"THE CURE FOR BOREDOM IS CURIOSITY. THERE IS NO CURE FOR CURIOSITY."
We set up Curious Traveller for… well, for people like us. Over decades of travelling, we’d come to know that nothing excites us more than a trip in which we’re discovering new places (or learning more about places we know) and getting to know the people who live there. We didn’t invent the term, but the type of travel we favour is known as Geotourism. Given that as we feel this way about travel, went our thinking, surely other people do as well.
When it came to launching CT, journeys that incorporated science seemed a logical place to begin. We’d already had experience as leaders on Australian Geographic Society scientific expeditions, and recognised that plenty of people seek opportunities to do science field work, and through their participation to assist with research funding. We saw the benefit that the scientists gained from volunteer help and experience, and took delight in the enthusiasm and excitement that volunteers ended each trip with.
CT’s scientific expeditions are planned specifically to assist scientific and other researchers with their field work: you can’t get much closer to real discovery than getting your hands dirty on an ecological study or a paleontological dig. We mourn the drift of public interest in real science, and believe that ‘citizen science’ has a valuable contribution to make. A CT expedition assists field work both through guest participation, and by helping to directly fund the research through the trips’ tariff.
Outside of scientific expeditions, we tend to look for destinations and experiences that are by nature a little harder to find. Some CT journeys follow paths less travelled, and some don’t. All of them are designed to have you heading home with knowledge gained. We’re fascinated by people and their cultures, by landscapes and the plants and animals and communities they sustain. We love how the march of history, on both geological and human scales, adds up to now.
We want to know to more than what’s over the next hill. We want to know who built the path, who maintains it, what grows on the hill and in what kind of soil – and whether we can get another serve of the local delicacy with lunch.
Most people take leave from work in order to travel – so their journey ought to be a holiday, not a chore. If effort’s required to experience something extraordinary we’re all for it, but we also reckon you’re on a break and ought to behave accordingly, mixing activity, leisure and pleasure. If on a CT expedition or journey you’re keen to step off the schedule to relax, or if you want to see something extra, let us know. Doing everything we can to learn about and unlock a new experience is a pleasure – that’s why we’re curious travellers.
Don’t fancy the idea of taking a tour with 30 or 40 strangers? Neither do we! We started hosting/leading small group journeys several years ago and – as people who’d before only ever travelled independently – were thrilled to discover a kind of group travel to savour.
Our optimum group size of 16 is small enough for you to get to know people – it usually only takes a day or so for you to start feeling that you’re travelling with a group of friends, and that sense of belonging strengthens as the journey goes on. It helps, of course, that we tend to have like-minded guests – drawn from the broad church of those who feel the same way we do about travel.
A small group means it’s often easier to get around, and almost always easier to go off-schedule and off-piste – after all, what’s a trip if you can’t stay out late or explore a side-track every so often? We strive, too, to build the time for this kind of flexibility into our itineraries. Of course there’ll sometimes be a fair bit of travel time to reach a destination, but once there we want guests to have time to reflect, relax and explore.
Small groups have a great strength for solo travellers: they offer company and safety when you want it, but your independence isn’t compromised to breaking point. If you’re on your own and willing to sharing a room, cabin or tent, we’ll do everything we can to match you with a cool room-mate. In addition, we know the joys of one’s own space and strive to shrink single-supplement prices as much as possible (although sometimes it’s hard to make a dent in them).
On scientific expeditions, all meals are provided – usually a necessity as we’re staying in out-of-the-way places. We don’t promise restaurant meals but we love food and strive to use best quality, locally grown and sourced produce. We happily cater to individual tastes and can vary meals to provide for gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan and other diets.
Some international journeys – such as Galápagos, during which we’re based aboard a cruise vessel – include all meals. Others feature a mix of included meals and opportunities to discover and enjoy local cafes and restaurants – we reckon that finding places to eat is among the most enjoyable of travel experiences. With rare exceptions, days begin with breakfast included at our hotel or lodgings; it’s just easier to get started that way.
On scientific expeditions our accommodation options are often limited, and can vary from comfortable hotels or motels to shared holiday houses to camping. But within that variety, some things are fundamental, and it’s important to us to find comfortable and secure accommodation that is near the heart of a place, not lost in the tourist district.
CT expedition and journey leaders love travel, are keen to see and learn more wherever they go, and are dedicated to guiding and helping our guests to ensure the best possible experience. All our departures (subject to minimum numbers) have Australian leaders – who may be joined by local guides (depending on the destination) – who are long on care and savoir faire. It’s their job to navigate your trip’s potholes to ensure the best possible experience. CT welcomes all kinds of diversity in its participants. We believe that having guests from a wide range of ages, backgrounds and values enhances the journey for everyone, offering the chance to share stories and learn about other lives and other experiences.
The National Geographic Society’s Center for Sustainable Destinations defines Geotourism as “tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place – its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents”. We reckon this is as good a manifesto for travel as you’ll find – as close as you can aim to that desired state called Responsible Tourism.
We believe in travel that values and respects the places we visit and people we meet. It’s our ardent belief that, if we stick to these principles, the magnificent natural environments we see and fascinating cultures that welcome us will be there for our grandchildren to experience.
We believe these ideals are best met by travelling in a small group, which leaves a lighter footprint on delicate landscapes and makes it easier to meet and get to know local people and their way of life.
Can we guarantee that every environmental and cultural experience on a trip will work out for everyone – travellers and local hosts? Unfortunately, no. Is it something worth striving for? You bet it is. We believe that the principles of Geotourism provide the best chance for travellers and locals to enjoy positive outcomes from tourism.