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: Multi activity holiday in Bulgaria
Reforestation in Pirin National Park Pirin National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of our favourite national treasures. The area we have chosen to work with was severely damaged by a large forest fire in 2003. The fire burned 70 hectares of old growth forest - predominantly pines (Pinus heldreichii, Pinus peuce Grieseb and Pinus nigra). The first two are endemic species existing only on the Balkan Peninsula, and are in danger of extinction. The 2003 fire cut their population significantly. One of the primary footpaths in the park ran through this section of forest and cannot be used now. No authority has attempted to change this extremely bad situation - for the environment, for the park, and for the local people. For this reason, we decided to start the first ever reforestation project in Pirin Mountains National Park.
Reforestation in Vitosha Nature Park Vitosha is the first Nature Park on the Balkans, established in 1935. It is very near to the Bulgarian capital and this makes it a well-visited destination for all people living in Sofia. Sadly, 2001 a huge storm fell down large areas of the spruce woods in different parts of the mountains. Our Company was involved, financially and voluntarily, in cooperating to help reforest these regions.
In 2007 and 2008 our staff fulfilled the needed stages in the reforestation of a 6-decare forest. The project was fulfilled with the help of the Vitosha initiative group, the State Forestry Unit Sofia and the Vitosha NP Directorate. In 2009 we will continue our work in other sections of this area.
The 3 Euro Campaign In September 2008 we launched a campaign for donation of 3 to 6 Euro per customer (who books a tour with us) for the Coalition “Let Nature Remain in Bulgaria”. Our appeal already received understanding in several tour operators from Spain, France, England, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. They all are happy to donate funds for nature conservation and public awareness in Bulgaria. We believe that this campaign is very important and it can create a good marketing tool to achieve a very successful Destination Bulgaria in 2009 and the years after. We hope that the positive change in Bulgaria’s green policy is possible and in this way we want to involve more Bulgarians to feel part of it.
We share the responsibility for protection of Bulgaria’s unique cultural and natural heritage by setting an example of successful and sustainable tourism through our work, and also by supporting and running projects to give back to our environment, and our communities. We run small groups to create more meaningful interactions and minimize impact.
Our overnight stays are specially chosen to be typical for the region visited and to support a wide range of small and poor communities, with accommodation primarily in family-run guesthouses and B&Bs, in villages and small towns. By visiting less-known communities, we provide a source of income to people in rural areas and make sure that our money stays local.
We can say with pride that through our business we have achieved significant success and have encouraged several communities to support responsible tourism. We estimate that each year we pay about 400.000 Euro to our suppliers in rural Bulgarian regions. Our suppliers there are family-run guesthouses and small hotels, mountain huts, local guides, local transportation companies, etc.