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: Masai Mara photographic safari in Kenya
Activity: The highlight of this trip is going on game drives in the Masai Mara Game Reserve, where we hope to photograph some the ‘Big 5’ and countless other fascinating species. First of all, by visiting this protected area, we must pay park fees which go towards community and environmental initiatives in this area. We are very mindful of the environment and local groups we encounter anyway and maintain a strict ‘leave no trace’ policy. This includes separating waste immediately and returning it to Nairobi for proper disposal. In order to minimise plastic waste, we also encourage clients to re-fill as singular water bottle from our 20 litre tanks carried in our vehicles and at camp. Your guides will also be trying their best to ensure photographic opportunities but never at the expense of the wildlife.
Conservation: Our local operators are trustees of the Kicheche Community trust, which runs several programmes for the benefit of people and wildlife. For communities to prosper within and in the vicinity of wildlife conservancies it's important for these communities to be protected from the wildlife and vice versa. In 2012 Kicheche Trust donated half for the construction of 5 predator free bomas (small groups of housing). The trust also part sponsors the Naboisho Lion project in Naboisho Concervancy, Masai Mara, which helps to protect and monitor local wildlife. By travelling with us, you are not only raising awareness about animal welfare but contributing to these vital projects.
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 be spending 6 nights in at one of the Kicheche luxury tented camps, all of which are predominantly locally run and locally staffed. So by choosing to stay here, we are supporting employment opportunities for communities in surrounding areas. Kicheche Mara Camp and Kicheche Bush Camps have also received a gold and silver award respectively from Ecotourism Kenya for their environmental policies and community work. Most meals are supplied and we are keen to source ingredients from as nearby as possible as a means of generating income for small businesses within the region and producing fresh, authentic food for clients. Breakfasts and lunches often include freshly baked biscuits, fruit, cakes and hot drinks.
Community: The Kincheche Trust runs several community projects which clients are welcome to visit as an optional excursion. These include schools where classrooms have been built, teachers and students have been sponsored and thousands of material and monetary donations have been made. Local healthcare is also supported by the Trust, who have been helping the Aitong (Mara) clinic for several years now. Donations made in the past include medicine, medical books, maternity and dental wards, water pump and tanks, upgrading of the existing solar system, medical training seminars and much more. Future projects include setting up a job and IT centre.
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.