Patagonia High School Expedition

Patagonia is home to jagged fjords, glacier-capped mountains, and vast steppe lands that harbor pumas, guanacos, and an array of rare and endangered species. In recent decades, this iconic wilderness has been the focal point for intensive conservation efforts, making it the ideal living classroom for studying the ongoing story of human interaction with the natural world.

July 20 - August 5, 2019
Airfare is not included. We have arranged group flights from Miami to El Calafate, El Calafate to Ushuaia, Ushuaia to Buenos Aires, and return to Miami.

Trip Highlights

  • Hone your wilderness and adventure photography skills alongside a National Geographic expert.
  • Explore Patagonia by snowshoe, ski, and crampon, and interview Argentine park rangers about efforts to preserve the region's wildlife habitats.
  • Witness the calving Perito Moreno Glacier and learn about the impacts of climate change on the Southern Patagonian Icefield.
  • Spend time at a traditional estancia to learn about the gaucho lifestyle firsthand.

Itinerary | 17 days

Days 1-5

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Our expedition begins in El Calafate, where we'll explore the massive Perito Moreno Glacier—one of the few glaciers in the world that is advancing rather than receding. After passing through steppe lands dotted with grazing guanaco, enter Los Glaciares National Park and set out with your On Assignment teams to view the glacier's expansive fields of craggy blue ice. Interview park rangers about efforts to contain overgrazing, limit invasive species, and protect the indigenous puma, gray fox, condor, and eagle populations. Weather permitting, board a boat to take close-up photos of ice as it calves off the 200-foot glacier face and tumbles into the turquoise waters of Lake Argentino. Spend time on a traditional estancia to learn about the gaucho lifestyle firsthand.

Days 6-9

Travel to El Chaltén, our base for exploring the mountains of Los Glaciares National Park. Spend the next several days hiking past turquoise glacial lakes and striking rock formations, and view Monte Fitz Roy, a peak that soars over 11,000 feet and continues to challenge the world's most skilled climbers. Complete the park's two most famous treks: Laguna de los Tres and Laguna Torre. Together with local guides, consider the effects of climate change on glaciers, search for native species such as condor and puma, and learn about historic attempts to summit Monte Fitz Roy.

Pull Quote
I'll never forget the first time I laid eyes on the mountains in Patagonia. Their rugged beauty and grandeur took my breath away. Since then, Patagonia has become one of my favorite places in the world.
Jonathan Irish, National Geographic Expert

Days 10-13

A short flight south brings us to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Cruise the Beagle Channel and photograph sea lions, and scan the skies for majestic Andean condors. Spend a day skiing the peaks at Cerro Castor, then relax in front of a warm fireplace at night while learning about Tierra del Fuego's long history of hosting intrepid explorers. Mush a team of huskies through snowy pine forests on a dogsledding excursion that ends with a hearty wood-fire cooked meal at a cozy cabin in the woods. Experiment with long-exposure photography to capture the brilliant night sky as we share stories around a campfire.

Days 14-17

Our expedition concludes in vibrant Buenos Aires, where we'll explore the city's historic neighborhoods. Take in La Boca's funky multi-colored buildings and the elegant architecture of the Recoleta. Frame action shots of tango dancers performing in the Plaza Dorrego, and taste regional specialties at the gaucho market Feria de Mataderos. Retreat to the neighboring town of El Tigre, located on an island in one of the world's largest deltas. Board a boat for a cruise along El Tigre's peaceful canals, and stroll its artisan market. Visit an ecological reserve and learn about how urban development has affected the country's biodiversity. Wrap up your On Assignment projects and share them with the group.

Our high school expeditions are for students in grades 9-12, and offer opportunities to get out into the field and discover fascinating destinations across the globe through the lens of an On Assignment project. Each expedition offers a choice of two or three areas of focus, such as photography, geology, or wildlife conservation. Students travel alongside a team of highly-qualified trip leaders—college graduates with extensive experience in the field, who love working with students. A National Geographic expert joins for a portion of the trip (four to eight days) to share their insights, and inspire students with their passion for the work they do and the places they will discover. The group size ranges between 14 and 28 participants, and the student-to-trip-leader ratio is usually between six and eight to one and never more than nine to one.
This expedition includes several active excursions such as hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing. Students should be physically fit and enthusiastic about outdoor exploration in a variety of climates.
In El Calafate, El Chatlén, and Ushuaia, we stay in comfortable, family-run hostels, mountain huts, or small hotels. In Buenos Aires, we stay in a centrally located hostel.

Jonathan Irish, Writer and Globetrotter

Meet Our Experts

Travel and conservation photographer Jonathan Irish specializes in documenting adventure lifestyles, landscapes, and cultures. He spent eight years on the National Geographic staff, where he launched and directed the National Geographic Adventures program, bringing travelers on active trips. Jonathan is passionate about national parks across the globe—from Chilean and Argentinian Patagonia, where he has traveled and photographed extensively, to the United States, where he spent a full year in 2016 documenting all 59 of America's national parks. Through his work, Jonathan seeks to share the wonders of the natural world while highlighting important conservation stories, so that future generations may enjoy the same beautiful world in which we live today. Jonathan will join the group in El Calafate.

On Assignment Projects

Delve into the science of climate change and its global impacts. Witness one of the world’s only advancing glaciers to learn about glacial dynamics and morphology, and measure the effects of glacial melt on nitrate levels in alpine lakes.
Create a photo-essay depicting your experiences in Argentina. Practice photographing wildlife while trekking across the steppe, try out new filters and angles to capture the Perito Moreno Glacier, and document local culture. There is a supplemental fee of $150 for this On Assignment project.
Explore how conservation groups are working together to protect Patagonia. Seek out endangered species while snowshoeing, record information on habitats, and interview people living in protected areas about the challenges they face.