GUIDED AD­VEN­TURES BY WOMEN, FOR WOMEN

Ex­pe­di­tions com­pany of­fers chal­leng­ing ex­pe­ri­ences in dozens of coun­tries

Montreal Gazette - - TRAVEL - ROCHELLE LASH

Strong women wanted.

Wild Women Ex­pe­di­tions will take you where you have never gone, or even imag­ined go­ing. The travel com­pany or­ga­nizes 200 com­plex, chal­leng­ing ex­cur­sions — guided by women, for women — in nearly 30 coun­tries, from Canada to Chile and Ice­land to In­done­sia.

“Em­pow­er­ing women doesn’t only re­fer to the #MeToo move­ment,” said Jen­nifer Had­dow, Wild Women Ex­pe­di­tions’ owner and direc­tor.

“Con­quer­ing the wilder­ness helps women con­nect with el­e­ments of their psy­che that might be lost in daily life,” said Had­dow, who hails from New­found­land and lives in B.C.

As a sam­pling, Wild Women of­fers jun­gle sa­faris, trekking and cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ences in Thai­land, Bhutan and In­dia; hik­ing, cy­cling and kayak­ing in Italy; horse­back rid­ing in Ar­gentina; and around 20 back­coun­try ex­pe­di­tions in the pris­tine out­doors of Canada and the U.S., on wa­ter and in the moun­tains.

Group sizes vary, and of­ten there are two guides for a group of up to 10 or 12 trav­ellers.

Won­der­ing where you’ll sleep? That also varies.

Dur­ing a horse­back rid­ing ad­ven­ture in Ire­land, Wild Women stay both in a farm­house and at a four-star re­sort.

While dis­cov­er­ing the Gala­pa­gos, home is a yacht. And in Mon­go­lia, trav­ellers bed down in yurts. And yes, there might be an out­house in your fu­ture. Who can go?: If your car­dio max amounts to a stroll in the park, or if you are a trav­eller who needs air con­di­tion­ing and bell­hops, Wild Women Ex­pe­di­tions might not be for you. On some ex­cur­sions, women haul their tents, food and clothes in their kayaks, and it can be rough and stren­u­ous.

“You have to be phys­i­cally fit, ready to face dif­fi­cult weather and carry your gear,” said Had­dow. “And you will likely be far out of your com­fort zones.”

How far out? The com­pany’s web­site elim­i­nates some of the guess­work by ask­ing: “Is this trip right for you?” Here you can de­cide if you’re suited to hours of pad­dling, hik­ing up a moun­tain or bounc­ing along in a sa­fari ve­hi­cle.

Had­dow would be a good in­spi­ra­tion. As an adult, she was di­ag­nosed with mul­ti­ple sclero­sis; de­ter­mined to fight the worst-case sce­nario, she stud­ied na­ture and al­ter­na­tive heal­ing.

She hiked to the base camp of Mount Ever­est, be­came a yoga in­struc­tor and bought Wild Women Ex­pe­di­tions.

She still joins some of the ex­cur­sions, and trav­els the world to re­search new des­ti­na­tions.

Here are some Wild Women trips that will take place in 2019. B.C. kayak­ing: The Great Bear Rain­for­est Kayak Ad­ven­ture is a Pa­cific Coast ex­pe­di­tion in a re­mote rain­for­est of Van­cou­ver Is­land. It’s both stren­u­ous and spir­i­tual. This spec­tac­u­lar land is the tra­di­tional ter­ri­tory of the Heilt­suk First Na­tions.

Vir­tu­ally the only sounds you’ll hear are bird­song and the splash of your pad­dle as you thread through a maze of is­lands.

You’ll tell time by the sun and make camp on beaches sur­rounded by tow­er­ing stands of 1,000-year-old western red cedars and Sitka spruce.

There is no guar­an­tee of see­ing wildlife, but the for­est is alive with bears, cougars and wolves, and the wa­ters dance with dol­phins and hump­back whales.

Ac­com­mo­da­tions are in tents, usu­ally for two, and af­ter a rugged day you’ll feast on fresh­caught salmon and steel­head trout, soups and veni­son stew, cooked camp-style.

Among Wild Women’s other Cana­dian trips:

In B.C., a West Koote­nays

■ retreat, the Chilcotin Cow­girl Rid­ing Ad­ven­ture and Des­o­la­tion Sound sail­ing.

Al­berta of­fers Atayokan:

Tra­di­tional Liv­ing Skills Retreat, a First Na­tions ex­pe­ri­ence.

In On­tario, Wild Women go

■ ca­noe­ing and kayak­ing and prac­tise yoga.

A New­found­land trip ex­plores ■ fjords and ice­bergs, fo­cus­ing on marine life and ge­ol­ogy.

There are chal­leng­ing 10and

■ 15-day ca­noe trips in the North­west Ter­ri­to­ries, for ex­pe­ri­enced pad­dlers. Costa Rica: The Pura Vida Ad­ven­ture Retreat un­folds in the trop­i­cal cli­mate of Cen­tral Amer­ica.

It in­cor­po­rates tame events such as a cof­fee tour, yoga, swim­ming, na­ture walks and snorkelling in the con­ser­va­tion­ist Bal­lena Marine Na­tional Park.

It sounds re­lax­ing, but this Cen­tral Amer­i­can ad­ven­ture is not all laid-back. Trav­ellers are phys­i­cally tested on chal­leng­ing hikes, kayak­ing, horse­back rid­ing and even rap­pelling over water­falls.

Ac­com­mo­da­tions are in sim­ple lodges, for two or more; sin­gles are avail­able for an ex­tra fee.

Break­fast is a full buf­fet, and din­ner might be fresh seafood, bar­be­cue chicken or tra­di­tional rice with beans and salsa.

PHO­TOS: WILD WOMEN EX­PE­DI­TIONS

Wild Women Ex­pe­di­tions’ jour­ney to Costa Rica fea­tures morn­ing yoga in a rus­tic lodge, but it’s not all laid-back.

A rugged B.C. rain­for­est ex­pe­di­tion is built around camp­ing and kayak­ing.

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