With all the stresses of daily life adding up, it’s no surprise that more and more people are looking to stay at a yoga retreat on their travels. Yoga retreats are not just about improving fitness and strength, but about calming your mind and connecting you to your spiritual self.
Guatemala is known as the Land of Eternal Spring, for its active volcanoes, rainforests, ancient Mayan sites, Spanish colonial towns, and the iconic Lake Atitlan which is surrounded by gorgeous nature spots. With all this nature, you’ll be nestled in a landscape that exhales calmness and tranquility.
Imagine a deep, cobalt lake surrounded by dozens of tiny villages and looming volcanoes. That is Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Its shores have been attracting hippies and hedonistic travelers for decades.
It is no secret that Guatemala grows some of the best coffee in the world. If you know a little about coffee, then you know that the best coffee grows at higher elevations.
Antigua Guatemala is known as the best-preserved Spanish colonial city in Central America. Stroll the cobblestone streets, lounge with the locals in Central Park on sunny afternoons, or hike up one of the volcanoes overlooking the city for amazing views. Antigua used to be the capital of Guatemala until a damaging earthquake caused a switch to Guatemala City. As harrowing as the earthquake must have been at that time, some of the remains of Antigua’s stunning colonial buildings still stand today.
18. November, Saturday - Day 1: Transfer from the La Aurora International Airport (GUA) in Guatemala City to Antigua City. First night in Antigua.
19. November, Sunday - Day 2: Acatenango Vulcano overnight hike
We depart Antigua early in the morning in a private shuttle for a comfortable one-hour drive to the Mayan village of Soledad and the Acatenango trailhead. The drive from Antigua to the start of the Acatenango trek takes around 1 hour depending on traffic, police checkpoints and animals on the road, etc.
The 1525 m ascent winds its way up through four distinct ecosystems, starting with a tapestry of fertile agricultural fields where local farmers harvest corn, flowers, and snow peas. From there, the trail rises into an old-growth tropical cloud forest that harbors a diversity of flora and fauna, and also provides hikers shade and comfort as they push up the steep slope. Emerging from the cloud forest, we enter a sparse high-alpine forest that reveals views of six additional volcanoes, making it a great spot for a scenic trail lunch.
After lunch, we make the final push of the day and climb above the tree line into the fourth microclimate wind-swept and mystical volcanic terrain.
The campsite is already set up at 3600 m.a.s.l., we do not need to carry any of the camping gear. The tents are for 2-3 people. Each tent has a pillow, – 6°C sleeping bag, an extra blanket, and a 5″ or 12cm comfortable mattress, under the matt all over the tent is a waterproof carpet to isolate the cold from the bottom, also there is an extra tarp to isolate the cold from the top. They provide also a clean inner sleeping bag and the campsite got its own outhouse.
Now we can relax, stretch, and take in the sweeping views of the Antigua Valley and Volcan Fuego before being served a hot dinner followed by coffee, tea, and marshmallows over the campfire. The campsite looks directly over Volcan Fuego, and your evening is spent splitting time between gasping at volcanic eruptions and staring into a mesmerizing sky full of stars above. Fuego is one of the most active volcanoes in Central America and has erupted more than 60 times in the last 500 years.
20. November, Monday - Day 3: Wake up call at 04.00 am. We begin a 90-minute ascent up to Acatenango’s summit (3976 m) to watch the sunrise. It is a steep but rewarding climb through dwarf pine trees and gravel scree that leads to the top of the world. From the summit, we will find 360-degree views of Volcan Fuego, the Antigua Valley, and the distant Guatemalan highlands that stretch all the way to the border of Mexico.
Breakfast is at 8.00 at the base camp.
We are back in Antigua early afternoon (~1:00 pm) with plenty of time for a celebratory beer, cappuccino, or a siesta! Overnight in Antigua.
21. November - Day 4: Shuttle to our yoga retreat location near lake Atitlan, where we have an evening yoga class and dinner.
Lake Atitlán sits at an altitude of just over 1550 meters above sea level. The surrounding Lake Atitlan is world-renowned for its Cacao and Coffee plantations.
22. November - Day 5: Morning yoga class, breakfast, relaxing by the lake, paddleboarding or kayaking, lunch, evening yoga class, and Sacred Mayan Cacao Ceremony.
It was believed that the gods gifted cacao to the people directly. The scientific genus name for cacao is theobroma, which translates to “Food of the Gods,” and the Maya believed that cacao was a key ingredient in restoring balance and connection to the divine.
23. November - Day 6: Morning yoga class, breakfast, Tzununa permaculture farm tour, Love Probiotics, and a short hike to local waterfalls. Lunch at Tzununa. Evening yoga and dinner at the retreat center.
Love Probiotics produce healthy, live, locally sourced, fermented probiotic foods and beverages (various types of raw sauerkrauts, raw vinegar, organic black, green, and white tea kombuchas, ginger beer, sparkling water kefirs, jun tea, organic kefir yogurt, Lacto-fermented hot sauce, super-food bliss balls, sourdough bread and more!), and they also offer a variety of hands-on fermentation workshops.
24. November - Day 7: Morning yoga class, breakfast, visit Panajachel, evening yoga, and dinner at the retreat center.
Panajachel, known as Pana, is home to several restaurants featuring local and international cuisine, coffee shops, street food vendors, and more. The town's main street, Calle Santander, is where visitors can shop for textiles and artisanal pieces handmade by indigenous people from around the lake. Panajachel offers a spectacular view of the San Pedro, Tolimán, and Atitlán volcanoes.
25. November - Day 8: Indian Nose Sunrise hike with a local guide, brunch, dinner, relaxing, and evening yoga at the retreat center.
The Indian Nose is the mountain on the northwest shore of Lake Atitlan. Also called Rupalaj K’istalin, this 2550 meters tall mountain presents one of the most rewarding climbs of Lake Atitlan. In addition to viewing the sunrise over a chain of volcanoes and then onto the pristine waters, this climb provides great views over the San Juan and San Pedro la Laguana villages. The climb takes about 30 minutes. The peak of Indian Nose is at just over 2200 meters elevation.
26. November - Day 9: Morning yoga, breakfast, and transfer to El Paredon on the Pacific coast to watch the release of baby sea turtles. The drive is about 4 hrs, 180 km.
Pacific Coast beaches typically have black volcanic sand. El Paredon is a very laid-back village with a spectacular black sand beach and ocean waves that are perfect for surfers and skilled swimmers. From September to December, every morning at 5.45 am baby turtles is released into the wild from the Driftwood Conservation Project on Playa El Paredon. The number of turtles released depends on the number that hatch. And that depends on the weather – fewer turtles hatch when it’s rainy.
The Pacific coast is famous for its beautiful sunsets. We will have a meditation walk at the beach and time to admire the sunset. Dinner at the restaurant and overnight at the El Paredon Surfhouse.
27. November - Day 10: Shuttle to the La Aurora International Airport (GUA) in Guatemala City and say goodbye.
Very early bird (booking 6 months in advance) until May 18
Shared room 1200 USD
Private room 1700 USD
Shared room for 2 persons 2200 USD (1100 per person)
Early bird (booking 3 months in advance) until August 18
Shared room 1400 USD
Private room 1900 USD
Shared room for 2 persons 2600 USD (1300 per person)
Last-minute booking (less than 3 months in advance) from August 19
Shared room 1600 USD
Private room 2100 USD
Shared room for 2 persons 3000 USD (1500 per person)
We ask for a deposit of 350 USD per participant to reserve your spot in this yoga retreat.
50% of the remaining balance should be paid 60 days before the retreat starts (September 2023).
The remaining balance should be paid 30 days before the retreat starts (October 2023).
Cancellation less than 30 days before the start of the retreat: 100% cancellation fee (no refund)
Fees are completely non-refundable and non-transferable.
You can make your reservation and pay your deposit by clicking here.
This awesome yoga and hiking retreat between the fjords of Norway is a real adventure and mental detox, that will nourish your body, soul, and spirit.
The yoga retreat days will start with walking or driving to the local yoga studio for morning yoga and pranayama. The walk is around 7 minutes from Thon Hotel or 10-20 minutes from your accommodation. If your accommodation is not so close, you will be together with other people and have a car to drive to the yoga studio. Don't worry if you don't drive, you will be accommodated together with someone who does. We use rental cars that have insurance included. The rental car fee is included in the price.
Molde is a city and municipality in Møre and Romsdal county, Norway. It is a small town by the Moldefjord with a population of 26822. Molde is a very calm and relaxing city, famous for its amazing views. It is surrounded by fjords and is close to several remarkable hiking trails and viewpoints. Book your flight to Molde, Årø airport.
We will pick you up from the Molde airport on the day of arrival, but it is best to arrive on the 16.45 or 17.00 flight from Oslo. It is not a problem when you arrive earlier on that day or by bus. Transfer from the airport or bus station is included in the price only on that day. On the first day, we have a welcome dinner all together at 18.00.
Day 1, Friday
Arrival day. Pick up from the airport, settle into accommodation, introduce the program, meet other guests, dinner.
Energizing morning yoga session, breakfast, pack lunch.
Hiking Tusenårsvarden 523 m.a.s.l. or Varden viewpoint 407 m.a.s.l. 6-10 km.
After the hike, we return to the yoga studio for an afternoon yin yoga session and dinner.
Strengthening morning yoga session, followed by breakfast, pack lunch, and snacks.
Troll Church 484 m.a.s.l., consists of three exciting limestone and marble grottos with underground streams and a beautiful waterfall. On the surface, to the west of the uppermost cave, there is a lake with white marble "jetties". Braver hikers can swim in the mountain lake.
The mountain behind the Trolls' church is very distinctive, with jagged points and spires. Sometimes we hike only to the caves and lake, 8 km, but with real adventurers, we will hike further over the mountain ridge (832 m.a.s.l.) and make a loop back to the cave. Guests can choose how long of a hike they want this day. After the hike, we return for a restorative yoga session and a delicious meal.
Morning yoga, followed by breakfast and pack lunch.
Jendemsfjellet 633 m.a.s.l. is a mountain near Molde with a breathtaking 360-degree view over the fjords and mountains. We can choose between the shorter or longer trail, 4-6 km. Afternoon yoga session followed by a delicious meal in the accommodation.
Morning yoga, breakfast, and packed lunch, followed by a ferry trip and driving to Trollstiegen.
Trollstiegen or the Troll ladder/road is a famous mountain road with narrow curves and sharp hairpin bends. The road has 11 hairpin curves and an elevation of 850 m. Every bend has its name. The road is narrow with a gradient of 9 % but passing pockets have been incorporated and traffic normally flows without a problem. An impressive bridge of natural stone carries it across the Stigfossen waterfall, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Norway. Stigfossen is an unregulated and powerful waterfall with a total height of 240 m, from which 180 m is almost a single drop.
Guests can choose if they want to drive up or hike. Kløvstien hike - the path is preserved as a cultural heritage, and a lot of effort has been put into maintaining the path. Stone steps and chains are making challenging parts more accessible and safer.
After morning yoga, breakfast, and packed lunch, we take off on a road trip to the Atlantic Road.
The Atlantic Road has National Tourist Route status, and the entire stretch between Bud and Kristiansund is one continuous experience packed with coastal scenery, culture, and history. The road that crosses this “infamous stretch of the ocean” was hailed as the world’s best road trip by the British newspaper The Guardian. In 2006. The 8.3 km (5 miles) road, with 8 bridges of a total length of 891 meters, is built on several small islands and skerries and is spanned by eight bridges and several landfills.
Sjurvarden, 667 m.a.s.l. is the mountain that stretches out to the sea, giving a powerful view of Hustadvika, the Atlantic Ocean, and the coastal landscape from Sunnmøre in the west and Smøla on Nordmøre in the north.
We will enjoy a final morning yoga session and breakfast before guests depart.
Depending on participants' comfort level and the weather, this itinerary is subject to change.
You can choose between a hotel room or a single or double bedroom in an apartment together with other retreat participants. The hotel is located in the city center and the comfortable but simple rooms include a private bathroom, shower, toiletries, and free wireless internet. You can choose between a single or a double room. The hotel's name is Thon Hotel Moldefjord, address is Storgata 40, Molde. If you want more privacy and time alone we strongly recommend you choose to stay at the hotel. If you prefer a more luxurious room, please let us know.
Accommodation in an apartment is a local home, guest house, or camping place. You will share the bathroom with 4 other participants. Those accommodations are located in different parts of the city.
If you are looking for an eventful holiday with lots of yoga, fun, and mountain air, Norway is the place for you. Expect relaxed group dynamics and the opportunity to integrate more balance and health into your life.
A Youtube video about yoga and hiking Trolltindene is here.
Guided tours take you into the heart of world-renowned wilderness destinations like countless number of waterfalls, Troll Church, Atlantic Road, Romsdalseggen, or some smaller mountaintops with amazing views over the fjords. Sometimes we will have yoga, pranayama, and meditation outdoors, on the top of the mountain.
It is a perfect opportunity to take time for self-care in order to maintain a healthy mind, body, and soul.
Am I excited to visit South Africa in February 2023? Hell, yeah!
You definitely don't want to miss the yoga retreat in the world's most exotic countries with us on February 06-14, 2023.
And here is why:
You can book your spot by clicking here
Our yoga retreat starts in Cape Town International Airport in South Africa.
Cape Town is one of three capital cities in South Africa. This seaside city is beautiful and picturesque with a great backdrop of the famous Table Mountain National Park. South Africa’s top tourist destination has lots of beautiful coastlines and beaches nearby, many whales watching tours, amazing scenery, and it has a walkable waterfront area with tons of great restaurants and shopping and more.
Cape Town, the “Mother City”, or the world’s most fabulous city, is the oldest city in South Africa and has a cultural heritage spanning more than 300 years.
There are few countries where you can go to the beach and expect to see penguins - South Africa is one of them. There is a colony of 3,000 penguins that live in and around Boulders Beach in Cape Town, South Africa. If you want to see more, you can visit a sea bird rehabilitation center SANCCOB where the majority of the residents are penguins.
South Africa is famous for its wines with the majority of the vineyards being located just outside of Cape Town. There are many vineyards and wineries that you can visit for lunch, enjoy tasting menus, take tours, and purchase some fabulous wines.
The Garden Route is a stretch of the southeastern coast of South Africa that extends from Witsand in the Western Cape to the border of Tsitsikamma Storms River in the Eastern Cape. The name comes from the verdant and ecologically diverse vegetation encountered here and the numerous estuaries and lakes dotted along the coast.
February 06 - Arriving day and transfer from the airport. First night in Cape Town.
February 07 - Day 1: Cape Town, Table Mountain, Botanical Garden, and wine tasting.
We will begin our South Africa adventure by hiking up to Table Mountain and having a magical first yoga session on top of Table Mountain.
This is followed by a visit to the first botanical garden in the world to be established (in 1913) to protect local flora, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in the UNESCO-listed Cape Floral Kingdom follows. Visiting Groot Constantia Wine farm, we taste their export quality wines and have dinner. Overnight at African Soul Surfer, the location for our studio-based class with sweeping views of Muizenberg and where surf lessons are offered.
February 08 - Day 2: African penguins, relaxing, and beach yoga
We journey along the False Bay coastline to Boulders Beach near Simon’s Town, home to one of the few land-based penguin colonies in the world. Boulders Beach in False Bay offers something extra special – a colony of African Penguins in all their smart dresses, waddling glory, right under your nose. In fact, it’s the only place in the world where you can get close to African Penguins. We will choose one of the popular restaurants in the area for dinner. Overnight at African Soul Surfer.
February 09 - Day 3: driving to Caledon 2-hour. Wine and chocolate tasting, spa, yoga
Visit Cape Point, part of the Table Mountain National Park and home to an abundance of flora and fauna. We hike a light downward trail to the stunning Dias beach to enjoy your morning yoga session next to the ocean. You also visit the viewpoint with the Flying Dutchman Funicular.
Driving in the direction of Stellenbosch, we go to the Spier Wine Farm for chocolate and wine tasting on the banks of the Spier dam. Overnight at The Caledon Hotel and Spa which has an impressive view of the Klein Swartberg Mountains and the continuing wheat fields.
The hotel is situated around an hour’s drive away from Cape Town and offers guests mineral-rich hot springs and a spa with three restaurants, a gym, and children’s activities offered to all guests. The wellness center is equipped with comfortable seating, natural hot springs, a lap pool, a steam room, a sauna, a frigidarium (The distinctive brown color of the water is due to the rich mineral content known as chalybeate.), a Swiss shower, elegant Victorian Bath House (erected 1897 and outdoor Jacuzzi, as well as a great Zen Garden. A full range of spa treatments including massages, body wraps, facials, and beauty therapies are on offer as an option. Click here to see the Caledon Spa menu. Book your treatment after 6 pm and at least 3 days in advance. We do not have a yoga class that evening.
February 10 - Day 4: Caledon to Knysna via the Cango Caves: 5-hour drive
Starting with the Garden Route, we move on to the town of Oudtshoorn with Route 62. This route delivers an unforgettable South African traveling experience, making life-long memories. After visiting the Cango Caves for a Heritage Tour, we head down the scenic Outeniqua Pass and onto the green forests and beaches of the Garden Route.
We go to Buffalo Bay for a rejuvenating beach walk. Buffalo Bay beach is a blue flag beach located in Goukamma Nature Reserve, between the coastal towns of Knysna and Sedgefield, along the Western Cape Garden Route. The beach is characterized by dune fields, coastal fynbos, and a forest that flanks the long white sands. Overnight is at the Peace of Eden Nature Lodge and Vegan Retreat. This is “rustic, eco and natural, our accommodation is earthy and creative, our shower water is golden brown, our drinking water is straight from the heavens, and know that here in the country, ‘things’ with 4 legs rule! We are here to chat with the monkeys, clap when the baboons come visiting, give you clean sheets and generally ensure you have a peaceful carefree time with little bits of spice thrown in the mix with peace, and where guided forest walks, massages, vegetarian cooking classes, yoga, and meditation outdoors.
February 11 - Day 5: Knysna return: 3-hour drive
Breakfast follows a drive through Knysna and to the town of Plettenberg Bay, where you can take a boat ride for a “Dolphin Encounters” excursion of 1,5 to 2 hours at Ocean Blue Adventures. (highly weather-dependable) You can go to the world’s highest bungee jump at Bloukrans Bridge. Standing 709 feet (216 meters) above the Bloukrans River, the arch bridge is ideal for bungee jumping. This is an optional activity (own expense), and you are free to watch the bungee jumpers take the plunge.
Alternative to the “Dolphin Encounters” boat ride you can make one of the activities at Stormsriver Adventures: a Tsitsikamma Woodcutters Journey or a Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour. Overnight is at the Peace of Eden Nature Lodge and Vegan Retreat.
February 12 - Day 6: Knysna to Cape Town: 6-hour drive
After you did some activities of your choice at the Peace of Eden Nature Lodge we head back to Cape Town and visit some of the amusing farm stalls on the way. Overnight is at the Zebra Crossing Backpacker. It is a 2,5 km walking distance from the beach. Evening and morning yoga is on the beach.
February 13 - Day 7: The Big 5 Safari in the Aquila Private Game Reserve: 2-hour drive
The “Big Five” is a term that is used to refer to the 5 African animals that early big game hunters considered the most difficult and dangerous animals to hunt on foot in Africa. These animals include the African elephant, lion, leopard, Cape buffalo, and rhinoceros.
February 14 - Day 8: Transfer to the airport
Accommodation during the retreat is described in the program section. You can choose a private room or a shared room.
South African currency is the rand (ZAR).
There are 52 nationalities who can enter for up to 90 days visa-free. Read more by clicking here.
Remember to bring:
The itinerary is subjected to slight changes according to weather conditions and unforeseen circumstances.
Yoga retreats are temporary breaks from the daily routine that typically last from the weekend to a week or more. The purpose of a retreat is to allow yogis to deepen their practice without the distractions of life. A yoga retreat is an amazing opportunity to meet others who are passionate about yoga.
Yoga and hiking retreat is a combination of yoga and physical activity outdoors. A retreat starts and ends on a certain date, which means that you will be with the same group of people every day. You go to the same classes, have meals together, and spend a day outdoors hiking together. This gives you the opportunity to actually get to know them and develop a friendship. Yoga and hiking retreat is not just another vacation, it is a powerful experience.
A yoga retreat will help you:
If you are a beginner or not so passionate about yoga, a yoga and hiking retreat will offer you the opportunity to start with regular practice and find out how yoga can help you find balance in your everyday life.
"Going back to nature is going back to the origin of life, to the origins of ourselves." This is what the philosopher Henry David Thoreau said about connecting to your inner self. There is plenty of time for self-reflection during the long hours of walking. We will encounter quite some obstacles, being far away from home and out of our comfort zone. But we might also realize what truly matters to us in our lives and what the purpose of our lives may be.
The question "Who am I?" is the ultimate question in yoga philosophy. This is exactly why connecting with nature and practicing yoga simultaneously form a perfect combination. Both will help you learn about your true self. The yoga and hiking retreat is a simple way to reconnect with your inner self and understand yourself better.
Walking the Camino de Santiago has been and still is on a bucket list for many people. Yoga and hiking retreat is like walking the Camino but it is a softer version of the Camino way. You know where you are going to sleep every night and you always have wi-fi when you need it. You will also prepare your body for a long day outdoors with morning yoga sessions, stretch and relax your tired muscles every evening and eat healthy and nutritious food during the journey.
However, yoga and hiking will give you many of the Camino walk benefits. Additionally, spending days in the fresh air will prevent you from becoming infected with viruses and will strengthen your immune system.
Camino de Santiago, known in English as the way of St. James, is a network of pilgrims' ways or pilgrimages leading to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in Spain.
Many pilgrims walk to connect and discover the deeper meaning of life, to spiritually connect with nature or themselves, or walk to find answers to deep questions.
Disconnect to reconnect
In a world of busyness with too many obligations and long workdays, many of us have become disconnected and disillusioned. We all say we would like to disconnect a bit but typical vacations are anything but answering e-mails at the pool and watching or reading the news after dinner, we seem never to have the opportunity to truly "get away from it all". At first, it may seem strange to not constantly think about what is going on in your country or not check your phone every 15 minutes but soon you find peace and silence in the journey. It takes a few days to adjust but the reward is clarity and a feeling of peace.
Exercise and well-being
The majority of people have little to no experience in walking long distances over many days. A popular saying is "your Camino begins when you sign up". You begin to research what shoes to bring, how to train and prepare your body, and what you should pack. Many people start training, to become healthier and more fit for the trip.
Estonian bogs have gone through a large-scale transformation from being seen as a horrific place to becoming one of the most loved landscapes. Our bogs are the top-of-the-list attraction for every tourist willing to discover the Estonian countryside and wildlife.
The bog is the oldest organic landscape in Estonia, reaching in some cases up to 10 000 years of age. The first bogs started to emerge here right after the last ice age. As the 1km, the thick glacier ice sheet was melting towards the North pole, the meltwater as a leftover was collected in depressions previously created by the glacier ice.
Over the next thousands of years, plants grew and died within those shallow and oxygen-deprived meltwater lakes. As a result, the dead plant material didn’t become decomposed but rather created ever-lasting peat/turf and turned the water acidic. Every year, one layer of partially decomposed organic material is accumulated underneath the mossy surface of the bog and this effect has taken place since the very beginning!
In Estonian bogs, the pace at which the peat accumulates is roughly 1mm annually. In most Estonian bogs, the peat layer is 5-7 meters on average, which equals about 5000-7000 years of age. Over the course of thousands of years, this landscape goes through a series of transformations. At the very beginning, this peat accumulation landscape does not have a significant effect on plants – the peat layer is just too thin and flora is able to reach the nutrient-rich groundwater. After millennia or two, the peat layer becomes thicker and filters out more demanding plants. The visual of the landscape is about to change. Birch trees will give up and pines will slowly start to take over. This middle stage is called transitional mire.
Later the peat layer gets just so thick that only the toughest plants will survive. The third stage is called bog or raised bog. Here you can see a lot of bog pools or lakes inside this huge organic sponge. The landscape is entirely independent, meaning that the plants don’t have access to nutrient-rich groundwater and all they have is rainwater stored in the ground. Bogs can be seen as huge sponges that can store huge amounts of water. Mainly because the sphagnum moss, also known as the “bog builder plant” is able to absorb almost 20x its body mass. So in some ways, bogs are also giant water reservoirs.
Bog operates as a carbon sink and therefore mitigates the effects of climate change. And as we know today, it’s a perfect place for aesthetic experiences.
Since the Estonian bogs were “rebranded” decades ago, their popularity has skyrocketed. The State Forestry Agency has built a lot of boardwalks and forest trails to provide easier access to all the people interested in enjoying the silence and minimalistic landscapes.
Suddenly, bogs have become the symbols of our country. 100 years ago it was unheard of to say, think or write anything pleasant about our swamps or bogs. Today, people still have some sort of unconscious “itch” inside them when they get off the trails and feel this spongy ground. But walking on boardwalks has become so popular, that on the weekends you could encounter more people in bog than in a shopping mall. So if interested in peace and silence, you have to choose your destinations carefully.
As you may guess, every season has its pros and cons. Although I see some benefits in visiting bogs in particular time periods, I still think everything depends on your goals. Is it to see wildlife? To swim in a bog lake? To pick berries? To skate on the frozen lakes?
Spring (March-May) is probably the best period to encounter birds and animals. For example, male black grouses are having battles in the bogs at the sunrise. Of course, it’s something that needs preparation and setting up a hide to witness those rare moments. The cranes are arriving from Africa and many birds are stopping by to continue their journey to polar regions. Many plants, including mystical labrador tea, bloom in May-June. I love spring because at that time we don’t have mosquitoes here.
I don’t suggest going to the bog on the hot summer days (nights are ok) – because of the dark ground, it gets really hot and there is nowhere to hide from the direct sunlight + you potentially have to deal with horseflies. In the summer, the best time to go to the bog is right before sunset or sunrise. You will then have the least problems with insects + the view is magical. Especially when the sky is clear. and you can enjoy the water that feels especially warm when the air temperature starts to drop.
August-September-October is perfect! Starry skies, misty mornings. Berries – blueberries, lingonberries, bilberries, cranberries, and cloudberries. Mushrooms! Chanterelles! In the autumn, the mosses covering the ground turn into colorful “carpet” + you’ll see the yellow-red colored trees on the horizon. Perfect time for camping and staying overnight as well.
With winter it can go both ways – you either have snow in Estonia or you don’t. When you do, you can go skating on bog lakes, hike with snowshoes over the frozen lakes, make a fire, camp either in a hammock or in a glamping tent. Catch fish on the ice. Fullmoon hike on glowing white snow? No mosquitoes, no crowded camping sites. Silence!
Read more about our Estonian retreat here.
Will you be fully vaccinated soon? Or have you taken your COVID-19 vaccination and are looking to travel sometime in the near future?
As vaccines are being rolled out across the world, it brings the promise of a return to our pre-pandemic life, or, at the very least, something close to it.
That said, it’s important to keep in mind that while these shots do come with some protection against the virus, some regulations, such as lifting the mandated use of masks, may not be happening as soon as we’d hoped.
Should you choose to travel sometimes in the near future, it’s highly advisable to continue to take health & safety precautions, such as wearing a mask, washing your hands often, and maintaining the practice of physical distancing.
While it’s not mandatory, you should also consider getting tested 3 to 5 days after arrival and self-isolate for 7 days, even though you are fully vaccinated. We are still unsure as to how much protection the vaccines offer against the new variants of the virus (and the strains continue to emerge), so, it’s always better to be safe.
In short, being fully vaccinated does give you more ‘freedom’ and peace of mind when it comes to travel but it’s in you & your fellow travelers’ best interest to maintain precautions when traveling.
Not only is it crucial for us to ‘adhere’ to local rules but also to keep personal consideration and precaution for the sake of your and others’ health and safety.
Even if you are fully vaccinated, these days, the type of travel you choose to take matters more than ever.
Domestic travel has been returning slowly but steadily starting last summer. With the rollout of vaccines, countries that are likely to reach herd immunity faster, maybe a ‘safer’ choice for locals and non-locals alike.
Many travelers are now choosing destinations that are off-the-beaten paths, those that are away from condensed cities, and often, these places are immersed in nature.
A yoga retreat in nature is a great choice for any traveler. Some retreats are easy-going while others go above and beyond to offer a wealth of activities. But no matter where you choose to go, it is easy to combine other outdoor activities such as hiking, walking, cycling, or running with your yoga sessions.
To get to your travel destination, road trips are recommended as non-public transportation is safer than using public transportation. In fact, according to the CDC, fully vaccinated travelers who go on a road trip and are moderately careful at the destination, would have a relatively ‘safe trip’.
Another way to lower risk is to choose to visit a country that is waiving restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers. At the time this article was written, only a handful of countries have gone this route, but, as summer approaches and the vaccine passports are likely to become a reality, more and more countries would consider this option to open for travel.
Lastly, should you choose to travel internationally, it’s better to focus on visiting one country, rather than opting for a multi-country itinerary. Now is the perfect time to focus on slowing down, taking longer to explore a country, immerse in its culture and traditions, and discover local gems.
It’s also important to keep in mind that while the entry requirements into a certain country might not include showing a negative test, the airline might require one to board the plane. Do your due diligence and check the requirements ahead of time so that you can plan accordingly.
Nothing supports our mind and soul to open up like a natural setting. The usual distractions are far away, and your attention and focus are directed towards what’s in front of you, quieting the mind and simplifying your thoughts.
Being in nature awakens your senses – touch, scent, sight – and you cannot help but become more aware of what’s around you and start to appreciate the little things you might usually take for granted.
The smell of morning dew and flowers, a simple bird song, a gentle breeze in your hair, touching the grass or sand, provide stimulation and make you more present. You become more in tune with yourself and the world around you.
On most retreats held in nature, you’ll have the opportunity to do some forest bathing. Also known as Shinrin-yoku, this is the practice of making contact with and taking in the forest atmosphere to receive mental and physical healing.
Estonia is a hidden gem packed with opportunities to try something new and have experiences you would not have in most other countries.
Estonia has a long history of different settlers from Vikings to the medieval merchants of German, Swedish, Danish and Russian descent. Today’s Estonia is an exciting mix of old and new. The capital Tallinn is the best preserved medieval city in Northern Europe and its Old Town is listed as a UNESCO cultural heritage sight. At the same time, it is a bubbling and innovative city filled with trendy cafes, restaurants, and shops. Driving out of the city for only an hour and you will find yourself in wild nature.
If you want to combine a relaxing yoga holiday in nature but also experience some of the rich cultural life in a historical setting – Estonia is the perfect holiday destination for you. Estonia is a very compact country so you can cover a lot in just a week.
You will be accompanied by a local guide Pille, who was born and raised in Estonia. She will guide you through the yoga lessons, take you to the local’s favorite places that you won’t find in a travel guide and help you with everything you might need for a comfortable stay.
Read more about our Estonian yoga retreat by clicking here.
The life of a freelance yoga instructor, self-defense teacher, and adventure sports writer involves a lot of free time. I used to devote an embarrassing amount of that free time to trawling the Yoga Trade website. The secret to using the site well is to know when to daydream about an opportunity, when to seize it, and to love what you find. So when I saw a listing looking for yoga teachers to assist hiking retreats in Norway, I knew it was time to pounce. I just didn’t know that pouncing would change my life.
I’ve always wanted to visit Norway but it’s notoriously expensive and I’ve never had the money to go. I’ve lived above the 60th-degree latitude so I knew what I was getting into. I’ve worked as a hiking guide, I’m a natural history nerd, I have wilderness first responder training, I’ve been teaching and practicing yoga for over 30 years. I knew I was perfect for the job. I just had to convince the woman running the retreats that I was perfect for the job.
I was at a yoga retreat in Bali when I saw the listing, so I had limited internet access and no cell reception. I crafted a carefully worded letter of introduction, gathered my CV and a few yoga photos, and tried to send them off. The message didn’t appear to land, so I bombarded this poor woman at every portal I could access: YogaTrade, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and her personal email. I don’t know if she was impressed or annoyed, but she called me within a day. After a week of communication, I was able to convince her to stop looking at other applications and bring me to Molde for the month of August.
I neglected to research my remarkable hostess. Pille Mitt was born in Estonia when it was part of the USSR. She grew up under an authoritarian regime that denied the most basic freedoms I often take for granted- the ability to choose where I want to live, travel, and pursue an education or career. With the collapse of the Soviet Union Pille was able to offer exercise classes and eventually open her own gym. Online dating brought her to Molde, Norway, where she lost the guy but found a new home. A yoga teacher training in Rishikesh opened new windows, and now she teaches at both yoga studios in town and offers yoga and hiking retreats in various locations throughout the year. “I have to stop having such a good life!” she jokes. “Time flies when you’re having fun, so my life is passing too quickly!”
I also neglected to research the hikes. The first day we warmed up with a casual stroll out of town which led to the ascent of a nearby peak. Then we hiked a mountain overlooking the next day’s destination, with the option of climbing a nearby twin summit. One day saw us ascend steep muddy slopes to the Troll’s Church, a limestone cavern with a 40 ft waterfall inside. We traveled by ferry and car, climbed mountains, crawled through caves, jumped in alpine lakes, and swam in the frigid Atlantic. Each day brought stunning vistas, the option to picnic and relax or hike as hard as we could. One day was a glorious road trip up a series of hairpin turns to a precariously perched restaurant and café. We dispersed like a flock of birds and came back together to meditate on a quiet ridge.
The first group was all female, and we bonded like the loving family I never had. Two Lebanese women and an Israeli woman broke bread together every day; they are not allowed to travel to each other’s homes and would probably never have met otherwise. We pushed each other to hike harder and relax more deeply, comforted and inspired each other, learned from shared stories of triumph and failure. I’ve led groups from southeast Alaska to Southeast Asia and never experienced one with more authentic love or less bitchy drama.
Over the following month my life fell into a simple rhythm: wake up, meditate, plan yoga classes, do yoga, eat breakfast, hike all day, teach yoga, eat dinner, fall asleep, wake up and do it again. Rainy days invited a road trip, a philosophy discussion, an extended yoga class, a shorter hike. After the first group left, Pille and I had two half days free. We scheduled an outdoor community yoga class, shopped for food, and went for a hike. When you’re doing what you love, you never want a day off.
Pille and I cried when I boarded the bus for Oslo. We are both intense athletic tomboy powerhouses and were afraid we wouldn’t meet another kindred spirit until our paths crossed again. Fortunately, that won’t be long. We plan to lead yoga and hiking retreats together in Alaska, Norway, and California in 2020. Guests from last August have already signed up, eager to hang out with us again. We are considering offering yoga teacher training together in 2021. The only bummer is I don’t have time to daydream about opportunities offered on Yoga Trade anymore. I’m too busy living them! Love what you find!
Read more about our yoga and hiking retreat in Norway here.