Guided excursions have long been at the heart of travel, but like everything else, the pandemic disrupted such experiences, and many went virtual. But as travel begins to tick up, existing tour companies are adapting to social distancing in other ways.

Some are complementing virtual experiences — for instance, guided chocolate tastings with chocolate shipped before the tour — and tailoring closer-to-home actual adventures, like kayaking and hiking. Others are making groups smaller or private and moving outdoors.

This fall, a new player, Amazon, took a deep dive into the strictly virtual model with the start of its Amazon Explore platform, which offers everything from online shopping tours in Peru to tango lessons from Argentina.

Even in destinations that are reopening to international tourism, some operators are waiting for travel to rebound before switching entirely from virtual to actual. Since Panama reopened to international travel last month, Jerin Tate, the owner of Panama Day Trips, has guided just a few in-person tours and plans to continue offering free virtual birding tours in Soberanía National Park near Panama City into December.

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