“Explore the Cordillera Vilcabamba mountain range, close to Cuzco, before joining the classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu at Dead Woman's Pass.”
City tour of Cuzco (3400m) | Tambomachay and Sacsayhuaman | Mollepata to Marcocasa | Soraypampa | Inca Chiriasqa Pass (4960m) | Pampa Cahuana to Huayllabamba | Dead Woman's Pass (4200m) | Runcuray Pass (3800m) to Sayajmarca and Phuyupatamarca | Wiñay Wayna | Machu Picchu via Sun Gate | train to Sacred Valley | Ollantaytambo and Pisac | free time in Cuzco|
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: High Inca trail trek in Peru
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. Permits are limited on the Inca Trail in order to reduce overcrowding and damage due to footfall, but our guides and porters are still very mindful of how we treat the environment. We do believe in leaving no more than footprints, although this tour actively encourages guests to talk to local people, visit local cafes and restaurants and to purchase traditional crafts. Our entry fees also go towards maintenance of significant cultural sites, therefore leaving a positive impact.
Water: Water is a really important issue with cycling 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. We suggest that instead of repeatedly buying bottled water, guests should re-fill a singular bottle. In order to make this easier, we provide treated water throughout the Inca Trail trek. We also recycle waste along the trail with organic and non-organic containers and we do not dispose of it until there is an appropriate place to do so.
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 will spend 7 nights in small, locally owned hotels and the remaining 6 nights on the trek in full service campsites. We prefer to use small businesses for our accommodation, activities and services as these are the companies which have most direct benefit to the communities which we visit. All of our hotel managers have signed a sustainability contract which ensures they employ locals and endeavour to reduce waste, whilst our campsites are very eco-friendly in terms of energy reduction. We buy all of our food to cook on the trail from local supermarkets or even indigenous groups where possible despite this sometimes being more expensive. Where meals are not included, clients are encouraged to eat at authentic restaurants and to try snacks at markets e.g. San Pedro market in Cuzco.
Local Craft & Culture: We walk through the Huayllabamba village on the first day, which is the only community inside the trail. They sell produce and various homemade snacks, so by stopping and buying something we are providing an avenue of income for these people. There is also an optional opportunity in the Sacred Valley where clients can eat a traditional meal in the village and buy handicrafts. Our local guides are able to advise clients on which products to buy and which to avoid- for example, walking sticks made of wood are one to avoid as they are potentially a product of deforestation.
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.