REI Adventures vs Discover Corps - Tour Companies Compared
Compare details and see what other travelers are saying.
Overall — 4.5
Value — 4.4
Guide — 4.4
Activities — 4.4
Lodging — 4.4
Transportation — 4.4
Meals — 4.4
Overall — 4.5
Value — 4.5
Guide — 4.5
Activities — 4.5
Lodging — 4.5
Transportation — 4.5
Meals — 4.5
1.0 August 2018
We did not do this trip with REI, but did this trip by ourselves and had the group from REI camp next to use. We were there from 7/19-7/22/2018. My girlfriend and I are experienced backpackers. This is some of the things we noticed WRONG! Most of these have to do with the Leave No Trace policy that are strict rules, especially on the PCT. Some are just common courtesy. Some of these things aren’t bad when it is one person, but when thousands do it, it poses real environmental problems. Guides, especially, should not be teaching future backpackers the wrong mentality about leaving our wildernesses as pristine as possible.Read more
LNT = Leave No Trace policy
They camped 15-25 (some tents were closer than others) feet from the water. LNT states it should be at least 100 feet away from water to minimize pollution of water.
They cooked and washed dishes and brushed their teeth 15 feet from water. LNT states it should be at least 100 feet away from water and camp site to minimize water pollution and critters in/near your campsite.
People were putting on sunscreen and then going swimming very shortly after. This clearly pollutes the water.
At one point around 7pm, the two guides left the entire group, with their packs on, and did not come back until around 9pm. What if someone tripped and fell and hit their head while the guides were gone?
While walking down a really narrow steep section from Mt. Eddy, the group was walking uphill and did not slow down or move over for us at all, forcing us to move to the side. The rule of thumb is that people going downhill have the right away because of momentum. People going up should always yield to those coming down.
The entire group hung and and swam right in front of our campsite, even-though they could have very easily gotten into the water and hung out around the water close to their campsite. People obviously go into the back-country to get away from people. Why would these ‘experienced’ guides let 10 people block the view and disturb other people when there was no need. This seemed very rude and selfish.
At one point we heard one guide talking about our bear hanging method (The Piutte or PCT method using a locking stick method), saying it was “Unnecessary”. We don’t know what they did for bear safety but we also heard the same guide telling the clients that bears and other animals were not a concern because she had “guided this for 4 years now and have never had any issues”. This is the wrong mentality. Maybe she simply got lucky for 4 years.
We heard one of the guides, while talking about glass in the area that “if you feel comfortable, you can just throw it in the fire pit. It’s better than it being on the ground or in the water”. This is the wrong mentality. They should inform the guide, and the guide should make a conscious effort to pack it out, versus simply throwing it into a fire pit where a ranger is simply going to spread the ashes away from the pit, later spreading the glass around.
5.0 March 2016
I loved this trip. The equipment was in very good condition. The fjords are awe strikingly beautiful. The water is clear and the Norwegian people were incredibly nice and hospitable.Read more
Our guides were top notch. They worked very hard to make our trip the best it could be for us. Lots of personal service from REI Adventures. I have to look back at my pictures to make sure I actually took the trip. It was a life altering experience for me.
4.0 November 2015
Marissa, Stride Destination Expert
REI's tour groups are a blast. You're able to see much more of the country than you would if you were on your own. The trips are very organized and you never feel bored or too rushed. There's a wide variety of tours to pick from based on region and activity.Read more
Tour Rei Adventures Company Reviews
5.0 November 2018
Japan Cultural Odyssey
We really enjoyed our Discover Corps tour and can't wait to return to Japan. My wife and I took the Discover Corps cultural trip to Japan (Started in Tokyo-then a bullet train to Kyoto & more local trains to Osaka). The transportation system works well and no cars were ever needed. We were completely taken care of from booking and then thru the process. Adrienne did a great job of informing us of all the details-no planning required. Our guides in Japan, Aki and Miwa, were very knowledgeable local people & made sure we were having a unforgettable time! The cultural experience in Japan was terrific. Great mix of excitement; watching Sumo and participating in Kendo. The food was wonderful plus we were able to participate in sushi making!Read more
Tour Discover Corps Company Reviews
5.0 July 2018
We lived in the African bush for 10 days. Accommodations were wonderful - tents with nice furniture and attached bathrooms. Plenty of hot water! Food was delicious and quite sophisticated. But the best were the wildlife experiences led by an extremely knowledgeable and personable guide. All the staff were kind and professional.Read more
5.0 July 2017
This trip was really superb, starting with the folks like Alex in the San Diego office to our tour guide in Havana, Orelvis (a perfect gentleman if there ever was one--and he seemed to know absolutely EVERYTHING about Havana), and our driver, Boris (who was an extremely safe driver, and the SUV that was our transportation was a practically new Honda), and our friendly hostess at the casa particular (B&B).Read more
But at breakfast at the casa particular, keep in mind the CDC guidelines for healthy travel: cook it, boil it, peel it (yourself) or FORGET IT. So the bowl of fruit and the fruit juices? Pass them up in favor of coffee and toast. I know that sounds boring, but after I got home, I ended up in the hospital emergency room for dehydration due to e-coli--my fault for not following the CDC guidelines.
Also, to get up to my room at the casa particular, I had to climb a narrow, curved marble staircase--I took extra care not to fall either on the way up or on the way down.
The activities and attractions were first rate (but you must keep in mind that you're on "Cuban time," and not everything runs like a Swiss train). From the Hemingway house to the canon ceremony (which I loved even though it was a substitution for another event that was unexpectedly closed) to the jazz club (again, we went to one jazz club that for some reason didn't work out, but no problem--Orelvis took us to another jazz club recommended by his supervisor in Havana) to the art museum to the Malecon to the outdoor terrace at the Hotel Nacional and more, it was amazing how much we saw of Havana in about 72 hours.
There were only four people on the trip, and that was both a good thing and a bad thing--good because each of us received a great deal of attention from Orelvis and bad because two of the four didn't want to follow the itinerary and often went off on their own and then kept the rest of us waiting for them to return (highly frustrating--finally Boris said, "the schedule is the schedule," and we stopped catering to them). One of them spoke fluent Spanish--good for her--but I did wish that Orelvis had curtailed the lengthy conversations that she initiated with him, which the rest of us could not understand.
Two of my favorite activities were ones that I arranged myself: attending the world-class ballet at the gorgeously restored el Gran Teatro and then taking a yellow 1950 Chevrolet convertible with an Italian driver, who was an absolute hoot, back to the casa particular.
And the food at the private restaurants known as paladars was first rate. We even had lunch at one that Anthony Bourdain recently featured on his CNN travel show "Parts Unknown."
Just a small word of caution: sometimes there wasn't enough bottled water in the SUV in which we were riding, especially when we were dropped off at the casa particular at night. Make sure that you have plenty of bottled water with you at all times. (The CDC even recommends that you brush your teeth with bottled water.)
I also wish I had brought another pair of shoes with me because with all of the walking in the heat of the Cuban sun, my feet swelled. Fortunately, I had brought some Band-Aids with me, which helped cushion the sore spots.
I highly recommend this trip--to my way of thinking, it's much better than taking a cruise ship that only docks in Havana for one or two nights--and the "Havana Weekend Getaway" is the most popular trip to Cuba that is offered by Discover Corps, as I learned from Orelvis.
|Tours||84 Trips||28 Trips|
|Average Trip Price Per Day||$ 413||$ 399|
|Operator Type||Mixed Land & Cruise||Group Tour Operator|
|Size||Global Operator||Global Operator|
|Headquarters||Sumner, Washington, United States||San Diego, California|
|Solo Friendly||N/A||No single supplement|
When you think of REI, you probably think first of stores that sell quality outdoor equipment and gear. But REI also has a travel division called REI Adventures, which has been leading active outdoor adventures around the world for the past 25 years.
What Makes REI Adventures Stand Out?
Known for their top quality outdoor gear, REI’s trips are specifically designed for the active adventure traveler. As a company they are dedicated to helping people see the world through the lens of nature and outdoor adventure. Even though this is their focus, they do also enrich their itineraries with cultural encounters, great meals with local touches, and exploring the destination off the hiking trail.
Aside from their many trip options, from women-only departures to family friendly outings, they also offer volunteering trips, for those travelers interested in making a difference through their travel. These are also outdoor focused and involve things like wildlife habitat restoration and trail maintenance. It’s clear that REI takes their role as an outfitter as well as travel provider seriously and strive to help protect the areas they explore to keep them as pristine and undisturbed as possible.
Most trips are small groups, and are intended for those who are physically fit. Satisfy all your active adventure cravings on a trip with REI where you’ll meet like minded travelers and come home with stories to tell.
Who Will Enjoy Traveling With REI Adventures?
REI trips are very active adventure focused, with the emphasis is on getting outdoors and enjoying nature. If you are the kind of traveler for whom putting on a pair of hiking boots and hitting the trail for a several hour excursion in the wilderness is an ideal and really, crucial, aspect of your travel experience, these trips are for you. The space in your suitcase that might have been dedicated to makeup, ties, jewelry, or cufflinks is replaced with outdoor travel accessories.
Getting out in nature with REI means anything from hard core activities like extreme whitewater rafting and trekking up Mount Kilimanjaro, to family safaris and cruises to Antarctica. The focal point is being outside, learning about nature, and being active.
That said, this is travel after all, albeit adventure travel, but that doesn’t have to mean no time to slow down and get some cultural experiences in too. Simply that exploring culture and history is secondary to the outdoor travel aspect.
Everyone from mild adventure travelers to hard core adventurers and adrenaline junkies will be right at home on a trip with REI. Trips are moderately priced, with several family friendly, solo traveler, and women-only options available. Because their core focus is in active travel, a certain level of physical fitness is expected.
A wide range of ages are welcome, though the core age group is between 18-40. On Family Friendly trips it is recommended that children be no younger than 8 years old. Not all activities will be open to the younger travelers in the group, but these trips are specifically designed to make sure everyone has something fun to do!
REI travels to destinations with an eye toward the outdoor activities to be enjoyed. Whether this means an African safari camping under the stars, a multi day hike through some of the world’s most incredible National Parks, or a trekking journey in Nepal.
They offer departures on all 7 continents, with an impressive number of Antarctica tours available. they focus on National Parks, mountain regions, hikes, and popular safari and white water rafting locations.
REI Adventures Travel Style
Each of REI’s 150 trips -- which reach all seven continents -- is rated 1 through 5 for activity level. Trips rated 1(Relaxed) and 2(Easy Active) are ideal for families with younger kids, older travelers seeking some invigoration without, you know, climbing cliffs or barreling through whitewater, or completely novice active outdoor travelers.
Trips that are rated Moderate are also great for novices, but those interested in a slightly bigger challenge physically. Those trips rated 4(Vigorous) and 5(Strenuous) often require a doctor’s note to ensure you are aware of the risk, and able to keep up with the physical demands of 10+ hours a day of extreme activity, dramatically changing elevations, and steep uneven terrain.
Camping is a common accommodation style for REI Adventures trips - though you usually will not be required to do your own set up and break down, and in most cases (not all) hot running water is available. Other types of accommodation include rustic lodges, and basic hotels.
Why Choose a Tour With REI Adventures?
For an exhilarating and invigorating deep dive into nature and the outdoors, choose REI Adventures. This is their core focus and they do it remarkably well. Travelers who like to explore destinations through the lens of active travel will be right at home with REI Adventures. If you’re looking to expand your horizons and perhaps challenge what you previously thought you were capable of (such as learning to scale a mountain, or graduate from class 3 to class 4 whitewater rafting) these trips are for you.
This is a also a great travel opportunity to make new friends with like interests! You are sure to meet many fellow outdoorsy, active travelers -- whether you’re hiking through Tuscany, trekking to Machu Picchu, exploring Utah’s Zion National Park by bicycle, or kayaking the South Island of New Zealand.
These trips are not for you if the idea of being outside constantly, among the elements, pushing your physical boundaries is less than appealing. They also focus far less on museums, history, and classic tourist attractions, so if this is important to you, we’d suggest looking into other tour companies where this is more prominent in the itinerary.
If you love the outdoors and being active when you travel, REI is the perfect tour operator for you. They specialize in active adventure travel, as evidenced by their outfitters, so if you love shopping at REI for all your outdoor needs you’re sure to enjoy touring with them.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do I need to be an REI member to go on their trips?
No, however if you are a member, you can receive substantial discounts!
2. Is airfare included?
No, only ground transportation during the trip is covered by the trip price. You are responsible for purchasing your airfare to and from the trip start and end locations.
3. Does REI Adventures provide travel insurance?
Travel insurance is required when traveling with REI. Due to the potentially dangerous and risky nature of adventure travel, REI has a partnership with TripAssure, and recommend all travelers purchase the “Adventure Protection Plan” which you can do through REI. Should you choose to purchase independently, know that certain events that can arise from active travel may not be covered, so do so at your own risk.
4. How difficult are REI Adventures trips physically?
This will vary by the trip, but in general it will be good to expect some parts of the trip to be physically challenging, relative to the trip classification. REI separates their trips into five main categories:
1. Relaxed: These trips are ideal for new adventurers with no background in active travel. They usually involve easy hikes - expect to walk no more than 3 miles a day, and to be active between 1-3 hours a day. Elevation changes are rare, so most hiking and walking is relatively flat. Great for families with young kids looking to enjoy being out in the fresh air!
2. Easy Active: Another good option for families or slightly older travelers looking to push their limits. These trips are active and exciting without being extreme. Expect to be active between 2-5 hours a day, hiking up to 6 miles; cycling between 10-30 miles.
3. Moderate: Here’s where it begins to get more challenging - though REI states that these trips are perfectly doable for novices to outdoor travel. Expect to be active between 4-6 hours most days, and covering distances of up to 10 miles for hiking; between 20-40 miles for cycling.
3a. Moderate plus: Moderate plus indicates that some experience in active outdoor travel would be beneficial. These trips are a combination of Moderate and Vigorous activities.
4. Vigorous: These trips are best suited to those travelers with a bit of active travel already under their belt, and basic outdoor travel skills are recommended. Or at least willing to undergo some training to be ready and able to keep up with the group. You’ll be active for between 5-8 hours a day, hiking 12 miles most days; cycling between 30-50 miles.
5. Strenuous: This designation is reserved for long distance trekking, dramatic changes in elevation, and it is required that travelers be fit and able bodied. A doctor’s note is required for you to be permitted on these tours. Expect consistently uneven terrain, and long days of activity - hiking 12 miles or more, or cycling 50 miles or more. Prepare to be active upwards of 10 hours a day.
San Diego based tour company Discover Corps is a leader in the rapidly growing field of volunteer vacations. Operating since 2004, Discovery Corps trips average one to two weeks and focus on volunteering either with children and schools or with animals and wildlife conservation.
What Makes Discover Corps Stand Out?
They are focused on providing travel experiences with a wider humanitarian purpose - and help you put your tourism dollars to good use on the ground. The world of “voluntourism” is a sticky area, and has been met with some criticism over the years, so traveling with a reputable and transparent company has become super important.
With Discover Corps, volunteering, responsible tourism, and giving back to local communities is their entire brand - not just a buzzword on the “about us” page. So for those travelers who truly want to make their vacation about volunteering first and tourism second, Discover Corps is a great choice.
Discover Corps trips are all inclusive, and while volunteering is the primary focus, sightseeing and cultural activities are also included. Their trips are very popular among families, friend groups, and solo travelers.
Who Will Enjoy Traveling With Discover Corps?
These tours are best suited to travelers who want to have a humanitarian focus on their next trip. And if this idea is new to you, but you are interested in getting involved, Discover Corp is a great way to start.
The average age on a Discover Corps trip is 45-65 except in summer, when families with children as young as 10 are welcome on “family friendly” trips.
Wildlife lovers as well will love the opportunities available on Discover Corps Nature & Wildlife conservation tours. You’ll have a chance to get up close to some amazing species, learn about their habitats, and get to participate in various initiatives designed to protect these habitats.
Discover Corp travels around the world, in rural villages, beach locations, and rainforests. Popular destinations are primarily in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Discover Corps Travel Style
Their all-inclusive trips combine light volunteer projects with sightseeing and cultural immersion. They also offer support while you’re on site – from building classrooms to improving water systems to creating eco-friendly homes. The ideas come from the local communities themselves, and local staff plan everything in advance.
Why Choose a Tour With Discover Corps?
If you’re the kind of person who likes being actionable and getting involved with protecting threatened cultures, wildlife, and contributing to growing communities in need of schools and homes, then Discover Corps would be a great choice.
Volunteer vacations are one of the best ways to get to know the local people on a different level than many tour companies provide. Rather than simply enjoying a meal at a local restaurant, you’re out in the neighborhoods meeting everyday people.
“Traveling with a purpose” might seem like a thrown around phrase these days, but it is the entire philosophy around every Discovery Corps trips. So when you join one of their tours, you’ll be surrounded by guides and other travelers for whom this isn’t a buzzword - it’s an important and meaningful mission.