You need to be aware of the following before you go ahead and book an Explore tour. At the time of booking, whether by phone or online, you will be asked if you have read and understood these pages as well as the booking conditions.
Please take the time to read the detail through.
The maximum group size varies from tour to tour and can be anything from 10 to 24, depending on the type of tour, the transport and accommodation used and activities included. The number of travellers who travel on any given departure date depends on the popularity of the tour, but rarely drops below 6 or 7. Most average 12 to 14 plus the Tour Leader. A few trips are self guided non-group tours with no minimum or maximum group size.
Who travels on our tours?
Your travel companions could be from anywhere in the world and from any background or walk of life. As we only offer English-speaking tours, the majority of them are likely to be from the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada or the US. One thing is certain – you will be travelling with some well-travelled, interesting and like-minded people who are bound to share your love for travel and desire to explore a different part of the world.
Age limits for adult tours
The minimum age on all non family tours is normally 14 years and persons under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or adult. The maximum age is usually 79, at the time of travel, unless travelling with a companion under the maximum age. However most our travellers are aged between 25 and 55.
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.
Explore Tour Leaders
Explore Adventures are led by a Tour Leader who will accompany you throughout. 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. It may well be your Tour Leader who meets you at the airport on arrival, and he/she will provide you with a comprehensive briefing at the start of the tour. The ultimate aim for any Tour Leader is to ensure that all members of the group are well looked after for the duration of the tour and return home having had a wonderful holiday with some fantastic memories. Some Explore leaders are UK based and some are from overseas. A few tours are accompanied by local representatives only. Where this is the case, it is outlined clearly in the individual Trip Notes. Those that accompany our tours are carefully selected and have undergone thorough training in the UK and/or overseas – generally accepted to be some of the best in the industry. They are chosen for their travel experience, their people skills and usually for their experience in working with groups.
Explore itineraries offer a wide variety of experiences and activities which allow those who travel on them to really get to know the area and to get beyond the normal tourist facade. Whilst we tend to include the better known sights, a number of excursions and activities are usually left optional. This gives everyone enough flexibility to do their own thing. We also build free time for personal exploration into all our itineraries – this is an important part of any Explore tour.
Because the vast majority of our tours are journeys, most include a number of different night-stop locations. Wherever possible we try to include accommodation which best reflects the local area in which we are travelling. It could be The Icehotel in Lapland, Berber village houses in Morocco, a Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum in Jordan or a safari lodge in Botswana.
Where we use hotels, we tend to aim for mid-range properties, with the key ingredients being cleanliness, safety, comfort and location. The type of room provided and the level of facilities may well vary from place to place.In some locations where there is no alternative we may use simple hotels with basic and sometimes unreliable amenities, but these are the exception not the norm.
A number of our tours include camping. Where this is the case, we provide all the necessary camping equipment which usually includes 2 person tents. You are likely to need your own sleeping mats and sleeping bags for camping trips. You will not have to cook. Many tours are fully supported, on others you may be asked to get involved in some of the camp chores. See individual tour Trip Notes for details.
All our accommodation is given a rating in the individual tour Trip Notes, to indicate the standards and facilities that can be expected for each night-stop.
Rooming for adult tours
Most tours are based on customers sharing twin-bedded rooms. If you book as an individual, you will be roomed 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 at some of the night-stops but for logistical reasons not all. Individual Trip Notes clarify this. If, for whatever reason, we are unable to provide a single room as outlined in the Trip Notes, we will refund a proportion of the supplement paid to us for the Single Room Option.
Rooming for Family Adventures
Your family will normally be accommodated in twin, double or single rooms on most tours. If you are a family of 2, 4 or 6 then the relevant number of twin rooms will be provided wherever possible, and for families of 3, 5 or 7 the relevant number of twin and single rooms will be provided wherever possible. Sometimes we are able to provide triple rooms on request, or twin/double rooms with an extra bed, though we cannot always guarantee these. We leave it up to you to decide who shares with who within your family group. We’ll do our very best to give you rooms next door to each other, or failing that nearby, but we can’t promise this. In exceptional cases, where accommodation is limited (on some boat based tours for example), one or more of you may need to share with members of another family – if this is the case it will be outlined clearly in the tour Trip Notes. On some tours a night or two may be spent in communal sleeping areas, for example a village house or a hacienda in Cuba. Please notify us if you would like a triple room or if you have any other preferences when booking, and will do our best to accommodate your request, however, we can’t always guarantee this.
Most trips include breakfasts, but other meals are often not included, allowing you to sample the cuisine in local restaurants, and also to choose what, where and how much to eat. We thus try to keep all-inclusive accommodation to a minimum. Where there is no option, such as whilst camping, on safari or on some boat based tours, meals tend to be included. Whilst we endeavour to cater for customers with special dietary requirements we do ask people to have realistic expectations. In some countries there is a limited choice of food available and it may be difficult to cater for all special meal requirements. Please check the position before booking if you have such requirements.
The variety of transport used is another important aspect of any Explore Family Adventure. We use everything from buses, boats and trains to camels and donkeys. You may even find all these on one tour!
Life on tour
Everyone that travels with Explore has slightly different expectations when they arrive on tour. A vital part of the Tour Leader’s role is to try to understand individual expectations, and to run the tour in such a way that everyone gets the most out of their holiday.
Group adventure tours do have to stick to some sort of schedule, to ensure that they work logistically and everyone needs to be prompt and agree to certain timings.
However, our Tour Leaders are asked to be as flexible as possible within the confines of the itinerary. They may well arrange a number of group meals for those that would like to eat with their travel companions. Invariably some are keen on this and others would rather do their own thing. They may offer some optional excursions that are not mentioned on the Tour Trip Notes (a one-off festival visit for example or a visit to a local house to try on saris). They will endeavour to ensure that everyone has as much (or as little) free time during the tour as they wish. In order to keep the tour running effectively, Tour Leaders tend to give regular briefings to talk about what is happening in the next few days, to brief people on timings and what they need to bring for excursions, sightseeing and activities. Often this will be reiterated on notices put up in hotel receptions or other appropriate places. They will also brief the group on safety and general health issues.
Valid travel insurance is mandatory for all Explore customers. 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 specifically shows you as the named policyholder and that the cover is valid for the period of travel. It must also indicate that you have cover for at least Medical Expenses and Emergency Repatriation in event of illness or injury. Please ensure that a 24 hour contact telephone number for your Insurance Company is stated 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 your Explore trip unless you purchase a suitable Insurance Policy. If you have purchased Explore Insurance you should carry the policy document with you, which outlines the conditions of the policy, together with a copy of your Confirmation Invoice which is your proof of purchase of insurance. For details of Explore’s insurance policy, specially tailored to the needs of the adventure traveller.
Pre-exisiting medical conditions
If you, others you are travelling with or anyone else upon whom travel depends (including anyone whose illness or death is likely to result in your wishing to cancel or curtail your tour) have a pre-existing medical condition you must inform your travel insurance company of this when you purchase your policy and ensure that you receive written confirmation from them that the condition is covered. Please ensure you take this written confirmation with you on tour in addition to the insurance policy otherwise you may not have appropriate cover. We may ask you for written proof that you are fully covered for your pre-existing medical condition.
Fitness and ability to participate
All Explore Adventures require some level of active participation from group members, whether 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 if it is felt that any customer is either not sufficiently fit, healthy or able to participate in or complete a tour without the health or safety of the customer or any other person (including other group members) being endangered 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 which may affect your tour arrangements in any way, you must provide us with full details at the time of booking – please see booking conditions.
High Altitude – A number of our tours reach elevations of 2500 metres or more. Normally the body acclimatises well to extended periods above this altitude and we allow time on our tours for acclimatisation. No one can really predict who is at risk from altitude sickness and who will not be affected by it.
However if you have a heart or respiratory problem you should definitely not risk extended travel or trekking at high altitude.
Proof of fitness
In certain circumstances and on certain (more strenuous) tours, we may require you to provide proof of medical fitness prior to travel.
Will my tour operate?
Like most tour operators who run small group holidays with fixed departure dates, Explore reserves the right to cancel if a departure is not commercially viable (except for “Guaranteed Departures” – see below). This would normally be if there are fewer than 6 or 7 customers booked. However this is dependent on the cost structure of the specific tour and can vary considerably. We continually monitor booking levels and wherever possible consolidate departures way in advance – often before anyone has booked. This minimises the number of customers we have to cancel off tours. Company policy is to only publish dates which we believe will sell and operate. We also have a policy of only cancelling when absolutely necessary. This means that we cancel a far smaller proportion of the tours shown in our brochures than most other similar operators. We aim not to cancel any tour within 8 weeks of departure. This gives customers ample opportunity to consider alternative tours or dates. Please note, we do not guarantee any minimum number of participants for a tour which we may decide to operate with less than the normal minimum.
On our website you can find a whole section of “Guaranteed Departures” under the tour “Prices and Dates” tab. On these tours we guarantee that the advertised "Land Only" itinerary of designated “Guaranteed Departures” will not be cancelled or significantly changed unless we are forced to do so by "force majeure" as defined in our booking conditions. This means there is no minimum group size for these departures and we will not cancel for any commercial reason. 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.
Although we contract flight and overseas transport and accommodation services well in advance of our brochures being published, changes can and do occur. It is in the nature of the tours that we operate that some elements may change from those published, whether as a result of inclement weather, a change in the local political situation or in flight or train schedules or other circumstances beyond our control. We aim to keep customers as well informed as possible when significant changes occur, but we do ask that all those travelling have a degree of flexibility once the tour is under way – see ‘warning’ below.
Adventure travel warning!
Travel to far-flung corners of the earth involves lifestyles and conditions that are often very different from our own. You must come prepared to cope with unusual situations, local inadequacies and unpredictable events as and when they occur. Even with meticulous planning things can go wrong – so having a healthy sense of humour is a real bonus!
Adventure holidays are definitely not suitable for people who expect to be pampered or demand everything to go exactly as planned. For your own holiday enjoyment and in the interest of your fellow travellers, you must understand this. 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-of-bounds’ for tourists. Most crime is opportunistic. Using your common sense will certainly lessen many of the risks. In recent years, anti-government, nationalist and terrorist movements / groups have also tended to multiply, so that nowadays insurrections and random acts of terrorism make shocking and distressing headline news. Unfortunately, the nature of modern terrorism means no destination can be guaranteed to be safe. We constantly monitor the political situation in the regions we visit and would have no hesitation in re-routing or cancelling a trip if we felt there was the need. If you are concerned about a destination or your safety 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 AITO Trust Ltd.
We hold an Air Travel Organiser's Licence issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (ATOL number 2595). When you buy an ATOL protected air inclusive holiday* from us you will receive a confirmation invoice from us confirming your arrangements and your protection under our ATOL. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the CAA will ensure that you are not left stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any money you have paid to us for an advance booking. For further information, visit the ATOL website at www.atol.org.uk
Where you book a “land only” tour with us, the arrangements we have contracted to provide will be protected by AITO Trust Ltd providing they were purchased in the UK or direct from Explore if purchased outside the UK. This means your money will be refunded or you will be returned to the departure point of your contracted tour arrangements if already abroad in the unlikely event of our being unable to provide your tour due to our insolvency.
*The air inclusive holidays we arrange are ATOL protected providing either the person who pays for the booking is present in the UK when the booking is made or the first leg of any flight or flights we arrange for you commences in the UK.
Land only tours
Booking on a Land Only basis allows you to make your own way to the tour joining point.
If you are booking ‘Land Only’ we strongly recommend that you only purchase fully flexible connecting travel which can be cancelled or changed without charge. In the event of a change to your itinerary or any other tour arrangements for whatever reason, all cancellation and amendment charges for arrangements not booked by Explore will be your sole responsibility.
Although Explore are unable to assign specific flight or train seats, it is possible to put special requests through to the majority of airlines and train operators. However, these are just requests. If you have specific requirements, please let us know at the time of booking. Please be aware that no guarantees can be made that your request will be actioned and failure to do so will not be a breach of contract on our part. This may sometimes mean your allocated seats are not together with other members of your party. It is therefore highly recommended that you check in for your flight/train as early as possible. If you require specific seats due to a disability / reduced mobility or a medical condition, please make this clear at the time of booking. Subject to safety requirements and availability, EU airlines are required to make all reasonable efforts to arrange seating to meet the requirements of individuals with a disability or reduced mobility and to provide other specified assistance. You may be required to provide written confirmation of your disability / reduced mobility / medical condition and fitness to travel from your doctor.
In flight meals
Although meals are still provided on most international flights, you should be aware that there is a trend towards them not being included on shorter flights, and particularly those within Europe. On many routes with connections within Europe, a meal will be provided on the inter-continental sector, but not on the sector between the UK and the connecting European airport. We cannot therefore guarantee that a meal will be provided on all flights. If you have a special dietary requirement, please let us know at the time of booking. We will send an automated request through to the airline. Please be aware that in most cases airlines do not confirm individual meal requests, so it is worth double checking that the meal has been ordered at check-in.
Flight schedule changes
When you book a flight inclusive tour with Explore, your holiday confirmation will contain provisional flight details, correct at the time of issue. The timings or even the flight numbers or routing could vary several times before departure. Explore will monitor these changes and inform you as soon as possible if there is a change which affects your departure or arrival time by more than 6 hours, moves the tour to a different day or significantly affects the tour itinerary. Smaller changes will not be communicated prior to the final invoice being sent 9 to 10 weeks before departure. Your final invoice will contain the most up to date flight details. Subsequent to it being sent, you will be informed of any further changes. Bearing this in mind, it is advisable to defer booking any connecting travel to the airport or arrangements such as car parking or overnight hotels until you have received the final invoice. Where Explore are arranging domestic regional flights, these will be automatically rebooked to connect with your international flights. Again we would only inform you of this prior to the final invoice being sent if there is a change as described above.
We strongly recommend that you do not purchase non-flexible, non refundable connecting rail, air or bus tickets, as they usually incur cancellation / penalty charges in the event of a change to the departure time or date.
In accordance with EU Directive (EC) No 2111/2005 Article 9, we are required to bring to your attention
the existence of a “Community list” which contains details of air carriers which are subject to an operating ban within the EU. The Community list is available for inspection at http://ec.europa.eu/transport/air-ban/list_en.htm. In accordance with EU Regulations we are required to advise you of the actual carrier(s) (or, if the actual carrier(s) is not known, the likely carrier(s)) that will operate your flight(s) at the time of booking. Where we are only able to inform you of the likely carrier(s) at the time of booking, we shall inform you of the identity of the actual carrier(s) as soon as we become aware of this. Any change to the operating carrier(s) after your booking has been confirmed will be notified to you as soon as possible. If the carrier with whom you have a confirmed reservation becomes subject to an operating ban as above as a result of which we/the carrier are unable to offer you a suitable alternative the provisions of our booking conditions – “If we change your tour” will apply.
Visa & Passport Information
It is your own responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with at least six months validity from the date of return to your country of residence and any visas and vaccination certificates necessary to enter or transit any countries involved in the journey or tour. Visa requirements are indicated in individual Trip Notes, though this information may be subject to change. If required, visas can be obtained through a visa service such as VisaHQ, or from the relevant embassy / consulate. They normally require passport(s) and completed application forms 6 weeks prior to departure date. You should also allow for postage from/to your mailing address. Fees may be charged for visas issued through the a visa service, direct by relevant embassy / consulate or on arrival.
Explore have partnered with VisaHQ who specialize in visa processing. To check visa requirements, download visa application forms, and apply for visas online go to http://exploreworldwide.visaheadquarters.com/visas.php . VisaHQ also offer a full range of Passport Services. Passport renewals, second passports, replacement passports can all be obtained via VisaHQ.
Easy to use – simply select the country you are visiting and indicate your nationality on the website, and it will automatically work out which visas you will need for your trip.
Peace of mind – VisaHQ can take all of the hassle out of obtaining visas for your trip, their experts can answer your questions, while you track the progress of your visa online using your unique tracking reference.
For more information go to http://exploreworldwide.visaheadquarters.com/visas.php
Lone parents travelling with children
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact the consulate of your destination country (this information can be found on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website www.fco.gov.uk .
Visa requirements should be verified with the relevant Embassy / Consulate.
General Note: Some countries refuse admission to travellers not meeting their accepted standards of dress/appearance (even if holding a visa). Entry may be refused to certain countries if passport bears stamps/visas (valid or expired) for Israel. All visa and vaccination information compiled July 2010. This information is believed correct to the best of our knowledge and belief. However, errors may occasionally occur and requirements / recommendations may change. It is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct, current information in good time before departure and act on this.
Visa and Health Requirements
When tours visit remote areas or developing countries we normally recommend immunisation against typhoid, tetanus, polio and hepatitis A. Parts of East Africa and South America ask for a Certificate of Vaccination against Yellow Fever for entry. Malarial prophylaxis should be taken in many areas. A summary of requirements is listed here. For more information on the subject of vaccinations and health protection, check your individual Trip Notes or consult your booking agent. Further information can be found at www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk. For country specific advice contact www.nathnac.org/travel – an excellent source of information on health risks. Ask your medical practitioner for the latest information and allow time to obtain the appropriate vaccinations.
We stress that the following information is intended for quick reference only.
Y = YES, visa required.
R = Immunisation/protection normally recommended.
R* = Protection recommended for travel to some areas – please check with your healthcare provider.
F = Valid International Certificate of Vaccination against Yellow Fever required only if coming from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission.
M = Meningitis. May be recommended depending on area visited and time of year.
D = Diphtheria. Immunisation recommended in some circumstances, seek medical advice.
Cholera vaccinations are not officially required by any country. However, in practice, a cholera vaccination certificate may be asked for by border officials when arriving from or into an infected area, especially at land borders. See Trip Notes for details. The UK Department of Health recommends immunisation against tetanus and polio for all countries.
Vaccinations: Please note that some inoculation programmes require two injections 4 weeks apart, so leave plenty of time to ensure you have the right protection. Health requirements and recommendations may change and you must check the up to date position in good time before departure.
For holidays in the EU / EEA you should obtain an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) prior to departure from the Department of Health which is available by telephone on 0870 1555455 or via its website www.dh.gov.uk. An EHIC is not, however, a substitute for appropriate travel insurance.
Please check vaccination requirements with a GP or Vaccination Centre at least two months before tavelling.
Visa & Vaccination Requirements Chart for Family Adventures
(1) Visa may also be obtained on arrival. (2) Visa not required if holding tourist card issued by Explore. (3) Visa fee waived if arriving & departing with group (passport details needed min 10 days in advance) otherwise visa issued on arrival. (4) Valid International Certificate of Vaccination against Yellow Fever required if arriving after transiting infected/endemic area or if visiting Puerto Maldonado – Tour Ref. FPSA and FPTA. (5) For the Azores and Madeira only. (6) Passport must have 2 clear blank pages for entry stamp. (7) Visitors to Spain must now provide Explore with Advance Passenger Information (API) in order to be allowed boarding point of origin. API requires DOB, Nationality and Passport number. Please have these details to hand when booking. (8) Visas not required provided entering by sea/air on a carrier participating in the Visa Waiver Program. From Jan 12th 2009 onwards, it will be compulsory for all travellers to the US to provide their personal details online using the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) well in advance of travel (and not less than 72hrs prior). Visit: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/. (9) Visa not required if holding Tourist Card issued by authorised airlines.
Visa & Vaccination Requirements Chart for Adult Tours