offers small group ‘adventure’ holidays in worldwide locations, with the average group size being around 12 people. Its website claims the travel company provides ‘over 500 trips to more than 120 countries’, destinations including Botswana, Uzbekistan, Belize and Ukraine. Cycling tours, wildlife safaris and mountain trekking are standard fare. Book online or call for assistance from Explore’s travel team.
A top performer for its escorted tours – and a Which? Recommended Provider – but Explore’s accommodation is authentic rather than luxurious.
From traffic lights changing to having to self-isolate because of NHS test and trace, there are half a dozen ways your holiday could be disrupted.
Luckily, Explore has one of the very best flexible booking policies available. You will be able to get a refund or rebook without paying an amendment fee in most scenarios. In our analysis of 80+ holiday company booking policies, Explore was rated in our top Green+ category, meaning it not only has cover for changes to traffic light and FCDO advice, you’ll also get a full refund if you can’t travel because you have to self-isolate.
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It’s perhaps fair to describe Explore’s itineraries as a little bit more off-the-beaten track than those provided by its rivals. The tour operator covers trip-of-a-lifetime destinations, such as Antarctica and Galapagos Islands, promising authentic adventure travel experiences that delve into the local sights and culture. Big hotels are avoided in favour of small, family-run guesthouses or mountain lodges.
Sadly, however, opulent and authentic rarely go hand in hand. Customers only scored Explore’s accommodation a mediocre three out of five stars, with one describing camping in dry and dusty conditions. However, it’s all part of the experience for the intrepid Explore clientele – and the company did a good job of managing expectations.
As one customer put it: ‘Explore detailed the accommodation to be expected each day, which varied from basic to superb, depending upon the itinerary. They explained that the holiday involved a lot of travelling in minibuses on non-tarmac roads at times. If you ignored the implications of Explore's advice you would only have yourself to blame.’
There were no such qualms when it came to customer service, with the company scoring top marks in this category. Its smooth organisation won plaudits from customers who found agents communicative and helpful before their holiday. They felt just as well looked after by the ‘professional, knowledgeable and cheerful’ local guides, who ‘thought of everything’ during their trip.
Problems were also dealt with efficiently. One customer was impressed at how calmly the guide handled a very bad storm during the trip. Another was delighted to receive a refund they hadn’t requested after their itinerary was negatively impacted by unrest in Chile.
Fellow adventure holiday operator, Exodus, inches ahead of Explore with a slightly better customer score. However, there isn’t much to separate the pair – including the calibre of its accommodation.
Explore’s action-packed itineraries exceed expectations, but its varied accommodation seems to divide opinion. If you’re looking for an exhilarating experience and don’t need luxury digs, an Explore holiday could be right up your street. Fellow Which? Recommended Provider Exodus offers similar trips – sometimes at a cheaper price.