Explore mountainous Patagonia while gaining rock climbing, hiking and guiding qualifications on this unique gap year program!

Patagonia. Where else in the world would you want to become an adventure guide? Rugged, remote, vast and sublime - Patagonia’s beauty is unrivalled, and the trekking is unreal. Considered by many as the ultimate adventure travel destination, we know you’ll instantly love this place. Clean air, wide spaces, unreal mountainscapes, your camera is going to get a work out as much as your legs!

This gap year program is suitable for anyone who wants to challenge their own understanding of what it means to take on the wild. You will gain skills you'll use your whole life as a hiker, climber and lover of exploring untouched regions. Patagonia's diverse and spectacular outdoors will be your classroom, with lessons on hiking, rock climbing, leadership, technical skills, group dynamics and group psychology, and strategies to help in every area of life.

But while this is an Adventure Leadership Program, it's not all about the outdoors and outdoor pursuits. There will be community and social events; personal development; free time and plenty of opportunity for exploration.

What is an Adventure Leadership Program?

From technical hiking and rock climbing skills to emergency safety and group dynamics, this comprehensive 3-month Adventure Leadership Program will prep you with all the skills needed to pass your outdoor guiding qualifications and feel confident to guide groups. And you get to live in Patagonia for 3 months!

Your time in Patagonia will be split between practical and theoretical training, gaining sought-after guiding qualifications. This Argentinian-based gap year program specializes in the following disciplines:
  • Hiking 
  • Rock Climbing
  • Leadership
  • Wilderness First Aid


For your peace of mind

  • Check out our full COVID-19 policy.
  • We have been running successful international gap year programs in Spring, Summer and Fall 2021. The students shared their experiences in testimonials and wrote their stories down in blog posts - feel free to have a look. 
  • Enjoy the experience of living in El Chaltén, a remote region of South America
  • Conquer multi-day hikes around the incredible peaks of the Cerro Torre and Cerro Fitz Roy mountains
  • Sleep under the stars while camping in the middle of nowhere
  • Learn about top-roping and abseiling, and develop your rock climbing skills
  • Gain industry-recognized guiding qualifications
  • Have your binoculars ready to spot an abundance of unique wildlife
  • Develop hiking and bush skills, while learning about navigation, nutrition, fauna and flora
  • Surround yourself with nature and marvel at the world's most incredible glaciers, mountains and lakes
  • Earn your International Wilderness First Aid certification
  • Get modules on guiding and leadership skills, critical incident management & technical skills
  • Get guided by experienced Pacific Discovery and technical program leaders supported by local guides

**This is a guide to what you can expect to do on Program. The order in which the activities occur might vary**


Welcome to Patagonia! We spend a few days having a group orientation where the group will get to know each other, settle into accommodation and share some stories over a meal. Over the next few days, you'll all discuss the learning outcomes for the program, spend time participating in team bonding exercises, play various games, and have time to explore your new backyard whilst taking part in an organized scavenger hunt! It's a really great few days and will solidify lifelong friendships with your Pacific Discovery family really quickly!

You’ll get an in-depth briefing providing you the core skills needed for the training ahead. Not to mention exploring some stunning local sights along the way!

On the second week, participants will undertake Wilderness First Aid training. Upon satisfactory completion of the program, participants will receive an internationally recognised qualification which focuses on prevention, assessment, and treatment for an ill or injured person in a remote environment where definitive care by a physician and/or rapid transport is not readily available.


On your third week we get you all kitted out to spend some time on the rock face climbing! In rock module one you get stuck into training on equipment, safety, top-roping and an intro to lead climbing. 

Hike module one will introduce you to day-hikes, overnight hikes, navigation, weather and map reading then introduce you to essential training in group management, risk analysis, and leadership.


At this point of the program, we take it up a notch. It’s time to test your limits and push those new skills. We take you to a few more challenging locations where you’ll have to pull together as a team to get through, and where you’ll really start to see the value in ensuring processes are followed and back-up plans are in place!

Hike Module Two covers: Multi-day hiking, camping, nutrition, leadership, navigation, flora and fauna and natural interpretation skills

Rock Module Two covers: Lead climbing, top-roping systems, abseiling, transitions and clifftop safety 


Hike Modules Three and Four: are when you start practicing leading your group, trip planning, and gaining some mileage for your logbook! A couple more multi-day adventures await.

Rock Modules Three and Four: again you will start leading your group, route planning, safety assessments and risk management. A couple of awesome road trips to find the best-hidden crags! 



Time to complete logbook requirements to enable you to sit your upcoming Bush and Rock Leader assessments

We will set you up with leadership days to run hiking and climbing excursions, from trip planning, safety, pickups, equipment, working with leading groups! 

Get some real experience with what it takes to plan, risk assess and successfully lead a day expedition.

Assessments take place in the final week of the program, a 2 day Bush Assessment and a 2 day Rock Assessment. We have an amazing 98% pass rate, so if you have put in the time and energy - by the end of the program you will 

be a certified Rock and Bush Leader.

To top off your 12 weeks with us we host an epic graduation dinner. 

For full program details, please request the information booklet


Open to students, graduates and non-students, ideally 17-22 years. This program is suitable for anyone of average/high fitness with an enthusiasm for the outdoors and new experiences. As a guideline, you should aim to be comfortable hiking 6-8 hours with a backpack. You don’t need to have had previous experience with any of the activities offered.

The program is a shared group experience. We expect you to join the program with an open mind and a willingness to work together with your group mates to make the program an amazing experience for the whole group. Additionally, the program will be as much about the inner journey of personal growth and learning about yourself as it is about what you will experience in the outer physical journey. We expect you to be open to learning and challenging your ideas and assumptions.


Our accommodation will be a mixture of camping (tents supplied) and comfortable and clean hostels and lodges. Laundry and WiFi facilities will be available some days, except during the weeks in the field on expeditions. Accommodation is diverse, comfortable and carefully chosen to fit our needs.


Meals are fresh, tasty, healthy and varied. Special dietary requirements and vegetarians are catered for. All meals are included in the program cost. Food preparation, shared by all students, is fun, social and often a highlight.

Program Tuition Includes

  • All program-related travel and transport included 
  • All accommodation
  • 3 meals a day (excluding snacks)
  • All expeditions, activities, excursions, entry fees and adventure travel as described in the itinerary
  • Environmental education
  • Experiential core curriculum that pushes students to reflect and ask questions of themselves - working towards a deeper understanding of their values, identity, passions and purpose
  • Individual mentorship from program instructors, supporting you in your personal goals for the program
  • Experienced Program Instructors and local guides
  • Pre-departure web-page with all information you need in one place to prepare for the program
  • 24/7 emergency contact number for students and parents
  • Instructors have 24/7 access to a physician and a psychologist, for advice and support
  • Pacific Discovery T-shirt
  • Online image library for your program

Duration 84 days
Program Tuition $13,500 USD Estimated Flight Cost $1,500 USD
Availability Closed
Group Size 12 Students & 2 Instructors Ages 17 - 22 ideal
Optional College Credit No Start/Finish El Calafate, Argentina