General

  • How much should I tip?

    Tipping is discretionary and depends on the service booked. For day tours or transfers a small tip is appreciated whereas for multi day treks or cruises the amount recommended is much more. Please consult the ‘Money Matters’ section on our Travel Information page for further information on this.
  • I have dietary requirements (vegan, vegetarian etc). Can they be catered for?

    We understand your dietary requirements are important and often vital to your health, however sometimes due to cultural and language differences these are not always easy to convey when you are travelling. If you notify us of any dietary requirements then we can of course confirm these for any flights or meals we have included on our tours. Also on request we will prepare translations of your requirements so you can provide this to any restaurant you visit.
  • What vaccinations do I need for my trip?

    Please consult the ‘Health & Diet considerations’ section of our Travel Information page for some general information on this. We always recommend you to consult your physician on these matters.
  • Do you have a recommended packing list for our trip?

    On some of our trips you are likely to encounter extreme weather conditions which require clothing outside the usual holiday considerations. We have compiled packing lists for the Amazon, Inca Trail, Patagonia, African safaris and Antarctica/Arctic cruises for your information on our Travel Information page
  • What is my luggage allowance for my flights?

    Please consult the ‘Flights’ section of our Travel Information page for some general information on this. Allowances do depend on the airline so please contact us should you still be uncertain of this.
  • How do I request particular seats for my flights?

    If you have any particular requests then please feel free to advise us of these and we can request them. Seat selection is usually available on most flights but does depend on booking classes as some airlines don’t allow seating requests on code share or sale fares. Exit rows are impossible to pre book with some airlines however there are some who charge an additional fee if you wish to have an exit row. Generally payment for this is made direct with the airline however we can assist with this
  • Can I amend a hotel or upgrade a flight after booking?

    Generally yes this can be done however depends on the conditions of the hotels or airline. Please contact your consultant if you have any requests
  • Can your local offices assist with optional tours?

    Yes of course, our local offices are there to assist you with anything you need on your trip. Some tours should be pre-booked well in advance to avoid any disappointment though
  • What electric outlets will I find on my trip?

    We recommend taking a multi adapter so you are covered for whichever destination you visit. Please click here for more information on each country and the type of outlet you should expect. With regards to the Galapagos most vessels use the European style outlet whereas for boats travelling to the Polar Regions you will find the type of outlet they use listed below;
    • 50 Years of Victory – 2 thick round pins, European style.
    • Akademik Sergey Vavilov – 2 thick round pins, European style.
    • Akademik Ioffe – 2 thick round pins, European style.
    • Corinthian – 2 flat pins, US style.
    • MV Ushuaia – 2 flat pins and a grounding pin, Australian style.
    • MS Expedition – 2 thick round pins, European style.
    • Ocean Diamond – 2 thick round pins, European style.
    • Ocean Nova – 2 thick round pins, European style.
    • Ortelius – 2 thick round pins, European style.
    • Plancius – 2 thick round pins, European style.
    • Polar Pioneer – 2 thick round pins, European style.
    • Sea Adventurer – 2 thick round pins, European style.
    • Sea Explorer – 2 flat pins, US style.
    • Sea Spirit – 2 flat pins, US style.
  • What currency should we get and are travel money cards useful?

    In general we recommend using the local currency for each country you travel to as you will get the most value for your money. US dollars are readily accepted in most countries so can be useful as a backup. We suggest taking small denominations as anything over a $20 note will not be accepted. Travel Money Cards can be a handy way of locking in an exchange rate especially as the AUD/USD exchange rate is constantly fluctuating although as we mentioned above local currency does give you the best exchange. Please consult our Travel Information page for some general information on this under the ‘Money Matters’ section of each destination.
  • What type of bag should I take?

    We recommend you to take whatever type of bag you’re most comfortable with. With 1 large bag (suitcase or backpack) and 1 day pack you should be fine. We don’t usually have any requirements with respect to bag type except during safaris where these are quite strict, generally with strict limitations and soft bag being required.
  • Africa

  • What is a “typical” day on an African Safari?

    Every camp and safari location will differ in terms of its activities and schedules, but in general, safaris follow a general pattern which is consistent throughout southern Africa. Typically, a safari day includes two major activities per day – one which begins early in the morning and the second which occurs in the mid- to late-afternoon and continues until dark or sometimes up until 2 hours after sunset. A safari activity may include game drives, water activities like fishing, canoeing or motor boating, and also game walks.
  • Is there a code of conduct whilst on safari?

    As the objective would be to see as much wildlife as possible, it would be wise to observe the animals in silence and with as little disturbance as possible. Do not stand up when the vehicle is close to dangerous animals and do not make any noises to attempt to attract an animal’s attention. At all times respect the advice and judgment of the guide and never wander off on your own.
  • What weather should I expect on an African safari?

    Weather depends on the time of the year in which you travel and our Travel Information page can give you an insight into this along with suggested packing lists. In general however you should be prepared for hot day time temperatures and cool mornings and evenings. In certain areas night-time temperatures can drop to freezing or below so an early morning game drive can start out very chilly and you should bring a warm jacket, gloves and even a beanie.
  • Are there any luggage restrictions whilst on safari and can I lock luggage up anywhere?

    Many safaris involve small plane transfers and restrictions depend on the camp and the type of plane. Generally your hand and stowed luggage should weigh less than 20kg in total and your stowed luggage must be in a small soft bag. If you have any confusion on this then please send us a photo and the dimensions of your luggage and we can check this for you. Locking up luggage can be offered assuming you are starting and ending from the same airport. Johannesburg airport offers fairly inexpensive luggage storage facilities and many flights will transit this airport so this is a good alternative
  • Am I required to have the Yellow Fever vaccination for travel in Africa?

    Yellow Fever inoculations are a requirement of entry for certain countries. Please discuss with your consultant and your physician.
  • Should I be worried about malaria in Africa?

    The chances of contracting malaria are very low in most areas however in our opinion it is definitely worth taking preventative steps and consulting with your physician to decide on the best approach. Please remember that the best insurance against contracting malaria is to try to prevent being bitten. We recommend using mosquito repellents liberally and wearing long-sleeved shirts and trousers in the evenings.
  • Is it safe to visit Africa?

    Certain countries are generally considered safe while others are not. We actively discourage travel to destinations that we consider unsafe for any reason and in general touristic areas can be considered safe. Petty theft is common in Africa’s major cities and visitors should take the same care as they would normally take in any other city of the world. Keep a close watch on handbags, wallets, and cameras when walking in crowded places and avoid walking at night and place valuables in safe deposit boxes at hotels. Whilst on safari you are typically far removed from human settlement and crime is virtually non-existent. The main issue in terms of safety whilst on safari is wildlife which can be unpredictable and for this reason it’s very important to listen closely to safety briefings given at lodges and camps. Whilst on safari you will be accompanied by experienced guides with an in-depth knowledge and understanding of wildlife and in some areas they are permitted and trained to carry firearms for your safety.
  • Will I have Internet access in Africa?

    Internet access is available at most city hotels, typically for a small fee however the majority of safari lodges and camps do not have internet access (but some do).
  • Can I have my laundry done whilst on safari?

    The majority of safari lodges and camps offer complimentary laundry service (some charge a small fee) weather permitting, however please note that undergarments are often excluded. You may wish to bring a small supply of liquid laundry soap for hand washing.
  • Will I be able to recharge my camera and battery whilst on safari?

    Yes – at nearly all hotels, lodges, and permanent tented camps you will be able to recharge your camera and video batteries either in room or in the main area.
  • South America, Central America & Cuba

  • What visas and entrance fees do I need to pre arrange?

    The main considerations for the areas we specialise in are pre-arranging your Cuba Tourist Card, Brazil Visa and Argentinean Reciprocity tax. Please consult the ‘Visas’ section on our Travel Information page for further information on where and how to apply for these.
  • How much should I expect to pay for meals not included?

    This is difficult to answer as it depends on your meal preferences, budget and the destination where you are travelling to. We generally say to budget between US$10-$15 per meal to ensure you eat well however prices will differ in each country. For example you should expect to pay more in Chile, Argentina and Brazil than in Peru, Bolivia, Cuba or Mexico for example. You could easily eat for less than $5 per meal in most countries if you wanted to stretch your budget and eat local food. Tourist restaurants like anywhere are more expensive.
  • Is drinking water safe in South or Central America?

    In general no, so we think its better to be safe than sorry. Most hotels include a bottle of water in your room and then any convenience store will also sell bottles relatively inexpensively.
  • How common is altitude sickness in Peru and Bolivia and how we can avoid it?

    It is common for visitors to experience some mild symptoms of altitude sickness when arriving into the high altitudes of Peru or Bolivia. Symptoms such as headaches, nausea and vomiting are usually felt within 12 – 24 hours of arrival and tend to subside within 3 days. Many hotels provide coca tea to guests and they also have oxygen available to help you acclimatise. Staying well hydrated, avoiding alcohol and relaxation are also good ways of alleviating/avoiding symptoms. You should always notify our guides if you are feeling unwell as they will be able to assist you with changing your itinerary to get you to a lower altitude or with medical assistance. If you have a history of problems with altitude sickness or are concerned about it before you travel, then we recommend consulting with your doctor who can prescribe medication such as Diamox which can be taken to help avoid altitude sickness symptoms.
  • Can I pay by credit card for any expenses on my Galapagos cruise?

    It’s very uncommon to be able to pay in credit card on-board any Galapagos vessel so we suggest to withdraw money on the mainland. USD is the currency on the Galapagos and in Ecuador and on arrival into the Galapagos you must pay $100 per person for the national park entrance fee and $10 per person for Transit Control Card. These must be paid in cash and although there are ATMs in Santa Cruz these can be unreliable. You must also consider any drinks you purchase and any gratuities (we recommend $10-$20 per person per day).
  • What sort of weather can I expect on my trip?

    Please consult the ‘When to Travel’ section of our Travel Information page for some more general information on each area with specific guidelines on the Galapagos, Arctic and Antarctica.
  • Do you have any restaurant recommendations?

    Yes our restaurant guide will provide you with some recommendations we have. When you return we appreciate any feedback on these and any recommendations of your own.
  • Are visas and reciprocity taxes valid for multiple entry?

    Yes they are typically valid for a minimum 90 days. The Argentinian Reciprocity Fee for Australian citizens is a multiple entry fee, valid for 1 year, year beginning in the date the payment is made. If, for instance, the payment is made on the 25th. of August, the fee will remain valid for multiple entrances until the 24th of August of the next year. With your Chilean Reciprocity fee you will receive entry for up to 90 days with multiple entries.
  • Do we need to pay the Chilean reciprocity fee if we are transiting through Santiago airport or traveling overland into Chile?

    No you don’t need to pay when arriving overland or when transiting UNLESS you are transitting on 2 separate tickets and need to clear immigration and then check in your luggage again 
  • I have a long stopover in Santiago. What do you suggest we do?

    If you are transiting via Santiago then as long as your luggage is checked all the way through then you have the option of leaving the airport. Keep in mind that it may take you up to 2 hours to clear customs, 30 minutes each way in a taxi to/from Santiago centre and then we suggest you need to be back at the airport 2 hours prior to your flight. If you haven’t already paid your Chilean reciprocity tax (details on our Travel Information page) which is valid for multiple entrances then you would need to pay this. If you don’t wish to leave the airport then you can always try to access the LAN Airlines Mistral lounge. Details can be found here and entrance is included if you have a certain level of One World Alliance membership or provided the lounge isn’t too full at the time, you can use it by paying a fee and showing your boarding pass. The following charges would apply; Stays up to 3 hours – US$30 per person. Stays up to 5 hours – US$50 per person.
  • Are there luggage restrictions on the trains between Cusco/Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu?

    The official weight limit is for one small pack or suitcase with a maximum weight of 5 kg per person. Even though these limits may seem small, it must be noted that they don’t actually check on the luggage weight. In any case it is advisable not to take more than one small bag or suitcase with you as there is always a possibility you could be charged for excess luggage and all hotels in Cusco will allow you to store luggage free of charge anyway. If you are staying in the Sacred Valley the night before travelling to Machu Picchu then you should prepare your luggage prior to departing Cusco. Please note that passengers taking the Inca Trail are eligible to carry up to 23 kgs.
  • I have an extra day in Machu Picchu. Do I need to prepay for entrance fees or Huayna Picchu trek or can I purchase this on the day?

    Tickets no longer can be purchased at the entrance; they must be purchased at the Machu Picchu Cultural Center in Aguas Calientes. The Peruvian government does limit the access to 2500 people per day and this often books out so we highly recommend pre purchasing your entrance fee and ticket for the Huayna Picchu trek well in advance if you are planning a 2nd entrance not included in your tour arrangements with us.
  • Can you explain how the currency works in Cuba?

    For travel in Cuba you need to obtain Cuban Convertible Peso or CUC which cannot be obtained outside Cuba. You can obtain this using your ATM card at the airport although we also recommend taking a supplier of Euro, British Sterling or even USD which can be exchanged for CUC (AUD cannot be exchanged in Cuba). You will be able to exchange your money into CUC at the CADECA Exchange Bureaus or any bank. Please beware there is another currency in Cuba only available for local transactions called Cuban Peso (CUP) which value is 20 times less. This currency is not available for Tourist purpose. Please be careful not to mistakenly exchange your money into the wrong currency and only use approved Exchange Bureaus.
  • Can I use my credit card within Cuba?

    It can be complicated but in general yes it is possible if you follow the below guidelines; VISA: This is our prefer card because you can use at any bank and also in most cash machines. It will work regardless of whether it is debit or credit. MASTERCARD: It will NOT normally work on cash machines which means you have to go inside a bank and use what the Cubans called a “POS” (Point of Sale). The catch: not all banks have the POS. In fact, most banks will not have a working POS. Cards issued by US Banks cannot be used in Cuba!
  • Polar Cruising – Antarctica & the Arctic

  • What will the weather be like on my Arctic/Antarctica expedition?

    Cruises to the poles operate in the Summer months so the temperatures aren’t as cold as what most people think with it typically being colder at the beginning or end of the season. Temperatures typically hover around the freezing mark however can be extremely unpredictable and you should expect rapid changes in conditions and you may encounter snow storms, fog and white-outs, during an expedition.
  • What clothing is provided and what do I need to take?

    All cruises include rental of wellington style boots and some include jackets to keep or jackets to rental. A few boats also include rental of water proof pants but please ask your consultant to clarify what is included on your cruise. In general we recommend you bring a warm waterproof winter jacket, waterproof pants, beanie, gloves (2 pairs in case one gets wet), thick socks, fleece and thermal underwear. The key is to wear layers as when you are doing walks you may find yourself getting warm and likewise when doing zodiac excursions you will need to rug up a little more. You can view our suggested packing list on our Travel Information page
  • Do I need to dress up for dinner?

    On almost all Polar expedition vessels there is no need for formal clothing, unless you’re inspired to do so. The atmosphere is casual and comfortable, and so is the dress code.
  • Can I hire gear in Ushuaia for my cruise to Antarctica?

    Yes, there are several companies offering expedition clothing and gear for rent in Ushuaia. Available items for rent in the town of Ushuaia are:
    • Water-resistant parka
    • Rain pants (with insulation)
    • Backpacks
    We strongly suggest that you contact the shop by phone or e-mail to be sure your size is available and to reserve your item however don’t expect quick responses from them. A few companies offering these services are as follows; Antarctic Equipment Drake Hostel Gobernador Paz 865 9410 Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina Phone/Fax: +54 (2901) 436005 E-mail: antarctic_equipment@hotmail.com/ drakehostel@speedy.com.ar Web: http://www.antarcticequipment.com.ar/prices.htm Jumping Rental Ski Ushuaia 9 de Julio 128 9410 Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina Phone/Fax: +54 (2901) 436709 E-mail: info@jumpingushuaia.com.ar Ushuaia Outdoors Gobernador Godoy 55 – Ushuaia Phone/Fax: +54 2901 424498 Emergencies: +54 9 (2901) 1560 7267 E-mail: info@ushuaiaoutdoors.com.ar Web: www.ushuaiaoutdoors.com
  • How long are the shore excursions and what do they involve?

    Shore excursions are typically 2 to 3 hours long and there is at least one a day, typically 2 depending on weather. Excursions will take place on sturdy, inflatable Zodiac boats with small groups of around 10-12 people and help getting in and out of the Zodiac landing craft will be provided by the expedition staff. There are some wet landings where you will be required to disembark the zodiac into ankle deep water. Excursions typically involve either water based excursions in zodiacs following wildlife, getting close to glaciers and deep into fjords. More often though you will land on a particular place and break into small excursion groups which share similar interests whether it be geology, wildlife, trekking or a combination. They can be as active or inactive as you like.
  • Are there restrictions regarding what can be done ashore?

    Yes, an overriding concern is the protection of the wildlife, environment and cultures in any of the areas visited. The expedition team will address conservation issues in the onboard briefings and will assist you ashore. Most important rules are: Do not leave anything but footprints and do not take anything but memories!
  • What other adventure activities are available?

    Many vessels offer optional activities such as kayaking, climbing, snow shoeing, stand up paddleboarding, diving or even a night of camping on the Antarctic Peninsula. Optional activities differ by the vessel and the cruise and must be pre-booked at an additional cost
  • What is there to do on board?

    Our voyages have educational components that prepare you for shore landings and visits to research stations. These formal presentations are delivered on the ship. Informal shipboard activities range from birding and whale watching to movies with popcorn in the evening. There are board games to play in the lounge. You can chat with friends over a drink in the bar. The open air decks make excellent platforms for photography or for a romantic stroll. There is always something to do.
  • Is there email/internet/phone access onboard the ship?

    Yes, on most expedition vessels there is email access available through satellite communication equipment for a charge however this is usually very slow and can be unreliable in certain locations. Satellite phone cards can also be purchased
  • Is there a doctor onboard?

    Yes, there is an emergency physician on board every sailing.
  • Do I need a visa/passport?

    While there are no visa requirements for visiting Antarctica, there may be visa requirements for traveling through other countries en route to Antarctica (Chile and Argentina are the most popular). We are happy to provide advice on these matters however you should consult directly with the consulates if you are still uncertain 
  • Will I be seasick?

    If you feel that you are susceptible to seasickness, then it is a good idea to talk to your own doctor and come prepared with motion sickness tablets. In Antarctica the Drake Passage is notorious for rough seas and in the Arctic if you expedition sails through the Bering or Denmark Straits, then you should anticipate some rough seas. That said, of the two polar regions, smooth sailing is most frequently experienced in the Arctic. Once you reach the Antarctic Peninsula much of the cruising is done in Fjords and is typically calm.
  • What are the meals like on board?

    Food is plentiful, but typically not gourmet quality on any vessel. Most vessels offer 3-4 course menus that can accommodate vegetarians or other special dietary preferences if notified in advance. If you have a favourite snack then we suggest you bring it along.
  • How accurate are the itineraries listed?

    The itineraries listed on-line are provided for general information only. Weather will play a large part in the precise locations of landings and Zodiac excursions. It is not uncommon to discover new landing places that have not been visited before, adding an extra element of surprise. The Captain has the final decision on the itinerary and flexibility is essential for travellers.
  • Is there a laundry on board?

    Laundry service is available on every ship. Costs are reasonable or you can always wash and dry small things like socks and underwear in your room
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