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Frequently Asked Questions

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What is adventure travel? How is group travel different from independent travel? Can I travel solo on a group tour? What will it be like on an adventure tour? Will I have to pay a single supplement? What are guaranteed departures? What is seasickness? The answers to all this and more can be found in the frequently asked questions.

Am I an adventure traveller?

This is an important question! Adventure travel can be challenging because you can encounter very different cultures, attitudes and ways of doing things than you would be used to back home. Although our tours are well organised and offer good quality transport and accommodation, none of them are of a luxury standard and you should not always expect streamlined travel arrangements, particularly in developing countries.

Public buses may be late, showers may be cold, restaurant services a lot slower, fewer people speak English and general hygiene and toilets may be of a lower standard than what you may be used to. If you have a flexible approach to travel, a good sense of humour, can go with the flow, be prepared to get involved and help your tour leader if necessary and accept that things don’t always go to plan, you will maximise your enjoyment of your adventure holiday. See the travel styles pages for more information about what tours would suit you best.

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I want to relax - can I do that on tour?

Our group tours are adventure orientated and offer the opportunity to do a variety of cultural activities and outdoor excursions. If you love being busy and seeing new things then our tours are ideal for you. There is free time on all tours but some travelling days will be long and there will be some early mornings in order to maximise your sightseeing time.

If you’re looking for a very chilled out beach resort-style holiday, it may be best to look elsewhere, as most of our tours require clients to be moderately fit and energetic.
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I’m travelling alone - is that OK?

Although some people travel on our tours with friends or partners, many people come alone, perhaps because their friends have different interests or budgets. Although you may begin the tour alone, by the end of the tour you will have many new friends for life! Solo travellers will usually be roomed with other group members of the same gender. Single supplements are not compulsory for most travel styles but are available on Adventure Tours and Overland Tours if you want your own room. You will share a twin or triple room with someone of the same gender on other travel styles. If you are planning to hike the Lares Trek you will have to pay a single supplement if you are the only one in your group to trek. We also offer Independent Travel stopovers and packages.

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Can I do my own thing?

Of course you can! We encourage all our clients to be as independent as possible. After arriving in a new town you will have free time to go off on your own or with other group members. We often go out as a group for a meal or drink, but it is up to you to decide how often you wish to do this.

On group tours you can leave the tour and join up again later if you like. The tour leader will ask you to sign a Voluntary Leave Disclaimer form and explain to you how to catch up with the tour at the next destination. Please note that none of the expenses during your leave are covered by Tucan Travel and you will not receive a refund for any unused services or food.

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Isn't independent travel cheaper?

It may be cheaper to organise your own adventure, but imagine how much time and effort it would be to prepare an itinerary and book all of your own transport and accommodation. Apart from guaranteeing these services, our prices include the booking fees and administration costs to make the reservations as well. Hotels, domestic flight tickets, any included entrance tickets and local guides are booked in advance to ensure availability.

Plus, our itineraries are designed by adventure travel experts so you can be sure that your tour will cover all the major highlights and many of the off-the-beaten-track destinations you’ve always wanted to see. You have the benefit of a tour leader who will take care of the logistics so when you arrive at your destination you will have free time for relaxation and sightseeing, rather than having to worry about the next part of the journey and all of the language difficulties that you may encounter.

You will also have the comfort of knowing that your arrangements have been made by a legitimate, reputable worldwide operator who you can turn to for support if you need it. We make it easy so all you have to do is relax and go with the flow.

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When is the best time of year to go?

This is an almost impossible question to answer as the best time to travel may really only be when you have time to do it! Our tours, independent travel packages and Expedition Cruises normally operate throughout the year but there are some seasonal variations in availability which are detailed on tour dossiers and in the brochure. We have installed a weather tool on our website so that you can see average sunshine and rain levels over a year for your destination - visit our weather page to try it out.

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What is a guaranteed departure?

A guaranteed departure will definitely operate on the day it is scheduled and will not be cancelled for lack of participation. All guaranteed departures will run except in the event of a natural disaster or similarly disruptive event that is beyond our control and which could cause unsafe or undesirable travelling conditions.

In the unlikely event that a guaranteed departure does not reach minimum numbers, it will still run as scheduled. We aim to operate every tour regardless of whether it has been guaranteed or not and the minimum numbers required to run our tours is very low - see the booking conditions for more information.

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When should I book my tour?

There are two schools of thought about when to book a tour. Some people choose to book their tour many months in advance to take advantage of our early booking discounts and make sure they have a place on their preferred departure date. Flights are usually cheaper if you book them as far in advance as possible. Generally speaking, it's easier to get everything done in time if you can book early - remember you have to buy travel insurance, book a trekking permit perhaps, sort out your visas and maybe see a travel health nurse for vaccinations as well. Any of these can take several weeks to organise so it's best not to leave it until the last minute.

Other people prefer to book when they've saved enough money for their entire trip and leave the booking until closer to the date of departure. From time to time we do offer late space discounts on tours which are departing within 60 days or so - these discounts work best for you if you don't have a particular destination or departure date in mind for your holiday. Booking later means you may have to pay quite a bit more for your flights as well. Our reservations team (or your travel agent) will be able to give you specific advice about the best time of year to travel to destinations where the weather will have a large impact on your adventure.

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How do I make a booking?

You can book your group tour online, on the phone, in person at our offices in London and Sydney or through a travel agent. Expedition Cruises and Independent Travel stopovers and packages are on request so cannot be booked online. Please visit our how to book page for more information or contact us.

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Do I need travel insurance?

Yes, travel insurance is a compulsory requirement for all bookings. You are required to purchase comprehensive travel insurance before travelling with us and provide details of your insurance to your tour leader at the beginning of your tour. This is also explained in our booking conditions. The level of cover required is explained on our travel insurance page.

Please make sure you know exactly what you are covered for, remembering there are many adventure activities available during the tour which may not be covered by basic insurance. Make sure that your travel insurance covers general medical expenses, hospitalisations and medical evacuations. Also ensure that you are covered for travel at high altitudes if necessary for your tour.

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Will I need visas?

Visa requirements vary for different nationalities depending on the countries you will be visiting. We provide a rough guide to worldwide visas on our website but this is by no means definitive and you should either use a visa service or contact each country’s consulate or embassy for the latest information, well in advance of travel. Please note that obtaining the necessary visas is your responsibility and if you don’t have the correct visa for your destination(s) you may miss out on all or part of your tour.

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How do I book the Inca Trail Trek?

Regulations regarding the issue of Inca Trail permits are subject to change and it is important that you check regularly to make sure you have the most up to date information. Only 500 permits are issued for the Inca Trail each day and this includes porters, guides and other necessary staff, so we advise to book well in advance to avoid missing out.

The trail is usually closed once a year (around February) for a clean up and during this time we offer an alternative, easier trekking route which mostly follows the Urubamba River before finishing up, as normal, at the Sun Gate of Machu Picchu. There is also an alternative trek called the Lares Trek, which provides a less touristy but equally equally beautiful alternative Inca trail through the Andes and visits Machu Picchu at the end.

Learn more about how to book the Inca Trail Trek

Learn more about the Lares Trek

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How do I book a gorilla trek?

Mountain gorillas are critically endangered with only about 700 left in the world, about half in the mountains of Rwanda, so visiting them in their own habitat is something only a few people will ever able to experience. Due to strict conservation controls imposed by the Office Rwandais du Tourism et des Parcs Nationaux (ORTPN) to protect the remaining gorillas, no more than 40 permits are issued per day, and groups of 8 people can visit a family group on any given day. Visitors must apply for an official permit in advance of travel. Group tours which allow time to trek to see the gorillas are marked with a Gorilla Trek icon on the tour map. We also offer an independent travel option to visit the gorillas.

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Do I need vaccinations?

Vaccination requirements vary from destination to destination and from person to person. We are not medical professionals and we are not able to give you specific advice about which vaccinations you should take. You should seek professional advice from your doctor, travel nurse or medical centre before you travel and take your itinerary with you to your appointment, which should be made at least 6 weeks in advance of travel. Visit the travel health advice page for more information.

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Will the altitude affect me?

Many of our tours offer the opportunity to trek in the mountains or fly into cities which are at altitude. Altitude can affect anyone at moderate to high altitude which is generally anything over 3,000 metres. Altitude sickness is caused by the lack of oxygen which can be up to a third less than at sea level. Symptoms can include dizziness, headaches, nausea and fatigue. No one understands why some people are affected and others not and age, level of fitness and strength is no indication of how well you will fare.

If you experience symptoms of altitude sickness it is a good idea to walk slowly, breathe deeply, eat light meals, avoid alcohol and cigarettes and try not to over exert yourself as you acclimatise to the altitude. Some people find it is easier to cope if they begin their tour at the highest point, e.g. La Paz if travelling in Bolivia and Peru. Medicines are available to combat the effects of altitude sickness - for more information please ask your doctor before you travel.

Please be aware that altitude sickness can be serious, so if you are trekking and your guide or tour leader advises you to rest or descend, please do as instructed. As a trek is a mixture of ascents and descents, altitude sickness is often short term and suffering from it does not necessarily mean you will be unable to complete the trek.

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Will I get seasick?

We are often asked if you are likely to get seasick on an expedition cruise. Seasickness happens when there is a conflict between what your eyes are seeing and what your inner ear, which gives you your sense of balance, is sensing. Your brain then receives a jumble of confusing and contrasting information and you start to feel dizzy, nauseous and headachey. If you are susceptible to motion sickness then you may experience symptoms during a cruise, although symptoms tend to disappear as you adapt to the conditions in one or two days.

Your expedition leader will give you tips and advice to help you avoid or deal with any discomfort. We recommend that you speak to a travel health professional about your itinerary before you depart if you are in any doubt or would like to consider medication.

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Why is there a local payment?

If you are travelling on a Budget Expeditions Group Tour you are required to pay the local payment to your tour leader on day 1 of your tour in US dollars. In the rare event that there is a short fall in the local payment, clients will be required to make an extra contribution. See the local payment page for more information.

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When should I arrive and depart?

Day 1 of all our group tours is simply a joining day and the last day is the official departure day so you can arrive/depart at any time on these days. In general the tour departs early on day 2 and returns in the afternoon/evening of the second to last day, so you will need to book pre or post tour accommodation if you wish to have at least one full day in the joining or departure city to take advantage of the sights and excursions available.

Day 1 of our Expedition Cruises is often the departure day, unless it is packaged with pre cruise accommodation. Please refer to your joining letter and voucher for details. The last day is the official departure day, however your arrival time at the port may vary so please see the tour dossier for details.

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What kind of luggage should I bring?

We strongly recommend that you bring a soft frameless backpack or sports type bag. Wheeled luggage and suitcases are NOT permitted on any Tucan Travel tour as these are not suitable for storage on the trucks, coaches or public transport. You will need to carry your own luggage and should make sure you have a bag you find comfortable (and light enough) to carry.

Please note that for tours travelling on our expedition vehicles and coaches, or if you are travelling on a tour with internal flights, your luggage should not exceed 20 kilograms. A day pack is required for most overnight included excursions. If possible, bring a light string or cotton bag for market shopping so you can politely refuse plastic bags.

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What should I pack?

This is a very frequently asked question but of course it depends entirely on your destination, the season you're travelling in and the activites you'll participate in. The most important thing to pack is your sense of humour because this can get you through any situation - including lost luggage! There are specific packing lists in our regional pre departure information booklets which you can find on your tour page.

Some tours require sleeping bags - this will be indicated on the tour dossier. Bring comfortable, hardy, waterproof shoes and waterproof clothing for outdoor activities, e.g. trekking. Bring long, light clothing for hot destinations and countries where you'll encounter conservative attitudes to dress. We also have a handy list of packing tips on our blog as well.

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Do you offer airport transfers?

In most of our joining cities we offer arrival transfer services which can be booked for an additional charge. However, if you do not book a transfer or we do not offer them in your arrival city it is easy to take a taxi to your joining hotel. Most airports have reliable pre-paid fixed priced taxi booths in the arrivals terminal and we recommend you use these. See joining letter and/or tour voucher for more information about how to join your tour or cruise.

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When will I meet my tour leader?

On most group tours the tour leader will be at the joining hotel and will hold a pre-departure meeting in the late afternoon/early evening of day 1. Please let our office know if you are unable to get to the joining hotel in time for this meeting. On some of our shorter trips you will not meet your tour leader until day 2, as these trips are parts of longer adventure travel tours. In these cases, our local representatives will ensure you meet up with your group.

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Is crime really that bad?

Almost certainly not. The media has a tendency to report only the very worst news, which means that we can get quite a negative impression of a country and quite often we don't hear anything about the very friendly, helpful people and extraordinary cultures in these amazing destinations. Most crime is opportunistic and non violent but of course, it is possible to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Read the travel safety notices issued by your government, purchase comprehensive travel insurance and take heed of your tour leader's advice when you arrive. As long as you take care of yourself, your friends and your personal belongings and use a bit of common sense, you should be fine. Visit our safety updates page for more information.

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Are meals included?

Meals are included when camping on Overland Expeditions and Budget Expeditions, on all jungle excursions and on the Inca Trail, Expedition Cruises and language schools. Some picnic lunches are also prepared on Discovery Tours and Overland Expeditions. Meals may be included on Independent Travel stopovers and packages - see your tour dossier for details. At other times clients make their own arrangements with advice / recommendations from our tour leaders and local reps.

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What is the best way to carry money?

In most destinations (except for Europe and Cuba), all currency should be in US dollars. No other currency is widely accepted. ATMs are the easiest way to withdraw money BUT you should never rely solely on them and always have a back-up of cash.

We recommend that you bring as much US dollars cash (in small denomination bills with no rips, writing or other damage) or euros cash (depending on the destination) as you feel comfortable carrying. Remember your spending money in addition to your local fund if you are travelling on a Budget Expeditions tour. If you are travelling in Europe or Cuba, your spending money should be in euros. See the relevant country dossier(s) for more details.

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Customer Reviews

Elizabeth

"One of the best ways to do South America! Stunning sights, unbelievably knowledge tour and local guides and time well spent with lifelong friends. An experience like no other."

Received March 2014

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