Updated: October 2017
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 these two companies can be a challenge since both offer almost 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 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 providing responsible travel and sustainable trips.
- They have a high safety standard –which I consider is a top priority.
- Both companies have a similar tour classification, which goes 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 homestay and camping are common among their adventure trips.
- The flexibility is priceless. There are days or part of a day where you have the flexibility to do whatever you want –walk through the city, visit a museum, revisit a temple, relax, you name it– or do one of their recommended additional activities.
- They offer great last minute savings. G Adventures offers 20% to 25% on travel deals as well as Intrepid, which gives a 15% to 25% on some “Early Bird” or last minute trips.
- Both companies have over 25 years 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. From my experience, often they are slightly cheaper than Intrepid Travel.
- 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.
- Expanded tour style selection for every traveler – G Adventures is now focusing on more targetted experiences with their YOLO tours (for young, active travelers), Local Living Tours (for a more local experience), Active Tours (for the adrenaline), Classic Tours, Family Tours, Rail, Marine, and even Private Tours. And, there are the National Geographic tours, which are excellent for photographers and adventurers who like to travel in style!
- 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.
- They try to focus on sustainable travel – In addition to the foundation mentioned before, G Adventures makes an effort to invest in local businesses, sustain indigenous people and protect wildlife. They also help with disaster relief around the globe.
- 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.
- Their groups are bigger than Intrepid’s – With an average of 15 (up to 18 people in a group), this means that your guide might have a bigger workload making sure everyone is ok, versus being able to focus on fewer people to get to know them better for the duration of the trip.
- Very reliable and excellent reputation – In general, they tend to have a reputation regarding customer satisfaction. They have a better feedback among travelers. Complaints 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. It also seems like Intrepid’s guides are slightly more knowledgeable about local sights and culture.
- Smaller average group – The average group has ten travelers compared to an average of 15 on G Adventures. It’s neither good nor bad having more or fewer travelers. It just depends on your preferences. But most people like smaller groups for a “better experience.”
- Varied selection of tours based on activities – Like G Adventures, Intrepid has expanded their tour selection, but in their case, it’s more based on the activities done, like Sailing, Cycling, Eating (foodie tours), Family (more relaxed), Overland, Trekking, Wildlife, Polar, and more.
- Better itineraries – This one is slightly subjective as the best itinerary is the one that fits best your desires, but, from my experience, it seems like Intrepid’s itineraries offer a wider selection of local destinations.
- They carbon-offset their tours – Intrepid is the largest carbon-neutral travel company in the world. They offset by investing in renewable energy projects.
- 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.
- Great Deals on top tours – They always have a good selection of Latest Deals on several of their top tours.
- They have an interesting Loyalty Program – If you take nine trips with them, they will give you $1,800 for your 10th trip! This alone is a huge pro if you travel often.
- Slightly more expensive – Compared to Gap, most Intrepid tours are slightly 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.
- Fewer Departure Dates – Departure dates are more spread apart than G Adventures’. This might reduce the flexibility of choosing a trip. But, in recent years, they’ve added more dates to some of their most popular trips to match the number of departures G Adventures offers.
- Single Supplement is compulsory on some trip styles – Although most trips don’t require a single supplement, some of them do ask for a mandatory single supplement. In most cases, it is over $100. If traveling solo, verify if the trip style you are choosing requires a single supplement.
In the end, would I recommend G Adventures or Intrepid Travel?
Yes, but 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. But, one thing is for sure, whichever you choose, you will not go wrong as both companies offer a high-quality experience.
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 as both are almost tied here. In this case, which one offers the best departure date for your trip? Based on quality: Intrepid seems to be offering better quality trips at the moment. 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 – Both are really good, but G Adventures seems to have better itineraries.
- Central/Latin America – G Adventures
- Eastern Europe – Both are good. But, G Adventures now offers the Rail Style option, which is nice for Europe.
- Western Europe – Go on your own, it’s easy to travel. But, G Adventures now offers the Rail Style option, which is nice for Europe.
- Middle East – Intrepid
- Africa – Intrepid offers more options and better itineraries.
- Asia – Intrepid
- Southeast Asia – Both are good, but Intrepid might have a lead here.
- Australasia – Intrepid (it’s their base)
- Antarctica – G Adventures
- Arctic – G Adventures
These were based on my experiences and references from other users, but feel free to differ. I hope this helps you decide whether G Adventures or Intrepid Travel will give you the best travel experience. But, as I mentioned previously, both are excellent, and in my opinion, your pick should be mostly based on a combination of schedule convenience, price, and destinations offered on a particular tour.
Do you have additional recommendations or would like to share your experience with them? Share them below and see what others have said so far…