Please read carefully through the following information about booking an Explore Adventure. When you book (whether by phone or online), you will be asked if you have read and understood these pages, as well as our Booking Conditions.
About Explore Tours
Your travel companions come from a wide range of locations and backgrounds. However, because we only offer English-speaking tours, the majority will be from the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US. Everyone will share your passion for adventure travel.
Group size ranges from between 10 to 24 people, depending on the type of tour, the transport and accommodation used and activities included. We rarely have groups that are smaller than six or seven people and the average is 16 people and a tour leader.
The minimum age on all group tours is 14. A parent or adult must accompany people under the age of 18. The maximum age is usually 79 (at the time of travel) unless you are travelling with a companion who is younger than 79 years of age. Most of our travellers are aged between 25 and 55
Life on tour
Everyone who travels with us has slightly different expectations when they arrive on tour. A vital part of the Tour Leader’s role is to try to understand these individual expectations, and to run the tour in such a way that everyone gets the most out of their holiday.
Explore Tour Leaders
The Tour Leader’s main responsibility is to make sure that all members of the group are well looked after and return home having had a wonderful holiday with some fantastic memories. It is the Tour Leader’s responsibility to ensure that the tour runs smoothly and that all the logistics are in place; also to oversee the health and safety aspects of the tour. Our Tour Leaders will be as flexible as possible - within the confines of the itinerary. For example, they can arrange group meals for those that would like to eat with their travel companions. Alternatively if you would prefer to make your own plans they will offer suggestions for local restaurants. They may offer some optional excursions that are not mentioned on the Tour Trip Notes (such as a visit to a local house to try on saris). They will also try to make sure that everyone has as much free time during the tour as they wish.
In order to keep the tour running effectively, Tour Leaders give regular briefings to talk about what is happening in the next few days, to remind you of timings and what you need to bring for excursions, sightseeing and activities. Often this will be reiterated on notices put up in hotel receptions or other appropriate places. Tour Leaders will also brief the group on safety and general health issues. Please note that a small number of tours are accompanied by local representatives. This will not affect the enjoyment of your holiday and will be outlined clearly in the individual Trip Notes. All Tour Leaders are carefully selected and have undergone thorough training in the UK and/or overseas – this is generally accepted to be some of the best in the industry.
Tour Leaders are chosen for their travel experience, their people skills and their ability in working with groups. Itineraries Explore itineraries offer a wide variety of experiences and activities which allow you to really get to know an area and to see beyond the normal tourist facade. Whilst we automatically include the better-known sights, several excursions and activities are optional. This gives everyone enough flexibility to do his or her own thing. We also build in free time for you to explore independently - an important part of any Explore tour.
Wherever possible, we try to include accommodation which best reflects the local area in which we are travelling. For example, this could be the Ice hotel in Lapland, Berber village houses in Morocco, a Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum or a safari lodge in Botswana.
Where we use hotels, we aim for mid-range properties, with the key requirements being cleanliness, safety, comfort and a good location. (The type of room provided and the level of facilities may vary from place to place.)
In exceptional circumstances, we may use simple hotels with more basic amenities. Several tours include camping. We provide all the necessary equipment (for example two person tents). You are likely to need your own sleeping mats and sleeping bags for these trips. You will not have to cook. Many tours are fully staffed, but on some you may be asked to help with the camp chores. Please see the individual tour Trip Notes for details.
All our accommodation is given a rating to describe standards and facilities. You can find this in the individual tour Trip Notes.
Rooming and Single room option (SRO)
Most tours are based on customers sharing twin-bedded rooms. If you book as an individual, you will share a room with someone of the same sex. However, on many tours we offer the opportunity to pay a supplement to pre-book a single room. On some of these tours a single room will be provided every night, on others it will be provided on some nights, but for logistical reasons not all. Individual Trip Notes clarify this.
Most trips include breakfast, but other meals are often not included. This allows you to try the cuisine in local restaurants and also to choose what and where to eat and how much to spend. We try to keep allinclusive accommodation to a minimum. Where there is no option, such as when camping, on safari or on some boat-based tours, meals tend to be included. We try to cater for you if you have special dietary requirements but we do ask you to have realistic expectations. In some countries there is a limited choice of food and it may be difficult to cater for all special meal requirements. Please check the Trip Notes carefully before booking if you have any specific requirements.
The variety of transport used is another important aspect of any Explore Adventure. We use everything from buses, boats and trains to camels and donkeys. You may even find all these on the same tour..
Party size for Family Adventures
All our Family Adventures tours are family group tours, with fixed departure dates, as outlined on the individual tour pages. We define a family as having a minimum of 2 people, with at least one adult over the age of 18 and one child under 18. Families who book on a tour will typically be travelling with a few (generally 3 to 5) other families who have booked on that same departure date
Age limits for Family Adventures
Due to the active nature of Family Adventures, we do have a minimum age set for each tour. This varies from 2 to 11 years, depending on the level of activity involved and overall suitability for younger children. Please check individual tour pages for specific information on this. Our dedicated Teenage departures cater for families with children aged 11 to 17 only. On certain tours the minimum age limits are strictly applied, on others there may be some flexibility. Please contact us to discuss if, for example, one sibling is below the age threshold. The maximum age is 79 unless travelling with another adult who is under the minimum age.
Parental consent for Family Adventures
Any child under the age of 16 wishing to participate in the advertised activities can do so only with full consent of their parent or guardian.
Responsibility for your children on Family Adventures
Please note that Tour Leaders are not expected to be child-minders. Parents and guardians booking on Explore Family Adventures agree to take responsibility for any children booked with them for the duration of the tour at all times.
You must have valid travel insurance. You will need to confirm to your Tour Leader that you are covered by a travel insurance policy at the start of the tour. For this reason your original insurance policy must be carried with you on tour. If you have arranged your own insurance please ensure that your documentation shows you as the named policyholder and that the cover is valid for the entire period of travel. It must also indicate that you have cover for (at least) Medical Expenses and Emergency Repatriation in the event of illness or injury. Please ensure that a 24 hour contact telephone number for your Insurance Company is written on your documentation in case of an emergency. If you are unable to provide this information at the start of the trip you will not be able to continue with us-unless you purchase a suitable Insurance Policy. If you have purchased Explore Insurance you should carry the policy document and a copy of your Confirmation Invoice (your proof of purchase) with you. For details of Explore’s insurance policy, which is specially tailored to the needs of the adventure traveller, please click here.
Pre-existing medical conditions
If you, your travelling companions, or anyone upon whom your travel depends (such as a friend or family member whose illness or death would result in you wishing to cancel or curtail your tour) have a preexisting medical condition you must inform your travel insurance company of this when you purchase your policy. Please ensure that you receive written confirmation from them that the condition is covered. You must take this written confirmation with you on tour, in addition to the insurance policy itself. If you don’t, you may not have appropriate cover.
Your fitness and ability to participate
All Explore Adventures require some level of active participation. This could be on a cultural tour, trek, safari, expedition or voyage. It is in the interests of all members of the group that everyone should be capable of fully participating in the activities of their chosen tour. With this in mind, please be aware that (as further discussed in our Booking Conditions, Clause 10) if it is felt that any customer is not able to participate in a tour without endangering the health or safety of themselves or any other person (including other group members), or that the presence of the customer on the tour means we will be unable to provide the tour, in whole or part, to other members of the group as advertised and contracted, the Tour Leader at any stage has the right to require them to leave the tour. To ensure that this is never necessary, please make sure that you have fully understood the level of fitness and ability required to complete the tour on which you are booking. Tour Trip Notes are quite specific about the level of fitness and ability required on any given tour. It is your responsibility to let us know if you have any concerns related to this subject. If you have any medical condition or disability that may affect your tour arrangements in any way, you must provide us with full details at the time of booking.
Several tours reach elevations of 2500 metres or more. We allow time for acclimatisation and usually the body acclimatises well to spending extended periods of time above this altitude. It is difficult to predict who is at risk from altitude sickness but if you have a heart or respiratory problem we advise you not to risk extended travel or trekking at high altitudes and to check with your doctor.
Proof of fitness
In certain circumstances, usually on more strenuous tours, we may require you to provide proof of medical fitness before travelling.
From time to time, some elements of our tours may change from those that have been published. This could be the result of inclement weather, a change in the local political situation or in flight or train schedules or other circumstances beyond our control. We will keep you as well informed as possible about these changes.
Will my tour operate?
We reserve the right to cancel departures that (in our opinion) are not commercially viable (except for “Guaranteed Departures” which are described below). Typically this happens when less than six or seven people have booked on a tour (the exact numbers can vary). We try very hard to make every departure work and only cancel when absolutely necessary. We will give you as much notice of a cancellation as possible, allowing you to consider alternative tours or dates. We do not guarantee a minimum number of participants for each tour and we may decide to operate a tour with less than the normal minimum number of people.
Our “Guaranteed Departures” can be found on our website under the “Prices and Dates” tab. On these tours we guarantee that the advertised “Land Only” itinerary will not be cancelled or significantly changed unless we are forced to do so by a “force majeure” (as defined in our Booking Conditions). There is no minimum group size for these departures. This guarantee does not apply to international or UK domestic flights, which may be subject to change or cancellation in accordance with our Booking Conditions.
Adventure travel – warning
Travelling to far-flung corners of the earth involves adapting to living conditions that are often very different from our own. Please be prepared to cope with unusual situations, local inadequacies and unpredictable events. Adventure holidays are definitely not suitable for people who expect to be pampered or who demand that everything goes exactly as planned. You should also be aware that some countries around the world have serious security problems. Thieves, muggers and drug pushers are likely to be active in big cities and street markets; and certain areas may be considered ‘out-ofbounds’ for tourists. However, most crime is opportunistic. Using your common sense will reduce the risks. Unfortunately, no destination can be guaranteed to be safe from terrorism. We constantly monitor the political situation in the regions we visit and will re-route or cancel a trip if we feel it is necessary. If you are concerned about your safety when visiting a particular destination, please contact the Foreign Office or the appropriate embassy.
Peace of Mind
Explore is a fully bonded Tour Operator licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and by ABTOT. We hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (ATOL number 2595)
All the flights and flight-inclusive holidays* in this brochure or on our website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay, you will be supplied with an ATOL certificate**. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL certificate go to http://www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate
*The flights and flight-inclusive holidays we arrange are ATOL protected providing they are made available in the UK.
**ATOL Certificates will be issued for all flight and flight-inclusive holiday bookings made on or after 1st October 2012. Although ATOL Certificates will not be issued before 1st October 2012, all flight and flight-inclusive holiday bookings made prior to this date will also be protected by the ATOL scheme as referred to in our booking conditions. If we, or the suppliers identified on your ATOL certificate, are unable to provide the services listed (or a suitable alternative, through an alternative ATOL holder or otherwise) for reasons of insolvency, the Trustees of the Air Travel Trust may make a payment to (or confer a benefit on) you under the ATOL scheme. You agree that in return for such a payment or benefit you assign absolutely to those Trustees any claims which you have or may have arising out of or relating to the non-provision of the services, including any claim against us, the travel agent (or your credit card issuer where applicable).You also agree that any such claims may be re-assigned to another body, if that other body has paid sums you have claimed under the ATOL scheme.
As a member of the Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT), Explore has provided a bond to meet the requirements of the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992.
In the event of Explore’s insolvency, protection is provided for non-flight packages commencing in and returning to the UK and other non-flight packages excluding pre-arranged travel to and from your destination. Please note that packages booked outside the UK are only protected when purchased directly with Explore. In the above circumstances, if you have not yet travelled you may claim a refund, or if you have already travelled, you may claim repatriation to the starting point of your non-flight package.
Foreign Office Travel Advice
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) Travel Advice Unit (www.fco.gov.uk/travel) provides detailed information about your destination. We strongly recommend that you read their comments about the country you are planning to visit; both when you book and again just before you leave. We monitor FCO travel warnings and advice and based on them, may cancel tours before departure, or re-route or make other changes to tours operating in or through the country concerned. Any decision we take about whether to operate or cancel a tour or make other changes will always be made in the interests of your safety and security. We will make these decisions at least four weeks before departure, unless we believe that local conditions will improve before the start of the tour.
Whilst we endeavour to provide as much information as possible in our brochure and individual Trip Notes regarding the areas our tours travel to, we would always recommend that you undertake some background research about the places you will be visiting and the type of climate and local conditions you can expect to get the most out of your holiday.
AITO Quailty Charter
The Association of Independant Tour Operators
AITO is the Association for independent and specialist holiday companies. Our member companies, usually owner-managed, strive to create overseas holidays with high levels of professionalism and a shared concern for quality and personal service. The Association encourages the highest standards in all aspects of tour operating.
- Exclusive Membership - AITO sets criteria regarding ownership, finance and quality which must be satisfied before new companies are admitted to membership. All members are required to adhere to a Code of Business Practice which encourages high operational standards and conduct.
- Financial Security - An AITO member is required to arrange financial protection for all holidays and other arrangements (including accommodation only) booked by customers with the member under the AITO logo. This financial protection applies to customers who are resident in the UK at the time of booking and to most overseas customers who have booked directly with the member. In doing so, the member must comply with UK Government regulations. Members are required to submit details of their financial protection arrangements to AITO on a regular basis.
- Accurate Brochures/Web Sites - All members do their utmost to ensure that all their brochures and other publications, print or electronic, clearly and accurately describe the holidays and services offered.
- Professional Service and Continual Improvements - All members are committed to high standards of service and believe in regular and thorough training of employees. Members continually seek to review and improve their holidays. They listen to their customers and always welcome suggestions for improving standards.
- Monitoring Standards - AITO endeavours to monitor quality standards regularly. All customers should receive a postholiday questionnaire, the results of which are scrutinised by the Association.
- Sustainable Tourism - All members acknowledge the importance of AITO’s Sustainable Tourism guidelines, which recognise the social, economic and environmental responsibilities of tour operating. Those demonstrating their achievements beyond the pure acceptance of this principle are recognised by the award of 2 to 5 star status. Explore have achieved 5 star status.
- Customer Relations - All members endeavour to deal swiftly and fairly with any issues their customers may raise. In the unlikely event that a dispute between an AITO member and a customer cannot be settled amicably, AITO’s low-cost Independent Dispute Settlement Service may be called upon by either side to bring the matter to a speedy and acceptable conclusion.
Explore is a member of the Association of Independent Tour Operators. To contact the association visit www.aito.co.uk or call 020 8744 92