This is a summer tour but weather is still chilly - and unpredictable. Bring warm and waterproof layers, including trousers.
Small group tour
Farms, hotels and simple guesthouses, some with shared facilities.
Solo travelers welcome. Single rooms available with surcharge.
Accomm., transport in specialist bus, tour leader, listed activities, flights from London (if booked).
All breakfasts, 11 lunches, 8 dinners.
Small group vacation
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: Grand Tour of Iceland
Activity: We are careful to operate with a strict ‘leave no trace’ policy, which involves being vigilant with proper disposal of litter and being mindful of wildlife. This is particularly pertinent whilst whale watching, which is closely monitored for the safety of clients and the whales. Optional activities in Reykjavik like horse riding, sea kayaking or lava-tube caving, can be arranged. These all have a limited impact on the environment and by taking these excursions, clients can support the local businesses that run them.
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 14 nights in a mixture of farms, hotels and simple guesthouses. Small, locally owned lodgings are used wherever possible, meaning that the community benefits from a rise in employment and income generated. In rural areas of Iceland, there are also a number of 'seasonal hotels', which could include day schools, boarding schools or social centres that offer accommodation. Where meals are provided, locally sourced ingredients are usually used to make a mixture of continental and authentic style dishes, such as freshly caught fish or smoked lamb with potatoes. Guides generally purchase snacks and picnic provisions from local shops along the way, which supports small businesses in the area. Clients are reminded to avoid whale meat if they encounter it.
Community: Our Icelandic operators hire local guides for each trip and use a bus company from a small town in South Iceland for the driving in all of their trips. This is mutually beneficial in that the community benefits from employment opportunities, whilst clients gain an insight into the country from staff with valuable local expertise. Our operators are also eager to contribute to local organisations devoted to conservation and community efforts. They run various programs for local children with disabilities or disadvantages in conjunction with the Salvation Army, so that these children can take part in activities like caving, glacier walking and going on a rope course.
Local Craft and Culture: Iceland has a rich history and interesting culture which we are keen to promote by including a range of small villages and towns on our route. For example, in Husavik it is possible for clients to visit a variety of cultural sites, including a fascinating whale watching museum and a natural history museum. We also take a sightseeing tour around Akureyri, which is the cultural, commercial and educational centre for northern Iceland. There are a number of galleries here showcasing local art, numerous museums and some beautiful botanical gardens. Any funds generated here through entrance fees, buying souvenirs or making donations go towards preserving these cultural facilities.
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.