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.
We stay 7 nights in our permanent exclusive camps, 3 nights wilderness camping and 8 nights in carefully chosen lodges. Why does that make a difference? We want to support the fragile ecosystem of the Himalayas. Many teahouses burn wood to heat their water for cooking and hot showers and we avoid these. This in turn contributes to deforestation, associated erosion and loss of biodiversity. That is why 30 years ago, we pioneered the use of only kerosene above and below the tree-line – to ensure that we are loyal to our policies of making a minimal impact on the environment. Also, we want to stay off the beaten track. We believe that you will get a greater understanding and appreciation of the natural beauty of your surroundings if you are away from the hordes which follow the ‘tea-house trails.’
Permanent eco-campsites in the Everest Region: Ensure the environmental footprint of our permanent campsites is significantly smaller than that of tea house/lodge based treks through close scrutiny of the following components: Fuel for cooking & heating - all by kerosene & pot belly stoves (fuelled by dried animal dung) Water usage: all campsites use a rainwater tank Waste management: all non-biodegradable refuse is carried out & we use composting toilets. Minimise deforestation to: Reduce the threat to the biodiversity of the regions flora and fauna. Reduce the risk of landslips, which can be catastrophic for villages. Contribute in a positive way to social, cultural and economic aspects of life for the Sherpa people by providing employment and training, purchasing goods locally and interacting with the local people respectfully and with high regard.
To set the benchmark, demonstrating how commercial trekking groups should be operating in this delicate environment.
Our pioneering Porter Policy Porters are an integral part of your trip, and we have a close association with the IPPG, IMEC and Porters Progress to improve the conditions for porters. As well as paying our guides out of season, and an above-average take-home wage, our porter welfare supplement includes insurance, all meals on trek, appropriate clothing and accommodation for ALL our porters on all our treks. Their safety and comfort is as important to us as our customers.
We have committed US $3000 to sponsor the Porter Rescue Post at Machermo which has been set up by the IPPG. This facility is for the benefit of sick or injured porters in the Everest region and building has already started.
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.
By joining this trek you can be assured that you will not be contributing to deforestation or the associated soil erosion and loss of biodiversity but rather you'll be making a significant contribution by supporting our efforts to set the standards for a sustainable trekking service.
All our treks in Nepal contribute in a positive way to social, cultural and economic aspects of life for the local people by providing employment and training, purchasing goods locally and interacting with the local people respectfully and with high regard. Most importantly on a camping based trek in Nepal, we provide more employment than on a tea house trek. We only use local staff that have been trained to a high level. We believe in empowering our staff and making them some of the best trained leaders, cooks and staff in Nepal.