“Oh, don’t get me anything. There’s nothing I need.” We’ve all heard that on Mother’s Day, right?

If no gifts for Mom, then what? Well, food is always a good idea. So, we put our heads together about brunch-y ideas from some of our favorite AdventureWomen destinations around the world. Try these delicious recipes for a celebratory drink and a nosh! We also found some great tips for moms who want to be more active and get out in nature.

RECIPES WITH A DASH OF ADVENTURE

The Michelada (Mexico)

  • 1 dash Chili-salt blend (We use Tajín)
  • 2 oz Lime Juice (Fresh is best)
  • 2 tsp Hot sauce (Mexican style is best)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 dash Salt
  • 12 oz Light Mexican beer

Add chili-salt to a wide, shallow dish to cover the bottom. Rub the rim of the glass with water or lime juice from the squeezed lime. Dip the glass into the salt to create a chili-salt rimmed glass. (credit: foodieandwine.com)

 

Pisco Sour (Peru)

  • 2 ounces pisco
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 3/4 ounce tart lime juice
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 to 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Mix the pisco, lime juice, simple syrup, and egg white in a cocktail shaker.
  • Add ice to fill and shake vigorously or use a blender.
  • Strain into an old-fashioned glass and sprinkle Angostura bitters on top of the foam. (credit: thespruceeats.com)

Shakshuka (Africa/Middle East)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 4 cups ripe diced tomatoes, or 2 cans (14 oz. each) diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp mild chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper, or more to taste (careful, it’s spicy!)
  • Pinch of sugar (optional, to taste)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (optional, for garnish)

Heat a deep, large skillet or sauté pan on medium. Slowly warm olive oil in the pan. Add chopped onion, sauté for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften. Add garlic and continue to sauté till mixture is fragrant.

Add the diced bell pepper, sauté for 5-7 minutes over medium until softened.

Add tomatoes and tomato paste to pan, stir until blended. Add spices and sugar, stir, and allow mixture to simmer over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until it starts to reduce.

At this point, you can taste the mixture and spice it according to your preferences. Add salt and pepper to taste, more sugar for a sweeter sauce, or more cayenne pepper for a spicier shakshuka (be careful with the cayenne… it is extremely spicy!).

Crack the eggs, one at a time, directly over the tomato mixture, making sure to space them evenly over the sauce. I usually place 5 eggs around the outer edge and 1 in the center. The eggs will cook “over easy” style on top of the tomato sauce.

Cover the pan. Allow mixture to simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked and the sauce has slightly reduced. Keep an eye on the skillet to make sure that the sauce doesn’t reduce too much, which can lead to burning. (credit: toriavey.com)

HELP MOM LEARN HOW TO…GET EVEN MORE ACTIVE

LL Bean offers classes for beginners in some of our favorite outdoor activities, and includes a women-only set of outdoor adventure courses:

  • Fly fishing
  • Canoeing
  • Sea kayaking
  • Flat water kayaking
  • Stand up paddleboarding (SUP)
  • And even a wilderness first aid course.

These programs are offered through individual stores around the country; if there is one near you, they’re worth checking out.

GEAR GOODNESS

For gear heads, women who love the latest products for living an active outdoor life, visit our AdventureWomen store or our Pinterest page and check out gearheads.com!

Try them out then let us know how you like our recipes on Facebook!

 

Too many cooks spoil the broth? Not with AdventureWomen!

Did you know? Nearly every AdventureWomen travel itinerary includes a cooking class or hyper-local food discovery that our guests just love. Whether you’re learning to cook on a cocoa farm or in a local restaurant, professional chefs and revered local cooks on our trips welcome every Adventure Woman into their kitchen. You can learn about local specialties, from the sourcing of ingredients to helping prepare and present the perfect meal.

Here are just a few highlights from our 2020 upcoming adventures to whet your appetite:

Italy: Hiking the Italian Dolomites

On your “recovery day” from hiking in the Italian Alps, the hosts of your stay in Pesariis will bring you into their organic gardens to harvest the ingredients needed for your cooking class. Then, side-by-side with the chef, you’ll learn to make a menu of rustic Italian dishes from recipes handed down through generations.

Thailand & Laos: A Cultural Tour

“Mai pet, mai aloi!” – Not spicy, not delicious! Take these words from a Thai chef to heart – In January and December 2020, during your 10-day adventure through Thailand and Laos, learn to prepare an authentic Thai dish using colorful and incredibly fresh ingredients.

Spain: Hiking the Camino de Santiago – Portuguese Way

Hiking along the Camino de Santiago in Spain builds up both an appetite and love for the local, fresh cuisine. You’ll take a cooking class from a celebrity Galician chef and pair it with some of the region’s most popular wines.

Switzerland: Hiking the Swiss Alps

In Switzerland, after an exciting day exploring some of the most stunning sights in the Alps, you and your companions will learn to make Appenzeller Biber, a traditional Swiss gingerbread with honey and nuts.

Chile: Trekking in Patagonia

In Patagonia, while you’re staying at Nibepo Aike Estancia, a working ranch in Los Glaciares National Park, everyone pitches in to get the work done – you’re welcome in the kitchen to help any time of day! (*You can also help shear a sheep!)

Indonesia: Island Hopping & Orangutans

During your visit to the orangutans and Indonesia’s island jewels, one afternoon you will join a local Balinese cook to learn about Bali’s cuisine and try your hand at preparing a meal with ingredients that may seem both strange and exciting.

Baja, Mexico: Whale Watching, Glamping & Snorkeling with Sea Lions

Baja, Mexico: Day of the Dead 

Baja, Mexico: Mother-Daughter Adventure

We return to Baja three times in 2020, and each time Chef Iker, a charismatic chef at Los Colibris Casitas, treats our guests to fun cooking classes in creating authentic and traditional Mexican meals, Baja-style.

Click to find the 2020 adventure that ignites your appetite for travel!

 

With Mother’s Day just a few weeks away on Sunday, May 12th, thoughts turn to the place mothers hold in our hearts and in society. Whether we always agree with them (or not), mothers are our rocks, our sounding boards, and our landing pads. They show us, train us and teach us. The power of women to give us life and shape our lives is an amazing one that deserves recognition, celebration, and respect.

Unfortunately, when it comes to funding in health care, however, women’s issues (and therefore maternal health issues) often don’t take center stage.

Maasai Mama, taken by a guest on AdventureWomen’s 2017 Tanzania safari

DID YOU KNOW?

AFTER INCREASING FOR DECADES, U.S. FUNDING FOR MATERNAL AND CHILD HEALTH IS NOW DECLINING

  • The U.S. government (U.S.) has been involved in supporting global maternal and child health (MCH) efforts for more than 50 years and is the largest donor government to MCH activities in the world, in addition to being the single largest donor to nutrition efforts in the world.
  • U.S. funding to address maternal and child health issues declined last year from $830 Million (spent in 2018) to $620 Million (requested in 2019). This is despite the fact that 18,000 more children and 650 more mothers survive each day, today, than was the case in 1990. (Source: Interaction, January 2019).

INTERVENTIONS WORK BUT ONLY IF WOMEN HAVE ACCESS TO THEM

Although effective interventions are available to support maternal and child health and wellness, and reduce morbidity and mortality, lack of funding and limited access to services have hampered progress, particularly on maternal health.

  • Millions of pregnant women, new mothers, and children experience severe illness or death each year, largely from preventable or treatable causes.
  • Almost all maternal and child deaths (99%) occur in less developed regions, with Africa being the hardest hit region. Sub-Saharan Africa is the hardest hit region in the world, followed by Oceania and Southern Asia; altogether these areas account for more than 80% of maternal and under-five deaths.
  • Key interventions that reduce the risk of maternal mortality include skilled care at birth and emergency obstetric care.
  • Newborn deaths may be substantially reduced through increased use of simple, low-cost interventions, such as breastfeeding, keeping newborns warm and dry, and treating severe newborn infections. When scaled-up, interventions such as immunizations, oral rehydration therapy (ORT), and insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) have contributed to significant reductions in child morbidity and mortality over the last two decades. Other effective child health interventions include improved access to and use of clean water, sanitation, and hygiene practices like handwashing; improved nutrition; and the treatment of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
  • Strengthening health systems and increasing access to services, including through community-based clinics, are also important in improving health and reducing the risk of maternal death since interventions have been found to be most effective when integrated within a comprehensive continuum of care.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

DESPITE PROGRESS, 2.5% OF WOMEN ARE STILL DYING IN CHILD BIRTH IN LESS DEVELOPED COUNTRIES

  • Each year, 303,000 women die during childbirth.
  • The lifetime risk of maternal death in high-income countries is 1 in 3,300. In low-income countries it is 1 in 41.
  • Inadequate care during pregnancy and high fertility rates, often due to a lack of access to contraception and other family planning/reproductive health (FP/RH) services, increase the lifetime risk of maternal death. The percentage of pregnant women receiving the recommended minimum number of four antenatal care visits is only 52% in developing countries and lower still in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia.
  • More than a quarter (27%) of all maternal deaths are due to severe bleeding, mostly after childbirth (postpartum hemorrhage). Diseases that complicate pregnancy, including malaria, anemia, and HIV account for about 28% of maternal deaths. Sepsis (11%), unsafe abortion (8%), and hypertension (14%) are other major causes.

An Indonesian mother and her baby, taken by a guest on AdventureWomen’s Indonesia trip in 2018

 

BUT THERE IS HOPE IN COLLABORATION AROUND THIS GLOBAL ISSUE

  • While globally, we missed making the 2015 United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG), under-five mortality has fallen by 53% and maternal mortality by 45% compared to 1990 levels.
  • Global MCH targets were adopted in 2015 and aim to, by 2030 to reduce the global Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) to less than 70 per 100,000 live births, end preventable deaths of newborns and children under five (12/1000 for newborns, 25/1000 for under five) as well as end all forms of malnutrition.
  • Among the global efforts designed to support countries’ progress toward meeting these goals is Every Woman, Every Child (EWEC) movement launched in 2010 which aims to operationalize the 2015 Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s, and Adolescents’ Health by combining the efforts of global partners.
  • The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health (PMNCH), is a global alliance aiming to “provide a platform for organizations to align objectives, strategies and resources, and agree on interventions to improve maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health”.
  • And in 2014, USAID announced a program goal of saving 15 million child lives and 600,000 women’s lives from 2012 through 2020 in 25 priority countries, which account for about 70% of the global maternal and child deaths.
  • The Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement, is another initiative that aims to bring together partner efforts to support households and women, in particular, recognizing that nutrition, maternal health, and child survival are closely linked.

For more information about U.S. and global efforts to improve the health and well-being of mothers and their children, please visit Kaiser Family Foundation’s research synopsis about global Maternal and Child Health, January 2019.

 

The mother-daughter bond is forever. Yet, like all relationships, it blooms with time spent doing things together, especially traveling. For mothers, there’s a moment when we realize we’re seeing our daughters as independent adults, as well as friends for life.

Our AdventureWomen guest, Betsy Morrison, tells her own personal story about how an AdventureWomen mother/daughter trip to Baja, Mexico with her daughter, Kate, helped them to bond in a new and meaningful way.

Betsy & Kate in Baja, Mexico in 2019 with AdventureWomen

By Betsy Morrison

“I had assumed she would look to me to lead the way.”

“As soon as I saw AdventureWomen offering a mother/daughter trip to Baja, Mexico in 2019, I knew I had to contact my daughter Kate and see if she would go with me. I wanted to introduce her to women-only travel. I had no doubt she would enjoy herself given we are both social, athletic, and enjoy being with groups. It was a bonus that the makeup of the group was other mother-daughter pairs. She said yes immediately.

My daughter has observed my enthusiasm for all-women travel over the years, and she also liked the idea of taking a trip to a warm destination in February. With the strain of the teen years behind us, we had a comfort level with each other that made it easy to be excited for the week ahead.

Immediately upon arriving in Cabo, I was struck by Kate’s independence and confidence. She had read her instruction materials beforehand and directed me to the place where we’d meet our ambassador, Cezanne. Right away, she began chatting with the other AdventureWomen guests, asking them personal questions to get to know them better. I was both impressed and proud!

I had assumed she would look to me to “lead the way”, to tell her when and where we would meet according to the daily schedule. I thought I would have to encourage her to try new things, to sit with other guests and chat to get to know them.

Well, Kate surprised me over and over on this trip. She was drawn to the energy of the group, loved getting to know each mom and daughter, was cheerfully engaging the guides on the island, and even organized a guides and guest “Cards Against Humanity” game.

I thoroughly enjoyed observing these interactions, often finding myself grinning at my daughter who was having so much fun.

Kate was effusive on the AW Baja trip! While I enjoyed beach time on the island, she went snorkeling with one of the younger gals. She was great at her first time surfing, and enjoyed the interesting hikes, and whale watching expeditions.  She is a professional photographer and took hundreds of photos, with the intent of sharing them with the group. I appreciated that our knowledgeable female guide and our ambassador, Cezanne, were so easy for Kate to chat with.

Turning 25 in Paradise

We celebrated Kate’s 25th birthday with a custom cake and loud Happy Birthday song on Monday night. Because she was so engaged in the Mexican cooking class taught by Chef Iker (on right), I asked him to purchase an authentic tortilla maker in town and present it to her on our last night!

While I write this, I am considering where our next AdventureWomen trip will be and know that, based on our Baja experience, Kate and I will enjoy each other and the other adventurous, friendly women we will meet wherever we decide to go.”

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Just for fun, we’ve also linked to a quick video shot by another mother/daughter pair, Julia and Enid, all smiles on their AdventureWomen trip to India in March 2019. They were so happy and inspired by their time traveling together, they made this video to share with our community of women.

Check it out:

Our mother-daughter trips at AdventureWomen are wildly popular!

2019 MD Trips : A few spaces available for Iceland.
2020 MD Trips: Check out Baja, Costa Rica, and Iceland

Patagonia is a fascinating world unto itself with magical landscapes intertwining majestic Andes mountains, deserts, pampas grasslands and turquoise blue waterways, embracing southern Chile and Argentina in South America. We visit Patagonia on our hiking and trekking trip there in the Fall and every time we go there, we discover new natural treasures and a wealth of outdoor experiences which may leave us changed forever.

Here are four fun facts about Patagonia you should know:

#1 | Patagonia is HUGE

Patagonia is an incredible, vast wilderness of around 160,000 square miles spanning almost half of both southern Chile and Argentina.  It’s so big and has so few people living there (less than 5 percent!) that it feels untouched despite its popularity. Patagonian region extends far beyond Torres del Paine National Park and Los Glaciares National Park—two of the most popular places to visit—and boasts countless lakes, 500 miles of fjords, the Andes, glaciers, and tundra grasslands and meadows.

 

Blue lake on a snowy mountains background and cloudy sky Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia

Guanaco in a Chilean mountain pass in Patagonia

The Perito Moreno Glacier is a glacier located in the Los Glaciares National Park in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. Its one of the most important tourist attractions in Argentinian Patagonia.

#2 | Patagonia is the “Land of Big Feet”

Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese explorer, reached Patagonia in 1520 and encountered the nomadic Tehuelche people, whom he considered to be giants. So he named the region “patagones,” or “land of big feet.” Although a misnomer of the people who lived here (they were only a few inches taller than Europeans at that time, not a few feet), this particular term is apt because two of the largest dinosaurs ever discovered once roamed Patagonia.

Another fun fact: the mylodon, a giant ground sloth native to Patagonia, was the last sloth to go extinct. Several caves near Puerto Natales (and a giant statue of a mylodon in the middle of town!) celebrate the 1895 discovery of the mylodon as well as human habitation dating back to 6000 BC.

Katie, AdventureWomen staffer, visiting the Mylodon statue in Puerto Natales, Patagonia.

#3 | Patagonia’s Roots: the Legendary Gauchos

Gauchos, or highly skilled horsemen, once freely roamed the Patagonian grasslands, grazing cattle and sheep. Being a gaucho is still a revered profession and way of life for many in this sparsely populated region. Go for a horseback ride in Patagonia and you’ll learn more about these legendary cowboys.

Bonus: read the epic poem El Gaucho Martin Fierro for a classic original insight into not only the gauchos’ way of life but also their contribution to the development of Argentina.

#4 | Patagonia’s Penguins: Friendly but Endangered

Patagonia is home to the largest colony of Magellanic penguins – around 1.7 million pairs, to be exact. For a unique take on these cute and remarkable birds, we suggest reading the memoir, The Penguin Lessons. It’s a true story about a teacher who rescues a penguin from an oil spill – an unfortunate and frequent reality that keeps these birds on the endangered list.

AdventureWomen travels to the epic Patagonian region of Chile in the Fall of 2019. Join our other adventurous women and discover for yourself why Patagonia is such a unique and still unspoiled region of the world showcasing the best natural treasures of South America.

Women sharing their wisdom is a kind of enduring oral history. It’s not storytelling, per se. It’s the outcome of someone’s story, her observations, or experiences – it’s the lasting impression and often one worth retelling.

Transforming wisdom into action, AdventureWomen learned long ago that our women adventurers thrive when they feel supported while traveling. The role of Trip Ambassador was created and history was made! This month, we’re introducing the first of our new Ambassador Series – stories about the women who accompany every adventure, providing our guests with in-country support, advocacy, and care. They share a wealth of wisdom on travel, while learning so much from you!

To lead off the charge, meet Eliza Hatch, Director of Guest Experience at AdventureWomen and one of our many intrepid Ambassadors. Here’s her story…

Fun Facts From Eliza’s Travels

Top Three Fave Countries: Tanzania, Thailand, and New Zealand (but she notes, it’s hard to narrow these down!)

Passions: Travel, of course! Learning about the culture, cooking, music, history, and traditions of places she visits

Talents: Loves playing piano, singing, and listening to music from everywhere she’s traveled

Outdoor activities: Hiking, skiing, swimming, kayaking/boating, and biking. “I love trying new outdoor activities and I’m always finding new favorites!”

Eliza (left) on the way up to the Salkantay Pass

Eliza’s Reflections from the Salkantay Trail in Peru

On AdventureWomen’s challenging Lodge-to-Lodge Trek in Peru toward Machu Picchu in 2018, Eliza hiked alongside 13 incredible women through rain and sun, thinning mountain air, windswept plateaus, and glute-busting high-altitude switchbacks. Approaching the Salkantay Pass at 15,213 feet after five hours of impressively tough hiking, Eliza was struck with the magnitude of sacrifices and personal challenge every woman on the trip had successfully embraced to achieve her dream of completing the Salkantay Trail.

Realizing that they were all “tired, sore, dirty, and feeling like we were going to climb forever,” Eliza suddenly had tears of pride fill her eyes.

As she watched each woman round the switchback on their approach, Eliza reflected,

“I knew how hard I had worked to get there, but I also knew how much harder some of the other women worked to overcome injury, to train while juggling a family and full-time job, or to deal with the mental challenge of hiking for so long. I was so proud to be a part of this group of strong, independent, supportive, remarkable women, ranging in age from their early 30s to mid 60s. We felt like a family and a team.”

“She was not just our ambassador, she was a critical part of our group! She was always encouraging me and giving me confidence.” – Susan S.

What brought Eliza to that elevated awareness of her guests’ commitment to this adventure? She’s been traveling since she was 22! Out of college, Eliza journeyed around the globe, visiting 11 countries. She got the travel bug and has traveled to 28 countries since then! She knows the joys and challenges of travel first hand. However, while working as an Ambassador, Eliza has listened to the many stories our guests have told, sharing tales around a fire, over cocktails and a delicious meal, skiing, hiking, and sometimes just lounging by a pool.

Over the course of her ambassadorship, Eliza honed her talent for leadership and encouragement. While hiking the Salkantay Trail, she worked with her brain but lead with her heart, urging everyone through the Seven Snakes switchbacks, supporting one guest overcome her fear of heights by ascending Huayna Picchu, and sharing in a blessing ceremony by a local shaman. Reaching their ultimate goal of Machu Picchu, she and the group spent the whole day exploring, and got to be the last group in the citadel there to watch the sun go down. It was, as Eliza said, “a magical experience.”

“Unfailingly kind and encouraging. A superb resource and a really interesting and fun person.” – Marcia M.

AdventureWomen group at the top of Huayna Picchu

Eliza being blessed by the local Shaman, Sebastian.

 

Open minds, open hearts – At AdventureWomen, as our minds open to new learning experiences around the world, so do our hearts. And as our hearts open, so does our appreciation of the intrinsic bonds we share with other women across cultures and geographic boundaries!

Central to enriching every AdventureWomen experience is the chance for you and your travel companions to meet and learn from women of other cultures! In 2020, you can travel to Laos, Uganda, and Oman to sit down with local women to share a regional coffee, watch them practice traditional crafts and create works of art, and listen to women tell you about the joys and challenges of being a female entrepreneur in a world much different than yours.

Women in Thailand & Laos: Promoting Cultural Diversity as a Way of Saving It

Preserving cultural diversity is an increasingly vital effort in societies where rich traditions are under threat from modernization. Meet the Laotian women who founded Traditional Arts & Ethnology Center (TAEC) to learn about their work in promoting a variety of age-old practices such as weaving and beading, and learn about the economic and social challenges facing women in Laos today. You’ll also have an opportunity to visit their fair trade shop of regional handicrafts!

Woman at the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre in Laos making handmade bedding adornments

Uganda: Women Overcome Hardship by Producing Exceptional Coffee

In Uganda in 2020, while trekking to see gorillas in the wild, you’ll also visit the Omwani (Kyambura) Women’s Coffee Cooperative, a community-based initiative thoughtfully designed to provide vocational training to women and provide an alternative, and sustainable, source of income. Women plant, harvest, roast, grind, and package everything by hand! Tour their coffee plantation then meet the women who work there. Many have experienced extreme hardship and some will share their stories with you. A coffee tasting follows; some have said it’s the “best cup of coffee in Uganda”. Let us know what you think!

Ugandan woman working at the Omwani Women’s Coffee Cooperative

Dolomites: Learn to Cook Italian Cuisine and Harvest Organic Produce

On our 2020 women’s hiking tour in Italy, visit the organic orchard and gardens of Sot la Napa, where owner Silvia will help you harvest the fruits, herbs, and vegetables needed for a hands-on Italian cooking experience in her private kitchen. After gathering your ingredients, learn how to prepare Silvia’s popular traditional Italian regional dishes then sit down to enjoy your masterpieces over a glass of delicious wine!

The farm of Sot la Napa is comprised of many small fields dotting the village, typical of mountain agriculture. Discover how Sylvia and her partner Eliana successfully transitioned this local business to a certified organic farm in 1995 and how they organically protect and grow their produce then sell it in the community. Sot la Napa received the Green Flag award for their commitment to preserving and promoting mountain culture. Bring your questions and learn about what it’s like to be a woman farmer in Italy!

Oman: Where Economic Opportunities Exist for Enterprising Women

At the Omani Heritage Gallery, discover an entirely Omani-owned non-profit company dedicated to promoting and increasing the awareness of Omani’s rich, diverse cultural heritage through the preservation and promotion of Omani artisans and handcrafts.

Staffer Katie visits the Omani Heritage Gallery, getting to know Muna Ritchie, Gallery partner and passionate champion of Omani culture.

In Oman, we also visit the Sidab Women’s Association where you will interact with local women, enjoy traditional Omani coffee, and discuss their work. Next, we meet with Nawal Al Hooti in her design salon, then marvel at her talent for turning traditional women’s wear into stunning haute couture!

Sidab Women’s Association sitting room in Oman.

Whatever your preferred destination for 2020, these “women-to-women” travel opportunities will engage your heart, mind, and spirit all the way around. Don’t miss these unique ways to experience different cultures as women, with women, on our AdventureWomen trips.

In honor of Women’s History Month, AdventureWomen was inspired to learn about Junko Tabei, the Japanese adventurer who was the first woman to summit Mount Everest. We hope her fascinating story will encourage all Adventure Women to go further, reach higher, and pursue your passions!

Photo Credit: John van Hasselt-Corbis

Junko Tabei : An Unstoppable Force of Nature

All stories of adventurers are packed with “firsts”, but on a climb that has crushed the dreams of many male trekkers, thirty-five year old Junko Tabei became the first woman to summit Mount Everest. Even more incredibly, twelve days earlier this pioneering adventurer had been buried under an avalanche! Fortunately for her, Junko’s Sherpa guide, Ang Tsering, was able to dig her out of the snow and on May 16, 1975, she reached the summit of Everest and made history, planting her flag for Japan and for women adventurers worldwide. Junko ultimately became the first woman to hike all Seven Summits as well as climb the highest mountains in 76 countries!

This incredible woman was married to a fellow mountaineer and raising a child while she trained to meet her mountaineering goals, juggling the pressures to stay at home while still pursuing her passion for trekking all around the world.

Junko Tabei at the Summit of Mount Everest in 2006. Photo Credit: HipCamp

“I never thought of giving up once,” she says. Hiking and climbing from a young age, Junko defied social conventions among male mountaineers and Japanese society. She eagerly sought the company of other young women who enjoyed hiking, co-creating the Joshi-Tohan (Ladies Climbing Club of Japan) just a few years after college. She found solidarity and friendship with other women who loved being active out in nature, hiking, and climbing. Sound familiar, Adventure Women?

Junko Tabei trekking to the summit of Pico Bolivar in 2008 —the tallest mountain in Venezuela. Photo Credit: Outside.com

Breaking the mold in almost every way, Junko was revolutionary in her own humble way, leading the Joshi-Tohan on to become the first women-only team to ascend Annapurna III in Nepal. To strike for the summit of Mount Everest, she again joined forces with a women’s mountaineering group, the Japanese Women’s Everest Expedition (JWEE).

Before her death in October of 2016, in an interview with Outside Magazine, she described what motivated her. “It is because I love mountains. I love to go wherever I’ve never been before. So I am challenging myself to climb all the highest peaks of all countries of the world. I am now 76, and have scaled the highest peaks of 76 countries. I am suffering cancer but I would like to keep going my way and climb mountains.”

This Japanese force of nature left a legacy for all of us who truly are passionate about adventure. She spearheaded projects to elevate women’s roles in Japanese society, and led campaigns to preserve mountain ecosystems with a specific focus around cleaning up debris left by hikers on Mount Everest and other mountains.

Junko Tabei climbing Mt. Fuji in July 2015 photo with high school students from Fukushima Prefecture, the area hit hard by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Photo Credit: Japan Times

As we honor this exceptional woman and pioneer, we also remember that all Adventure Women, create their own “firsts” and personal bests every day. To that end, this month we want to honor all of you, women who break barriers, push your boundaries, conquer fears, and dare to just get up and GO!

On the anniversary of her 20th year traveling with AdventureWomen, one of our inspirational guests, Cathy M., sent us her personal story about what those twenty years of travel, from Borneo to Baja, Turkey to Canada, Rwanda to Uganda, have given back to her.

Here is her story…

“I have traveled with AdventureWomen since 1999. On a recent AW trip skiing at Bridger Bowl Montana, Annie Childs (an AdventureWomen Ambassador) asked me to share my story. Thank you, Annie for that encouragement. So here it is.

Cathy meeting Silverback gorillas in Rwanda

My husband passed away in November 1998. At his funeral, his cousin told me to ‘check out AdventureWomen’. She had gone on one trip with Susan Eckert, AdventureWomen’s courageous and inspiring founder, and said that “AW” could be just the thing for me. That short conversation altered the course of my life forever.

Hiking in Borneo with AdventureWomen

I signed up for the Baja trip in October 1999. That trip further changed my life and began a life-long journey to discover who I am. The journey continues. Peeling back the onion skins of who I am: to myself, to my family, to my friends, to countless others that have crossed my path. I have learned so much about myself through the ladies that travel with AdventureWomen.

Camaraderie among AW’s women has been and continues to be a priceless gift. I was fortunate to have traveled with Susan Eckert on several trips and was able to personally tell her how she changed my life. I am forever grateful to Susan Eckert and to AdventureWomen.

Setting off on a scenic horseback ride in the Canadian Rockies

A few weeks ago, I took another trip with AW organized by the new owners. In my opinion, Judi Wineland and her daughters retain the legacy and spirit of Susan Eckert’s mission – a great big thank you to Judi Wineland, her daughters and the entire AW Team! I am already signed up for another trip in 2019 and look forward to continuing my life’s journey with the unparalleled, dynamic, life-altering Adventure Women!”

Celebrating the joy of exploring Uganda with AdventureWomen friends

“When we purchased the company from Susan, we were a little bit terrified, to be honest. We knew we carried the responsibility of making sure that AdventureWomen, the company, the brand, the legacy, continued to grow and flourish as Susan would have wanted it to. When our guests tell us that we have successfully kept the flame alive, ensuring that AdventureWomen’s spirit will live on for generations to come, you simply cannot understand how much this means to us. It is everything. Thank you, Cathy for these encouraging words to us and we are so glad for Susan’s encouraging words to you.” – Judi Wineland

Discovering Turkey with other AdventureWomen

Are you thinking about one of our AdventureWomen hiking, biking or multi-activity adventure trips? Are you not sure if you are physically capable of handling the trip itinerary? Or have you already signed up for one of our trips and want to make sure you are fit so that you can have the time of your life?

In 2020, climb up to Kala Patthar to view the summit of Mount Everest.

If you have a few months before you leave and are willing to put in a little effort to ensure that you are in the best possible shape for your vacation, we can help!

Since 2016, AdventureWomen has partnered with Fit for Trips, founded by adventure enthusiast and personal trainer, Marcus Shapiro, to offer fitness programs crafted specifically for your adventure. Consider replacing your current workout with one from the experts at Fit for Trips. Traveling with AdventureWomen means that you automatically receive an 25% discount on your fitness program with Fit for Trips.

Fit for Trips training programs will give you self-assurance, boost your energy level, and help you physically prepare for all of the activities in your itinerary. 

Participating in a Fit For Trips program includes:

  • 8- or 12-week personally-tailored fitness training programs
  • Home-based video training or gym-based training (your choice)
  • Choose the resistance program that fits your intended sport (paddling, hiking, biking etc.) and level of experience, customized for busy schedules, past injuries and other personal circumstances
  • Instruction by audio and video
  • Ongoing personal support

Learning to paddle on a whitewater rafting trip teaches you teamwork while treating you to classic views of canyon vistas.

Hear what AdventureWoman, Kit S., has to say about her experience using Fit for Trips for her Nepal Trekking Trip:

“I would definitely use Fit For Trips again!  All of the literature about the trip stressed that you “must be in excellent physical condition for this trek”.  I was concerned that I wasn’t in good enough physical condition and I didn’t want to be the one holding up the group!  The recommendation to use Fit for Trips was absolutely wonderful and just what I needed.  It not only more than prepared me for all of the hiking up and down mountains, I felt better in general.  Their program does an excellent job of starting you off easy and increasing the activity level each week.  And you don’t have to have a gym membership to complete the program!  Could not recommend them more!!

-Kit S, VA, Nepal Trek in the Himalayas

For more information or to begin your program, please visit Fit for Trips.

Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro. The Heather and Moorland Zone gives way to the Alpine Desert, a rocky landscape with drought like conditions. (Photo Credit: Paul Joynson-Hicks)

 

“I’ve never shared my story about the “courage to conquer”. Yes, I have had cancer twice and yes it changed my life. But my story is about my daughter Meghan. She took a dive in our swimming pool at age 12 and broke her neck. It left her quadriplegic.  That certainly changed my family’s lives. She had all sorts of surgeries to make her as independent as possible. The one thing I knew she was not going to spend her life in front of a television.

Meghan was the first Handicapped Athena Award Winner in Minnesota. It is an award given to the athlete who earned the most athletic points during High School. She played adaptive sports and won every award that she could earn if she had been able bodied.
She lived on campus during college. Not easy changing the University to meet her disabilities. She graduated from College became a probation officer in Hennepin County. Yes, she had disabilities but had her own home and drove herself. Such a hero to everyone who knew her.

Jeanne’s three sons and daughter, Meghan

We took a cruise every year – just the two of us. I was showing her the world. She lived to travel. It was our girl time.

In April 1999 we were cruising Tahiti then up to Hawaii. On that cruise she took very sick and died in less than 12 hours. I won’t go into any details what is was like watching your oldest of four children die in front of you.

I did not do well after her death. I drank very heavily trying to forget. I heard a voice “Mom, you have three sons you need to be mom for”.  I found AA. and my life changed again.

She was my traveling companion. It wasn’t easy. I didn’t know if I could travel again. Slowly I did do some trips with my husband. He does not care to travel. Travel is one of my passions.

I was surfing the internet to see what was out there for women traveling alone. Sure enough I found AdventureWomen (AW). What a true find for me. A group of women who were active in their lives, traveling together to meet challenges and make friends with similar interests.  Awesome. I knew it was for me. I look forward to every trip, every new experience, every new culture, every new challenge. AdventureWomen has helped me fill a void in my life.

On my Peru trip I knew something was wrong. All the way up I struggled but there was a voice telling me I could do it. That I was strong. It was a challenge that needed to do. After all it was just a small hill compared to the mountains Meghan had to trek.

Jeanne (left) with Ambassador Ali (right) at Lake Humantay in Peru on our Peru Trekking adventure

Travel is such a positive way to get out and experience life. Travel was such a part of our lives.  She had such a bug for travel. To grovel in self-pity was never Meghan’s way.  How could I not honor her spirit?  Every trip I take – I take her with me so she still experiences our love for travel.

Jeanne in Peru on the Salkantay trekking adventure with AdventureWomen

I really don’t know why I wrote this, but your article stirred something in me. We all have obstacles (curve balls).

AdventureWomen is so much more than just a travel company. It is women bonding with women, pushing themselves to meet and conquer challenges that we didn’t know we had it in us. What a victory for each and every one of us.

AdventureWomen has given me such a positive outlook on life. AW feeds my soul and need for travel and for that I thank you.

Thanks for listening.” -Jeanne D.

Jeanne (pink in back row) and her group in Alaska on our Bear Camp trip in 2017

As adventurers, many of us at AdventureWomen have been drawn to the stories penned by author Cheryl Strayed. Her books Wild, Torch, Tiny Beautiful Things and Brave Enough are full of inspirational vignettes and lessons drawn from her own life story and experiences.

In Wild, Cheryl unveils her personal journey hiking the Pacific Coast Trail in 1995 when she was 26 and grief stricken after her mother’s death and her own divorce. Her first-person account of hiking more than 1,000 miles alone from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon and on to Washington State is a tale of fear and courage, vulnerability and strength, determination and resilience.

For the first 8 days of her hike, Cheryl didn’t see another human being. Her description of what it was like relying entirely on herself with no preparation for what she encountered on a daily basis is a lesson for all of us in the power of will and self-reliance. She recounts the fact that every day, she realized she only had a few choices and inevitably, she was forced to make the one choice she least wanted to make. But this constant uphill battle gave her courage, confidence, insights about herself and it forever changed her.

The most powerful part of Cheryl’s journey and story is how this experience ultimately healed her after her personal setbacks. As the wilderness became her home and being alone her norm, her perspective changed. “The world became at once smaller and much larger” she says.

She believes all of us have similar stories of “bearing the unbearable” and that is what resonates with all of us when we follow her story in Wild.

Listen to Oprah’s conversation with Cheryl about how “solo” can be a “soul-connecting” experience:

“Big-hearted, keen-eyed, lyrical, precise…Cheryl Strayed reminds us in every line that if defeat and despair are part of human experience, so are kindness, patience, and transcendence.” – George Saunders