Tours by women, for women
Intrepid launched its inaugural women-only trips in March of this year (a nod to International Women’s Day). The demand for more itineraries and departure dates has mushroomed, sparking a hiring spree for more female guides. Intrepid Travel is currently offering women-only expeditions not just in Morocco, but in Jordan and Iran as well.
Intrepid’s focus for these trips is immersion. Each itinerary includes opportunities to learn from local women -- from cooks, artisans, artists, hairdressers, and business owners. Those women, in turn, earn various commissions from the expeditions, for their time spent hosting and/or teaching participants. So your money is being funneled directly into the communities you visit, directly to the women you meet.
“[The expeditions are] made in a way that profits the local women, in places where women are not empowered at all,” Bencheikh says. “They’re the ones who earn income out of the trip.”
Another clear benefit of women-only trips is that participants feel more at ease; they can rely on local guides to familiarize them with the customs and expectations that might be placed upon them as they tour the country.
“Obviously one thing is the dress,” Bencheikh says. “In big cities like Casablanca and Marrakech, you can dress in shorts and T-shirts. But in the remote areas, in the mountains, you should not, because it’s a bit shocking there. It’s a respect kind of thing. But everywhere, there’s always a risk of getting harassed… no matter if you’re in a scarf or pajamas. That’s really the most annoying thing. That’s why people like to go in groups of girls -- they feel much safer than just going by themselves.”
Bencheikh says all travelers should be wary of public displays of affection, too. In Morocco, it’s not customary to hold hands or kiss in front of others. “There’s also a big issue with homosexuality here,” Bencheikh says, “so two girls or two boys have to be careful; we don’t want [anyone] to be offended.” Intrepid is determinedly inclusive, but they have to work within the local laws of each destination. If you’re unsure how their gender identity and expression might be a factor, you can reach out to the bookings team and they’ll work with you individually to address your LGBTQ travel needs.
Here’s a rundown of the women-only tours Intrepid currently offers: