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.
Wildlife: Mozambique’s marine life includes a large number of fascinating species such as dolphins, whales, sea turtles, dugong, manta rays and whale sharks. For the first two days on the water looking for wild dolphins, we are accompanied by at marine biologist from The Dolphin Encounters Research Centre. Our interaction with the dolphins is done on the research centre’s terms and is closely monitored for the best interest of the animals. This care for the marine environment continues throughout the trip and informs regulations when swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving. For example, we do not touch underwater creatures (including coral) or pollute the water with litter. By diving in the Bazruto Archipelago Nation Park, our entrance fees are paid towards the WWF and then go on to contribute to wildlife conservation.
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 & Meals: You will spend 11 nights in a mixture of comfortable lodges. We predominantly use small businesses for accommodation in order to keep investment local and benefit the communities we visit directly. Lodges used are locally owned and a percentage of their income goes towards, schooling, or nature conservation & community projects. Almost all meals are provided and your local tour leader will endeavour to source fresh produce wherever possible. Meals might include fresh fruit, cold meats and cheese, fresh fish and grilled meats etc.
Local Craft and Culture: Although this trip is largely nature based, we make time to stop at some of the several craft markets in Ponta Do Oura, Maputo, Inhambabe, Torfo and Vilanculos. These are all locally owned and are a wonderful place to explore Mozambican culture and to support local artisans. Traditional handmade souvenirs include paintings, wooden instruments and rondavels (round thatched houses). We encourage clients not to buy any crafts made from animal parts, including shells, and also to avoid crafts made from local hardwoods. There are also markets selling fresh produce, where clients have the chance to meet local people and to buy typical Mozambican dishes, like crab or ‘matata’- a seafood and peanut stew.
Charity: On this trip, the main organisation we support is the Dolphin Encounters Research Centre in Ponta Du Oura Marine Reserve in Mozambique. By running part of the trip through the centre, we are contributing to a long-term monitoring project run by the research and conservation arm of DolphinCare.Org. There are also a number of opportunities for the group to visit local villages and to pass by schools where supplies are much needed. Often clients pack school materials, games or sports equipment with them in order to donate when they arrive.
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.