Anyone who’s traveled with us will know all about the tiny details that set our trips apart. But folks who haven’t traveled the SA Expeditions way might not realize what they’re missing out on. Here we set the record straight and bust a few myths in the process.
Unlike other tour operators who sell any old trip to everywhere from Vladivostok to Vanuatu, we hand-pick our destinations. And not just any destinations either: We only take guests to places we’ve trekked, cruised, explored and resided in ourselves. Most of our team has spent significant time living in one or more of our global destinations at some point before (even our tech team!).
We tailor-make each private tour, working in close collaboration with you to handpick the destinations which resonate most strongly with you. In each destination you visit, you will be hosted by a knowledgeable, local-to-the area (more about that later) guide whose focus is entirely on you and your needs.
For each region you visit you will be accompanied by an expert guide who is both local to the area and highly educated. This guarantees you consistency and a host and advocate in each region, not to mention the opportunity to interact with different guides at each location who are local and experts of that area. (Guests often tell us that our guides, with their nuanced understanding of the region's history, culture and theoretical debates, were a highlight in their own right). Importantly, our set-up also allows you plenty of free time – that increasingly rare commodity.
If your party prefers additional assistance with boarding planes, deciphering restaurant menus and negotiating purchases with local vendors, we can arrange a Tour Leader to accompany you throughout your travels from start to finish. If you go with this option you will still enjoy the personalized touch of traveling in private, leaving you free to do what you want when you want. What we don’t provide is “large group escorted tours” which expect you to succumb to the larger group’s agenda and oftentimes prevent you from experiencing the authentic and spontaneous interactions which make travel wonderful.
Machu Picchu is located about 140 miles from the fascinating Andean city of Cusco (the erstwhile Inca and Spanish capital) at the Northwestern extremity of the Sacred Valley – the agricultural heartland which fed the Inca empire. All three of these destinations are world-beaters in their own right, and experience tells us that they are best visited with a single guide.
For this leg of the journey your local guide will show you around the city of Cusco and the Sacred Valley, before boarding the train to Machu Picchu with you and unveiling her secrets the following day. Having one person tell you about all three showstoppers results in a comprehensive, integrated and compelling story of a region whose shared histories cannot be disentangled. Although your guide will travel with you to Machu Picchu, you will be allowed the time and space to do your own thing.
Having a private guide means that every aspect of your itinerary can be tailored to your specific needs. By spending time with you, one-on-one, our guides will get to know your likes and dislikes. They’ll gauge what kind of restaurants you prefer, what sort of cultural activities interest you, and whether you’ll be more interested in the history or the scenery of a site, for example. Put bluntly, there is no script to our tours.
We handpick all of our partner hotels, by focusing on the optimal blend of value, location and quality and putting the hotels through their paces. Armed with this list of already fantastic properties, we match hotels to your preferences of both style and budget. In Machu Picchu, for example, we suggest the Inkaterra Pueblo for high-touch nature lovers, the Sumaq for more traditional luxury accommodations and the El Mapi by Inkaterra for a reliable value-oriented property that will keep you happy and comfortable.
If this all sounds like the way you’d like to travel, check out some of our most popular itineraries to South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, or contact a Destination Expert about crafting a tailor-made tour just for you.
Article originally published March 2019.