In some ways they seem like unlikely bedfellows, in others it seems like quite a good fit, but is G Adventures part of National Geographic?
One is a tour company renowned for taking teenagers and those in their 20s around the globe, the other is a ‘scholarly’ journal founded in 1888 which focuses on geography, nature, science and world culture.
Yet somehow these two organisations are linked, but what exactly is the link and how did it happen?
Let’s take a closer look.
Is G Adventures Part Of National Geographic?
No G Adventures is not part of National Geographic, however the two organisations have teamed up on two separate sets of tours: National Geographic Journeys and National Geographic Family Journeys with G Adventures. The tours are designed to offer more upscale and immersive experiences where travellers can connect with local people and discover local culture.
How It Began
I had plenty of dealings with G Adventures when I worked as a travel expert for STA Travel, and I think most of us have come across National Geographic at one time or another.
In the late 1980s, its magazines were in every doctor’s and dentist’s waiting room you would enter, not to mention millions of homes.
And National Geographic is still pretty big business. In fact, as of October 2022 its Instagram page has 243 million followers, this is apparently the most of any account that doesn’t belong to an individual.
In September 2015, the pair announced a partnership they called “the largest the industry had seen this decade”.
The partnership came in the form of an initial lineup of 70 “National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures” trips that started departing in January 2016
National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures
The keyword here then is partnership, G Adventures is not part of National Geographic, rather the two companies are working together on a set of tours.
There is a definite difference in the National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures trips, when compared to the standard G Adventures tours I used to sell from my desk at STA Travel in London Victoria.
To put it bluntly, they are more upmarket.
Even G Adventures Managing Director, Ben Perlo, admitted this himself in an interview, saying the partnership was an opportunity to offer a more upscale product with an established brand.
This is probably illustrated by the top-selling tours in the partnership between the two:
- Discover the Canadian Rockies
This 12-day tour from Vancouver to Calgary starts from £3,499 ($4,250) and includes a historical walking tour of Banff, a trip to one of the Rockies’ largest glaciers and an interpretative walk through a forest in Squamish with an indigenous guide.
- Morocco Journey
Spanning nine days and running from Casablanca to Marrakech, this trip takes a visitor to a riad in Marrakech for a cooking class, for a guided tour around Volubilis, a beautiful set of Roman ruins and a UNESCO World Heritage site, and on a trip through the Sahara desert to the tiny village of Khamliya to meet some traditional Moroccan musicians. Prices start at £1,399 ($1,700).
- Natural Highlights of Costa Rica
This nine-day trip gives travellers the chance to learn the art of tortilla making in a typical Costa Rican home, to make a visit to the Mi Cafecito coffee cooperative in San Miguel de Sarapiqui, and to find out about the trees, wildlife, and conservation efforts of the Monteverde Institute, a base for numerous National Geographic explorers over the years. This circular tour starts and ends in San Jose and starts from £1,499 ($1,825).
In the same interview referenced above, Ben Perlo said that the trips are travelling “in a way that is more authentic, immersive and sustainable than the typical vacation. It’s adventure for the person who wants to learn more, do more and share more of themselves with the world.”
The National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures trips have much more in the way of interactions with local people and are designed to allow the traveller to immerse themselves in the culture of the area they are travelling in.
In the initial press release to launch the new initiative they outline some examples of how this would be done:
- Spending time in a family home in Jaipur, India.
- Sharing a meal with an author and her ‘storytelling troupe’ in Botswana.
- Meeting a traditional weaver in Ecuador.
- Sipping homemade limoncello with a farmer at his lemon orchard in Italy.
The comfort levels are increased too with upgraded accommodation in comparison to G Adventure travel styles.
This is reflected in an increased price, but it is still one that is affordable.
For instance at the lower end of the National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures trips is an eight-day tour of North India, starting at just over £1,000 or eight days in Thailand starting from £1,249.
With an average age of 59, the trips are obviously aimed at an older clientele, but they do seem to have been enjoyed by people of all ages as this feedback suggests:
National Geographic Family Journeys with G Adventures
Such was the extent of the success of the initial partnership that at the start of 2019, the two companies announced it was being extended further.
They launched National Geographic Family Journeys with G Adventures.
The trips are broadly similar to the National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures in style and comfort, but are aimed to appeal to children aged seven and above and their parents and/or grandparents.
The range is slimmer, there are ten National Geographic Family Journeys with G Adventures trips available at the moment, and each includes at least one ‘Family Journeys Moment’. For instance:
- A trip to a traditional Icelandic horse farm, to learn about and ride the horses.
- A visit a husky homestead and a chance to watch champion sled dogs go through their training routine and to snuggle a husky!
- A visit to Chimp Eden, the only chimpanzee sanctuary in South Africa for a close encounter with the animal.
- A chance to practice with a Cambodian circus and then watch one of its performances.
A portion of the proceeds from both the National Geographic Journeys and the National Geographic Family Journeys go back into its conservation, exploration, education and cultural preservation work as well.
For me this sounds like a brilliant idea. I remember traveling off of the beaten track in South-East Asia in one of the poorer areas of Cambodia, and seeing some foreign parents there with their young children.
At the time I thought how great it was that the parents were taking their children somewhere different for a holiday and showing them what life is like for the less fortunate.
I am sure it will not only give them a better understanding of the world, but also a greater appreciation for how lucky some of us are.
No G Adventures isn’t part of National Geographic, instead the two travel giants have teamed up to offer a range of immersive tours together.
The trips are aimed at taking travellers to the destinations made famous in the pages of the National Geographic magazine, and to give them a chance to connect with local people and develop a deeper understanding of the local culture.
The tours are undoubtedly more luxurious than G Adventures’ standard trips and aimed at an older clientele, but offer a similar sense of adventure and exploration.
In short, they give travellers the combined expertise each organization offers in some amazing parts of the world.