ANCIENT WONDERS & NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURES
This Expedition Includes:
- Native groups and History of the United States
- UNESCO Heritage Sites
- Hot Springs
- Horseback Riding
- Sustainability in Action
- Geologic Processes
- Ecosystem Studies
- Community Service & Cooking Lessons
* The following is a sample itinerary.
* We can make adjustments to this itinerary based on your specific interests, timeline, and budget.
DAY 1. OWNING YOUR EXPERIENCE
Students will be challenged to take charge of their experience over the next 9 days in New Mexico, encouraged to engage in active learning and personal growth, and to have open minds to make the most of this incredible opportunity.
Welcome to New Mexico and to the experiential learning adventure of a lifetime! Our Chill Expeditions guides will meet us at the airport, and then we leave the city far behind as we drive through the low road heading to Santa Fe. We arrive at our Lodge in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. After settling in, we enjoy an introductory discussion about New Mexico and the Taos area. After dinner, we enjoy our first Bandana Ceremony.
- Your guides will introduce the Story Approach and the teaching themes that will cohesively link together the incredible wealth of information you will learn on the trip.
- Your group will be introduced to the Expedition Mentality, our nuanced strategy for creating the strongest possible group culture.
- Our first nightly circle and bandana ceremony will reinforce the Expedition Mentality and set the tone for the best possible experiential learning trip.
DAY 2. ANCIENT TO MODERN: TAOS PUEBLO AND CITY TOUR
Today we explore the town of Taos pueblo and the city of Taos, learning about history in context
After a delicious breakfast, we head to Taos Pueblo and learn why it is the only living Native American site that has been designated as World Heritage Site by UNESCO, as well as a National Historic Landmark. This entire Pueblo is made of adobe – a mix of water and straw – creating sun dried bricks. On our guided hike, we will learn about this fascinating culture and how locals work to keep the Pueblo intact and traditions alive. In the afternoon we will have a city tour around Taos town. We will learn about many local artisans as we walk around and visit vibrant art galleries. Compare and contrast perspectives of history from these complimentary experiences.
- Conservation of culture
- Native groups in the United States: past and present
- The influence of art in the cultures of the Southwest
DAY 3 & 4. PICURIS PUEBLO – SERVICE IN ACTION
These days will be spent working hand in hand with the Picuris Pueblo, improving the community center
After breakfast, we will drive to the Picuris Pueblo. The Picuris once was the biggest settlement of the Tiwa pueblos, but today is one of the smallest. Here we will help the community on a project of their choosing, learning from the natives of the pueblo how they come together to preserve their traditions and community. Community service is another way for you to directly step into the culture of the area you are visiting and leave a lasting positive impact. We usually work from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm with a break for lunch. While here we also enjoy a walking tour of the village from one of the elders of the Pueblo, who will share stories of how his people have lived here for millenia.
- Visiting Native communities: what does this opportunity mean, and what should we understand about the communities we are visiting?
- Building Community: what constitutes a community? What are keys to building positive communities here in New Mexico and back at home?
- How you can help: strategies for making positive impacts in the lives of others
DAY 5. TAOS, FROM LOWLANDS TO PEAKS
Today we immerse ourselves in this stunning environment on a breathtaking hike
After an early breakfast we head to The Sky Valley, where we will enjoy a beautiful 4 mile round trip hike to Williams Lake. Along the way, we stop to learn from our guide about conifers, avalanches, and forest fires. Along the way we look for Marmots, Jays and the beautiful Bighorn Sheep. Upon arrival to the lake, we take some time to reflect about the conservation of forest areas. Later on in the afternoon, we visit a local family to learn about traditional local foods of the Southwest in a hands on a cooking lesson.
- Microclimates and Unique Habitats: From lowland desert to high altitude environments
- Wildlife Conservation and emblematic species
- Food: living culture
DAY 6. HORSEBACK RIDING & PANNING FOR GOLD!
Today we head for the hills to learn about one of the driving forces shaping the west: gold!
This morning we head out for a horseback riding adventure into Kit Carson National Forest. High in the hills, we try our hand at panning for gold! Discuss the gold rush and how it impacted the settlement of this area. After lunch by the creek, we head back into town. In the afternoon, shake out our muscles with an invigorating yoga class before dinner in town.
- The gold rush: impact on Western development
- Ecological and cultural impact of gold mining
- Native American, Hispanic, and Western conceptions of land use
DAY 7. CONNECTING TO CULTURES
Today we further engage with food, art, and history to deepen our understanding of the mix of cultures here
This morning we head to the center of town to visit the Taos Farmers Market. Learn about locally grown crops and how small farmers work to grow sustainably in this area. We then visit the Millicent Rodgers museum. Here, mixed works ranging from pottery to textiles, jewelry, and art help us to further understand the cultures, history, and resiliency of Native and Hispanic communities who have called this area home. In the afternoon, we visit the Hacienda de los Martinez to see first hand what some of the first Hispanic settlements were like.
- Food trade routes over the past 200 years
- Native American mythology through art
- Hispanic settlements: politics, power, and perspective
DAY 8. GEOLOGIC WONDERS
Today we learn about the incredible geology of the high desert through a variety of activities
After an early breakfast, we will visit the Rio Grande Gorge. Here we will take a short hike along the river canyon to learn about the stunning local geology. We then visit Earthship. Here we will learn how sustainability can be applied anywhere in the world, discussing the intracacies of sustainable construction in a desert environment. Afterwards, we head to Ojo Caliente Hot Springs to relax and soak in what locals call “the healing waters”.
- Geologic Processes and Formations: keys to life in this area
- Sustainable living in harmony with the environment: new technologies and ancient solutions
- Water as a source of life and healing in indigenous societies
DAY 9. WHITEWATER RAFTING: ECOTOURISM IN ACTION
Today we experience Ecotourism at its best, taking part in an activity that helps protect fragile ecosystems while providing jobs for locals and enjoyment and learning for participants
Today is an unforgettable day of white water rafting on the Rio Grande River. This is one of the top rafting rivers in New Mexico with class II and III rapids. Expert guides help us to navigate safely on our adventure. The river cuts through the various geological formations, giving us a new perspective on our surroundings. We then take a rigorous hike up Picuris Peak for an unforgettable view of our environment. Tonight, we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant before our final reflection.
- Conservation Areas
- Water cycles and watersheds
- Eco-tourism and economic support for communities
DAY 10. HOME WITH INSPIRATION!
On our final day together we’ll enjoy a last group breakfast, head to the airport, bid our guides a fond farewell and return home with memories of our Chill Expedition that will last a lifetime! We hope to inspire all those who participate in our programs to gain a broader perspective, and consider how we can each contribute in the most meaningful ways to serve both our home communities as well as those in need around the world.
Why settle for less?
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Explore Ireland. Each day of our itinerary is highlighted by people, places, and themes that will be an important part of your trip. These unique stories about involvement with important ecological, social, cultural, and economic issues are told in context, allowing students to make meaningful connections and reach deeper levels of understanding.
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