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Recommended Tour Companies for Asia, Africa, South America


I'm considering going to Peru (Lima, Machu Picchu, Amazon), Africa (leaning South Africa and wanting to take a safari), and Asia (particularly Thailand or Bali) sometime within the next couple of years.

With those being destinations that I have never been to and where I don't speak the language, I'd prefer to take a tour/be traveling with a group. However, I'm not very familiar with other good and reputable tour companies outside of Rick Steves for Europe.

Does anyone have any recommended tours or tour companies that they have used and/or have heard good things about in any of those destinations? Not sure where to start.

Thank you in advance!

Posted by
6997 posts

We found a wonderful tour company in Peru and used them for Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley and Cusco. We had a PRIVATE 4 day tour that cost $799 pp and that included lodging, transportation, admissions and guide as well as some meals. The company was

Trafalgar is a great tour company that has tours all over the world, but they can be expensive.

Gate 1 is an excellent tour company that has very reasonable prices, check them out.
Vantage World Travel is another.

Posted by
416 posts

I took a tour with Gate One to southern India. It was fabulous. It was one of their Discovery (small group) tours - about 22 people. I understand that their Classic tours can have as many as 40 people - too big for me. But I met many people on the tour who had traveled on many of these and they were very enthusiastic about their Gate One experiences.

I have traveled twice with Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) - once to Laos/Myanmar and once to Morocco. I loved the SE Asia tour. The Morocco tour was good, but not spectacular. OAT limits groups to 16. Again, many of the people on the tours had traveled often and enthusiastically with OAT.

I have heard good things about Odysseys Unlimited from fellow travelers. If you are older, Road Scholars also has a good reputation.

Adventures with Sarah is run by one of Rick Steves guides. She does some tours outside of Europe. Another tour company with Rick Steves ties is Imprint Tours. They have many tours outside Europe.

Have fun shopping and dreaming!

Posted by
2629 posts

I can't speak for destinations in South America or Africa, but I do know a bit about travel in Asia after living in Singapore for several years and traveling extensively on business throughout the region.
For Thailand and Bali in particular, and indeed for all of Asia in general, you could save yourself a lot of money if you were willing to book airfares and accommodations on your own and then rely on local tour providers for single day and multi-day excursions. We used the "things to do" pull-down menu on TripAdvisor many times to identify and book tours throughout the region, and in Thailand in particular, which can be a very cheap destination if you're willing to do a little independent research.
Just another option to consider while you're sorting thru the possibilities.

Posted by
416 posts

Good point, Robert. Besides the tour companies I listed previously, I have sometimes done exactly what you are suggesting - multiple trips in China and one each in Bangkok, Zanzibar, Seoul and Poland. I have also taken shorter walking tours and food tours (yum!) in many locations - Paris, Rome, NYC, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Bangkok, San Francisco, New Orleans…….

Posted by
10078 posts

We have been very pleased traveling with Odysseys Unlimited to places we didn't want to travel to independently like Egypt.

Posted by
31025 posts

It might be worth going back a year or two searching on the names of tour companies you are interested in. Some of those mentioned previously did not look after their tour buyers after they were cancelled due to covid. They didn't all treat their customers as well as Rick Steves did...

I'd personally be reluctant to use providers who stiffed their customers previously...

Posted by
12589 posts

1,000% agree with Nigel's recommendation to see who responded well during Covid times with refunds.

I post a lot on Trip Advisor. There are many stories on the Senior Forum over there and I started collating a thread with links to discussions on which companies came thru with good customer service and which did not. Some of the posters are "one-time wonders", some are regular contributors.

There were serious issues with refunds from Trafalgar, Gate 1, Vantage, OAT and many of their customers had to resort to contacting the Attorney General of the state where the tour company is headquartered and/or contacting the consumer advocacy group

Companies that did (mostly) come thru were Odysseys Unlimited, Road Scholar (hiccups at the start but righted themselves) and Tauck (although there have been some recent complaints on them).

If anyone reads that TA thread you'll notice there is no mention of Rick's tours. I suspect that is because he was very ethical with refunds and keeping his customers notified so there are few complaints over there.

So, yes, do your due diligence. If you go with one of the companies that has had complaints decide ahead of time how much money you can afford to lose if you book with them.

Posted by
3518 posts

We have used Odysseys Unlimited a couple of times, and were extremely happy with them. They have a limit of 24 on their tours. Guides are excellent; and hotels, top notch. We had a reservation for another tour in 2019 ( sigh). Our deposit was returned within a few days of cancelling.

Posted by
2478 posts

We had a Road Scholar tour cancelled during COVID. They offered us a return of our $500 deposit or a credit of $800 towards a future trip. We chose the refund and had it within a day or two.

Posted by
13806 posts

Another vote for Odysseys Unlimited. Very well run. Excellent customer service. Small groups.

Posted by
17 posts

Thank you all for your thoughtful replies!
I will be looking into all of these tour companies mentioned.
I hadn't even considered looking into how the various companies responded regarding cancellations, etc. due to Covid, so I'm glad that was brought up. I will definitely have to take that into consideration as well.

Posted by
6997 posts

Gate 1 has a policy that if you have to cancel a tour, you can reschedule another within one year of the cancellation.

Posted by
247 posts

close friends travel with Gate1 all over the world. they are in 40s and quite satisfied with gate1

Posted by
2185 posts

We just departed our Odysseys Unlimited tour of Costa Rica. We have used OU six times now ( Africa 2x, Peru, Alaska and Scandinavia in addition to Costa Rica). OU tours are always excellent. Their customer service is outstanding. Those of us on the tour were concerned that we would test positive before returning home. Our guide assured us that we would not be abandoned by OU which would help us coordinate self-quarantine arrangements if necessary. That would be on our dime, of course. Luckily all of us on the tour tested negative and were allowed to leave the country. I am currently at IAH awaiting for our last flight to SMF. A tour report for Costa Rica will be forthcoming. Suffice it to say, the tour was fabulous as usual.

Posted by
2558 posts

I have taken two tours with Imprint Tours run by former Rick Steves guide Reid Coen. Loved both of them. I’ve also been scheduled for two Imprint Tours that were canceled due to Covid. In both cases Reid offered full refunds. I highly recommend Imprint.

Posted by
5593 posts

When we went to Peru and Machu Picchu we used a National Geographic tour.