“Concentrate wildlife watching to 10 game drives over 5 days in Tadoba National Park which provides protection to 88 tigers and numerous other mammals, birds and butterflies.”
Nagpur | Tadoba National Park | 10 x game drives in a Project Tiger reserve | Bengal tigers, Indian leopards, sloth bears, striped hyena, deer and honey badgers | 195 species of bird and 74 species of butterfly |
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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: Tiger and wildlife safari, India
Accommodation and Meals: During your trip we will spend 7 nights in en suite hotels or lodges and 2 nights on an air-conditioned sleeper train. The accommodation on this trip is largely locally staffed with a very high percentage coming from surrounding villages. This is a valuable form of employment in particular for the more remote communities on the peripheries of National Parks who have limited income alternatives. Lodges and resorts on this trip make big efforts towards environmental protection, with energy conservation measures, rain harvesting and waste management. The majority of vegetables, pulses, meat and fruit is sourced from local villages and transformed into delicious and plentiful meals. Free meal times can be used to explore authentic cuisine and to support small businesses- we can even organise a local village visit to see how homemade meals are usually prepared.
Activity: Especially as this is a wildlife based tour, it is important for us to operate with a strict ‘leave no trace policy.’ This extends to our activity in and out of game drive territory and means we are vigilant with disposing of litter properly and careful not to intimidate or harm flora and fauna. A large part of ensuring that we behave responsibly on this trip is also to do with managing expectations. By appreciating the large array of species in the National Park (monkeys, bison, deer, wild pigs, birdlife, plants, butterflies etc.) rather than just tigers, there is less temptation to crowd the animals. The park fees we pay to enter these areas go towards paying the wages of those who work there, development of park facilities, wildlife research and protection projects.
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.
Charity For years we have been involved in campaigning for tiger conservation in Bandhavgarh. In late summer 2014 we teamed up with The Corbett Foundation, an Indian charity dedicated to conservation-oriented research. They have proved instrumental in enabling us to get the funds to where they are needed. Through this we have now completed the building of a community hall at Tala Village, solar pumps in the park for wildlife and staff in the dry season, bio gas plants and smart stoves for villagers and provided the salary for 2 full time teachers at the government school. Our work in India continues to be of great significance and most recently we have been able to purchase a 4 wheel drive medical vehicle and pay for outreach medical support.
Local Craft and Culture: The beginning and the end of the trip can spent exploring Agra and Delhi, where there are a variety of handmade souvenir vendors and stalls selling authentic cuisine. Clients have the chance to visit the white marble Taj Mahal, built by the Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife. Within striking distance is the imposing Red Fort of Akbar, third of the Moghul Emperors, whose mighty sandstone walls enclose the beautiful white marble Pearl Mosque and the palaces, halls, courtyards and fountains of his successors. The markets of New and Old Delhi offer a variety of local handicrafts- from colourful scarves and handmade jewellery, to carved wooden statues and painted ceramics. Along with purchasing goods from local people, we can help the community and learn a lot more about culture and history by hiring local guides at each of these locations.
A Fair Deal: We work closely with our local operator and ensure that local guides are being employed and that in exchange for their expertise that they are paid and treated fairly. The leaders will give a briefing on Responsible Tourism issues to help you understand how you can help reduce your impact and maximise the benefits to the local community from your visit. The trip runs through wildlife sectors near the rural areas of Madhya Pradesh and is major source of employment for local communities. The jeep hire, drivers, naturalists and all other supporting staff all come from villages which really benefit from this industry.
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.
Reviews of Tiger and wildlife safari, India
You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the vacations.
I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
It was OK
A bit disappointing really
Reviewed on 02 Jan 2017 by Wendy Pountain
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?
Seeing tigers in the wild - we had a few really good sightings, meeting like-minded fellow travelers, fantastic food, stunning sunsets.
2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?
There are tea/coffee making facilities in the rooms so take your favourite tea, coffee, chocolate etc with you. For winter departures: - take good warm layers and also gloves - I forgot to take my fingerless-gloves-with-mitten-covers whch would have been ideal to keep wamr but still use the camera. - also take a warm (pref padded) coat that you can wear four layers underneath - you will need them all, and also your bedroom blanket for the morning game-drives at 6am! - ask the group leader for a fan heater in the room. Take some casual slip-on shoes for getting from your room to the dining hall.
3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
Yes definitely all the camp staff were locals and also the park guides and drivers The recent government restrictions on how much of the National Parks (20%) can be used for tourism is an interesting move, and the restrictions should benefit tiger conservation, but only time will tell whether this comes at the expense of the local economy.
4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?
It was a good vacation - on the downside a long distance for just a week (2 flights) but on the upside the park is not too commercialised and the chances of seeing tigers are good there. Great food esp for vegetarians. The vast majority of the other tourists there were Indian families, and hopefully this will be a valuable education for the next generation who will need to carry on the conservation work.