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Backwaters of Guyana Expedition
11 days
Guyana - Trip code GEB

Backwaters of Guyana Expedition

Join us on an expeditionary trip that will see us boarding indigenous dug-out canoes and setting off on a 5 day journey on Guyana's Burro Burro River, spotting wildlife and learning jungle skills as we delve into the Guianan Shield. Totally supported by the local Amerindian community, we sleep in basic hammock camps, erected by our local guides, who will also show us some of the skills that the indigenous Macushi people use to survive in this environment, like fishing and the medicinal uses of the many varieties of plants.

Trip highlights

  • Jungle expedition - Sleep in a hammock in the jungle, wild camping under the canopy
  • Indigenous support - Learn from by the local Macushi indigenous community, who will support you throughout the trip
  • Wildlife - Spot incredible birdlife from kingfishers to colourful macaws, and keep a keen eye out for giant river otters, tapir and agouti
  • Canoeing - Paddle an average of 15kms per day in dugout canoes. No experience is necessary - there will be two or three to a boat plus a local guide.
  • Kaieteur Falls - Take an optional full-day trip to this magnificent waterfall
Accommodation grade:
These are often small, family run establishments or campsites which provide a no-frills experience with adequate amenities and service standards. Sleeping arrangements are simple, sometimes with en suite facilities.
Trip pace:
Full on
Full on paced trips are for travellers who like their holidays packed with activities and experiences, moving on quickly from place to place with lots of early starts and long, busy days. Some may find them tiring, but others get a buzz from packing their precious holiday-time as chock-a-block full of new experiences as possible!
Group Size:
12 - 18
Maximum group size ranges from between 6 to 20 people, depending on the type of trip, the transport and accommodation used and activities included. We rarely have groups that are smaller than five or six people and the average is 12 people plus an Explore leader.


Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.

Day 1 - Join trip in Georgetown

We arrive today in Georgetown and check in to our centrally-located hotel. This evening you will need to separate your belongings out into equipment for your journey, and clothes that can be left in Georgetown for when you return. Please note that there are two airports in Georgetown, and our arrival and departure transfers will pick you up from/drop you off at the Eugene F. Correira International Airport (OGL). If you are booking your own flights and they arrive into or depart from the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (GEO), there may be an additional transfer cost, which will be advised to you when you send across your flight details.

Accommodation: Cara Lodge Hotel(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: None
Day 2 - Fly to Surama; walks on rainforest trails

We fly this morning to the rainforest interior at either Lethem or Surama (depending on the number of people in the group), and weather permitting we will have excellent views over the Demerara and Essequibo Rivers and hundreds of kilometres of tropical rainforest. If we land in Letham, there is a 3 hour drive across the savanna before entering the rainforest. The Amerindian community of Surama is located in the heart of Guyana, and it was here that the fascinating and bonkers British explorer Charles Waterton passed through in the 1800s in search of the secrets of the poison known as Curare. Waterton was so stunned by this spot that he wrote in his memoirs "The finest park that England boasts falls short of this delightful scene". Surama's inhabitants are mainly from the Macushi tribe, and still very much hunt, fish and live from the forest as their forebears did. Their village is the ultimate example of community tourism, with the money from guests being put back into daily life - they have created a pension fund for their elders as well as sending some of their youngsters to university in Georgetown. Everyone in the village is involved, and depending on your arrival time your guide will take you on a tour of some of the village, including the church and the meeting centre. We may even have the chance to visit one of the village houses and discover the process of making cassava bread with a traditional matapee (a device that removes the toxic liquid from the plant) before griddling the dough and making bread. After dinner you will be briefed on what is expected during your canoeing expedition, and we are sure to enjoy a good shower this evening in the knowledge that it will be the last we see for six days!

Accommodation: Surama Eco Lodge(or similar)

Simple Guesthouse
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 3 - Hike to Gilkes Landing; learn how to set up camp

We set off early for a 3 mile hike across the savannas and through rainforest to our first camp on the Burro Burro River. This is our first foray into hammock camping, and we can help to prepare the campsite, putting up tarpaulins and hammocks before settling in. The guides will take us through some basic skills to prepare us for our backwater expedition. This will allow us to get some practice in boarding and handling a wooden dug-out canoe, a challenge in itself as they are heavy and at first can be quite tough to balance. We'll also learn how to handle a fishing line in order to try and catch a piranha supper, before discovering first-hand the best techniques of sleeping in a hammock (diagonally!)

Accommodation: Hammocks - Surama Reserve(or similar)

Simple Camping
Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 4 - Start of canoeing expedition on the Burro Burro River

Waking to the eerie wailing sound of red howler monkeys, we eat breakfast around 7am, break camp and pack our gear into the canoes to begin our trip up river. The first and last days of the trip will be upstream, while the other days will be downstream. This first day's paddling should take around 3-4 hours and although going upstream, generally each day is quite leisurely. However, you must be fit and agile - after the rainy season there are frequent treefalls into the river, and it's likely that we will be limbo-ing under giant tree trunks and even getting out of the boat while our amazing guides haul it over obstacles. If we are slow to reach camp on any day our Explore Leader may enforce the decision to attach the canoes to the motorised boat and pull them in, to ensure that we make camp before dark. The journey takes us through deep jungle, along with nature. These sections of the river are narrow and give us a good opportunity to bird spot, including scarlet macaws, various different kingfisher and toucan species, ibis, herons and jacamars. There are 814 different species of bird in Guyana and at the end of our trip we will likely have seen around 40-50 of them. There's nothing like the raucous calls of red and green macaws piercing the stillness of the rainforest.

On our arrival to Kawan Paru camp, we again help to get the campsite ready while the guides set up lunch. In the afternoon there are walking trails to try and find some elusive land wildlife, and the guides will show us some of the plants that are used for different purposes, such as medicines. Privacy is very limited in the camps as we are in hammocks with only a mosquito net as a cover. To wash we can go onto the boat and dip a bucket in the river; bathing isn't recommended in the river not least due to the piranhas!

Accommodation: Hammocks - Surama Reserve(or similar)

Simple Camping
Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 5 - Canoeing and hiking around the Kawan Paru creek

We arise early again for breakfast, and head onto the river. It's surprising what the guides can do with such basic equipment, and breakfast will be varied, often 'bakes' (a bread dough, fried so that it expands into a bread roll) and jam, porridge oats, or perhaps pancakes or scrambled eggs. Lunch along the river may be a pack up for the first day, and after this the guides will prepare hot food in incredible fashion - whittling sticks to make a frame to hold their pans over the fire. The Surama community fish and hunt along the river, and you may taste bush food like piranha stew (known as boily boily) or 'paca', a type of large bush rodent similar to the agouti. This depends what can be caught and hunted on the ground. You will also have the opportunity to assist in catching fish for dinner. Mostly you will be eating a lot of rice or pasta and chicken or mixed vegetables. It's fascinating to talk to the guides about living in this remote environment, so don't be shy about asking them questions. They can tell you information about the use of every tree, plant and vine found in this area - what animals call it home and any medicinal or practical uses the plant has. They have a deep respect for the forest, and it is interesting to learn about how they use it without running down its resources.

Today's paddle is circular, on the Kawan Paru creek trail, which means that we won't be packing up our equipment as we'll be returning to the same place. We'll be taking our canoes to discover the centuries old petroglyphs that exist on this section of the river, and there is also the possibility to swim in the clear water of the creek. After returning to base for lunch, we will have a short but steep hike up a hill in the forest, keeping our eyes peeled for wildlife and other interesting plants or birds.

Accommodation: Hammocks - Surama Reserve(or similar)

Simple Camping
Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 6 - Canoeing expedition on the Burro Burro River

As well as bird life, there are many mammals living in the forest and river, including giant river otters, tapir, capybara, various monkey species and black and spectacled caiman. When it comes to wildlife, nothing is ever guaranteed. However, our guides will be constantly alert to attempt to spot these large mammals. One night we will have the opportunity to do a night float down the river, an incredible trip under a sea of stars and the Milky Way. At night we can spot beasts such as spiders, snakes, frogs and caiman, and if you have a fear of creepy crawlies its worth being aware of the various spiders (including the tarantula), caterpillars, ants and snakes that are found even in the campsites. After each day's paddle we assist our guides in setting up our hammocks and nets, and we talk about the day's activities and plan for the next day around the fire.

Accommodation: Hammocks - Surama Reserve(or similar)

Simple Camping
Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 7 - Canoeing expedition on the Burro Burro river; final camp

Today we'll be paddling towards Rain Camp, a permanent camp that the community at Surama use to take research groups or other travellers. You will have the 'luxury' of wooden toilet structures covering the long-drops, and a thatched benab within which we sling our hammocks. This campsite has a small garden where the community have planted watermelons, chilli peppers, passionfruit trees and cassava. After dinner tonight we will continue to search for wildlife on the river, or do some fishing - it's totally up to you to decide.

Accommodation: Hammocks - Surama Reserve(or similar)

Simple Camping
Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 8 - Paddle to Karaha Landing; walk through the forest to Surama

After an early breakfast we begin the final leg of our journey, which ends at the Karaha Landing, just around 1 mile hike from Surama ecolodge. We will be paddling upstream again, and it's going to be challenging. We'll break for lunch on a sandbank, or simply tie our canoes to the bushes and take a break. On arrival at Karaha Landing we'll either hike back to the lodge, or if desired you can jump in the truck that will be taking the supplies and equipment back to the lodge. Look out for the red bananas that grow around the landing.

It'll be a welcome return to the lodge today, and our first hot shower in six days! The Surama cultural group, who are a well-renowned group within Guyana and frequently attend shows within Latin America, will keep you entertained with indigenous songs, dances and impressive costumes. Don't be shy if you want to join in! There will be a farewell dinner tonight with the crew who we've spent the last week with.

Accommodation: Surama Eco Lodge(or similar)

Simple Guesthouse
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 9 - Return to Georgetown by air

Today we fly back to Georgetown. Depending on numbers, we may be able to fly directly out of Surama, or we'll have a 3 hour drive south to Lethem on the Brazilian border. Our flight will take us directly over the jungle and rivers that we've just been paddling across, so we'll have a final birds-eye view of our journey en route before touching down in the city. If we've flown from Surama we may have the afternoon free to see a bit more of everyday life in Guyana's capital. Georgetown is a nice little city to wander around, highlights being the markets (in particular the Stabroek Market) and the beautiful and impressive wooden cathedral, one of the tallest wooden churches in the world at a height of 43.5 metres. Many areas of the city look quite run down but there is a lively community feel as you walk through the streets.

Accommodation: Cara Lodge Hotel(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast
Day 10 - Free day in Georgetown; optional Kaieteur Falls trip

Today has been left free to explore Georgetown or take an optional trip to Kaieteur and Orinduik Falls. The Kaieteur Falls, first seen by a European in the late 1800s, is situated in the heart of Guyana on the Potaro River, a tributary of the Essequibo. The water of Kaieteur, one of the world's natural wonders, flows over a sandstone conglomerate tableland into a deep gorge - a drop of 5 times the height of Niagara Falls. We may also be able to add the Orinduik Falls onto this excursion, but it depends on how many people in the plane are travelling on to Orinduik.These falls are where the Ireng River thunders over steps and terraces of solid jasper, a semi precious stone. With a backdrop of the rolling grass covered hills of the Pakaraima Mountains, this is truly one of the most beautiful locations in Guyana's hinterland. The trip departs from Ogle Airstrip in Georgetown and lasts approximately 7 to 8 hours with two hours spent on the ground at each waterfall.

Accommodation: Cara Lodge Hotel(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast
Day 11 - Trip ends in Georgetown

Our expedition ends this morning in Georgetown. If you are returning on a flight organised by Explore, you will have a long layover via Barbados. We have included a day pass to the Hilton hotel in order for you to use their services, including their baggage storage, beach, pool, showers, changing room and use of a beach towel. This also includes a light meal. It does not include access to a room, but depending on availability you may be able to organise this on arrival if you wish.

Meals Provided: Breakfast
Read about Product Manager Carmel's experiences of her recce trip to the Burro Burro River here, and find out why she loves Guyana.


Why book this trip

This trip is an opportunity to see a side of Guyana that no other tourists see, from the seat of a dugout canoe. Wild camping in hammocks and attempting to fish for a piranha supper, this will get you completely off the beaten track in the jungle of the Guianan Shield.

What's included?

Included meals
  • Breakfast: 10
  • Lunch: 7
  • Dinner: 7
  • Bus
  • Boat
  • Flight
  • Minibus
Trip staff
  • Explore Tour Leader
  • Driver(s)
  • Expedition Crew
  • 5 nights simple camping
  • 2 nights simple guesthouse
  • 3 nights standard hotel
Award Winning Explore Leaders
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Price Guarantee Promise
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Airport Transfers
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FairFX currency card
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Trip information

Country information



The climate is warm and humid; temperatures average about 27° C (81° F). Even at night, the temperature rarely drops below 24° C (75° F). At midday during the dry seasons the temperature may reach 36° C (96° F) in the shade. The constant trade winds bring some cooling relief. Short dry season beginning of February to end April; long rainy season: May to August; long dry season: August to November; short rainy season: November to January.

Time difference to GMT



2 Pin Flat





Budgeting and packing

Optional activities

The following excursions and/or activities are usually available and may be arranged locally. Estimated costs are provided below for guidance only, are on a per person basis unless shown otherwise, and may depend on the number of participants. Prices quoted are correct as of the date these tour notes were originally issued but may change at any time due to currency fluctuations. Please note: These activities are booked and paid for direct with the supplier and do not form part of your Explore holiday contract.

Kaieteur and Orinduik Falls - US$290; Kaiteur Falls US$240 (dependent on numbers)
Please note: Flights to Kaieteur and Orinduik Falls are operated on chartered aircraft and all flights have a minimum passenger restriction. Therefore, any booking to Kaieteur and Orinduik Falls is subject to a minimum of 8 passengers being available to travel. In most cases the local operator is able to fill flights, especially if scheduled for a weekend. However, in the rare case that they cannot meet the required numbers they may offer you the option of rescheduling the trip to another day during your stay, a full refund for that portion of the trip, or an alternative trip. In some cases the local operator can offer a trip to Kaieteur Falls as an alternative, which means you see the major falls of Kaieteur, but miss Orinduik. The Kaieteur and Orinduik excursion can be paid for by credit card for a small admin fee.


You will need loose fitting, comfortable clothes for hot, humid conditions. Sunhat, sunglasses, long trousers and long sleeved shirts are essential for protection from the sun. Trousers that zip off into shorts are perfect for the canoeing. We recommend around five tshirts, long-sleeves preferable; 3 to wear rotating, 1 to put on in the evenings, 1 spare. Remember that the luggage allowance on your internal flights is only 9kg, so don't pack too much. Extra clothing or items will be kept in Georgetown.


River shoes are essential. Additionally, you should bring comfortable walking bootshoes with good ankle support and lightweight shoes or sandals for wearing around camp.



Luggage: On tour

For the internal flight from Georgetown to the interior, you are only allowed 9kg of luggage. They are strict about this and if you exceed it you will be charged a fine. This means that from days 2-9 of the trip you will need a small bag for your belongings. We recommend that you pack really light for the canoeing section, and leave your main piece of luggage in Georgetown with any excess travel or sightseeing clothes.
Please note that a small handbag can be taken as part of your 'bodyweight' (they weigh each person as well as the bags). This is a good opportunity to carry cameras, money etc as part of your own weight rather than in the 9kg luggage weight.

In terms of luggage, we recommend the following:
One main piece of luggage to be left in Georgetown
A smaller day pack to take into the interior. This will be transported on the motorised canoe from camp to camp.
A dry bag for carrying on your own canoe, with your camera, suncream and anything else that you need for the day's canoeing.


Headtorch with spare batteries, water bottle, high factor sunscreen, insect repellent, binoculars and large plastic bags or dry bags to keep personal equipment dry. The crew will boil water to sterilise it, but you may wish to bring your own sterilisation tablets. Mosquito nets are provided wherever necessary including for hammocks during camping. A lightweight raincoat, or even better a plastic cape or poncho, is also essential. Please ensure you have enough personal prescription medicine for the duration of the tour, and bring a first aid kit with the essentials: anti-histamines, bite cream, paracetamol, plasters, Imodium, antiseptic wipes/cream etc. A nailbrush is a great addition. In addition, you may also wish to bring a game, book or pack of cards with you for the evenings in camp. There will be no mobile reception at all throughout your canoeing trip, and we have a SAT phone for emergencies.


Explore leader
At your discretion you might also consider tipping your Tour Leader in appreciation of the efficiency and service you receive.
Local crew
Although entirely voluntary, tipping is a recognised part of life in this region of the world. Some local staff will look to members of the group for personal recognition of particular services provided. In order to make things easier for you, the Tour Leader may organise a group's tips kitty and if this is the case, they will account for it throughout the tour. Accordingly you should allow US$50 for tipping.
Country Information


Food and drink

The costs for meals may vary depending upon location, type of restaurant and number of courses eaten and so the prices given are an average guide. Local restaurants located off the beaten track may be less expensive, whereas an upmarket restaurant located in the centre of a major city may charge more.

Lunch price
Dinner price
Beer price
Water price
Foreign Exchange
Local currency
Guyanese Dollar.
Recommended Currency For Exchange
Carry all your funds in US cash NOT Sterling or Travellers Cheques which are more difficult to exchange. We recommend to take a minimum of US$400-$500 of your total spending money in cash, in mixed denominations. Notes should be in good condition otherwise they might be difficult to exchange.
Where To Exchange
Once outside Georgetown there is no opportunity to exchange money. There will be little time to exchange money in Georgetown and it is suggested you change money at the hotel.
ATM Availability
Available in Major towns. Always have some cash as back-up as they are not always reliable.
Credit Card Acceptance
Credit cards are only accepted in the cities. Some places may charge a 5% fee.
Travellers Cheques
Travellers Cheques can be awkward or expensive to change

Transport, Accommodation & Meals

Transport Information

Bus, Boat, Flight, Minibus

Essential Information

FCO Advice

We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice click here.

For more information from Explore about travel advice, click here

Under 18 immigration guidance

Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.

Price Guarantee

Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions

Visa and Passport Information

Guyana: No visa required in Guyana for citizens of UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and USA. Valid passport required. All other passport holders please refer to the relevant embassy for entry requirements.

USA: (including those in transit) Citizens of the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and passport holders from several EU countries can enter the United States without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) - where you apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation), which applies if you enter the country by sea or by air. This must be done on line - no later than 72 hours prior to travel. Travellers who have not registered before their trip are likely be refused boarding.

You must have an electronic passport with a digital chip containing biometric information about the passport owner. UK passports which are biometric feature a small gold symbol (camera) at the bottom of the front cover.

If you have visited Iraq, Syria, Iran or Sudan since 2011 or are dual nationals of these countries, you cannot travel with an ESTA and instead you will need to apply for a visa from the nearest US Embassy or Consulate. If you are unable to provide a valid visa before boarding flights to the US, or entering via another method, you may not be permitted to travel.

Please note for your ESTA application you will be required to supply Point of Contact information. Explore' s USA contact information will be listed on your final documentation which you will receive approximately 3-4 weeks before departure. If you are leaving for the USA before this, please call the Explore team to get this information.(Not necessary if in transit)

For further information please check out the US embassy website. Visa applications -

If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may consider applying through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.

Booking conditions

Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.


Find out more about Trip Transfer Terms and Conditions before you book.

Booking a land only package with Explore

Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information. 

You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.

Joining Tour Abroad

Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will now receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The transfers will be from the Explore designated airport or train station to the joining point of your tour, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.  

Free transfers are not available for Self-Guided, Polar, Tailormade or Tours for Churches customers.

If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.  

For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here


It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.

Flight information

Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.

Flight Information

You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.


Booking a flight inclusive package with Explore

We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.

On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.

Non refundable permits



Nothing compulsory however, we recommend typhoid, tetanus, infectious hepatitus and polio. Please consult your travel clinic for the latest advice on Malaria, Dengue and Zika Virus. Please take preventative measures to avoid mosquito bites - these include mosquito repellent as well as long trousers and long sleeve shirts to cover up when necessary. Please note many countries in Central America, South America and the Caribbean require a yellow fever vaccination certificates if travelling from infected areas. A detailed list of these countries can be found on the NaTHNaC website - Also on the NaTHNaC site there is a list of Countries (and specific areas within a country) which are at risk of infection and a vaccination is therefore recommended. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.

Dates, prices and booking

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