Many times I have been asked which tour company is best for multi-day international tours; G Adventures or Intrepid Travel?
Sometimes choosing between these two adventure travel companies can be a challenge since both offer almost similar tours for the same audience at a competing price range.
Even though G Adventures and Intrepid Travel have the same “off-the-beaten-path adventure niche,” the travel experience can vary drastically depending on which tour you take with each company.
While there are many G Adventures reviews and Intrepid Travel reviews out there, this comparison is based on my own experience after traveling on several tours with both companies.
In addition, I’ve had personal discussions with representatives of each company to get to know better their mission, products, and target audience.
What follows is a G Adventures vs Intrepid Travel review and comparison that could help you decide which one fits best into your travel plans.
What makes G Adventures and Intrepid Travel so good?
Both G Adventures (formerly known as Gap Adventures) and Intrepid Travel are internationally renowned travel companies that specialize in adventure travel around the world without breaking the bank. Here are a few quick points on why both are great:
- Both offer the comfort of having all the logistics taken care of, while still giving you a good balance of free time to explore on your own.
- Both companies have taken the lead in providing responsible travel, conservation, and sustainability.
- They have a high safety standard –which I consider is a top priority.
- 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 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” on most of their trips. Local homestay and camping are common among their adventure trips.
- Their 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.
- Both companies have over 30 years of experience.
- Even though they started as budget adventure tour companies for the 18-to-39-year-old age group, today they offer a wider variety of budget ranges and activity levels for all age ranges.
A few Common Questions Regarding G Adventures vs Intrepid Travel
Which Tour Company is the Best for Single and Solo Travelers?
Honestly, both are equally good for singles and solo travelers. The opportunity to meet other like-minded travelers is always present.
Now, if we are talking about romantic opportunities, then it depends on your age range.
Younger travelers (18 to mid-30s) tend to travel to trending, adventure-filled, party-oriented destinations. These include most of Europe, Southeast Asia, South America, Central America, and such.
To not limit your possibilities of traveling with young people to any destination around the world, both companies have created additional tours targetted to younger travelers.
Intrepid Travel has its 18-to-29s-adventure tours category while G Adventures has a similar 18-to-Thirty somethings tours category.
When it comes to travelers in their 30 and 40+ age range, you start to see them more often in more culturally oriented and far-off destinations.
These are travelers who’ve already been to many of the “typical destinations” and are now looking to explore beyond popular destinations.
Neither company charges for a single supplement if you’re traveling solo. You will be paired with someone of the same sex to share the room. Should you want a room for yourself, you have the option to pay an extra fee that varies depending on the tour.
Is G Adventures or Intrepid Travel Recommended for Seniors?
This is one common question I get often, and the answer is yes! It is true that both tour companies have targetted a younger, active audience, but don’t think of their audience age-wise, think of their audience based on the activity level and travel spirit.
I’ve done several tours with both companies, and on every tour, I’ve shared the travel experience with other travelers 60+ in age. They’ve been as active, as entertaining, and as social as everyone else.
For travelers who are concerned about the accommodation style or certain physical activities, both companies do offer “comfort” or “premium” trips.
For example, G Adventures has a partnership with National Geographic to create their now famous “National Geographic Journeys,” which provide tours with a higher comfort level and premium accommodations. These tours are great for families and older adventurous travelers.
Equally, Intrepid Travel has their Families Theme where you can have an inclusive experience with your kids, and they have their “Comfort Style,” which you can select as a filter while searching for trips.
What’s the Physical Level with Intrepid Travel and G Adventures?
G Adventures and Intrepid Travel trips are geared towards young adults, so they are designed for travelers who have at least basic physical fitness.
That said, both companies offer an inclusive variety of trips in different categories that go beyond the “adventure” theme.
To find your desired trip style and physical level, I recommend checking each company’s trip classifications. G Adventures classifies their trips by Travel Style. These include wellness, marine tours, active tours, family tours, local living, private tours, and more.
Intrepid Travel, on the other hand, breaks them out into Themes. These include family travel, food travel, festivals, cycling, trekking, polar adventures, sailing, and many more.
How are the Accommodations?
Both companies offer similar accommodation options. Basic accommodation while camping and during homestays, 2-star and 3-star hotels for most trips on average. For comfort trips, you could expect 3-star and 4-star+ hotels.
Each trip is unique, so it’s good to read the trip details before booking. There you’ll see the accommodation options per day in the itinerary.
How do G Adventures and Intrepid Travel Compare Cost-wise?
Short answer, both are neck to neck. Both companies offer several multi-day trips well under $1,000 as well over $5,000 for their polar cruises and 40+ day overland tours.
The average tour price is around $2,400 for a 12 to 14 days trip.
G Adventures tends to have a slight edge over Intrepid Travel, price-wise, but both are almost practically equal in price for comparable tours.
But, here’s an important detail, Intrepid Travel’s price usually tends to be more inclusive than G Adventures.’ Keep an eye on the add-ons like excursions and day tours. Both tour companies can have add-ons during their multi-day tours.
What is the Average Group Size?
Both companies offer “small group tours” with a maximum capacity of 16 people. Having said that, I’ve never been on a 16 person group with either company.
I believe the average group with each company is 10-14 people, but G Adventures tends to go on the higher range while Intrepid tours stick to the lower. The smallest group I’ve traveled with was a six-person group on our trip to Iran with Intrepid Travel.
Now, How do G Adventures and Intrepid Travel Differentiate?
Ok, both companies look great, but there are still a few details in which either company might excel. So, here is a breakdown of some pros and cons based on my experience.
G Adventures was founded as Gap Adventures in 1990 by Bruce Poon Tip after returning from a backpacking tour of Asia.
The name Gap Adventures was a double entendre, with the letters standing for “Great Adventure People” and ‘bridging the gap’ between backpacking and other forms of travel.
G Adventures offers more than 700 itineraries in more than 100 countries. It is based in Canada and counts with 28 offices worldwide.
- Tours tend to be more affordable – This is one of the main reasons why I like G Adventures (often referred to as Gap Tours too). 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.
- Excellent quality and greatly curated routes – G Adventures tours have a high quality across the board and their itineraries are curated with minute detail to explore the best the destination has to offer and to gain as much exposure to their culture.
- Plenty of destinations – With over 700 itineraries, 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.
- Most tours are guaranteed – You have a wide 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.
- Expanded tour style selection for every traveler – G Adventures is now focusing on more targeted 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.
- Support Local Communities with their G for Good Program –With the collaboration of Planeterra, many trips include activities with local communities to support and interact with them. This could be in the form of a home-cooked meal at a local home, a local-skill learning class, or others.
- 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.
- Promotes awareness – G Adventures partnered with Global Exploration for Educators Organization (GEEO) with the goal of helping more teachers explore the world and then bring their experiences back into their classrooms. In addition, they partnered with the Jane Goodall Institute to create itineraries aimed at raising the awareness of animal welfare and wildlife-friendly tourism.
- 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 can be a big plus towards G Adventures vs Intrepid Travel.
- Variable local operator quality control – This is my biggest criticism towards G Adventures (And Intrepid Travel to an extent). Many of their itineraries and guides are subcontracted and operated by 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 G Adventures is known for, therefore affecting your trip’s quality. In later years, though, they have managed to improve the overall quality and raise the bar even more. As mentioned, Intrepid Travel does the same subcontracting, thus suffering the same quality control issues on a country by country basis.
- 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 – This can be a pro or a con depending on the tour and your travel style, but with an average of 15 (up to 18 people in some groups), G Adventures guides have a slightly bigger workload to make sure everyone is ok and having a good time.
Intrepid Travel was founded in 1989 by two Australian university mates, Darrell Wade and Geoff’ Manch’ Manchester, after they quit their jobs and organized a 6-month trip around Africa.
It is the largest small-group adventure travel company in the world, offering more than 1,000 tours to over 100 countries. It is based in Australia and counts with several offices worldwide.
- Very reliable and excellent reputation – In general, they tend to have a reputation regarding customer satisfaction. They have better feedback among travelers. Complaints about Intrepid tours 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 slightly higher – including the ones subcontracted to local companies. It also seems like Intrepid tour guides are slightly more knowledgeable about local sights and culture. In recent years, though, both companies have mostly matched their operator and guides standards and quality.
- Smaller average group – The average group on Intrepid tours 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.”
- A varied selection of tours based on activities – Like G Adventures, Intrepid Travel has expanded their tour selection, but in their case, it’s more based on activities like Sailing, Cycling, Eating (foodie tours), Family (more relaxed), Overland, Trekking, Wildlife, Polar, and more.
- More and slightly 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 Travel itineraries offer a wider selection of local destinations. Intrepid has over 1,000 itineraries for you to choose from.
- They carbon-offset their tours – Intrepid Travel is the largest carbon-neutral travel company in the world. They offset by investing in renewable energy projects.
- Focus on responsible travel – It is a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact and was the first tour operator to ban elephant rides on its tours. They also launched vegan tours in 2018.
- 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 Intrepid 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.
- 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.
- Might be slightly more expensive – Compared to G Adventures, most Intrepid Travel tours might look slightly more expensive. Still, you need to evaluate and compare similar trips between both companies to see what is included and what is not. At the end, both are neck to neck because Intrepid’s price is more inclusive.
- 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 Intrepid tours and 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 Intrepid trip style you are choosing requires a single supplement.
In the end, Would I Recommend G Adventures or Intrepid Travel?
I do recommend both. But remember that each company has certain pros and cons that will highly depend on your trip of interest.
Picking between Intrepid Travel and G Adventures 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: Both are in the same price range, but G Adventures tours tend to be a bit more budget-friendly.
Based on schedule: G Adventures tends to have more departure dates, 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 Travel seems to be offering slightly better quality trips at the moment. Having said that, all of my G Adventure trips have also been top-notch.
Based on destinations: (These are just my recommendations)
- 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 independently. But, G Adventures now offers the Rail Style option, which is nice for Europe.
- Middle East – Intrepid Travel
- Central Asia – Intrepid Travel
- Africa – Both are great, but Intrepid Travel offers more options and better itineraries.
- Asia – Intrepid Travel
- Southeast Asia – Both are equally good.
- Australasia – Intrepid Travel (it’s their base)
- Antarctica – Both
- Arctic – Intrepid Travel
These were based on my experiences and references from other travelers, but feel free to differ. I hope this G Adventures vs Intrepid Travel review has helped you decide which tour operator 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 you like to share your experience with them? Share them below and see what others have said so far… There are several G Adventures reviews and Intrepid Travel reviews left by other travelers that could help you too.
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I did a ten day tour through Intrepid Travel a few years ago. It was in Egypt. Overall I was satisfied with the tour. I was able to do things that would have been difficult to do as a solo traveler. Luckily we were a small group. The biggest challenge was getting along with the different personalities. Would I take a tour again? Yes, if it meant getting to see things that I would miss out on as a solo traveler. However, I prefer independent travel.
Thanks Nancie. That is my recommendation too. Take a tour if you want to do and see things you know will be difficult as a solo traveler. So far I’ve had the luck of having good companions on my tours. There are always one or two travelers who keep themselves away from others, but in general I’ve had good camaraderie with other travelers on the tour. But yes, I myself prefer independent travel too.
I am a female and I want to travel, but am afraid of traveling solo to places. Can you recommend safe places for a female to travel solo?
I just can back last week with a tour of Southeast Asia. It was am awesome trip and I thought an excellent trip for the money spent. We had a local guide from start to finish and he knew all of the local and best places to eat. Can’t say enough good about G Adventure and Bernie our CEO on the trip.
Perhaps another pro for Gap Adventures is their travellers forum-
This is a very good resource for any traveller wanting to ask any sort of question about their trips,or about travel in general.
And it’s reassuring that you can ask about anything that may be worrying about your trip prior to taking off instead of arriving up and starting cold turkey.
That’s right Jim, The Watering Hole Forum is another pro for Gap Adventures. There you can also have the chance to meet before hand other travelers that are going to be on your tour. A good way to break the ice even before you start the trip.
I’ve thought about going on one of the Gap adventure trips to kick off my RTW trip next year. Mainly because I’m traveling solo and I’m a new backpacker so I thought that would be a good way to get my feet wet (no pun intended) in a somewhat organized way.
I’ve traveled with less adventurous tour companies that had a forum, it was definitely a plus. It allowed every one to get to know each other before the trip and a good way to get questions answered.
Thanks for the info, I didn’t know about Intrepid, I’ll check them out.
Yes, I think Gap and Intrepid (among others) are a good introduction and transition for any backpacker that wants to go on the road for a long time but has no idea where to start or what to expect. If you feel comfortable with the way things are run on those type of trips, then it’s pretty sure you’ll do fine traveling solo.
Really great article, because I’m sure you’re answering many questions that travellers have when trying to choose between Intrepid and GAP. I must confess up front to being biased, since I’ve been working and travelling with Intrepid for over 12 years, but I thought there might be a couple of other points to note:
Actually Intrepid has never had compulsory single supplement on any of our small group adventures and we have over 8000 departures of around 1000 trip itineraries, most of which are guaranteed to depart.
Plus one of the big pros for Intrepid, we are the only tour company to carbon offset our trips!
Love the GloboTrek posts and how much you help people around the globe make travel an adventure. Great stuff,
Sue, Intrepid Express editor.
Thank you for sharing that information with us Sue. First of all, big kudos to Intrepid for the carbon offsetting. That is a great initiative and a big plus to travel with Intrepid. Sorry, it was my understanding that “urban adventure” style trips do require a single supplement for solo travelers, but I apologize if I’m misinforming. I’ll update the info to show a correct comparison. Thanks!
Sue, Scheduled a four month trip to S. America with Intrepid. Please advise if there is a travel forum so that we might connect with other fellow travelers.
Both companies promote carbon offsets.
Yes they do, though I think in different ways. Gap gives you the opportunity to offset your international flight (I should ask Gap more about this, considering I’m taking one of their tours in less than two months), and you can also contribute with reforestation and other foundations. I’m not sure if Gap offsets the carbon emission of the tour itself. On the other hand, Intrepid automatically offsets your carbon emissions from your tour. They purchase carbon offset credit per each kg of CO2 each traveler emits.
Throughout this discussion, possibly important for all travellers, that we not place one company as better than the other.It’s not in our long term interest .We travellers need companies competing against each other so we get the benefits of increased services, and competitive pricing.
Good to see what Norbert has done in listing each companies strengths and weaknesses, so they can take note of those and improve we it is needed.
We have travelled with Intrepid twice, Gap Adventures once, and will be with Gap Adventures again for 2 weeks in Ethiopia.I’ll be blogging on that so if they aren’t up to scratch, it’ll get around.
Incidentally the comment that Gap Adventures uses local contracted operators does have it’s benefits.Part of Gap Adventures philosophy is in maximising it’s beneficial impacts at a local level, and using local contractors ensures more money is spent with grassroots local companies.And that’s good.
Anyway, let’s hope both companies are competing, and around for us all in the future.Spreading your business between two(rather than saying one is better than the other,) I feel is better for we travellers long term.But let’s encourage that competion on price and value.
BTW, In reality, how many people actually do buy or pay for carbon offsets?
Any surveys on this?
I’m not sure about that, this Idea of carbon offsetting is “barely new” among companies (in general). I only know that Intrepid (for example) already includes the cost for the carbon offset in your trip’s total cost. The actual number comes out to how many people really understand the concept and are willing to contribute with the environment.
We did a GAP tour in Peru. Our guides were great (Inca Trail, Amazon Rainforest, etc) but our tour leader was terrible. She was there to “facilitate”, but she really just sat in the car (although, to give her credit, she was on her last week with the company).
We enjoyed it – especially the Inca Trail. GAP is without a doubt the most sustainable operator in the region and they take care of their porters (nice backpacks, jackets, etc).
We took the tour because we thought Peru would be too dangerous on our own. In hindsight, travel throughout the country was easy and we probably would do it on our own if we did it again.
I’m doing the Inca Trail with Gap in September. I’ve heard they are one of the best to choose from to do the Inca Trail. So I guess you recommend taking the tour with them, but pray to get a different tour leader. lol
Did Peru in 2009 – awesome!
However, the guide was a big disaster – Miserable, complaining, disorganized person.
But I can’t blame GAP for that, I have done 3 trips with GAP and they are fine.
Hey Theresa, so great you had an awesome time in Peru. Wow, it’s bad that specific guide was bad, but I see you’ve done more tours with them so you know good they can be, as well as how important it is to have a good guide. 🙂
The Lares Trek is beautiful compared to Inca Trail (my two cents worth comment). The reason I say this is because, Inca Trail is steps,steps and more steps whereas the Lares Trek takes you higher, the view is spectacular with green gem coloured lakes and heady path ways one shares with the Lamas.
Loved the 3 day trek!
Next, must head off to Southeast Venezuela 🙂
I personally want to experience the Lares Trek in the future. I have a couple friends who’ve done it and they highly recommend it too. They’ve given similar comments on the terrain conditions and altitude.
I look forward to it!
Southeast Venezuela… that sounds interesting!
Happy Travels to you too, Theresa! 🙂
“The actual number comes out to how many people really understand the concept and are willing to contribute with the environment.”
And of course the other question is, does it?
You ever followed the trail of companies that your carbon offset dollars passes through, and how much each rakes off before you ever get to see your money plant a tree in Brazil or Niger?
Personally, we donate equivalent to conservation organisations working with communities or wildlife in Africa, knowing every dollar is effective at the coalface.
well, there I really don’t have an answer. Or my best answer would be “I just have faith that my contribution is going to the real cause”. But I will never know for sure if it really ends up there. Can you recommend of any organization that has a “transparent” donation process? Be it environmental or wildlife conservation. I will be good if more people get to know these types of organizations.
Great article. Thanks.
You have used an image of mine – the volcano one. I am happy for it to be used in the promotion of Intrepid as it was taken on one of their trips. But I am wondering where you got it from as I’m not that keen on it being readily available for use.
If you could let me know, thanks
Hi Sally –
Thank you for your comment. Yes, in fact the picture came from an Intrepid search. You are now given full credit on it. 🙂
BTW, it is a great picture!
Hi, that photo really is fantastic, I was just wondering, which volcano is it? And where?
Hi Charles –
That is Volcan Pacaya in Guatemala. Impressive indeed!
Really great photo. And great blog topic.
Good subject for a blog that one Norbert!
Currently our international donations go into child(6) sponsorships with Childfund,
two baby elephants,and 1 wild dog.
Oh and 1 village pump!
I appreciated your blog post. I am looking for a budget trip with my two kids. In the past I have hated tours and always travel on my own, but my kids enjoy having others to play with, so I’m considering this mode of travel in a small group. Might be nice also to have someone else organizing things instead of always having to be in charge myself.
I went on a tour in Peru with GAP in November 2008. The local tour guides were excellent, especially in the rainforest, and lodging was fine. I loved the country and had a great time for the most part.
The only bad part of the tour, really, was our horrible tour leader. He refused to translate vegetarians’ requests for vegetarian meals, insulted various members of my group in Spanish to the driver (not knowing I’m almost fluent in Spanish), rolled the van’s windows down in 45 degree weather and refused to close them despite many of us asking him to, pointed out dead dogs once he figured out that seeing them upset some of us, and was generally lazy, unpleasant, and helpful. I complained to GAP about him both while I was on the tour and after the tour (including several e-mails and filling out a survey about the trip) and never got a response from them. Needless to say, I won’t be travelling with GAP again.
Oh wow. I’m really sorry to hear that Jackie. Tour leaders are very influential in the experience you have at your destination. It’s sad your tour leader acted that way and for the poor response on GAP’s part. I personally have traveled with them on various occasions and haven’t had any issue, in fact, they have been amazing, but who knows if in the future I have a tour leader like yours that makes a negative impact on my trip experience.
Thanks for sharing with us your experience. It’s good to have both perspectives in order to make better informed decisions. 🙂
Jackie was your tour guide called David, he was peruvian and he was sexist and an awful tour guide – he made 3 people in our group cry!
GAp, are not worth the money. They make you eat at expensive restaurants so the guides get free meals, and change your accomodtion then belittle you in front of the group for questioning it. We were on a tight budget and were made to feel like scroungers for complaining that the indivated m,eals were not included, and the hotels changed to camping. Our tour guide had 3 ppl crying, and almost everyone vowing to complain upon return. Will I hear from GAP at all after complaining? it reamins to be seen. Here is my letter-
I am writing in regard to a recent ‘South America Overland – La Paz to Rio’ trip that my girlfriend Rachel Mullaney and I took part in dating from the 8th of June till the 6th July 2009. We feel that various aspects of the trip did not live up to the itineray as sold by Gap Adventure and as such would like to make a complaint concerning the areas we felt we were miss sold, and request a refund for the unsatisfactory aspects of the tour. The areas we are concerned with include transportation, provision for meals and accomodation, all of which at points along the journey did not live up to what was advertised.
Firstly the tour is advertised as an ‘overland tour’ in an overland truck. However we were actually given two 4×4 vehicles. Every other gap tour group we met had been given a different story as to why an overland truck was not available and the reason we were given that the truck could not get a permit to leave peru is not believable, as if this is the case why advertise this form of transport?
The 4×4’s broke down constantly (to the point where their road safety was questionable), allowed in copious amounts of dust, and more importantly one car actually only had space for four people, not five. This meant that if you were at either side you were sitting on both heightened plastic ledge and the lower seat. Given also that the suspension on this 4×4 went halfway through the trip, it was terribly uncomfortable. The journeys were often 10-16 hours long and to be barely able to walk for the next day after such a journey is entirely unacceptable. When booking a tour such as this you expect to be very comfortable, when in fact public transport would have been far more comfortable and a lot cheaper.
The constant theme of the tour appeared to be that whilst the itinary never changed, GAP(or our tour guide, it was uncertain as to which) had cut a lot of costs. The accomodation was an issue here, where in Iguassu falls we were made to camp instead of being in a hotel room for three nights. Our tour leader told us that the hotel we were meant to stay in was 90 reais a night, whereas our camping was only 15. Therefore I would like to be refunded the difference for those 3 nights for myself and Rachel as we had in fact paid for those nights in the cost of the trip. What was also massively hypotrical was the tour guides response to our questioning as to why the accomodation had been changed. He was very rude and abrupt and upset my girlfriend. He also declared that if he had it his way the whole trip would be camping, and then upon arrival at Foz de Iguassu he promptly upgraded himself into a room and left us to camp. The fact that we were offered an upgrade to a room for a fee was even more insulting, as it was clear there were plenty of rooms for everyone that GAP just did not want to pay for.
Another issue throughout the trip was the lack of included meals. We did not recieve half of them, particularly in Brazil. The GAP website advises to bring $400 for food, and we easily spent double that. When we would question our tour guide as to why the meals that were indicated as being included on the itinary were not included he was again very rude, stating that GAP do not give him a budget that would cover all the meals meant to be included in Brazil. If we were travelling for a whole day and arrived at the campsite at night he would also say it was simply too late to cook, again getting out of giving us the food we paid for. In Bolivia on a long journey we were once given a packed lunch, this would have been a satisfactory solution in Brazil also, however the guide said that there simply was not a budget for a packed lunch in Brazil.
The meals that the tour guide did include were often questionable. For example one dinner in Chochis was a plate of horsemeat to be passed around and eaten, the next night a plate of beef. Whilst we were grateful to actually be getting a meal that we were entitled to, many of the group were not keen on just eating ‘finger food’ meat for every meal. Another example would be the one included meal in Paraty (out of 3 nights where all meals were meant to be included) when he asked us all to be back at 3pm for lunch, but did not cook it until 5pm therefore wasting our day and also avoiding cooking any dinner. It was at this point where everyone in our group had given up asking the guide why things were not included as doing so invited no useful response and generally illicted both rude and confrontational behaviour from the guide.
Even more irritating was the fact that because we did not know which meals would or would not be included it meant that we would sometimes be left with no choice other than to miss meals and go to bed hungry. On journeys we would be left with no choice but to pay for food in expensive service stations/ roadside restaurants or wait until our destination where potentially no food would be offered. If David had been honest and said ‘there are no meals included in Brazil’ we could have purchased our own food from the supermarket as we would usually do when travelling instead of always eating out.
Myself and Rachel were sold the trip as including a lot of meals, and the itinary indicated every camping meal included and many of the travelling days had meals included too. This is why paying £1150 and a $600 local payment each in total for the trip seemed worth it as we knew we could have a smaller budget as most food was included. However given that half the food was not included and we spent double the $400 estimated food cost, we would both like to be refunded for the food we had to buy.
It is clear that we recieved a cut cost version of the trip that we paid full price for, and this is simply unacceptable.GAPs cost cutting measures for no other reason than to save the company money at the expense of the tour group
Hi Rachel – Wow, sorry to hear you had such a bad experience and I totally understand why you would never travel again with them. It’s too bad you had a guide that had such a negative effect in your trip. Hopefully the destinations lived to the expectations. 🙂
What I can say (having traveled with them more than a few times with positive experiences) is that their tours are not focused on being “very comfortable”, unless they are labeled as “comfort” tours. From my experience, overland tours are not comfort. Gap (and Intrepid for that matter) focuses on providing and adventurous/off the beaten path experience where you will travel in local transportation ranging from pickup trucks, to overnight buses, to trains, and what not. Same thing goes for accommodations… most of their overland or off the beaten path tours do a combination of hotels, camping, sleeper trains, and others.
Something I want to stress is that they don’t “make you” eat on expensive restaurants. You have the full right to eat wherever you want. They might suggest and in some cases push for one particular restaurant, but in the end you choose to eat wherever you want. If the meal is included, then that’s another story, but then, you’re not paying that meal.
Now, I tried to find that exact same tour you mentioned on their site to give an informed response but I wasn’t able to find it under that name. The one I found is called “Brazil Crossing” and starts from La Paz all the way to Rio. I honestly don’t know if that’s the one you took (with a different name) or not, but it looks like the experience you had and described in your letter to Gap (in terms of destinations, accommodation, transportation, and included meals) is similar to what they are advertising on their site. But again, this is just an assumption since I wasn’t able to find it under the name given. (And I apologize in advance if I’m wrong).
On the guide… yes, there I have to say that a guide can make or break your experience. There is no excuse for a guide having that type of behavior and you did right in informing it to Gap.
Now, I’m not trying to defend them just for the sake, I’m just portraying my experiences and what I know about them. Thanks for sharing your experience since there always are possibilities of getting positive and negative experiences will every tour company. 🙂
Hi Norbert, thanks for your reply, I do see what you are saying, and with all of my complaints this was still an amazing and enjoyable trip because of the location and the friends we made. South america is so enjoyable, though it was a huge relief to get to the end of the trip an spend a few weekss in brazil without our tour guide!. the trip was la paz–> Rio.
The whole point of why I was so annoyed was the false advertisement of the trip, things that were meant to be included (entrance fees, hotels, meals) were not.
Having hitchicked and camped around various parts of the world comfort isn’t a must for me, but when you pay for something you then expect it.
For example if the itinary said camping then that would be fine, but to watch the tourguide spend the budget on booze for himself then check himself into a hotel we were meant to be in while we have to camp in our tents with holes in being bitten by mossies, with no food after a 14 hour drive in a car where 4 people were squeezed into two bucket seats, with no seatbelts working (at one point our wheel fell off and we almost crashed so this was a consideration) it just ruins the day. If you have paid a local fare for this tranport you laugh it off and take a couple of painkillers for your aches but if you have worked over a year to save for the trip and dont get the things you are meant to then it is not on.
I dont think people consider that they may need to spend a lot more, as costs are cut, and that if the tour guide is awful you are stuck with him! I mean especially for single women, this guy d to sleep with the one single girl on our trip, he later ranted at her for an hour about her being a christian making her cry, and she still had to spend the next few weeks in his company! The guide was so sexist he wouldnt even hand the keys to the rooms etc to me, he said ‘the man’ ie my boyfriend had to take the keys, similarly when I complained about the cuts to the trip he would only respond to my boyfriend.
Our drivers hated the guide too, as he would not let them stop to eat and tried to force them to just keep driving, we will be good friends the driversfor year to come though as they even showed us around rio once the trip was over and were fun drinking partners!
A friend of mine went on a similar trip with GAP and was in a spacious bus and looked to be having a great time with a great tour guide, and seemed to get all of the accomodation they were meant to (but not the meals) so on the other hand I am glad there are positive experiences out there!
Anyhow I feel bad about my rant but I did want people who were in my position to not do th trip unless they have ‘back up money’ in case the same thing happens to them!
Oh, definitely… I’m glad you expressed yourself and let us know about your experience since it happens, not everyone has a great experience with Gap (or any other tour company). But, I’m glad you had the chance to enjoy each destination.
From what I see the experience was highly affected by your tour guide. It’s a shame it happened to you. I hope Gap took care of him, because I believe he should not be guiding tours anymore since he affects a lot the experience of travelers. Good thing the drivers were good drinking partners and showed you around! 😉
I hope this doesn’t prevent you from taking other tours in the future, whether with Gap, Intrepid, or any other tour company.
I booked a trip to Peru with GAP, “Amazon to the Andes,” on a total whim, by myself, without reading reviews… I have to say I am now extremely nervous…. I’m used to traveling alone and am fine with very rustic conditions… However, now I’m just worried about having all my stuff stolen etc… Norbert.. It’ll be fine.. right?!?!?!
Hi Deb – Wow, so exciting you’re doing the “Amazon to the Andes” tour. I took the first part of that tour, which is basically the “Inca Trail” tour, so I can say by experience you’re going to have an amazing time! Actually, I wrote three posts about my Inca Trail trip here. (they are a series, so you can start with the first and continue). While on the tour, there’s nothing to worry about. I don’t think you should worry about getting your stuff stolen or anything. Remember, all the other travelers are in the same position as you, and no one is thinking about that since all they want is to enjoy their time. 😉 The porters are the most humble and serviceable people you’ll ever see, and the guides are very knowledgeable and friendly.
I’m sure you’re going to have an awesome time, as Gap has a very strong stand in Peru, and this is one of the most recommended Gap tours. You’re going to be fine, there’s nothing to be nervous about! Let me know how it goes or if you want to know more about this trip in particular. 😉
I travel solo – and nothing was stolen – recently came back from Vietnam the guide was a great guy and looked after us (some might not think so but it all depends on what you demant on the trip).
Did the Amazon thing too with GAP – be ready for fun (the night cruise in a tiny boat was awesome!) you get to check out caiman.
Nothing was stolen – I will say this don’t wear expensive stuff (you call attention to yourself).
enjoy the ride!
Wow Theresa! You’re really a globetrekker! I’m glad to read that. 😀
It’s cool you also had a positive experience and had no issue with getting things stolen or something similar.
Great article Norbert – thanks for sharing information on Adventure Travel, and your thoughts.
By-way-of-introduction, my name is Lyndon File, and I am part of the Gap Adventures team. I just wanted to add some clarification to the post by Rachel.
Traveller feedback allows us to get better at what we do and that is positive energy that is created by something like this. As a company we really appreciated the opportunity. Our lead with service culture was all over this, and there were a lot of people in our organization who will learn because she gave us the opportunity, and that excites me. We pride ourselves on having the best possible customer experience and this was not for her and her fellow travelers, and I apologize.
We received the feedback posted above on 10th August 2009. We sent the below reply on August 24th 2009. (I have removed any confidential information and posted our reply below for clarity).
24 August 2009
Unfortunately, the overland truck that was scheduled for this departure experienced mechanical problems and at short notice, we had to provide an alternative mode of transportation. The 4X4 vehicles provided was the only viable alternative available to us as we could not secure a permit with a bus or another overland truck at such short notice. Due to the last minute nature of this change, we could not sent out a proper notification. We regret to learn of their disappointment with the alternative transportation provided, and apologize for any inconvenience they experienced.
The service level of the SLLR is basic, and therefore the type of accommodation provided is either simple hotels or camping. As the group experienced, the accommodations in Iguassu Falls were changed from hotel to camping. Although our terms and conditions allow us the flexibility to make such changes, we regret to learn that a proper notification of the change was not sent. The trip details for the SLLR have since been updated and this change is reflected.
We have addressed the concerns regarding the meals provided with his Tour Leader, David. David has advised that he informed the group during the briefing that there would be long travel days and meals included on these days would be replaced by others, which they were. David has also advised that at times when the group arrived at a destination late, he would ask the group if they were hungry. If they were, he would cook a meal, however at times the group was too tired to eat and he therefore didn”t. Please note, we have reviewed all the feedback received and this concern is not shared by all the participants. This is not mentioned to minimize the concerns, however trust puts matters into perspective.
We appreciate the comments on David”s performance. We are very much aware that the performance of our Tour Leaders is the largest influence on the success (or otherwise) of our tours. We apologize for the lack of professionalism they may have experienced. We have also reviewed David”s evaluations from all of his recent tours and they have overall been positive. Although no other complaints were received on his performance, we forwarded these comments to our Operations Department who in turn will address them with David accordingly.
We strive to provide our travellers with a positive and rewarding travel experience and we sincerely regret to learn that we failed to meet expectations. We thank you for taking the time to inform us of his concerns and allowing us the opportunity to improve our services for future travellers. As a gesture of goodwill, we have processed a refund in the amount of xxx per person. We sincerely hope to have the opportunity to welcome you aboard another worldwide adventure and can restore their trust in our company.
Hi Lyndon – Thanks for sharing your response regarding Rachel’s feedback. To me it seems like a well rounded response and even generous in refunding whatever amount you felt was prudent. Like Feedback, good or bad, is always good to get since it helps improve and provide the best service and experience.
Thank you so much for inputting your perspective to the discussion and for sharing this response, as it helps put things into perspective. 🙂
I just signed up for my 7th GAP tour (now called G Adventures…) I had absolutely delightful trips with GAP in Ethiopia, South Africa to Tanzania, China, and India (twice-different parts of the country). I did not enjoy my tour in Japan although I loved the country. I left the tour early and just traveled on my own. I am now going to Ecuador with GAP. I did day trips with Intrepid in Southeast Asia (mostly Vietnam) and loved those too. The tour leader can make or break a trip. I have also done tours with other more traditional tour companies and absolutely love the GAP and Intrepid type tours. I will never do another tour with another company unless these companies suddenly become really bad for some reason that I cannot see. In some places where the language and culture is very different from what I am used to, these kinds of tours really help ease you into it. After my tours I have usually spent additional time on my own and felt much more prepared for navigating on my own than I would have otherwise. Even as much as I did not like my tour guide in Japan, for instance, I would have been worried about trying to go to Japan on my own. By being with the tour group for a couple of weeks (or maybe 10 days) I felt ready to tackle it on my own.
Renee, It’s so good you’re sharing your experience here! I’m glad you’ve had good experiences with both Gap Adventures (G Adventures) and with Intrepid Travel. Like you said, the tour guide can make or break the trip, but it’s good that in most of your trips they have been positive. Like you, I also like to travel on my own after doing the tour. It helps a lot in getting used to the country’s customs, language, and travel style. In many cases, it is better to do it that way than to do it all on your own from scratch.
Hope you have a great time in Ecuador with G Adventures!! 🙂
I am about to book a tour to Japan and finding it very hard to decide between Intrepid and G adventures! I was just wondering why in particular you did not like your Japan tour with G adventures?
Have you ever traveled with Geckos? I looked at them, G Adventures, and Intrepid for travel to Africa.
Hi AJ –
I haven’t traveled with Geckos, but I’ve heard they cater mostly to young/college-like travelers.
On the other hand, I’ve heard good things about G Adventures and Intrepid for Africa.
Sorry I couldn’t provide much more info there.
Good to know. That wouldn’t be my crowd, so I appreciate the insight. Thank you!
You’re welcome AJ. I would still recommend checking out some travel forums and read the experiences of people who’ve actually traveled with them. Who knows, maybe they do have different age groups in their tours. 🙂
This is a great comparison! Well done!
I have traveled with both companies and have had amazing experiences with both.
I have noticed a certain higher level of quality with intrepid, especially where the leaders are concerned. It’s hard to hate on one when they are both trying really hard to provide great experiences. I went to Peru and morocco and the US with Intrepid and India, ethiopia & Egypt with g adventures.
Something that surprised me the most was the best trip by far that i have done with both companies was my Intrepid trip in the US. Our leader was absolutely phenomenal. So much passion and took us places that were not in any guidebook. He was really proud to be a tour leader for Intrepid and it showed. I might have to disagree that g adventures is the better option in North America. I didnt even know that gap has trips in north america.
Thanks Theo! Like you mentioned, both companies are great, and from your own experience, you can say that the guides can make or break the travel experience. I truly believe in this. I’m glad you had great experiences with both companies, they truly are good companies, so you won’t fail when choosing between either of them.
Thank you for this comparison. I have been doing a lot of research. I was looking at both Intrepid and G Adventures.
I would like to see as much of South America as possible. I am a 27 year old female travelling solo, so safety is HUGE for me. I decided to look at these two companies because, as you mentioned, they are known, have been around for a while and I feel they attract travelers like myself. I want to take advantage of travelling with a group and go “off the beaten path” as my version of backpacking. I have never done that before.
So I found a couple of tours with these companies, I am looking at 60-80 day tours. G Adventures is winning because of the fact that one of their tours is ideal for my time off work. But I have read a lot of negative reviews about their customer service and tour leaders, where as I haven’t found much regarding Intrepid. So now I am debating which to go with.
It’s a tough decision to make. If I had a friend to travel with then I would plan this without going through a company. I am going to be investing a lot of time into this trip so I want it to be a good one. It seems that Intrepid’s biggest con/difference than G is the money. I would fork out more money for a better experience.
I guess my question is if you have heard anything about both companies’ long tours. Have you heard any good/bad things about them? Do you have any additional advice?
Sorry I rambled on, but I am stuck!
Thanks for your time! I posted in Tripadvisor to get some advice but got zero responses. I am hoping you can help!
Hi RD –
Sorry for my late reply, but I’m glad to see that a fellow traveler and Intrepid Editor gave you a few pointers there. I would say to take good consideration on both companies as they are of great quality. I personally travels with Gap or G Adventures to Peru and my experience couldn’t have been any better! I’ve heard and experienced good things with both companies, so my decision between one and the other would be between dates convenience, money, and sights visited. With regards to quality and experience, they are both great and highly professional. What I guarantee is that you won’t go wrong by choosing either of these companies.
I definitely recommend traveling solo with both company as I’ve done it myself and I’ve met so many other travelers doing it that way too. You’ll see that by the end of your trip, you all will b very good friends. Still to this day I keep good friendships with my “Gap/Intrepid friends”.
I personally haven’t done a long trip with either company, but I’m met many travelers who have done it. Their long trips are based on a combination of subsequent short trips, so your group of travelers will change every one or two weeks, unless the trip is originally scheduled and a whole from beginning to end.
Like Deb said, you have to pick and choose which “bad” reviews to take into consideration. From my own experience, many of the people who give bad reviews they do so based on “unrealistic” expectations. For example… It’s like saying you saw a cockroach in your jungle hut in the middle of the Amazon… um, what where you expecting? You’re int he middle of the jungle, that is to be expected!!
If you have any other questions, feel free to let me know and I’ll do my best to help (and not take as long to reply)… haha
It sounds like you are planning a fantastic trip in South America! Doing all the research and trying to choose the trip that’s best for you is a big deal. I won’t go into a big sales pitch about Intrepid (I’ve been working with them for nearly 14 years) but just a couple of points to note:
Intrepid spends a great deal of time training and monitoring the performances all of our teams on the ground. In addition to extensive destination training, we also focus heavily on safety, first aid, local interaction and responsible travel. It’s vital that our team know how to interact appropriately in the communities that we visit, but are also able to understand the needs of international travellers.
In South America we have a fantastic team of very experienced leaders who have been with Intrepid for many years and have a proven record of being able to cope extremely well in emergency situations. As well has having an unrivalled knowledge of the region they also have an excellent understanding of the expectations of Intrepid travellers.
Travelling solo on our trips is no problem and certainly not unusual, as you’re likely to find others choosing to do the same. Plus you won’t have to pay any extra unless you wish to reserve your own room.
Whatever you decide we’re sure you’ll have an amazing experience, as South America is extraordinary and absolutely brimming with fantastic real life experiences!
Sue, Intrepid Express Editor
Thank you for the info on Intrepid Sue! I appreciate it. I am still doing my research though. Trying to narrow it down to a couple if trips to make my decision.
Thank you Sue for sharing your info with RD and us!
I am wondering what overland company would be more comfortable for an active 60 year old?
This past August I went with GAP to Peru. It was amazing. My leader was awesome! He was fun, knew everything about everywhere we went, and it was one of the best trips I have taken. The people in the group were just as great as our leader… I was only on a 10 day trip, but we joined with others on 60 day trips and they said that their entire adventures were perfect. I definitely reccomend GAP, don’t listen to the bad reviews. They made me nervous, however they couldn’t have been farther from the truth.
Thank you Deb! It’s refreshing to hear your positivity! I appreciate your input. I’m narrowing down the tours from both companies to choose the best itinerary I guess.
Thanks Deb for helping RD and sharing your experience with us.
ps. im a 25 yo female solo traveler. I actually made a great friend on the trip and I’m going to visit her in Germany in may!
This is very helpful Norbert! I’m considering going to Peru this year so did a search and lo and behold, this article came up. 🙂 Intrepid is having a 2-for-1 special so I’ve been leaning that way. Why did you say you prefer G Adventures for Peru? (I have never taken an organized tour before, so this will be a new experience for me. I’ve always planned my own adventures but figure Peru is a place that I need a tour in order to experience it best.)
Well, just like you, before heading to Peru I did a huge amount of research to find the best company I could go with to do the Inca Trail. At that time I found G Adventures to have “more ground” and “experience” in the Inca Trail. That was the main reason why I went with them. I can say that Intrepid also does good trips in Peru, as I ran across a few of the Intrepid travelers and they seemed to have a good experience there. But, I haven’t tried Peru with them, yet.
In my case, I used G Adventures for the Inca Trail, but the rest of Peru I did on my own, like I usually do. I would recommend you to used any of the two tour operators for the Inca Trail (if you’re doing it… and even Peru Treks, a more local company that has a good reputation), and do the rest of Peru on your own if you don’t mind taking buses all around the country.
Let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with!
Great blog Norbert! I’m glad I came across your list! What a great help! I have often wondered which one was better myself, and although I haven’t tried Intrepid yet, I was thinking about checking them out for Africa and China. I did one Gap Adventure tour to Patagonia back in 2004, but unfortunately it was also with David. His last name began with a C. It must be the same tour leader because he was lazy and offensive to the guests, loved to drink to the point of intoxication, and he spoke poorly about guests in Spanish to the locals (he really should have watched what he said. A lot of people understand Spanish!). I swore it would be my first and last tour with them, but then again, I know that everyone is different. Not all tour leaders are like David. I just can’t believe that he is still working there!
Thanks SLP! Oh wow, sorry that you had the tour with David. It seems like he’s not the type of person that should be leading tours. He’s hurting Gap’s reputation and it is a shame, since Gap (or G Adventures) is a great company. Hopefully he’s still not working there. I do recommend you check both, G Adventures and Intrepid for Africa and China. I’m sure you wont go wrong by choosing any of them. Me personally, I’m doing another G Adventures tour in Kilimanjaro! So, I’ll let you all know how’s the experience with them.
Nice! I’m heading there in 3 months 🙂 Which route are you doint?
Doing it with G Adventures – this will be my 4th tour with them.
Hi Theresa, I did the Marangu route. G Adventures was great all the way! So cool… 4th, eh, I see you’ve had good experiences with them!
This is a great find, Norbert. Thanks for posting this! Like a lot of the recent commentators, I’ve been looking into going to Peru and hiking Machu Picchu and a lot of the comments here are very helpful. I’m taking a small sized group, around 6 – 7 of us and originally wanted to plan the trip ourselves, but since none of us have ever done extensive trips like this I figure an adventure group would be best for the Inca Trail portion.
I’ll be honest, after reading the comments I’m leaning towards Intrepid rather than Gap. They have a good deal going on now (2 for 1) and all the negative comments seem to be geared towards Gap tour leaders. What did you recommend Gap specifically for Peru in your post?
Any comments/suggestions/tips would be much appreciated. I’m currently looking to book one of the tours for the hike, and then spend a week or so exploring Peru ourselves.
Thanks – Jonathan
Hi Jonathan –
Thanks for your comment. Yes, honestly, it is more common to find negative comments towards Gap than towards Intrepid. In the post, I recommend Gap for Peru because of the Inca Trail. I did the Inca Trail with them and they were beyond amazing. Not only that, but Gap has a good reputation there and they have good grounds with the amount of groups they lead there and their resources. Now, outside of the Inca Trail, either Gap or Intrepid will do fine, I think.
If Intrepid is 2 for 1, I’s say go with them. You won’t go wrong choosing between Gap or Intrepid.
As for your idea of going on your own after the Inca Trail, I say, go for it! That’s what I did, and Peru is very easy to travel on your own. They have a good bus system (Seyuz bus) that can take you to almost any part of the country.
Please, let me know if you need any help with Peru. I’ll be glad to help!
There’s a lot of differing opinions out there.. Let me add mine.
My wife and I just finished a G Adventures (formerly Gap Adventures) 9-day tour from Johannesburg, South Africa to Victoria Falls, Zambia. We couldn’t have had a better time! A few thoughts:
– So much depends on the tour guide. Our guide, Vladia Bajerovska, was fantastic. She was both a great organizer and a great cheerleader, making sure everybody was included and knew what was going on. She had a lot of knowledge, both natural (describing animals) and practical (navigating border crossings). She answered all of our questions, no matter how many times we asked. I can’t say enough good things about her. Our driver, Stefan, was also fantastic.
– A lot also depends on your group. We had 20 people, mixed group from US/UK/Canada/Australia, aged from mid-20s to mid-40s. By the end of the trip we were all great friends. Our tour involved a lot of “participatory camping”, meaning everybody had to pitch in to load/unload the truck, chop veggies for dinner, etc. Everybody pitched in without even having to ask, which was great. Obviously this is one of those things where one bad apple can spoil the bunch… There was a little bit of drinking at the campsites (some had bars, others were BYOB), but everybody was pretty much in bed by 10.
– We had the “basic” accommodation level, and believe me, it was BASIC. We spent nearly every night in tents, though there was an option to upgrade to a cabin at some sites. If you enjoy camping for multiple days, you’ll be fine. But if you’re the type to whine because there’s no hot water in the shower, or there’s a bug in your tent, or your sleeping bag smells funny after a week, you won’t have fun.
– There was a lot of driving, sometimes 4-5 hours per day. The overland truck was pretty sweet, though spartan. Personally, I didn’t mind the long drives; I had a well-stocked Kindle, great scenery to look at, and a truck-full of people to get to know. But this might get tiresome for some people. Read the itinerary carefully.
– A lot of the activities billed as “optional” were pretty much required, if you wanted to have fun. The focus of our tour was African game drives, and except for one, they were all “optional”, and cost between US$30-50 dollars each. My wife and I had decided ahead of time to do all of the optionals (spent approximately $250 total for each of us) and I’m glad we did, but if you’re a penny-pincher, I could see it getting annoying. Again, read the itinerary carefully.
All in all, I feel that by taking G Adventures, we were able to see a lot more of southern Africa than if we had just gone on our own. I suppose it depends on your comfort level in the third world, but there were some situations (choosing safe markets to shop at, bribing corrupt SA police (really!), and navigating the crazy Botswana-Zambia border crossing) that I know I wouldn’t have been able to do by myself, and least not without great stress. The lodging and travel is definitely not luxury, but I think it was more fun that way. All we had to do was spend a few nights roughing it and helping around the campsite, and we had the trip of a lifetime.
Hi Evan –
Thank you so much for sharing your opinion and experience with us. It will definitely help a lot of people looking for first hand experience accounts.
Could an active camping Davy 60 year old do that trip?
Hello everyone on this blog, it was great to read your comments and to get feedback on all your trips.
I travelled with Gap to India last summer and had an amazing time. Our guide was great. He was super helpful, very knowledgeable, extremely approachable and looked out for all of us. Several people got sick on the trip and he got a doctor when they needed one. To know, if you are expecting a real camel ride in the desert, this is not really what you are going to get; our guide said it used to be longer but people got too tired. I personally was hoping for something more adventuresome. In the 21 days we spent in Western India we saw more than I think I could have seen on my own. I am a single female travelling alone and that is why chose Gap. A couple of people on the trip had done other tours with Gap with more or less success. As people said above it really depends on the guide.
That said, I am interested in travelling alone. You make some excellent points, Norbert, about the optional activities. I appreciated them in India but I would like to travel for a bit less and on my own schedule. It was great that our guide took us to restaurants because you need to be careful what you eat in India. It was more expensive though and it felt like you were compelled to eat at every meal.
At the moment I am pretty conflicted about what I want to do. I want to go to Central America and Gap has a bunch of great trips. The one big difference I have noticed between Gap and Intrepid is that Gap does all their Central American tours in both directions, which gives you more choice, while Intrepid only goes south. This doesn’t work for me as I want to end in Mexico City and see the Day of the Dead festivities. Secondly, the trip I am looking at with Intrepid is new and there doesn’t seem to be any feedback about it. In fact, I have read more reviews (good and bad) about Gap, even on this blog, which I find odd. In response to a note in your article, Gap’s tours in Central America are actually one to two hundred dollars more expensive than Intrepid’s.
I guess I am wondering if anyone has any feedback about travelling in Central America with Gap, Intrepid or just solo.
Happy travelling to everyone!
Hi Ninajane –
thanks for sharing your experience with Gap in India. Regarding Central America, depending on how savvy you feel you are, I highly recommend doing it solo. I’ve done it solo, and I also traveled a little bit with Gap (in Belize). Both experiences were good, but I love my time as solo traveler since Central America has a really good backpacking trail and you will meet a lot of people there. Being on your own will allow you some flexibility that being on a group will not give you.
Please, if you like more info on Central America travel, feel free to let me know.
Above you said this:
South America – Intrepid. Except for Peru, which you should do with G Adventures.
Latin America – G Adventures
Can you tell me what exactly you mean by Latin America?
Im 22 and traveling to Mexico and South America with my friend. We are going for 2 months and we want to do most of the trip by ourself but just do one 15-20 day tour. Im wondering whether you think it would be better to do Mexico on our own or whether we should travel South America by ourself and leave the tour for Mexico.
Just wondering which trip did you do with G Adventures? I’m thinking of either doing the YOLO Roam India or the Essential India one. I’m a female traveling alone so just want to compare.
Glad to hear it was a good experience.
I just finished both a 26 day Intrepid tour and a 10 day gap tour thru South East Asia, and I have to say I was much more impressed with the intrepid tour.
This all came down to the Guide. The Gap guide was going thru the motions and sometimes we didn’t see him for 2 days at a time. Even in his home town, he provided very few details on what as good to do, then disappeared.
The options offerred were very basic, basically a Tuk Tuk to the temple, whereas Intrepid arranged local guides and better local transport.
I would think twice before travelling with Gap again, because of this experience.
Thanks for sharing your experience David!
I booked a few trips with Intrepid during a 6 month travel adventure across north and south america.
Personally, I found the level of service better with Intrepid than I did with Gap and I liked the idea of small groups purely from a practical perspective – herding a big group day in, day out would seem like time wasted to me! Most of their trips are guaranteed too so you don’t have to worry about any last minute cancellations which could mess up your plans
I booked a trip in North America going through the national parks as it couldn’t be done without booking a car and was really affordable for that it packed in during 8 days. In south America, the tour guides were excellent and helped where there was a language barrier and to make the experience as good as it could be (recommending great places to eat, bars, day trips etc) plus I loved the bits that took you off the beaten track eg. visiting local communities, homestays etc.
I would have no hesitation recommending Intrepid to anyone looking to book travel trips – they sure came up trumps for me!
Thanks for sharing your experience, Liz!
Hi! This is such a great page, thank you!
I have been planning to do a trip in the US for ages now, and I am leaning towards G adventures. I am currently 17, but will be 18 by the time of the trip. I only just came across Intrepid today, and I found a very similar trip to the one I want to do from G adventures. They are both around 22 day tours, so I would want to choose my best option, as I will be there for 3 weeks!
From experience on your tours, were there many solo travellers with either companies, or travellers around a similar age to me (18)?
By the way, I am planning to do a tour from New York to San Fransisco, through chicago, south dakota and those sorts of places. If anyone has done a similar trip to this, please let me know how it was, and from what company. 🙂
Thank you, and I look forward to your reply! 🙂
Hi Madi –
Great that you’re planning that trip through the US! In my experience, yes, most of the time there are solo travelers around your age, and whether they are solo or not, it is almost certain that there will be someone close to your age. On all the trips I’ve done (applies to both companies), most of the people range between 18 to 30. G Adventures and Intrepid appeal to young adventurous travelers.
I personally haven’t done a trip like that, but I recommend you check out Amanda’s blog – http://www.dangerous-business.com/ – as I know she did a really cool road trip through the US, so she might be able to help you with that. 🙂
Feel free to let me know if you have any other questions!
Okay, great, thank you! I just didn’t want to end up being the only solo traveller, in a group of older couples or anything 😛
Awesome, thanks for the blog! It looks really interesting 🙂
Hmm, tough choice! I’ve been on three Intrepid trips now – South America, Indochina and Sri Lanka. The South American trip was code-shared with GAP, so I’ve had a little experience of both. Fantastic trips all round though – brilliant guides and great travel companions … the small group thing is really a great way to travel! It’s hard to say which company is better – I think the pros and cons you’ve described are pretty accurate. Will definitely be back for more! 🙂
Thanks for sharing Dave! Yes, sometimes it is hard to choose between the two because they are both strong companies and they do deliver good tours. I would keep traveling with them because so far I’ve only had positive experiences.
Hi Norbert! Thanks for such a great article! 🙂 I’m planning on spending a couple of months in Central America next year. I will be there for a month on my own then my boyfriend is coming out to join me for the second month. I’ve been doing a lot of research but still have a few of questions I hope you could help me with (I’m a 26 year old girl by the way)…
I’m thinking of doing one of the G Adventure trips from Costa Rica to Guatemala on my own (I chose G simply because they run their trips in the northerly direction which suits me better in this instance), but I’m unsure which trip style to choose – there is a “Classic” trip and a “YOLO” trip that I am interested in. Do you know how different the two styles are? The YOLO is a lot cheaper, and I don’t mind budget travel/accommodation, but I’m wondering if it will be a bunch of teenagers who want to do nothing but drink and party?? (I think I must be getting old!)
After one of these trips, I am planning to meet my boyfriend in Guatemala and travel up through Belize and Mexico. Would you recommend we did this independently instead of with Intrepid/G? I have travelled S.E. Asia on my own before and loved it, but I’ve heard a lot more about safety issues in Central America. Is this just hype?? Is there a good backpacker scene through these countries? (i.e. is it easy enough to get around on local buses, trains etc? does travel/accommodation need to be pre-booked or can you just turn up as and when?)
Also, how important is it to be fluent in Spanish? I know the bare essentials (i.e. hola and cerveza! ;D) and will definitely make an effort to learn more before I go, but languages aren’t my strong point :/
Sorry for so many questions! Thanks so much for your help! 🙂 Heather
Hi Heather –
Thanks! Glad to help! Sounds like you have a pretty good idea on what you want to do on your trip, so that is good. Regarding “classic” and “YOLO”, YOLO is a bit more bareback and designed for young travelers who want to travel cheaper. These use budget accommodations and public transportation, often.
As per G Adventures, on the 4 trips I’ve done with them, there’s always been a mix of young and old, but thankfully, it’s been a good balance and all my groups have been amazing! For sure they will want to go out and drink, but remember, you’re not forced to do so if you don’t want to. Those are “extracurricular” activities where you participate as you wish.
On Belize and Guatemala, I would say, do it on your own with your boyfriend. Why? By then, after traveling with G, you will have an idea of what Central America is and how to manage through it. If you think you will feel comfortable, do it on your own (plus, if you tackled Southeast Asia, Central America will be smoother.)
On safety… The capitals tend to be a bit crazy and dangerous, but nothing extraordinary. I would recommend that if you don’t intend to see anything special in a capital city, skip it. The smaller cities are way much better (especially in Guatemala).
It is quite easy to move around. Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico have a really good “chicken bus” network and even “luxury” buses. Check ADO buses in Mexico, they are good and affordable.
On Spanish… It is not necessary, but it helps if you know a bit. Guatemala and Mexico have a big backpacker scene, so you will find people who speak english (or at least a bit) in every place. Belize speaks English by default, since it’s their main language.
Hope this helps! Feel free to let me know if you have any question.
Thank you very much Norbert, that’s a great help! I’m sure more questions will pop up along the way so i will definitely be back for more from your knowledge bank! 🙂
I am a single woman planning a trip – potentially in India
I want to have a safe trip with good experience as well.
Has anyone done G adventures tour in India? Or can recommend another company?
Hi Robn –
Apologies on the delayed response. I would recommend checking G Adventures Watering Hole forum to see if there are people around who have shared their experiences. Also, if you go to Intrepid, you can see their feedback right on the specific tour page. As for other companies, I personally don’t know of any other that I would feel comfortable to recommend, but maybe someone else knows. 🙂
Thanks for your helpful article! I am planning a trip to Western Europe (August-September 2013). I noticed that you recommended traveling there alone, rather than on a tour. Why is that?
Hi Yvette –
Sorry for the delayed response. I recommend doing Europe on your own due to the massive travel infrastructure that is available and the ease of traveling there; whether you’re a newbie traveler or an experienced one. Europe is one of the easiest continents to travel thanks to the extensive rail network, the Schengen agreement between countries, the wide range of accommodation, and more. Plus, Europe itself is not the cheapest traveling on you own or with a tour, but on your own you can have a better control of spendings and possibly travel cheaper.
Please, if you have any other questions feel free to let me know.
Hi! I am a 32-year-old woman with some solo travelling experience (in Europe back in college, and the Dominican Republic) and other travel experience with people (but still including time alone), in Thailand and India. I am somewhat confident in solo travel but also do think that it might be fun to have others around, and make the whole travel experience a lot less stressful, and also take a lot of the hard work of research and planning out of the details of travel, if I do one of these tours. I am dedicated to going to Vietnam and had looked at both G and Intrepid’s tours… It seems like Intrepid definitely has fewer complaints than G in general (from looking around the web), but I wondered if anyone had any experience with their Vietnam tours? And is it worth it for someone like myself? Or is Vietnam easy enough to get around that I should just go for it solo? I would really like to see scenic, more rural areas, which is also one reason to consider a tour rather than being on my own.
Any advice would be appreciated!
(And thanks for this very objective breakdown of the difference between the companies.)
Hi Alison! Thanks for your comment. I haven’t traveled Vietnam, so I really don’t know about it (but hopefully another reader will!), but in the meantime I recommend you check either G Adventure’s Watering Hole (forum) to see if people have posted there their experience on this tour, or go to Intrepid’s site and look for the tour of your interest to read the feedback they display there. Sorry I couldn’t help much more there, but hope some else can. 🙂
As a side note, I’ve heard Vietnam is “relatively easy” to travel given their wide range of bus routes and backpacking infrastructure. But it will all depend on how you feel traveling on your own and how comfortable you are dealing with everything on the road.
I traveled Vietnam solo a couple of years ago when I was 24. This was my first solo travel experience and I absolutely loved it! I started off in Thailand then Cambodia and Laos, but actually found Vietnam to be the easiest to get around out of all these countries!
I started in Hanoi, where I bought a jump-on-jump-off bus ticket to Saigon (these are available in all hostels and travel agents and you can choose how many stops you want along the way – I think I had 6 and it cost around $US50) The buses are excellent quality, many with completely reclinable seats for overnight journeys. I found absolutely no stress with the travel, i just winged it the whole way – you can just go to any travel agent at any time to book onto your next bus, the locals pretty much all speak English and are extremely friendly. And with regards having other people around, you can’t help but make friends in Vietnam! There is a huge backpacker trail both north- and south-bound. I actually found the buses the best place to meet people – especially after a long overnight journey, everyone wants some company to groggily find a hostel!
I cant really speak too much about going off the beaten track because I seemed to pretty much follow the main trail, but there are lots of travel agents around offering plenty of different mini-tours. So I would say go and do it solo to keep flexibility, but look into short tours for the more rural excursions.
Hope this is of some help! Have a great time! 🙂
I’m curious as to why you say in Western Europe go on your own. I’m an American so I know that in Western Europe most people speak English but the reason I like group tours you can make friends that you travel with, I get lonely traveling by myself, and I can spend my time traveling not look for hotels, places to eat and listening to the guides instead of reading guidebooks.
I actually asked Norbert the same question a few weeks ago, and this was his response:
“I recommend doing Europe on your own due to the massive travel infrastructure that is available and the ease of traveling there; whether you’re a newbie traveler or an experienced one. Europe is one of the easiest continents to travel thanks to the extensive rail network, the Schengen agreement between countries, the wide range of accommodation, and more. Plus, Europe itself is not the cheapest traveling on you own or with a tour, but on your own you can have a better control of spendings and possibly travel cheaper.”
Thanks Yvette for posting my reply! 🙂
Evangeline, that’s pretty much the reason why I recommend going on your own, but, since I noticed your concern of time and effort spent in the planning, then I think these two companies are well worth trying. Why? They are internationally recognized, have good quality tours, and they cover most, if not all, of the countries in Europe, so you have the flexibility of doing multi country trips with ease.
Please, feel free to let me know if I can help you with anything else. 🙂
..but if you COULD recommend a tour company for Western Europe, who could you recommend, would it be another company besides those two?
Your summery reviewing the two travel agencies is to the point. Here is our summery of the two trip we took with Intrepid:
29 Days of Central America, QVRPC
Just finished the Central American tour. Yes it was very basic, inferior transport and accommodations. The cost was the same than last year 29 days Indochina Loop (original) and which we most enjoyed, included most breakfasts, few lunches and dinners and excellent activities. Finally, Central American tour cost escalated with meals and activities. Some transportation was on local buses or packed mini buses and overloaded boats. Would not recommend this tour!
Dollar for dollar the Indochina Loop tour was infinitely superior to the Central American Tour. However, since we enjoyed the Indochina tour immensely and there was no choice of ‘original’ Central America tour we opted for the ‘basic’ not expecting this would double the initial tour cost with the added minimum activities and food. We spent at least another $1000 per person after carefully and frugally picking activities. The choice of hotels and their location was so poor that one was forced to take tours and visit more interesting parts of the areas. The Intrepid agent: Intrepid Myadventure Store in Toronto collected $404 pp fee for hardly any service to us. This fee should be reduced and money applied to better transport and accommodations. Most of the transport was on local buses, few times was upgraded to mini buses, and the boats to islands were overloaded. In summary, the tour was not good value for money.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Maria!
This question has been on my mind as of late because I am about to spend a week in Cusco. I am looking for a day trip to Machu Picchu, but am unsure as to whether I should go with G or Intrepid (one big plus is that the Intrepid is about $300 cheaper because it doesn’t include lodging – it’s just the 16 hours of the day trip).
So, I’m curious (and perhaps you’ve answered this in the comments and I missed it) – why do you say choose Intrepid everywhere else in South America except Peru?
Hi Lindsey –
Well, as for a day trip, I guess both companies would be equally good, but when I point to use G Adventures in Peru instead of Intrepid, I’m actually referring more to doing the Inca Trail with G. I did the Inca Trail with G myself, and I have to say the experience was superb. I’ve also recommended G for the Inca Trail to friends and readers and all of them have given great feedback from it too. G has great knowledge and a great team of locals on the Inca Trail, so they have a good grip on that area.
But, if it is only a day trip to Machu Picchu, you wouldn’t go wrong with any of them. I would choose Intrepid since it seems to be cheaper.
Wonderful, thanks so much! I’m not much for organized tours and prefer to travel independently (my only other experience was actually a G tour of Costa Rica), but I’ve heard from multiple people that it’s best to have a guide to visit MP.
Thanks for the quick reply 🙂
True, I too also recommend having a guide on MP since they give you a lot of background history and facts you wouldn’t otherwise know (unless you inform yourself well enough of it before going). MP is a wonderful place, and it makes it even better when you know that you’re getting good information and can ask anything about it. So many interesting things you might want to ask about. 🙂
I traveled to Egypt with my two adult children last spring with G-Adventures, and must say the guide was FABULOUS! Not only did he know about the history of Egypt, knew the temples like the back of his hand, but was also willing to discuss the current political situation in Egypt. With ease he handled a last minute cancellation of an overnight train — having to arrange flights, transportation and last minute added hotel rooms. Kind, gracious and professional, he went above and beyond to make our trip memorable, and safe. You couldn’t have asked for more or better!
I have also traveled with Explore, and although we had some good trips with them, after the last trip, years ago, a bike trip in South Africa, we never traveled with them again. A bike trip which started on day one with not enough bikes the correct size (even though that information was requested during booking process) there were not enough tall people bikes nor shorter people bikes (frustrating/dangerous). There was no briefing on the bikes, or use of disk brakes, and we had one woman go over the handle bars downhill into a cement bridge, ending up with a severe head injury in the middle of nowhere. She left the trip to go back home. The trip continued on it’s own nightmare course, with everyone on the trip grossly displeased, as the guides were useless, left the group to fend for themselves for Christmas lunch and dinner. They knew, or imparted, little about the region.They left a site without counting the number of clients in the van, and only realized there was someone missing an hour later, and didn’t know where the missing person was. Of course, there is more, but it just gets redundant.
While Explore refunded a very small portion of our money, they apologized about nothing. If they were smart they would have done the right thing, they should have abjectly apologized to everyone, maybe even comped everyone’s fees, or maybe given a voucher for a free trip next time — the trip was that bad. Our group finally bonded when we all got to our homes and started the process of writing our letters to Explore. We won’t ever travel with them again — and we had been devoted Explore travelers.
Our next trip is with Intrepid and I’m looking forward to traveling with them, it will be our first time. Loved G-adventures in Egypt!
Thanks for sharing your experience, Jen! I’m really happy you had a great trip in Egypt with G Adventures and that you’re looking forward to having a great experience with Intrepid. I’m almost certain that you will! 😉
Sorry to hear about your experience with Explore. I had not heard of them so I’ll check them out to see what they’re all about.
Did you feel awkward being “a little bit older” than the20 something’s?
Hi, love reading the reviews, some great info here! Myself and the other half are planning to do the Gorilla Express trip with Intrepid in mid-Oct. The plan was to a similar trip with G Adventures (I hadn’t heard of Inteprid untl recently) but the dates we want to go are fully booked so the travel agent suggested Intrepid. Has anyone gone Gorilla Trekking in Uganda with Intrepid, or gone to East Africa with them? Its a basix camping tour for 8 days to and from Kampala. Have to make a decision by tomorrow! Perhaps if G Adventures is ‘better’ than we should look at other dates? Any info is welcome!
Hi Saleema –
Maybe someone could give their experience with either G Adventures or Intrepid on the Gorilla trip or East Africa. While I haven’t done either specifically, I did the Kilimanjaro hike with G Adventures and they were superb! Again, I do vouch for them. Lately I’ve heard many travel bloggers vouch for intrepid on trips across East Africa and possibly even with the Gorillas is Uganda. But, should you choose between either company, I’m sure you’ll be in good hands and will most probably have a great trip and a great time.
Maybe someone can share their firsthand experience?
Hoep this helps!
Great blog! I’m looking to do Kili and Serengeti this August and am torn between the two companies – I have done multiple trips with both in the past in Central America, South America and SE Asia. You mentioned Intrepid is better in Africa yet you went with G Adventures….any reason for your choice??
I’d have to say your group has a big influence on your experience.
I’ve done three tours with G. The groups from the first two tours were okay, but the last one was where most of the group (about twelve) were twenty somethings from one country and only three or four were my age (40s, 50s) from elsewhere.
It didn’t take long for a kind of clique to form and not that there was any tension or anything it is a bit of a downer when you don’t have a good mix of people. The guide and itinerary were okay I guess but if I had known beforehand the makeup of the group and knowing what I know now I’m not sure if I would do it again.
Just my 2c.
True. The group you’re in will directly affect your experience since you will be interacting with them most of the time.
Trying to decide between intrepid and gap for Thailand including
Including the 7 day saing trip. Any advice?
It’s great to hear that you’re planning a Thailand trip – certainly a country that’s very close to Intrepid’s heart, since our first trip there was 25 years ago, plus it’s a fantastic destination for sailing. When you are considering our trips remember that many departures are guaranteed and if you’re travelling solo you don’t need to pay a single supplement, also all our trips are carbon offset and responsible travel is always front of mind. The sailing trips are in modern yachts that take up to 8 people and you can get involved in the actual sailing as much as you want, or you can sit back and let the crew take care of all that. You can see that previous travellers have rated our sailing trips 4.62 and higher out of 5. If you have any queries please don’t hesitate to contact email@example.com.
Sue – Intrepid Travel.
Thanks Sue for your input! 🙂
Hi Debra – Sorry for the late reply, but I believe Sue of Intrepid gave you a pretty good look on their side. As for me, I traveled Thailand with G Adventures (formerly Gap Adventures), and I had a great experience with them. I visited Thailand for the first time doing their island hopping tour, and I fell in love with the country thanks to my experience there.
Very helpful to be able to read the reviews. My wife and I have traveled with G adventures to Cuba, Peru and Tanzania. Last year we did New Zealand with Active New Zealand. They are another active travel company, more expensive that came with better accommodation and all meals. We are now looking at hiking in Nepal and I will look at G adventures, Intrepid and Active to see what these three have to offer. Are there other established active travel companies operating in this area?
Check out Babu’s Homestay in the Kathmandu Valley. You stay at his guesthouse in a Newari village, meet his family but he has western style facilities so it’s fairly comfortable. Also he can organise tour guides for you or help you independently travel in Nepal. He also leads hikes in the mountains as he used to be a hiking guide for many years. We’re still friends with him and his family since our trip. If you google Babu’s Homestay he’ll come up. Also check out the reviews on Trip Adviser. A more interesting option than a big tour company.
We did Intrepid thru Jordan and Egypt and had a fabulous time. Feisel was our guide in Jordan and he was brilliant. Ahmed Badr was our Egyptian guide and he was truly wonderful – he may be with G now, I’m not sure. The hotels were basic and the transport options sometimes uncomfortable and long but the guides were incredibly helpful and made our trip easier. We had a few whingers on the trip complaining about bad food or lack of hot water but it’s the Middle East, not Europe! All part of the experience.
We’re looking to do Peru and Bolivia with G or Intrepid (still deciding) this year. Hopefully we avoid this dodgy David guy ppl have complained about on this thread if we choose G who seem to have a depth of experience in Peru.
Great to read all these reviews, but unfortunately it still hasn’t helped me to decide whether to use G Adventures or Intrepid for a trip to East Africa.
I am looking at the trips from Nairobi to Zanzibar (22-24 days) with the gorilla trek or looking at the trips that start and end from Nairobi (14 or 16 days) also with gorillas and then doing independent travel to Zanzibar after this.
I have done a lot of independent travel in the past in Europe and Asia (Vietnam, China, Sri Lanka), and have also done an South west Africa tour with Kumuka back in 2007 which I really enjoyed but I was a lot younger (33 now), had a fantastic group and guide. It wasn’t alcohol focused and was full of like minded independent down to earth camping types..
My concerns are whether there will be ‘independent time’(being quite independent), the tour guide (from reading the past reviews), and value for money.
Any suggestions or experiences would be great
Hi Emily –
Sorry for the late reply. I did Kilimanjaro with G Adventures in 2012 and I had a really good experience with them. From my experience, traveling with both companies, I don’t think you’ll get as much independent time as it seems you will like. They do give you some free time, but it is mostly a morning, an afternoon, or a day in between in a place or two. I would recommend you take the tour that takes you to the Gorillas and or take you to other places that do require a guide, like Kilimanjaro and Serengeti, and do the rest on your own. I traveled Kenya, Tanzania, and a few more countries on my own and while it might be a bit of a hassle some times, it is totally possible and worth it, in my opinion. Do Zanzibar on your own, for sure! That’s one place where you will want to have free time to relax.
Hope this helps!
If you have any other questions, feel free to let me know.
I’m interested in taking an Intrepid Vietnam tour this summer. I’m a single, 52 year old woman. Will there be others in my age group?
Hi Lisa –
While I can’t say whether there will be travelers of your age or not, from my experience, there is usually a couple, an independent traveler, or a family that ranges around your age. I do have to say that most travelers thens to be between early 20s and mid 30s, but there is always some variety.
So far I’ve been lucky to have groups where almost everyone, if not everyone, gets along well… all ages included. (and to this day I’m still friends with many of them).
This is a personal opinion, though… Vietnam is easy to backpack, so I believe most young backpackers will take the independent road to save money. I have a feeling that Intrepid’s Vietnam tour will have more 30+ travelers looking for a nice yet affordable vacation.
If you want, email Intrepid and ask them the age range of the current travelers listed on the tour you want. I’m sure they’ll be happy to share that information. 🙂
How exciting that you’re planning a trip to Vietnam. I work for Intrepid Travel and I just wanted to let you know that the majority of people on our trips travel solo and your age won’t make feel out of place. One of the things we hear most in feedback from travellers is that people loved the mix of ages and there’s a like-mindedness in Intrepid travellers that creates common ground. As a very broad guide, our Comfort style trips tend to appeal to more mature travellers, while Basix attract younger travellers due to the greater free time and lower price, and Intrepid Original falls in between, often with a great range of ages and nationalities.
I hope this helps a little with your travel planning and don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like any more information.
Lisa did you do that intrepid trip to Vietnam? How old was the group?
Just last week I finished an Intrepid Indochina Loop. I’m 64, male, travelling alone. It was great! There was a nice mix of ages, from 19 to me. Last November I did a 30 day G Adventures trek in Southern Africa, I was double the age of almost everyone else, except my friend, who was with me. It was a wonderful trip. To my mind age difference doesn’t matter. It all depends upon your personality and willingness to meet new people. I’m not one for luxury travel, so G and Intrepid appeal to me most. Price wise the differences are marginal. Loved all the guides on each trip, although I will say the Intrepid guides seemed more in tune to responsible travel. That’s not to take anything away from the G guides, who were in their own ways great.
Bottom line: Both companies are highly reputable and I would have no problem travelling with each.
Thanks, Mike, for your input!
I have spent many hours of research over the last week trying to narrow down from both of their websites my next trip. I traveled with Gap several years ago to Panama and I like the indigenous in with the local culture experience a lot. I hate big tours that segregate you from the locals. I’m interested in either a Mayan (including Mexico, Belize and Guatemala CGME) 11 day trip and I’m also looking at Thailand Island Hopping (ATTW) including Bankok. Both Interpid and G-Adventures have the comparable trips. Both companies have been good at answering my questions via email.
I like both the social aspect of a small group that has mainly non-couples or a good mix of solos and pairs (I’m a single middle age fit traveler) as well has being independent and having time to myself. I looked into a singles trip operator but they can too big (30-50 singles) and just not my cup of tea.
Has anyone been on one of those 2 tours with either Gap or Interpid?
Hi Sarah –
I actually did the Thailand Island Hopping tour back in 2010 with G Adventures. I’ll honestly say that I had a great experience with them and personally, one of the best things I got from the tour, besides visiting beautiful beaches and islands, was making very good friends out of some of the other travelers. I guess that tour might have changed a bit since I did it, but based on my experience, I recommend it.
Coincidentally, while I didn’t do the whole Mayan tour with Intrepid, I managed to travel a bit with them in Belize with a tour group that was doing the whole Mayan tour. I can only speak about my experience in Belize, which again, was very good and would recommend it.
On both tours, the average age of the group was in the lower 20’s, though there were 30 and 40+ singles and couples (a minority, though). The average size of groups was around 14, I believe,so its not too small nor too big.
Again, both companies are very good in what they do, so you will not go wrong with them. In the end, the choice will come from what you prioritize the most – whether it is the route they offer, the cost, the type of experience, or other.
Hope this helps! If you have any other question, let me know.
Great topic, Norbert. Thanks for the post.
I’ve done 3 trips with G Adventures and had wonderful experiences each time: the Inca Trail, Kilimanjaro, and a gorilla trek in Uganda. Everything that needed to be taken care of was taken care of by the “guides” or CEOs, though one of them ended up completely drunk during a post-tour celebration. None of the trips were absolutely perfect, but I had a fantastic time each trip and have recommended them to many friends. I’d have no hesitation with booking a G tour again, until I read all the comments. Hmm… perhaps it’s time to try Intrepid?
I’m looking to do some trekking in Nepal. Any suggestions on who has the better track record here? I’ve also heard before that G Adventures contracts their Nepal tours or Everest treks to Intrepid. Is this true? Would certainly help my decision making if it were.
I still think G Adventures is really good (based on my experience), but its also good to try Intrepid since I think they are on the same level of quality. Again, the reviews you read here are all based on personal experiences, which is good and it is something I like, but it can vary drastically for you if you take the same tour.
On Nepal, unfortunately I can’t say anything about G Adventures contracting Intrepid for their tours. I don’t know anything about that. But, I do know (based on stories from friends who have done it) that Intrepid is really good for Nepal, especially Everest Base Camp.
Angela, I can tell you for a fact that G does not sub-contract with Intrepid for Nepal (or any tours so far as I know)
Thanks for that input, Mike!
This is a great review, and the comments of all are extremely helpful! I am currently trying to book a trip around Argentina/Chile to explore Patagonia. GAdventures offers quite an extensive option with their Patagonia Dreaming active tour. I also have been considering Intrepids Patagonia Wilderness tour. GAdventure’s active offers a little more, but I’m a little concerned by the reviews above about tour guides and having a negative experience.. Also, have you participated in on of their ‘active’ tours? Any thoughts of feedback?
Hi Nikki –
I haven’t done a Patagonia tour so far (still on my bucket list), but I have done G Adventures’ “active” tours. What they mean with active is that you should be capable of doing some mild “exercise,” like hiking, or go through some activities like camping, sailing, or outdoor sports. It depends on the trip, but in general it is not just a leisure trip, it requires some activity from you. But, they are never extreme, so people from all physical conditions are fine doing them. It’s more about what you want to do on your vacation; relax and “do nothing” or spend it actively.
Thanks for the fantastic review. I’ve traveled with Intrepid on my tour of Europe a few months ago.
Just curious as to why you say go on your own round Europe? I’d agree if its a specific place for a length of time.
I went on the 2 week tour Berlin to Venice and although I know it would have been cheaper to go on my own as a single traveler I found the support of other travelers in a group invaluable and tips about different places customs very useful. Otherwise I would have had now idea even though some are relatively similar to the UK. I’m now booked on the Rome to Venice tour for next year.
Hi Judi, sorry for my late reply. Well, yes, it all depends on how comfortable you feel traveling on your own and managing the logistics on the road. While I recommend doing Europe on your own since it could probably be cheaper, the truth is that tours are excellent to help you make friends on the road and take out the planning, so all you have to do is enjoy everything around you!
I hope you enjoy Rome to Venice! Italy is a wonderful country!
I’ve been trying to decide on a destination and it’s come down to Japan, Vietnam (and surrounding areas) and Patagonia. I’m leaning towards Vietnam, but the real problem is deciding which travel group to go with. It’s come down to Intrepid or G Adventures.
One thing I have noticed after reading many, many reviews is a recurring theme where the bad tour guides live in the poorer countries. Perhaps it’s a cultural barrier or perception by the employed guide?
Having many positive and many negative reviews, I’m now quite nervous about having a guide that can ruin my adventure. I’m not experienced in solo travel yet so doing the small group option is a good way to find my feet.
But.. which way to go? G Adventures or Intrepid? Any advice is appreciated.
Cheers big ears! 🙂
Hi Jay –
Sorry for my late response. Well, I can’t really say whether it is culture or socio economics that have an influence on how guides interact with travelers. It is possible that might have an effect on some of them, but at the same time, those same destinations can have the best guides you’ll ever find. It’s a hit and miss thing.
G Adventures and Intrepid hire local companies to run their tours, so it is the local companies the ones that are mostly responsible for the guide’s character. It is true that American and European countries will tolerate less when it comes to “bad guides,” but it still happens in those countries, none the less.
Which way to go? You’ll be fine with both companies. This is just a personal opinion, while I’m more experienced with G Adventures, I’ve noticed that Intrepid Travel has stepped up its game in the last few years. I’ve seen their presence more often in several countries I’ve visited (including Vietnam), so just from my perspective I’d maybe say to go with Intrepid…
I have just returned from a 4 week trip to Myanmar & Bali. I used a local tour company in Myanmar, which was great but had to pay US$s (I’m Canadian) & a 5% surcharge, to put on Visa, rather than bringing large amounts of Cash into the country. I have travelled mostly on my own with friends & my daughter (My husband ‘vacations’ but doesn’t ‘travel’). I am looking at doing some group travel for a change, especially if Gap & Intrepid don’t have single surcharges. Which company (& what categories) caters more to older travellers – I am in my sixties (in great health) & would like to be with some (not all) similar aged travellers. Any info appreciated.
Hi Patti –
Apologies on the delayed reply. Well, both companies have a similar target audience that ranges in the 20-30’s. Having said that, on every single trip I’ve done with them, there’s been a few older travelers, going from 40’s to 60’s+. If you don’t mind traveling with younger travelers, then you might have a good time with either Intrepid or G Adventures.
Were you at the high end of the age group.? I am a 65 year old woman but love camping. Could I do the trip?
Thanks for the advice Norbert! I’ll probably book with Intrepid now.
I noticed a few of the trips that G adventures does that I’m interested in are the ‘YOLO’ type , I’m 43 but still fairly active. Like Patti I’d like to know what the usual age make up of groups tend to be, I like a mix of ages.
(I won’t be doing yolo because I don’t want to be surrounded by just younger people).
You’re welcome, Jay. Well, the age range concentrates on the 20-30’s but you can find a few travelers on their 40-60’s.
Well I’ll be turning 50 on my trip to Jordan and Iran travelling with G tomorrow and have always had great experiences – there’s always been a big age range. No dramas as long as you’re fit.
Agree! As long as you’re open to interact or not mind any age gap, your experience is most likely to be positive.
I have travelled with Intrepid twice – Road to Budapest, which was an intimate group of 5, had a great tour leader and a great time. Used Intrepid again for Vietnam, got a lazy tour guide and some obnoxious travellers (which granted wasn’t entirely Intrepid’s fault). Now I tossing up between G adventures (explorer), Peregrine (Treasures) or Intrepid (encompassed) for Turkey, if I go G then I’d have to sort out a trip to Gallipoli on my own. Anyone travelled with any of these companies to Turkey or could advise of another company?
Interesting choices. Hope someone can add something to the discussion. Unfortunately I haven’t done Turkey with any of these companies, though I did travel it on my own.
I forgot to mention I also found a company called ‘Exodus’. They also specialize in smaller group travel. Anyone have any experience with this company?
Jay, I have a friend who has travelled with Exodus all over the world, easily 10 plus trips. She is a seasoned traveller and swears by them. You might want to check out Explore as well. I did their Burma trip last year and it was very good. So much so that I am doing their Peru trip in a couple of months. Lastly, you might consider orgainising your Turkey trip yourself. I’ve been a couple of times independently and it is pretty easy to get around using the many bus companies which connect all the main cities.
Oops last part of the reply should be for Leigh.
Awesome, thanks for the info Rich.
Exodus was a part of the $300 million joint venture between Tui Travel and Intrepid called “PEAK Adventure Travel” which owns a portfolio of 22 travel companies worldwide. Their trips in Asia are operated by Intrepid staff who now run the local offices. Exodus has no staff on the ground in Asia. With the joint venture Intrepid tour leaders overnight also became tour leaders for Exodus, Peregrine, Geckos, etc……they just put on a different t-shirt to run the Exodus tour. The profits all go to the corporate conglomerate masquerading as “grassroots” tour companies.
I began my travels with Intrepid, around Asia mainly, then went with G to India and continued using them. As an Australian what I prefer about G is that there are more varied nationalities within the tour group. Intrepid seems to have a lot of Aussies (as I am) on their tours and I enjoy meeting people from other countries. I’m also extremely impressed with the staff of G – they’re extremely prompt and on the ball with answering any queries. I like both companies, but it’s the mix of fellow travelers which makes me choose G Adventures.
Interesting that you pointed the variety of nationalities with G… I believe that has been the case with all my tours with them too.
Intrepid Travel had a $300 million dollar joint venture with Tui Travel 4 years ago forming a corporate conglomerate called “Peak Adventure Travel.” Intrepids offices in Asia were converted to a “destination management company.” Intrepid and Tui owned 22 travel companies around the world including Geckos, Peregrine, Intrepid, Exodus, Trek America, etc. Their former “Intrepid” leaders now just put on a different company Uniform when they run trips for all their companies in Southeast Asia.
So there have been some HUGE changes with Intrepid in Asia. Intrepid is no longer the grassroots company it once was. Because their partner Tui travel is a publicly listed company, their shareholders care solely about profit rather than the quality of the trip. One of the biggest changes that will effect you as a traveler is their decision to start taking commissions on every activity you book on this trip. Previously Intrepid did not allow any of their tour leaders to take commissions. Now they will not even allow their guides to recommend any optional activities (Except the ones Intrepid makes a profit from) because now they’re afraid of litigation should you be injured. No more tubing in Vang Vieng, motorbike rides, quad bikes, etc.
PEAK Adventure Travel has taken the adventure out of Adventure Travel!
You’ll actually end up paying more for your holiday with Intrepid today than you would before this joint venture. Buy a carpet in Turkey, Intrepid takes a cut. Book a hot air balloon, Intrepid takes a cut. Book a cooking class in Chiang Mai, Intrepid takes a cut. Book a trip to the Tonle Sap in Siem Reap, Intrepid takes a cut. Get clothes made in Hoi An, Intrepid takes a cut.
Intrepid has also started to operate their own activities now that they are a destination management company. For example in 2010 you could book a Mekong Delta island trip for $14. Intrepid now only allows their tour leaders to sell their boat trip, to the exact same island for $35 per person.
Yes, the company has grown immensely in the past couple years.
Above you said this:
South America – Intrepid. Except for Peru, which you should do with G Adventures.
Latin America – G Adventures
Can you tell me what exactly you mean by Latin America?
Im 22 and traveling to Mexico and South America with my friend. We are going for 2 months and we want to do most of the trip by ourself but just do one 15-20 day tour. Im wondering whether you think it would be better to do Mexico on our own or whether we should travel South America by ourself and leave the tour for Mexico.
Hi Anisa – My sincere apologies on the delayed response. When I say Latin America I mean Central America (which I think I should fix and clarify on the post – thanks for pointing that out).
Whether to travel Mexico or South America on a tour or solo depends on how comfortable you feel with planning and being responsible of every decision and action. If you want to relax your planning, then probably a tour will help, but if you like the freedom of deciding where to go and when, then probably a “solo” trip will be better for your and your friend. The good thing is that you won’t be traveling alone, since you have your friend with you, but if you like to meet more people on the road, tours often help ease that.
I am looking at doing my first major group trip (excluding top deck Croatia) to either Peru (and maybe surrounding countries) or to Africa. Would you still recommend g adventures? I am a single female age 24 but not too fussed about the age group I travel with. Any recommendations would be appreciated!
Hi Libby –
Sorry for the late reply. Yes, I do still recommend G Adventures. They’ve kept their high quality all this time and I would still travel with them any time if the opportunity comes.
From experience, the age of other travelers ranges from 18 to 50+, with most people in their 20s and early 30s. You’d be surprised once you see everyone interacting without minding any age gap.
I have to agree with some of the comments above, regarding nationalities.
Having taken a couple of G Adventures trips, I’ve been in groups with people from all over the globe. I have friends who’ve been on similar Intrepid trips and found that the majority of people in the group are Australians.
Not that I have anything against Australians(!) but my last group was with 7 or 8 different nationalities and it really improved the experience!
Yes, I guess meeting other people from all over the world is part of the good experience of traveling with G Adventures.
Great article and very helpful. But i do have one question, do either of them include accommodation and/or food?
Hi Maria –
Yes, most of their tours include all accommodation and some meals. All meals included are stated in the tour description.
I am a 30 year old female hoping to head to South America solo for 6-8 weeks. I need to do a lot moe reading re “must see” destinations but am still quit confused over which tour company to choose!! It seems intrepid are the way to go?? but G offer a bit more choice I think?? I have travelled with Intrepid before on a shortish tour and really enjoyed them. Also with G the accommodation seems to be more in hostel/hotels rather than camping? Would like to Include peru, brazil, argentina in the time i have.. any advice would be much appreciated 🙂
On my trip to Iran/Jordan with G this year I met a couple of people who’d travelled with G in Africa – same story as yours. Apparently on one trip there was practically an outright revolt from all the group regarding the guide, accommodation etc. I’ve always had excellent experiences with G – but haven’t been to Africa – it sounds like the company really needs to have a good look at management/infrastructure/guides on that continent. I’d like to hear from the company in this forum for an explanation.
Hi Norbert! I’m doing research for my upcoming Peru/Inca Trail trip and am between Gadventures and Intrepid. I was leaning towards Intrepid based on all your notes here. Yet I’m curious as to why you recommended Intrepid for South America, but Gadventures specifically for Peru? Thanks!
Hi Marcela –
Thanks for your comment. In truth, both companies are great for Peru. I personally recommended G Adventures for Peru since I have first hand experience with them over there and they were excellent. But really, both are really good.
Love this list. I typically travel with G Adventures (Turkey, Africa, Antarctica) and have upcoming trips for Nepal (with Intrepid), Machu Picchu (G Adventures), and the Galapagos (G Adventures).
I would say that for Antarctica (and I think Galapagos), I would recommend G Adventures since they have their own ships.
Hi Sam, I am looking into either a G adventure or an Intrepid trip in Africa, but I am finding it really hard to find people that have been on any of them? Would you mind filling me in on your Africa trip with G adventure? Thanks
My mother (52) and I travelled with G Adventures for 16 days on a classic tour in Costa Rica. It was the first tour I have been on as normally I holiday in SE Asia and do the whole thing independently.
I was really impressed with the whole trip for the cost. We were a group of 16 with ages from 20 to 72. Everyone got on well and no one held anybody back. Our guide Hector was amazing and did everything he could to look after us and made sure the trip was what we wanted and not just an easy life for him. We all ended up being ill and he went to the pharmacy for those who needed it. On days when we were busy on activities, he took our washing to be done and paid for it himself so everyone knew the exact price charged to then pay him back.
As many people have said, it does depend on your group and your guide but I just wanted to share my positive experience for my first trip.
I am planning on doing Ultimate Africa (54 days) and Rio to Lima (51 days) with G unless anyone has bad experiences on these trips. I would be interested in your feedback.
This has been a very interesting read as I research my next trip. I’ve pretty much decided neither of these companies fit my criteria as a professional guide service, a little too hit or miss. In 40 years of travelling one can never do enough research. You gotta dig deep, read and post all the forums, ask questions and eventually you’ll find the right fit. You may only ever get one opportunity to visit a certain special destination.
I just finished the G Adventures “Berlin to London on a Shoestring” tour and was very disappointed. I’m airing feedback here as G Adventures doesn’t have a Trip Advisor page and while they responded to my concerns in detail and offered a $200 credit, they didn’t confirm what, if anything, would be done to prevent the problems I experienced from reoccurring. I did not feel that the tour added any value beyond what I would have received by booking on my own without g adventures.
Problems occurred (for example they overlooked me on the accommodation list for the first leg of the trip and luckily the hostel, not g adventures, was able to find a spot for me to lay my head as the CEO was nowhere to be found; hostel was incredibly noisy and I was up until 3am both nights, g adventures response was that they vet hostels carefully and can’t control other There is only 1 group activity for this tour (bike tour) and 2 orientation walks. I had planned ahead and organized all of my own optional activities and in my case the CEO did not have any authentically local knowledge or tips beyond what is in a standard guidebook. Ultimately, the only value G Adventures added was linking me up with other travellers (who were great), booking hostels, 1 train and 2 bus transfers. In both cases our buses were delayed, took twice as long as a train and I arrived twice as worn out and tired. Bottom line, in my case, for less than the price of the tour, I could have had private rooms in hostels or budget hotels in each destination and travelled by train and could have used various social media and my own social skills to meet fellow travellers without the tour company. For that reason, I would not recommend this or similar tours.
Hi. My husband and I will both be in our early 60’s and are planning to do an Intrepid tour in July which starts in Thailand goes to Cambodia and finishes in Vietnam for 26 days. It’s labelled as basic, and states that there is a lot of free choice, which suits us. We are both fit, do a lot of hiking and cycling. Just wondering if you think we might be out of place age wise? We are budget travellers but like to choose what we do.
Hi Linda – I’ve gone on similar tours with people of all ages. Yes, while the group tends to be composed of younger travelers, often older travelers fit very well with the group and get along with everyone independent of age. I would recommend to not pay attention to age and focus more on the activities the tour offers. If it puts a check mark on everything you’re interested in doing, by all means, I’d say to go!
I did a G tour in Costa Rica and had to choose classic style as I took my mother (50). We were a group of 16 with an age range of 20 – 72. The couple in their seventies were really fit and didn’t hold anybody back. We all mixed really well and I don’t think they felt out of place at all 🙂
Having worked for both of them, I would definitely recommend Intrepid. The trips that the run have better itineraries, their staff are more knowledgeable on the destination (across the board) and they are more interested in their customer than they are about being the biggest.
If you look at G Adventures in Asia some of their trips have 3 departures a day. That means that you are travelling in a group that is travelling alongside 2 other groups. The guides all eat at the same restaurants, drink in the same bars and do the same activities – because they get kickbacks. G Adventures had potential to be a really unique tour operator but they decided to go more in a McDonald’s direction – mass with minimal quality. They also increased their group size on YOLO tours to 18 pax. This increases the tour guides workload a huge amount…. but it is interesting to note that G Adventures did not give any salary bump to the tour guides. 18 people also makes it difficult for the guide to get to know each person on their trip… the trips are less personal.
Each continent is different but the only place I would really run with G Adventures over Intrepid is South America and Antarctica. In Africa Intrepid itinerary show a huge amount of destinational insight and their trips in Asia are churned out by backpackers who go solo every day of the week. In Europe they are both ok…
Thank you so much for your insight, David!
Norbert, I liked your article contrasting Intrepid and G Adventures. In fact, the reason I was looking for such information as I plan to do the G Adventures Multi Stan trip in July of 2018. But the Intrepid one looked awfully good as well. So now I am torn. I did travel to India and Nepal with G Adventures (through an organization called GEEO, a non-profit attracting teachers) and it was so-so as I recall. The first hotel G Adventures put us in was in a pretty lousy neighborhood as was the one in Agra. But we survived. I am so glad I found this site and hope you will email me and stay in touch with advice and ideas for future travel. All good wishes, Barbara
Thanks for your feedback, Barbara. It’s a tough decision because both companies are good! I haven’t done the Stans with either, but I’d recommend maybe checking the watering hole forum or other forums to see what people who have done these trips have shared.
Hi Norbert, thank you for this article and the information on both G adventures and intrepid. I am just trying to decide which of them to book for a trip to Iceland (northern lights experience) in late autumn. the tour with Intrepid is a day longer for slightly less money, but with breakfast only (while G includes most meals). Have you by any chance already done this trip with either of them?
I am thinking of trying out intrepid this time, although I have had a good experience with G, which I’d like to share with you. I went on a week’s camping safari to Tansania in 2016: it was a great experience. I had paid extra to have my own tent as I thought I wanted this little bit of privacy, but regretted it a little when we were camping in Serengeti NP – the animals including Zebras and hyenas were walking straight through our camp at night, water buffalos were very close and you could hear the lions. A bit scary if you don’t know what is roaming around your tent and you are ALL ALONE 😉
It was a great trip! very well organised and the food which was prepared for us was good, too. The tour guide was a little bit of a disappointment, and did not come across very trustworthy (e.g. on the last day he offered to organise airport transport which turned out more expensive than if booked directly via the departure hotel); however the drivers were great, vey knowledgeable and helpful.
I have only used Intrepid for one trip, Istanbul and India. In Istanbul I used the 1.5 day tour and it ended up being a private tour. AMAZING!! In India I was part of an 8 person tour of the Golden Triangle. I HIGHLY recommend it. We had an amazing group of 8 people that bonded right away. I’m sure that elevated my rating but I have traveled a lot and this was my first guided trip. I’ve never enjoyed a vacation more. Never pulling out a map, wondering if I’m going the right direction, deciding where to go next or what to see. It was all done for me and I was so relaxed, relishing every experience. Using public transportation allows immersion into the culture and leaves no carbon footprint. I am looking forward to my next adventure.
I have not gone on any g adventure tours but i have done many intrepid tours. Started with thailand, then vietnam and cambodia, india, borneo, belize, peru. then took a 5 yr gap and this year went to myanmar. i had a few guides i was less fond of but all in all the trips were amazing. for the most part the guides went above and beyond, particularly on my most recent trip to myanmar. i have only done original tours (except peru which was comfort). frankly in myanmar, idve thought it was a comfort tour. the hotels etc were amazing and the homestay was gorgeous (not yet allowed in peoples houses so a small set up was built on a lake). my favorite groups have been without americans (i am american but i find the tolerance for delays, dirt etc to be lacking in most americans). usually the groups are mostly british and aussie with a smattering of other (last trip had a couple from turkey but the wife was originally from australia and a tour guide from bolivia). im already looking at trips to go on with my kids
I have also been looking at Flash Pack tours. Does anyone have any experience with them?
I haven’t personally, but maybe someone else has?
I only have experience with G Adventures here in South America. Not as a traveler but through working with them for years. The tour leaders are pretty good, at least the mayority of them, it is quite difficult to take and manage a big group through long distances and sometimes mediocre services, as simply not everything is up to the standard to like when traveling for instance in Europe. Some of my friends have been/still are tour leaders and it is hard, and I think underpaid, work for them with not a lot of free time. But anyway I wanted to comment on the first con in the article – Variable local operator quality control. This is true, they do not care about using the best local company. It is all about prices and commissions. In the end they are in it for the profit, which means that even day tours/excursions will not be booked at the most experienced or best local agency, even when they are cheaper. But at one that simply has an agreement with G Adventures. To the G traveler they just seem like an independent local office. And with that I think comes the biggest con which is that travelers pay up to 20% too much for their local tours/excursions without knowing it, as this is the comission that goes to G Adventures head office and their partners.
My recommendation would be to not always take for granted what your tour leader recommends. Most of the time they have to go somewhere, eventhough they would rather go somewhere else because they know it is better, it is not their fault, they simply do what their bosses tell them to do. So do your own research on restaurants, local operators, trips and things to do. There are websites like this one and like tripadvisor or facebook to check things. Use them.
Thanks for your input, Rob
I am wanting to go to Japan.
I would go solo but I am unsure about how to start. I have done many solo trips to Europe but Japan seems a little different.
Is there a tour with either G Adventures or Intrepid that is good.
What I was thinking is taking a basic tour and then I might feel comfortable to go solo for a number of days at the end of the tour.
Sure, at the moment Intrepid Travel has 12 trips in Japan and G Adventures has 9 trips.
If you click on each link, it’ll show you all the options for each tour operator, and on each search page, you could narrow them down even further based on ideal dates, price, comfort level, trip style, physical rating, and more.
Hopefully one of these options will be a perfect fit for you!
Feel free to let me know if you have any questions.
I have not gone on any g adventure tours but i have done many intrepid tours. Started with Thailand, then Vietnam and Cambodia, India, Borneo, Belize, Peru. then took a 5 yr gap and this year went to Myanmar. i had a few guides i was less fond of but all in all the trips were amazing. for the most part the guides went above and beyond, particularly on my most recent trip to Myanmar. i have only done original tours (except Peru which was comfort). frankly in Myanmar, idve thought it was a comfort tour. the hotels etc were amazing and the home stay was gorgeous (not yet allowed in peoples houses so a small set up was built on.
Great article, I am a solo traveller but for some destinations I do believe it is best to travel with a group and also good guides. Thank you for the detailed comparison. I will surely check both of them but I am leaning towards Interpid as my first choice. I have read the reviews and hopefully I will be back for the experiences I had.
Intrepid phone wait times are intolerable and sometimes over an hour wait. They also lost my booking and I had already booked my flight and hotels.
I do not recommend booking with this company. They are a horrible company.