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: Greater Kruger safari in South Africa
Wildlife: We are lucky enough to Kruger National Park on this trip. The park boasts nearly 150 species of mammals, 115 species of reptiles, 35 species of amphibians, 50 species of fish and over 500 species of birds. Amongst these are the Big Five (lion, rhino, buffalo, elephant and leopard), various kinds of gazelles and antelopes, hyenas, giraffes, ostriches and numerous other animals. Entrance fees in each of these areas are an essential form of support which goes towards the preservation and conservation of the remarkable amount of wildlife here. By promoting a form of tourism that is against harming animals, yet is successful, we spread the message that there is a mutually beneficial way to co-exist with wildlife. This deters poaching activity and capturing of wild animals to be put in inhumane zoos.
Conservation: We visit the Moholoholo wildlife rehabilitation centre, which cares for numerous injured, orphaned and poisoned animals from across South Africa and beyond. The animals are given any treatment they require and then released back into the wild. In some cases the animals are in too poor a condition to survive in the wild and so they are cared for at the sanctuary and kept to help inform visitors about South African wildlife. The centre also operates a breeding programme and has successfully bred and released endangered crowned eagles and servals. We also assist with a Rhino conservation project led by the resident vet at the Klasseri/Timbavati reserve. By helping to identify and mark White Rhinos with microchips and tags, we contribute our manpower towards this monumental task of conserving and monitoring this species.
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.
Accommodation and Meals: We spend 3 nights in locally owned chalets in Moholoholo and Kruger and the remaining 3 nights in a comfortable lodge in Klasseri/Timbavati. All staff is local, which is a benefit to surrounding communities. Additionally, all of the lodges and chalets we use on this trip support local people by paying levies which support community initiatives. Most meals are included and will be made with locally sourced ingredients wherever possible. We pass a few local markets and roadside stops on the trip where clients can pick up snacks and try some local cuisine. We recommend fresh fruit from the market on the border of the Kruger National Park and traditional ‘pap’ (maize and water), snoek fish cakes and ostrich sausages from restaurants.
A Fair Deal: We work closely with our local operator and ensure that all of our guides are local to the area and that in exchange for their expertise that they are paid and treated fairly. The leaders will give a briefing on responsible tourism issues to help you understand how you can help reduce your impact and maximise the benefits to the local community from your visit. The lodges we use are also involved in training their employees to become guides if they wish to obtain the proper license for this.
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.