2017: 7 May, 24 May, 11 Jun, 30 Jul, 10 Sep, 8 Oct, 28 Oct
Small group vacations
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
As well as taking care of all the day-to-day practicalities, your group leader is the one who will turn your trip into an adventure. Leaders are extraordinary characters – the kind of person who has spent 14 Christmas days on the slopes of Mount Everest, runs marathons wearing tiger suits to raise funds for their conservation and thinks nothing of leading an overland trip in Sudan or Afghanistan. Fearless and inspiring, group leaders are as important as the destination itself.
Meet a local guide
No matter how experienced your group leader, they can never make up for the knowledge gained from a lifetime in the destination. That’s why many of our trips work with local guides around the world – who invite you into their homeland with pleasure. As well as doing crazy things like climbing Kilimanjaro 100 times, they also donate their time to local projects supported by travelers – such as rebuilding Sri Lankan villages following the 2004 tsunami.
Responsible tourism: Yunnan Meili trekking vacation in China
Our philosophy since 1975 has been to leave only footprints and take only photographs. To reiterate this, every customer who travels with us receives a copy of our award-winning Responsible Travel guidebook. This detailed book outlines our environmentally sustainable principles, and outlines how each customer can minimize their impact while traveling.
The environments we travel through are fragile. It is our responsibility as visitors to minimise the impact of our presence. We are careful to minimise our impact by making sure all rubbish is carried out of the area and have banned the use of plastic bags. Instead we provide you with a biodegradable bag for your picnic lunches etc which you can return to us for re-use. We are careful to follow only developed trails and paths so we avoid any damage to local vegetation or thus add to the problems caused by erosion.
All travelers are provided with our award-winning 20 page Responsible Travel Booklet which outlines our environmental guidelines and practices and will provide you will clear details on how you can play a vital part in reducing your impact on the fragile environments and cultures around the world.
The root cause of Global Warming is society's dependence on emission creating fossil fuel. Planting trees is not going to reverse this trend or cancel our carbon emissions very quickly or effectively. We believe the way to reduce these dependencies is to create clean energy production. Therefore, we support renewable energy projects like wind and solar power, and we are aligned with Climate Friendly, the gold standard setter in effective, meaningful action addressing climate change. So, while we believe that tree planting can play a small role in greenhouse gas abatement, we have gone the extra mile in promoting a longer term solution. Is this cheap? No. Is it responsible? Absolutely.
Yunnan is one of the most culturally & geographically diverse regions of China. During this tour you will visit remote villages, such as the Moso matriarchal society as well as enjoy a delightful trek in the pristine Meili mountain range near the border of Tibet – both experiences are uncommon and devoid of mass tourism so care needs to be taken to preserve the integrity of the region. You will also be introduced to the land, people and the culture of the Khampa region of Tibet in a manner that is both personal and participatory.
You will be accompanied by a local guide, native to this region of China, who will heighten your experience by maximising cultural exchange during your visits to smaller communities which do not see a great amount of tourism. Your guide will direct you to where you can purchase local goods to support the community and more importantly advise you on the “do’s and dont’s” of this particular part of China to help you maintain sensitivity to the local customs which vary greatly from other regions of China.
We will stay at locally owned accommodations and eat meals from locally grown produce, which is in excess so we are not taking away from the community. Your trek employs local people who have the opportunity for another source of income other than agriculture. By using these services your money is directly benefiting communities who do not usually see tourism and provides them with extra revenue streams other than farming.