Travel + Leisure Readers' 15 Favorite Tour Operators of 2024

Travel + Leisure readers have selected their top tour operators for 2024. Check out which companies made the cut in our annual “World’s Best Awards” survey.

<p>Courtesy of Timbuktu Travel</p>

Courtesy of Timbuktu Travel

An experienced tour operator can elevate a trip from “great” to “unforgettable.” So it stands to reason that many of the votes in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards came from repeat customers — readers who know not to let go of a good thing. And though there are a few generalist luxury travel companies on this year’s list, many have a specific niche, from walking tours to regional expertise.

How Voting Works

Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Over 186,000 T+L readers completed the 2024 survey. A total of more than 700,000 votes were cast across over 8,700 properties (hotels, cities, cruise lines, etc.).

Tour operators and safari outfitters were specifically rated on the criteria below:

  • Staff/guides

  • Itineraries/destinations

  • Activities

  • Accommodations

  • Food

  • Value

For each characteristic, respondents could choose a rating of excellent, above average, average, below average, or poor. The final scores are averages of these responses.

What Readers Loved About Tour Operators

Many of the top-rated tour operators this year are specialists of some description, such as bicycle-focused DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co. (No. 3) or Classic Journeys (No. 11), which focuses on walking tours.

Quasar Expeditions (No. 2) operates boutique Galápagos cruises and Patagonia trips. A repeat customer highlighted their dedicated regional expertise: “Their incredible local hires brought enriching cultural experiences to each journey.”

Another company with a niche, AdventureWomen (No. 5) offers small group tours for women. “I continue to work with them again and again,” one voter wrote. “I really enjoy my fellow travelers, small groups (only 14 people), and interesting places with a focus on culture and activities through a woman’s perspective.”

The Winner

Timbuktu Travel

<p>Courtesy of Timbuktu Travel</p>

Courtesy of Timbuktu Travel

A new entry to the World’s Best Awards, Timbuktu Travel (No. 1) is based in Cape Town, South Africa, and coordinates trips throughout Africa, South America, Asia, and Antarctica. T+L readers particularly appreciated the company’s website, which allows users to create a custom trip (including hotels, activities, and transfers) with an estimated price. For readers, the cost transparency was a “very rare” perk for a luxury travel company. And, with so many repeat customers, it seems the vacation experience matches the planning process. “I have been on four safaris with Timbuktu and about to leave on my fifth. Their care and organization is exceptional,” said one reader.

The Full List

1. Timbuktu Travel

Reader Score: 99.30

2. Quasar Expeditions

Reader Score: 98.76

3. DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co.

Reader Score: 98.68

4. Butterfield & Robinson

Reader Score: 98.60

5. AdventureWomen

Reader Score: 97.83

6. TCS World Travel

Reader Score: 97.78

7. Black Tomato

Reader Score: 97.38

8. Jacada Travel

Reader Score: 97.24

9. Kensington Tours

Reader Score: 97.02

10. Natural Habitat Adventures

Reader Score: 96.33

11. Classic Journeys

Reader Score: 96.21

12. Boundless Journeys

Reader Score: 96.00

13. Tauck

Reader Score: 95.84

14. Off the Beaten Path

Reader Score: 95.78

15. Backroads

Reader Score: 95.39

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