13 Feb Announcing Our (Nearly Sold Out!) Yoga, Dive and Adventure Retreat in Israel
It’s Wander Women Wednesday! On this glorious mid-week moment, we’re going to highlight an upcoming Wander Women Retreat, or a new aspect of our retreats we’re excited about.
Today I’m insanely excited to shine the spotlight on my upcoming Wander Women Retreat Israel: An Adventure + Yoga Retreat for a few reasons. First? It’s not a moment too soon — there are just three spots left on the trip! Second? As you read this, I’m en route to Israel for my fifth trip.
If ever there was a retreat that could be defined as a labor of love, this is it! Israel can be confronting — yet it’s also one of the most intoxicating places I’ve ever been. The first post I ever wrote about Israel on Alex in Wanderland sums up a lot of what drew me in and intrigued me to first travel here. And I’ve been falling in love ever since. While many travelers come here on religious pilgrimages or to learn about the politics or to soak up the history, I wanted to create a trip that was all about Modern Israel.
This teeny little country — it’s the size of New Jersey! — is home to some of the most vibrant cities, stunning landscapes, passionate people, and interesting cultures I’ve encountered in my travels. And so many incredible places to go and things to see it was brutal narrowing an itinerary down to a week! Tel Aviv in particular has my heart, as I gushed from my very first post I ever wrote about it, where I mused I could someday call the city home. (Although I admit that was before I realized how crucial learning Hebrew would be to that venture, ha.) I truly love it here.
The Middle East is kind of my obsession of the moment — I’ve been prioritizing destinations in this region above all others. That said, it’s not somewhere I necessarily feel at home all the time. Until I’m in Israel. It felt like my home base in the region from the moment I walked over the border from Egypt for the first time in 2018.
Of all my 2020 retreats, this one kind of reminds me of my first ever retreat to Koh Tao, Thailand — a now annual adventure that involves so many of my local and expat friends in front of and behind the scenes, it feels like a peek into my own little village within one of my favorite destinations.
Israel is a country that’s both navigable as an independent traveler and flush with those visiting on tours. So I had to feel like I had something really special that I could offer, and when I reflected, I realized I do: not only do I have a pulsing network of connections in Israel, I have something even more crucial — a love for the place and a sense of what makes it unique and special to travelers. Anyone could visit Israel and have a nice trip — but I wanted to create an unforgettable one.
And I’m so proud of what we’ve put together. Here are just a few reasons in particular that I’m buzzing about this itinerary:
• Festival Season:The retreat is perfectly timed to wrap a few days before Tel Aviv’s Pride Parade on June 12th, one of the most celebrated in the world (stay tuned for my blog post about it!) Midburn dates have yet to be announced, but we might just get lucky and also align on timing for Isreal’s epic Regional Burn.
• Three Seas in One Week:Y’all know I’m a beach bum. So no surprise I’m obsessed with a place where you can dip your toes in three different seas in three days, if you want to — the warm, tropical coral-filled Red Sea, the salty other-worldly Dead Sea, and the wild and mighty Mediterranean Sea. I can’t wait to show off each of them. Floating in the Dead Sea is truly a bucket list moment that every traveler should have on their to-do list — it’s magical.
• Incredible Eats: Israel legit has some of the best food in the world. Everything is so fresh and healthy, and made with so much love. I had so much fun picking out where we are going to eat, particularly in Tel Aviv — just start drooling now.
• Distinctive Accommodation: I scoured Tel Aviv for the perfect urban accommodation — a penthouse in the heart of the city with a rooftop perfect for our daily yoga practice. In Eilat, we’re staying in a private pool villa, and in in the desert, we’re glamping in style in traditional sukkah tents. Hi, my name is Alex and I’m a glamping addict.
• Unique Jewish Culture: While I’ve never felt deeply connected to a religion personally, I do find it fascinating that Israel is the only Jewish nation on Earth. Talk about a one-of-a-kind travel experience. I’m thrilled to be including an authentic Shabbat Friday night dinner in my retreat, perhaps my favorite Jewish tradition. (Also, the chair dance thing at weddings. Big fan of that.)
• An Oasis of Progress: Israel is the most developed, liberal, and innovative country in the Middle East. From hosting the region’s largest Pride Parade to being the world’s vegan capital to being leaders in water recycling and green energy, Israel constantly defies expectations of this region. A big part of this trip is celebrating all of that.
• Fascinating Politics: I used to be embarrassed about how little I understood Middle Eastern conflict. I still am constantly humbled by how much I have to learn and what complex issues these are — but I am so grateful to have the opportunities to continue to learn first-hand.
• Not Just Seeing, Doing: I created an active, joy-filled itinerary that takes in Israel’s greatest natural wonders, cities, and adventures. We’re going to hike, we’re going to bike, we’re going to surf — yalla! I’m extremely excited that this is my first ever retreat to offer diving not just to certified divers but the opportunity to try scuba diving via a PADI Discover Scuba Diving experience for non-divers, too! Scuba enthusiasts who arrive early on day one can add extra divers into the itinerary, too.
• Heart-Full Hospitality: Once you’re in the club, you’re in the club. There’s a term for native-born Israelis: sabres, a desert cactus fruit both thorny on the outside, and sweet on the inside. Israelis can seem blunt at first but once you crack them open they are the warmest people in the world — and they will stop at nothing to make sure you are fed, connected, happy, and headed in the right direction. Israelis are major travelers — they often do long trips after their compulsory military service — and so they know what it’s like to be far from home! Israel really is the kind of place that’s so different if you know someone and can have that insider’s experience, and I’m lucky to have dozens of close Israeli friends on speed dial — by the end of this trip, so will you.
So are you ready?! Join us on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to hike, bike, surf, dive, stand up paddle board and party your way around the land of milk and honey. Spend eight days and seven nights in tiny yet diverse Israel, taking in the highlights of the Red Sea, the Negev Desert, the Dead Sea, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv.
Throughout the week, we’ll rest our heads in swoon-worthy accommodation, ranging from a chic urban penthouse in Tel Aviv to a sleek Red Sea villa to authentic Bedouin glamping accommodation deep in the desert surrounding the Dead Sea. Israeli hospitality will be in full effect, as we break bread with locals at a traditional Shabbat dinner, share many a shot of arak, and learn about the country’s culture firsthand.
This trip is one of the first in which I’ve fully outsourced photography so I can focus entirely on hosting and teaching yoga. I’ve hired the most amazing local photographer who I seriously can’t wait to spend the week with — she’s just the absolute most fun! In addition to full access to the hundreds of photos our pro will take throughout the trip, she’ll send a daily selection of highlights for us to post on-the-go. I can’t wait to see our week through her lens.
And as with all Wander Women Retreats, we’ll seek to be mindful travelers in our destination by partnering with small, locally-owned and female-operated businesses whenever possible and traveling as low-waste as we can.
The retreat will be held over seven days from May 31st to June 7, 2020. The cost, including just about everything, is $2,900.
• Seven nights accommodation
• Two meals a day
• All outlined activities — see below!
• Daily yoga
• Airport transfers and all transportation
• A custom welcome bag
• All tips for tour guides and drivers
• Professional photos of the trip
• Donation to local charities
What’s Not Included
• Optional desert camel ride or second optional dive
• Additional meals or activities not specific in the itinerary
• Mandatory travel insurance
Subject to change, and expect surprises, but here’s the general idea.
Day 1: Arrive in Eilat, a beachside town on the Red Sea. After a yin yoga class to stretch out post-travels, we’ll toast to an exciting week ahead with sundowner drinks, a welcome dinner, and a quick Hebrew lesson (most importantly: l’chaim!)
Day 2: Explore the depths of Eilat by diving or snorkeling the Red Sea! Certified divers can explore dive sites like wreck of the Satil, French missile vessels covertly delivered to the Israeli Navy in the 60s, while those looking to try breathing underwater for the first time can take guided “try dive” over some of the area’s vibrant coral gardens. All groups will reconvene for a beach yoga class, chill vibes and dinner at a Sinai-style beachside restaurant and bar.
Day 3: We’re off to the Negev — despite the many beautiful beaches of Israel, over half of the country is covered by a broad desert. After a picnic breakfast at Mount Yoash viewpoint — from where we can see Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia — we’ll scramble through the Red Canyon before setting off for the surreal, salty Dead Sea. After slathering ourselves in mud and marveling at floating in one of the most bouyant bodies of water in the world, we’ll sleep under the stars at an authentic glamping resort complete with a campfire and a pillow-strewn lounge area. An optional sunset camel ride is available for those who can’t pass up the opportunity to selfie with the symbol of the desert.
Day 4: We’re on the go again! No matter your religion, Jerusalem is a surreal city to explore, and in style with our adventure-based itinerary, we’ll experience it by bike. After our private tour, we’ll toast at a local winery in the Jerusalem hills. Upon arrival at our penthouse in Tel Aviv, our home for the rest of the trip, we’ll close the day with sunset rooftop yoga, absorbing the city’s pulsing urban energy.
Day 5: Start your day with a morning yoga session (not too early — Tel Aviv likes to party late!) on the roof overlooking the city’s famous Bauhaus architecture. After breakfast on our private deck, we’ll do our part to contribute to keeping Israel beautiful with a beach clean up for Plastic Free Tel Aviv. In the afternoon, time to hang ten — we’re taking surf lessons at an all-female surf school in Port of Jaffa, with incredible skyline views of the old city as a backdrop. Uniquely, Friday and Saturday are the weekend in Israel, which means the city’s iconic nightlife will be kicking off tonight!
Day 6: We’ll kick off our day with another morning yoga class on the roof. Today, it’s a choose your own adventure! Pick between local tours of Tel Aviv’s robust street art scene or one of its famous food markets. Reconvene for an epic Israeli tradition of a weekly dinner with loved ones — Shabbat, where we’ll start the weekend off right by disconnecting digitally and connecting IRL over amazing homemade food.
Day 7: Time to relax on the sand – you’ve earned it — with some Vitamin D (and sea) on Tel Aviv’s famed beaches. The summer weekend beach scene in Tel Aviv is something not to miss! Lunch is at one of the city’s best traditional Arabic restaurants, where we’ll dine on healthy salads, warm fresh-out-of-the-oven pita bread, and more. In the afternoon, hit the water again for stand up paddle board yoga. Tonight is our final night out in Tel Aviv, where we’ll meet up with local friends for an epic insider’s tour.
Day 8: After a rooftop farewell yoga nidra session (fear not, party fiends — it’s basically nap yoga), we’ll enjoy one more delicious breakfast together before departures. Pictures and contact info will be exchanged before airport transfers take off!
Why sightsee when you can sight do! We’re going to enjoy Israel the way the locals do — in motion. Here’s what’s included, but of course, expect some surprises.
Diving or snorkeling the Red Sea
Hiking in The Red Canyon
A winery tour in Tzova
Surfing lessons at Jaffa Beach
Insider nightlife experiences in Tel Aviv
Floating in the Dead Sea
SUP yoga at Jaffa Port
A bike tour of Jerusalem
Beach clean up in Tel Aviv
We get that you don’t want to end your trip needing a vacation from a vacation — while we’re offering a lot of fun and activity, we’ve also build in downtime for you to rest and recharge.
The Food + Accommodation
We’ll spend two nights at a seaside villa in Eilat, one night glamping in sukkah tents in the desert, and four nights at a chic penthouse in central Tel Aviv.
Due to the unique nature of our accommodation in Israel, all rooms will be shared — rooms in Eilat and Tel Aviv will feature shared king sized beds, and the sukkah tents in the desert will be shared amongst our private group. Of course you can room with a friend but if you’re traveling solo, fear not, so are most of our Wander Women guests! We’ll do our best to pair you with someone we think you’ll click with based on your intake forms — and we’ll all be besties by the end anyway. Rooms vary slightly by layout and view and will be assigned based on booking order.
Every day, two meals will be included; breakfast and either lunch or dinner. Israeli cuisine is beloved worldwide, not only for being delicious but healthy and balanced. We’ll eat well and feel great — and yes, there will be plenty of hummus along the way. For the non-included meal of the day, we’ll bring you to a favorite spot where you can order at your own expense, or branch off and do your own thing.
Extend Your Adventure
Want to have a longer Israel adventure? Join us for High Flying Israel: An Aerial Arts + Yoga Retreat from May 23-30, and travel seamlessly with me for a true Israel getaway.
This option will allow you to explore both the North and South Dead Sea, and tack on an extra day on the Red Sea between trips. Best of all? Guests attending multiple retreats receive 10% off all of them.
Believe it or not, we’re already starting to plan out our 2021 trips! So if there’s a trip you’re eager to see from Wander Women Retreats, we want to hear about it. If a trip’s just not for you, tell us why, too — any feedback you give is precious.
Here’s to the next adventure! Will I be seeing you in Israel?