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: Family safari in Namibia
Activity: During wildlife safaris and game drives we behave responsibly with any wildlife we may come into contact with and this is reinforced by our staff and by an environmental code of conduct which is posted in every vehicle we use. Twenty-five percent of all park entrance fees paid are reinvested by the MET (Ministry of Environmental and Tourism) of Namibia through the Game Products Trust Fund into essential infrastructure and services related to tourism in Namibia’s parks. So through our game drives in Etosha, we are benefiting local communities and nature.
Conservation: We stop at the headquarters of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in Otjiwarongo. The centre is a renowned research facility and home to leading conservation studies for the species. The cheetah is the fastest animal on earth, but also the most endangered big cat in Africa. You will have the chance to meet the animals that cannot be released back into the wild, as well as visiting the education centre and museum. By buying souvenirs and donating here, we are contributing to this impressive initiative.
Accommodation and Meals: We spend one night in a chalet, four in lodges and the rest of our time is spent camping. All of the accommodation we use is locally staffed and local produce and supplies are used, which benefits the wider community. Energy saving bulbs and water conservation signs are common in our permanent accommodations, whilst camping is a great way to reduce environmental impact in itself. We are careful with managing waste, litter, noise pollution and we only stay a maximum of two nights in one location. On all our vehicles passengers can recharge their electrical appliances with an inverter in the vehicle while driving, which minimises the demand for power at local campsites.
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.
A Fair Deal: Our tour operators are 100% African owned and each member of staff has a huge passion and knowledge of Namibia. This is not only beneficial for our clients, who get real insider’s knowledge on our tours, but this benefits the economy by creating local jobs and ensuring that all income stays within Southern Africa. Our local employees are trained on responsible tourism issues and are given refresher courses regularly. When visiting sites such as Twyfelfontein Ancient Rock Art, White Lady and Petrified Forest, local community guides are also employed which helps the community to benefit directly from tourism.
Charity: It is encouraged on our tours, that passengers do not give local kid’s sweets and cash to adults. This can create a begging society. Donation can rather be collected either by buying books, pens, crayons and this can be given to the kids or to a local school. Passengers whom have sleeping bags and clothes which they don’t want to take back home, can be handed over to guide for donation to an organisation.
Local Craft and Culture: We visit Swakopmund, which is a small German colonial resort town with quaint cake shops and coffee houses and a centre for adrenaline activities. This is a great chance to explore local businesses and learn about Namibian culture on an optional township tour. Clients can support the local economy by buying beer brewed in the area or – if you’re feeling brave- trying a regional specialty like Mowpane worms. There are also plenty of craft markets in Swakopmund, as well as on route to Etosha, selling wooden carvings, jewellery and material Herero dolls.
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.