Exotic locations, unforgettable experiences, new friends – escorted tours offer more than ever before. Here’s our pick of the world’s very best… tours de force
- There are a variety of escorted tours on the market tailormade for solo travellers, families, foodies and more
- The ‘Madagascar Wildlife Adventure’ tour and the ‘Way of St James’ holiday are ideal for adventure-seekers
- Gourmands will enjoy a week spent indulging in street food and wine-tastings in Sicily’s culinary hotspots
Whether you’re a solo tourist looking to explore with like-minded travellers, a family on the hunt for guided adventures or a foodie hoping to taste your way around a new destination, there’s every kind of escorted tour out there.
Just remember to pack your sense of adventure…
Beach ready: Visit Koh Samui on a two-week family adventure to Thailand with Explore
Thailand packs a punch: An escorted tour is a brilliant way for active families to go off the beaten track in Thailand. An adventure with Explore includes staying on a raft house on the River Kwai and Muay Thai boxing lessons.
Plus, there’s plenty of time to hit the beach on Koh Samui.
How to do it: A two-week trip including accommodation, tours and transfers and some meals from £1,395 pp, based on April 10, 2022 departures (01252 883761, explore.co.uk). Fly to Bangkok from £505 (thaiairways.com).
Highland thrills: Got teens with energy to burn? Head north of the border for a six-day tour of the Highlands.
Admire views of 13th-century Urquhart Castle during an action-packed six-day tour of the Highlands
Intrepid Travel’s active family break includes two four-hour hikes up Cow Hill in Fort William and Creag Bheag in the Cairngorms National Park, as well as a seven-mile canoe trip on the Caledonian Canal. The 13th-century Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness and Ben Nevis all fill the horizon.
How to do it: A six-day trip including activities and transfers is £1,360 for adults and £1,224 for children, based on a family of four sharing two rooms B&B (0808 274 5111, intrepidtravel.com).
Santiago calling: Put your best foot forward on the final leg of the fabled Camino de Santiago in Spain’s north-west corner.
The spectacular Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, pictured above, is the official end point of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage
Saga’s seven-night, guided ‘Way of St James’ holiday lets walkers set a moderate pace, taking in pretty villages and verdant countryside on a 75-mile route.
Rejoice when the spectacular Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, the official end point of the pilgrimage, arcs into view.
How to do it: Seven nights including meals, accommodation and flights costs £1,049 pp, based on March 30, 2022, departures (0808 223 0146, travel.saga.co.uk).
Madagascar magic: The lemur might be its most famous inhabitant but this Indian Ocean island idyll, 250 miles off Africa’s south-east coast, is full of glorious wildlife — including turtles, baobab trees and mongooses.
Stop and admire the sculpted sandstone landscapes of Isalo National Park (above) on the ‘Madagascar Wildlife Adventure’ tour
Cox and Kings’ ‘Madagascar Wildlife Adventure’ showcases a country with dramatic canyons, lush jungle and dazzling coastline. Stops include the Mantadia rainforest, Unesco-listed Ranomafana National Park and the sculpted sandstone landscapes of Isalo National Park.
How to do it: A 13-night tour including three-star accommodation, flights and excursions, plus some meals, from £3,895, based on November 6, 2021, departures (0203 811 0523, coxandkings.co.uk).
HISTORY AND CULTURE
Far-east promise: If Tokyo’s Olympics have whet your appetite for a visit to the Land of the Rising Sun, there are plenty of tours.
Japan’s Mount Fuji is one of the stunning pitstops on Wendy Wu’s epic ‘Ancient Empires of China & Japan’ tour
History buffs will love Wendy Wu’s epic ‘Ancient Empires of China & Japan’ tour, which puts iconic Chinese sights including the Great Wall and the Terracotta Army on the same ticket as Japan’s Mount Fuji, Tokyo and Hiroshima.
Knowledgable English-speaking guides explain the sights.
How to do it: 20-day tours from £6,290 pp, including flights, accommodation, meals and excursions, based on March 20, 2022, departures (0808 2230 701, wendywutours.co.uk).
Moroccan metropolis: Arguably the most exotic destination within a short-haul flight of the UK, Morocco boasts otherworldly Saharan landscapes, hypnotic souks and a wind-lashed Atlantic coastline.
Wander the Unesco-ranked Roman ruins at Volubilis – pictured above – during the week-long ‘Imperial Cities of Morocco’ tour
Explore Marrakech, Casablanca, Rabat and Fez on a week-long tour with Tui. Guides will help you barter for souvenirs in Marrakech’s Jemaa el-Fna Square, see Morocco’s largest mosque in Casablanca and wander the Unesco-ranked Roman ruins at Volubilis.
How to do it: Seven nights’ half-board including flights and transfers on the ‘Imperial Cities of Morocco’ tour from £906 pp, based on October 22 departures (0203 451 2688, tui.co.uk).
Canada grand tour: Stepping aboard the gleaming Rocky Mountaineer means ploughing through some of Canada’s most impressive scenery.
Travelsphere’s 17-day grand tour guides tourists through Canada’s most impressive scenery, such as the peaks of Lake Louise, pictured
Travelsphere’s 17-day grand tour uses road and rail to carries tourists from the walled beauty of Quebec in the east to Vancouver in the west, taking in Montreal, Niagara Falls and the peaks of Banff and Lake Louise.
How to do it: A 17-day tour costs £4,799 pp for departures in May to September 2022, including flights, accommodation and some meals (01858 415128, travelsphere.co.uk).
Swiss delight: Experience the precise efficiency of Switzerland’s mountain trains with Titan Travel’s eight-day rail zig-zag, which takes in soaring mountains and mirror-like lakes.
Titan Travel’s trip includes a seat on the Bernina Express (pictured above) – ‘the loftiest railway in the Alps’
The trip, starting in Davos, includes a seat on the Bernina Express, the loftiest railway in the Alps, with glaciers filling picture windows as you glide up to 7,391ft (2,253m) on the Bernina Pass. Other highlights include a trip on the Glacier Express and a cruise on Lake Constance.
How to do it: An eight-day trip costs from £2,099 pp, including accommodation, transfers, flights and some meals (0808 250 9781, titantravel.co.uk).
Sicily on a plate: Don your finest apron and join a guided gourmet adventure that serves up a hands-on masterclass in Sicily’s food.
Sample the street food in Sicily before having a go at making island specialities. Pictured is Palermo’s Ballaro farmer’s market
Exodus has a week-long trip that takes in street food in the capital, Palermo, wine-tasting in Marsala and a cookery class with a local chef in Trapani.
There’s the chance to have a go at making island specialities, including cannoli and arancini, plus plenty of time for eating gelato while exploring pretty Sicilian towns and villages.
How to do it: Seven nights’ B&B including some lunches, excursions and flights from £1,999, based on departures on April 24, 2022 (0203 131 6467, exodus.co.uk).
Devour Ireland: A self-drive tour that plots a gastronomic route from Dublin to Galway, Abercrombie & Kent’s eight-night ‘Tastes of Ireland’ holiday begins with a lesson in Irish cookery at Ballyknocken House, in the Wicklow Mountains.
Participants in Abercrombie & Kent’s self-drive tour have the chance to admire the Atlantic from the Cliffs of Moher, pictured
As the itinerary meanders south and west, there are more culinary classes in Cork plus the chance to admire the Atlantic from the Cliffs of Moher.
How to do it: An eight-night tour departing year-round and including flights, room-only accommodation, car hire and excursions costs £3,929 pp (01242 386 463, abercrombiekent.co.uk).
Jersey jaunt: Fly into St Peter and join a gang of fellow solo travellers to explore the biggest of the Channel Islands.
A six-day group trip with Leger Holidays whisks tourists around the beautiful, sun-drenched coastal towns including St Aubin and capital St Helier.
A six-day trip with Leger Holidays takes in beautiful, sun-drenched coastal towns like St Aubin (above)
How to do it: A six-day, half-board trip including flights and accommodation is from £579, based on departures on March 3, 2022 (01709 787 463, leger.co.uk).
Southern soul: Few destinations can rival the Deep South for music heritage.
Cosmos’s eight-day single-traveller tour lets you see the best of it. Striking out from blues-soaked New Orleans, you will cross Louisiana, Tennessee and Mississippi, taking in Memphis’s Beale Street and Elvis’s home Graceland.
How to do it: An eight-day tour room-only from £1,239 pp excluding flights (0330 0588 237, cosmos.co.uk). Fly to New Orleans from £524 (ba.com).
Memphis’s Beale Street is one of the highlights of Cosmos’s eight-day single-traveller tour in the Deep South
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