The World’s Best Tour Companies

TOUR OPERATOR RATINGS BY CATEGORY

Updated 11.25.11

One of the things you will never learn from a travel ad is the relative standing of a tour operator in their area of specialization. Who are the top quality tour firms?

Traveltruth could never accurately review the thousands of tour operators in the United States. So we set out to name the very best in each major category. Our ratings are based on industry reports, traveler feedback over a twenty-year span, and the opinions of respected industry professionals. Internet sites tend to make everything sound wonderful. While many tour operators are capable of providing you with a fine experience, choosing the top-rated tour operator in the categories below, will practically guarantee you a truly memorable journey with the finest guides, accommodations, and service. The one exception is our “moderate/value” category where results cannot be guaranteed given the price points.

When it comes to escorted tours, you really do get exactly what you pay for in terms of per guest expenditures, staff salaries, accommodations, and food. In many areas of the world, safety varies based on the tour operator selected. One advantage the top-rated firms have is a professional on-site office. We do not generally recommend tour operators who “subcontract” out their tours.Any firm selected for our “Best Tour Operator” designation must have an enviable record in dealing with problems and emergency situations when they occur.

EAST AFRICA

 

# 1 – Micato Safaris – Caring, exquisite service, and the best overall selection of programs in East Africa, make Micato the best choice for escorted tour programs within Africa, Many programs will operate with as few as four participants. Highly-rated guides and on-site owners and managers.

# 2 – Abercrombie and Kent Kenya Office – This company practically invented safari packaging and has excellent contacts at the best lodges and camps. A&K maintains its own guide training center. Pricing can be an issue and the mark-up on private arrangements is substantial. Many of the nation’s best consultants work directly with A&K contacts in Africa rather then the set programs available through Oak Brook, Illinois headquarters, This can result in a better program at a lower cost. We recommend Micato for set programs and A&K for programs in East africa that require customization.

SOUTHERN AFRICA

# 1 – MIcato Safaris

# 2 – Trans Africa Safaris (Custom Safaris)

# 3 – Wilderness Safaris (Custom Safaris)

# 4 – Abercrombie & Kent

# 5 – Ker and Downey (Custom Safaris)

EUROPE ULTRA DELUXE

# 1 –  Abercrombie and Kent

# 2 -  Travcoa

EUROPE FIRST CLASS

# 1 – Tauck World Discovery

# 2 – No Competitor

EUROPE MODERATE/VALUE

# 1 – Insight Vacations

# 2 -  Globus

INDIA 

 # 1 – Cox and Kings

# 2 – Ker and Downey

RUSSIA AND EASTERN EUROPE

# 1 – Exeter International

# 2 – No Competitor

INDIA

# 1 – Cox and Kings

# 2 – Abercrombie and Kent India Office

HAWAII

# 1 – Classic Vacations

COSTA RICA

# 1 – Costa Rica Expeditions

# 2 – No Competitor

ASIA

 

# 1 – Abercrombie & Kent (Local Direct Offices – Not USA)

# 2 – Travcoa (Escorted Programs)

# 3 – Absolute Travel

# 4 – Asia Transpacific

BIKING AND WALKING TOURS

# 1 – Butterfield and Robinson

# 2 – Backroads

SOFT ADVENTURE TOURS

# 1 – Lindblad Expeditions

# 2 – Quark Expeditions

CULTURAL GROUP TOURS WITH LECTURERS

# 1 - Austin Lehman Adventures

Note: Each part of the world requires different strategies. In Hawaii, it is generally not necessary to purchase an escorted tour program. Instead, the best wholesale tour operators can put together a personalized itinerary at no additional cost to the consumer. Your vacation consultant can request 3 nights on one island with a convertible, followed by two nights at a specific hotel and an inter-island flight etc.. The itinerary becomes an instant wholesale package, Normally, you will be quoted a package price since the wholesale hotel and airline rates available to the wholesale packager cannot, by contractual agreement, be quoted to the consumer.

 

 

Note: This section of traveltruth is currently being researched and will be expanded.