Small group tours for women in dream destinations around the globe
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As a midlife traveler, I’ve come to appreciate the benefits of women’s group tours; I let professionals manage the planning and logistics, so I don’t have to. Having a guide to take care of the daily details allows me to immerse myself in the travel experience, and exploring in a small group — I recommend a max of 16 people — is a wonderful way to discover a destination, with the security and companionship of other travelers.
On recent group tours to India and Greece, I’ve really enjoyed the chance to meet other women, some of whom had joined the group on their own. I think group trips are especially ideal for independent travelers. Many of us are awash in travel dreams, but lacking a travel companion.
With that in mind, I’ve curated a list of group tours for women in some of the world’s most beautiful and fascinating places. Several of these trips are to countries I’ve visited and loved — France, New Zealand, India and Botswana. Others are destinations at the top of my bucket list including Croatia, Japan and Jordan.
Of the tour operators I’ve selected, I have traveled with G Adventures and Traverse Journeys. The others are companies I have researched thoroughly and in several cases, interviewed the management. I would happily take any of these trips.
Women's Tours: Pricing & Private Rooms
More than half of these tours are women-only; I’ve marked those as “women’s tours”, otherwise the tour is open to anyone. They are priced in US dollars and usually based on double occupancy. Often, tour operators are able to accommodate travelers who wish to have their own room for an additional cost; this is known as a “single supplement”. It’s always best to check the availability and cost of having your own room BEFORE you book, so you are not disappointed. Tour dates vary and run in either 2023 or 2024. Air travel to reach the destination is not included in any of these trips.
Note: With Covid still a reality, travel medical insurance is essential. And be sure to read the fine print of any bookings you are considering, so you understand the cancellation terms and refund policy.
Some of the tours are once-in-a-lifetime type vacations, i.e. expensive, but there are also international trips priced under US$3000. The destination is often the largest predictor of cost: Iceland and Japan are known for being expensive; India is more affordable. If you prefer to travel in the U.S., I’ve included two terrific tour companies, Adventures in Good Company and REI that offer women’s tours. You’ll find those toward the end of the story.
Of course, organized group travel is not for everyone. If you would prefer to plan your own itinerary, these trips might kickstart your travel dreaming, and many of these tour companies can plan a custom trip for your group or family.
For me, travel has always been about more than taking a vacation. It’s about how I feel when I’ve left my daily life behind and am exploring a new place — I feel inspired, alive, and free. I hear from many women that they too are craving a sense of freedom and adventure. I hope reading about these women’s tours will inspire you to begin planning your next trip.
Guided Tours for Women Only
The Dalmatian Coast is known for its clear turquoise waters, pretty islands, and charming coastal towns. Rugged limestone cliffs, hidden coves, and sandy beaches, provide a diverse range of landscapes for visitors to explore. And the food is supposed to be incredible. In other words, Croatia seems like a dream destination for adventurers and photographers.
Croatia Adventure & Photography - Into the Wild (women's tour)
8 days/$2850 ~ September 14-21, 2023
Into the Wild leads women’s tours in exceptional locations with a focus on adventure, learning about yourself, and capturing it all with incredible photos. The co-founder, Wendy Whitacre, is a professional photographer who likes to joke that she is an 18-year-old adventurer trapped in a 42-year-old’s body.
On this 8-day Photography Tour of Croatia, you’ll explore the fascinating, historic cities of Split and Dubrovnik, as well as the stunning coastline. Optional activities include hiking, sailing, snorkeling, cliff jumping and cooking. My photography is a work-in-progress, and Croatia is on my bucket list! I would love to take this tour.
Note: this tour only offers shared occupancy.
Culinary Adventure in Portugal
Wild Algarve with Cheema's Travel
February 24 - March 2, 2023 (contact Rani for pricing)
Cheema’s Travel was started by Rani Cheema who grew up in New York City and became passionate about the intersection of food and culture. Before starting her travel company, Rani was an art director at the Food Network & Cooking Channel and has lived in Spain, South Korea and Bangladesh.
This Foodie’s Tour of the Algarve in Portugal is ideal if you are craving a relaxed pace and a tour focused on food and wine. Rani personally guides all of her tours and puts tremendous thought and care into the itineraries and the local chefs and food producers who she partners with. This trip would be a foodies dream come true. You’ll experience the citrus harvest, and the artisanal distillation of “Medronho” firewater among other unique experiences.
I was in New Zealand 23 years ago on my honeymoon and I’ve always wanted to return. It’s a true pastoral paradise with a gorgeous coastline and dramatic landscapes at every turn. Add to that lovely people and a very relaxed vibe, and New Zealand is truly special. Coming from winter in Canada, I also recall how in awe I was of the gorgeous flowers and colorful birds. Anyone who loves exploring beautiful natural places will be captivated by New Zealand.
New Zealand Alpine Adventure - Wild Women's Adventures (women's tour)
10 days/$7995 ~ March & November 2024
This trip by Wild Women’s Adventures, New Zealand Aotearoa Alpine Adventure, emphasizes exploration of the country’s gorgeous coastline, mountains and rivers. It’s an active adventure and involves hiking and kayaking as well as a jet boat ride and scenic mountain flight of the Siberia Valley. This style of travel offers incredible access to nature.
Wild Women Adventures began as an all-women canoe tripping company in Canada in 1991 and now host trips in 30 countries. Trips are designed for women who love the outdoors, and I can’t think of a place more suited for appreciating it, than New Zealand.
Fall is a special season in Japan with stunning foliage and pleasant weather, an ideal time to visit. I am fascinated by Japanese food and the autumn harvest also brings the chance to try seasonal delicacies — dishes like mushroom rice, roasted chestnuts, sweet potato tempura, and persimmon treats. And freshly brewed sake as well, which arrives with the rice harvest.
Japan's Culture & Countryside ~ Adventures in Good Company (women's tour)
10 Days/$5795 ~ Two dates in October -November 2023
Japan’s Culture & Countrside is a 10-day active trip that combines modern and rural Japan. Explore Tokyo and Kyoto, and the natural beauty of the countryside as you hike the Nakasendo Way, an ancient route that showcases Japan’s history, and traditional way of life.
Staying in traditional country inns will allow guests to experience regional cuisine and seasonal dishes, and most meals are included in this tour — see the trip page for details. Special experiences include a stay in a hot springs ryokan in Kiso-Fukushima. A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn, with rooms reflecting a traditional style, with tatami matting and futons.
The cooler weather makes this a lovely time for hiking this ancient route; hikes will be up to five hours a day, so a good fitness level is required. See the itinerary for more details.
Adventures in Good Company leads tours for active women with adventurous spirits, all over the world. Authentic cultural experiences and time spent in nature are a hallmark of their women’s tours, as is sustainability. The level of activity varies by itinerary, with each trip rated on a scale from 1 to 5. This Japan tour is a 3.
Glaciers and lagoons, black sand beaches, breathtaking waterfalls, and volcanos; the south coast of Iceland is a wealth of diverse natural wonders, and offers the chance to see the Northern Lights. Although best observed during the winter months, there’s the possibility of witnessing this natural phenomenon in fall.
Iceland's South Coast - Your Time to Fly (women's tour)
8 days/$4900* ~ September 2-9, 2023 (*trip payable in local currency so cost is estimated)
Cycling in France
I have a special fondness for France and can never seem to get enough. Unoriginal perhaps, but you can’t dictate the whims of the travel heart. I’ve been lucky enough to visit several times, first when I was 20 and most recently last fall. And I’ve been twice to the Loire Valley and adored both trips. You can learn more in my: Guide to the Loire Valley.
The Loire was considered an idyllic retreat by French royalty and nobility because of its proximity to Paris, pastoral beauty, and forests for hunting. They built palaces and manor homes here in the 15th and 16th centuries and many of those chateaux remain today — beautiful treasures of French renaissance architecture and a glimpse into French history. This fertile region is also known as the “Garden of France” so the food and wine are fantastic. Mais oui, this is France.
Easygoing E-bike Tour Loire Valley ~ Backroads
6 days/from $5499 ~ Multiple dates, July & September 2023
A bicycle is the perfect way to see the beautiful Loire Valley as it’s mostly flat. On the Easygoing E-bike Tour Loire Valley you will travel like a French noble — you won’t have to peddle your steed unless you desire to. (You will travel effortlessly around the Loire on your electric bike.) I recently rode an e-bike around an island in Greece and can say it is a marvelous way to explore. As with a traditional bike, you peddle, but you have access to an assist when you need it.
This tour is part of a new vacation series called Dolce Tempo by U.S.-based Backroads. I’ve thought about doing a bicycling trip in France and I would actually prefer an e-bike to traditional cycling. I think it’s easier to enjoy the scenery if I am not struggling to get up a hill.
Backroads is also known for luxurious accommodation and this itinerary includes stays at historic chateaux, part of the reason for the price. While six days is on the shorter side, it allows time to add on a stay in Paris, which I highly recommend Read more about exploring the city of lights in my Paris guides.
Jordan is rich in culture, history and spectacular scenery. Visiting Petra, Jordan’s ancient city of pink stone, is supposed to be an experience unlike any other. Jordan offers diverse landscapes, from the dramatic red desert of Wadi Rum to the lowest point on Earth, the Dead Sea.
It combines traditions of the Arabic, Bedouin, and Palestinian cultures, and welcomes visitors with warm hospitality. Jordan is also known for being a stable and safe place to visit, within the Middle East. I am hoping to visit Jordan in the next few years.
Taste & Trails of Jordan - Traverse Journeys
8 days/$2995 ~ Spring 2024 dates, coming soon
Taste & Trails of Jordan is ideal for travelers who appreciate authentic cultural experiences – a visit to a women’s soap-making cooperative and a community-run cooking project are both on the itinerary, as well as a stay in a tented Bedouin camp. And this is an active trip, with 25+ miles of hiking throughout the week, including guided walks to explore Petra and its famous Treasury.
Accommodation is in 3-star hotels and an eco-lodge. This trip will be hosted by Ashley Blake, founder of Traverse Journeys, along with local guides. I had the chance to travel with Ashley on a sailing trip in Greece, and I saw that she puts enormous thought and care into every trip. You can learn more in: Traverse Journeys – How Travel Can be a Catalyst for Change.
Part of their mission is to make a positive economic impact on the people and places they visit; to learn more, visit their Responsible Travel page. I highly recommend Traverse Journeys!
(You can receive $100 off of any Traverse Journeys trip with the code MG100)
Far-Flung Adventures for Women
Southern Africa , 3 Countries ~ Girls Trip Tours (women's tour)
6 days/ $4485 ~ August 28 – September 2, 2023
I recently discovered the tour company Girls Trip Tours, Africa travel specialists who create thoughtful itineraries in Kenya and Southern Africa. They have an incredible trip planned to explore three countries on one trip: Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. The itinerary includes a visit to Botswana’s Chobe National Park for an eco-tour with the “Chobe Angels” an all-women guiding team at Chobe Game Lodge. I recently visited Chobe on a trip to Botswana, and it’s a truly special place; it has the highest concentration of elephants in the world.
You’ll also have a safari game drive in Zambia’s Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park and visit Victoria Falls, a world wonder and the largest waterfall in Africa.
One of the things I love about this trip is that the proximity of all of these incredible attractions allows for the tour to be based from a single hotel. Not having to pack and unpack or move between lodges creates a more relaxed pace, especially on a tour of just 6 days.
On my own recent Africa adventure, I had the chance to spend the day exploring Zambia with the host of this trip, Tloco Kelebemang. She is the founder of a Botswana-based boutique travel company and highly knowledgable about Southern Africa, and committed to social justice and empowering women through travel. Travelers will love having Tloco as their guide.
Girls Trip Tours’ are designed to offer meaningful experiences to guests while empowering women along the way; they are open to women of all ages and stages. These trips may include experiences designed for women of African ancestry, but all women are welcome. I am including an answer to the question of whether these tours are intended for black women. This information is taken directly from the website.
While we may curate certain ancestral and healing experiences that will specifically cater to women of African ancestry, our trips inclusively welcome any woman who is comfortable experiencing the African continent from a perspective that centers African women in a cultural, historical, and societal context.
If you’ve read other stories here on Midlife Globetrotter, you might already know how I feel about India. I took my first trip to India in 2017, (without my family) and fell in love with it. That trip was significant for a number of reasons. Having to only think of myself for two weeks allowed me to leave the obligations of everyday life behind, and remember things about myself that I had forgotten.
It was unlike anywhere else I’d been: the ancient culture, the vibrant colors, and life packed into every corner. And the smiles of the women who seem endlessly busy at work. India may not be for everyone, but if it intrigues you, I highly encourage you to visit. And I think it’s one of those places that is ideal for a group tour.
Discover India - G Adventures
15 days/$3399+ ~ dates throughout 2023
(I don’t advise traveling to India between late March and August as it’s extremely hot.)
I am recommending Discover India with G Adventures because I took this exact tour and had a wonderful experience. I think it’s an ideal first trip to India: the perfect travel masala (mixture) of this fascinating country. You will visit the stunning forts and palaces of Rajasthan, take an Indian safari in search of the Bengal tiger, and experience spiritual India in the holy city of Varanasi. And yes, you’ll marvel at the Taj Mahal. I found it to be even more spectacular than I expected.
This itinerary is one of G Adventures’ National Geographic Journeys, a collaboration between the two companies, so it is the highest level of service and accommodation that G offers. It’s not luxury, but it’s upgraded. India is more affordable than many other destinations and I think this is a terrific value.
If you would like to learn more about my experiences in India, you can read: On Safari in India and Plan a Trip to India.
Botswana Luxury Safari
Botswana is one of the most geographically diverse places in Africa and strict management of development have allowed them to avoid some of the over-tourism issues in other parts of Africa. This low-density model also means higher prices. If budget-friendly is a priority, you might consider a small group tour to South Africa, such as this one: Explore Cape Town and Kruger National Park.
I recently returned from own trip to Botswana and it was one of the most spectacular places I have ever visited. I’ve come to understand that your guide makes all of the difference in the experience. And so, if you have the budget for the safari of your dreams, I recommend Natural Habitat Adventures.
Secluded Botswana ~ Natural Habitat Adventures
12 days/$14995 (+internal air) ~ 2023 dates, May-November
This flagship tour, Secluded Botswana, will be a small group of only 7 people, and led by expert naturalists (Many of their guides are PhD’s.)
The 12-day itinerary takes you through some of Southern Africa’s most pristine wilderness areas including the Okavango Delta and Linyanti Reserve. Two nights are spent in Chobe National Park, famous for its elephant herds, a population that exceeds 70,000, the highest concentration in Africa.
Nat Hab trips typically include seminars by conservationists. On this trip an expert will share their research on the endangered painted wild dog, as well as cheetah and leopard.
You’ll also visit the world wonder, Victoria Falls, and visit Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, a chance for a walking safari (there are no predators here) and possibly a view of the white rhinoceros.
African safaris are expensive; if you are going to splurge on a luxury safari, I think this trip gives you a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Specific photo trips are available, as are extensions to South Africa or Namibia.
Natural Habitat & World Wildlife Fund
Natural Habitat Adventures has been the official partner of the World Wildlife Fund since 2003. All of its wildlife expeditions are designed so that animal welfare and conservation of wild spaces is the priority.
Women's Tours in the U.S.
Active Travel - Adventures in Good Company (women's tours)
Adventures in Good Company (host of the Japan trip, included above) leads dozens of adventure-focused women’s tours in the U.S., throughout the year. While every trip is designed around being active, I like that some of the tours pair the active element with an additional theme. A few examples: Wineries & Hiking the Appalachian Trail, Sketching & Hiking in Arizona and Writing & Renewal in Maine.
Active Travel - REI Women's Adventures
The outdoor company, REI, is also a tour operator and offers 19 Women’s Adventures, which explore the stunning landscapes of the U.S.
Itineraries are 3-5 days, and all trips are led by a woman guide with a maximum of 12 participants. Trips range from “easy active” such as Bryce Canyon Hiking & Camping to “strenuous” such as Hiking the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. Activities vary by trip but can include cycling, hiking, kayaking, camping and backpacking.
PRO TIP: If you aren’t already a member, join REI for $30. You’ll qualify for the discounted “member price’ of their tours.
I don’t know about you, but I am wondering how we could possibly choose just one of these destinations and incredible tours for women. If you’d like some tips on what to look for in a small group tour, you can find those in: How to Select a Small Group Tour. We might also need to start saving for our dream trip. Explore some ideas in: How to Afford Travel.
Is there a group trip you’ve taken and would recommend to other women? What’s at the top of your travel bucket list? Please share in the comments below.
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