NOLS National Outdoor Leadership School: Semester in India
The Himalaya, or “Abode of Snow,” swing in a wide arc across four countries and are home to both Everest and K2. Your Semester in India begins in New Delhi, and travel by overnight train through the plains of northern India will bring you to the NOLS base in the idyllic mountain town of Ranikhet, Uttarakhand at 6,500 feet in the foothills of the Himalaya.
From here, you will travel through the valleys of the Kumaon and Garhwal regions where the thick conifer and broad-leaf trees of the lower altitudes turn to evergreens, rhododendron, and juniper forests in the high ridges and shrubs, grasses, and wildflowers in the alpine zone.
Wilderness Advanced First Aid (WAFA)
While in Ranikhet, you’ll experience rural mountain life while you receive your WAFA certification through the NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute. This 40-hour course focuses on injury stabilization, treatment, and evacuation guidelines of patients in backcountry environments.
A self-contained river journey down the River Kali, which forms the international border between India and Nepal in its upper reaches, is the setting for this section. Terraced farms of Kumauni and Nepali villages, fresh water streams, sandy beaches, thick tropical jungles, and plantations pass by as we travel downstream through the Terai belt negotiating exciting white water. The remoteness of this section makes for a complete wilderness journey day after day.
Two small villages in our area of operations will be the hosts for the duration of this section. Pairing up with a fellow course mate, you will live in a village homestay to experience firsthand what it takes to live in remote, rural India. As you engage in domestic chores and eat meals with your host family, the bonds you form could last a lifetime.
A major focus on this section will be an in-depth understanding of the Himalayan ecosystem and will include group classes on field biology, land use, current environmental issues and yoga. Short field trips to explore local produce markets, rural economy and alpine ecology provides a fundamental grassroots understanding of the country and the culture.
High Altitude Backpacking
The monthlong expedition will take you through many valleys and alpine zones from the Eastern Garwal to the Western Kumaon Himalayas. Some of the trails you will hike are historical trade and pilgrim routes between India and Tibet. You’ll travel in those traders’ footsteps over high altitude passes over 15,000 feet, through remote villages, and across lush river valleys and flower-strewn meadows, all in the backdrop of the holy and awe-inspiring periphery of Mt. Nanda Devi, a 25,643-foot sanctuary.
Your semester will culminate in India’s Ramganga Valley with an opportunity for a student expedition, traveling with a small group of fellow coursemates and putting into action all of the skills you have learned over the past months.
Although groups will travel without the immediate supervision of instructors, you will work closely with them to craft a travel plan, work out a proposed route, and plan for contingencies. Independent student group travel is typically five to eight days in length and is a reward for working hard throughout your entire semester.
NOLS is widely recognized for its outdoor education, leadership and conservation curricula. As different as these may be from traditional academic programs, Western Washington University recognizes the educational value of a NOLS course. WWU students must register for University of Utah credit. Students must pay for the University of Utah credit fees, in addition to the course tuition, before the course begin. Registration forms and payment submitted after a course begins will not be accepted. More information about this process can be found on the NOLS website