Nothing beats adventure travel, but who has time to organize it? Fortunately, you don’t need to plan every detail of your next trip, because there are countless adventure tour companies that can do it for you.
The global adventure travel market has boomed in recent years, reaching a value of $586 billion in 2018. The market has taken a hit in 2020, although the best travel companies have all adapted quickly to the Covid-19 era. This includes implementing strong health and safety guidelines and allowing late cancellations.
To help you plan your next trip, we compiled the following list of the 10 best adventure travel companies. The list begins with the best travel companies overall and ends with the best travel companies for segments of the population such as families, young people, and seniors.
G Adventures was founded in 1990 by Bruce Poon Tip, who wanted an alternative to big tours and backpack trips. Today, G Adventures is one of the biggest adventure tour companies on the planet, with hundreds of tour options at any given time. G Adventures is well-known for its unique themes, such as ‘Local Living’ tours and the Jane Goodall Collection, wildlife adventure trips endorsed by the legendary primatologist herself.
Our favorite trip: Local Living Italy-Tuscany San Gimignano. 7-day deep dive into the towns, vineyards, and countryside of central Tuscany, through the eyes of locals.
Intrepid Travel is another of the pioneers in adventure travel. Founded in Australia in 1989, it is now the largest small group adventure tour company in the world. It is also the largest travel company to be certified as a B Corporation – a certification for businesses that balance profit with ethical behavior. Whatever your preference – family trip, under 30s group, vegan food tours – Intrepid travel has adventures for every niche.
Our favorite trip: Mexico Unplugged Lonely Planet Experience. 15-days of exploring the heart of southern Mexico’s Aztec, Zapotec, Maya, and Spanish cultures.
The National Geographic brand needs no introduction, although it’s less-known that Nat Geo offers world-class adventure tours for regular travelers. When you travel with National Geographic Expeditions, you get a unique expedition curated by National Geographic and led by Nat Geo’s own expert geographers, educators, filmmakers, anthropologists, and ecologists. Adventure travel doesn’t come any more professional than this.
Our favorite trip: Epic Patagonia. 20-day expedition tracing the Chilean Coast aboard the National Geographic Explorer, a state-of-the-art, ice-class expedition ship.
Founded in the mid-80s, Austin Adventures is a family-owned company focused on high-end and custom expeditions. Every Austin trip has carefully placed ‘wow’ moments built in, like your guide popping around a bend in the trail with a pineapple carved like a fish on a silver platter. The other thing you’ll notice from reading some of the itineraries is how much attention is paid to selecting the best hotels, lodges, and haciendas.
Our favorite trip: Indonesia – Bali Seatrek. 7-day adventure on Bali and neighboring islands, taking in remote beaches, coastal villages, volcanoes, waterfalls, and Komodo dragons.
The Abercrombie & Kent story began on the plains of Africa in 1962 when Geoffrey Kent and his parents began offering a new style of luxury adventure safaris. Today, A&K has luxury adventure tours all around the globe, offering incredible wildlife and wilderness with luxury accommodation and concierge service.
Our favorite trip: Signature Great Migration Safari. 6-night tailor-made journey for small groups, taking in the Serengeti, Masai Mara, and nights in luxury safari lodges.
As the name suggests, Thomson offers worldwide travel adventures designed for families. Thomson’s ‘adventure artisans’ curate every trip to include activities enjoyable to adults and kids (like hot air balloons!). The best thing about Thomson is it can accommodate all types of groups – from multi-generation trips to solo parents to families with teenagers. It can even accommodate large family reunions.
Our favorite trip: Baja Multi-Sport Adventure. 7-day adventure in Baja California, incorporating activities like surfing, swimming with whale sharks, and snorkelling in the Sea of Cortez.
REI Co-op is one of the best-known companies for travel and outdoor gear. REI Adventures is its niche adventure travel division. The focus here is specialty trips, including under-35s, women’s adventures, family adventures, volunteering vacations, and weekend trips. Not surprisingly for a giant of the outdoors, REI Adventures can build tours around every activity imaginable – including backpacking, mountain biking, kayaking, and snowshoeing.
Our favorite trip: Yosemite Backpacking – The High Country. 4 days of intense backpacking through the less-explored parts of Yosemite National Park.
While other adventure travel organizations have trips for older people, ElderTreks is one of the only companies solely dedicated to the 50+ crowd. ElderTreks offers a range of exotic adventure tours by land and sea in more than 100 countries. Its specialty is polar tours in Greenland, Canada, and the Arctic.
Our favorite trip: High Arctic Explorer. 12-day trip through Greenland, Nunavut, and the Arctic Sea, taking in fjords, belugas and more from the comfort of the Ocean Endeavour.
AdventureWomen is a women-owned-and-operated adventure tour company founded in 1982. It now offers dozens of women-only tours in more than 60 countries around the world. Its mission is to help women physically and mentally challenge themselves while exploring the world at their own pace and on their own terms. Although AdventureWomen’s audience tends towards 50+, it also has tours designed for 20-50-year-olds.
Our favorite trip: Morocco: Sahara Sands, Markets, and a Feast for the Senses. 14-day cultural journey exploring Morocco’s culture, mountain villages, local markets, and amazing cuisine.
Owned by Intrepid Travel, Urban Adventures is an adventure tour company focused purely on city experiences like eating, drinking, and shopping. In contrast to the other companies on our list, Urban Adventures doesn’t offer end-to-end tours. Rather, it offers short (mainly 1-day or half-day) experiences in cities around the world. Next time you’re travelling abroad, you can search Urban Adventures for local cooking, eating, and drinking experiences.
Our favorite trip: Online Private Delhi Experience. Built for the new age of travel restrictions, this experience brings you an authentic vegetarian Indian cooking class straight to your home.