Women on the prowl in South Africa

A game drive at the Djuma Game Reserve

So long to the days of elegant spa retreats and retail extravaganzas for women. GoNomad’s Stephen Hartshorne explores the new demand for adventure trips catered to women-only groups starting with South African safari tours.

One of the most striking trends in the travel industry in recent years has been a dramatic increase in the number of women-only tours.

While some tours are run by large companies seeking to take advantage of this trend, the most popular are run by small companies run by and for women with years of experience in the field.

And while many women-only tours focus on conventional sight-seeing, shopping and spas, more and more are adding an greater element of adventure in the jungles of the Amazon or the savannahs of South Africa.

Yolanta Barnes of Sights and Soul Travel has been planning and hosting women-only trips in Europe since 2002, both “classic” tours to places like London or Italy and more “avant-garde” destinations like Poland, Portugal or Croatia.

The Next Step in Travel

Sights and Soul now has a large group of repeat travelers who enjoy the company’s balancing of culture, adventure and luxury, and Barnes says a number of her cllients expressed an interest in “taking the next step in travel and adventure.”

“You tend to progress from New York to Europe to Africa,” she says, “although some people say they want to do the more challenging destinations while they’re still fit and leave easier places for later years.”

In 2008 the company added a tour of the Amazon rainforest, and last year they added a tour of South Africa that includes six days at a luxury hotel in Cape Town and five days at a private game reserve in Sabi Sands near Kruger National Park.

Barnes says she was surprised by the response to the South Africa trip.

“Several people had been asking me about Africa for a while, so I decided to give it a try. I had no idea it would be such a hit, but the tour filled up within a couple of months and the 2011 tour [Jan. 30-Feb 9] is already one third full.”

South African Safari Tours: The Next Step in Women’s Travel