Undiscovered Destinations - Our style of trips
“The traveller sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.” (G.K. Chesterton)
For the last 10 years, Undiscovered Destinations has been dedicated to providing unique tours and holidays which explore countries and areas not on the map of mass tourism.
Below we explain how and why we operate our tours and the philosophy behind our small group adventure holidays.
Group size – to really keep our footprint small, our groups operate with a maximum size of just twelve people wherever possible. (West African and the Congo can operate with up to sixteen people). Not only does this ensure that when we visit remote areas, we don’t overwhelm them with a sudden influx of many tourists, it also allows us to give each of you more attention and help in getting the absolute most out of your trip. It also means that we can use smaller, more authentic accommodation where appropriate and stay in many out of the way and unique places that simply cannot cater to larger groups.
Departures – we believe that tourism is a double edged sword that needs to be wielded very carefully. Our philosophy is to have a limited amount of departures for each of our itineraries. By limiting our presence in areas where local culture can be quite fragile, we hope to avoid as much as possible the phenomenon whereby an area changes in character due to repeated and prolonged exposure to tourism. We want to visit an area as friends, not intruders and to ensure that what we see will also be there for others to enjoy for many years to come.
Our itineraries – for us, the most memorable experience of a trip to India for example isn’t seeing the Taj Mahal, but a morning spent exploring a small village, or a remote temple that sees no other visitors from one day to the next. We feel that more than anything, unique experiences like these are the ones that stay with you forever and make a visit to a country so special. Our trips do include the highlights of the destinations that we are visiting, but these are combined with some lesser known but equally fascinating sites. Our itineraries sometimes include an active element, usually walking or trekking, as this can be the best way to experience some of the most fascinating areas of a country, far from where motorised transport can reach and where local culture is often at its most engaging.
Our itineraries have all been carefully selected and researched with painstaking detail by our team to ensure that you’ll be able to make the most from your time away. We understand that often it’s the little and unexpected elements that can turn a good trip into an amazing trip; where possible we allow flexibility to modify itineraries to fit in with local circumstances, for instance a visit to a nearby festival. All of our itineraries have been given careful attention to in order to ensure that the niggles that are often associated with travel in out of the way places are ironed out as much as possible before you arrive.
We also understand that although you want value for money, this shouldn’t translate into a loss of quality or cutting corners. We aim to provide you with a quality experience rather than offer you the cheapest trip around, and this doesn’t just relate to the itinerary but to the accommodation, inclusions, local guides and level of back up support. We feel that the best way to really ‘get under the skin’ of a destination isn’t to show you as many sights as possible, but to give you time to appreciate the places you visit and the people you meet.
Transport – travelling by public transport is often fun, and where appropriate we may make use of this. However all too often it can be uncomfortable and mean a frustrating lack of flexibility in where and when you can stop, meaning that you have less freedom to explore. We use mainly private transport on our trips so that we can stop for photos of that fantastic sunset, or to take a few minutes to visit a lively village market.
Accommodation – our accommodation is carefully selected to add to your overall experience, and where possible is very comfortable. However we believe that often the best option may not be a four star hotel in town but a small guesthouse overlooking a spectacular ravine, a traditional longhouse or a tented camp set amongst exquisite desert surroundings where the shadows of the campfire dance on the rocks behind.
There may be occasions where the accommodation is very basic, perhaps without electricity or running water – this is often the reality of travelling in remote locations, but we believe it is a small price to pay for the rewards that such travel entails. We also, where practical, use hotels with a sense of history and connection with the destination and you may find yourself in a maharajah’s palace in central India or a colonial era hotel in Colombia.
Our guides – Our guides are a key strength, chosen for their knowledge and passion of the areas that they work in. Our guides are very carefully hand picked and are not just passing through these countries but are usually locally born with a deep and long term involvement with them; this gives them amazing insights into local culture, history and customs, enabling us to create truly unique itineraries and you to come away with memories to be treasured forever. We believe that a guide can make or break a trip and so invest time and effort to ensure that we’ve chosen correctly.
Our staff – In addition to guides our trips are usually accompanied by a variety of other staff; from local drivers who know the best places to stop for a roadside cup of chai or for a spectacular photo to porters who have grown up in the mountains we walk through and can share their insights into an enigmatic culture. Trips that involve trekking will be accompanied by porters, mule or camel handlers for baggage, as well as cooks and on some occasions camp assistants. We encourage our local staff to interact as much as possible with our travellers; experience of our own travels has taught us that you don’t need to understand each other’s language to gain priceless cultural insights or share a joke and a laugh.
Single travellers – we understand that in our busy world many people travel alone. Although we do charge a single supplement, if you are willing to share with another traveller then please contact us and we will do our best to match you up.
Local Payments - Unlike many other travel companies, we do not require you to make any local payments for travel arrangements or to have a travel 'kitty'.