Small group tours offer a number of significant benefits. For starters, you can visit smaller, unique places that simply can’t accommodate large groups. Likewise, you can also participate in immersive experiences that aren’t possible for large groups due to their unwieldy size.
If you’ve been thinking about that type of tour lately, you need to know about Small Group Explorations from Collette, the tour operator with a smooth, hassle-free way to travel.
If you aren’t familiar with Collette yet, the family-owned tour operator, which was founded in 1918, offers more than 160 tours on all seven continents in five distinct travel styles — including small group touring and river cruises. Perhaps the best part is that the tour operator’s approach calls for treating each traveler “as a valued friend” allowing them to “sit back and let us handle all the details so you can have the time of your life,” Collette explains.
“Take the path less traveled with Collette’s Small Group Explorations tours: Delve into engaging, immersive experiences; settle into culturally reflective accommodations; savor authentic, local cuisine; and absorb a destination’s true culture with more built-in free time,” continues Collette. “On a small group tour of 14 to 24 travelers, you won’t be part of the crowd — you’ll be an integral part of a cultural expedition. Embark on a small group tour and discover the heart of a destination like never before.”
Here’s what you need to know about 10 of Collette’s most popular Small Group Explorations tours.
1. Montana: Exploring Big Sky Country
Yellowstone And Glacier National Parks
“Step outside, take a deep breath, and look toward the mountains — you’re in the Big Sky Country of Montana, now,” Collette explains. “Montana, a land of wilderness, adventure, and beauty, is waiting for you.”
Highlights of the tour, which lasts 11 days and 10 nights, include exploring both the Northern and Southern Loops of Yellowstone National Park, visiting Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs, and seeing Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon. You’ll also visit Helena, Montana, the “Queen City of the Rockies,” as well as take a cruise on the Missouri River through the “Gates of the Mountains” and spend time in the mountain town of St. Mary Village before exploring Glacier National Park.
The tour, which begins in Bozeman, Montana, also offers some choices. You’ll have a chance to either visit the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center or explore the exhibits at the C.M. Russell Art Museum. Memorably, the trip also includes a choice of either a white-water rafting trip or a more leisurely trip down a scenic route along the Flathead River.
Rates for Montana: Exploring Big Sky Country begin at $5,599 per person.
2. Wilderness Of Southern Africa
Safari By Land & Water
“Journey through southern Africa, from its wild plains and dry woodlands to rivers and lakes, on a true safari adventure by land and water,” Collette explains. “From the powerful Victoria Falls to the calm waters of Lake Kariba, and from the plains across southern Africa’s stunning parks, get ready for a true safari adventure.”
First and foremost, no trip to South Africa would be complete without chances to view wildlife, and the 15-day-and-14-night Wilderness of Southern Africa tour won’t disappoint. While visiting Chobe and Hwange National Parks, you’ll have plenty of chances to look for the Big Five safari animals: Cape buffalo, African elephant, leopard, lion, and black rhinoceros.
Other highlights of the trip include sharing a traditional meal with a local family in their home while in Victoria Falls and looking for birds and wildlife during a three-night cruise on stunning Lake Kariba.
There’s even a beach barbecue on the shores of Lake Kariba!
The tour also offers a choice: While at Hwange National Park, you can either join a morning game drive or take a morning game walk with a specialized ranger. Either option is sure to form the memory of a lifetime.
Rates for Wilderness of Southern Africa: Safari by Land & Water begin at $5,499 per person.
3. Japan: Past & Present
A Cultural Journey From Tokyo To Osaka
“From neon-lit streets filled with people to quiet shrines filled only with silence, come face-to-face with a culture thousands of years in the making,” Collette explains. “Discover the thousand facets of culture, art, and life that make up the incredible spirit of Japan.”
Not only does the trip include the chance to explore Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, you’ll get to travel from city to city on the famous shinkansen “bullet” train.
Other highlights of the trip, which runs for 14 days and 13 nights, include a chance to walk among the swaying trees of the Arashiyama bamboo forest, and memorably, visit Hiroshima’s Peace Park and Memorial Museum, where visitors will hear accounts of the atomic bomb’s devastation.
In addition to meeting some of Japan’s ama pearl divers and learning about their profession, the tour also includes a chance to stay with the Buddhist monks at the monastery on Mount Koya.
Rates for Japan: Past & Present begin at $4,999 per person
4. Mediterranean Coastal Journey
Spain, France, And Italy
“Venture along the glittering Mediterranean coast on an immersive journey connecting the Spanish, French, and Italian Rivieras,” Collette explains. “From chameleonic Barcelona to sun-kissed Nice, from glamorous Monaco to the rolling hills of the Chianti countryside, find your dream Mediterranean journey.”
Foodies will love that you’ll be able to “taste your way along the Mediterranean coast,” sampling paella in Barcelona, flavorful Provençal cuisine in Marseille, and traditional focaccia in Genoa. The tour even offers a chance to enjoy Catalan specialties in a 17th-century farmhouse that has been transformed into a restaurant, and a visit to an ancient abbey that is now a winery.
There is more to the 16-day-and-15-night tour, however. For instance, other highlights of the trip include seeing the architect Antoni Gaudi’s masterpiece La Sagrada Familia, or the Expiatory Temple, the world’s tallest basilica. You can even explore the rolling hills and olive groves of Tuscany while accompanying a truffle hunter with his truffle-sniffing dogs.
The tour, as you now expect, also offers some choices. For instance, while in Barcelona, you’ll have the chance to either visit Catalunya’s National Museum of Art or ascend the Montjuïc Castle for “bird’s eye views over the bustling port.”
Rates for the Mediterranean Coastal Journey begin at $4,449 per person.
Machu Picchu And Lake Titicaca
“From the sacred citadel of Machu Picchu to the floating islands of Lake Titicaca, the magical wonders of Peru are waiting behind every corner. Take in Lima and see the historical side of the ‘City of Kings,’” Collette explains. “Step into the past as you explore mysterious ancient sites and immerse yourself in the culture as you taste the country’s renowned cuisine.”
Highlights of the tour, which lasts 10 days and 9 nights, include visiting the city of Lima, where you can see the historical side of the “City of Kings,” and exploring Andean art forms and the local way of life during a stay in the Sacred Valley.
Then again, the tour also includes a night at the base of the “Lost City of the Incas” at Machu Picchu. Other highlights include discovering the birthplace of the Incan Empire in Puno and Lake Titicaca, and meeting the Indigenous Uros people who live on floating islands on Lake Titicaca.
In what is sure to form a memory you’ll always remember, the tour offers a choice. You can either discover the sacred Incan ruins of Sacsayhuaman Fortress above the city of Cuzco or take a walking tour through San Blas, the traditional old quarter of Cuzco.
Rates for Peru: Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca begin at $2,399 per person.
6. Roaming Coastal Maine
Portland, Acadia, And Penobscot Bay
“This is Maine, where rocky shores, infinite nature, and endless lobster forge a coastal New England classic,” Collette explains. “Towering mountains, delectable cuisine, and bustling harbors await you in this maritime treasure.”
Highlights of the tour, which is 7 days and 6 nights, include exploring Acadia National Park, learning how lobster traps are retrieved from the ocean, and visiting Portland Head Light, Maine’s oldest lighthouse.
You’ll even be able to dig into a rustic New England lunch at a traditional Maine lobster shack as well as eat oysters after touring an oyster farm.
The tour also offers a choice during its stop in Portland. You can either visit the Portland Museum of Art, which is Maine’s oldest and largest public art institution, or join a locally guided walking tour through Portland’s oldest neighborhood while learning about its diversity.
Rates for Roaming Coastal Maine begin at $2,699 per person.
7. Treasures Of Turkey
Istanbul, Ancient Ephesus, And Cappadocia
“Explore ancient ruins and legendary architecture, otherworldly landscapes, and underground cities in the country that bridges the gap between east and west,” Collette explains. “From the earthly delights of Istanbul’s famous Spice Market to the transcendent power of a Whirling Dervishes ceremony, delight your senses and ignite your imagination in beautiful Turkey.”
As you would expect, the 16-day/15-night tour includes three nights in Istanbul, “a melting pot of cultures, historical sites, and religious communities,” that is home to the Topkapi Palace. Other highlights of the tour include a cruise along the Bosphorus Strait between Europe and Asia, an opportunity to walk through the ruins of ancient Ephesus following the footsteps of Paul the Apostle, and attending a Whirling Dervishes ceremony performed by Sufi.
This tour also offers what may very well be the experience of a lifetime: You can either bathe in the thermal spring waters of the Cleopatra Antique Pools or take a guided golf cart tour of Pamukkale’s Greco-Roman ruins.
Rates for Treasures of Turkey begin at $3,599.
8. Journey Through Egypt And Jordan
Pyramids Of Giza, Nile River, And The Dead Sea
“Experience a dramatic world beyond imagination as you enter into lands of legends, relics, and indescribable beauty,” Collette explains. “Eons of history and iconic wonders, mouthwatering bites of savory cuisine, and stretching sunsets fading against the desert horizon — this is the essence of Egypt and Jordan.”
No trip to Egypt would be complete without visiting the country’s famous archeological sites, and this tour exceeds expectations by including trips to see the famous Pyramids of Giza and the stoic Sphinx, as well as the tombs of King Tut and Ramses VI while touring the Valley of the Kings.
Other highlights of the 13-day/12-night tour include a three-night cruise on the Nile, visiting the desert city Wadi Rum, known as “Valley of the Moon,” and attending an Arabic cooking class where participants will use fresh ingredients from local markets.
While visiting Petra, known as the “Rose Red City,” you’ll be able to explore archeological sites before facing a decision: You can either trek to one of Petra’s famous monuments, known as the “Monastery,” join a local family at their home for tea while discussing life in a Bedouin community, or visit a Nabatean outpost.
Rates for the Journey Through Egypt and Jordan begin at $3,799 per person.
9. Peaks Of Europe: The Alps To The Dolomites
France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, And Italy
“Embark on an invigorating journey through Europe’s towering Alps and idyllic towns,” Collette Explains. “Discover breathtaking beauty and inviting local charm across France, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy.”
Highlights of this trip include ascending four unique mountains via cable car and cogwheel train, and visiting Jungfraujoch, known as the “Top of Europe” because it connects two mountains: The Jungfrau and the Mönch.
Other memorable highlights of the tour, lasting 13 days and 12 nights, include a two-night stay at the foot of Mont Blanc in the French town Chamonix, an opportunity to look out upon the Swiss countryside from the panoramic GoldenPass train, and visiting the terraced vineyards of Lavaux before a wine tasting.
The tour also offers an interesting choice. Anyone looking for a chance to relax and be pampered will want to visit the luxurious Terme Chamonix spa, while thrill-seekers will want to opt instead for a cable car ride to ascend the Aiguille du Midi, a 12,605-foot-high mountain.
Rates for Peaks of Europe: The Alps to The Dolomites begin at $4,499 per person.
10. Costa Rica: A World Of Nature
Tortuguero National Park, Arenal Volcano, And Manuel Antonio National Park
“From thrilling water journeys to ethereal jungle expeditions, discover what pura vida means to you when you explore the essence of Costa Rica,” Collette explains. “It’s time to experience a world of nature.”
Highlights of this trip include spending two nights at a remote resort in San Carlos and three nights in the region of Arenal National Park, and, of course, traversing a network of hanging bridges over the rainforest floor.
The tour, 13 days and 12 nights, also includes other activities that are sure to create memories you’ll always remember. For example, the tour includes a river boat cruise so you can watch for crocodiles, birds, and other wildlife; a visit to the world’s first sea turtle research station in Tortuguero National Park; and a chance to sample cocoa at a local plantation.
The tour also offers what can only be called a spectacular choice. Thrillseekers can take a zip-line ride that offers “one of a kind” views of the Arenal rainforest. The other choice is to take a moderately strenuous hike along the trails of Arenal Volcano National Park before crossing lava fields for a view of the volcano you’ll always remember.
Rates for Costa Rica: A World of Nature begin at $2,399 per person.
Why Book With Collette
About now, you might also be wondering what exactly Collette means by saying “sit back and let us handle all the details so you can have the time of your life.”
Here’s what that entails: A tour guide is always with you on Collette’s tours, plus you’ll get to stay in amazing locations and have special experiences you’ll always remember. What’s more, Collette’s travel protection means you can cancel your tour for any reason right up to the day before departure without incurring penalties. You can also book your airfare through Collette, at an additional cost, variable by airport. Finally, a private sedan even picks you up for the airport when you purchase airfare with Collette so you can relax and forget about traffic.
To learn more about Collette’s approach to tours and the tours themselves, be sure to visit Collette’s Small Group Explorations tours webpage.
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