About Explore Up Close

Explore Up Close is a family-owned travel company, specializing in guided exploration travel to diverse regions of the U.S. and the world.  Based in the South Carolina Upstate, and with a following of enthusiastic travelers from across the country, our trips are specifically designed for small groups of 6 – 14 travelers.  Each itinerary is hand-crafted and guided by the Explore Up Close team to give our travelers a one-of-a-kind adventure.  

Explore Up Close is about finding an authentic sense of place, and uncovering the natural, cultural, and historic elements that make a place unique.  Our travel style is characterized by backroads exploration, boutique lodging, audiences with local experts, occasional private site visits, and a focus on discovering the local.  Our specialties include planning and guiding custom travel for private groups, educational travel for schools and universities, and exploration travel on the backroads of Europe and North America.  Along with these core areas of expertise, we lead exploration travel in South and Central America, the Caribbean, and other parts of the world. Explore Up Close is a natural fit for curious and adventurous residents of the Carolinas and the Southeast, and for organizations - located anywhere - that seek unique travel experiences for their members.

Our Travel Services

Explore Up Close is proud to offer the following travel services: 

Small Group Trips

We curate a calendar of guided small group tours, which are open to anyone. View our upcoming trips here, and join our mailing list to stay updated on future trips!

Private Trips

Explore Up Close creates tailor-made, guided travel experiences for private groups of family, friends, wine clubs, and more!  We also work with community partners, including retirement communities, travel clubs, and continuing education groups to create and lead private travel opportunities for members. Please contact us directly to discuss travel planning for your group.

Study Travel

We are proud to create and guide custom educational trips for schools and universities to diverse parts of the US and the world. Learn more about our student travel services here, or contact us directly for more information.

Tracing the Roots of Explore Up Close

Founded by historian-explorer Chumley Cope in 2004, Explore Up Close has always been an extension of a family impulse to explore an unknown road or trail, and to hear an interesting story from a stranger.  New roads remain alluring to this day, and strangers pass into memory as friends, characters, and purveyors of fascinating and enlightening stories.  Today, Explore Up Close trips still follow our characteristic style -- whether it's exploring chateaux country by bicycle, Civil War battlefields by bus, or horse-and-Bourbon countryside by van.  Explore Up Close was designed to bring you an in-depth view that goes beneath the surface, a celebration of the sharing of human stories, and an emphasis on the camaraderie of traveling (and the friends we meet along the way).

Founder Chumley Cope grew up with a jeep and a passion for exploration. With degrees in history from the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University, he worked as an educator before deciding to channel his passion for history and exploration travel into his own company in 2004. Chumley loves mapping out creative itineraries to new places and sharing interesting stories on location with his travelers. He lives with his family in the South Carolina Upstate. 

Explore Up Close Founder, Chumley Cope

Explore Up Close | Chumley Cope


(864) 384 - 6947


Mailing Address

Explore Up Close
613 Poplar Street
Spartanburg, SC 29302