Dreamy Patagonia... Land of the free!

Andrea from Canada is currently a participant on the Adventure Guide Program in Patagonia. She's been on program for two months now and has kindly shared her journey so far with us.

Dreamy Patagonia… Land of the free! Surrounded by tall mountains, pebble rivers, glacier lakes and beech trees… It doesn’t get any better than this!


Fitzroy range seen from a viewpoint near El Chalten

Coming from Canada, I see some similarities with the landscapes of the Rockies… I feel at home. But at the same time… I feel like I am living on the flip side of the northern hemisphere, in an alternate universe, where all my dreams come true. Everywhere I look makes me feel so alive! Whether it’s outside our hostel, with a view on the granite giant Fitzroy, or on our hikes, crossing some of the biggest glaciers in the world. Sunny days fill me up with positive energy… But even on the rainy days, I feel strong! Somehow braving the elements of the rain, wind and cold temperature of Patagonia make me feel invincible… Especially when on the trail or camping with the group on one of the many multi-day hikes available in the region.



Pictures of the crew cooking dinner in the rain on a multi-day hike

It is no surprise that El Chalten, the town where we are living for three months, has been declared the National Capital of Trekking of Argentina. Nestled in the Parque National de Los Glaciares (declared a UNESCO heritage site in 1981), many world-renowned hikes originate here. Even though the area is becoming more and more popular with the years, it is still possible to find less frequented terrain and escape the crowds.


Ethan at a local crag with the village of El Chalten in the background

One of my favorite experiences was exploring the Rio Electrico Valley. On night two of the hike we found a secluded spot sheltered at the base of a cliff to setup camp. From here we had our own private theatre with a panoramic view of the rugged, raw and violent landscape. To the left there were steep exposed cliffs, carved out by the ebb and flow of an ancient glacier. Down the center sat the lake, filling in the void of the glaciers retreat. Rising out of the lake on the right the fiery peak of Cerro Electrico, glowing red in the evening light. And high above all of this was Mt Fitzroy. Living true to its name it pierced the sky, smoking with billowing clouds, dominating the ridgeline bellow.


Northern peak of Cerro Electrico


Cerro Anniversario from the Rio Electrico Valley

It really feels great to leave the big city behind and simplify my life. Everything becomes so much easier and enjoyable when your routine becomes eat-sleep-hike-repeat. You reconnect with your senses, your environment and your-self. I’ll always remember the moment where I left the comfort of my tent in the middle of a new moon night. The deep black sky against the bright stars made it seem like the sky was filled with sparkling diamonds. Or that time when all of us went swimming between icebergs in a bay on the Huemul Trail. I felt like I was downright burning the skin off my hands as I tried to climb onto one of the smaller ice chunks. It was so satisfying to stand strong on such a delicate platform… And then so exhilarating to dive bomb into the ice cold water… It literally set my soul on fire!


Photo of me do a dive bomb off an iceberg


Sunrise photograph of the iceberg field

Every-day life in El Chalten is also very relaxing. Afternoons are often spent sipping matte (a traditional South American hot drink) in the sun, playing on a slack-line or having deep philosophical conversations staring at the clouds above. The hostel we are living in is perfect for meeting new people and practicing our guide skills by recommending hikes/crags of the area. However, it can get pretty challenging when we need to take over the kitchen and cook for the whole group. People are filled with curiosity when we all gather around a table with a large amount of food and say grace to our two deities: Rocksputin (god of the crag) and Hikeules (god of the trails)… Haha!


The boys hanging out on the slackline near the hostel


The group having a veggie filled lunch!

We are now 2 months into the Adventure Guide Program. I already feel much more confident in my climbing skills! The intense 5-day climbing weeks really help to build endurance and progress quickly. The crags are so close to town, I often find myself borrowing the Pure Ex equipment to go climbing on my days off. I am stoked to say that I can now confidently lead-climb and lead-belay! I can’t wait to head back home and explore routes and crags that seemed inaccessible until now.


Climbing at a local crag

The end of 2019 is nearly here. It’s crazy to retrace all that has happened in my life since the beginning of the year. And think of how I got here… How I sold most of personal belongings, abandoned my career and left my home to go tree-planting in order to save up the money to pay for the course. To be completely honest I had no real expectations from the program. At first, it was really just an excuse to escape the daily grind. I wanted to go travelling and see something new. Hiking and climbing, while gaining certifications through the Adventure Guide Program, with a group of passionate people like me, seemed like the perfect opportunity to shake things up. Plus, I would be travelling to South America, in the mythical Andes, and learning some Spanish! So far, my Spanish is still terrible (haha!) but I’ve learnt so much about myself and developed so many valuable life skills along the way.


Pure Exploration AGP group in front of the Fitz roy range

I definitely feel the pull to find a job as a hiking guide or climbing instructor. Or maybe use this new knowledge, combined with my prior work experience, to find a leadership role in the outdoor industry. I also feel like I could probably travel some more and go to New Zealand for the start of the high season next summer. So many options and so many opportunities! I am excited to see where 2020 will lead me… Who knows?! Trust the process and trust yourself. LIFE is an ADVENTURE!

 If you're inspired to hear more about our 10 week Adventure Guide Programs in Patagonia you can check out the website here. We currently have availability on programs departing October 2020 and January 2021.

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Our Outdoor Instructor Training & Industry Experience is the true zero to hero program, for those with the determination, drive and aptitude to explore, grow and succeed! It is an accelerated, practical immersion program, which offers a unique pathway from training to employment in the outdoor industry. It offers an unparalleled combination of training, qualifications and mentored transition from practitioner, to leader, and then to instructor, with quality industry experience. Pure Exploration Director, Zach Johnston, gives us the inside scoop on the Outdoor Instructor Program! Watch to find out more...


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Start preparing for the good times ahead with our Online Adventure Training Programs! Study in your own time with one of our 4 - 8 week programs taught by NZOIA qualified Hiking and Rock Climbing Instructors. Program Topics; 1. Outdoor Essentials 2. Global Citizenship 3. Mindset & Resilience 4. Jungle & Altitude #stayhome but #staylearning and lock in your core skills today! Visit our website for more details: https://www.pureexploration.nz/online-adventure-training-programs/


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Caroline McQuistan has touched down in New Zealand for the Adventure Guide Progam based in Queenstown. Over the next few weeks we will follow the crew with Caroline's updates as they begin their technical climbing and hiking modules and explore our beautiful corner of the world! Learn more about this program here https://hubs.ly/H0n7k1C0


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We are proud to work alongside the Wakatipu Reforestation Trust and are thrilled that our students get to work alongside, and learn from, their deeply passionate and driven team! This excellent charity is committed to helping grow and plant native species within the Wakatipu Basin and would hugely benefit from receiving funding from 2020 Crux/The Hills Charity Gold Day. If you have a spare few minutes please take the time to click on the below and place your vote. 🌲🌲🌲


We think the biggest benefit of travel is the feeling of reinvigoration and inspiration you feel from surrounding yourself with new things. Shake away the dust, move those limbs, challenge the mind. Our Adventure Guide Programs are an epic way for people to get a foot in the door to a hiking or climbing guiding career, or the perfect option for those looking for a comprehensive course that helps them gain 100% confidence to navigate, hike, climb, guide and survive in the outdoors. This year our scholarships will offer deserving people the chance to join us on one of our Adventure Guide Program intakes in 2021, based in New Zealand and Patagonia. With more than NZ$200,000 in financial aid available, we are super excited to get some motivated and deserving individuals on our programs that are keen to grab this chance to challenge themselves and grow their leadership skills. We are offering one full scholarship worth NZ$13,975 to a deserving individual who embodies the enthusiasm we have for exploring the outdoors, who demonstrates leadership among their peers, and someone understands the importance of looking after our environment as we enter a new decade with heightened ecological challenges. We will also be offering several Partial Scholarships to people who are keen followers of our story. They will be outdoor lovers who are keen to use hiking and climbing as a way to challenge themselves, who understand the impact experiential travel can have in positive change. Applications close 31st March 2020, so don’t miss out! Learn more here: https://hubs.ly/H0mRsmK0


6 weeks climbing in Thailand? Sign me up! Spend this June and July gaining epic new skills, getting qualified as a climbing guide, keeping fit and exploring paradise... does it get any better?


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Did you know we have an Adventure Guide Program in Patagonia, in the deep south of Argentina? Our first ever program in this region kicked off in November last year, with another one scheduled to embark on their journey of adventure in only a few weeks. Andrea, from Canada, took some time out to share a blog she's written on what every day life is like on program based out of El Chalten, the expectations she had, discoveries they've made and the skills she's learnt and sharpened along the way. If you're curious as to what the heck you actually do on a Pure Exploration Adventure Guide Program in Patagonia, this could very well be what you're looking for.


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And just like that... it was Christmas 2019! To all our Pure Exploration family, friends, followers, supporters and everyone else - we wish you an awesome festive break full of adventure, exploration and good times! 🎅🤶🎄⭐✈


A massive congratulations to "Team Kevin", who were our final Adventure Guide Program intake for 2020. We're so incredibly proud of you guys; you tackled everything we threw at you, smashed through your assessments and had some pretty incredible banter 😆 We loved watching you grow into a close, loving family over the 12 weeks. Good luck with everything, we're looking forward to following your future adventures!


As you may already know, our first ever Patagonia Adventure Guide Program is in month two of three, with ten awesome humans on the ground in Argentina as they hike and climb the incredible terrain the region has to offer. It's always a nail biting time as we want to make sure the team is having the best experience possible in this new Pure Ex territory. Therefore we were truly stoked to have the below feedback in our inbox this morning 😍 "I can genuinely say that the program has exceeded my expectations so far! El Chalten is an amazing village where hiking and climbing is easily accessible. The group setting is pretty sweet too... i definitely enjoy cooking and sharing meals with the gang every night! I am excited to celebrate christmas with this new family :) Rosey is an amazing instructor... She is very laid back but still so organized and efficient!!! I really enjoy that she takes her role to heart... she is always around and available for any questions we might have. She also has so much valuable insight for the development of both hard and soft skills... I see her as a inspiring role model and mentor for this great new career change! I am very grateful that i get the chance to live this adventure abroad with Pure Exploration. I really feel like I am living an authentic Patagonian experience and getting the most i can from the area. I am excited to use this program as a launch pad for travelling and working abroad!" We get the warm and fuzzies whenever we get feedback about the program, and especially when it's about our awesome instructors who are out in the field leading. Thanks Andrea, we're pumped to hear you're having a great time and we're super grateful for the update! 🙏😊🗻🧗‍♀️ P.s This is Andrea jumping off an iceberg by the Huemul Trek. Pretty sweet eh 🤙


New program announcement! Introducing our brand new 33 day Service Learning Leadership Program, kicking off in Cambodia this July! Are you interested in learning how you can maximise the impact you have when volunteering in developing countries? Would you like to become a valuable contributor and not just a volunteer tourist? Do you want to genuinely learn about communities and then apply best practices so you can most effectively create positive change? This program will introduce you to the tools needed to succeed in the service learning space. We're excited to share this program with you, as it's something we're deeply passionate about. If you'd like further information please visit the website link below, or flick us a message! https://www.pureexploration.nz/service-learning-leadership-program/


Did you know we have a 6 week Adventure Guide Program for those of you who are unable to sign up for a full 12 week program? Kicking off on 17th January 2020, we still have a few spaces left for those looking to immerse themselves in hiking, climbing, exploring and frankly, solid good times 👌 Plus you'll walk away with your Pre Hospital Emergency Care and SWIFT water rescue training and certification! Check out the link below for more info 😆 https://www.pureexploration.nz/adventure-guide-programs/adventure-guide-6week/