Louisiana Mardi Gras Festival Tour
Get ready for a colourful celebration: it’s time for Mardi Gras down South! Southwest Louisiana knows how to party, and this is the perfect excuse to experience the carnival atmosphere of one of the largest festivals on earth. You’ll tour smaller towns to learn the traditions of Mardi Gras, and finish in New Orleans for a knock-out party on Fat Tuesday. This 9-day adventure covers the highlights of Louisiana food, culture and hospitality with a focus on the Mardi Gras festival, so become part of a krewe, join in the traditional bead throw, dress in yellow, green and purple and experience how fun Mardi Gras can be in the US of A.
Finish: New Orleans
Ages: Over 15
Theme: Explorer, Festivals and Events
Accommodation: Hotel (8 nights)
Destination: New Orleans
Welcome to southern USA! Arrive in Houston, Texas and attend the welcome meeting at 6 pm to meet your group leader and fellow travellers. Depending on your time of arrival, check out the Museum District, head to Montrose Street for a range of eateries and specialty stores, or take a stroll in one of the city parks, like Discovery Green or Buffalo Bayou.
Head out of Texas and into Louisiana on a 2-hour drive to Lake Charles. Just outside the city is the 650 square metre (7000 square foot) Flock of Five Gift and Art Emporium, where you can purchase unique hand-crafted wares from local artisans. Art, jewellery, jams, coffee, collectibles, soaps… You name it, they’ve probably got it. In the afternoon, take a visit to the city’s Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu, which houses the largest Mardi Gras costume display in the world. You’ll learn about the history of the festival, costume design, the marvel of Twelfth Night and the Royal Gala. The exhibition also showcases a complete parade display, including a float you can climb aboard! Then, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in decorating your own ‘king cake’ – a dessert made in the carnival colours of green, yellow and purple. While talking about the cake’s tradition, enjoy a coffee and take a slice, keeping your eye out for the prized baby figurine inside. In the evening, head to state-of-the-art Crying Eagle Brewery for a tour and flight tasting. The brewery features a custom built 30-barrel brewhouse offering their popular beers and some taproom-exclusive brews. To see out the evening, head to the Lake Charles lakefront and find a vantage point to watch the lighted boat parade.
Experience Louisiana nature and wildlife on a morning tour of the Creole Nature Trail. This is a guided adventure on one of few designated roads in the USA that journeys into untamed wilderness. Right from the vehicle you could see alligators, waterfowl and other marsh wildlife in their natural habitat. Along the way, there will also be opportunities to go on the trail by foot. Included in your tour is a down-home seafood lunch, where you’ll eat local gumbo and Louisiana seafood. Tuck into the delicious food with your hands – the true Louisiana way. Enjoy a relaxing afternoon before preparing for Lake Charles’ Mardi Gras celebrations with a visit to pick up some gear at the Party Time Store – beads, tutus and even tiaras (if that takes your fancy). Tonight, it’s time to put on your colourful outfits and ride a float through the centre of town, dancing the night away and throwing beads into the crowd.
Have you ever wondered where Tabasco comes from? Time to take a visit to Avery Island: the condiment’s home. Complete a self-guided tour of the Tabasco factory, grab yourself a bite of lunch and learn how to make your own Bloody Mary. Then, head to Lafayette on an easy 1-hour drive. Tonight, you’ll have the chance to watch the Mardi Gras festivities off the float and from the crowd, with a ‘Krewe of Bonaparte’ VIP experience for the parade. Have preferential seating and sample authentic festival food and drink, and this time, catch the beads from the floats instead of throwing them!
Learn more about the culture of Mardi Gras today with a Lafayette local, taking a class to make your own mask and capuchon (cone-shaped ceremonial hat). Head to Martin’s Accordions, where you’ll learn about the rich history of Cajun and Zydeco music and hold some of the traditional instruments, like the Cajun triangle, accordion and Zydeco Rubboard. To listen to some of these instruments in action, check out the Blue Moon Saloon later on for a foot-tapping night of live music.
Lundi Gras (or Fat Monday) has arrived. Head to Jefferson Parish, approximately a 2-hour drive from Lafayette. A Parish is Louisiana’s answer to what most other USA states call counties, and Jefferson is a parish that covers a thin strip of south-eastern Louisiana, including part of greater New Orleans. Travel to Kenner and take part in a traditional meeting of the royal courts of the krewes of Argus and Zulu. This gathering occurs each year the day before Mardi Gras and is a great way to get into the carnival spirit. The Lundi Gras festivities begin in Rivertown with a parade following the Mississippi River, ending up at a free party with live music, food and craft vendors. In the evening, head to Gretna on the south side of the Mississippi River for the night’s celebrations. Their Lundi Gras festival is free and open to the public with music and dancing.
The big day has is here! Time to gravitate to the centre of all the celebrations and enjoy Mardi Gras in Downtown New Orleans. Tonight is a spectacular culmination of all of your Mardi Gras celebrations of the week, and in New Orleans, you’ll feel the infectious atmosphere that is sure to impress even the most seasoned party animal. It’s Fat Tuesday, and it’s time to dance.
Don’t let the post Mardi Gras blues set in too quickly, because there’s so much to see and do in New Orleans. The Big Easy is an intersection of jazz and blues music, French architecture, rich history and delicious food. Perhaps book yourself on a river steamboat jazz dinner cruise or take a cemetery tour of the spookiest plots in Louisiana. One thing is for sure though, New Orleans is not complete without experiencing street side music all over the city. One such venue that offers the real deal is Preservation Hall – an unconventional concert hall serving up fine jazz and blues music from well-known professionals. It may be a long line out the front, but once you’re inside and sitting on a stack of cushions, you’ll lose track of time and appreciate how soothing and enjoyable music can be.
With no activities or accommodation planned for the day, The Big Easy is all yours to explore. New Orleans is a place where you could spend a number of days visiting and still not get bored. Perhaps check out an Urban Adventure tour to make the most of your time like the French Quarter Food Tour, where you will discover the range of flavours which make up New Orleans’ Creole and Cajun cuisine (see urbanadventures.com/destination/New-Orleans-tours).
- New Orleans Mardi Gras Parade
Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Houston Airport
4025 Interwood N Pkwy
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Phone: +1 2812273434
Best Western French Quarter Landmark Hotel
920 N Rampart Street
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
We recommend that you undertake regular aerobic exercise in the weeks before you travel, particularly if you are not in the habit of regular exercise. Walking, jogging, swimming or riding a bike are all good ways to increase your aerobic fitness, which will allow you to enjoy the trip to its fullest.
LAKE CHARLES MARDI GRAS MERCHANTS’ PARADE FLOAT RIDE
Please note, To take part in this activity all riders must have good physical mobility including; ability to climb stairs and ability to stand throughout parade (approx. 3 hours). Travellers must also sign a Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau waiver to ride the Mardi Gras Float.
A single supplement is available on this trip.
MINIMUM GROUP SIZE
This Trip require a minimum of 4 passengers to be Guaranteed
Your leader will provide basic information about the sights and cities you'll be visiting but please note that our leaders are not 'tour guides' in the traditional sense. They are adventure travel specialists and are there to organise your trip, arrange activities and help with questions or problems you may have while on your tour. Your leader will provide you with all the important information you need to embark on your own explorations.
They are also responsible for driving the van and navigating across the country. The allowable driving times for drivers is strictly controlled in North America. This ensures our drivers are well rested and are not over-tired from too many hours on the roads.
While your group will have a minivan for all included activities on the trip, please note that the services of the van and the driver may not be available for your use during free time, or after you have arrived for the day. If you need a special trip into town you may need to arrange transport or a taxi.
We endeavour to provide the services of an experienced leader however, situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
It's strictly forbidden for non-qualified rangers to present any information about some National Parks in North America, therefore we adopt a system (as requested by the park rangers) where our leader will encourage travellers to visit the information centres in the National Parks for details about the site.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY: While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
DRINKING SAFETY: Please note that in the US the legal drinking age is 21 and in some parts of Canada it is 19. When out drinking in bars please be responsible and take the same precautions you would at home. Don't accept drinks from strangers, and don't let your drink out of your sight. It is always a good idea to go out with a group and stick together.
Our vans in the USA are equipped with free WiFi however a fair use policy applies. It is limited to 5 users at one time, and is suitable for updating your Facebook status or sending an email home - not for streaming video or radio. Please be considerate of your use so that there is enough to go around. Most hotels have WiFi access although on occasion you may need to pay extra for it.
North American electrical outlets operate at a lower voltage than much of the rest of the world. This means that your devices may take longer to charge than you are used to, or may say that they are not charging, even though they are. You may also notice that some hotels have powerboards or multiple appliances plugged into one socket. Because of the lower voltage, this is not the safety issue that it may be in other parts of the world. You can also recharge batteries on the van, although obviously this will need to be shared between everyone. You will need to bring a 12 volt/cigarette lighter adapter to plug your USB charger into.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.
Entrance requirements to the USA have changed in recent years so please read the following instructions carefully, even if you have travelled to the USA before.
PLEASE NOTE: Also please note, all travellers from Visa Waiver Program countries must obtain an electronic travel authorization prior to their flight from the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) website: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov
Apply for ESTA no later than 72 HOURS (we recommend 1 week prior to travel) before departing for the United States. Real-time approvals will no longer be available and arriving at the airport without a previously approved ESTA will likely result in being denied boarding.
Many countries now operate under a visa waiver program (meaning a visa isn't required) however you still need to obtain an authorisation which confirms that you have been approved to travel. This authorisation must be obtained in advance of travel. See https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/tourism-visit/visa-waiver-program.html
Many citizens from Visa Waiver Program countries can travel to the USA without a visa for a 90 day stay, if they meet certain requirements. Travellers from all Visa Waiver Program countries must present a machine-readable, biometric passport (which meets US requirements) at the port of entry to enter without a visa, otherwise a US visa is required. You can get further information from the US Department of State website:
All ESTA registration applications or renewals require a US$14.00 fee paid by credit or debit card. You should apply for your visa waiver authorisation at least 1 week prior to travel to avoid any last minute delays. You will require your passport details and your address in the US (you can use the starting point hotel/hostel address).
Please note that if there is any discrepancy between the name on your ESTA, your passport, your tickets and even your frequent flyer membership, you may be detained at Immigration and subject to a secondary inspection which could take a few hours. If you have recently changed your name, please check that your details have been updated everywhere.
If you are from a country eligible for the visa waiver program but are a dual citizen of Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan, or if you have travelled to Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan or Yemen since 1 March 2011, you will no longer be eligible for the visa waiver program and will instead need to apply for a non-immigrant visa. Please see the Department of State website for more information: http://travel.state.gov//content/travel/en.html
Why we love it
Mardi Gras season is a celebration for everyone, and this tour is a perfect opportunity to experience the festival at its cultural heart.
Before celebrating on Fat Tuesday in New Orleans, learn about the traditions behind the celebration: the krewes, king cake, throwing of the beads and more.
By day, drive through the Creole Nature trails sighting marsh wildlife, and by night, dance on a parade float in Lake Charles.
Experience the heart of Cajun country in Lafayette, with good food, swamp adventures and warm Southern hospitality.
Even though Mardi Gras is the focus, you won’t miss out on other Louisiana hotspots! Eat down-home cuisine, experience traditional jazz and blues, and discover where the world-famous Tabasco sauce is made.
Is this trip right for you
Less time spent in a vehicle; more time to explore each destination. This trip has been carefully designed to give you the best experience of a region by reducing the number of one-night-only stops, giving you extra time in the places that matter.
You're in the Deep South of the USA, so expect a lot of (delicious) fried food and barbecue. Vegetarians may also have limited options, as a lot of southern cuisine is meat-based.
All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Medical prescriptions written outside of the US and Canada aren't accepted at pharmacies. Therefore, we recommend you bring along your personal medications in the necessary quantities for your trip.
DEHYDRATION & SUN PROTECTION:
The most likely medical incidents to occur on our trips are dehydration, over exposure to the sun, and twisted ankles from walking on uneven ground. While hiking please ensure you drink enough water to remain hydrated as some hikes don't have refill stations for your water bottles. The sun (especially in desert areas in the West) can be harsh, particularly in the warmer months. Ensure you apply adequate sun protection cream and wear a hat. Travelling with sunburn can be uncomfortable.
Food and dietary requirements
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
On our lodging tours we eat in local restaurants where passengers pay individually for each of their meals and drinks. Average hotel breakfasts cost from US$6-$12, lunches from US$8-$15 and dinners from US$13-$30; this does not include alcoholic beverages. Wine costs approximately US$5 per glass and beer US$4 per bottle.
Most group leaders will offer their tour members the choice to operate a ‘lunch only’ food kitty that has proven to be a popular alternative to three daily restaurant meals. Leaders will more fully explain this option and the whole group will have to agree to implement this system. Please make sure we are aware of any special meal requirements before travelling.
It can be difficult to exchange money while on the road so we suggest that you bring some cash in US dollars, or exchange/withdraw money at the airport when you arrive, or at least before you start the trip.
Your individual budget will depend on your personal plans. Think about how much you want to spend on souvenirs, shopping, entertainment, food, drinks, excursions and attractions that aren't included in your trip (eg. helicopter flights etc). Please bear in mind that North America has endless things to do and see. Not all possible optional activities are listed in our Trip Notes.
The cheapest and most convenient way to acquire money is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) which are plentiful throughout all cities and towns, and even at roadside stops. This allows you to draw funds from your personal account at a superior exchange rate. Bank fees for these withdrawals can be either a flat rate or a percentage of the amount withdrawn. Check with your bank for information on their international fees.
Don't forget your PIN and make sure you know the telephone number for cancelling your card if it's stolen. Keep this in a safe place. When using your debit card, check your receipts and keep them to compare against your statement when you get home.
Occasionally banks will also allow cash advances on your credit card, but it's not recommended to rely on this method only. We recommend that you carry some cash for situations when ATMs can't be accessed.
When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).
If you're happy with the service you receive, providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.
The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: We suggest 18% to 22% of your bill.
Bars: Recommended US$1 for each drink ordered to ensure you are served again.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$5-20 per day for local guides. Ask your leader for suggestions as to what is appropriate for a given activity.
Your Group Leader: You should also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. Your leader works long and hard for you. He or she may well become your friend during the trip but they do need to pay their bills. If the leader's performance meets or exceeds your expectation they will gladly accept a tip from you. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however you should plan to tip your leader US$7-10 per person per day.
Another charge not normally listed in North American costs is the state and federal taxes, keep this in mind when your bill comes out slightly higher than the original price listed.
Tipping in North America can be confusing. If you'd like some more detail about when and how much to tip, see http://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/tipping-guide-united-states/
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved.
The recommended amounts are listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however the local currency is needed in the countries you are visiting.
What to take
LUGGAGE RESTRICTIONS: All luggage is carried in trailers or inside the vehicle so please don't bring more than one medium sized bag, backpack or suitcase (20kg maximum) per person. Your suitcase/rucksack may get some rough handling, so make sure it's a tough one. A small daypack and camera may also be carried inside the vehicle.
As well as your underwear, toothbrush and other items you always need to pack for travel, below are some items that you specifically need for this trip. ESSENTIAL: - Reusable water bottle. We recommend at least a 1.5 litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. Tap water in the US and Canada is safe to drink and there are many places to fill up along the way, so please save plastic by bringing your own water bottle. - Sun protection - hat, sunscreen, sunglasses - Clothing you can layer. You may encounter a wide variety of temperatures en route due to altitude and unforeseen weather conditions - so be prepared! Make sure to pack a warm fleece and a waterproof jacket. We suggest you check the expected temperatures en route and bring clothing that you can layer. - Closed-in shoes. If you are planning on doing any hiking during your trip we highly recommend that you take a pair of comfortable, closed-in walking shoes. Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking through bush/grass-lands, and will also act as a barrier protection in rare cases against bites or stings from dangerous animals in this environment. RECOMMENDED: - Power adaptor - Insect repellent - Spare camera battery. You should have access to electricity to charge your battery most nights, but it is always a good idea to carry a spare. - Personal medical kit. Your guide will carry a large kit but we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes, anti-diarrhoeal, antibacterial gel, wet wipes, bandaids/plasters etc. OPTIONAL: - Travel pillow if you like to sleep during long drives - Reusable coffee cup such as a travel mug or KeepCup if you are a coffee drinker. Not only is it much better for the environment, but many places in the US and Canada also give a discount for bringing your own cup. - Ear plugs to guard against a snoring room-mate - A good book, a journal or an Ipod for the long drives. - Swimwear - Head torch
Climate and seasonal
The following national holidays are observed in the US, which can affect our itinerary as traffic can be extreme, and shops, restaurants and attractions can be closed:
- New Year's Day
- Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Washington's Birthday
- Memorial Day
- Independence Day
- Labor Day
- Columbus Day
- Veterans Day
- Thanksgiving Day
- Christmas Day
A couple of rules
Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden.
Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.
The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips.
By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund.
If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please contact our operations base on 1-800-786-8735 (toll free in the USA and Canada) or +1 707 523 1800 (office hours).
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
POLICE AND AMBULANCE
In case of an emergency, local authorities can be contacted by calling 911 – this is the toll free phone number for the police, fire department and the ambulance in the USA and Canada. In case of doubt, call the operator on 0.
BOOKING ENQUIRIES / ISSUES
For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at:
CRISES AND EMERGENCIES
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency please contact our local ground representative on the number below (remember to drop the +xx country code if you are calling from within the country):
Intrepid's local operator: +1 707 483 9460
Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers and staff are trained on these principles, and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel.
Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting:
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
Throughout the trip we request that our lodgings prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Essential Trip Information. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour.
A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
Please note that day-by-day meals are indicative only. You will receive the same number of meals, but they may not happen exactly on the days indicated. Your leader may change the days that meals are provided to best suit the needs of the group and the timing of the activities on your trip.
Hotel (8 nts)