Buddist temple Borobudur in Yogyakarta, Indonesia
List 21 March

10 trips with the world's best tour operators

Travel with an award-winning travel company, and you're virtually guaranteed to have an amazing trip. Our readers have spoken – and these are their favourites...

Picking a tour operator can be just as tricky as choosing where you want to go. Thankfully, you – our well-travelled readers – have done our job for us by naming the world's best travel companies. All of the operators in this list came out trumps in our 2016 Reader Travel Awards – and they get our seal of approval too.

Traverse Chile from top to toe

Leave no stone unturned with Llama Travel’s Natural Wonders of Chile & Atacama Desert tour. Get under the skin of laid-back capital Santiago, before hiking up the snow-capped Osorno volcano and flying over the expansive Southern Patagonian Ice Field.

Santiago de Chile (Shutterstock)
Santiago de Chile (Shutterstock)

Then hurl yourself into nature as you explore the glaciers of Torres del Paine NP, looking out for pumas and guanacos. Finish the trip staring into the night sky at the stargazing hotspot that is the Atacama Desert. An action-packed 16-day trip.

Combine China's classic sites and hikes

Embrace all that the PRC has to offer with Bamboo Travel’s aptly named Active China trip. Catch must-see sights, such as Beijing’s Great Wall and Summer Palace, as well as lesser-known treats – walking the purple-peaked Bajiaozhai Geo Park and rafting down the Zijiang River.

Simatai Great Wall of Bejing (Shutterstock)
Simatai Great Wall of Bejing (Shutterstock)

There's also a 3-day cycling trip through the Guangxi countryside, allowing you to soak up the leisurely pace of everyday life in the countryside. Urban adventures are on the agenda too: the 16-day tour ends in Hong Kong, where shopping, eating and city sightseeing await.

Cruises, temples and dragons in Indonesia

Baby orangutan (Dreamstime)
Baby orangutan (Dreamstime)

Selective Asia’s 18-day Ultimate Indonesia trip is like Indochina’s greatest hits. On this whirlwind itinerary you'll feed the orang-utans at Borneo’s Tanjung Putting NP, see the sunrise over UNESCO-listed Borobudur temple and explore Java’s mystic Kraton Palace.

Soak up spiritual sights in Bali's Ubud, marvel at Mount Bromo, and kick-back on a well-earned houseboat cruise. The trip ends in Komodo National Park – home of splendid beaches, colourful marine life, and the infamous komodo dragons. Watch your step!

Head to northern Sri Lanka

Tread Sri Lanka’s lesser-seen north with Undiscovered Destinations’ 15-day Northern Explorer tour. Tick off leopards and sloth bears on safari in Wilpattu NP, then head to ancient Anuradhapura and the sun-baked islands of Delft and Nagadipa, which – like much of the country – were engulfed in civil war less than a decade ago.

Buddha in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka (Shutterstock)
Buddha in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka (Shutterstock)

Further south, you can spot dolphins and blue whales, or go snorkelling in crystal-clear waters. The trip finished with visits to the UNESCO-listed Sigiriya palace (built atop a giant granite rock) and the sacred city of Polonnaruwa – and finally, a train ride back to Colombo.

Discover Kyrgyzstan & Uzbekistan

Gaze at peaks and rub shoulders with nomads on Wild Frontiers’ Wild Mountains, Fabled Towns trip. Explore Kyrgyzstan’s lofty Son Kul lake, then drive through the Tien Shan mountains to nomad villages Tash Rabat and Kazarman.

Ancient complex of Shah-i-Zinda, Samarkand (Shutterstock)
Ancient complex of Shah-i-Zinda, Samarkand (Shutterstock)

Next, cross into Uzbekistan to see the Mohammed Amir-Khan Madrassah in UNESCO-listed Khiva and visit Samarkand for Registan Square, with its three ancient Islamic schools. A 16-day adventure into two key stop-offs on the old Silk Road trading route.

Go off-grid in the Albanian Alps

Valbona Valley National Park (Shutterstock)
Valbona Valley National Park (Shutterstock)

Hike one of the last hidden corners of Europe. Walks Worldwide’s The Accursed Mountains trip winds through the Albanian Alps, hitting the Radohima Mountains and the national parks of Valbona Valley and Theth, offering glimpses of Mounts Jezerce and Arapit – two of Albania’s highest.

But this 8-day break isn't just about peak-bagging: the itinerary also includes visits to the Rozafa Castle ruins and Nderlysa’s Blood Feud Tower for more cultural pursuits.

Take a bite out of Australia

Gorge yourself senseless with a trio of Down Under’s most iconic sights on Wexas’s A Taste of Australia tour. Savour the bustling metropolis of Sydney before hiking up the UNESCO-listed Blue Mountains.

Uluru at sunset (Dreamstime)
Uluru at sunset (Dreamstime)

Wet your whistle at the vineyards of Hunter Valley then munch down on a traditional barbecue against the backdrop of Uluru. Finish with seafood in Port Douglas – with the waters of the Great Barrier Reef twinkling in the distance.

Discover a hidden slice of India

See a different side to India with Holiday Architects’ Inside Karnataka tour. Explore the temples of Belur and Halebid, take in the aromas of Mysore’s spice markets and spot elephants in Nagarhole NP.

Devarai market in Mysore, India (Dreamstime)
Devarai market in Mysore, India (Dreamstime)

Then head north to the Coorg, with its cardamom jungles and plantations, before kicking back and relaxing on the beaches of Neeleshwar. If you want to get to the real heart of India, this 13-day trip is for you.

Cloud forests and volcanoes in Costa Rica

Trailfinders’ Essential Costa Rica crams in a wealth of biodiversity in nine days, exploring volcanic Arenal, cloud forest and the Guanacaste coastline.

Arenal volcano (Dreamstime)
Arenal volcano (Dreamstime)

Cross Lake Arenal and spot pumas and endangered quetzal in Monteverde then soak in the Pacific Coast sunset. Bliss.

Gorge on Vietnamese treats

Learn farming methods in Ky Son, help fishermen in Hoi An and see the rice paddies of Mai Chau valley as you follow your food from field to plate with Audley’s Culinary Tour of Vietnam.

Hanoi fruit vendor, Vietnam (Shutterstock)
Hanoi fruit vendor, Vietnam (Shutterstock)

This is 14 days of culinary adventures. From bun cha and pho in Hanoi to Saigon’s street food, you definitely won’t go home hungry.

Main Image: Buddist temple Borobudur in Yogyakarta, Indonesia (Shutterstock)