you will speak Spanish outside of class for approximately two hours per day. Your group will be divided into smaller language classes upon arrival; the classes will focus on speaking and listening comprehension in order to accommodate a range of skill levels. We require you arrive with at least one year of classroom instruction, or the equivalent experience (time spent studying abroad, for example), in Spanish.

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!