Still possibly the biggest problem with independent adventure travel – particularly arrival transfers. There is nothing quite so disconcerting as arriving at strange airports in the middle of the night, bleary-eyed after a long flight, facing a barrage of over-enthusiastic taxi driversand porters, all eager for your business, having to haggle over prices and convince them that ‘No, I did not want to go to their uncle’s best friend’s son’s guesthouse’. To see your name on a sign, be met by a friendly face and transferred to a reputable hotel makes the start of your travels so much easier. We highly recommend pre-booking them through our additional services.
Whilst it can be fun to mix independent adventure travel with joining group holidays there are certainly some destinations where we would highly recommend the latter. Whenever you venture off the beaten track to countries where visas are complicated or access is difficult or just the logistics of travelling around would require more time than a limited holiday allows then organised group travel is usually the most sensible route to follow. Trekking to Everest Base Camp with all the logistics in hiring a Sherpa/porter team that involves would be absolutely impossible without the back-up of an experienced trekking organisation behind it. And packing in Casablanca, Marrakech, the High Atlas Mountains and coastal Essaouira on a week’s trip to Morocco would certainly be challenging without a guide coordinating it all.
Adventure travel in India can often provide a classic example of group versus independent travel. People try to pack in too much and cover huge distances in a limited time. There is also the endless red tape, the queueing, the ‘way of doing things’ that 'tourists' simply don’t understand. It can all prove exhausting. A leader takes on the hassle of organising train tickets and porters, negotiating on transfer rates and camel rides and so on, allowing you to actually enjoy the country!
A classic example of where pre-booking a trip with a reputable company can change an experience of a place is a Kilimanjaro trekking holiday. People can sometimes be tempted to book locally and, whilst there are repuatble agencies there are also a bunch of 'cowboy' operators which do not operate ethical trekking, paying porters below minimum wages, forcing them to carry above the recommended weights and using below par equipment thus totally marring what should be a momentous achievement for you. And don't forget Tanzania has so much more to offer the traveller in addition to Kilimanjaro.
You can have the most incredible group of people travelling together on the most amazing itinerary through the most wonderful destination but it can all go horribly wrong if you do not have a decent guide leading the way. Guides can quite simply make or break a trip which is why we place such emphasis on choosing our guides, making sure they have the right qualities and training them for such a vital role. Helene Cooper, our publications co-ordinator, with her vast travel experience explains about some of the benefits of guided tours and group travel versus independent travel.
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