Adult Expeditions

Adult Leadership Expedition — Patagonia, Backpacking & Whitewater

Ages 18+  |  14 days  |  Starting at $3895
A 14-day Patagonia backpacking & whitewater paddling expedition.
Two blue whitewater rafts on a shore.

Adventure First

International programming with The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) provides unparalleled adventure. Our 14-day Patagonia backpacking & whitewater paddling expedition is developed to give you the skills you need to travel to remote locations throughout the world!

The snow-capped volcanoes of Patagonia and powerful heights of the Andes serve as our classroom. Within this landscape, you’ll develop solid outdoor skills and explore issues in environmental sustainability.

Patagonia is a land of extremes. Working with our local contacts, we’ll explore some of the most beautiful mountains and rivers in the world. NCOAE’s 14-day Patagonia expedition is exceptional with its unique combination of adventure and skill development, including trekking and whitewater rafting. You’ll develop technical skills with kayaking, rafting, backpacking, backcountry cooking, wilderness camping, and international travel. And, you’ll develop the additional skills and understanding of environmental and civic responsibility, leadership and communication skills, as well as decision-making and teamwork.

And at the end of this course you’ll be able use these newly developed skills to travel & work in pristine locations around the world!


  • Leave No Trace (LNT) training
  • Expedition planning
  • Remote wilderness camp craft
  • Backcountry navigation
  • Teaching-level knowledge of the NCOAE core curriculum
  • Navigating international logistics and Spanish-language variables

Course Details

14 days
Credit Hours
La Araucanía Airport – Temuco (ZCO)
Alternative drop off/pick up locations
Please contact the NCOAE office.
Register for Course
Skills Acquired
  • Advance your knowledge of environmental science & outdoor education curriculum — while living and learning in Chile’s wild, beautiful places
  • Discover which areas of outdoor and wilderness education are best suited to your strengths
  • Acquire the career skills you need to teach and travel in pristine destinations around the world!
Academic Credits

Your work during our 14-day Adult Leadership Expedition is eligible for up to four college-level credits through The University of North Carolina Wilmington:

  • EVS 491: Issues in Sustainability: up to 3 credits
  • EVS 591: Issues in Sustainability: up to 3 credits

If you are interested in earning additional academic credit for a course, learn more about our 25-Day Expeditions and Gap Semester courses which may be eligible for up to six college-level credits

A woman with her arms outstretched towards a view of a snowcapped mountain.


  • Gain new leadership and expedition skills
  • Make new friends and lasting memories
  • Immerse yourself with indigenous tribes of the Chilean community
  • Eat amazing Chilean backcountry meals
  • Explore the Andes and Mountain Glaciers
  • Soak in remote natural hot springs
  • Earn college credit

On the Map

  • Chile’s famous lake district & northern Patagonia
  • Volcán Villarica & Volcán Quetrupillain
  • Río Trancura & Río San Pedro
  • Pucón, Chile

Talk to Us

Have any further questions about the course location, what you'll learn, or what else to expect? Contact us, we're here to help!

Patagonia Adult Expedition Video




Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Patagonia Adult Leadership Expedition?

The Patagonia – Adult Leadership Expedition is a 14-day course takes you to the southern hemisphere where you’ll learn the skills you need to plan, prepare, and lead outdoor adventure-based experiential education courses and dive deep into issues surround environmental sustainability.

You will develop a wide-range of wilderness and leadership skills, including kayaking, whitewater rafting, backpacking, backcountry cooking, wilderness camping, international travel planning, environmental and civic responsibility, leadership and communication styles, decision-making, and teamwork. No other program offers a combination of hands-on experiential training in an international setting.

Where in Patagonia will our course visit?

Your group will board a plane bound for Temuco, Chile. After your arrival, you will head to our base camp in Pucón, then head out explore some of the most beautiful mountains and rivers in the world, from the snow-capped volcanoes of Patagonia and powerful heights of the Andes. Chile is a land of extremes, and you’ll see it all — from the driest desert on the planet to southern glacial fields and everything in between.

Your course may include backpacking on the Chile-Argentina border, paddling the Río San Pedro in Valdivia Province, the Río Toltén in La Araucanía Region, and even a visit to a local hot spring!

Do I need to have any previous experience in outdoor adventure sports?

No. Previous experience is not required. NCOAE will teach you all the basics you need to know to thrive in the wilderness, and then let you apply them among your group of peers. We will train you in the skills necessary to become a competent wilderness traveler.

How far will we backpack in Patagonia?

While there are no predetermined distances, you may travel several miles one day and none the next. You will learn to embrace and appreciate the unknown and unexpected.

What activities will I engage in?

You will engage in a wide range of experiential wilderness learning activities, including map and compass wilderness navigation, international expedition planning, paddling, backpacking, campcraft, backcountry cooking, kayaking, and wilderness risk management, with specific time included for relaxing and enjoying nature, journaling, engaging in rich cultural exchange, and reflecting in solitude.

What do I need to do to prepare physically for the course?

Physical preparation depends on your fitness level. You don’t need to be a triathlete to participate, but you will be responsible for carrying your own equipment and some of the group gear while maintaining a positive attitude. The backpacking section will require you to carry 40 pounds or more over rough and rugged terrain, through various environments. The paddling sections will require sitting and paddling for long periods of time and walking on rugged, slippery shorelines or through the water while carrying or pulling your boat

Do I need to buy any special equipment or clothes for the course?

Yes. NCOAE provides all necessary group gear and food, but you will want, or be required, to bring certain items for yourself. We encourage you to contact NCOAE with all of your gear questions as early as possible. Start planning now by viewing the NCOAE pack list for this course.

How many people will be in my group?

Each group has one to three instructors and eight to 12 students. We maintain an instructor-to-student ratio of no less than one instructor for every six students.

Beyond my tuition, what will I need to pay for in Patagonia?

Your tuition covers all major costs related to your room, board, and lodging, except when specified in the itinerary. You may request an optional meal out when we are in an urban area, which you would need to pay for separately. Additionally, you’ll need to budget a small stipend for your personal items, including souvenirs, extra snacks, and gifts.

How do I book my flight?

All travel during the course is included. Upon enrolling in an NCOAE international program, you are responsible for securing your flight to and from Telcumo, Chile (Airport Code: ZCO). You can do so by either, calling our trusted travel agent partner, Fly My Group, or another outside source if you choose to do so. All flights must arrive on day one (1) of your course between hours of 11:00am and 3:00pm at ZCO airport where you will connect with an NCOAE staff member and the rest of your group.

Fly My Group:
Phone: (866) 374-5043

What is the average age of participants?

The average age is about 23 years old.

Will we have any free time to ourselves?

Part of every NCOAE course is the solo experience. You will have the opportunity to spend a set number of days alone in the backcountry to meet your personal needs and desired outcomes.

Are the Adult Leadership Expeditions offered in other locations or on different dates?

We offer Adult Leadership Expeditions in a variety of locations and during different periods throughout the year to accommodate the destination and schedule that works best for you. You can also explore Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, North Carolina , Patagonia, and Ecuador at various times of the year.

Is financial aid available? Can I earn college credits? How do I apply?

At this time, we do not offer financial aid. However, if you are a college student you may be able to use your existing federal financial aid to help pay for your course, and you may receive college credits through a consortium agreement with NCOAE. If you are attending a college or university as part of a degree granting program, your advisor can determine whether your school will accept and transfer academic credits for participating in NCOAE courses from the University of North Carolina – Wilmington. If it does, consult your financial aid office to determine if, how, and which funds may be used toward your NCOAE course costs. For more information on the consortium agreement process, contact

How do I get in contact with an NCOAE participant/student during a course if there is an emergency at home?

If during regular business hours (8am-5pm EST), please call (910) 399-8090 and you will be connected to an NCOAE staff member in the office that will assist in connecting you with the NCOAE participant/student or help you navigate the reason for your emergency contact.

In case of an after-hours emergency and you need to contact an NCOAE student, please call (910) 399-8090 and press 9.

You will be routed to a live NCOAE member or an answering service that will immediately notify an NCOAE staff member who will assist in connecting with the NCOAE participant/student or help you navigate the reason for your emergency contact.

At NCOAE, emergencies are defined as:

  • Medical emergencies involving members of the participant’s family.
  • Urgent family matters requiring the participant’s immediate attention.
  • Unexpected travel disruptions affecting the participant’s return home.
  • Any situation posing an immediate threat to the safety or well-being of the participant’s family.

Request More Info


An instructor showing a student a map.

Participating in an NCOAE course has been one of the greatest experiences of my life!
It helped me to grow emotionally and taught me skills that I am able to transfer into my everyday life. I am truly grateful and lucky to have been a part of this program

Aaron Marshall, NC Teen Adventure Graduate