Photo: Timothy Chan
Location: Mpumalanga Panorama Route, South Africa
G Adventures offers tours based on travel styles: ranging from living local, to National Geographic, to marine and wellness tours, to name a few. The company is founded on a belief in responsible travel – this includes working with local initiatives, but also goes many steps beyond to ensure that travel has a positive impact on communities, protects animal welfare, and is respectful of the rights, history, and culture of indigenous people. Not an easy task when terms like the “Easy Jet Set” are common parlance. We spoke to Sophie from G Adventures Europe to find out more about how they look to encourage both responsibility and transformation when it comes to the future of travel.
How do you craft tours that are appealing to today’s desire for transformative travel?
Here at G Adventures, transformative travel has two meanings. We are committed to delivering incredible and transformative travel experiences for our travelers in amazing destinations around the world. That said, travel being channeled as a force for good, to change the lives of the communities visited, has been at the very core of the G Adventures mission for over twenty-eight years.
We work closely with our non-profit partner, Planeterra, to support social enterprises that offer services or experiences for our tours, helping us, and our travelers, change people’s lives for the better through the trips they take.
Whether it’s spending the night with a Hill tribe in Northern Thailand, being collected by a woman who is part of India’s largest fleet of female chauffeurs, or learning about Costa Rica’s delicious coffee from local farmers, all of the experiences incorporated into our tours are designed to help our travelers make meaningful and transformative connections with the local people.
Can you tell me more about the National Geographic Journeys?
In 2015, G Adventures partnered with National Geographic to create a portfolio of tours, designed to offer hands-on exploration, with an emphasis on local immersion and storytelling. Named National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures, the collection will enter its fourth year with eighty-nine tours in fifty-five countries.
In 2019, we will see some exciting new regions and destinations join the National Geographic Journeys portfolio, including Northern Peru, which sees travelers exploring cloud forests, hiking huge waterfalls, and discovering Peru’s archaeologically and ecologically-wondrous northern region. Other new highlights include a new eight days Highlights of Bolivia tour, which will take in the famous Uyuni Salt Flats and lesser explored destinations in Europe, including Romania and Hungary.
Like all G Adventures tours, all of our National Geographic Journeys tours are a great balance of activities and free time, and are led by an experienced Chief Experience Officer, which allows travelers to get under the skin of the destination, learning about communities, history, and cultural heritage.
Your family tours look exciting! What kinds of families book these tours? Why are families seeking out adventure today?
Many of our tours at G Adventures, such as our Classic, Wellness and Active cater for children aged twelve and above. This means that families with teenagers have a whole host of options for their next big adventure, from trekking through the jungle in Costa Rica, to exploring the Geisha districts in Japan.
Our family travel style is perfect for those with younger children, aged six and above, who are still looking to maintain their sense of adventure. Activities are tailored to suit little ones across exciting destinations such as Thailand, Vietnam, Peru, Costa Rica, and the Galapagos.
With a focus on education and adventure, families will visit a giant tortoise breeding center and Charles Darwin Research Station before donning their explorer hats and visiting the mangroves of the Galapagos Islands. In Vietnam they paddle to Luon Cave in a small bamboo boat, visit ruins, and try their hand at local cooking; while in China, families will visit the Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors, and embark on a taste adventure with local foodie stalls.
Responsible travel is a founding belief of G Adventures. Can you tell me more about what responsible travel means?
When Bruce Poon Tip, the founder of G Adventures first started the company, he did so with the belief that travel has the potential to change the world for the better. From wealth distribution to cultural interaction, the positive things that travel can bring is enormous. With this belief in our DNA, G Adventures has worked to pioneer purpose-driven travel across the world, with the understanding that travel should be an exchange. Purpose runs through all elements of G Adventures, from the amazing social enterprise projects that we support to offer sustainable employment and training to communities around the world, to the core values our teams live by each day, including „Do the right thing.“ and „Create community and happiness.“
Responsible travel should also be quantifiable, which is why we launched our “Ripple Score” in September this year. This saw us undertake an audit of our tours and suppliers, looking at how much of the money spent in destination during each tour was done so with locally-owned businesses. Now, over 640 of our trips have a Ripple Score, out of 100, which shows transparently what percentage of money spent by our travelers stays with the local community.
What effect does responsible travel have on the price of the tour?
When creating tours, we not only want to leave as much money in the local economy as possible, we also want our travelers to have meaningful interactions with the local communities. That’s why we incorporate our social enterprise projects into our itineraries, offering services we would need to operate the tours. This could be our transport with Women on Wheels in Delhi, who collect all our travelers from the airport, or turning to indigenous communities in Colombia to guide our travelers to the Lost City.
This means that travelers don’t have to spend extra, or make an effort to do good, they can change people’s lives simply by going away and having an amazing adventure!