People LOVE sharing bad reviews of companies but often the positive stories get brushed under the carpet. Which is why I wanted to take the time to shine a light on some incredible group adventure tour leaders who have helped contribute towards some of my best trips ever.
This year has been extremely tough on group adventure travel companies. Whilst every business has suffered damage from this pandemic, the travel industry has perhaps suffered the hardest.
Therefore, if you are planning to return to travel in 2021 once the vaccine starts getting distributed, then consider supporting companies that truly deserve your support.
The one good thing this pandemic has done is made us stop and take notice of how we treat the world we live in. It has helped to shine a light on issues like climate change and over-tourism. But well before this little virus came along to remind us what’s important, companies like G Adventures and Intrepid Travel were paving the way.
Intrepid for example, were the first group travel company to end elephant riding in 2014 and are make great strides towards reducing their carbon emissions. G Adventures introduced the ripple score to show transparently how much money they plough back into local businesses (rather than huge corporations.)
Both companies support ground roots projects helping the communities they visit in ways which are both sustainable and empowering.
For example, when I was on a G Adventures trip in Sri Lanka, we visited a homestay where they were supporting an initiative whereby they bred goats and gave a pair to each family in need. The family bred those goats and returned the kid to the initiative and kept the original pair in order to generate income (for example by making goat cheese.) The kid is then paired with another and given to another family in need and on it goes.
But whilst I genuinely love these companies for the code of morals and ethics they stand by I really wanted to talk to you about the tour leaders.
After all, these are the people who really have the power to make or break your trip and I can honestly say, with both companies, I’ve never had a bad apple – and I’ve taken 11 tours with these companies! Every single tour leader I’ve had has been amazing.
Here are just a few stories which stand out.
What you can expect from this article...
Stories from the best Group Adventure Tour Leaders who quite frankly deserve medals
Mini disaster averted in the Maldives
In April 2019 I went on a 7 day sailing trip in the Maldives with G Adventures. Honestly, it was the most relaxing trip I’ve ever taken. Running 2 websites and working as GP can get a bit crazy at times and it’s often difficult to switch off. In the Maldives, I had no choice but to unwind and it was absolute bliss.
But aside from the amazing nature experiences, unreal scenery and warm tropical weather, what really made the trip was the people I shared this experience with. 8 intrepid adventure loving travellers (2 of whom I’ve met up with since) and a dedicated crew of 6 including our captain Hussain and our chief experience officer (or tour leader,) Zaf.
Zaf and Hussain, in particular, went way above expectations time and time again, fixed our belongings we broke and teaching us how to free dive. But one incident stood out.
One of the other guests on the boat dropped his expensive prescription sun glasses into the ocean.
Decent sunglasses aren’t cheap. Prescription sunglasses cost an outright small fortune. The last thing you want when you’re on holiday is for your sunnies to meet a watery end like that.
But these things happen and you would usually commiserate with the sunnies owner over a beer or maybe lend them your spare pair and move on, right?
But Hussain and Zaf didn’t want ANY negative experiences on their boat. Nope. So they dived straight in after those expensive sunnies determined to find them.
Putting their freediving skills to the test, they spent an hour searching. But rather than admit defeat, Hussain hopped in the dinghy and went to visit his friend’s boat nearby where he borrowed a dive tank.
Returning with dive equipment, they eventually returned the glasses to their relieved owner.
When I thought the customer service couldn’t get any better, they planned the most special night for us, pulling out all the stops. Some of the crew disappeared off the boat for a while to secretly transform a private beach into the most magical dinner setting. With tables and benches made from sand, a walkway lit up with candles in jars and lined with palm leaves and an absolute feast of a dinner waiting for us, it was one of those evenings none of us would forget.
The level of attention to detail this crew bought to this trip was unreal and contributed to one of the best weeks of my life.
This trip was also very affordable – before I took it, I had no idea you could spend a week sailing the Maldives for such an afforable price! If you’re looking for a sailing trip to unwind after a hellish 2020, then definitely check out this trip (currently on sale for Black Friday.) With any luck, you’ll get the Zaf-Hussain power combo!
Getting me to Machu Picchu despite the odds
Visiting Machu Picchu was the inspiration for my entire 3 month South America sabbatical. So when I woke on the day we finally got to visit (after 3 long hard days or trekking) I was devastated to realise I was sick. My lifelong dream of seeing those Inca ruins was looking like it wouldn’t happen as my fever took hold.
I was a probably a little upset as I told my tour leader I was too ill to make the trip. But knowing how important the trip was to me, he refused to let me miss out.
So instead he arranged for another guide to step in and lead the rest of the group there whilst he waited for my medications to kick in. When I started feeling slightly more human, we slowly walked to the bus line where he negotiated for me to queue jump by explaining the situation.
I half- sleepwalked my way up to the viewpoint where I promptly fell asleep on a rock for an hour! My tour leader, Jesus, just sat minding my camera whilst I slept. I then woke up to the magnificent view that is Macchu Picchu. I was so grateful I managed to see it even though I was too sick to explore it properly. Instead, Jesus found me a bed in the back of a restaurant (yep, totally random) where I slept for about 5 hours before boarding the train to begin the journey back to Cuzco.
Yes, it wasn’t the expeience I had imagined. But I got to see it and that’s thanks to my tour leader who went above and beyond to make that happen and to make sure I was well looked after. I will forever be grateful for that. And who knows, maybe I’ll go back another time and get to explore those Inca ruins in more depth?!
Patience and Generosity in Morocco
Visiting museums and tourist hot spots often gives a slightly skewed view of what day to day life is like in a country. Therefore, our tour leader in Morocco, was extremely generous by offering to show us around his home and serve us tea and cake.
As we sat on the floor sipping mint tea and playing with his young daughter, I was grateful for this experience. This was way above his duties as a tour guide. It was an act of generosity that every member of our group appreciated.
But I came to the conclusion that our tour leader also had the patience of a saint when one of our group accidentally locked himself inside his toilet! An hour later and a locksmith had to turn up to bail us out. But not once did our gem of a tour leader lose his patience or stop smiling. He remained the perfect host. Yet another truly awesome G Adventures tour leader!
These are just a few stories showcasing just how amazing some of my tour leaders have been. But there was also UD who cared so much about our experiences that he seemed genuinely heartbroken when just 1 guest didn’t enjoy their meal on just one night – after 13 consecutive amazing meals out!
There was the tour leaders on my safari with Intrepid who waited for hours by a river just in case the wildebeest decided to cross just so we could get that perfect photo.
There were the extremely knowledgable naturists on my G Adventures Galapagos cruise who contributed towards one of my best trips ever.
Then there was the humorous leader in Thailand who pretended she saw a snake just so I could get a photo of a waterfall without people posing in front of it! (To those tourists: Sorry about that!)
So if you are considering booking a group adventure tour for 2021 travel – lets face it we are due some adventures – then look no further than my two favourite travel companies, G Adventures and Intrepid Travel.
Both G Adventures and Intrepid Travel have deals on currently, you can check them out here:
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- 2 weeks in Sri Lanka with G Adventures
- The best budget Galapagos cruise with G Adventures
- Cambodia and Vietnam with G Adventures
- Sailing the Maldives with G Adventures