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: Climb Mount Rinjani, Indonesia
There will be two Banks established, one in Senaru on the northern slopes of the Park and the second will be based in Lawang on the eastern side of the Park. The establishment of these outlets assures that Porters do not need to return the jacket to where they borrowed it. Lawang and Senaru represent the two major entry and exit points to the Park and are thus natural places to situate the Banks.
The administration of the Bank will be undertaken by the Gunung Rinjani National Park Board, which is Headquartered in Mataram, Lombok's capitol and with regional offices in Senaru and Lawang. The Board has worked in recent years with NZ Aid, to incorporate local communities into the tourism aspects of the Park. Their work has helped the Rinjani National Park win the recent National Geographic/ World Legacy Best Stewardship Award. To donate a jacket or find out more please speak to your guide on the expedition.
Our local guides always include details of the impact of tourism in the area and the positive and negative aspects. Where possible they will encourage participants to follow local customs and adopt practices that work in harmony with the habitat and environment. They will brief on the rights of the porters and muleteers and lead by example in their interaction and conduct.
All our expeditions are organised and led with a commitment to maximising the benefits of our trips to the local community and minimising the negative impact associated with tourism. We employ local agents and staff, not just to benefit the local economy, but also to give you a real sense of the local culture.
To support the local communities, we sleep and eat in locally-run establishments where possible, and interact sensibly with locals as we believe in positive cultural exchanges so as not to change their lives – this means trade not aid.
In consultation with the Rinjani National Park Board, we are supporting Indonesia's first Clothing Bank. The Bank will provide all porters with warm, wind proof and rain resistant jackets. The Bank will loan these jackets out to Porters who will be working in the Park and these jackets will be returned to the Bank at the completion of their trek. Returned jackets will be examined and cleaned before they are put back into service for the next porter. The porters will not pay for the jackets. They will simply provide their name and contact details and how long they will need the jackets for. The system is based on honesty and the belief in human nature.
We will ensure that: - We pay a fair income for all locally employed staff - Use local equipment and vehicles when we can - We purchase food from locally sourced providers - Use locally owned and run accommodation where possible - Discourage local begging and giving of cash gifts - Employ local agents therefore ensuring income is kept in country whenever possible - Encourage maximum communications between locals and participants to encourage mutual understanding and respect between cultures