Wander Women Lebanon:
A Yoga + Adventure Retreat
Beirut + Beyond
August 15-22, 2020
Join us for an eight day trip around Lebanon, a gem of the Middle East. Largely inaccessible to independent travelers, this trip puts Lebanon within reach in a whole new way. For this retreat, I’ve partnered with my friend and fellow travel expert Jessica Parker of the Trip Whisperer, a Beirut expat who knows the country inside and out.
We’re going to explore ruins that rival Petra (without the crowds!), sip local wine through a lush valley, paddleboard in a hip surf town, party at Beirut’s famous beach clubs, hike and bike through stunning landscapes, and practice yoga all along the way. We’ll spend the week in an eclectic mix of accommodation, from chic, urban hotels to a seaside guesthouse, and a rambling rural ranch.
A photographer will be behind the lens every step of the way, ensuring everyone leaves with profile-picture worthy shots of themselves on the go and in their favorite asanas.
Lebanon is known for its mosaic of religions, for its Instagrammable landscape, for its wild nightlife and general joie de vivre, for a national cuisine celebrated worldwide, and as a beacon of design and culture in the Middle East. Beirut is undeniably one of the most liberal and sophisticated cities in the region, and the secret is out — but almost everywhere further afield in the country remains a hidden gem.
Due to a lack of public transportation, a limited array of group tours and the high cost of private tours, and the very advanced level of skill required to drive a rental car in Lebanon, it’s not an easy place for even the most intrepid of travelers to get around affordably. And some of the best parts of the country — the nightlife and day clubs — can be hard to experience as a solo female traveler. Enter Wander Women Retreats — we’re here to show you the best time possible in Lebanon hassle-free, with a group of built-in besties to enjoy it alongside.
As with all Wander Women Retreats, our aim is to be gracious guests in our destination by partnering with small, locally-owned businesses and traveling as low-waste as possible. In Beirut, we’re excited to partner with Souk el Tayeb for a cooking class at Tawlet, an organization that provides vocational training and guidance to women and refugees. In Bekaa Valley, we’re touring an organic farm that fosters environmentally-friendly practices in agriculture — and making our own fig jam! — and in Batroun, we’re rolling up our sleeves for a beach clean up with a local NGO.
The retreat will be held over seven days from August 15th to 22nd, 2020. The cost, including all of the below, is $2,600 for a double and $3,200 for a single.
• Three nights accommodation at chic urban hotels in Beirut, two nights at a seaside guesthouse, and two nights at a rambling rural ranch
• Two meals a day
• All outlined activities (see below!)
• Daily yoga
• Airport transfers and all transportation
• A custom welcome bag
• All gratuities for tour guides, included meals, airport pickups, and drivers (we generously tip on your behalf, removing the stress and anxiety of when and how much to tip!)
• Professional photos of the trip
• Donation to local charities
What’s Not Included
• Alcohol (wine tour pours are included, of course!)
• 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: Cool off from your flight with a splash in our hotel’s rooftop pool, and get settled in Beirut before a yin yoga massage class to work out all the travel kinks. Enjoy a welcome dinner of Lebanese cuisine while getting to know your fellow Wander Women over a local Arabic calligraphy workshop.
Day 2: Start your day with aerial yoga at a chic local studio before stretching your legs on a walking tour of Beirut. In the afternoon, have lunch and relax at the urban pool club Madame Bleu or enjoy an afternoon on your own to explore local museums and boutiques. In the evening, reconvene for a local cooking class and dinner at Tawlet.
Day 3: Wave goodbye to Beirut (for now!) and head to the world-famous ruins of Baalbek and Anjar. In the afternoon, check into the eco-farm that we’ll call home for the next two days and relax by the pool or take a complimentary bike for a spin around an olive grove. Reconvene for a playful partner yoga class and dinner by the pool.
Day 4: Start your day with a zaatar and jam making session at our organic farm before breakfast enjoying your own creation. Kick off a fun day with sip n’ stretch mimosa yoga before taking off on a wine tour of Bekaa Valley (warning: Lebanese party — and pour — hard!).
Day 5: Pack up — we’re heading to the beach! But first, we’ll stop to hike through the Cedars Forest and visit the Baatara Waterfall. Lunch will be a true treat at the exquisite traditional Lebanese style home Beit Douma, in the garden surrounded by olive groves and apple orchards. When we reach the cute surf town of Batroun, we’ll check into our guesthouse, unwind with a yoga class on the rooftop and wander the waterfront before sunset overlooking the Phoenician Wall.
Day 6: Early risers can kick off the day with an optional surfing lesson before swapping boards and joining the rest of the group for a morning SUP yoga class and tour. We’ll have lunch beachside at Lebanon’s first microbrewery before a beach clean up and an afternoon of beach club hopping.
Day 7: We’ll kick off the day with yoga on the beach before heading up to Chekka’s Rocca Marina, a rocking example of Lebanon’s famous summer beach clubs. After a day of hookah along the infinity pool, we’ll stop at Byblos on the way back to Beirut, where we’ll watch the sun set from the iconic Rouche Rocks.
Day 8: After a rooftop farewell yoga session, we’ll head to the groundbreaking Souk el Tayeb farmer’s market for one final taste of Lebanon. Those who wish to enjoy their last day can decamp to the chilled-out Lazy B Beach Club, where those with later flights can spend the day pool and ocean-side before tearing themselves away to head to the nearby airport.
Lebanon is ripe for adventure and exploration, and we’re thrilled to have curated the best of it for a swoon-worthy week. Brace yourself for the following!
Tours of the classic Lebanese ruins at Baalbek, Anjar, and Byblos
Local workshops in Lebanese cooking, Arabic language and calligraphy, and organic spice and jam making
A walking tour of Beirut, a trip to a groundbreaking Farmer’s Market and a stop at Rouche Rocks
Hiking at Baatara Waterfall and bike riding at an agro farm
A wine tour of Bekaa Valley
A beach club experience in Chekka with additional opportunities in Beirut, Batroun, and Jiyeh
A beach clean up in Batroun
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 built in downtime for you to rest and recharge.
Around the country, we’ll take classes both with our own traveling yogi Alexandra Baackes and with local instructors, in both stunning local studios and in unexpected locations. We’ll experiment with classes in vinyasa and yin, as well as aerial yoga, SUP yoga, partner yoga, and a silly sip n’ stretch class with mimosa in hand! All classes are completely optional, but no experience is necessary — you don’t need to bring any experience to the mat to have a good time.
The Food + Accommodation
In Beirut, we’ll stay at — get this! — a superwoman-themed boutique hotel with a rooftop pool overlooking the city. In the Bekaa Valley countryside, we’ll stay at an agro-tourism ranch. In beachside Batroun, we’ll stay in private Arabic-style seaside apartments.
Some stops will feature two individual twin beds, while others will feature shared king beds. 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. Lebanese cuisine is famous the world over, and we will feed you the best of the best, from Jess’s favorite local spots to some of the most revered restaurants in the country. For the non-included meal of the day, Jess or Alex will lead the group to a favorite spot where you can order at your own expense, or branch off and do your own thing.
Is It Safe To Travel to Lebanon?
This is a question on everyone’s mind when traveling to the Middle East. Lebanon is a safe country overall, we simply advise using your savvy travel skills and caution as you would anywhere. Chances of petty theft and pickpocketing are very low here, so you won’t have to clutch onto your things.
There are travel alerts for the borders of Lebanon. Needless to say, for your safety we will not be traveling to those areas, or to any refugee encampments. Should anything ever shift, we will be upfront and take precautions. All the locations we are going to are popular tourist areas.
Travel With Us
On this trip, you’ll be traveling with Alex Baackes and Jess Parker as your hosts.
Alexandra Baackes is the founder of Wander Women Retreats and Alex in Wanderland. She fell in love with Lebanon’s spirit, landscape, design, and energy on her first trip and immediately knew that this needed to be shared. She is a RYT 200 Registered Yoga Teacher, a Buti Bands and Sculpt instructor, and a regular yoga practitioner for over a decade — she looks forward to practicing and exploring with you!
Jessica Parker is a traveler at heart. She’s been to more than 50 countries, 46 states, and on countless adventures — her career as a travel publicist only fueled her desire to see the world. She’s planned many trips for media, so she’s attune to creating newsworthy trips. After going freelance, she happened to fall head over heels for her German boyfriend (that she met in Zanzibar of all places!). And that love lead her to Lebanon. What she didn’t necessarily expect…. was to fall so hard for Lebanon! She can’t wait to watch you do the same.
Travel To Egypt, Too
Want to have a larger Middle East adventure? Join us for Wander Women: Egypt from August 8-15th, and travel seamlessly with Alex between Cairo and Beirut. We’ll take in the wonders of Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, and Abu Simbel — and sail down the Nile in a felucca!
Remember, guests attending multiple retreats receive 10% off all of them!
This retreat has limited space and extremely high interest is likely to sell out quickly. Book soon to avoid disappointment! A $500 non-refundable deposit is required to reserve your spot. Can’t make this one? Don’t sweat — sign up for my newsletter to be the first to know when enrollment opens on future retreats.
Once payment is complete, you’ll receive a confirmation email with intake form and an invite to a private Facebook group for your trip (so you can get to know your new travel besties virtually!). We’ll make sure you know exactly what to pack & expect, and help you with any questions!
Don’t hesitate to email us at email@example.com with any and all questions or concerns over if this is the right retreat for you. We’d love to chat!
Wander Women Lebanon // August 15-22
$2,600.00 – $3,200.00
Why women only?
Girls just wanna have fun! Guys, I love you, and I promise that future retreats I have in mind will be open to you, too. But for now, it’s all about the ladies in Lebanon.
Will I have time to do my own thing?
This is your retreat and we want you to make it exactly what you want! There’s a lot to see and experience in Lebanon, so we’ve tried to design an itinerary that balances the best of activity and downtime. But any time you want to bow out to have some “me-time” or do your own thing, we’re going to cheer you on.
What is the local language?
Naturally, the predominantly spoken language is Arabic, however, English and French is spoken in the city and tourist areas. Lots of times, if you are stuck, dust off that high school French and charades doesn’t hurt either. You will be fine getting by on English, so don’t stress.
What is the local currency?
Lebanese Pounds are used interchangeably with US currency. It’s a fixed 1,500 LBP to $1 USD. If you are coming from the US, you can bring currency with you and just make change to have local currency as you go. This way you can avoid additional bank or exchange fees at the airport. We’ll update this again closer to the itinerary as there have been some fluctuations in the market right now with the current economy.
How much money will I need to bring?
For non-included meals, lunch can range from $10 to $25 and dinners can range from $10 to $30 (not including alcohol). Jessica will be happy to share all her favorites and recommendations based on your preferences!
You can use your discretion on how much you want to bring for shopping in places like the Souk El Tayeb farmer’s market or various boutiques. Many businesses take credit cards, so you could always conserve your currency if you have credit cards with no international transaction fees.
The general rule of tipping is 10% for meals. For valets, delivery or porters, you can tip between 2,000 and 3,000 Lebanese Pounds (small green currency that you’ll come to know).
I want to extend my trip to explore more of Lebanon. Any suggestions?
Email us — Jess is a local Lebanon travel expert and will be more than happy to help.
Can I do a payment plan and pay in installments?
Absolutely. We want to make this happen for you! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will I need travel insurance?
Yes, everyone will be required to have personal travel insurance for the duration of the trip. World Nomads offers coverage incredibly affordable rates — I recommend their travel insurance, which will reimburse you in the case of flight delay, medical issues, and more.
Is there an age requirement?
You must be 18 years old or older.
What about visas?
For citizens of Canada, the US, the UK, and many other nations, a free visa is obtained upon arrival. The airport has done away with forms upon landing, so you proceed directly to passport control (make sure your passport is valid for six months after the return date of the trip).
Please note, it is very likely that you will be denied entry to Lebanon if you have an Israeli stamp or land border crossing stamp with Israel in your passport. If this is the case for you, contact us at email@example.com — Alex herself has traveled between Lebanon and Israel and has lots of research and first-hand advice on this topic.
What is the refund policy?
Remaining invoices are due 90 days before departure. The $500 deposit to secure your space is non-refundable. Beyond that, if you cancel at least 90 days before departure, you’ll receive 100% of your remaining retreat fee back. If you cancel between 30-90 days before departure, you’ll receive a 50% refund. Cancellation less than 30 days before departure will result in a 0% refund.
Is there a waiting list?
There will be a waiting list on a first-come, first-served basis in case spaces open up. If the retreat is full and you’re still interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the waiting list.
I still have questions, or cute photos of my dog. Can I contact you?
Um, yes please! Our email is email@example.com.