Posts tagged with "volcano"

Two Wild Women Expeditions

The trail blazer of women-only travel has created two itineraries where few travel. On five departures in 2018, Wild Women Expeditions immerses women in the physically challenging, poignantly stunning landscape of Newfoundland in the remote northeastern corner of Canada.

 

Two distinct, week-long adventures engage guests on Newfoundland’s western shore, separated from Quebec by the Gulf of St. Lawrence that eventually pours into the North Atlantic.

 

This is home turf for Wild Women Expeditions that offers more active travel departures for women only than any other tour operator in the world. The company was founded in Newfoundland and maintains its headquarters here. Owner Jennifer Haddow grew up near Gros Morne National Park where many of the itineraries’ activities take place.

 

“This is a place of stark ancient beauty, where the ground beneath your feet tells the story of Earth’s geological history. It’s also a place where icebergs stroll up and down coastal waters and where fjords claw their way into the interior,” explained Haddow, noting that few other adventure travel companies offer tours here.

 

Indigenous peoples predated the Vikings who arrived some 1000 years ago. England first raised a flag on the North American continent in the late 16th century in what came to be called Newfoundland. Fishermen soon discovered some of the Atlantic’s most productive waters here. The park’s Long Range Mountains testify to this once geologically charged world rife with volcanos and glaciers. These mountains are part of the Appalachian chain rising from Georgia through Maine.

 

“Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is as important to Plate Tectonics Theory as Ecuador’s Galapagos Archipelago is to the Theory of Evolution,” Haddow added. “The challenges of this environment become metaphors for the challenges faced by the women who choose to travel with us.”

 

Hiking first through a barren landscape, women discover where the peridotite ends and ancient oceanic crust begins. They hike through a boreal forest to the rugged coastline where pillow lava and sea stacks dominate the shore. They move to the rich marine wonderland of Bonne Bay and a landlocked lake before summiting Gros Morne Mountain in a hike of up to 10 hours.

 

Following are two 2018 Wild Women Expeditions’ itineraries in Newfoundland. Daily challenges reflect the company’s philosophy that women can discover and build on their own inner strengths by mastering hurdles in the safe company of other women.

 

Newfoundland Gros Morne Multi-Sport Adventure is a seven-day hiking and kayaking expedition in one of the wildest places in Canada. In 2018 there are three departures: July 21-27, Aug. 11-17 and Sept. 8-14. The $2,695 CAD per person rate includes professional local female guides, all meals, six nights shared accommodation in oceanside cabins, fully outfitted sea kayak day trip on Bonne Bay, guided hikes, ground transportation, park pass and Western Brook Pond Fjord boat tour.

 

Guests walk on rugged trails over the Earth’s mantle that supports little to no vegetation, explore fossil remains, visit an artsy village, kayak in a sheltered fjord, witness Minke whales, eagles, terns, and kingfishers in the bay and on land; caribou, Rock ptarmigan and Arctic hare. There’s also time to relax on a boat tour of a land-locked fjord accessed through bogs and limestone ridges. For trip details see http://wildwomenexpeditions.com/trips/newfoundland-multisport/.

 

Icebergs and Arts Adventure is an eight-day wilderness immersion with a hefty dollop of culture on two departures in 2018: June 3-10 and July 6-13. The per person rate of $2,695 CAD includes professional female guides; all meals; seven nights shared accommodation in an authentic house and suites, a wilderness lodge and seaside cabins; guided and fully outfitted sea kayak day; guided hikes and interpretive walks in Gros Morne National Park and along the Great Northern Peninsula; Western Brook Pond Fjord boat tour and iceberg and whale watching boat tour; interpretive tour and lunch at the French Shore Museum in Conche; and a visit to L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where Viking history comes alive.

 

At Port aux Choix National Historic Site guests hike to Philips Garden to explore the ancient remains of one of the largest Dorset Paleoeskimo settlements in the Eastern Canadian Arctic. They also visit the Myra Bennett Heritage House, the home of a nurse known along the 200 miles of coast simply as “the nurse.” This remarkable woman brought her life-saving skills to what was then an isolated, rugged Great Northern Peninsula. See: https://wildwomenexpeditions.com/trips/newfoundland/

 

“Canada is a country designed for adventurers. For women who want it all, Canada delivers the goods,” said Haddow. “We’ve been trailblazing outdoor adventures in Canada for over a quarter of a century. Increasingly women want to feel the freedom of connecting with wild space in its finest form. In Canada are some of the wildest and grandest natural treasures on the planet.”

 

Wild Women Expeditions’ Canadian programs are prototypes for the baptism-by-wilderness experiences that Haddow’s team arranges in 26 countries this year. These journeys reflect that… 

  • Women need opportunities to just be themselves, together;
  • The wilderness helps women connect with elements of their psyche that may be lost in the daily hustle and bustle;
  • Pairing women and wilderness often encourages women beyond their comfort zones, leading to increased confidence;
  • These ingredients can be transformational, perhaps leading to answers to the question that Poet Mary Oliver poses: What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? 

 

About :

Founded in 1991, Wild Women Expeditions is the world’s largest women-only travel company. Its initial focus was on canoeing on remote Ontario waters. Through an unwavering focus on Canada, one of the wildest, most pristine countries in the world, Wild Women Expeditions became Canadian experts in a pioneering niche that introduced small groups of women into wilderness settings. Even though the company now hosts guests all over the world, it retains a national focus with more trips and more women-only, backcountry camping adventures in Canada than any other women’s travel company in the world.

 

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TOKYO TEA

My heart beat with anticipation as the plane broke through the clouds as we approached Narita International Airport. The 22nd stop on my international checklist couldn’t have looked more picturesque from this view. Upon arrival, I advanced to customs where I was corralled through a maze-like queue I would liken to the old school snake game. Shortly after, I approached an automated kiosk attended by a customs official, who surprised at my stature jokingly remarked that the machine was made for Asians. Passport in hand, I stepped up to the counter at the final checkpoint and receive my stamp to enter Japan. With a quick smile and gesture to pass the attendant said “Arigatou! Welcome to Tokyo!”

My first morning in Tokyo started like any other. I woke up early, ready to seize the day. I lifted the curtain and popped out of my sleeping quarters to head for the showers. At 9 hours, an ultra-modern take on the traditional Japanese capsule hotel, living out of a locker for 4 nights somehow felt super trendy and posh. Exceptionally clean facilities, private bathrooms and showers and a super sleek, minimalist design explained the “Fabulous” rating on my booking website. As always, I strove to tour like a local, having accommodations that were authentically Japanese was paramount.

When exiting my hotel in Shinjuku I was quickly swept into the cadence of the crowd outside. The city has a true rhythm, a viable beat that you either get on or awkwardly exist outside of. Luckily my cultural metronome was in tune and I set out ready to embrace my week as a Tokyoite. Here’s the TEA on Tokyo.

Tour

Among the many quirky shops and unconventional things to pursue in the city, there are the famous cat cafes. They’re literally all over Tokyo and are just what they seem to be. I dropped into Calico Cat cafe in Shinjuku. I spent some quality time with my feline friends while enjoying a traditional Japanese milk tea with boba. At 1000 yen per hour it’s a welcome escape from the bustle of the city that won’t break the bank.
A visit to the tallest tower in the world will give you vertigo if nothing else. The Tokyo Skytree, standing at 350 meters, gives one incredible view of the city while providing equally heightening entertainment and shopping. The attraction starts with a massive shopping mall, chock full of retail and restaurants, (Tokyo Skytree town) to engorge the senses before leading to the attraction. After purchasing my ticket at the will call, I was ushered into a massive elevator that ascends the height of the tower in under a minute (your ears will pop). The top platform features a cinema, photo booth and of course the resident gift shop; however the real treat is the view. At night the metropolis is an endless sea of light rippling in all directions. For the more courageous, there is a portion of the floor that has a glass bottom. Don’t look down!

Eat
One of my favorite Japanese snacks and the ultimate street food in Japan, is takoyaki. The ball of dough is filled with grilled octopus and is fried to a crisp golden brown on the outside, leaving the inside a nice gooey consistency. Topped with a sweet soy sauce, mayo and bonito (fish) flakes, this makes the perfect snack if you’re in a hurry. It’s sold practically everywhere (convenience stores, street vendors, restaurants) however the perfect stop for me was Gindaco Takoyaki. A causal chain found all over Tokyo. Here they specialize in the treat and make them to order with a number of toppings and flavors. I stumbled upon the location in Kabukicho and spent a moment enjoying a Japanese highball (beer infused with liquor) while watching the busy square outside.

A trip to Tokyo without sushi? Unheard of. Although a novelty in the states, conveyor belt sushi restaurants are definitely worth a visit in Tokyo. I dined at Smart Sushi at the Shinjuku JR station and had a phenomenal experience. Have your pick of fresh sushi as it goes round on the belt or select made to order hot and cold dishes (and sake of course) from the tablet at your seat. I couldn’t help but think about the efficiency of the whole experience. Is this the future of dining?
Adventure
From Shinjuku Station I took the Keiko Highway bus towards the Fuji Five Lakes region and Kawaguchiko. The two hour ride is quite scenic, taking you west of Tokyo. It’s just the right distance for a perfect day trip. Buses are outfitted with WiFi and in-seat power outlets making for a comfy ride. As I left the city behind, I traded the tall compact skyscrapers of Tokyo for wide open spaces and countryside homes. On approaching to the final bus stop, the topography changed significantly as the mountains jut out before you and the winding roads lead into the small town before Fujikawaguchiko.

The snow capped peak of Mt. Fuji commands the skyline above Kawaguchiko Station, which is the closest one can get to Japan’s majestic active volcano during the off season. The terrain is only safe for driving and climbing during July/August; however the view from here is unparalleled on a clear day. The station was packed with tourists and locals alike, perusing the shops and attached cafe; while the train yard is full of photographers admiring the vintage trains and snapping away at Fuji-san. I ventured across the street to a very unassuming traditional Japanese restaurant, which is aptly named as such. While enjoying a fantastic Katsudon, I gazed out the window at the beauty that is Japan’s tallest mountain.
As I boarded the Narita Express train from Shinjuku, I longed for so many of the other fascinating experiences one can enjoy in the land of the rising sun. I assured myself that four nights in Tokyo could not have been better spent. The T, E and A of my trip made for some lasting memories and affirmed my return trip to Japan in the near future. Until the next chapter…
Arigatō gozaimasu!
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