Patagonia Backpacking

Leadership & Guide Training Course
(24 days)

Backpacking near Cerro Fitzroy in Patagonia. -Jacob Schmitz

Patagonia features some of the best backcountry travel in the world. Torres del Paine National Park is a playground of granite towers rising up from the surrounding plains. The mountains, glaciers and lakes punctuating this unique landscape create varied terrain for backpackers and mountaineers.

Imagine catching the alpine glow on Mount Fitzroy (3,405 meters), swimming in crisp mountain lakes beneath the shadows of glaciated peaks, or leading the group over a mountain pass. This wilderness expedition into the spectacular mountain region of Patagonia offers participants a chance to thoroughly explore this amazing area.

This comprehensive backpacking course is the perfect setting to achieve your goals whether you are looking to become a professional guide, hone your technical abilities for personal adventures, or expand your leadership skills. It focuses on teaching students to be safe, efficient, knowledgeable and confident outdoor leaders in varied environments.

THE INSTRUCTORS AND GUIDES OF IWLS are widely recognized as some of the very best in their field and have practical leadership experience from around the globe. They are well trained and have an uncommon enthusiasm for sharing their skill and knowledge, borne out of a passion for outdoor exploration.

The International Wilderness Leadership Schools’ educational model nurtures leadership development and creates an awareness of the guiding mentality that is essential for leading safe, fun adventures in the mountains. The combination of technical skills training, experiential education and practical leadership experience make the IWLS curriculum world class.

THE IWLS GENERAL CURRICULUM outlines the essential components for effective outdoor leadership. Here are a few points that the course will focus on.

  • Weather: Will the storm arrive in the next 12 hours, or the next 48? Understanding weather patterns and trends will help you plan successful trips in a wilderness setting.
  • Leadership: Opportunities to lead the group will be abundant and you’ll have the time to learn and practice multiple styles of leadership.
  • Safety and Risk Management: Safety is always the #1 consideration. As the course progresses, you’ll develop an awareness to appropriately asses risk and make safe decisions.
  • Environmental Ethics: As adventurers in some of the most pristine environments on the planet it is our duty to respect the natural world. All of our courses practice and teach Leave No Trace ® principles.

-Chris Englehardt

IWLS BACKPACKING CURRICULUM is developed from countless expeditions in Africa and around the world. You’ll learn how to be a competent international backcountry trekker and proficient high altitude traveler. Here are some points that will be covered during your course:

  • Stoves and Campfires: The ability to repair a broken stove, make an emergency fire after being submerged in an icy river, and melt snow efficiently for water are key components for leading a group in the wilderness.
  • Backpacks: Proper packing and fitting of backpacks improves efficiency and helps avoid injury.
  • Geology: From plate tectonics to granitic batholiths, you’ll learn the history of the land you are exploring and how these forces create and influence the environment around you.
  • Timing: This is a key component of group management. You’ll develop this awareness and how it affects all aspects of a day on an expedition.

-Darsie Culbeck

IWLS INTERNATIONAL CURRICULUM is designed to provide students with a fundamental understanding of planning and leading expeditions in foreign countries. Here are just a few topics that will be covered:

  • Cultural History: As visitors to this remarkable place, we place a premium on being respectful and learning about the local culture and history. Learning about the heritage of the Bantu tribes, the Masaai and other peoples of East Africa enriches the understanding of Africa today.
  • Language Skills: The ability to ask directions, purchase items, and communicate on any level is an essential element of leading an expedition to a foreign country. Throughout the course, we’ll develop our Swahili language skills through dialog and lesson plans.
  • Trip Preparation: Logistics in a foreign country have the potential to be complex and tenuous. You’ll take part in shopping at the local market, arranging transportation, and securing permits in preparation for your expedition to the highlands of East Africa.

EXPERIENCE LEVEL No previous experience is necessary for this course. However, with a desire to learn and an enthusiasm for adventure, this course prepares you for a lifetime of wilderness exploration.

CERTIFICATIONS Upon completion of the 24-day course, participants may qualify for the following certifications:

24 Day Guide Training Certificate of Completion
International Wilderness Leadership School



DATES & PRICES Please see our schedule for current dates and price information.