Sri Lanka, local fisherman is fishing in unique style (Shutterstock: see credit below)
List 21 March

9 trips with award-winning tour operators

Want a trip that's guaranteed to be brilliant? Try one of these operators – they came out trumps in our annual reader survey

Choosing the right tour operator can be as difficult as picking the right destination. But you, our ever-discerning readers, have spoken, and have deemed these nine companies to be the best at taking you around the globe. Yes, these are the top tour operators, as voted for by you in our 2015 Reader Travel Awards.

1. See the highlights at a relaxed pace, Tibet

Train to Tibet, Bamboo Travel – Gold award winner
When? Apr-Oct
How long? 16 nights

Potala Palace in Tibet (Shutterstock)
Potala Palace in Tibet (Shutterstock)

Bamboo Travel’s quintessential Train to Tibet tour is like the most satisfying stew. Throw in a handful of the most beautiful monasteries; mix in abundant avifauna (think the tangerine-feathered ruddy shelduck at Lake Namtso); sprinkle in the heady spices of the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and Barkhor market; and finally add a pinch of adventure – including a stay at Everest Base Camp and a trek through Kathmandu Valley.

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2. Traverse the country in style, Laos

Laos in Style, Selective Asia
When? Year-round
How long? 15 days

Luang Prabang (Shutterstock)
Luang Prabang (Shutterstock)

This trip blends two award-winners – not only was Selective Asia your second-favourite tour operator, but you voted the laid-back Laotian hub of Luang Prabang your favourite city too! Selective Asia’s Laos in Style itinerary covers the country from south to north. You’ll zip among the treetops in Pakse, cook up a storm in Vientiane, take a tuk-tuk night safari, meet minority hilltribes and – of course – temple-hop in Luang Prabang.

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3. Explore the hill country, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s Hidden Gems, Holiday Architects
When? Year-round (Apr-Sept best)
How long? 15 days

Tea estates in Sri Lanka (Shutterstock)
Tea estates in Sri Lanka (Shutterstock)

From must-see highlights such as Kandy, to little-known destinations like Gal Oya National Park – home to the Sri Lankan leopard, wild elephants and mugger crocodiles – Holiday Architects’ Sri Lanka’s Hidden Gems tour is an in-depth exploration of the island’s nature and culture. There’s time for tea-tasting too.

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4. Go off the grid, Borneo

Mystical Borneo, TransIndus 
When? Year-round (Mar-Oct best)
How long? 14 nights

Proboscis monkey (Shutterstock)
Proboscis monkey (Shutterstock)

TransIndus’s signature Mystical Borneo trip takes you deep into the untouristy interior. Discover proboscis monkeys in Bako NP, orang utan at Semenggoh Sanctuary, prehistoric caves at Niah NP, impressive peaks at Kinabalu and Iban rituals on a traditional longhouse stay.

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5. Romp in the rainforest, Costa Rica

Best of Costa Rica, Llama Travel
When? Various dates, to Mar 2016
How long? 9 nights

Arenal volcano in Costa Rica (Shutterstock)
Arenal volcano in Costa Rica (Shutterstock)

Best of Costa Rica from Llama Travel combines the lively capital of San José with the cloud forest of Monteverde, a road trip around active Arenal volcano, and the jungle-fringed waterways of Tortuguero, famed for its nesting turtles.

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6. Gawp at sea giants, Alaska

Bubble-net Bonanza, Wildlife Worldwide
When? 14 Aug 2015
How long? 11 days

Pod of humpback whales, Alaska (Shutterstock)
Pod of humpback whales, Alaska (Shutterstock)

Wildlife Worldwide’s Bubble-net Bonanza heads to chilliest North America to observe humpback whales as they breach, leap, tail-lob, pectoral-slap and show-off their intriguing ‘bubble-net’ feeding technique. It’s not all about the humpbacks though: look out for orcas, sea lions, porpoises, grizzly bears, glaciers and icebergs too.

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7. Plunge into the wild, Patagonia

Signature Patagonia, Journey Latin America
When? Oct-Mar
How long? 16 days

Perito Moreno Glacier, Patagonia (Shutterstock)
Perito Moreno Glacier, Patagonia (Shutterstock)

Tick off the lot on Journey Latin America’s Signature Patagonia: The Lake District and the South. Take in the atmospheric isle of Chiloé; explore Perito Moreno Glacier and Torres del Paine NP; and visit peak-hugged Bariloche and shimmering Lake Nahuel Huapi.

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8. Learn from the tribe, Namibia

Tribes and Wilderness of Northern Namibia, Audley Travel
When? Year-round (Jun-Oct best)
How long? 14 days

Etosha National Park, Namibia (Shutterstock)
Etosha National Park, Namibia (Shutterstock)

Audley’s Tribes and Wilderness of Northern Namibia trip will teach you the ways of indigenous peoples. Walk and forage with the San Bushmen, learn about the cultures and traditions of the clay-cloaked Himba, and keep an eye out for wildlife too – especially in Etosha National Park and dramatic Damaraland.

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9. Hike the high Alps, Austria

Tirolean Eagle’s Path, Ramblers Worldwide Holidays
When? 29 Jun, 13 & 27 Jul, 24 Aug 2015
How long? 14 nights

Karwendel mountains in Austria (Shutterstock)
Karwendel mountains in Austria (Shutterstock)

Ramblers Worldwide Holidays’ Tirolean Eagle’s Path crams the best of the Austrian Alps into two weeks, exploring the Karwendel and Rofan mountains. Navigate snowfields, rocky terrain and exposed ridges to be rewarded with some of the region’s best walking and hutting, starting at Kufstein on the German border and ending in Innsbruck.

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Main image: Sri Lanka, local fisherman is fishing in unique style (Shutterstock)