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How to find the best adventure tour

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So, I'm by no means a tour expert but I work in travel.

My colleague and I were having a debate since he is looking at going on his first tour next year (Tanzania) and he's planning on doing it with G Adventures since that's the first (and I think only) company he's familiar with. He said he was satisfied with their Tanzania tour.. I on the other hand thought hey - you should take some time to research what's out there - everything's on Google these days, so why not look around. He argued that it's information overload, and really they can't be that different. I'm no pro, so can't argue.

To be honest, when I Googled around myself, it does look like quite a lot. I certainly discovered a bunch more tour operators than I thought (Intrepid, Tauck, Audley and a bunch of what looks like little local companies). And doing this has got me pretty interested in possibly taking a multi-day tour, but again, where to start.

I'm curious what's the normal way most people make this sort of decision is. ie; when you did it for the first time, are most people doing this on their own or do they get some sort of travel advisor? Also, is it normal to hunt through tour operator websites one by one, discovering as you go, or are there comparison websites that are actually useful? Did you base it off a friend or message forum like this?

Thought it may be resourceful to ask around before just trying it on my own, and I figure other people probably want some tips as well.

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