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The Cotswolds: Exploring English Nature

Exclusive Access to Highlights & Hidden Corners of Britain's Classic Countryside
8 Days From $7595
Sometimes, nature travel is more refined than rugged. That's the case with our rural sojourn in the Cotswold Hills—it's filled with wild discoveries, yet decidedly genteel. On walks through ancient beech forest and rolling meadows, along hedgerows and trout-filled streams, delve into a landscape that offers an idyllic vision of traditional England. Our focus is on native habitats, wildlife and conservation in Britain's largest designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Explore hidden byways and unspoiled villages most visitors miss, enhanced with private tours of exquisite gardens, picnic lunches, and pints at local pubs still frequented by farmers and vicars whose roots go back centuries. We don't omit highlights on a grander scale, however—enjoy private presentations and exclusive access at Sudeley Castle, Hidcote Gardens, and Highgrove House and Gardens, the royal estate of the Prince of Wales. In spring, lavish floral displays burst into color, while autumn displays a tapestry of russet, gold and scarlet. In the evenings, Britain's finest country house hotels provide a luxurious retreat, as renowned for their sustainable farm-to-table fare as for their historic architecture and bucolic settings.

Trip Highlights

  • Nature off the Standard TrackWander scenic footpaths through the Cotswold Hills, Britain's largest designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, protecting ancient habitats and native wildlife
  • Unspoiled Rural VillagesExplore postcard-perfect medieval villages of honey-colored stone, and stay at luxury inns steeped in history and surrounded by gardens, meadows, rivers and woodlands
  • Private Tours & Special AccessTap our local connections for experiences you won't get any other way, with exclusive access at grand estates and behind-the-scenes tours of castles, gardens and organic farms

Why Choose Nat Hab for the Cotswolds?

The Cotswold Hills, famous for their natural landscapes interwoven with villages of golden limestone, exuberant gardens, small farms and grand country estates, embodies a vision of rural England that’s rarely realized in contemporary times. While this is nature travel of a different sort from an African safari or an Arctic polar bear adventure, an immersion in a quieter natural beauty is also inspiring—and also at risk—as the reach of the urban world grows ever greater. We've gone to great lengths to share the delights of the Cotswolds in the singular manner you've come to expect from Nat Hab:

  1. Explore One of Britain's Most Treasured Natural Landscapes in Depth
    Though the population of the Cotswolds is small, it’s a popular tourist destination. Most visitors come for just a day, often on a coach tour from London or Oxford, racing from one packed town to the next. In contrast, we've created a peaceful, personalized experience. Our wide-ranging itinerary features lesser-known places and interactions that reveal the true natural beauty of the Cotswolds, along with a more private take on famed highlights you wouldn't want to miss. 
  2. A Focus on Nature, Wildlife & Conservation
    If you're inspired by examples of conserving nature and rural vistas amid human presence (after all, there have been people living, farming and working in the Cotswolds for 6,000 years), this trip is for you. Local families and the national government alike are dedicated to preserving these irreplaceable landscapes, which we discover on footpaths and scenic byways. In addition to admiring classic architecture and glorious gardens, we explore nature reserves of ancient hardwood forest, wildflower meadows, marshes, streams and hedgerows, encountering local wildlife whose presence is often subtle. 
  3. A Small Groups Allows Access to Less-Visited Destinations
    With only 12 travelers, we can navigate narrow country roads and one-vehicle lanes hemmed by hedgerows, which are off limits to motorcoaches. We thus get to places others can't, including tiny villages that exude all the charm you expect in the Cotswolds, plus local pubs and family farms that can't accommodate bus tours. We're also able to stay in intimate inns with personalized service.
  4. Private Tours & Exclusive Access for a Personalized Experience
    A true hallmark of our itinerary is the exceptional number of private experiences we've arranged. You won't be held up in long queues or bumping shoulders with dozens of other visitors at the Cotswolds' most acclaimed sites. From Sudeley Castle to the royal gardens at Highgrove House, from Hidcote to the private Woodchester Estate, off-limits to the general public, we get behind-the-scenes access with private tours, presentations and exclusive dinners with local experts. We don't think you'll find anywhere near this privileged access on another trip!
  5. Travel with Two Expedition Leaders—Plus Local Experts for Superlative Interpretation
    You'll benefit from the exceptional attention and flexibility that only two Expedition Leaders can provide. We'll have numerous opportunities to divide the group for varied activity options and walks at differing physical ability levels. Our guides are a font of knowledge about the natural and cultural history of the Cotswolds, including conservation commitments that are central to preserving the landscape and way of life that make this area unique. Local experts also lend detail and insight to augment your experience. From National Trust rangers to castle archivists, from organic farmers to a garden historian (with an MA in Garden History), the specialist guides who join us add to your appreciation for the region, its nature and its people. 
  6. Country House Hotels Offer Luxury, History & Hospitality
    Nature travel isn't necessarily about the accommodations. But in the Cotswolds—on our itinerary—they are a highlight! We've selected three of the region's finest country house hotels—boutique inns with centuries of history and the character to go with it. Two are within peaceful stone villages, set among gardens, manicured lawns and wild nature, while the other stands alone on a large estate, surrounded by rolling countryside. All offer elegant guest rooms and amenities, with dining rooms managed by award-winning chefs who tap local purveyors for the finest and freshest ingredients.
  7. Farm-to-Table Food Culture Offers Outstanding Local Fare
    There is a big emphasis in the Cotswolds on "field to folk" food: local, organic artisan production of cheese, cream, lamb, pork, trout berries, honey, cider, ale and more. The inns and pubs where we take our meals source many of their ingredients from known local producers. We also visit a small farm or two to see how food is produced, including famous Single Gloucester cheese. For nature lovers who are also foodies, this trip won't disappoint!
  8. Outstanding Naturalist Expedition Leaders
    We're known for the quality of our guides, and you'll find that the leadership on this trip is no exception! With a deep knowledge of England's diverse ecosystems, your Expedition Leaders enhance your adventure in a way that makes you feel safe, cared for and enlightened. Read our Expedition Leader bios and traveler comments regarding the quality of our leaders.
  9. Our Quality-Value Guarantee Ensures a Rewarding Experience
    With Natural Habitat Adventures, you get our exclusive guarantee, promising that we will meet the lofty expectations set in our promotional materials. To our knowledge, this is the most impressive guarantee made by any adventure travel company. Read our important promise for yourself!
  10. Feel Good About Your Carbon-Neutral Journey
    We care deeply about our planet, as we know you do. When you travel with us, the carbon emissions from your trip are 100% offset—including your round-trip flights from home. Natural Habitat Adventures has been the world’s first carbon-neutral travel company since 2007.
  11. Natural Habitat Adventures is WWF's Travel Partner
    Because of our commitment to environmentally friendly travel as well as the exceptional quality of our worldwide adventures, World Wildlife Fund, the world's leading environmental conservation organization, has named Natural Habitat Adventures as its worldwide travel partner, a designation that makes us exceedingly proud!
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