The Top 15 Tour Operators

Jeeps at Nordenskjold overlook on a tour with Quasar Expeditions, voted one of the world's best Tour Operators

Jeeps at Nordenskjold overlook on a tour with Quasar Expeditions, voted one of the world’s best Tour Operators

Courtesy of Quasar Expeditions

This year’s World’s Best Awards survey was open for voting January 11 through May 10, 2021, as destinations around the world were lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Survey rules have always allowed readers to reflect on their travel experiences over a three-year period. We hope that this year’s honorees will inspire your own travels as you get back out into the world.

Linking up with the right tour operator can take an amazing trip and turn it into a trip of a lifetime. This might seem like magic, but their in-the-know expertise and long-standing relationships open the doors for the seemingly impossible — a private Jeep safari with a professional tracking team in the depths of Torres del Paine or one-on-one cooking classes from a chef that runs a Michelin-starred restaurant in the south of France. And if any group has traversed the world enough to discern the best tour operators out there, it’s the readers of Travel + Leisure.

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. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities.

The companies that made the list have the skills and connections to create itineraries that reflect their clients’ personal interests. No. 3 VBT Bicycling Vacations curates two-wheeled trips all over the globe. One reader said, “Their staff make all the difference.” No. 2 Mountain Lodges of Peru puts together highly personalized trekking adventures to Machu Picchu. As another reader exclaimed, “This is the way to visit Machu Picchu!”

But at the top of the list is Quasar Expeditions. Though primarily known for its cruises (the company won the small-ship ocean cruises category this year), it also operates a roster of dynamic safari-style excursions in South America. Read on to find out what sets it apart and which other companies join it on this year’s list of the best tour operators in the world.

1. Quasar Expeditions

A couple in Torres del Paine, Patagonia, with a jeep from Quasar Expeditions, voted one of the world's best Tour Operators

A couple in Torres del Paine, Patagonia, with a jeep from Quasar Expeditions, voted one of the world’s best Tour Operators

Courtesy of Quasar Expeditions

Quasar Expeditions is for adventurers. The highly specialized itineraries are designed to make guests feel like they’re James Cook or Charles Darwin. “Quasar Expeditions’ guides are the ultimate, passionate gatekeepers to the Galápagos Islands,” one reader said. “Their enthusiasm and love of the islands and the wildlife encourages you to share in their passion and desire to conserve the natural beauty and habitat of the area while still allowing low-impact tourism.” Another raved, “Excellent isn’t a high enough rating to describe our experience with Quasar Expeditions. Extraordinary in every way!” And while Quasar is best known for its Galápagos trips, it gets high marks for its Patagonia itineraries, which takes guests into the best parts of Chile’s Torres del Paine and Argentina’s Los Glaciares — two of South America’s most spectacular national parks.

Score: 99.58
More information: quasarex.com

2. Mountain Lodges of Peru

A lodge from Mountain Lodges of Peru, voted one of the world's best Tour Operators

A lodge from Mountain Lodges of Peru, voted one of the world’s best Tour Operators

Courtesy of Mountain Lodges of Peru

Score: 98.93
More information: mountainlodgesofperu.com

3. VBT Bicycling Vacations

A group cycling with VBT Bicycling Vacations, voted one of the world's best Tour Operators

A group cycling with VBT Bicycling Vacations, voted one of the world’s best Tour Operators

JAM Creative/Courtesy of VBT Bicycling Vacations

Score: 98.70
More information: vbt.com

4. Classic Journeys

Guests with a local tour guide on the Amalfi Coast with Classic Journeys, voted one of the world's best Tour Operators

Guests with a local tour guide on the Amalfi Coast with Classic Journeys, voted one of the world’s best Tour Operators

Courtesy of Classic Journeys

Score: 98.60
More information: classicjourneys.com

5. TCS World Travel

Traveling in Iceland with TCS World Tours, voted one of the world's best Tour Operators

Traveling in Iceland with TCS World Tours, voted one of the world’s best Tour Operators

Courtesy of TCS World Travel

Score: 97.55
More information: tcsworldtravel.com

6. Black Tomato

Deck on a private cruise of the Nile with Black Tomato, voted one of the world's best Tour Operators

Deck on a private cruise of the Nile with Black Tomato, voted one of the world’s best Tour Operators

Courtesy of Black Tomato

Score: 97.25
More information: blacktomato.com/us

7. Inside Japan Tours

A man in a bamboo forest near Kyoto, on a tour with InsideJapan, voted one of the world's best Tour Operators

A man in a bamboo forest near Kyoto, on a tour with InsideJapan, voted one of the world’s best Tour Operators

Courtesy of InsideJapan Tours

Score: 96.84
More information: insidejapantours.com

8. Tauck

Guests on a private tour in the Louvre with Tauck, voted one of the world's best Tour Operators

Guests on a private tour in the Louvre with Tauck, voted one of the world’s best Tour Operators

Courtesy of Tauck

Score: 96.72
More information: tauck.com

9. Wilderness Travel

Hiking in Patagonia with Wilderness Travel, voted one of the world's best Tour Operators

Hiking in Patagonia with Wilderness Travel, voted one of the world’s best Tour Operators

Mike Crane/Courtesy of Wilderness Travel

Score: 95.71
More information: wildernesstravel.com

10. Trek Travel

Two cyclists in Slovenia to represent a cycling tour with Trek Travel, voted one of the world's best Tour Operators

Two cyclists in Slovenia to represent a cycling tour with Trek Travel, voted one of the world’s best Tour Operators

Getty Images

Score: 95.71
More information: trektravel.com

11. Geographic Expeditions

A richly colored interior in Iran, seen on a tour with GeoEx, voted one of the world's best Tour Operators

A richly colored interior in Iran, seen on a tour with GeoEx, voted one of the world’s best Tour Operators

Vassi Koutsaftis/Courtesy of Geographic Expeditions

Score: 95.70
More information: geoex.com

12. Thomson Family Adventures

Two kids and a mom cycling on a path in the forest, to represent a tour with Thomson Family Adventures, voted one of the world's best Tour Operators

Two kids and a mom cycling on a path in the forest, to represent a tour with Thomson Family Adventures, voted one of the world’s best Tour Operators

Courtesy of Thomson Family Adventures

Score: 94.89
More information: familyadventures.com

13. Greaves

A forest path in India as seen on a tour with Greaves India, voted one of the world's best Tour Operators

A forest path in India as seen on a tour with Greaves India, voted one of the world’s best Tour Operators

Courtesy of Greaves India

Score: 94.74
More information: greavesindia.com

14. DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co.

Cyclists in Sicily with DuVine, voted one of the world's best Tour Operators

Cyclists in Sicily with DuVine, voted one of the world’s best Tour Operators

Taylor Burk/Courtesy of DuVine

Score: 94.64
More information: duvine.com

15. Odysseys Unlimited

A tour group in Alaska on a trip with Odysseys Unlimited, voted one of the world's best Tour Operators

A tour group in Alaska on a trip with Odysseys Unlimited, voted one of the world’s best Tour Operators

Courtesy of Odyssys Unlimited

Score: 94.39
More information: odysseys-unlimited.com

See all of our readers’ favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World’s Best Awards for 2021.

Marget D. Ford

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