The Ultimate Women-Only Trips
These adventurous trips for solo travelers or groups are a far cry from traditional girlfriend getaways.
Photo By: Explorer Chick
Photo By: AdventureWomen
Photo By: Wild Women Expeditions
Photo By: Globe and Tribe
Photo By: Sara Liberte
Photo By: Ren Fuller
Photo By: Intrepid Travel
Photo By: Sacred Rides
Photo By: Souljourn Yoga
Photo By: Kami Swingle
Explorer Chick: Iceland
On this week-long trip to Iceland with Explorer Chick, you’ll get to soak in the Blue Lagoon, but you’ll also get to explore beyond the conventional tourist path too. The latter brings the group to remote lodges for four nights in order to try and catch the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. While there’s no guarantee of light sighting, at the very least participants will get to scale a glacier using crampons and an ice axe; go sea kayaking in seal-populated waters; explore an ice cave and hike to a hot spring. Visiting the popular Golden Circle route attractions is also part of the plan, stopping at the powerful Gullfoss Waterfall and the UNESCO Thingvellir National Park, known for its dramatic landscape of dried lava fields.
Founded in 1982, AdventureWomen remains one of the most popular women-only tour groups, offering a seemingly endless array of trips like riding the Trans-Siberian Railway in Russia and hiking to temples in Bhutan. An upcoming trip to India provides an insider’s look into a country that can be challenging for solo women travelers. Beyond visiting the typical tourist sites like the Taj Mahal, there are opportunities to take a cooking class with a local woman in Jaipur, spend time with a non-profit in Udaipur that provides education and health services for women and children, and participate in Holi, a major holiday celebrating good over evil where the highlight involves getting doused in colored powder.
Wild Women Expeditions: Patagonia
Experience the remote landscape of Patagonia, Chile, in Torres del Paine National Park via hiking, sea kayaking, mountain biking and horseback riding. Know that on this 10-day trip with Wild Women Expeditions, a 7.5-mile hike is considered a warm-up; eco-domes and bathrooms are shared; and rest days offer the option to hike six miles. (Or, better yet, take a yoga class and nap.) But arguably the best part comes toward the end of the trip, when the group will spend up to eight hours searching on foot for about 100 wild horses —with the help of a guide and satellite tracking.
Globe and Tribe: Golden Eagle Festival
The highlight of Globe and Tribe's two-week trip to Mongolia is the Golden Eagle Festival, a competition celebrating the ancient tradition of hunting foxes, rabbits and even wolves using trained eagles. Historically a male-dominated activity, a new generation of girls is earning recognition for learning how to become eagle huntresses. The New York Times profiled this teenager, while The Eagle Huntress documentary film follows another teenage girl breaking barriers. It’s unknown if any women will be competing in the next festival, but fun fact: the eagles used for hunting are female. Trip participants will get to learn all about how the Kazakh nomads use eagles to hunt, in addition to checking out remote Eastern Mongolia and the capital of Ulaanbaatar.
Women's Motorcycle Tours: Appalachia
While it’s becoming more common for women to ride in motorcycle groups, sexism in coed groups still isn’t uncommon. With Women’s Motorcycle Tours, likeminded women can bike in peace, and participants can either use their own bike or rent one. The only caveat is that riders need at least 3,000 miles under their belt in order to participate. However, an upcoming Appalachian tour in May is especially geared toward newer long-distance bikers and provides pre- and post-trip coaching, along with help along the way. And help couldn’t hurt while navigating the curving roads of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway. Another trip worth mentioning is the epic Suffragists Centennial Motorcycle Ride going down in 2020. This trip marks the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote and will encompass up to 1,000 riders on a cross-country trip to Washington, DC. Men will be allowed on this journey, but at least everyone will be biking for the same cause.
WHOA Travel: Mt. Everest Base Camp
WHOA stands for Women High On Adventure, and its Everest Base Camp trip certainly delivers. For aspiring mountaineers not quite ready to attempt the summit, this option still requires a base fitness level and the ability to climb up to nine miles a day in high altitude, eventually reaching 18,000 feet. The ultimate reward will be watching the sunrise behind Mount Everest, but other rewards are to be enjoyed along the journey. These encompass downing a beer at the world’s highest Irish pub, crossing no-joke suspension bridges and visiting Tengboche, known for its Buddhist monastery. Unlike other trekking companies, WHOA partners with Take on Nepal, a group that trains local women as porters and guides, roles traditionally reserved for men. It’s also worth mentioning that WHOA runs highly popular expedition trips. The two 2019 options are already sold out, but waitlists are open for summiting Mount Elbrus in Russia and hiking the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route in Japan.
Women-only trips are a helpful way to navigate conservative cultures such as Iran. While not as conservative as say, Saudi Arabia, Iran’s culture has led to the creation of women’s-only parks, gyms and beauty salons. (On the upside, this segregation allows women to enjoy certain activities sans hijab, or head covering.) On Intrepid's Iran Expedition, a small group totaling 12 women will spend almost two weeks visiting the aforementioned places, along with popping into a women-only scarf shop and taking a women-led cooking class in Tehran. Non-women centric activities are on the itinerary as well: staying with a village family in Fars Province; visiting Yazd, a World Heritage Site and center of Zoroastrianism, the country’s primary religion pre-Islam; and wandering Esfahan, a former capital known for its 17th-century mosque, former palaces and grand bazaar.
Sacred Rides: Inca Trail
If hiking the famed Inca Trail isn’t hard-core enough, try attempting it on a mountain bike. Know upfront that this new trip with Sacred Rides doesn’t involve biking to Machu Picchu, but instead traverses part of the extensive Inca Trail network that stretches between Cusco and Machu Picchu. Along the way riders get to take in sweeping views of the Sacred Valley, visit small villages like Huilloc and stop at the hard-to-reach Lares Hot Springs that reside at 10,000 feet. Speaking of elevation, peak height will hit 14,000 feet during the eight-day adventure, so being in shape goes without saying. The site also details skill level: if "you can handle rocky terrain and narrow trails, and have excellent bike handling skills," then this trip option could be a great fit.
Souljourn Yoga: Rwanda
Yes, yoga is a component of this 11-day trip to Rwanda with Souljourn Yoga, but it also offers much more. Instead of yoga three times a day, days will be filled with Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest National Park; embarking on a safari game drive; and searching for gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. The trip also provides greater depth for understanding the region by visiting the Kigali Genocide Memorial and Mbyo Reconciliation Village, one of six villages where once-warring Hutus and Tutsis live together. The group also spends a day with women who are part of Komera, a non-profit that provides school scholarships and leadership training to local high school girls who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity. In fact, Souljourn is also a non-profit, and it uses these trips as a way to raise money for educating girls around the world.
A growing number of women are joining the fly-fishing ranks. And while fly-fishing is often associated with colder waters, Orvis runs trips to warmer waters too, like Belize. An upcoming women's fly-fishing trip to Ambergris Caye welcomes all levels for three days of casting flies and landing bonefish and tarpon. All fishing gear and equipment will be provided, with days spent on small Panga boats that are common in Central America. A certified instructor will also be on hand for coaching, whether it’s your first time or your hundredth.