The continent of South America sits in the middle in terms of size: neither the largest nor the smallest, but from its northernmost point on the Columbian island of Santa Catalina to its most southerly tip at the bottom end of Chile, it offers extremes of landscape, dozens of languages and cultures, sophisticated cities and vast tracts of scarcely inhabited jungle. If you’ve always dreamed of exploring South America, a small group tour may be a great option for you.
Small group tour operators know the lay of the land: their guides have already been there, done that, can speak the language and are there to smooth out the wrinkles that sometimes appear when you’re travelling. You don’t have to grapple with the everyday challenges of public transport schedules and instead can focus on enjoying everything the destination has to offer.
Travelling with a small group tour is like having a local to show you around their home-town – as well as escort you to the well-known attractions, they’ll take you to those hidden gems that are further off the beaten track: that bar in Buenos Aires for the most authentic tango lesson, where to find a great cup of coffee in La Paz or how much you should be paying for those fabulous shoes.
Exploring a destination like South America will be packed with memorable moments, from your first glimpse of Machu Picchu to the evening you turn down that whole roasted guinea pig in favour of yet another delicious empanada; being able to share those moments with someone else can make them even more special. Travelling in a small group still gives you plenty of opportunities to do your own thing though, so that if you’re craving a moment of solitude, you’ll often have the freedom to spend a few hours exploring solo. In many cases, you’ll return from your trip with a collection of new friends as well as your memories and souvenirs.
When you’re travelling in a small group, it’s a lot easier to tweak your itinerary to allow for those moments of spontaneity. Maybe you’re passing a lookout that’s not scheduled stop but offers a jaw-dropping view of the Torres del Paine, or maybe a puma has just been spotted on the rocky slopes of a mountain pass, or perhaps you’re all just craving good coffee after one too many Pisco Sours the night before: the ability to improvise is one of the many perks of a small group tour.
The smaller group sizes mean that you can stay in those quirky, off-the-beaten-track hotels and guest houses that can’t accommodate the larger tour groups, but you still have the benefit of group buying power. In many cases, your tour company can negotiate a better rate for accommodation, travel and access to attractions than you would be able to achieve if you were travelling independently. The cost of your tour may also include many of your meals and entry fees, offering great value for money.
If a small group tour of South America sounds like you, talk to your personal travel manager today.