Out of any window we can see forested mountain slopes, which offer us a range of fantastic outdoor and adventure opportunities and within an hour's drive we have access to watersports at Lake Sevan and winter sports at Tsaghkadzor ski resort.
Outdoor activities are offered throughout the week as part of the CAS programme, and on weekends when we are able to venture further afield for day and overnight trips to camp and explore. Outdoor programmes are also part of our project weeks and include trekking in Goris, hiking in Vayots Dzor, climbing in Noravank Canyon and sailing on Lake Sevan.
Safety comes first and foremost for all of our outdoor activities. We have qualified and experienced staff. All activities are appropriately risk managed and backed up with the right equipment.
On campus we have a very well-equipped outdoor store complete with boots, waterproofs, backpacks and tents as well as our full winter equipment section of skis, poles, snowshoes and helmets. Our aim is to provide students with a full set of outdoor equipment, so everyone can take part in all activities. In addition, we have a fleet of specialised mountain bikes and a large workshop for repairs and maintenance.
"Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises, sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight, and hurt not." William Shakespeare
Gor Hovhannisyan is our local instructor with a strong interest in ecology, biking and caving. Gor also has a wealth of knowledge about the flora and fauna of the region and a passion for its conservation.
We use the support of other experienced staff, and we also encourage our students to take part in teaching and assisting with the activities that they are proficient in. Below are some examples of outdoor activities.
In 2019 we started the UWC Climbing Academy, where students take part in a climbing course which involves learning all of the aspects of this exciting sport including safety management, climbing techniques and belaying. We use a variety of climbing locations including rock outcrops and river gorges and also visit. In October 2019 we had the great opportunity of taking a group of students to climb on a new venue in the National Park and even got to name one of the routes (UWC Rocks!).
Mountain Walking and Trekking
Within a few minutes walk from campus we can be out hiking in beautiful mountain terrain and learning more about the ecology and geology that makes up the amazing scenery around us. We can take walks and hikes at different levels. They can be short hikes to local monasteries and forts or overnight trips to more remote regions. Our hikes are often focused on different outdoor interests such as art, photography, geology, local history or learning new skills including map reading and navigation.
Mountain and Trail Biking
One of the best ways to see our local mountains is definitely by bicycle. With literally thousands of tracks and trails leading through the forests and mountains, we can offer training and rides from beginner to experienced level. We also run a rent-a-bike scheme at college, which enables students to borrow bicycles to ride around Dilijan to visit the shops, cafe and banks. A great way to stay fit too! In Autumn 2019 we also had a group of students, families and staff take part in the first Yerevan Bikeathon.
When the days get shorter and the temperature drops we get really excited and look forward to the first snow so we can start winter sports.
Our aim is to offer access to winter sports for everyone, we understand that for some students, this may be the first time they have seen snow whereas some have been skiing since they could walk. We provide all the equipment to keep everyone safe on the slopes including goggles, helmets and gloves. We just need students to be ready to have a go and have some great fun!
Alpine (Downhill) Skiing
Just an hour's drive from campus we have access to Armenia’s biggest ski resort and throughout the winter we provide a full programme of ski lessons for complete beginner skiers, helped out by a team of experienced staff and student teachers. In addition we offer the opportunity for intermediate and experienced skiers to explore the ski resort without supervision.
Cross-Country (Nordic Skiing)
Cross-country skiing takes place in more ‘rolling’ terrain, with no lifts and,- no queues! It is a great way of exploring the countryside and keeping fit in the winter. We have even had the experience of heading out on skis straight from the college gates.
There is nothing nicer than heading out into the mountains with crisp deep snow on the ground and blue skies overhead… and for this you need snowshoes! We use our snowshoes to access some wonderful trails throughout the winter, taking us to glorious locations for picnic lunches in the snow. One of our favourite local snowshoe hikes takes us into an interesting valley, with great views and some fascinating local history. Again, our hikes range from gentle sessions for beginners, to more challenging routes for experienced hikers.
Exploring the mountains during the winter requires a very specific set of skills and knowledge in addition to those for summer mountain travel - these include areas such as understanding the snow conditions, weather forecasts and winter survival techniques. We cover some of these skills as part of our days out on skis and snowshoes and offer specific training sessions on winter navigation and planning safe winter outings.
Throughout the year we offer running training both on campus and following our favourite 5 km route to cafe No2 and back. We had our first couch to 5k running club, which helped a group of new runners to have the confidence to take part in the Yerevan running festival. As a result, 2019 saw over 60 students and staff competing in the 5km, 10km, half and full marathons with lots of top 5 places!
Bushcraft and Forest School
At UWC Dilijan we believe that learning to understand, respect and utilise the world around us is a very important part of taking care of where we live. The Bushcraft Skills and Forest School sessions take place in wooded hillsides where we have the opportunity to learn about how to use the plants and other natural resources to make shelters, fire, food and even artwork! We find that just spending time in the forests, listening to the sound of the birds, listening to the fire crackle and talking with friends, is a perfect antidote to a stressful week!