An Introduction

Great Explorations is a boutique tour operator specializing in providing active vacations in North America, Europe and around the world. Our mission is to create and operate exceptional, one-of-a-kind trips for spirited individuals and groups who prefer active travel as a way to see the world. Bicycling and walking/hiking are our preferred means of travel as we believe these to be the most rewarding ways to explore a place and to interact with its people.

For press enquiries, please contact Robbin McKinney at +1 800 242 1825 or +1 604 730 1247 or by email at

The Great Explorations Difference

Robbin McKinney, founder of Great Explorations has been designing and guiding trips throughout the world since 1985. In fact, there probably isn’t a guide in the travel world who has led more active trips in more places, for longer. With over 35 years’ leading trips, and an international staff and exceptionally gifted guides, this experience will ensure trips are memorable.

Flexible by Design
We design our trips with maximum flexibility in mind, so guests can experience a region at a pace that best suits them. Our cycling days average 40-80km (25-50 mi);  walking routes  average 8-15 km (4-10 mi), with optional routes for those who prefer longer distances and more challenge. For those who enjoy additional time to try other activities, or relax by the pool, we plan layover days to allow this option.

Smaller Group Sizes
Our trips average 12-16 travelers, a number that gives us access to the best in service, hotels and restaurants; we guarantee departures with groups 4+. We attract spirited individuals of all ages, with a congenial mix of singles, couples and occasionally families.

Best in Lodging
We believe in pampering ourselves while on vacation and choose hotels that are one-of-a-kind finds, combining the authentic charm and modern comforts that make for memorable lodging. Whether in a country inn on the Canadian Gulf Islands, a luxurious hotel in France or elsewhere around the globe, you will enjoy the comforts, service and hospitality of hotels chosen.

More Choices with Dining
We always include dinners where you can order off the menu. The food on our trips reflects the specialties of the region we’re traveling, with fresh ingredients and imaginative cooking.

Guides who Care
Simply put, our guides are extraordinary people; they speak the local language, understand the customs and culture and know how to ensure that guests have the ‘vacation of a lifetime’. Example bios here.

Great Explorations' Programs in Brief

Biking Trips
A guided biking trip with Great Explorations typically has clients biking from hotel to hotel along quiet roads passing important cultural sites and villages where travelers can engage with locals. When designing trips, Great Explorations seeks out regions that have interesting culture, great scenery with quiet, low-trafficked roads, distinctive and charming hotels and a variety of excellent restaurants.

Hiking Trips
Great Explorations walking trips include many of the same regions that we offer biking trips, but for walkers and hikers, utilizing trails and hiking paths to link up interesting villages with great hotels and accommodation choices.

Custom Trips
Great Explorations specializes in creating custom trips for couples, families and small groups.

Background on Robbin McKinney, owner

“It is likely that Robbin has guided more cycling trips in more places for longer than anyone on the planet.”

Robbin McKinney has always been a keen cyclist, avid hiker and an insatiable traveler. Robbin worked at a bike shop as a teenager and raced bikes well into his 40’s. But it was while leading cycling tours for Butterfield & Robinson (starting in 1984) that Robbin found his métier. Over a period of 18 years, Robbin lead trips and created magic for B&R throughout Europe and the world, gaining experience and making friends. In 1996, after working in other fields and obtaining a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Robbin started Great Explorations, a tour operator specializing in guided bike tours, now in more than 26 countries. Robbin also started an event management subsidiary that created and produced cycling events for organizations such as Canadian Tire/Jumpstart that raised funds for worthwhile causes. Other events have included those to raise awareness and funds for mountain bike trails in British Columbia (Sea to Sky Trail Challenge; Sunshine Coast Trail Challenge) and a Gran Fondo in Prince Edward County, Ontario that generates funds for local charities. Some of these continue as annual events that Robbin and team produce. In 2005, Robbin acquired Randonnée Tours, which compliments what is offered by Great Explorations.

As the owner of Great Explorations & Randonnée Tours, Robbin has the resources, passion and commitment to ensure that the company remains the leader in this style of travel. Robbin still guides several tours each year and spends a great deal of time perfecting trips with his dedicated team.

Affiliates of Great Explorations

Randonnée Tours –
County Gran Fondo –

Fact Sheet Summary

Great Explorations Headquarters
109-1529 West 6th, Vancouver, BC Canada

First trip offered
Camino de Santiago, Spain

Top-selling biking trips (most recent year)
Japan, Croatia, Prague to Vienna

Top-selling hiking trips (most recent year)
Catalonia, Spain; Canadian Rockies, Alberta

Number of countries Great Explorations offers trips in

Length of trips
Trips vary in length from 4-14 days

Bikes & Equipment
Great Explorations owns and maintains a large fleet of Cannondale and custom built European model hybrid and racing bikes. Great Explorations has the largest number of bike depots in Europe of any bike tour operator. Being avid cyclists ourselves we made a decision to invest in the highest quality bikes and equipment, to differentiate ourselves from other operators and to provide a consistent experience everywhere in the world that we operate trips.


Biking Trips

  • Europe & the Mediterranean: Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Holland & Belgium, Ireland,  Italy, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland
  • Canada: British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia
  • United States: Utah, California, Maui
  • Caribbean: Cuba
  • Africa: Morocco
  • South America: Argentina, Chile
  • Central America: Costa Rica
  • Asia: Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Japan
  • Australasia: New Zealand
  • Eurasia: Turkey

Multi-Sport Trips

  • Europe & the Mediterranean: France, Switzerland
  • Latin America & the Caribbean: Costa Rica
  • Canada: British Columbia, Alberta

Walking & Hiking Trips

  • Europe & the Mediterranean: England, Scotland, France, Ireland, Italy, Spain
  • Canada: Alberta, Quebec

Articles about Us

CBC Listen

  • Disappearing Bridges (Kettle Valley Trail, BC, Canada) by Dawn Hanna (Archive)