The Travel Trifecta…..food, fitness and culture!

Hiking through the wild blue yonder!
Train ride through northern Spain
Train ride through northern Spain

Traveling has been an important part of my life for the last 20 years. When Jason and I got married, I spent hours and hours researching a warm, exotic, unique travel destination. In the last two decades we have travelled to Cozumel, Roatan, Italy, Spain, the Yucatan Peninsula and Mexico. We generally avoid big box hotels, frequent boutique inns and enjoy local food experiences. Once I started taking better care of myself, I struggled incorporating fitness into my travel plans. I would search for local yoga studios, go on a hike or a run, but it was always a struggle.

Barre3 in Mexico
Barre3 in Mexico

I finally decided to research fitness retreats. The problem with most of the retreats is that they seemed to be very focused on yoga, beach and relaxation. They bored me. I was craving adventure, spectacular locations and yummy food. Then I stumbled on Escape to Shape. Finally, a fantastic concept in fitness retreat that appealed to all of my travel senses! Run by Erica Gragg and Francesco Anchisi these retreats are perfectly curated for those seeking a well balanced vacation of culture and fitness, at off the beaten track destinations. Every detail is perfectly arranged, from the moment you are met at the airport, to the tasty and healthy meals, to the cultural tours, to the accommodations (generally at small, character hotels, that offer amazing food and services).

Our first trip with Escape to Shape was in March, to Cambodia. It was 7 days filled with amazing culture, exploration and yoga. Erica and Francesco were the perfect hosts. We. Were. Hooked. We immediately booked another trip with Escape to Shape and found ourselves on the far end of the earth in Patagonia in November.

19 of us made the long journey down to the tip of Chile in Central Patagonia to Explora, for 7 days of extreme adventure and exploration. All, but two of us, were repeat Escape to Shapers, with most having been on 5+ retreats. Our second trip did not disappoint! The location and accommodations were spectacular!! The Explora Patagonia is one of the most picturesque and remote hotels in the world.

Perched along Lake Pehoe, next to the Salto Chico waterfall, it overlooks Paine Massif and its granite towers. The water is the brightest, clear blue you have ever seen. Pictures cannot accurately reflect the magnitude of the beauty here. Need I say more?!

Unbelievable beauty!
Unbelievable beauty!

The large staff of trained guides to take you on any level of fitness adventure you desire. Everyday we had a wide variety of hiking excursions and horse backing adventures from which to choose, followed by an hour yoga class in the evening.

Battling the wind was a team effort!
Battling the wind was a team effort!

There was also plenty of time to relax, read, swim, sip wine or take a hot bath. It was honestly, the perfect blend of fitness, relaxation and exploration. Everyday we were in pure awe of our surroundings, whether enjoying the warmth of the sun, or pushing our way through 60 mph wind gusts and rain.

Hiking through the wild blue yonder!
Hiking through the wild blue yonder!

Unlike other Escape to Shape adventures, the cultural experiences consisted of educational lectures on the geography of the area, history of the indigenous people, and information on the variety of flora and fauna. The land is actually more fruitful than you’d think, given its harsh conditions.

Some highlights of my trip was a half day hike to a massive glacier and boating around its gorgeous blue crevasses….

The massive glacier
The massive glacier

Enjoying the picnic styled lunches on the trail, complete with hot soup and Bailey’s and coffee……

Hiking through a brutal wind and rain storm, then finishing the afternoon at the Quincho (wood BBQ heated cabin) to warm up and enjoy a Patagonian BBQ feast…..

My first horseback ride! A gorgeous day, skirting up and down hillsides, taking in the immense view on these beautiful creatures……

Sharing a cup of mate with the Gauchos after our horseback riding adventure……..

The gaucho preparing mate
The gaucho preparing mate

Now we are headed back home with our hearts full of beautiful memories and new friendships. And we have already booked our next excursion to Cuba in May! You should definitely check out the Escape to Shape website for future destinations. Consider being part of the tribe;)