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: Petra and Wadi Rum trekking holiday
Accommodation and Meals: You will spend 3 nights in 3 star hotels, 1 night in a full service basic camp and 3 nights wild camping. With the majority of this trip spent camping in various situations, we make less of a negative impact on the environment than if we were to use permanent accommodation solely. Many of the camps used are run by Bedouin families so we know we are directly benefiting local communities with our business. The hotels are also locally staffed as per law in Jordan, so our stay here is also in support of local employment. Where meals are provided, ingredients will be sourced from a local market wherever possible. There will also be plenty of chance to eat in a variety of restaurants selling ‘mezze’ style regional specialties like kebabs, fresh salads, and bread with hummus.
Activity: As much of the trip is spent trekking and climbing, we have less of a negative impact on the environment than tours which only rely on vehicles. We try to minimise litter as much as possible and are careful to emphasise that clients should not damage or remove pieces from any historical sites we visit. As we hire local guides as well as Bedouin guides, we can ensure that our activity has a positive effect on the economy and that our clients take away some of their passion and knowledge of Jordan. Our guides are trained in responsible travel issues and will be able to convey these in briefings.
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.
Local Craft and Culture: Usually guides take clients to the market on the day going from Petra to Wadi Rum or Aqaba. This is a great cultural experience where clients can buy their own vegetables and fruit and even see how some meals are prepared- like falafel. The cultural highlight of the trip for many is the visit to UNESCO World Heritage city, Petra. There is a full day here to explore the ancient, rose-coloured rock buildings including El Khazneh (the treasury) and El Deir (the Monastery). There are some local handicrafts and souvenirs available here like hand painted ceramics, jewellery and vases filled with coloured sand. Clients can also support the community by purchasing donkey or horse rides from local people.
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.
Reviews of Petra and Wadi Rum trekking holiday
You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.
I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
It was OK
A bit disappointing really
Reviewed on 17 Apr 2016 by Jill Marquis
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
Walking in the desert and the wide open space and peace and quiet. Somehow the actual rhythm of the walking was almost mesmeric and I felt I could walk for hours
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
Big hat, suntan lotion, water 'platypus' to go in your day pack, good camera and a willingness to get on with anything that was put in front of you.
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
Not sure - although local people involved in 'jeeping' our stuff around. We certainly left desert as deserted as when we arrived.
4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?