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
As well as taking care of all the day-to-day practicalities, your group leader is the one who will turn your trip into an adventure. Leaders are extraordinary characters – the kind of person who has spent 14 Christmas days on the slopes of Mount Everest, runs marathons wearing tiger suits to raise funds for their conservation and thinks nothing of leading an overland trip in Sudan or Afghanistan. Fearless and inspiring, group leaders are as important as the destination itself.
Meet a local guide
No matter how experienced your group leader, they can never make up for the knowledge gained from a lifetime in the destination. That’s why many of our trips work with local guides around the world – who invite you into their homeland with pleasure. As well as doing crazy things like climbing Kilimanjaro 100 times, they also donate their time to local projects supported by travellers – such as rebuilding Sri Lankan villages following the 2004 tsunami.
Responsible tourism: Trekking holiday in Bhutan
The natural landscapes we explore are some of the richest, often most challenging, yet at the same time some of the most fragile environments on earth. With education, experienced leadership and appropriate equipment and techniques, it is possible to travel responsibly through these regions. For us, it is critically important that such wilderness travel experiences do not diminish the natural values of the environment.
Our environmental sustainable principles: True sustainability is a guiding aspect in all aspects of our business planning and operations. Specifically our tour operations should be managed in a way where the natural and cultural values of the host region are undiminished in the long-term.
Where possible, we engage in partnerships with local environmental groups and/or land managers to actively campaign for conservation or promote environmental protection and/or rehabilitation.
Our Responsible Travel Guidebook: Our philosophy since 1975 has been to leave only footprints and take only photographs. To reiterate this, every customer who travels with us receives a copy of our award-winning Responsible Travel guidebook. This detailed book outlines our environmentally sustainable principles, and outlines how each customer can minimize their impact while travelling.
Global Warming and Carbon Balancing: The root cause of Global Warming is society's dependence on emission creating fossil fuel. Planting trees is not going to reverse this trend or cancel our carbon emissions very quickly or effectively. We believe the way to reduce these dependencies is to create clean energy production. Therefore, we support renewable energy projects like wind and solar power, and we are aligned with Climate Friendly, the gold standard setter in effective, meaningful action addressing climate change. So, while we believe that tree planting can play a small role in greenhouse gas abatement, we have gone the extra mile in promoting a longer term solution. Is this cheap? No. Is it responsible? Absolutely!
This trip includes the best short trek in Bhutan which importantly allows ample time to appreciate the rich cultural history of this secluded Himalayan Kingdom. In the company of our local guides and with the use of local transport and accommodation you can be assured that as much of your money as possible feeds back into the local communities that you visit. Our strict policy of small groups ensures that this trip is both environmentally and culturally sensitive.
As with all travel to Bhutan, this trip is carefully controlled by the Bhutan Tourist Authority which exists to protect the country’s unique culture and thus minimise the negative effects of mass tourism. It also ensures that local people benefit from the revenue such tourism brings to the country.
Our responsible travel principles: Our company aims to maximise the positive benefits of tourism for host communities. This includes training and employment of local staff, using local suppliers and assisting in the development of sustainable local businesses.
We actively minimise the negative effects that tourism can have by ensuring that tourism does not divert resources away from local communities or drive up prices on local resources.
We provide opportunities for real cultural exchange, where locals and visitors alike can share and learn from each other in an environment of mutual respect.
We contribute to the welfare of the host community. This is epitomised in our Community Project Travel program where we organise for our travellers to spend time in disadvantaged villages upgrading basic facilities such as health, education and water access.
We strive to educate our travellers about the destination and its local cultures as well as providing guidelines on appropriate behaviour to minimise impact.
No local payments policy: Local cash payments are becoming increasingly popular with many operators in the adventure travel industry. This policy seems to benefit the tour operators more than the local economies or the travellers, as it avoids local taxes and transfers the costs and risks of cash handling onto the travellers. In accordance with our Responsible Travel practices, we have chosen a policy of not asking for such payments.