Many times I have been asked which tour company is best to go to exotic destinations, G Adventures (formerly known as Gap Adventures) or Intrepid Travel? Sometimes choosing between there two companies can be a challenge since both offer almost exactly the same tours for the same audience at a similar price range.
I have traveled with both tour companies, and even though both companies are focused on the same “off the beaten path adventure niche”, the travel experience can vary drastically depending on which tour you take with each company. Here is a review and comparison between these two companies that could help you decide which one fits best for your travel plans.
But first, do you know if you can handle a tour? Or are you more of an independent traveler? If you’re not sure, check here first to see if a tour really suits you.
So, what makes G Adventures and Intrepid Travel so good?
- They both are internationally renowned travel companies that specialize in adventure travel around the world.
- Both companies have taken the lead in having sustainable trips by offsetting each tour carbon emission or by supporting local environmental causes.
- They have a high safety standard –which I consider is a high priority.
- Both companies have a similar tour classification, which go from budget to comfort. Also, they have a well-developed classification according to cultural shock and level of activity. Tours are family friendly as well as active backpacker friendly.
- They really take you “off the beaten path” in most of their trips. Local home stay and camping are common among their adventure trips.
- The flexibility is priceless. There are pockets of time throughout your tour that give you the flexibility to do whatever you want –walk through the city, visit a museum, revisit a temple, relax, you name it.
- They offer great last minute savings. G Adventures offers 25% on travel deals while Intrepid gives a 20%.
- Both companies have over 20 yrs of experience.
Ok, both companies look great, but you still don’t know which one to take based on that info. So, here is a breakdown of some pros and cons based on my experience.
- Very cheap – This is one of the main reasons why I travel with G Adventures. The ratio of quality to price is superb! Plus, they have a good selection of promotions and tours for under $1000.
- More destinations – With over 1,200 trips, it is pretty sure that you will find a trip that suits your specific needs and wants.
- More departure dates – Tours depart every day, couple times a week, or couple times a month, depending on its popularity.
- Lifetime deposit – If for any reason you have to cancel your trip, your deposit is safe –for life. What’s even better is that it is transferable to another person, or you can donate it to their eco-friendly foundation – Planeterra Foundation.
- No single supplement – Traveling solo? No problem. There is no additional charge unless you want a room on your own. For me, as a solo traveler, this is a big plus.
- Variable local operator quality control – This is probably what hurts them the most. Many of their itineraries are subcontracted and operated by other local companies –even when their staff and vehicles are branded with the G Adventures logo. Sometimes the quality of some of these companies is not at the level of G Adventures, therefore affecting your trip’s quality.
- Guides are somewhat hit or miss – Following the previous point… Guides can easily make or break your trip. The destination might be excellent, but if the guide is a slacker (has no knowledge, is not around, not enthusiastic, etc), it can affect your entire trip. I just want to point that most G Adventures guides are well-trained guides that are totally fit for the job, but I’ve seen and heard about a couple inexperienced or lazy guides. This is hit or miss depending on your tour.
- Keep an eye on the “optional” – When selecting a tour, check the itinerary and look for optional activities. When you have an optional activity the choice is yours to decide whether you want to do it or not, but doing it comes out of your pocket. If there are many optional activities, try budgeting for them and keep track of how they add to your total tour cost.
- Very reliable and extremely good reputation – In general they tend to have a reputation in terms of customer satisfaction. They have a better feedback among travelers. Complains about Intrepid are minimal.
- Highly qualified local operators – Compared to G Adventures, the chances of selecting a trip that is run by a high quality tour operator are higher – including the ones subcontracted to local companies.
- Smaller average group – The average group has 10 travelers compared to an average of 15 on G Adventures. It’s neither good nor bad having more or less travelers. It just depends on your preferences. But most people like smaller groups for a “better experience”.
- Most tours are guaranteed – You have a wider selection of guaranteed tours. You don’t have to worry if the tour is going to run or not depending on the number of travelers.
- Slightly more expensive – Compared to Gap, most Intrepid tours are heavier on your pocket. Still, you need to evaluate and compare similar trips between both companies to see what is included and what not. This will help you establish which one gives you the best value for your money.
- Trip variety is smaller than Gap’s – Although Intrepid counts with over 1000 itineraries, G Adventures has over 1200 itineraries.
- Less Departure Dates – Departure dates are more spread apart than G Adventures’. This might reduce the flexibility of choosing a trip.
- Single Supplement is compulsory in some trip styles – Although most trips don’t require single supplement, some of them do ask for a compulsory single supplement. In most cases it is over $100. If traveling solo, verify if the trip style you are choosing requires single supplement.
In the end, would I recommend G Adventures or Intrepid?
It depends… (mhmmm… how is that for an answer?!). The fact is that it all depends on a combination of factors like price, schedule, quality, and destination.
Just some quick-fire recommendations:Based on price: mostly G Adventures, but do your research. Based on schedule: G Adventures, but again, do your research. Based on quality: Intrepid Based on destinations: North America – Go on your own. If you want a tour, choose G Adventures. For Canada do G Adventures (it’s their base). South America – Intrepid. Except for Peru, which you should do with G Adventures. Latin America – G Adventures Eastern Europe – Both are good. Western Europe – Go on your own. Middle East – Both are good. Africa – Intrepid Asia – G Adventures Southeast Asia – Both are good. Australasia – Intrepid (it’s their base) Antarctica – Intrepid Arctic – G Adventures
Do you have additional recommendations? Share them…