Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.
The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.
We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.
Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!
Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.
Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.
Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.
“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.
“The accommodation will be basic” Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.
“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.
“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson
Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando
Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.
Responsible tourism: Patagonia trekking holiday, Fitzroy and Paine
Activity: Few holidays have as little detrimental impact on the environment and local residents as a trekking trip. When hiking, we stick to narrow marked trails to reduce our impact on the local environment and we camp in the designated ground regulated by the National Park authorities. At campgrounds (and throughout the trip) we employ a ‘leave no trace’ policy in regard to litter - everything taken into the park is taken out to preserve the local environment and we recycle wherever possible on the trip. Entrance fees are included for Los Glaciares and Torres del Paine National Parks which go towards supporting conservation efforts in the area.
Water: Water is a really important when we are trekking and whilst we must stay hydrated, it is also vital that we have a system for providing clean water without causing lots of waste with plastic bottles. We suggest that instead of repeatedly buying bottled water, guests should re-fill a singular bottle. In Patagonia, the water in the springs along our trail is clean, fresh and safe to drink so this is what we tend to use.
UK Office: It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.
Accommodation and Meals: We will spend 6 nights in hotels , 3 nights in Refugios (dormitories), 1 nights camping and 2 nights will be in an estancia (shared rooms). We visit some remote regions within Fitzroy and Torres del Paine and surrounding areas, where businesses are very much reliant on the income which tourism generates. We only use locally owned and run accommodation as a means of supporting local communities and employment levels. Hotel breakfasts are normally buffet-style with locally sourced ingredients wherever possible and your guide will be able to recommend authentic restaurants and cafes in the area where meals are not provided. Patagonia is known for its traditional ‘asados’ (BBQs) and outstanding wine so why not give them a try.
A Fair Deal: We work closely with our local operator and ensure that all of our guides are local and that in exchange for their expertise that they are paid and treated fairly. We also employ local drivers and use local services wherever possible as this is better for the community. All of our leaders are heavily invested in protecting nature and will give clients a briefing on responsible tourism issues. This helps to maximise our benefits to the community and to reduce our environmental impact.
Group Size: This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.