Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Snippet: Group Tour? – Not on your (wild) life! By Mel Kinder

Scared by the thought of travelling into the unknown with unknown company? Petrified of being stuck with a group of ‘know it all naturalists’? These are all completely normal feelings for lone travellers, but all distinctly curable. Launching into the world of ‘group tours’ on the third Festival of Wildlife to India in 2006 opened my eyes to the vast benefits of group travel. Yes, admittedly, Festival of Wildlife is not your average group tour but the highs of any group travel can significantly outweigh the lows.

As a relative novice to wildlife travel in general, I was convinced that most of the guests attending this trip would be hardened wildlife enthusiasts, sparring their wildlife sound bites at any given opportunity. I was mistaken. Yes, many guests had a wide knowledge gained from numerous previous trips, but were only too cheerful to exchange this information with others when prompted or as no more than chatty dinner conversation. As wildlife enthusiasts wouldn’t we all like to talk to the animals? Instead we make do with the next best thing – talking to each other about the animals. Sharing experiences like this (and sometimes gaining new skills) whilst on a group tour is something very special and can result in lifelong friendships being formed. I am always excited when meeting past Festival clients who keep me updated with others they have met or are due to meet in social situations as a result of their first trips together.

Of course there are significant financial benefits to travelling together too – transport, administration and guiding costs are all shared. We are also more than happy to arrange room and tent shares for same gender travellers, eliminating single supplements and helping people re-engage with travel. Tempted? Let’s start talking and learning about the animals.

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