Workshop and Expedition Booking Terms and Conditions
The booking conditions and general information set out below are designed to outline my obligations to you and your commitments to me as clearly as possible. Please read them carefully before booking. I want you to have an enjoyable tour and the avoidance of any misunderstanding is to our mutual advantage. Should you book a tour with me, the conditions set out below form the contract between us.
Many of my tours visit developing countries where travel is still an adventure and local conditions are often very different from those you are used to back home. You should be prepared to cope with unusual situations, local inadequacies and unpredictable events as and when they occur. In particular you should bear in mind that the standard of hygiene in many countries is poor and that ‘stomach upsets’ are, as a direct result, a hazard of travel in large areas of the world. As I only visit most hotels, lodges, restaurants etc. on a very infrequent basis I cannot monitor or effectively influence their standards (and often there is no realistic alternative accommodation in remote areas).
ABOUT MY TOURS
What the Price Includes:
Meals and Drinks: Included meals are outlined in the tour description.
What the Price Excludes: The tour price excludes all expenses incurred before arrival at the starting point of any tour and after arrival at the ending point of any tour, including international and/or internal airfares (and all taxes relating to these flights, included in the ticket cost or otherwise), additional accommodation costs, airport transfer costs (unless included), travel insurance, passport charges, vaccination charges, visa charges (including visas obtained on arrival) and excess baggage charges.
The tour price also excludes drinks other than those provided, à la carte dishes on those occasions where the included meal is fixed-menu, snacks, laundry, telephone calls, private excursions, excess baggage charges during the tour and anything else of a purely personal nature, including taxes, service charges and tips relating to such items. In addition, should you decide not to accompany the group for any reason, you are responsible for the extra cost of any accommodation or meals while the rest of the group are elsewhere. On a very few of my tours there are additional exclusions and these are clearly specified at the end of the tour description.
Tips for guides and drivers are not included in the tour price. As these amounts vary from country to country and from operator to operator, please contact me to find out the expectations for tipping on your particular tour, prior to the tour departure.
Accommodation: As a general rule I use comfortable hotels, motels, guesthouses and lodges of a medium, good or very good standard, with rooms with en-suite bathrooms, wherever possible. In locations where such accommodations are unavailable I must use simpler accommodations, although wherever I can I choose those hotels, guesthouses or lodges with great locations, friendly staff, good food or other features that compensate for the simplicity of the establishment! Where any of the accommodation to be used clearly falls below the normal standard of accommodation described above (i.e. medium to very good quality) then such exceptions are specified in the tour description. In a minority of locations overall, usually in developing countries, I have no choice but to use basic or even very basic accommodations.
For my safaris in Africa, these are often tented for the most part but the tents are fully insect-proof, are enclosed and thick mattresses for sleeping are provided.
In the event that the accommodation has to be unexpectedly downgraded for any part of the tour I shall give you an appropriate refund (equivalent to the difference in price of the accommodation concerned). Please bear in mind that in many developing countries standards of maintenance are poor and this can result in unpredictable hot water supplies and other shortcomings such as faulty showers, toilets or lighting, and missing bath plugs or toilet paper.
Sharing Rooms: If you are a couple travelling together then please indicate on your booking form whether you prefer a double-bedded room (i.e. one large bed) or a twin-bedded room (i.e. two smaller beds), by indicating ‘Double’ or ‘Twin’ as appropriate. There is not always a choice but I will try to match preferences where I can.
Over half of those travelling with me are alone and some people in this situation prefer to share a room with another party member of the same sex for the sake of company or economy. If you are travelling alone and would prefer to share a twin-bedded room then please indicate this on the booking form by indicating ‘Twin’ in the question about accommodation.
Important: Bookings from those electing to share are only accepted on the condition that, should no room-mate be available, you will accept single accommodation and pay the appropriate single accommodation supplement.
Priority in allocation of room-mates is strictly based on the order in which bookings are received (except, of course, where friends who book separately but simultaneously both indicate on their booking forms that they wish to share with each other). Naturally, the earlier you book the higher the chance of being able to share, although there are occasions when even those who book far ahead fail to find a room-mate. In particular, few ladies opt to share. (Smokers should kindly note that smoking is not allowed in the room if you are sharing with a non-smoker, which is much the most likely scenario as less than 5% of my group members smoke.)
Single Rooms: Many hotels and lodges now charge a flat room rate for their twin-bedded or double-bedded rooms, regardless of whether one person or two people occupy them. The inevitable consequence is costly supplements for single occupancy. Where rooms intended for single-occupancy exist, the standard and location of such rooms may not be as good as that of twin or double rooms.
Please note that I cannot give an absolute guarantee that single accommodation will always be provided for those requesting it, but I can say that it is a rare event that people have to share unexpectedly. When unexpected sharing has to occur, the lack of availability at a particular hotel or lodge is usually not notified to me in advance and is only discovered on arrival. At some locations, usually remote lodges, single rooms are not available at any time, or only provided in return for a huge supplement: any such instances are mentioned in the tour description. If a single room is not available for you at any location where it was expected and paid for I will make an appropriate refund after the end of the tour. Please note that the extra cost per night of single accommodation often varies widely over the course of a tour (remote lodges can sometimes be more expensive than first class city hotels, while small, basic hotels cost far less), so any refund will reflect these variations in costs.
While I will do my utmost to secure single accommodation for those requesting it, bookings are only accepted on the understanding that you will consent to share in the event of an unexpected lack of single accommodation at any location (I want to stress that this is generally a rare event, but as it can happen you must be prepared for the possibility, however remote).
Surface Transport: I use small coaches or minibuses/passenger vans during my tours wherever possible, as these provide much better access to important areas. Occasionally these smaller vehicles are unavailable and so a large coach is the only viable option. Where necessary I use cars or 4-wheel-drive vehicles. Please bear in mind that in many developing countries vehicles are frequently not maintained to a high standard and the level of comfort is often well below what you are used to back home.
Flight Arrangements: My tours usually include surface arrangements only or internal flights as part of the surface itinerary. My clients must make their own way to the tour departure point by international flights.
Joining/Leaving Tours: All participants need to ensure that they reach the starting point for the tour in good time. I will notify you in good time where the joining point will be, and at what time of day.
Kindly note that, in the event your own arrival flight is rescheduled or delayed so that you are unable to arrive by the scheduled tour joining time, it is not possible for me to delay the rest of the group for long, and any costs incurred in catching up with the group would be your own responsibility. Consequently I would advise you to arrange a flight that will allow you a generous safety margin.
Kindly note that I cannot accept any responsibility in the event you are somehow prevented from reaching the departure airport in time as a result of a badly delayed internal flight, a traffic jam caused by an accident or some other unanticipated event.
Important: Please be sure to send me your full flight itinerary at least three months before the tour starts so that I can make the appropriate arrangements for your arrival and transfers.
Hotel & Airport Transfer Bookings: I would be pleased to arrange hotel accommodation at airports or elsewhere in connection with my tours for anyone needing this.
BOOKING & PAYING FOR A TOUR
Provisional Bookings: It is sensible to call me or email us to check if places are still available on any tour you are interested in before sending your booking form to me. I will be happy to hold a space for you for up to 14 days.
Definite Bookings: To make a definite booking you must either complete the on-line booking form on my website and submit it to me electronically or email me. (If you do not have internet access, please telephone me and I will arrange for a hard copy booking form to be sent to you for completion.)
You also need to pay me the required deposit per person, as specified in the tour description or by email.
If you are booking less than four months before the date of departure of the tour you will need to send full payment.
Please see the Payments section below for payment methods.
If you are submitting an on-line booking form and decide you wish to pay the deposit by means of a credit or debit card, you can, if you are concerned about security, telephone your card details to me.
On receipt of your booking form and deposit my official confirmation will be sent to you.
For your own protection I strongly recommend that when you make a booking you hold travel insurance that will cover you for medical/repatriation expenses and for cancellation/curtailment charges in the event you have to cancel due to the illness of yourself, a travelling companion or a close relative. If you do not already have travel insurance you should take this out as soon as possible.
Tour Invoice: Unless specified otherwise in the individual tour description, the invoice for the balance of the tour cost will be sent approximately 4.5 months before the tour start date and the full payment due needs to be received by us not later than 3.5 months prior to the tour start date.
I reserve the right to treat your booking as cancelled and levy cancellation charges if the full payment is not received by the due date. In any event, you will be responsible for payment of any additional costs that may arise as a result of your late payment. If you are going to be away from home when the tour payment is due, please make arrangements with me for early payment.
PAYMENTS TO INGER VANDYKE
Payments from United Kingdom residents: United Kingdom residents can only settle my charges in Pounds Sterling. You may pay by any of the following methods:1. Send us a personal cheque (or building society/bank cheque) drawn on a United Kingdom bank and made out to Inger Vandyke. Cash can also be accepted, but please be sure to send this by registered post. My address is:Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe BB7 9QY.
2. Make a bank transfer of the required amount direct to my account at Barclays Bank, Castle Street, Clitheroe, BB72BY, England, U.K. My bank’s sort code is 20-09-72 and my bank account number is 73737314.
3. Please contact me for my Paypal details if you wish to pay by credit card. Please note that if you opt to use a credit card a 2% handling charge will be added to the payment due because of the very high charges levied by the card issuers.
Payments from Australian residents: Australian residents can only settle my charges in Australian Dollars. You may pay by any of the following methods:
1. Make a bank transfer of the required amount direct to my account at Westpac. My bank’s BSB is 734279 and my bank account number is 660091.
3. Please contact me for my Paypal details if you wish to pay by credit card. Please note that if you opt to use a credit card a 2% handling charge will be added to the payment due because of the very high charges levied by Paypal.
Payments from residents of other countries: Residents of countries other than the United Kingdom including Australia, the United States or the Euro Zone countries may elect to pay in Pounds Sterling or US Dollars, or in some cases their home currency. Please contact me if you wish to pay in a currency that is not Pounds Sterling or Australian Dollars. Kindly note that if you elect to pay the deposit in a particular currency, you must settle the balance of the tour cost in the same currency. Switching currencies is not possible.
CANCELLING OR TRANSFERRING A BOOKING
Tour Cancellation: Any cancellation by you of a definite booking must be notified to me in writing (fax or email are acceptable) and will take effect on the day that this is received by myself. The following scale of cancellation charges will, unless a different scale of charges is specified in the tour description, be applied, based on my estimated expenses and losses suffered as a result of your cancellation:
More than 12 months before departure: no charge
12 months-121 days before departure: 100% of deposit
91-120 days before departure: 50% of final tour price
1-90 days before departure: 100% of final tour price
Day of departure or later: 100% of final tour price
Important: Some tours involving cruises/boat charters have different cancellation conditions: any such variations will be detailed in the tour description.
If the reason for your cancellation falls within the terms of your travel insurance the cancellation charges will normally be refunded by your insurance company (less any excess applicable). For this reason I strongly recommend taking out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover you adequately for unexpected cancellation.
Transfers: If you wish to transfer your booking to another tour less than 12 months before the current tour starts, this will normally be treated as a cancellation and rebooking, and the relevant cancellation charges will apply. Transfers made more than 12 months before the start of the current tour will be free of charge, other than in the case of tours involving cruises/boat charters.
Substitution: Should you be prevented by reasonable cause (such as illness) from proceeding with your tour you are free to find a substitute, provided I receive written notification. Within two months of the tour departure date I may not be able to accept a substitution as within this period there may not be sufficient time for the substitute to complete visa, health or other travel requirements. Any additional costs incurred as a result of a substitution (such as airline cancellation and re-ticketing charges) are your responsibility. I reserve the right to reject any substitute should I have reasonable grounds for doing so.
Unused Services: No refund can be given for any unused accommodation, meal, flight or other service provided as part of the tour.
PRICE CHANGES, TOUR ALTERATIONS & CANCELLATIONS
Provisional Tour Prices: Prices for tours departing far ahead are indicated as provisional as I can only ‘guesstimate’ what future exchange rates, transport costs, accommodation costs and other costs will be long after I prepare a tour description, and in addition I may subsequently elect to make minor modifications to the itinerary. Tour prices will be confirmed no later than 12 months before departure.
Tour Price Surcharges and Reductions: I would like to be able to offer complete price stability once my tour prices are confirmed, but because of the possibility of substantial increases in transportation costs, fuel costs or taxes, or substantial negative movements in exchange rates, I cannot guarantee prices regardless of subsequent events. I reserve the right to increase the price of a tour in the event of cost increases incurred by us that stem directly or indirectly from increases in transportation costs (by air, land or water, and including increases in fuel costs), increases in government taxes, fees, dues or levies, or negative movements in exchange rates.
In order to maintain the confirmed prices advertised in my tour descriptions I am dependent on reaching a certain level of support for each tour. The great majority of my tours achieve the required minimum level, but a small minority do not. I appreciate that it is very frustrating to have a long-anticipated tour or tour extension cancelled, so it has long been my policy to do everything possible to ensure that my tours (including any extensions) operate, and that my clients and friends are not disappointed. I regularly operate tours and extensions with only 3 or 4 participants, and occasionally with even fewer.
In the event that the required level of bookings for standard operation is not reached, I will still go ahead and operate the tour or extension if I possibly can (I have even shouldered a loss on many such occasions in order not to disappoint my clients and friends). I face considerably increased costs in such situations and I may have to impose a surcharge in order to cover increased transportation costs per head. (The remaining cost increases, mainly relating to increased costs per participant for leader accommodation and guiding fees, will be absorbed by me.)
I will absorb any unexpected cost increases up to an amount equivalent to 2% of the total confirmed tour price in the tour description, although I may have to pass on any additional increases to you in part or in full.
No surcharge will be imposed less than 30 days before departure. If any surcharge exceeds 15% of the total confirmed price of the tour (i.e. the main tour price plus the price of any extensions you have booked) as indicated in the tour description, you may either opt to pay the surcharge or you may opt to cancel your booking and receive a full refund or transfer your booking to another of my tours, provided I receive written notification within 14 days (fax or email are acceptable) of the date of despatch of the surcharge notification. Kindly note that normal cancellation charges will apply if you decide to cancel your booking following notification of a surcharge of 15% or less of the total confirmed tour price.
Tour prices may also be revised downwards at my discretion, but as I undertake to absorb cost increases of 2% or more for every single tour in my programme, and as cost increases are the norm, such downward revisions to prices will only be made in exceptional circumstances.
Tour Alteration: The tour descriptions are prepared up to 30 months or more before the date of operation of the tours they feature and subsequent variations may sometimes be made to published details, either voluntarily by myself or involuntarily. All tour details are provisional until the confirmed tour description, with confirmed rather than provisional prices, is published on my website.
I frequently make changes to my tour itineraries to keep up to date with ever-changing local knowledge and developments, with the aim of improving your tour. Occasionally I may have to make involuntary changes when access situations at particular venues deteriorate, or where they become closed or otherwise inaccessible for some reason. I reserve the right to modify my itineraries where I deem it desirable or necessary. I also reserve the right to substitute a competent alternative leader for a published leader where I deem it desirable or necessary, although I will always do my best to minimize leader changes.
Other examples of changes that can be expected from time to time include changes to the tour dates (by up to 7 days in either direction announced more than 9 months before the original tour start date, or up to three days in either direction announced between 4-9 months before the original tour start date), minor changes to the tour duration (lengthening by up to 24 hours, or shortening by up to 12 hours), re-ordering of the itinerary, changes to the amount of time spent at each venue and changes to accommodation.
Naturally I will notify you as soon as possible in the event of changes to the tour dates. Such changes as specified above, and other such changes, will not have significant impact on the performance of the tour or your ability to travel and are not grounds for cancellation without charges.
Very occasionally major alterations to tour dates are necessary which might materially affect your ability to travel. I define such major alteration as a change to the tour dates by more than 7 days in either direction made more than 9 months before the original tour start date, a change to the tour dates by more than 3 days in either direction made between 4-9 months before the original tour start date, or any change to the tour dates made within 4 months of the original tour start date. Naturally I will notify you as soon as possible in the event of any alteration of the tour dates that has to be made.
If a major date alteration, as defined above, is made by myself, you may either agree to proceed with the tour over the revised dates or, if you prefer, you may cancel your booking and receive a full refund or transfer your booking to another of my tours, provided I receive written notification within 14 days (fax or email are acceptable) of the date of despatch of my notification.
If an alteration is made to a tour where the price has been confirmed and which results in a substantial increase in costs, I will absorb whatever I can of the cost increases and only pass any remaining balance to you. In the event of such an alteration, you will have the option to either agree to proceed with the tour as modified and accept the price increase I specify or, if you prefer, you may cancel your booking and receive a full refund or transfer your booking to another of my tours, provided I receive written notification within 14 days (fax or email are acceptable) of the date of despatch of my notification.
Very rarely major alterations to the tour itinerary become necessary, through circumstances amounting to force majeure (seer Tour Cancellation), either before after departure. In such rare situations I will do my very best to modify your tour in a manner that minimizes necessary disruption. I will make a partial refund to you if the modified itinerary results in a cost saving.
Please note that I cannot take responsibility for any additional costs or losses that you may face, including any airline amendment charges you may suffer, as a result of either minor or major itinerary alterations that are caused by circumstances outside my control.
Tour Cancellation: Under exceptional circumstances I may have to cancel, rather than alter, a tour in the event of unusual or unforeseen circumstances outside my control (including all situations considered to represent force majeure): for example, technical or maintenance problems with transport, changes imposed by rescheduling or cancellation by air or sea carriers, government action, industrial dispute, war or threat of war, civil strife, terrorist activity, riot, natural or man-made disaster, or severe weather conditions. In the event that I have to cancel a tour due to circumstances outside my control I will offer you an alternative tour if I am able, which you will be free to accept or decline. Alternatively, I will provide you with a full refund of the tour price.
Alternatively, I may have to cancel a tour if there are insufficient bookings to make the tour economically viable. I want to stress that the vast majority of my tours operate as planned, with only a small minority failing to do so. If a tour cannot go ahead because of insufficient numbers it will be cancelled by myself not less than 30 days prior to departure, and I will inform you of this decision as early as I can. In this case you may either transfer your booking to another of my tours or you may opt to receive a full refund.
Please note that I cannot take responsibility for any additional costs or losses that you may face, including any airline cancellation charges you may suffer, if a tour is cancelled. Consequently I suggest you do not make any air travel commitments that could result in significant cancellation fees until you have checked with myself that the required number of participants has been reached. Even then, please bear in mind that subsequent cancellations or events can, on very rare occasions, result in a tour being cancelled.
Group Size Limits and Number of Leaders: The normal group size limit for each tour is specified in the tour description. The limit is usually somewhere between 6-12 participants plus leader(s), but there are exceptions. My group size limits are very low compared to most other photography tours. Unlike many photography tour companies, I do not have a ‘couples rule’ that allows the published group size limit to be increased by one. My published group size limit is the actual limit.
Passports, Visas and Vaccinations: You are responsible for ensuring that you bring with you a valid passport (which should have at least 12 months left to run at the commencement of the tour) plus, where necessary, a valid visa and/or a valid Yellow Fever vaccination certificate. Remember, if your passport is getting full, that any visa will require a full blank page plus space on the opposite page for entry and exit stamps. The tour information I will send you will provide information about any visa or vaccination certificate requirements known to us at the time the information is issued, but, as regulations can change, you are normally responsible for checking visa requirements yourself and, if a visa is necessary, obtaining your visa direct from the appropriate embassy or consulate.
Complaints: In the unlikely event that you have cause for complaint you should notify myself as soon as possible so that I may do my best to assist you. If a problem remains unresolved in spite of prompt notification then you should make a complaint in writing to myself within 28 days of the completion of the tour.
Restrictions on Participation: I reserve the right to remove from the tour any person unable or unwilling to conduct themselves in a manner compatible with the satisfactory operation of the tour. In this event I will make no refund, nor be liable to pay any compensation, and any additional travel costs involved in returning home are your own responsibility.
It is very important that you obtain insurance cover against the usual risks associated with travel, from the time of booking your tour until the time you return home. If you are in a position to take out travel insurance you would be very ill-advised to travel without it. Please ensure that your insurance provides adequate protection against the two major concerns: medical/repatriation expenses while abroad and cancellation/curtailment charges in the event that you, or a travelling companion or close relative, fall ill either before or during the tour. Most of those travelling abroad more than once a year will find that taking out an annual travel insurance policy is the simplest and most cost-effective option.
Photographers often carry a lot of expensive optical and photographic equipment. Regular travel insurance does not provide sufficient cover and so, if you are not already covered under your household contents policy, I recommend you take out specialist insurance cover for your equipment.