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Thinking big with our small group walking holidays

Thinking big with our small group walking holidays

The majority of our walking holidays are self-guided independent adventures, following carefully-crafted itineraries all on your own. But with an imaginary friend walking alongside you all the way. You can even chat with us as you go, if you really want, but we know that the freedom seekers don’t really want that. We also now have some small group walking holidays in our collections, usually because wilder landscapes such as Bulgaria’s Rila Mountains or Albania’s Accursed Mountains can be a little lacking in infrastructure and signage, although never lacking in spectacle. Or it’s because iconic summits, such as Mount Ararat in Turkey, require you to go with a guide by law. 

Swapping solo for el grupo

With some of our small group walking holidays, however, it’s a case of ‘you asked, we provided’. We realised that some people are happy taking on more well known routes such as the Amalfi Coast or the Rota Vicentina independently, but would prefer to explore the joys of the Julian Alps or the High Scardus Trail in Albania with an expert mountain guide, alongside like-minded people. It’s worth noting that small group walking holidays are slightly different to our privately guided walking holidays, where it’s just you and the guide, and not necessarily other group members, and you can see more of those here. Whatever your reason for going el grupo, here are our top small group walking holidays. 

Sometimes you make friends for life on a small group holiday.

High Scardus Trail, Albania

The High Scardus Trail in Albania takes you through the Sharr Mountains section of the long-distance trail over a fairly strenuous eight days with a maximum group size of eight people. Guided by a local expert, you get to trek through the wild terrain of Korab-Koritnik Nature Park, home to Mount Korab (2,764m), the highest peak in both Albania and North Macedonia, and natural border between the two, and which you can ascend on this tour. Walking in Albania is an immersion into its ancient and traditional culture, but you will be met with smiles and encouraging waves by shepherd communities along the way. As well as staying in small, locally-owned hotels and homestays, you have one night in a rustic shepherd’s hut, followed by a hike up to Grama Pass (2,300m), with dizzying views of many peaks. These tours run once a month over June, July, August and September. We also have a small group tour in southern Albania, in the heart of the Dhëmbe and Nemërçka mountains, and it has a slightly longer window with availability as early as April. 

Julian Alps, Slovenia

Slovenia may only have one national park, but they do it in style, with Triglav National Park protecting the country’s spectacular Julian Alps. Our small group walking holiday in the Julian Alps come in two shapes. The first is a bit pointier than the second, taking on several summits of the Julian Alps, protected by Triglav National Park. And you will also be well protected by our local mountain guide, as they lead you on a hut to hut trek of many Julian jewels, with spectacular views of Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj and Mt Triglav (2,864m), but well away from the tourist crowds. Yet you can still join this small group tour in peak season, with groups of around ten people hitting the hills during July, August and September. For even more adventure, there’s a chance to take on some kayaking, whitewater rafting, zip-lining, and even canyoning in the Soca Valley. The second small group walking holiday in Slovenia takes on fewer peaks but has just as many perks, and there is no hut to hut trek. 

Highly recommend the summits of the Julian Alps. The three day hut to hut hike requires a bit of stamina as the days are long, but it’s worth every step as the scenery and views are absolutely stunning. Our group of six were so friendly and our guide was exceptional and helped make the trip such a wonderful experience. Her knowledge and love for her country shone through and we learnt so much about Slovenia. We enjoyed good food in the mountains and some delicious meals in the Soca Valley (and excellent wine!). Loved the white water rafting as well! All in all it was a fabulous trip and very well organised.” – Baking girl, Downton, on our Julian Alps guided tour. 

Sharing the jewels of the Julian Alps in Slovenia.

GR20, Corsica 

The GR20 is a bit like the ironman of trekking trails, taking on the crown of Corsica’s many jewels. GR stands for Grandes Randonnées walking trails, a network covering over 35,000km of waymarked ways in France, and the GR20 is considered one of the toughest. For that reason, many people choose to do it guided, just to have that extra support to hand, and to give you a bit of motivation as you take on the likes of Pointe des Eboulis, the highest point on the GR20 at 2,607m. However, the views and remote wonders of Corsica are truly motivational, with beauty spots such as the Cirque de Bonifatu or swimming in the Golu River. Our small group tour takes 15 days, and has just a handful of summer trips between June and September. The other advantage of doing the GR20 small group tour is that it is open to solo travellers, with a maximum group size of 12 people. 

Mount Ararat, Turkey

It’s biblical in its beauty, so much so that Turkey’s highest mountain (5,137m), overlooking not only Turkey but also Armenia and Iran, is said to have been where Noah’s Ark settled after the storm. It’s a pretty heavenly spot too, as you will see on our guided small group tour to climb this much sought after summit, which is a strenuous but not technical trek up to what’s also known as the Kurdish Triangle. Mount Ararat (Ağrı Dağı in Turkish) actually consists of two major volcanic cones, namely Greater Ararat and Little Ararat (3,896m) and there is a glacier near the top too. In order to acclimatise to its icy elevation, a starter menu hike up Mount Artos (3,537m), with views over Lake Van, the country’s largest body of water stretching for 119km at its widest point, is a pure Turkish delight. Groups embark on Ararat between the end of June and mid-September, with group sizes of maximum 12 people.

The booking process was very straightforward and The Natural Adventure staff were very accommodating and friendly. The ground agents, Cariapan, looked after us from the moment we arrived in Van until our departure. Our tour leader, Cian, was very attentive and ensured that all our group managed to summit Mt.Ararat successfully. He was always there to assist with any problems and looked out for all the group members. I would highly recommend this trip.” – Bare Grills, London on our small group tour to climb Mount Ararat. 

Summiting Mount Ararat is one of the finest Turkish Delights.

Via Dinarica 

The Via Dinarica has a network of three trails, covering over 2,000km in all, but the most complete one is the White Trail and the best one right now, as others are still being developed. This takes you on a journey of around 1,200km across the main ridge of the Dinaric Alps through Slovenia, Kosovo, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH), Montenegro, Albania and North Macedonia. It’s one big Balkan walking fest really, and the creation of the trail is an extraordinary feat led by local communities.

Our small group guided tours along the Via Dinarica cover three sections: first, the Via Dinarica in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, starting on the Adriatic coast and then traversing spectacular limestone peaks peppered with glacial lakes and ancient villages; second, the trail between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro, with similar elevated wonders but also including a rafting trip along the Tara River; and finally, a section that is solely in Bosnia-Herzegovina, with two summits in six days, Bjelašnica Mountain (2,067m) and Visočica (1,974m) as well as a trek in Rakitnica Canyon. All within a stone’s throw of the magnificent capital, Sarajevo. Whichever way you do Dinarica, it’s unforgettable and, with a small group tour you get to share the excitement of it all. 

WOW! what an experience. I challenged myself both physically and emotionally and the result was an experience that I will never forget. It was amazing and I thank you so very much for putting an experience like this together. The people and families I met will forever be instilled in my thoughts of Bosnia. Most memorable were there trails on days 4 and 5; up the mountain to a stay in the lodge/hut and back down in the morning. Actually the entire trip was so memorable I can’t say enough good things about it.” – Stephen S on our Via Dinarica in Bosnia-Herzegovina small group holiday. 

Thinking big with our small group walking holidays Uncategorized The Natural Adventure 1
On our walking holiday along the Via Dinarica, you also get a chance to go white water rafting.

Camino de Santiago, Spain 

Most of our Camino de Santiago walking holidays are self-guided, but we have one, by popular demand, that is guided, and that’s along the final section of the Camino Frances. This is a 100km journey between Sarria and Santiago, which is the shortest sub-section that you can do and still get your Compostela Certificate. Over eight days, walk with an English-speaking camino expert through the tranquil landscapes of Galicia, ancient towns and villages such as Portomarín and Melide, with the backdrop of dramatic landscapes such as Serra de Ligonde and the Rio Miño Valley. Join a group of maximum size 20 people, between April and October, although we stay clear of July and August with our small group version as it gets too hot and also very busy. 

Peaks of the Balkans Trail

This is a Balkan behemoth but a beautiful one, and gentle in many parts too but, as it’s 12 days long you need to have stamina. The spectacle of this 190km long-distance trail traversing the Western Balkan countries of Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro will keep you inspired to keep going, as will our superb local guides. We have two small group tours on the Peaks of the Balkans Trail: the first is the complete trail, with opportunities to ascend Mounts Trekufiri, Hajla, Taljanka and Arapi, just a few of many glories in Theth and Valbona National Parks and beyond; the second is a highlights version of the trail over eight days, although you still have an option to take on some of the awesome ascents. 

Walk with buddies in the Balkans.

We hope you have enjoyed our guide to small group tours. If you prefer travelling with a group and guide, we also have some small group cycling holidays, as well as several family group holidays. For all our small group holidays, click here, and don’t hesitate to ask our adventure specialists for more details. You may also enjoy our blog, Top ten tough walks most of which are privately-guided. For more information on privately-guided tours, see here.