SmarTours vs National Geographic Expeditions - Tour Companies Compared
Compare details and see what other travelers are saying.
5 | Excellent
National Geographic Expeditions
3.5 | Average
Overall — 5
Value — 4.9
Guide — 4.9
Activities — 4.9
Lodging — 4.9
Transportation — 4.9
Meals — 4.9
Overall — 3.5
Value — 3.5
Guide — 3.9
Activities — 4.0
Lodging — 3.8
Transportation — 3.6
Meals — 3.6
Beauiful Croatia0.0 July 2019
This was our first Bus Tour. While we did enjopy the spots we visited, we felt that there were too many towns and not enough time in each, necessitating more time on the bus. Nevertheless the value of the tour is undeniable. The Tour director Jon, was extremely professional and he was a huge positive on the trip. The topography of Croatia was spectacular, the Sea and mountain views were gorgeous. Lake Bled, the Postojna Caves, Opatija/Plitvice Lakes, Debrovnik, the Roman Ruins, Zagreb were wonderful. The hotels were all clean and rooms were comfortable. Unfortunately my partner Barbara fell and injured her face and broke her glasses on the way to Debrovnik. Jon was extremely concerned offered to find a doctor ()which Barbara declined) but Jon took the broken glasses to an occulist who temporarliy repaired the frames. Two of our fellow travelors who were Nurses took care of Barbara after the accident.Read more
Exceeded my Expectations!0.0 July 2019
For someone who usually plans every detail of my travels...going on a group tour was not something I relished. Plus, I knew that Smartours was considered a “budget” travel company, so my expectations weren’t that high. However, other than a few minor inconveniences, this trip exceeded my expectations. The magical African landscapes and its kind, welcoming people made this adventure one of the best vacations I’ve been on. Pros: Well-paced itinerary that gave us the opportunity for some free time to plan our own activities, smallish group (25) of lovely, considerate, fellow travelers (we were in the minority of “younger” folks and we are in our 50s), excellent included tours, mostly lovely hotels/lodges, amazing breakfasts/dinners, included porter services at all stops, Smartours CEO personally responded quickly to our inquiry regarding booking cost concern, and our delightful and attentive guide Jonathan. Cons: 6 hour scheduled layover, most uncomfortable 14+ hour flight ever via South African Airways, trip extension Vic Falls guide was very personable, but not very attentive, Smartours sends trip info only 2 weeks prior to departure (would love to have had this info sooner), several of the optional tours were mediocre. But honestly...if you’re a frequent traveler...these concerns are pretty minor. I will definitely be recommending the South Africa Tour to friends for value/quality and hope that ST keeps its word about limiting group sizes to under 25. I will definitely use them again in the future!Read more
Wonderful experience, well-deigned by SmarTours0.0 May 2019
The Treasures of Portugal trip focuses on the highlights of the cultural and artistic heritage of this fascinating country. The chosen destinations and sites rarely disappointed, and there was always something awe-inspiring at each stop. The tour provides a great balance between programmed and free time, allowing you to see what you want or find time to explore on your own. The fact that few dinners and no lunches were provided afford you the opportunity to discover the places and tastes that intrigue you as you discover the variety of offerings available in each location.Read more
The destinations chosen are smart and live up to the promise that these are the country's treasures. Our guide was brilliant - she knew well the backstory of the locations and the significance of the art and architecture. Each part of the tour was a lesson in history, presented with excitement and passion. Her adoration of the history and culture of her countrymen was palpable and infectious, and gave the touring experience much added value.
Well planned, organized, balanced, affordable, and utterly enjoyable. Very highly recommended.
perfect trip0.0 May 2019
Wow I do not miss ng have loved it my while life and I am 70 my perfect trip would be yellowstone
Tour National Geographic Expeditions Company Reviews
Great sites, poorly managed0.0 November 2018
Does Not Recommend
I grew up with National Geographic so when I signed up for a NG trip I was quite excited. I spent a lot of time on a crowded bus. Some of the accommodations were two star, peeling paint, smelly rooms, poorly catered. This was an expensive trip all my girl friend and we spent 17,000 dollars for the two of us. Some of the guides were actually wrong about what they were saying about the history of Sicily, and you did not have to be an expert to realize this. There were a number of representations that tour operators made that turned out to be less than accurate. The tour group one night was having dinner in Sorento, and I asked about the wine they were serving, that is the grape and vintage, the only explanation I got was "its red". In another circumstance, the tour operator lost guests at Pompeii, and then threatened to leave them. It was a mess. I could go on, but I would cross this trip off the list.Read more
Aamazing experience0.0 March 2018
We just returned from an amazing experience exploring the Galapagos Islands then following up with another awesome week in Peru -- highlighted by touring the ruins of Machu Picchu. The naturalists, local guides and expedition leaders were outstanding! We'll be talking about this trip for years. This was our first experience with National Geographic Expeditions and loved it so much we've already made reservations for our next trip!Read more
Tour National Geographic Expeditions Company Reviews
|Tours||1 Trip||63 Trips|
|Average Trip Price Per Day||$ 328||$ 703|
|Operator Type||Mixed Land & Cruise||Mixed Land & Cruise|
|Size||Global Operator||Global Operator|
|Headquarters||New York City, New York, USA||Northwest, Washington, D.C, United States|
Founded in 1996, smarTours promises its customers the “Best Travel Bargains” by offering mostly all-inclusive guided tours throughout much of the world.
What Makes SmarTours Stand Out?
- Airfare included
- Affordable trips
- Numerous ways to save
- Local guides
- Destinations around the world
SmarTours offers affordable tours along with great itineraries. Included in the price of all their tours is international airfare from the U.S., first-class hotels, sightseeing excursions, and English-speaking local guides.
SmarTours draws a large repeat business, taking travelers to such far-flung destinations as Thailand, Morocco, Japan, Peru, Patagonia, India, and Australia.
Who Will Enjoy Traveling with SmarTours?
- Budget travelers
- Social travelers
- History and culture lovers
Travelers who love traveling and care about experiencing the destination above all else - tourist sites, history, and culture - will love the feel of a SmarTours trip.
These tours are definitely for the budget minded - SmarTours offers numerous deals and specials throughout the year, and provides many other ways you can save money as well, including referring your friends and being a repeat SmarTours traveler.
Trips are comfortable and well guided, if not luxury or especially unique in tone. Airfare is included, which is a major selling point for SmarTours travelers.
SmarTours is perfect for the traveler who wants to get the most out of their travel experience, in terms of inclusions and time spent exploring the sites, both with a guide and with free time. If you are looking for a more cultivated, personalized experience, the SmarTours focus on keeping costs low doesn’t always allow for this. That said, this is budget travel that strives to appeal to a wider range.
SmarTours caters to all ages that are looking for good prices. They are largely popular amongst middle aged, 50+ travelers, and families.
SmarTours travels all over the world, including Africa, Asia, South America and Cuba, Western and Eastern Europe, and the Mediterranean. Diverse itineraries are available in each destination.
SmarTours Travel Style
- Large coaches
- River and small ship cruises
Except for its cruise offerings -- primarily river cruises as well as Greek Island and Galapagos cruises -- transportation is generally by bus. Group sizes can reach 40 and beyond, but may also be smaller depending on the popularity of the trip. SmarTours will design custom trips for groups with at least 25-30 travelers.
Accommodations are between value and premium, comfortable with a step above basic amenities. You won’t spend much time in your hotel, as SmarTours makes the focus about the travel experiences on the ground. They care about ensuring that you have as much time as possible to explore with the guide and on your own.
Why Choose a Tour With SmarTours?
SmarTours is a complete bargain package for budget minded travelers. If you are looking for an unbeatable value, don’t mind a large group and want tours focused on exotic destinations, then SmarTours is a perfect choice for you.
In 1999, National Geographic launched their own tour company component: National Geographic Expeditions. Since then they have expanded to offer trips on all 7 continents in over 60 destinations. Recently they partnered with G Adventures to provide even more variety to their devoted customers.
What Makes National Geographic Expeditions Stand Out?
- Multiple modes of travel
- Expert guides and photographers
- After hours and special access to sites
With National Geographic, you can travel by small, expedition-style ships; classic train journeys; land tours; active adventures; photo tours; family-oriented trips; or private, independent expeditions based on your desires and budget.
Wherever you go with National Geographic, which has been in the tour business for 15 years, you can expect doors to open: entry to research sites, archaeological digs, private homes or special events.
Many expeditions are accompanied by a National Geographic expert or expert team who share their knowledge and passion for a region and help make each experience enriching and unforgettable.
Who Will Enjoy Traveling With National Geographic Expeditions?
- Photography enthusiasts
- All ages
- Adventurous minded
- Nature lovers
- History buffs
- Life long learners
National Geographic is one of those special brands that has managed to successfully straddle the line between “your grandfather loves them” and “your eighteen year old sister loves them”. They cover a wide range of topics, themes, and travel styles, with the educational aspect always prevalent yet not overbearing.
If you love feeling like an explorer and an adventurer when you travel, and love learning about the world from experts in a variety of fields, National Geographic is the perfect place for you. This is a company for those who want to dig deeper, like getting the inside story from multiple perspectives - historical, cultural, political, economic, scientific and more.
National Geographic trips are great for families, and you can choose a private tour or a family friendly group, where hands on activities will widen your children’s worldview in innumerable special ways.
National Geographic trips are also extremely popular with photographers - novice photographers will enjoy their photography-centric tours, while many dedicated hobbyists can be found on their other trip styles as well.
If you’re the kind of traveler who sacrifices the space for a pair of shoes in your suitcase for another lens or photography accessory...you’ll be right at home on a trip with National Geographic Expeditions.
In the same way that National Geographic magazine has always inspired and furthered conversation and discourse, so too do their trips. The spirit of learning about the world is intertwined in every itinerary, so if you consider yourself a lifelong student, you should definitely consider traveling with National Geographic Expeditions.
National Geographic Expeditions go all around the world, and cover almost every travel style imaginable. One might think they have a favoring of the more “exotic” locations but an impressive number of United States and European tours are offered as well as farther reaching destinations. National Geographic Expeditions in the Galapagos are especially popular.
Regardless of where you travel, you will be sure to get off the beaten path and discover unique cultural landmarks, meet interesting people, and enjoy a sense of adventure.
Small-ship expeditions, done in conjunction with Lindblad Expeditions, can take you to Antarctica, the Galapagos and points beyond. Classic train journeys include the Trans-Siberian and trains through India, Spain, and Switzerland. Active adventures might take you hiking in Bhutan or meeting Berbers in Morocco. Land tours could take you to Tanzania, Peru or the Grand Canyon.
National Geographic Expeditions Travel Style
The travel style with National Geographic Expeditions has an aura of old fashioned exploration with a modern twist.
National Geographic Expeditions is a family friendly outfit, offering a wide range of prices and trip styles. Trips vary from mid range budget to higher. Physical level is usually light to moderate.
By virtue of their longstanding presence in the world, National Geographic has a wide reaching global network to lean on for incredibly unique and authentic lodging options, knowledgeable guides, and VIP access to historical and archaeological sites.
They have several broad travel styles you can choose from:
Land Trips - National Geographic Land Trips are immersive explorations, often covering nature and wilderness points of interest such as national parks. They also dive into ancient cities and cultures, with trips exploring everything from monks in Burmese mountainside temples to the lives of nomadic Mongolian peoples. Most trips are around 11 days and physical level is between light and moderate, with some trips featuring moderately challenging hikes in various altitudes.
River Cruises - a relatively new addition, Nat Geo now offers around 7 river cruises in Europe covering the Danube, Rhine, and Douro. Currently they also have 1 river cruise in Asia, along the Irrawaddy. These trips are typically between 7 - 11 days and feature wine tasting, history tours, and very light physical activity.
Private Expeditions - If you and your family, significant other, or a few close friends are looking for a more intimate travel experience than a group of strangers, Private Expeditions are a great way to travel. These trips are customizable, and can be crafted to perfectly suit your interests and dates.
Photography Trips - National Geographic has consistently featured award winning travel photography. They run regular contests for those inspired by the thousands of groundbreaking and historic photographs taken by journalists and travel photographers around the world. On National Geographic photography trips you can actually learn tricks of the trade from real-world photographers and improve your skills.
Train Trips - Travel was revolutionized with the implementation of the railroad, allowing people to travel in what was then a rapid pace from destination to destination. Today this ideal has been flipped on its head, and train travel is a leisurely paced excursion allowing time to relax and appreciate the slower meandering through beautiful countrysides. National Geographic train trips cover the classics, such as the Trans-Siberian railway and the Rocky Mountain railroad. Accommodations are comfortable, around a premium level, with options to upgrade.
Active Expeditions - For those who enjoy a bit more of an adrenaline pumping and active travel experience, National Geographic also has trips for you. These trips feature multiple active outings, such as kayaking, hiking, and caving. Expect to explore the outdoors covering unique natural phenomena and gaining insight into how and why the landscape has been shaped the way it has. These trips also feature cultural insights, just to a lesser extent.
Family Expeditions - National Geographic is the perfect company to travel with when you have curious and adventurous youngsters eager to see the world. They will learn about other cultures, people, food, nature and wildlife from experts with “cool jobs” that might even inspire lifelong interests and perhaps influence a career. These trips are specifically designed to be hands on, allowing everyone to get involved and learn about how things work.
Private Jet Trips - For a luxurious and more lengthy travel experience, nothing beats a Private Jet tour. A dedicated team will be with you, and you’ll experience all the best that National Geographic has to offer from local guides to premiere accommodation. These trips are in a very high budget range, but if it’s in your wheelhouse - it’s a superb way to travel and cover a lot of ground.
Journeys - Part of a partnership with G Adventures, these trips are adventurous and immersive small group excursions imbued with the spirit of National Geographic. The best of two top travel worlds!
Why Choose a Tour With National Geographic Expeditions?
When you travel with National Geographic you are participating in and contributing to a spectacular legacy. Over the years National Geographic has cultivated a reputation for being about cultural exploration, scientific advancement, and broadening perspectives.
Their travel experiences are perfect for anyone wishing to get back to the roots of what adventurous, experiential travel really means and enjoy discovering the world from multiple angles.
Really one of the best parts about traveling on a tour with National Geographic Expeditions is the sheer breadth of knowledge, personal and professional experience their guides bring to the table. They help provide richly detailed context, historical information, and dive into the details of local life, by showing and doing as well as explaining. You the traveler will have the true experience of getting to know a place from the inside out.
If that wasn’t enough of a reason, proceeds from your trip price go towards supporting National Geographic’s ongoing nonprofit work in conservation, exploration, education, and cultural preservation.