“Immerse yourself in South America's greatest wildlife habitats on this Galapagos & Amazon tour - exploring them both on foot & by boat to encounter incredible wildlife of the land & sea.”
Napo Wildlife Centre in the Ecuadorian Amazon | Stay in a lodge accessible only by canoe | Canoe along tributaries in search of wildlife | Macaw salt lick | Day & nighttime jungle walks | 36m-high canopy tower | Full day in Quito | Charles Darwin Centre | Turtle hatchery | Island walks to volcanic calderas and lava fields | Snorkelling with sea lions | Penguin & marine iguana colonies | Optional: excursion to the cloud forest
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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: Galapagos and Amazon vacation in Ecuador
Accommodation & Meals: The majority of the trip is spent sleeping on a first class, small schooner boat and the remaining nights are in hotels and a jungle lodge. The Cachalote is an environmentally aware vessel with a smart voyager certification from the Rainforest Alliance organisation. There are tight regulations in place to prevent ecological damage such as: restricting use of electrical products, use of biodegradable products (like shampoo, detergent, soap) and recycling of contaminants (oil and fuel). At the Napo Wildlife Centre, all organic waste is recycled and the rest is sent away to Coca for disposal. They produce gas for cooking from organic waste recycling and there is a solar panel system for water heating.
Conservation: We visit the Charles Darwin Research Centre on Santa Cruz Island after driving to the highlands to look for wild tortoises. This centre is dedicated to protecting and conserving the ecology of the islands and carries out educational projects in support of conservation of the Galapagos Islands. Our entry fees help contribute to all the work going on here by improving demand, facilities and creating employment opportunities for scientists. We are also careful to adhere to National Park guidelines, which, amongst other things, ask that we keep a safe distance from wildlife at all times.
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.
Local Craft and Culture: Napo Wildlife Center jungle lodge is an Indian community project run by the Kitchwa Indian group in the area of Añangu lagoon. The aim of this is to raise money for local school support and a medical centre through means which promote positive cultural interaction and benefit for the environment. Clients will have the opportunity to see and participate in cultural shows, purchase handicrafts and give donations here if they wish. This is a big source of income for the Añangu community and a great chance to celebrate their traditions and craftsmanship.
Community: The Galapagos and Amazon are renowned for incredibly unique wildlife and conservation efforts. We try to make as little negative impact on the environment and wildlife as possible, but also to leave a positive impact in terms of community and local economy. We hire guides, drivers and hotel staff from both areas, meaning that the state of local employment and economy benefits. Although much of this tour is spent on board the boat or in nature, wherever the opportunity arises clients are encouraged to use local businesses and to engage with people they meet in order to promote positive cultural exchange.
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.