This is the land of Ayurveda. Treat yourself to one of the best massages in the world after all that hiking and camping.
Small group holiday. Max. 16 people, min. age 16.
5 nights camping, 8 nights standard hotels, 1 night houseboat.
Accommodation, equipment, all breakfasts, 6 lunches, 6 dinners, transport, activities.
Many meals included, but budget £12/day when not.
Solo travellers welcome. Surcharge for own tent/room.
Small group holiday
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: Kerala walking holiday in India
Activity: Few holidays have as little detrimental impact on the environment and local residents as a walking trip. Erosion on and adjacent to popular paths is a growing problem in certain places and therefore our trip leaders encourage clients to stick to advised routes in order to minimise this. We do believe in leaving no more than footprints, although we hope to have a positive effect by engaging with locals, using their businesses and visiting cultural sites. Also by taking guided tours, we support employment levels in the areas we visit, whilst enriching our experience and understanding of Kerala.
Water: Water is a really important issue with walking trips and whilst we must stay hydrated, it is also vital that we have a system for providing clean water without causing lots of waste with plastic bottles. Lack of recycling is already a massive problem in India so we suggest that instead of repeatedly buying bottled water, guests should re-fill a singular bottle. Water is safe to drink at the accommodation, which facilitates re-using one bottle.
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: You will spend 8 nights in hotels with en suite facilities, 5 nights in full service camps and 1 night on a houseboat. By using locally owned and run accommodation in the Western Ghats and staying in a local fisherman’s houseboat, we can ensure that the people in the community benefit from our business. By camping for a large portion of the trip, we also drastically reduce our carbon footprint by saving on energy. Where meals are included, fresh and local produce is used to make delicious and plentiful food. Free meal times are a valuable opportunity to explore Keralan cuisine and to support local vendors, restaurants and cafes in the area. Keralan specialties include biriyani made with Khaima rice, fish and chicken curries and Sadya – a vegetarian spread of side dishes served on a large banana leaf.
Local Craft and Culture: Much of our time is spent walking through cardamom, coconut, mango and tea plantations. These large areas are not just a source of beauty and interest for our clients, but they provide an insight into rural life, agriculture and cuisine in the area. The Periyar area is a centre for spice growing, and here there will be opportunities to visit the local bazaar, where there are numerous shops selling cardamoms, vanilla, peppercorns, chillies, turmeric and other locally grown ingredients. There are cottage industries and souvenir opportunities in Cochin, Periyar and Madurai. At Madurai, the great Meenakshi-Sundareshwarar Temple, most of which was built during the Nayak period between the 16th and 18th centuries, is at the heart of the city and the life of the town revolves around it. It is a hive of activity and religious celebration, so this is a great place for Hindu culture.
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.