“Pedal between Mayan temples and colonial cities, sparkling cenotes and tropical forests on the gorgeous Yucatan peninsula - with plenty of time for meeting Mexicans and hanging out at the beach.”
Cycle round Isla Mujeres | Merida city tour | Izamal, the 'Yellow City' | Chichen Itza, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World | Cycling the Sian Ka'an coastal road to the Biosphere Reserve | Valladolid | Staying at the beach in Tulum | Cancun | Optional: snorkelling on the reef
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: Yucatan cycling vacation in Mexico
Activity: Few vacations have as little detrimental impact on the environment and local residents as a cycling 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 (or tyre tracks!) although this tour actively encourages guests to talk to local people, visit local cafes and restaurants, use markets to purchase traditional gifts and crafts and get a real impression of theMexico. In order to give back to the environment which we enjoy so much, we also support The Coral Reef Alliance, which develops a series of conservation projects and practices involving sea life.
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. We can provide 20 litre containers and advise where to fill them and where to recycle in order to minimise waste.
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.
A Fair Deal: We employ local tour leaders for their insider knowledge and passion for the area and in exchange for this expertise, we provide steady employment, fair wages and fair treatment for all our staff. For over 15 years we have also been working with various Mayan communities, hiring them as guides, captains, boat service providers and hosts. This collaboration on our tours has real benefits for the Mayan people which have proven to improve their economic and educational position. These communities now know the effects of over hunting and fishing on the environment and so this initiative has improved conservation efforts too.
Accommodation & Meals: Throughout the trip we use carefully sourced, good quality hotels which hire local people and use local suppliers and produce. Where possible, we also select accommodation with environmental policies which match our own ethos e.g. El Rey de Caribe hotel uses solar hot water heaters and clothes driers, strict recycling regulations, composting of garden and kitchen wastes, and capturing of rain water. Where meals are not provided, our guides will be able to recommend the best cafes, markets and restaurants to try. This way we can ensure that smaller businesses benefit, whilst also giving clients the most authentic culinary experiences. One of the best ways to do this is to frequent the street food vendors throughout the trip- try tacos with carnitas or tamales with mole sauce at Izamal town market.
Group Size: This small group tour has a maximum of 18 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.