Intrepid Travel vs Caravan Tours - Tour Companies Compared
Compare details and see what other travelers are saying.
Overall — 5
Value — 4.7
Guide — 4.7
Activities — 4.7
Lodging — 4.7
Transportation — 4.7
Meals — 4.7
Overall — 5
Value — 4.6
Guide — 4.6
Activities — 4.7
Lodging — 4.6
Transportation — 4.7
Meals — 4.6
5.0 June 2018
Loved this trip. Camping in very nice places - usually had hot water and nice showers. Great itinerary - LOVED Namibia and the variety of the tour from the desert to the delta to the parks.
5.0 December 2017
Amazing Thailand Family Trip
Thailand Cambodia Trip. Nov 2017. For my 60th birthday I decided I wanted to take my family of 6 to Thailand and Cambodia. After my initial conversation with the Intrepid office, they pulled together a perfect 24 day custom itinerary for us. My Intrepid coordinator really listened. We set up a incredibly diverse trip, ranging from ocean front resorts to a primitive hillside village trek. From the minute we landed in Bangkok, to the day we flew home, all transfers went off with out a hitch. What really made our trip memorable was our local guides. Every single one of them were warm, professional, humorous but most importantly, had a deep knowledge of the geography, the plant life, dining, the history and government. We felt by the end of the trip, these guides had become a part of our family. The entire trip was amazing and we will definitely use Intrepid for our next adventure travel. Thanks so much.Read more
5.0 October 2017
the guide was very knowledgeable - friendly - great sense of humour - looking out for the safety of the tour members - organised - thoroughly nice guy
Tour Delhi to Kathmandu
5.0 August 2018
We just returned from a Caravan tour of Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, and Grand Tetons. Although there were just a couple of things we did not like, overall it was a very enjoyable seven days. The tour director was superb, very helpful, always available, friendly, and a pleasant person. The driver was very good at his job, extremely experienced and knowledgable. The trip was well planned, most of the hotels were above average in quality, the bus was comfortable, the included meals were good.Read more
Financially, it was a good buy overall. However, it did cost somewhat more than expected based on the advertisements. Although Caravan advertises that "most or all" meals are included, in this particular tour only nine of the twenty meals were included, and of these, only one of the seven dinners. In addition, there was heavy emphasis on gratuities, with too-frequent reminders. Suggested amounts were given, and even the minimum suggested amounts seemed rather high to me. We were given to feel obligated, rather than left to decide on our own based on the quality of the service. Caravan stated that the only gratuities not included in the price were those to the tour director and driver. However, gratuities to hotel maids and local guides, and shuttle drivers were also not included, and suggested amounts for these were given by the tour director. Overall we spent about $150 on gratuities, even though staying in the lower range of the suggested amounts.
But we are glad we went, and will consider Caravan again when planning another trip.
5.0 March 2018
Panama Tour with Pedro and David
We went on the tour with Pedro the tour director and David, our driver. We departed on the 15th and were there for a week. We toured the canal top to bottom. I'll be honest- if you're looking for lots of nature time, this isn't your tour. HOWEVER, we knew that going in AND we still picked up over 80 species of birds, lots of monkeys, etc. We toured Panama City for a day and a half, spent two days in Gamboa, 2 days at the beach and then one last day in Panama City.Read more
The entire trip we were well cared for. The food was really good (though if you're bringing kids on the trip, the Gamboa Resort is the only one that has more typical kid fare) David and Pedro kept us well hydrated, educated on all things Panama (historical, ecological, etc). Pedro also went out of his way to be sure our 5 year old was well cared for including time in the captain's cabin during the canal transit, telling them jokes, etc. He says he doesn't get to see many kids on this tour, so he seemed as excited as our son!
The accomodations are great with the exception of the Intercontinental Miramar. The food there is average and the rooms need updated. However, The Westin was an all inclusive day and amazing. The Gamboa resort is something out of a magazine - and the pool there is fabulous (though their bartenders need a little extra motivation it seems).
On our free day, Pedro even helped us organize a tour out to the Pipeline so we could get some extra birding in. He called a few different locals that were trustworthy and affordable so we could get more time in the rainforest.
Overall, it was worth every penny and we're excited to take other Caravan Tours!
3.0 February 2018
Does Not Recommend
My husband and I just returned from the guided tour of Panama with Caravan. This was the first time and the last time we have travelled with Caravan. We go away twice a year and like to take guided tours and have travelled with many tour companies including very large and prestigious travel company such as Trafalgar. Many companies we travelled with have a Tour Director/Bus Driver tipping recommendations - but those are only recommendations and not the expectations of a tour director. Pedro - our Caravan Tour Director expected to get $8/day/person - so for the bus of 41 people (this was the number of people on our tour), for 8 days he should get $2,624 - well if you make this kind of tax-free cash in one week - please go ahead and give him his $64/person for one week. My husband and I do not know anyone who makes this kind of tax-free cash, hence we decided to give him less generous tip. Pedro was so cheeky that he opened the envelope (that he himself provided to each couple on the bus) as he received it and checked the amount of money given to him by each couple. It become quite clear to us that Pedro did not appreciate our tip as he returned the envelope with cash to us. SHAME ON YOU PEDRO! SHAME ON YOU CARAVAN FOR HAVING PEDRO WORKING FOR YOU!!!! I wonder if Pedro did this because both my husband and I are of Polish descent and have an accent? I guess to Pedro having an accent is equal to being stupid and English language illiterate, hence being unable to complain and/or write a review. Well - Pedro - we just proved you wrong!Read more
Throughout entire trip Pedro was hinting how great he is and how he made very special arrangements for us and how this trip would have been a totally insignificant without him. He made a point of telling us that Caravan build stairs and washroom facilities , so that Embera Village can be visited, he also claimed that because of Caravan, there is now ramp to access Kuna Indian Marketplace. Yet, Caravan was not powerful enough to ensure that we get take-out breakfast on the last day when we were being transferred to the airport at 5:00 a.m.! Interesting!!! No matter where we travelled to, if we had to leave early to the airport - every hotel has provided us with a "take-out" breakfast - after all we paid for this. But not at the Intercontinental Miramar - no breakfast, no apology, no explanation! Well - having travelled with many travel companies the hotels, food, services provided by Caravan and Pedro were average. We certainly had better Tour Directors, better hotels, better food and much better experience with other tour companies then with Caravan. We had much better caliber of Tour Directors then Pedro but no one was ever so cheeky as Pedro and did not return his/her tip to us - this was a hit below the belt - disgusting!!!
Maybe inexperienced travelers find Caravan and Pedro great - but we did not.
|Tours||1,123 Trips||10 Trips|
|Average Trip Price Per Day||$ 202||$ 142|
|Operator Type||Mixed Land & Cruise||Group Tour Operator|
|Size||Global Operator||Regional Expert|
|Headquarters||Melbourne, Australia||Chicago, Illinois|
|Solo Friendly||No single supplement||N/A|
Intrepid Travel is all about ‘real life experiences.’ Founded back in 1989 following an “intrepid” African adventure trip, Intrepid lives up to its name by offering up some pretty big adventures -- such as an 11-day hike through Papua New Guinea -- but is broad-based enough to also lead group trips to Hawaii, complete with sipping sunset Mai Tais on Waikiki Beach.
Intrepid Travel - Quick Facts
Founded in 1989
No Single Supplement (rare exceptions)
Small Groups - max 16 on most trips
Typical Age Range - 18 - 45
Travel Style - Cultural immersion, adventure, overland
Accommodation Style - Camping, Hostels, 3 /4 star hotels
Average Tour Price - $2,377
Top Regions - Asia, Africa, Europe, South America
Other Brands: Peregrine, Geckos
What Makes Intrepid Travel Stand Out?
Above all else, Intrepid strives to get its travelers off the beaten path and under the surface of the local culture. To accomplish this, group sizes average just 10 travelers each, with a maximum of 16 on most trips. This allows for more use of local transportation and lodging, along with fostering cultural immersion.
Intrepid also employs local English-speaking leaders who act more as a resource for local exploration than do typical ‘guides,’ shepherding groups from one place to another.
Who Will Enjoy Traveling With Intrepid Travel?
Intrepid is one of the early pioneers of the “adventure”-style guided trip. Despite its informal beginnings and emphasis on younger, highly adventurous travelers, Intrepid has expanded to a global company with a broad range of trips to fit all ages.
Intrepid divides its small-group trips into three separate styles of travel, all priced accordingly. “Basix,” for budget travelers, keep inclusions to a minimum and offer plenty of free time, “Original” journeys which offer more included activities and more hotels, while “Comfort” trips offer the highest level of included activities and standards of accommodation, as well as roomier vehicles.
The kind of traveler who gravitates to Intrepid Travel is one who has a real sense of adventure - whether this means hard adventure, or simply going deeper off the beaten path. Interacting with locals is an important factor when you travel, as is gaining a unique cultural perspective. A sense of fun is also essential, whether it means going out at night with your tour mates or daring, ahem, encouraging each other to try strange new foods.
Originally focused on small group adventure tours to Asia, Intrepid has expanded rapidly over the years, while maintaining its classic, adventurous, and immersive style. Today Intrepid Travel offers more than 1,000 different experiences in over 100 countries, on all seven continents. Regions with the most trips include Asia, South America, Africa, and Europe.
Intrepid Travel Style
Intrepid enjoys using local, unique forms of transportation. You might find yourself traveling by felucca in Egypt, on a camel in Morocco, or in a tuk-tuk on the best Thailand tour of your life. Accommodations, which could range from guesthouses to home stays, are also locally owned, allowing a more authentic taste of the region while contributing to the local economy.
There are a few broad travel styles to choose from when deciding on an Intrepid tour:
1. Basix - Budget travelers who don’t mind, and in fact prefer, simple accommodations - camping and homestays with basic amenities, and crave a lot of free time for exploring independently will love these tours. Public transportation is used exclusively so pack light! These trips often attract a younger crowd who love the idea of throwing a backpack on, keep plenty of room for the unexpected in their schedule, and allocate their travel funds towards spontaneous bus tickets and street food instead of museum tours and 5 star restaurants.
2. Original - These trips take the backpacker spirit of local immersion, incorporating all the benefits that come with going with a planned itinerary. This style is called “Original” because it’s the type of travel that put Intrepid on the map...pun intended. Accommodations are still simple and budget minded - often homestays are used to give you a true sense of place, personality, and culture. Mostly public transportation is used.
3. Comfort - Intrepid is known for the active adventure style of travel and these trips keep that mentality, with a few more creature comforts thrown into the mix. You can expect higher end, more discerning, accommodations that include a wider variety of included amenities, transportation is mostly private, though you can still expect to use some public transport, as is the Intrepid way. More meals are included in the trip price, and more group activities - which means a bit less free time to explore on your own.
Why Choose a Tour With Intrepid Travel?
Intrepid is a good choice if you don’t mind foregoing some creature comforts for a truly authentic, local experience. If you enjoy meeting locals when traveling, sampling new and exciting foods, and traveling in mixed-aged groups of 10-16 people, Intrepid could be a good fit for you.
It’s important to note, sometimes “ample free time” can be a blessing and a curse. It sounds great on paper, but if you’re looking to maximize your dollar and your vacation time, be sure you understand the implications of having a lot of free time during your itinerary.
For some travelers this is an absolute requirement, but for others it can be tough to branch off and explore independently - you also need to make sure you allocate enough travel money for independent meals. The tour leaders are great resources of information for how to spend your free time, but if you like having a full day scheduled from breakfast to dinner, Intrepid may not be the best company for you.
Lastly, if sustainable and responsible travel is important to you, Intrepid has poured millions of dollars into local economies, and has a very strong emphasis on responsible travel. So you can feel good knowing that your money helps support some of the innkeepers, vendors, and communities that you’ll meet along the way.
Caravan Tours, founded in 1952 and based in Chicago USA, provides escorted group tours to countries in the Americas.
They are one of the oldest group tour operators and focus on value vacations with a no-frills approach to group travel.
What Makes Caravan Tours Stand Out?
Caravan fills a specific niche for travelers looking to see the major sights in North and Latin America on a budget. Most of their tours focus on natural wonders, such as Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Parks in the US or the rainforests of Costa Rica.
A trip with Caravan offers accessibility for travelers to experience the Western Hemisphere’s most amazing natural attractions without needing to book an active, adventure experience.
Who Will Enjoy Traveling on Caravan Tours?
Caravan is not the most flashy or inventive tour company. Tours visit standard sites, groups are generally large - transportation in comfortable yet basic motorcoaches. If you are looking for an immersive cultural experience, you will probably won’t find what you’re looking for with Caravan.
However if you are looking for an affordable trip to some of the most incredible natural attractions and national parks in the USA, Canada, and Latin America - this could be a great fit.
Caravan’s tours tend to attract a slightly older crowd, primarily Americans. They are a well known budget brand for 50+ and senior travelers. Families looking for an easy, relatively comprehensive, and inclusive tour will also enjoy the Caravan experience.
Caravan Tours operates exclusively in North and Central America, including trips to the American west, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Canada. They offer 10 tours total.
Caravan Tours Travel Style
Flights are not included in the price of most trips, but Caravan does provide resources to popular airlines with affordable airfare to the destinations they travel to. Accommodations are in basic lodges and hotels, often with large national chains such as Hilton.
Meals are included on most trips although some excursions offer flexibility for dining out at restaurants of your choosing. In Latin America, Caravan includes airport transfers in the tour price.
Why Choose a Tour with Caravan?
Caravan has many years of perfecting their itineraries to specific destinations, such as Yosemite National Park, the California coast, and Costa Rica.
Their escorted vacation packages truly offer great value for the money and you are assured to see the highlights in any destination you visit. You might choose Caravan if you want an all-inclusive tour experience and don’t mind traveling with a larger group.