The history of the World Expeditions Travel Group
Our heritage dates back to 1975 when we launched our inaugural trekking holidays in Nepal under our former name, Australian Himalayan Expeditions. In the years that followed, we expanded our operations into other Himalayan destinations as well as South America, Asia, Africa and Australia. To reflect the broader range of holidays on offer, Australian Himalayan Expeditions was renamed World Expeditions in the late 80s.
Since our inception, we have practiced a simple philosophy; to provide high quality adventure holidays for small groups of like-minded travellers with a strong alignment to responsible tourism practice and a commitment to supporting local communities at every level of the operation.
The next 10 years of our journey forged a considered plan to offer our adventures on all seven continents. The Australian product range was greatly expanded as we developed the first commercial rafting trips on the Franklin River and pioneered the iconic Larapinta Trail near Alice Springs. Our merger with Tasmanian Expeditions, who offer all of the best walks in Tasmania, cemented our place as a leader in the Australian tourism scene. The Australian Walking Holidays division was created to provide a natural home for all of the collective Australian holidays.
With the internet boom, many travellers from around the world started to find World Expeditions online. In order to deliver the best pre-departure customer experience, offices were established in Auckland, London and Ottawa, resulting in a truly international mix of travellers on our collective group of global departures.
Europe Your Way
In 2007, after recognising the keen interest of travellers to enjoy an active holiday in Europe, UTracks was created. The program grew quickly, with its specialisation in guided and self guided walking and cycling holidays across Europe. These operations were strengthened with the purchase of UK based Sherpa Expeditions (2012) and its extensive walking program in the UK and some other parts of Europe as well as the acquisition of Sherpa Van (2016), a luggage transfer and accommodation service along UK's major walking and cycling trails. Today, the European program offers more than 400 itineraries across the continent.
Kia Ora - Welcome to New Zealand
In 2011 an opportunity to join forces with New Zealand’s Adventure South NZ fortuitously presented itself. As the leading cycling and walking specialists in New Zealand, Adventure South’s philosophy of travel was a great fit for the group. Offering a range of active holidays from the Otago Rail Trail to road cycle trips around the South Island and treks in the NZ Alps, Adventure South NZ was proudly inducted into the group and its portfolio of NZ holidays is second to none.
The World Expeditions Foundation
From our very early days we have been dedicated to philanthropy and fostering strong connections between people and environments across the planet. A natural progression of this was the establishment of the World Expeditions Foundation in Australia as well as the not-for-profit Community Project Travel (CPT) program. The CPT program works with humanitarian projects globally, with a keen interest in Nepal, Peru, Tanzania and Vietnam while the mandate of the Foundation is to raise donations for education based projects in underprivileged communities across the globe.
Another important part of our philanthropic work has been to deliver funds for charities using travel as the vehicle, leading to the creation of Huma Charity Challenge in 2013. This division offers services to charities and their fundraisers in the organisation of unique travel challenges which deliver significant funds back to the meaningful work of a variety of charitable causes around the world. It’s a fantastic collaboration where travellers can give back in a meaningful and memorable way.
Adventures for All Ages
Believing that adventure empowers young people, long ago we began working with schools and youth groups. This sentiment morphed into the establishment of World Youth Adventures (WYA) in 2010. Today, WYA works with hundreds of schools across the world to deliver meaningful travel experiences for students, many of which feature a component of Service Learning work. With trips that span the globe, WYA excursions deliver tangible benefits to communities in developing countries and garner life skills for our next generation of travellers.
No adventure travel suite would be complete without a range of adventures from Canada, which is well known for its epic mountains, lakes and coastline. Our Canadian brand, Great Canadian Trails (GCT), showcases many of the different landscapes and communities by foot, bike and kayak with guided and self-guided options. .
The acquisition of Trail Journeys in 2017 cemented our position as the leading cycle operator in New Zealand. The first company to offer any type of bike trip along the now famous Otago Central Rail Trail, Trail Journeys' self guided cycling trips are the ideal complement to the guided range offered by Adventure South NZ.
Blue Mountains Adventure Company
In 2018, the World Expeditions Travel Group acquired the Blue Mountains Adventure Company, a long-respected operator of day adventure activities including canyoning, rock climbing, hiking and abseiling based in the Blue Mountains. It is the 13th brand in the World Expeditions Travel Group and provides a welcome new operational base near Sydney, complementing the existing Australian domestic operations in Alice Springs, Darwin and Launceston.
Australian Cycle Tours
In 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the we responded to the surging demand for home grown active adventures with a new range of local, self-guided cycling adventures. Australian Cycle Tours offers active travellers a range of self-guided cycling adventures, crafted to maximum flexibility, affordability and convenience.
Great Walks of New Zealand
The Great Walks of New Zealand comprises an innovative range of self-guided and guided walking itineraries in New Zealand’s stunning South Island. Complimenting our respected New Zealand cycling brands, the Great Walks of New Zealand range gets you on some of New Zealand’s most beautiful trails and allows you to explore them at a pace that best suits you.
Bringing it all together
The World Expeditions Travel Group was registered in 2013 to incorporate the various brands under one umbrella. Collectively, we aim to provide for the multitude of interests and segments within the international adventure travel market. From our early beginnings as the Himalayan trekking specialists to our global offering today, we continue to redefine ‘adventure travel’ and to push the envelope each year by innovating new programs. We will always strive to be the first with our objective to inspire and enable curious travellers to discover and explore this beautiful world while following our philosophy to ‘take only photographs and leave only footprints".