“A wonderfully full on trekking vacation for two weeks on a guided tour, with full porterage. Volcanoes and more volcanoes. Views and more views. This is one hot trip. ”
Pacaya volcano | Panajachel Lake Atitlan | San Juan la Laguna | Climb Indian's Nose Peak | San Marcos Peak | Santa Catarina | Sierra de Parraxquim | Zunil volcano | Almolonga market | Hot springs | Cerro Quemado Volcano | Santa Maria Volcano | Antigua
Please feel free to email the Help Desk team if you need any advice on your vacation plans. We're always happy to help!
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, traveling 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 vacation, 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 travelers’ 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 vacation 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?
Travelers 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 vacation.
Solo travelers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those traveling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.
Less confident travelers
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 travelers 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 travelers!”
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 travelers 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: Guatemala trekking vacation
Activity: Few vacations have as little detrimental impact on the environment and local residents as a trekking 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 this tour encourages clients to make a positive impact by engaging with locals, visiting local cafes and using markets to purchase traditional crafts and local produce.
Water: Water is a really important issue with trekking 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 can be a problem so we suggest that instead of repeatedly buying bottled water, guests should re-fill a singular bottle. Certain hotels are equipped with Ecofilters, which are a tool used widely in Guatemala.
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 8 nights in a mixture of hotels, 2 nights in basic cabins and 4 nights full-service camping. All the accommodation we use is of benefit to local people by providing employment opportunities in the region. The camping portion of the tour is particularly good for the Parraxquim and Ixtahuacan communities. By sleeping, eating and taking a tour around these areas, we offer community members alternative avenues of income. Whilst the permanent lodgings are environmentally aware, by camping for part of the trip we really are reducing our carbon footprint for the whole vacation. Where meals are provided, locally sourced ingredients will be used wherever possible-like freshly baked tortillas, eggs, exotic fruit and regional cheeses. Lunches and dinners are a good chance to support small businesses along the route; expect delicious black and red tamales, meat and vegetable stews, stuffed peppers and tacos with guacamole.
Local Craft and Culture: We visit the Postclassic Mayan archaeological site of Iximche, a well-preserved city complete with ball courts, palaces and temples. There is the opportunity to learn a lot about the ancient history and ways of life of the Mayan people and what these mean for locals today. Much of the cultural activity on this trip, however, comes from passing through a large number of small villages, larger towns and remote communities. There are local crafts at every location, like the local artists' and weavers' cooperatives in San Juan, or the people of Parraxquim, who still manufacture their textiles using traditional tools such as foot looms and backstrap looms. In Guatemala, we also visit the country’s largest vegetable market at Almolonga, set in the heart of the country's main agricultural region. The market gives us an insight into the life of the local Mayan communities and many of the traders and customers still wear traditional highland dress. Clients can support small producers and craftspeople by buying souvenirs or snacks.
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.