Are the Pangea Dreams retreats worth the price? I asked myself this question a million times before I finally caved and signed up for one of the retreats to see what all the fuss was about.
I first discovered Pangea Dreams on Instagram in late 2017. To be honest, I initially followed the account for the beautiful travel photos, but I eventually found myself drawn in by their message and vision. Female empowerment, social media and digital marketing workshops in gorgeous locations around the world? Yes, please! That was all my catnip in one place.
There was only one thing that kept me from hitting the “APPLY NOW” button: the price. Four figures (not including airfare) is a lot to shell out for a retreat.
I waffled over whether or not to apply for months. I stalked the Pangea Dreams Instagram account. I watched their Stories highlights from previous retreats. I read every online review and testimonial I could find. The sample size is small, but all of the reviews were positive. I’m the type of person who doesn’t trust Amazon products that only have five-star reviews, and I couldn’t help but wonder: are the retreats really as good as everyone says they are? Or are the glowing reviews the result of self-selecting bias?
After a few more months of indecision, I held my breath, took the plunge, and signed up for their Peru retreat.
Fast forward a year and I’m now officially a Pangea Dreams alumni. The high from visiting Peru and attending the retreat has faded, but the question remains: are Pangea Dreams retreats worth the price?
Keep reading to find out!
In this post, you’ll find my honest review of the experience as well as an explanation of what Pangea Dreams is, what you can expect to learn, and what each day looks like.
PANGEA DREAMS: WHAT IS IT?
First things first: what exactly is Pangea Dreams? If you’re reading this review chances are you’ve heard of the company before and are interested in attending one of their retreats.
If you’re not familiar or would like a refresher, Pangea Dreams is (per their website) is a company that offers “educational and inspirational retreats hosted by industry experts” and “brings women together from across the globe to explore bucket-list destinations while developing new skills and collaborating with like-minded creatives.”
Basically, it offers women’s educational retreats around the world, with an emphasis on serving creatives and entrepreneurs.
WHERE IS IT?
One of Pangea Dreams’ biggest selling points is the fact their retreats take place in beautiful destinations around the world: Bali. Tulum. Greece. As a travel blogger, I love the idea of mixing travel and education. If I’m 100% honest, I wouldn’t be as interested if the retreats took place in less exciting locations.
Past retreat locations include:
- Bali, Indonesia
- Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
- Tulum, Mexico
- Amorgos, Greece
- Sri Lanka
- Sacred Valley, Peru
Pangea Dreams recently revealed their 2020 retreats, which include Morocco and India for the first time (!!!).
WHO IT’S FOR
A lot of people think Pangea Dreams is just for bloggers but that’s not true! While there are quite a few bloggers who’ve joined the retreats, attendees also include small business owners, entrepreneurs, and anyone who wants to learn more about social media, branding, and digital marketing.
For example, my retreat group included bloggers/influencers, entrepreneurs, a photographer/videographer, and a writer/activist.
Even if you’re not sure what your brand or business focus is, you can join if you’re interested in what their workshops have to offer. Which brings me to…
THE WORKSHOPS: WHAT DO YOU LEARN?
What, exactly, do you learn at these retreats? It depends. Every retreat has its own focus and mix of workshops. For example, I attended a Signature Retreat, which is designed to help attendees learn the skills they need to succeed in the digital world. Workshops may include personal branding, Instagram, photography, Lightroom editing, SEO, and email list growth. Not every Signature Retreat offers the same mix of workshops so double-check if the one you’re interested in offers the training you desire.
Besides Signature Retreats, Pangea Dreams also hosts:
- Photography & Content Tours: For women who want to hone their photography skills and create beautiful content
- Entrepreneurship & Wellness Retreats: Spinoffs of the Signature Retreat but with a heavier emphasis on wellness, mindfulness, and self-love
- Advanced Mastermind Retreats: For those who already have the basic skills down and want to take their business/brand to the next level
You can learn more about the different retreats and workshops on the Pangea Dreams website.
Hosts vary by retreat and include a mix of Pangea Dreams team members and special guests. A majority of hosts are in the travel space but their insights and expertise can be applied across industries. The hosts for the Peru retreat were:
*TRACY KOMLOS (@TracyKomlos): Tracy is a startup consultant, photographer and branding expert, who knows what it takes to excel as a female entrepreneur. She brings her experience and knowledge to women who are ready to live the life of their dreams and connect to other women with fierce, entrepreneurial ambition. Tracy isn’t just teaching women to grow their business, she’s creating a global community of thought leaders who are lifting each other up through education, empowerment and collaboration.
WORKSHOPS TAUGHT: Photography 101, Media Kit Creation, Passive & Active Income Strategies
*CARLY NOGAWSKI (@Light.Travels): Carly is an LA-based travel blogger, content creator, and Pangea Dreams Instagram Manager & Retreat Leader. Back in February 2017, Carly attended the very first PD retreat (alongside Lauren Pelkey!) with hopes to turn her travel blog and Instagram from a hobby into a career. Since attending, she left her teaching career to pursue the digital nomad life full-time! It was never an easy decision to leave her job in special education, which is why her role as Retreat Leader feels so “full-circle and meant-to-be!” Nothing brings her more fulfillment than bringing together her two passions for travel and teaching.
WORKSHOPS TAUGHT: Building Your Personal Brand, Building a Dedicated Community on Instagram, Hotel & Brand Collabs, Media Kit Creation
**SARAH ROYALL (@SaltyLuxe): Guest host. Sarah is a professional content creator and travel blogger from Australia, known for her beautiful tropical images and sunny vibes. You can learn more about Sarah in her interview with Pangea Dreams.
WORKSHOPS TAUGHT: Lightroom 101
*Bios courtesy of Pangea Dreams materials
THE COST & WHAT IT INCLUDES
The locations and workshops sound great, right? Well…they do come with a price. $3,000+ per retreat, to be exact. Exact price varies by location.
The good news: Pangea Dreams offers early bird pricing for people who book 6-12 months in advance. The promotion is usually $500 off the retreat price (check their website for specific deadlines and promotions). I took advantage of their early bird offer and paid $2,800 instead of $3,300 for the Peru retreat.
They sometimes run flash sales and also offer payment plans. When I signed up, the total price was split into three payments but now they offer custom payment plans tailored to your specific situation. In addition, Pangea Dreams recently announced they’re giving away six $1000 USD scholarships! If price is the only thing holding you back, definitely look into these scholarships.
The bad news: Even with early bird pricing and payment plans the retreats cost a hefty amount. Plus the price doesn’t include airfare, airport transfers, and some activities. For example, I paid an extra $100 for round-trip airport transfer and an extra $265 for the Machu Picchu day trip (which was optional). That brought my total to $3,165 (close to the original retreat price), excluding airfare and select meals.
A quick summary of what’s included:
- Accommodations for the duration of your stay
- Most but not all meals
- All transportation while on the retreat
- Professional photographer on site throughout the retreat
- Access to the private Facebook group and alumni community
- Morning yoga, meditation, etc (may vary by retreat)
What’s not included:
- Some meals
- Add-on experiences like spa treatments, museum entrance fees, and optional day trips
- Flights to and from the location
- Transfers to and from the airport
- Personal travel insurance
PANGEA DREAMS RETREAT EXPERIENCE: 7 DAYS IN PERU
Now that I’ve gotten the basic information out of the way, let’s get to the retreat experience itself. What can you expect and what do the days look like? I’ll go over all of that plus review the resort, food, and excursions. Let’s get started!
We were based out of the Samadhi Sacred Valley resort in Urubamba, Sacred Valley. Samadhi is a wellness resort that boasts seven bungalows, each representing one of the seven chakra energy centers in the body; a multi-story main lodge with a living room, dining room, and yoga studio, and lush greenery everywhere. The property was stunning, and we woke up to the most incredible views of the mountains. Don’t believe me? Look at the above photo. We also had the whole place to ourselves (plus staff) while we were there, which was incredible.
That being said, Samadhi is located in the middle of nowhere. You can’t walk to a cafe or shop down the street. You have to drive to get to the closest (small) town, which itself doesn’t offer a lot in terms of city amenities. This is not the place for people who like to be in the thick of things. It is, however, a great place to “get away from it all” – maybe a little too great, because the Wi-Fi was spotty everywhere except the second floor of the main lodge, where the router was located. Wi-Fi was nonexistent in the bungalows.
Nevertheless, the resort was so beautiful I didn’t mind (too) much, and the staff members were incredibly sweet.
Wellness resort = healthy food. Most, if not all, of the ingredients in our meals were organic, locally sourced (vegetables are grown in the resort’s own garden), and prepared by the house chefs. We had one chicken dish a day; all our other meals were vegetarian.
I’m a hardcore carnivore so I was nervous at first, but I was pleasantly surprised by how delicious and filling most of the dishes were. There were only one or two meals I wasn’t a fan of. I’d totally go vegetarian if I had the Samadhi chefs preparing my meals every day in New York! Sadly, when I try to cook vegetarian meals, they taste like cardboard and I end up binging on Cheetos an hour later.
We did have an issue at the beginning of the retreat where some of the meals didn’t keep us full, but the staff increased the portions and it all worked out.
I’ve never felt so healthy and was quite sad to return to New York, where despite my best(ish) efforts I quickly fell back into my old, not-so-great eating habits. My body was not happy about the reversal. I think it got so used to the fresh, organic meals at Samadhi that when I returned home and ate greasy/processed food again, it rebelled. It took a week before everything returned to normal.
However, I was disappointed we didn’t get a chance to enjoy classic Peruvian dishes such as lomo saltado (beef, rice, tomatoes, and fries, and one of my favorite dishes ever) and pollo a la brasa (roasted chicken) in Peru. We only had two days where we ate off-site and the restaurants we visited didn’t serve those items. The only lomo saltado I ate in Peru was at the airport.
RETREAT STRUCTURE + DAY-BY-DAY BREAKDOWNS
All Pangea Dreams retreats last seven days. The week is split into workshop days at the host resort and excursion days to local attractions. Excursion days are fun but long with early starts and late returns. Workshop days are more laid-back; the retreat leaders do a good job of mixing workshops with free time so we don’t feel overwhelmed.
DAY 1 – ARRIVAL: Arrival day was informal and relaxed, with plenty of time for people to rest and settle in. Since Samadhi is located an hour outside Cusco, I took advantage of Pangea’s airport transfer option (available at extra cost) instead of trying to sort out transport on my own. The other participants all had the same thought. As a result, Pangea arranged for two rounds of airport transfers based on arrival times. I landed in the morning and was part of the first group to arrive at Samadhi. There were two other girls in my car and it was a nice way to get to know some of the other participants before the retreat officially started.
When we arrived at the resort, we were greeted with warm hugs by Carly and Tracy, who instantly put me at ease. I’m wary of going on group trips with people I don’t know, but the retreat leaders set a great tone for the rest of the week. After quick introductions, I hightailed it to my bungalow for a much-needed shower and a nap. I was the first to arrive in my room of three so I managed to grab a solid hour of rest before returning to the main house for lunch, which was when the second group of girls arrived. We finished the day with a lovely welcome circle where we officially introduced ourselves.
All in all, not a bad start!
DAY 2 – BRANDING & PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOPS: We started the second day with an easy yoga session and morning gratitude in Samadhi’s gorgeous studio. Seriously, it’s the most beautiful yoga studio I’ve ever seen, and the mountain views make it that much easier to feel connected to the earth. Fernando, the resort’s owner, led the yoga session but left us to ourselves for the gratitude circle. We each wrote down three things we were grateful for, our intention for the day, and what we’d like to accomplish that day, then went around and shared our answers with the group. The exercise might seem hokey, but it actually did help ground me for the rest of the day.
After breakfast, we had one-on-one sessions with Tracy and Carly to talk about our goals for the retreat. Then we kicked off our first workshop: Building Your Personal Brand. Articulating my brand vision and goals is one of the things I struggle with the most, so the group exercise was extremely helpful. It forced me to articulate my thoughts on what I want to achieve and who I want to serve, and the ability to bounce ideas off other people helped clarify my vision.
After lunch, we took our second workshop: Photography 101. I’d been learning photography on my own for a year up to this point so I knew most of the concepts covered but it was a nice refresher. If you’re a beginner, you’ll find this workshop useful.
Finally, we ended the day with a native shaman ceremony at the resort’s outdoor fire pit. After the ceremony ended, we lingered outside and Fernando turned off the bungalows’ exterior lights so we could see the stars. There was so little light pollution we could see the entire Milky Way twinkling above us like a carpet of diamonds. It was hands down one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen, as well as one of the most memorable moments of the retreat.
DAY 3 – EXPLORING MARAS & CUSCO: Our first excursion day! We started at the Maras Salt Mines, which are as epic as they look in photos. When we arrived, Tracy and Carly took our group shots and a few individual photos for each person before we split up into smaller groups to shoot and practice our photography skills.
After a few hours, we piled back into our van for the drive to Cusco. On the way, we passed by a beautiful wheat field framed by mountains in the distance. It was so picturesque we couldn’t resist stopping for an impromptu photoshoot. This is what happens when you go on a retreat with bloggers and photographers!
After our fun but dusty detour, it took us another hour or so to arrive in Cusco. We ate lunch as a group then split up based on what people wanted to do. I always like to get content creation out of the way first, so I snapped some quick photos in Cusco’s adorable alleyways with Carly and my roommate Adele (@wanderlusterprincess) before exploring the city’s famous San Pedro Market. The market offers a smorgasbord of textiles, snacks, and souvenirs. Fuzzy sweaters? Miniature llamas? Fresh fruit juice? You name it, they got it.
By the time we returned to Samadhi I was exhausted. A quick dinner and shower and I was out like a light.
DAY 4 – INSTAGRAM, COLLABORATION & LIGHTROOM WORKSHOPS: Once again, we started the day with yoga, morning gratitude, and breakfast before diving into everything Instagram and collaboration-related for our third workshop. I was really looking forward to the collaboration portion because I want to be more proactive in pitching brands instead of waiting for them to come to me. It didn’t disappoint. Pangea provided email templates for reaching out to hotels and brands and I was finally able to ask all the questions I wanted to ask about collaborations without having to rely on Facebook groups. The groups can be useful but let’s face it, some of the advice is dubious.
After our Instagram workshop, we transitioned to the Lightroom workshop taught by Sarah, aka @saltyluxe, who arrived today. She went through a detailed step-by-step on how to use Lightroom and edit photos from scratch. This is a great workshop if you’re a novice at Lightroom and photo editing.
After lunch, Fernando led us on a short hike to some nearby hills and a cornfield. Yes, I got stung by a zillion mosquitoes and almost stepped in cow poop, but it was such a fun hike! The cornfield was my favorite. I’ve never seen one before and from a distance, it sort of looks like the flower fields in the Netherlands. Fernando knew the owner, who was kind enough to let us take a few photos during our visit, and I left with all the pictures I needed to pair with my corn-y jokes 😉
DAY 5 – MACHU PICCHU: THE DAY HAS FINALLY ARRIVED!! I’ve dreamed of visiting Machu Picchu for so long I found it hard to believe I was finally going to see it in person. I was so excited I didn’t even mind the early wake-up call and multiple transfers needed to reach Machu Picchu:
- Hour-long drive from our resort to the town of Ollantaytambo
- 90-minute train ride from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes (closest town to Machu Picchu)
- 35-minute bus ride from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu
It’s a tedious journey but well worth it. I’m often disappointed by how famous sites look in person vs. in photos, but Machu Picchu is every bit as stunning as I imagined it would be. If you’re planning to visit, don’t miss the 17 things you need to know before visiting Machu Picchu!
Once we arrived, we had two options for which type of tour we wanted to take: a history tour or a photography tour. As you can imagine, we chose the photography tour. Our private tour guide took us to the best vantage points and we spent several hours exploring the ruins, taking pictures, and shamelessly stalking llamas before we returned to Aguas Calientes for a fabulous lunch at Indio Feliz. If you’re in town I highly recommend visiting this restaurant. It’s pricey by Peruvian standards but the food is great and I love the unique decor – the walls are completely covered with business cards from previous guests! I only wish I’d brought mine so I could add it to the collection.
After lunch, we had some free time to browse the markets before boarding the train back to Ollantaytambo.
Overall, one of my favorite days of the retreat.
DAY 6 – MEDIA KIT & INCOME STRATEGY WORKSHOPS: Personally, I found the Media Kit Creation and Income Strategy workshops to be the most useful for where I currently am in my business. Tracy walked us through her own media kit, pointing out what information to include and how to make it enticing for brands when you pitch. The Income Strategy workshop also gave me some great ideas for monetizing my content in the future.
After we wrapped up the last workshop, we filmed testimonial videos for Pangea Dreams (not mandatory). We had plenty of free time that afternoon so I spent a few hours creating content around the resort with Adele before we regrouped for individual assessments. We recapped the goals we set for ourselves at the beginning of the retreat, reflected on whether we achieved what we wanted to achieve, and provided feedback/thoughts on the retreat as a whole. We ended the evening with dinner and a closing circle at the fire pit.
DAY 7 – DEPARTURE: It’s true what they say – time flies when you’re having fun! I was sad to leave my new friends and Peru but relieved I had the foresight to book my flight for a reasonable 10:30 a.m. departure. Adele’s flight time was similar to mine so Pangea booked us for the same airport transfer. We grabbed a quick breakfast at the resort and reminisced over the past week with Tracy and Carly until our car arrived. As it turns out, there was an earthquake in another part of Peru that day and the Cusco airport was insane. Fortunately, I managed to fly out with no issues and landed in New York 24 hours later.
MY HONEST REVIEW – IS PANGEA DREAMS WORTH IT?
Overall, I loved my Pangea Dreams experience. Not gonna lie, I winced when I looked at the price. I still wince when I look at the price. It is an investment and I understand if you want to glean all the information you can before pulling the trigger. I certainly did!
To summarize my points in this post, here is a quick pro/con summary of what I liked and didn’t like about the retreat.
- The community/support/networking: Everyone I met, from the hosts to the other attendees, was incredibly sweet and supportive. There were no cliques or cattiness, and I felt comfortable asking questions and sharing my thoughts/concerns. Pangea Dreams is also a great opportunity to network with other creatives and entrepreneurs – not only those on your retreat, but also those who attended past/future retreats. As an alumni, you have access to the private Pangea Dreams Facebook group, which is a valuable resource for meeting up with other past attendees in your city. You’ll also get invites to the Pangea Dreams alumni-only retreats.
- The location: The retreat destinations are all beautiful. From the jungles of Bali and whitewashed buildings of Greece to the mountains of Peru and beaches of Mexico, there’s something for everyone. No matter which location you choose, you can’t go wrong.
- The food: I ate meals I never would’ve ordered at a restaurant if given the choice – and enjoyed them! Most of them, anyway. It was nice to consistently eat fresh, organic, homemade meals without having to worry about grocery shopping, meal prep, etc.
- The content creation: I love creating content when I travel. Of course, I do other things besides take photos, but I like having at least a few pictures in the bank from each place I visit. It’s hard when I travel with my non-blogger friends because they have no interest in photography or Instagram and I feel bad asking them to take a ton of photos. Pangea Dreams, on the other hand, totally gets it! Never underestimate the value of traveling with people who have the same goals and interests as you.
- The price: As I mentioned before, the price can be a turnoff. It is a big investment so I encourage you to evaluate your own situation and finances before making the jump. Please do not feel like this is something you *have* to do if you’re not ready for it.
- Extra costs: On a similar note, I didn’t realize Machu Picchu was an optional add-on that costs extra when I signed up. I assumed it was folded into the price and itinerary, given it’s a photography-heavy retreat in Peru and Machu Picchu is the country’s most famous photography spot. Not a big deal but I would’ve liked an indication of this when I signed up. Also, while everyone in my group opted into Machu Picchu, I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if someone chose to stay behind. Do they just spend the day chilling at the resort?
- WiFi: This isn’t necessarily Pangea’s fault but the spotty WiFi was frustrating at times. I expected better Internet access considering so much of our work is in the digital space.
Finally, this isn’t a con per se but I want to note that while there are excursions during the retreat, you likely won’t be able to visit all the places you want to visit at the destination. For example, I wanted to visit Rainbow Mountain, Huacachina, Lima, and a bunch of other places in Peru that weren’t included in the retreat. I couldn’t take more time off work to explore those places, but if you have the option I suggest flying into the country early and/or leaving later so you have more time to explore.
All in all, I think Pangea Dreams is worth the price if you are willing to put the work in. If you’re a beginner or want to learn more about photography, Lightroom, Instagram, etc. the Signature Retreat is a fantastic start. In hindsight, I realize one of their Advanced Masterminds would’ve been a better fit for where I am but I don’t regret my decision – I got to visit Peru, meet amazing people, create gorgeous content, and learn a few things along the way. Can’t complain about that!
At the end of the day, what you put in is what you get out of it. If you attend a retreat, you’ll learn a lot, but you have to implement what you learn when you return home. You’ll meet great people, but it’s up to you to sustain and cultivate those relationships.
If you’re willing to do those things, then Pangea Dreams is absolutely worth it.
I hope that answers your questions! Comment below if there’s anything I missed or that you want to clarify.
Safe travels and happy learning!