Ladakh

Ladakh yoga retreat

Amritsar

atq1

Varanasi

varanasi cover photo-002

Kathmandu

boudha yoga retreat

Pokhara

pokhara yoga retreat

Agra

taj mahal yoga

Jaipur

jaipur yoga retreat

Bagan

Myanmar yoga retreat

Siem Reap (Angkor Wat)

Angkor Wat yoga retreat

Asilah

asilah yoga retreat

Chefchaouen

chefchaouen yoga retreat

The Sahara

sahara yoga retreat

Fez

fez yoga retreat

Cusco

peru yoga retreat

Machu Picchu

machu picchu yoga retreat

The Galapagos

galapagos yoga retreat

Bali

Sideman Bali Yoga retreat

Lombok

Lombok yoga retreat

Bhutan

Bhutan yoga retreat

Pushkar

Pushkar yoga retreat

Iceland

Travel the World & Journey Within.

We moved out of the U.S. full-time in January 2013 to travel the world year-round, exploring new itineraries and strengthening our travel partnerships around the globe. Now you get to put that knowledge to good use!

 

For our self-guided retreats, we have amazing local guides and hotel staff to help you manage you groups. However, we offer more location options for our escorted RetreaTours™ than our self-guided retreats—it takes a very special team to take care of you and we only select the very best locations and partners. Currently, the locations available for our self-guided retreats are:

 

Our escorted RetreaTours™ locations include all of self-guided locations AND the following:

(You can click on the location names in order to skip to their description).

In addition, we can advise on trip extensions to most major destination cities in those areas, including Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong & beyond. Our travel consulting services are free for you and your registered guests.

India

India

Amritsar, Varanasi, Pushkar, Jaipur, Agra, Delhi & beyond. {Please see Ladakh for information about India's Tibetan Plateau.}

Mother India—the name alone makes the heart of many travelers soar. This country holds massive appeal for countless explorers, each with their own sacred reason. A sensory feast, it’s difficult not to overindulge in the whirls of colors and smells, the carnival of sounds and sights.

BJ has been in love with India since his first round-the-world trip in 1995—well, it would have been round-the-world if not for India! Once BJ arrived in India, he slowed his travels and spent the next 4 months there, exploring the gorgeous countryside and experiencing first hand the world-famous Indian hospitality. He’s traveled from the northernmost parts of India to the most southern—from Kargil to Kanyakumari. Collectively, he’s spent nearly 2 years traversing this vast country.

We enjoy leading RetreaTours™ to India for many reasons. Firstly, if you make the journey to India, you definitely need to see more than one city (as most retreats do). Granted, you could spend years there and still feel you haven’t scratched the surface, but we think our tours provide a good overview while not feeling overwhelming or rushed. Secondly, India is the kind of place that’s best to visit with someone “in the know” the first time, setting yourself up for a lifetime of return visits. The tips, tricks, and connections we’ve collected while traveling in India are absolutely invaluable, and we make them all available to you.

Our Yoga Retreats in India tend to cover 3-4 areas (sometimes that also includes Kathmandu, Nepal), while our cultural tours typically visit 4 or 5 cities.  Our favorite itinerary combines Amritsar, the seat of the Sikh religion; Varanasi, the soul of the Hindu religion; and Boudhanath in Kathmandu, Nepal, the heart of the Tibetan Buddhist religion. However, we always love to bring guests to Pushkar during its famous annual Camel Fair, when over 200,000 traders and 50,000 camels descend upon this otherwise sleepy lakeside town. The pink city of Jaipur, famous for its gemstones, is a gorgeous and classic Indian addition to any tour. And let’s be honest—who’s going to visit India without laying eyes on the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra? Even if we do not include it in the itinerary due to time constraints or logistical issues, we can always arrange a side trip to see this stunning landmark. Also, as you and your guests will most likely be flying into Delhi, we have great connections there for any side tours you may want to take in this modern metropolis.

Click here to see a selection of our India photos.

Ladakh

Ladakh

Leh, based at Thiksey Monastery

Nestled high in the Himalayas on India’s Tibetan Plateau, Ladakh is truly a hidden gem. Having first visited in 1995, BJ made a point to return once or even twice a year through much of the past decade. These trips cemented his relationship with Thiksey Monastery and her many inhabitants. BJ has been bringing guests to Thiksey since 2006, and it is invariably life changing for our guests.

In 2015, Insight Travels created the first yoga retreat ever hosted at Thiksey Monastery. With our unprecedented access to ancient prayer halls and intimate friendships with Thiksey’s monks and their families in the village, our Ladakh guests always come away inspired, moved, and uplifted.

We have many options in Ladakh. We can stay rooted along the Indus River at Thiksey the entire time, taking day trips to see other monasteries in the Leh area; this gives the trip more of a true retreat experience. Alternatively, we can arrange to camp under the stars at Pangong Lake, on the border on India and Tibet and at an elevation of 13,940 feet (!)   We can also head west to stay in the lunar landscape that envelopes the monastery of Lamayuru, while also visiting the gorgeous valley and monastery of Likir.

Click here to see a selection our of Ladakh photos. 

Nepal

Nepal

Kathmandu, Pokhara & beyond

Nepal is a stunning nation with a character and beauty that belies her diminutive size. Maybe that is because Nepal is home to some of the tallest, most majestic mountains in the world, including Everest. But don’t think that Nepal is just about hiking! Although it is it an adventurer’s dream, with primo hiking, rafting, paragliding, ultralights, and ziplining opportunities, it’s also a cultural wonderland. Once the site of three ancient kingdoms, the modern Kathmandu Valley offers cultural and religious artifacts and architecture that will take your breath away.

Without fail, we always stay in the Boudhanath area of Kathmandu. This Tibetan Buddhist enclave provides a quiet respite from the beautiful chaos of Nepal’s capital city. Standing in front of Boudhanath Stupa, one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Tibetan Buddhism, you’re transported to another time and place. Waves of incense curl around the constant stream of devout Buddhists circling the stupa in a clockwise direction, sending out prayers of compassion for the world at large. The vibrant prayer flags wave in the breeze as the hum of bells and chanting spill from the dozens of surrounding monasteries. It is, without a doubt, one of our favorite neighborhoods on the globe.

The neighboring city of Bhaktapur provides a delightful foil to this colorful Buddhist neighborhood, with its intricate wooden Hindu temples and famous brick streets. We can arrange to stay in Bhaktapur overnight, as witnessing a misty sunrise in one of its many brick squares is an incomparable experience. There are plenty of other sites around the Valley, as well, including the most important Shiva (Hindu) temple in Nepal, Pashupatinath, as well as Swayambhunath, a temple revered by both Buddhists and Hindus. Don’t forget a flight around Mt. Everest, too, if that’s on your bucket list!

We have the option of heading to Pokhara to get closer to the mountains, specifically the Annapurna Range. From the shore of Lake Fewa, we can see the awe-inspiring Machhapuchhre (literally “fishtail” mountain) amongst the other Annupurna peaks. From Pokhara we can arrange anything from a day hike to a moderate 2 or 3 day overnight trek, accompanied all the while by stunning mountain views. And we can’t miss the epic sunrise from nearby Sarangkot—that would be a crime.

For those wishing to extend their Nepal stay, we can arrange trips to Bardia or Chitwan national parks, for the chance to see rhinos, elephants, leopards, and even tigers.

Click here to see a selection of our Nepal photos. 

Bhutan

Bhutan

Paro, Thimpu, Punakha

Bhutan is said to be the last Shangri-La, for reasons you’ll understand before you even land in Paro. You’ll notice the lush forest below, but you may still be surprised to learn that over 80% of Bhutan is still forested. This is not by chance—Bhutan takes great measures to preserve not only its natural resources, but its cultural resources, as well. In 1991 Bhutan implemented a brilliant plan which restricts the environmental toll that tourism inevitably takes on countries. Upon booking an official tour to Bhutan, guests are given a personal guide and driver and can easily enjoy all the riches Bhutan has to offer at an easy pace. This personalized service makes Bhutan the perfect place for our self-guided retreats.

The Kingdom of Bhutan and her people are steeped in a colorful Buddhist culture, reflected in the larger-than-life dzongs (fortresses) and monasteries, such as the picturesque Tiger’s Nest monastery seen above. Beautiful forested hikes and waterfalls await, as well as rafting and hiking for the more adventurous. And I would be remiss not to mention Bhutan’s unique cuisine, with delicious staples like red rice and buckwheat. I’ve tried my hand at making the national dish of chilies and cheese, ema datsi, at home, but I’ve never been able to recreate the magic. Looks like I’ll have to head back to Bhutan sooner rather than later for my fix!

Click here to see some of our selected Bhutan photos.

Bali

Bali

Ubud, Sidemen, Munduk & beyond

This petite island, one of Indonesia’s 17,000+ islands, has a reputation much bigger than its 95 by 69 miles would indicate. Volcanoes, terraced rice paddies, misty lakes, and jungle-banked rivers provide a magical backdrop for Bali’s one-of-a-kind culture that blends Hinduism, Buddhism, and animism. There is no place on Earth like Bali, and we can’t wait to show you around.

It’s hard to pin down our favorite spots in Bali, but we always wind up back in Sidemen. In the shadow of holy Mount Agung, this meditative town gives you an idea of what Ubud must have been like 50 years ago. We have the ultimate villas in Sidemen, the accommodation arm of a charity owned by a Balinese priestess and run with love by her warm & devout staff. From high up on our perch, we can see the volcano Mount Agung to the north, the sea to the South, and we’re surrounded by hills and terraced farmland in-between—truly a powerful blend of the elements. Sidemen is a perfect place to begin our journey, partaking in ritual cleansing and ceremony.

In Bali, we can explore the highlands around Munduk, where drizzly afternoons break up to reveal stunning sunsets over the Bali Sea and the volcanos of Java. The relatively untouched north shore provides plenty of options for retreat, from the soulful Tejakula to the beautiful Pemuteran. While we find the south beaches a little overwhelming at times, they are easily reached on a day trip from the cultural & spiritual center of Bali, Ubud. In Ubud, we can enjoy a dance performance, some fine cuisine, and fantastic shopping in this international hotspot. We also have the option to head to neighboring Lombok (please see the Lombok heading for more).

Can we be honest for a minute? Does Bali deserve its reputation as a beach paradise? Not in our opinion. Granted, before we moved overseas we lived in Florida, world-renowned for its stunning beaches, so we might be spoiled. Be that as it may, we find the beaches in Bali to be underwhelming for our guests (unless you’re a surfer, that is!) That’s why we take them to Lombok, Bali’s neighbor to the east, which has some of the most jaw-dropping beaches in the world. 

Lombok

Lombok

The Gilis, Senggigi, Kuta & beyond

Bali’s neighbor to the east has been getting some well-deserved recognition in the past few years (see Exhibit A and B). Although just a 25 minute plane ride or 2 hour speed boat away, Lombok can seem worlds apart from the hustle and bustle of Bali’s more touristed cities and beaches. Speaking of beaches….

We fell in love with Lombok in our quest to find the best beaches for our guests. Between the snorkeling and diving off of Lombok’s tiny Gilis (islands) to the postcard-perfect alcoves on her south coast, Lombok’s beaches do not disappoint. For surfing or sunbathing, snorkeling or even shelling, Lombok’s sandy shores are blissfully relaxed. Some of the most gorgeous beaches on the planet are found in Kuta, Lombok—a town which shares only its name with Bali’s frenetic tourist hub. Lombok’s Kuta delivers isolated beaches, rustic seaside cafes, and a peace and quiet that the “other” Kuta hasn’t experienced in decades.

Although Lombok does not share Bali’s unique Hindu culture, the genuine warmth and affability of Lombok’s local culture, the Sasak, will leave you charmed. The natural beauty on Lombok is like something out of a fairytale, centered around the majestic Mount Rinjani. Whether you’re enjoying sunrise over Rinjani from the Gili islands or playing in the waterfalls at her foot, there is undeniably a special feel to this rugged volcano.

There’s a saying on Lombok: “You can see Bali in Lombok, but you can’t see Lombok in Bali.” Not only does this refer to elements of the culture, as about 15% of Lombok is of Balinese origin, but also the scenery. From Lombok’s gorgeous west coast you can watch the sunset behind Bali’s holy Mount Agung, a lovely conical volcano (pictured above).  In addition, Lombok’s new international airport makes it easier than ever to visit this up and coming Indonesian star.

Click here to see a selection of our Lombok photos. 

Morocco

Morocco

Asilah, Chefchaouen, Fez, the Sahara, Essaouira & beyond

Between the stunning riads of Morocco and the relaxing lilt of her small-town medinas, we simply adore Morocco for retreats! We find Morocco to be a good location for RetreaTours™ that are a little more relaxing; unlike places like India, where there are just so many sites and monuments and “must do’s,” the medinas of Morocco are all about people watching, lingering over a cup of mint tea, and soaking it all in. (P.S., a medina is the old part of town—exactly like the walled-in cobblestone alleys and passageways you’re imagining!) We steer clear of the bigger cities like Marrakesh, Casablanca, Rabat, and even Tangier, as we don’t feel these big cities give a fair insight into this fascinating country, what with all their hustle, bustle & pollution. I know, I know—”You don’t go to Marrakesh?!”  But let us tell you where we DO go….

We are simply gaga for the seaside cities of Asilah and Essaouira; a woman we befriended in Asilah offered that Essaouira is like the ‘grandmother’ to tiny Asilah. And it’s true: they are both oceanfront artist colonies with charming but manageable medinasbut Essaouira is on a much grander scale. Both have waterfront ramparts from which to view pink and purple sunsets, and both have the most lovely markets to gather your fresh bread, amazing olives, and local cheeses.

Chefchaouen is perhaps one of the most picturesque towns we’ve ever had the pleasure to explore. “Chefchaouen” literally means “look at the horns,” a reference to the twin mountain peaks the picturesque city is nestled against. And although this city is set in the gorgeous terrain of the Rif mountains, that’s not what makes it such a unique destination.This entire city is painted blue, making the medina seem like something out of a children’s book (or Smurfs cartoon!) The rich shades of blue, paired with Chefchaouen’s population of adorable cats makes it a stunning backdrop for exploration and relaxation.

If you’re in the mood for a bigger city (and the shopping the comes along with it), we prefer the ancient medina of Fez. This medina is a UNESCO World Heritage site, but is also the largest car-free urban area on the planet. Although full of twists and turns, we find it to be cozier than Marrakesh’s medina. In addition, there are some great sites just an hour or so away from Fez (including Volubilis, the beautiful ruins of an ancient Roman outpost).

And, of course, who can resist a camel trek and a night camping under the stars in the Sahara Desert? Exploring the Erg Chebbi dunes makes you feel like you’re on a different planet, as you bond with your camel and rest in the shade of the oasis. In addition, we have scouted fantastic places in Aït Benhaddou, Ouarzazate, Dades Valley, and even in Marrakesh for those who simply can’t resist the call.

Click here to see a selection of our Morocco photos. 

Peru

Peru

Machu Picchu, Cusco, the Sacred Valley & beyond

Oh, Peru, how you captured our hearts and imaginations! Most people plan their Peru trips around Machu Picchu—which is undeniably a phenomenal site—but Peru is so much more than that! But I’m getting ahead of myself…

We recommend starting out in the Sacred Valley, a couple thousand feet lower in altitude than Cusco, in order to avoid altitude sickness. Exploring the ancient Incan sites around here will whet your appetite for the big daddy—Machu Picchu. We like to stay Machu Picchu Pueblo (formerly Aguas Calientes) at least two nights, in order to give guests the opportunity to return to Machu Picchu for an encore performance the next morning. We have scoped the best spots for viewing sunrise and watching the morning mist clear from this inspiring site‚ great for meditation or even a couple rounds of sun salutations.

In our post-Machu Picchu bliss, we’ll make our way back to Cusco, a truly delightful city. With its grandiose cathedrals and welcoming plazas, this pedestrian-friendly city is a perfect place to relax and explore independently. But where to next? Depending on the group, we can plan an excursion to the magical Amazon Basin, legendary Lake Titicaca, mystical Nazca, or beyond. We have plenty of Peruvian tricks up our sleeves and can design a wide array of tours in this region. Maybe you even want to pair Machu Picchu with the Galapagos Islands for those guests short on time but high in wanderlust. Can do!

Click here to see a selection of our Peru photos. 

The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Ah, the Galapagos Islands—the stuff dreams are made of. Well, that is if you dream of stunning blue waters and exotic, alien landscapes populated with droves of sea lions, penguins, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, tortoises, sharks, sea turtles…. you get the picture. These remote volcanic islands off of Ecuador are renowned for their unique animals species—some can only be found on the Galapagos and nowhere else on the planet.

Most people think a Galapagos vacation is out of reach because of the cost, but we are here to say “Nuh uh!” We have developed some fantastically affordable land-based itineraries, with options on Santa Cruz, Isabela, and San Cristobal Islands. These itineraries include plenty of water-based excursions, like snorkeling with the penguins at Isabela’s lava tunnels or scouting for hammerheads at Kicker Rock off of San Cristobal.

Not only can staying on land (as opposed to a yacht) save you money, but it also opens up possibilities for easier land-based tours, including tortoise breeding centers, volcano hikes, or just chillin’ on the beach (although you may have some sea lion company!) Between the natural beauty and tranquil surroundings, a retreat on the Galapagos will, without a doubt, bring your practice to a whole new level.

Click here for some photos from our most recent adventure in the Galapagos.

Myanmar (Burma)

Myanmar (Burma)

Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay & beyond

Oh, Myanmar—this country dear to my heart is quickly making her presence known in the world of tourism. You’ll most likely begin your journey in Yangon, what used to be the capital city of Rangoon. The golden-covered pagoda of Shwedagon, said to be the oldest Buddhist stupa in the world, is worth more than one visit, as the light reflects off the gold quite differently at sunrise, afternoon, sunset, and even under the nighttime lights. Yangon has so many treasures to offer, including old temples, giant reclining Buddhas, and some of the best BBQ you’ll have in Asia (you just can’t miss 19th Street!)

But soon enough we’ll make our way to the treasure of Myanmar, the Plain of Temples in Bagan. Between the 11th and 13th centuries, more than 10,000 temples and pagodas were built on this land beside the Irrawaddy River. Now, around 2,200 structures still stand in the plains, leaving you to marvel at what this area would have looked like in its glory.

Bagan is truly a photographer’s dream, from the misty sunrises over the temples to the picturesque hot air balloons soaring above every morning. And if you choose to be on the other side—that is, the inside—of a hot air balloon, that is an option, too. The views, as you can imagine, are stellar as you float silently above the ancient architecture.

From Bagan we have many options; from mystical Mandalay and its beautiful monasteries to Inle Lake and its unique water-based culture, complete with stilt houses over the lake and floating gardens. Myanmar also has gorgeous beaches perfect for taking in the sea, sand, sun, and don’t forget that inimitable and delectable Burmese food.

It’s worth noting that we often combine a Bagan, Myanmar trip with a trip to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Please see the Cambodia tab for more info. 

For some of our Myanmar photos, please click here. 

Cambodia

Cambodia

The Kingdom of Cambodia is a country full of wonderful surprises, and the most awe-inspiring of them all is Angkor Wat and the temples surrounding Siem Reap. Built in the 12th century, this temple complex is still the largest religious monument in the world. Angkor Wat itself is a fantastic site to take your time exploring, but don’t forget the dozens of other temples in the area. We like taking the opposite track as the big ol’ tourist buses, enabling us to see and photograph temples in the best light and avoid the heaviest crowds. Consistently on every travel magazine’s top UNESCO heritage sites list, Angkor Wat is just waiting to be ticked off your bucket list (Exhibit A and B).

We often pair our Angkor Wat trips with a trip to Myanmar’s Plain of Temples in Bagan, but for those that want to stay on in Cambodia, we have plenty of options. Cambodia has seaside towns and islands with pristine beaches that stretch for miles and riverside eco-stays that will make you never want to go home.

For a selection of our Cambodia pictures, please click here.