We all know that, as the years pass by, traveling as a couple can be a fabulous way to feed your passion and have a truly special experience. But what if a group journey were to give you the opportunity to accomplish something you never dreamt of experiencing? Something wild and remote that would give you time to forge new friendships? Well, now imagine you embark upon a trip for women only. Sounds like fun? Our team at EcoCamp have just witnessed how wonderful it can be!
Vrouw & Reizen (Women & Travel) is a small tourist agency based in the heart of Flanders, Belgium. The company is open to any woman, be she young, old, single, married, divorced, or a widow. Its aim? To give female travelers the chance to explore the world together with like-minded people, allowing them to understand themselves and each other better. Wherever possible, the agency supports local initiatives and mixes the very best of nature and culture in destinations such as Namibia, Uzbekistan, and Nepal. In late November 2014, Vrouw & Reizen chose EcoCamp Patagonia for their base during an epic trip in the full bloom of the South American spring. 11 smiling women arrived from Europe, including Therese, the charismatic group leader, who takes care of the wellbeing of her peers. We interviewed her at the foot of the Torres del Paine’s mountain range.
Tell us a bit about your trip!
We came to spend 20 days in both Chile and Argentina. 10 women took part in the trip. They were all between 50 and 75 years old and were clearly determined to make their South American dream come true. While organizing the trip at Vrouw & Reizen, we wanted to gather together women who do not usually travel with in groups. Most of them are single, divorced or widowed. The other ones have busy husbands or have a husband who does not like to travel. Traveling with us made it possible for them not to travel alone and to share a room with a new friend, making the trip cheaper!
What was the goal of your trip to Chile?
We have traveled a lot together around the world with the same group which comes again year after year. This year, they all wanted to go to South America, and they especially wanted to discover Patagonia. Social contact is very important: starting in Santiago with a bit of Chilean history, we quickly headed south to Patagonia to find out the life of women in a local ranch, where farmers work with the sheep. We the made it to Torres del Paine, as we also wanted some fresh, clean air in a place of unique wilderness.
What has been the most unique aspect of your journey within Torres del Paine National Park?
For most of the women, seeing this kind of nature is astonishing. We are used to hot climates, with trips in places such as the Amazon Rainforest and Thailand. That was the first time we had experienced such an extreme place, with the famous Patagonian winds that really made us feel very far away from home. In the eyes of the women who traveled, the most exotic places has to be the glaciers. Reaching Grey Glacier, we could not believe the immensity of the ice field (the third biggest ice field in the world). All this, mixed with the greatness of the landscape, really made it an unforgettable experience.
How was your time at EcoCamp Patagonia?
Whenever possible, we choose hotels that have a commitment to social and environmental sustainability. Reducing our footprint and consuming local products is very important, and we did not regret our decision for one moment when we arrived at EcoCamp. Everything is sustainable, and it is surprising to see how comfortable the domes are when you stay overnight in a Suite Dome!
How is it to travel as a group of women?
When you travel as a couple, you tend to be more separate from other people. When you travel as part of a group of women, you naturally talk to everyone and make tons of new friends. Walking through the pampa and sharing a room can create lots of funny situations that are hard to replicate in normal daily life. After the women fly back home, they generally keep on meeting up with each other. It is a sure fire way of making new friends!
Thank you Therese!
As we faced the imposing peaks of the National Park, we realized quite how geographically varied the place was. The magical blueness of the glaciers contrasted sharply with the silent pampa that was home to the guanacos and the pumas. A strong wind started to roar, and we almost had to shout if we wanted to be heard. That was intense. Intensely beautiful! The women did not wait long before sharing their thoughts about their Patagonian experience:
Hilde: There are not enough words to describe how I feel here! I could stay many more days just to carry on witnessing the uniqueness of nature. I especially came to see the glaciers, but everything we saw had something to impress us. It was great to travel with women: women understand each other and take care of one another. In such an environment, it makes the experience much more intense. I think no one here will ever forget it!
Magdalena: This is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Everything is different, from the waterfalls to the cleanliness of the air. It is impossible to find such an immensity in Belgium…and, honestly, after an incredible day of wind in the National Park, coming back to the comfort of a dome has never seemed so nice!
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