What do women want on a women-only trip? Many want adventure without turning the hiking, biking, horseback riding outings into a macho challenge. Women want support and camaraderie even when they pedal, paddle, or walk slower than expected. More outfitters respond to this mini-trend by adding women-only expeditions. And these sell out quickly.“ Every year, REI Adventures hosts more female guests than males – from single travelers or girlfriends who wish to have an incredible experience together,” says Cynthia Dunbar, REI Adventures general manager. “We introduced women’s only offerings last year though a Pacific Coast Trail Backpacking trip, which sold out. Based on the trip’s success, we’re offering the Pacific Coast Trail trip again and adding five national park trips that are some of our most popular backpacking itineraries.”
Long before female-only trips popped up as mainstream, Susan Eckert started offering women-only outings. In 1982 Eckert founded AdventureWomen, the oldest outdoor company for women age 30 and older.
Why organize women-only trips?
“Because women in any culture relish the freedom to experience new things away from limiting, societal expectations,” notes Eckert on the AdentureWomen website. “We have a unique sense of discovery, an unabashed curiosity, the easy ability to laugh at ourselves and the capacity to create a non-competitive environment of support and encouragement for each other. Under these circumstances, women feel free to challenge themselves with a trek up a mountain, learning to snorkel or scuba dive, or immersion into an unfamiliar culture. On an all-women’s trip, women tell us that they can be totally and unequivocally themselves.”
AdventureWomen offers trips to Ecuador, New Zealand, Cuba, Botswana, Italy, Iceland, Sri Lanka, France, and other places.
Women Only Trips from AdventureWomen
Ride Horseback through Iceland
Ride an Icelandic horse across farmlands, lava fields and mountains covered with black ash from volcanic eruptions. The horse, brought by the Vikings, is noted for its special gate, the tölt, a running walk that suits a long day in the saddle. July 8-16.
Hike Italy’s Amalfi Coast
Walk along the winding paths of the Mediterranean coast south of Naples, enjoying the sea views from cliffs. Stroll through picturesque towns; explore the ruins of Herculaneum, a Roman town destroyed when Vesuvius volcano erupted in 70 AD; and take a boat trip to walk through Capri. Sept. 24-Oct. 2.
Women Only Trips from REI Adventures
Backpack the Pacific Coast Trail
A shorter and more enjoyable version than Reese Witherspoon’s “Wild,” about the Pacific Crest trail, REI’s has you hiking the Pacific Coast for three days in the Mount Shasta region of northern California and staying at lakeside campgrounds, great for swimming breaks. Aug. 5-7 departure is for women-only.