Read on for practical details about our tours
We believe it is imperative to share the benefits of tourism with the people who welcome us so warmly into their communities. Our first choice is to use locally-owned accommodation, transport and eateries. We also endeavour to leave behind as small a cultural and environmental footprint as possible to help preserve the unique heritage of our destinations for future travellers to enjoy. Finally we invest in locally-led community development projects in areas our tours visit. more >>
Small Group Tours
Keeping group sizes to a maximum of 12 people helps us to minimise our cultural and environmental ‘footprint’ in the regions and communities we visit. With a limited group size, interactions with local people not only happen more frequently but more naturally, ensuring a more intimate and authentic travel experience. This also creates a closer bond between travellers within the group, and gives us extra scope in terms of flexibility to accommodate individual needs and requirements during the trip. Finally, small groups mean easier access to our excellent guides, ensuring a more rounded travel experience. On just a handful of clearly stated itineraries, the maximum number may exceed 12 persons.
Our scheduled small group departures ‒ an exciting range of over seventy different itineraries ‒ depart on pre-determined dates. We realise however that our departures might not suit everyone; so if you cannot make our scheduled trip, let us know your ideal dates and we will try our best to put a group together accordingly. This is often possible with sufficient advance notice. You have nothing to lose by enquiring.
Tailormade can mean anything from an extra night in a hotel or an additional short excursion at the start or end of a small group trip to a complete itinerary tailored to your requirements. Our tailormade tours are surprisingly affordable and we also cater for all special occasions - birthdays, honeymoons, anniversaries and more. Researching a tailormade tour can seem overwhelming - potentially there are so many options and places to visit. Yet it need not be. Browse some of our group tours for ideas. These tours have been optimised for the most efficient and rewarding travel experience without being too rushed; so they are an ideal starting point for designing your own private tour. Sections of our standard tours can also be adapted without needing to take the whole tour. Look through the tailormade options in the relevant country section in this brochure or on our website and see which, if any, of these ideas might be of interest.
Having developed an idea of what each destination offers and a general sense of your main interests, please contact us - by phone, email or by filling out your requirements here. We will use our expertise to design a tour to meet your requirements, suggesting sites and activities that match your plans and interests. It might take a few drafts to perfect but we will keep revising and tweaking until you are happy with it.
We are happy to discuss your plans at any stage, so even if you have only started to think tentatively about a new destination we can readily help guide you towards suitable regions and experiences.
Great Value Tours
We are proud to offer an award-winning service with no hidden extras or local payments. As well as taking care of your in-country tour arrangements, we can also arrange your visas, flights, additional tours and sightseeing, as well as pre- or post-trip accommodation. Minimise the hassle and stress of your travel experience by taking advantage of our expertise and letting us take care of all the details to ensure you get exactly what you want from your travel experience.
By spending significant time travelling in each of our destinations, and forging close and lasting partnerships with the best local agents, we have crafted unique itineraries showcasing the highlights of each region. This also enables us to give you very specific advice based on your trip requirements in order to create an optimal travel experience. You will travel to some of the world’s most exciting and least explored places, safe in the knowledge that you are in experienced hands.
We know that the best way to experience an unfamiliar place is with a knowledgeable and passionate local guide. That’s why we’ve secured the services of the best available local guides in each of our destinations.
They will add colour, knowledge and humour to your trip and help ensure you get the most out of your travel experience. In the event of any unforeseen problems during the trip, our guides are highly capable and efficient in resolving issues, ensuring your trip can continue as planned with a minimum of fuss.
We use reputable and reliable airlines for all of our flights. On the road, we use well-maintained, mostly air-conditioned vehicles; jeeps are used on rougher terrain. Road conditions in many of our destinations can be somewhat chaotic. However we ensure only careful and experienced drivers are employed, with regular reviews to check their adherence to our policies. Some experiences are memorably enhanced by the use of local transport - so some itineraries include local trains, boats, canoes and even camels. In all instances your safety and comfort are our foremost considerations.
On the whole our clients are fairly independent people, and so to satisfy individual desires for discovery and to enable some ‘down time’, we have designed our itineraries to incorporate some free time where possible. Take a nap, read a book or go explore on your own. Our guides will be happy to suggest activities for you to do in your spare time. Furthermore all activities on our trips are optional. If something doesn’t quite appeal or you just feel like taking a day to explore by yourself, that is completely fine.
Prior to departure we will provide you with trip notes and a detailed itinerary explaining everything you need to know about your trip. This includes a daily activity schedule, accommodation details, recommended reading, language cheat sheets, regional and practical information (e.g. a packing list, health advice, visa requirements, travel insurance, money, etc.) and of course your trip contacts. Naturally if you have any additional questions we will be happy to answer them.
Our tours are graded with an activity rating to help you decide if a particular trip is right for you. A rating of five implies a strenuous trip, e.g. a challenging trek. A rating of three suggests some city walking, walking around sites and perhaps some long drives. However these ratings are somewhat subjective and indicate an average for the trip as a whole – so daily variations may be disguised. If you are unsure of your ability to do a particular tour please contact us to discuss the matter. Our ratings are explained in more detail on the next page.
We do not always include all meals on our trips. Breakfast is usually included every day. However where there are plenty of choices, we prefer to give you the freedom to choose where to eat. In certain cases we also include lunches and dinners - where there is a special restaurant, a notable local dish, or if you are in a remote location with few eating options - or if the demands of scheduling make it more practical. Each itinerary contains a daily meal plan outlining all of the meals included in the tour price.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. As a minimum, we require that your insurance covers you for medical expenses, including emergency repatriation. We also strongly recommend you are covered for personal liability, loss of luggage and personal effects. You will be required to give details of your insurance prior to departure. Travel the Unknown do not recommend which travel insurance to take out however we do have a partner who offers travel insurance. For clients based in the UK or Ireland you can buy online direct with Accident & General on the link below: www.accidentgeneral.ie/traveltheunknown
Joining a group is a great way to meet like-minded people, share experiences and in many cases start long-lasting friendships. We’re proud to say that we do not charge extortionate supplements if you require your own room. In fact, if you’re happy to share with a same sex group member and we are able to pair you, you don’t pay anything extra at all. Single supplements are available on most of our tours. Please note that for certain tours they are not available at all or a single room cannot be guaranteed for every night of the trip. Please ask us if you have any questions.
Good quality accommodation is an integral part of the holiday experience. We know there’s nothing like returning to a comfortable, clean room after a hectic day of adventure and activities. In our selection of accommodation we try to reflect the local environment and ensure that the accommodation itself is a memorable part of your holiday. We use the best 3 and 4 star hotels available in most instances, but we also mix it up where possible by including family-owned guesthouses, intimate lodges and some more exclusive accommodation on certain itineraries.
Our profile includes heritage palaces in Rajasthan (as above), comfortable Bedouin camps in Jordan, Orthodox monasteries in Serbia and jungle cabins in the Colombian Amazon. In some remote areas, the accommodation may be more basic, but at the very least we will ensure you have a clean room, a comfortable bed and hot water. When it comes to appropriate accommodation for the whole family, we are aware of the difficulties you may have faced in the past. That’s why we conduct our research thoroughly in order to provide you with a family friendly hotel with great meal options.
For private tailormade trips we can arrange accommodation in whatever category you prefer – from comfortable budget options to grand 5 star properties. If you have found a specific hotel or accommodation you would like to stay at, let us know and we will arrange your stay. On the opposite page are a few accommodation options you could consider.
The main draw of a homestay is to interact with local people who are passionate about their country and their culture. It also gives an insight into the mechanics of daily life in a typical family home. Most homestays still allow you to have your own privacy, yet service is always personal. Needless to say, the food is always fresh and better than some of the best restaurants. Some trekking itineraries include village homestays, and for the truly adventurous, the chance to spend the night with remote tribes. In Cuba, staying in a casa particular is a fundamental part of the Cuban experience, and we have purposely designed our itineraries using such accommodation. Not only do you get to see the different styles of casas throughout Cuba, but more importantly, the money goes directly to the families with whom you stay.
Nature and Wildlife Lodges
We take pride in using many eco-friendly nature lodges across our destinations. These places are often in areas rich in wildlife, or in areas with a fragile habitat, serving to protect the bio-diverse environment surrounding them. In North East India you can stay in bamboo cottages close to Kaziranga National Park; in Colombia’s verdant coffee region you can stay in colourful haciendas; and in the Philippines you can chill out in beachfront cottages on secluded islands.
A wilderness experience does not mean compromising on comfort, and on select itineraries we have sought out some of the best luxury camps available. In Morocco’s Erg Chigaga (Sahara Desert) you can sip sundowners from the top of sand dunes, and tuck into an indulgent meal with fine wine as Tuareg musicians drum away in the background. You’ll follow the lanterns back to your private luxury tent, furnished with Berber rugs and artefacts. In Kenya you can experience the very best of the African bush from the comfort of your luxury tent. In Rohet, on the fringes of India’s Thar Desert, you can still get the Rajasthan royal treatment in the Wilderness Camp.
We love accommodation which represents the individual cultures and traditions of each place. Our heritage properties range from colonial bungalows to historical palaces and forts, each bursting with local character and design. Other examples of boutique accommodation include cosy cave hotels in Cappadocia (Turkey), opulent riads in Morocco and stilted chalets on Lake Inle (Myanmar).