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: Cycling vacation in Borneo
As flora and fauna are prime components of this tour we help support conservation efforts by staying at the Danum Valley Conservation Center and visiting the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre. At Danum Valley the Royal Society's South East Asia Rainforest Research Programme (SEARRP) enables science to be done at Danum Valley by providing the necessary staff, facilities, infrastructure and management. Not only is there pure and applied research on the rainforests of Southeast Asia underway, but the conservation and sustainable use of rainforests is also studied.
The Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre was set up in 1964 to rehabilitate orphaned baby orang utan. While orang utan rehabilitation is still the primary goal at Sepilok, it also focuses on public education on conservation, research and assistance on other endangered species such as the rhinoceros. Tourists and researchers alike come to the center to watch the orang utan up close in their natural habitat. A boardwalk leads you to a viewing gallery and feeding platform where the apes are fed milk and bananas twice a day at 10.00am and 3.00pm by rangers.
Our tours are never more than 12 people to minimize any social and environmental impact. The itinerary for this trip, and all subsequent information, is sent electronically in the form of pdf files, reducing the need for printing in most cases.
Adopting a “carry in – carry out” policy, we actively engage in environmentally responsible practices to minimize tourist impact upon the local habitat. From biodegradable soaps to re-usable water containers, we provide clients with the best information and means to help them identify and implement effective ways to positively protect local nature and communities. It is a vital ethos that can be passed on and abided by all, long after the trip has ended.
For this cycling tour in Borneo we have selected to stay some nights at community and private home stays, directly helping local people. All our meals will be at local restaurants to experience the variety of regional food in Borneo as well as contributing to the local economy.
We visit local development and community projects specific to the region, encouraging our clients to donate and/or assist such projects in appropriate and sustainable manners. We use full local Sabahan ground staff and resources on all trips to ensure that the local community benefits not only short term but with increased employment opportunities for the future. We use community and private home stays in places, directly helping local people who own and run them.