8 Adventure Travel Companies With Small Group Tours

Ditch the Tour Bus: These Companies Specialize in Small Groups

These tour operators and companies offer a wide range of adventure travel tours but limit the size of the group to help improve the overall experience for everyone involved. After all, traveling with such a small number is radically different than being herded on busses with dozens of others. Some of these companies cap the number of travelers at 16, while others may go as high as  20 or more. The styles of travel vary from bare bones to luxury, but among these tour operators you'll find adventurous and active trips to all parts of the globe. You just won't have to deal with being part of a large crowd. 

  • 01 of 08
    Living in a centuries-old home above one of the canals in Wuzhen, China
    ••• Living in a centuries-old home above one of the canals in Wuzhen, China. © 2011 Lois Friedland

    G Adventures, formerly called Gap Adventures, offers a wide variety of imaginative trips, with several of them having been named to National Geographic Traveler magazine's "Tours of a Lifetime" lists.

    The company offers different styles of trips. The "Basic" options are for travelers who want their lodging set and prefer having guides for advice, but like lots of freedom to explore each day too. The "comfort" trips offer a higher standard of lodging and transportation, and more guiding as a group. The "standard" level of service offers an even more upgraded level of service, lodging and transportation.

    On a G trip you can expect the group size to be capped at about 16 people, with most groups averaging just 10. 

  • 02 of 08
    A berber waking in the Sahara desert in Morocco
    ••• A berber waking in the Sahara desert in Morocco. Intrepid Travel

    Intrepid Travel offers off-the-beaten path experiences in more than 90 countries. Trip styles include active adventures; challenges, where travelers combine cycling, trekking and some volunteer activities; independent travel; family travel; and Basix travel, which is definitely grassroots-style.

    Most are small-group trips where you use local transportation and stay in inexpensive lodging. The average size of an Intrepid group is about 10 people.  

  • 03 of 08
    Riding camels in Morocco during a Classic Journeys walking trip
    ••• Riding camels in Morocco during a Classic Journeys walking trip. Classic Journeys

    Classic Journeys is a boutique company that offers small-group, soft-adventure travel to more than 30 countries (including Cuba) on five continents. There are several different types of trips, with cultural walking adventures, family journeys, multisport options, and culinary tours being amongst the most popular. The company can even create a private itinerary for clients as well, with travelers limiting the size of their own party and picking the exact things they want to do along the way. 

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    Rafting the Tuichi River in Bolivia with Wandrian Adventures
    ••• Rafting the Tuichi River in Bolivia with Wandrian Adventures. Wandrian Adventures

    Wandrian Adventures – now renamed Great Beyond Adventures – mixes adventure, education, and culture into one-of-a-kind travel packages. The company offers customized trips that are both eco-sensitive and sensitive to the cultures the group is visiting. Wandrian Adventures partners with 1% for the Planet to also give back to important causes as well.

    The Wandrian Academy is a subsidiary of Great Beyond that focuses on custom itineraries for small groups too. 

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  • 05 of 08
    Traveling with Myths and Mountains you meet the locals in South Asia.
    ••• Traveling with Myths and Mountains you meet the locals in South Asia. Myths and Mountains

    Myths and Mountains trips include homestays and unique festivals all over the world, treks with the nomadic people of rural Bhutan, and camping with the shaman of rain forest villages. Most departures are set for destinations across Asia and South America.

    The company's trips often have a focus on helping local communities, so there may be an opportunity to volunteer at some point during the journey. Group sizes vary with Myths and Mountains, so be sure to ask before booking.

  • 06 of 08
    Guests take-in a vibrant rainbow over the Amazon
    ••• Photo Courtesy International Expeditions

    International Expeditions offers small-group, eco-tours and nature travel trips to exotic locations. Itineraries are designed to explore the soul of a region, through behind-the-scenes access to places and experiences. The group leaders are either naturalists or historians, sometimes both.

    The company operates in more than 20 countries and has nearly 40 years of experience organizing expeditions. Many of its trips are active excursions, with hiking, kayaking, and snorkeling part of the itinerary. 

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    Watching fishermen in Myanmar during an Overseas Adventure Travel tour.
    ••• Watching fishermen in Myanmar during an Overseas Adventure Travel tour. Courtesy of Grand Circle Corporation

    Overseas Adventure Travel runs more than 75 escorted vacations, river cruises, and small group adventures by land and sea worldwide. More than 70 percent of the company's travelers are women, who want to travel in a small group environment.

    The company guarantees that its small-group adventures typically host 10-16 guests, while its small-ship departures have just 16-25 travelers. 

  • 08 of 08
    Hiking in the Mattertal Valley while on the Haute Route
    ••• Hiking in the Mattertal Valley while on the Haute Route trip with Bredeson Outdoor Adventures. Christine Ferrieu/Bredeson Outdoor Adventures

    Bredeson Outdoor Adventures specializes in culturally oriented, guided and self-guided hiking and snowshoeing trips. The company offers snowshoe day trips in Vermont, Maine and Connecticut, as well as overnight trips in Europe. In the summer, the company leads longer hiking excursions to Europe as well. Bredeson runs some trips on set dates, offers privately guided trips year-round, and will set up self-guided trips for travelers at their request. Bredeson specializes in organizing trips across North and South America, as well as New Zealand, but can offer advice on destinations in more remote locations too.