“This tour takes in the highlights of the classic Mont Blanc Circuit in one week rather than two, dropping you off each day to complete a different segment of the trail.”
Waking through the Swiss, Italian & French Alps | Chamonix Valley | Carlaveyron Natural Reserve | Summiting the Aiguillette des Houches & the Aiguillette du Brevent | Bel Lachat Refuge | Bonatti Refuge | Walk above the Ferret Valley | Lac Blanc
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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: Mont Blanc vacation, Tour du Mont Blanc
Activity: Few vacations have as little detrimental impact on the environment and local residents as a walking and 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 and have a strict policy with proper disposal of litter. We understand that this sense of responsibility is even more necessary in the case of Mont Blanc than some other trekking sites as the mountain does not have National Park status and regulations to protect it. Our staff are trained with environmental stewardship in mind and protective guidelines are then passed on to our clients through briefings in order to keep our impact neutral.
Water: Water is a really important issue with trekking trips- especially as this trip reaches at altitude of over 2,500m at the highest pass of the route, Lac Blanc, which might be quite challenging. 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 use fresh water springs on the way to re-fill a singular container. These springs are clean and are a wonderful resource for reducing plastic waste, or guests can simply re-fill at the campsites, mountain huts or village inns where they stay.
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 & Meals: For accommodation and eating out we use smaller business that benefit the local community by keeping investment in the area. We spend the duration in a locally owned chalet within minutes of Mont Blanc, therefore reducing our need for transport and carbon footprint; and meals are usually communally organised which is more efficient and less impactful. Where meals are provided, we try to use local supplies if possible and encourage clients to do the same when they shop independently: for example, there is a Saturday market in Chamonix with plenty of local shops and cafes en route. We stop almost daily in locally run refuges where our trekkers usually have a coffee and a big slice of cake. It does not sound like much but these are all locally owned establishments and our business is an excellent source of income for them.
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.