Lessons outside the classroom: hiking and trekking clubs

Complement your geology and biology studies – and your Spanish classes! – with a trip into the diverse ecosystems of the Andean precordillera.

Studying abroad in Chile gives you access to a world-class education and unique research opportunities in one of Latin America’s most technologically advanced countries…but many alums will agree that most of what you learn from your semester abroad will be taught outside the classroom.
For students and nature-lovers in Santiago, one of the best ways to practice your Spanish and explore Chile’s natural history is to explore the Chilean backcountry with a hiking club.
Hiking – or trekking – clubs organize trips and transportation out of the capital and into the foothills of the Andes. There’s no equipment required, transportation is easier and cheaper than going alone, and you’ll be amazed at the change of scenery as you leave the lights of the city behind.
Both of Chile’s top universities – the Universidad de Chile and the Universidad Católica – host student-organized hiking clubs. Navigating the classrooms of Chile’s best universities can be daunting, not least of all because most of the students have been studying together for the last three years, but the upshot of joining a club at your university is the opportunity to meet some of your new classmates outside the classroom.
Other popular trekking groups in the capital include the Grupo de Trekking Santiago and the Club Andino Los Malayos. Trekking Santiago leads trips further afield three times a month, while Los Malayos leads hikes near Santiago every Sunday.
Los Malayos founder and route-setter, David Ramos, told El Mercurio that the group has more than 800 members, from university students to the elderly, “and many foreigners, who can’t believe that Santiago is right next to a mountain range.”
“We were a group of friends that enjoyed climbing mountains. And we realized that if we liked it, why not help more people do it? We are a country with thousands of kilometers of mountains, but only a tiny percentage of people have climbed at all,” Ramos added.