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: Costa Rica adventure holiday
Activity: This trip offers an exciting and environmentally friendly range of activities including swimming and white water rafting down the Sarapiqui River, zip lining at Arena Volcano National Park, horse riding to La Fortuna Waterfall, mountain biking, snorkelling and visiting geothermal springs. Not only does each of these trips really connect our clients with nature, but our guides are careful to impart our ‘leave no trace’ policy. By stopping at National Parks, our entrance fees are contributing directly to conservation and maintenance there; whilst by using local guides for natural tours, we are supporting the local economy.
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 8 nights in a variety of, small, family run and locally staffed hotels- from a rustic wooden lodge set in tropical gardens to a hotel overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Our accommodation in Monteverde has a tight environmental regime which helps us reduce our impact on the stunning natural surroundings and wildlife in Costa Rica. This involves a water treatment plant, solar heating water panels, proper solid waste disposal and recycling, gardens with native plants and a vegetable garden which supplies the restaurant. Hotel breakfasts include a variety of delicious fresh fruit, eggs cooked to order and locally sourced cereals, toast and hot drinks. For lunch and dinner, we aim to support local communities by using smaller, more authentic restaurants and pit stop cafes.
Charity: Last January we contributed school supplies though the Costa Rican Association of Tour Operators (ACOT). We organised the donation of school packages to children and teenagers in indigenous communities (Dueri, Cerro Alto, Tolok Saku, Jamaikiri, Tsinikicha, Mata de Limón, San Miguel, Gandoca and Yorkin). If guests would like, they are also able to support local schools by delivering a gift of educational supplies when we visit Copey area on this tour. The cost of this is included in the full price of the tour. In terms of environmental charity, we give a monetary donation on a monthly basis to the Organisation for Tropical Studies.
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.