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Our little black book of enchanting places



Posted in NEWS By Maggie O'Sullivan

A few years ago I commissioned novelist Margaret Drabble to write about a trip to Zambia. She was travelling with three other ‘British ladies of a certain age’ and they had a ball. At the end of the week they returned rejuvenated by what had been a week of conversation, laughter and mutual support. It doesn’t surprise me a bit to hear that women-only activity holidays are growing in popularity. Here's my pick of the best getaways for girls in 2015.

Women-only trekking

Sustainable tourism specialist Village Ways has just announced an 11-night, all-female walking holiday in the gentle Himalayan foothills. Accommodation will be in village communities, with plenty of opportunity to meet with local women, above. Led by a female guide and with luggage carried by porters, the trip takes place in March 2015 and includes an overnight rail journey and two nights in Delhi. Cost is from £708 per person. Further information, 01223 750049; Village Ways 

Women-only city break

Walk Japan, Japan’s leading walking specialists, has recently launched its first women-only tour. The seven-night ‘Elegance Japan’ trip to Tokyo and Kyoto includes activities such as an exclusive meeting with one of Japan’s leading fashion designers, Tazuko Yamaki at Haori de TiTi, a Kabuki theatre performance accompanied by a female authority on the art, a make-up workshop at one of Japan's top cosmetics companies, culinary demonstrations and, of course, lots of shopping. There are several tours scheduled for 2015 and cost is from £4,385. Further information, Walk Japan

Women-only retreat

Despite growing interest from men, yoga, spa and wellbeing holidays invariably attract more women than men. But if you want to be certain of a nurturing, testosterone-free environment, try Lynne Frank’s women-only Bloom Retreats in Deia, Mallorca. It offers a number of different programmes, from Detox and Wellness and Pilates and Nutrition to Creative Leadership and Creating the Soul Map to Your Destiny. The house itself is beautiful, set among olive and lemon groves, with two pools, a hot tub and shady terraces for quiet contemplation. Contact Bloom for details of prices and courses for 2015. Further information, Bloom Retreats 

Women-only skiing

Conscious that women tend to learn better in a non-competitive, testosterone-free environment, lots of ski schools now offer women-only classes. I’ve tried several, both in the Alps and in the US, and the one I enjoyed most – and got most out of – was run by a company called Women’s Edge in Aspen. Skiers are divided according to ability, but groups are fluid so you can swap to another group if it looks more up your street. Everyone meets up at lunchtime and, often, in the evenings too, so it’s perfect for women who fancy a skiing holiday with other women, or even on their own. No tears at the top of a red run with Women’s Edge – I wish I could go every year. Classes run from Monday-Thursday and costs around £400, excluding lift passes. Further information, Aspen Snowmass 

Women-only surfing

Surf Southwest, based in Devon, ran a number of Girls on Waves weekends this year. They were so successful that more are planned for 2015. The weekends are led by female instructors and all are welcome, regardless of age and ability. There are three sessions per weekend and the £89 fee includes coaching, surfboard rental, wetsuit and lunch. Note that places tend to get snapped up quickly so if you’re hoping to catch a wave next summer, don’t leave it too long to book. Further information, 01271 890400; Surf Southwest

Women-only orienteering

Glentrek organises walking, hiking and cyclng holidays in Scotland's Cairngorms National Park. It also runs a number of women-only trips, including a one- or two-day navigation course. So whether or not it's true that women can't read maps, they can certainly learn, particularly in an environment where they feel they can ask questions - more than once, if necessary, without anyone sighing or rolling their eyes. Further information on cost and courses, Glentrek

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