Travel the world safely despite Covid-19
Audits and risk assessments carried out for each destination before our operations re-start.
We’re also putting enhanced hygiene and cleaning protocols in place.
Prefer to travel only with people you know? All our group tours can now be booked as private departures for solo travellers, couples, families and private groups.
Do you want or need to change your plans? We’ve added extra flexibility to our booking conditions to allow for fee-free cancellations and date changes (conditions apply).
We already specialise in small groups, and along with expecting lower numbers when travel restarts, we are reducing some of our group sizes to ensure better distancing.
Travelling on your own? We've removed compulsory single supplements from many of our group tours, and are giving a 10% discount off the supplement price if you don't want to share.
Our focus remains on travelling responsibly, supporting the local economies and communities that we travel through, and designing tours that protect the environment as best we can.
Do you have a mix of both excitement and concern about travelling now that many destinations around the world are starting to open their borders?
Don’t worry, we understand, and share both.
To help make things a little easier for you, we’ve launched our Safer Encounters scheme, which focuses on the health and safety of our travellers and local staff, while still providing the memorable experiences, visits and activities that our tours normally include. This scheme will be updated from time to time over the months ahead as things become clearer about how we can travel responsibly and safely in different destinations.
We are also working towards the World Travel & Tourism Council’s 'Safe Travel' protocols for tour operators, following recommendations and advice from the World Health Organisation, and will always adhere to the updated regulations put in place by local health and tourist authorities.
In addition, we have introduced more flexible booking policies and conditions to help our travellers to be able to book with confidence.
More information is given in the FAQs section below.
We wish all our travellers the best of health and look forward to welcoming you in our destinations again soon.
Please check our Coronavirus update blog post for details. This is updated weekly with details on cancellations and rebooking options.
We are keen to offer one of the most flexible booking policies around to our travellers. To that end, for all new bookings made until 31st December 2020, the following updated conditions will apply...
We all have a duty of care to travel responsibly and to act in such a way as to protect both our own health and wellbeing, and that of our fellow travellers and the people we meet while on our travels. We ask that all our travellers are completely honest with us about any possible Covid-19 symptoms, and that they follow the guidance provided by both international organisations like the WHO, local regulations and our own health and safety protocols.
If you have symptoms before the tour starts, please get in touch with us straight away so we can discuss options for changing or cancelling your tour under our more flexible booking conditions.
Yes. All of our small group and shoestring tours are also now available as Private departures for people who do not wish to join a group, but would prefer to just travel with their partner or family. Prices for many of these tours will be kept exactly the same with a minimum of just 2 people travelling, though some will require a supplement based on the number of people in your party. Please do contact us if you would like to travel on one of our group tour itineraries in a private fashion.
On most of our group tours, solo travellers may choose to share a room with another traveller of the same sex in the group. If a room share is not available then a single room supplement may be payable, with the costs for these kept as low as possible. From August 2020 we are removing compulsory single supplements from many of our tours, and reducing the cost by 50% if we do need to pass a charge to people who want to share but can't - please check individual tours for details. Also, as we’re aware that fewer solo travellers may now want to share rooms, we will subsidise the cost of single supplements for people who definitely want their own room and provide a 10% discount off the normal price. This discount will be applied after booking (i.e. our website still shows the original prices, but these will be reduced when we confirm your booking and before you pay your balance).
We are mainly a small-group operator already which helps with our aim of re-starting our operations with lower numbers of people travelling together.
Small group tours: These have maximum group sizes of 12 to 20 people, and average numbers per departure of 8-10 people. As we expect numbers of people travelling to recover slowly we don’t expect many departures with larger numbers than this, ensuring you get a great experience with your fellow travellers and guide, with lower risks of catching infections too.
Shoestring tours: Some of our cheaper Shoestring tours are based on larger groups, potentially travelling with a full-sized coach and up to 45 people. The country health & safety audits that we will carry out before we re-start operations in each country will consider revised numbers on these tours, and we currently expect most will be initially restricted to a maximum of 50% capacity. However, again as we expect lower than normal numbers on each departure for the remainder of 2020 at least, average numbers are not expected to exceed 15-20 people .
Overland tours: These have a maximum group size of 20-24 people. As on these tours the group will be travelling together for a long time, hygiene on board has always been a high priority and this will be enhanced further. Group sizes are not expected to increase above 15 people until 2021.
We will be using larger vehicles than normal for the number of people travelling together, aiming to make sure that single travellers can always have a double seat. Seat allocations will be agreed at the start of the tour and we ask that people stick to these throughout the trip rather than rotating around as they normally would. Touch points such as door handles, head rests, will be cleaned with disinfectant wipes several times a day and the whole vehicle cleaned before the start of each tour and regularly throughout the trip.
Hand and respiratory hygiene is extremely important for all travellers to manage, especially now. We follow the international WHO advice for masks or face coverings which currently recommends that members of the general public wear non-medical, fabric type masks while in public places where maintaining good social distancing may be an issue (for example on public transport or in shops or museums). In addition, local destinations may have their own rules which require their use in other settings. Advice on local requirements and general Covid-19 hygiene precautions will be provided by our guides at the start of our tours. We require all our travellers to follow any local regulations at all times.
We are sourcing disposable face masks, hand sanitiser and tissues to be provided in all our tour vehicles, but we request that all travellers bring their own as well. This will help protect local stocks and also mean you have your own handy for times when you are away from the vehicle, during your free time, and through your travel between your home and your destination.
We recognise that enjoying the local food and drink is a big part of travel – its one of our favourites too. We don’t want to take the opportunity away from anyone to try out local dishes and delicacies, but hygiene during breaks for meals is even more important now. Reminders about hand washing will be given before meal times and should be followed at all times. Many hotels are removing buffet options and serving meals at the table, which will help to remove the risk of contact infection from serving cutlery & dishes.
We have always tried to offer the best value possible on our tours, including regular discount promotions when we have been able to negotiate special rates with our local partners and suppliers. We’re very aware that times have been financially tough for many people during the Covid-19 crisis and will continue to do our best to offer great prices on all our tours.
We do however ask our travellers to consider that money is also tight for everyone in the supply chain arranging your holiday and in the local tourist industry. Many costs have increased somewhat, due to the extra precautions and protocols being put in place, and the lower number of expected or permitted visitors. Most destinations will also have gone many months without seeing any tourists at all with corresponding drops in income for those affected. You may therefore find that the prices for eating, drinking, shopping, and for some activities in your destination may have gone up a little.
At the group meeting at the start of the tour, or when you meet your guide at the start of a private tour, part of the briefing will include a short health screening section. Should you have any Covid-19 symptoms you will be asked to seek medical advice (we will provide assistance), and for your health and safety, and for the benefit of everyone travelling with you, you will not be able to join the tour.
Should a traveller develop Covid-19 symptoms during a tour we will help arrange for a medical assessment and follow the rules and guidelines put in place by the local health authorities, including on whether a test is required. In this situation travellers should be prepared not to be able to re-join the tour until a negative test has been completed. Many local health authorities are putting procedures in place to facilitate quick testing of tourists and assigning locations for safe quarantining should this be required. Should Covid-19 be confirmed then your fellow travellers will be informed, and deep cleaning and disinfecting procedures carried out. Any expenses for treatment, testing or quarantine,or rejoining the tour, will need to be covered by the traveller, though of course we will provide assistance.
Travel insurance has always been compulsory on all of our tours, and this continues to be the case. The insurance industry is still in the process of developing its response to Covid-19 and many policies currently do not provide cover for Coronavirus related issues. This has started to change with some insurers now confirming Covid-19 is covered, but please ensure you check the wording of the policy carefully and are aware of what it does and does not cover. Any expenses for treatment, testing or quarantine, or rejoining a tour, will need to be covered by the traveller, though of course we will provide assistance.
New policies purchased from us through our partnership with Endsleigh currently do provide cover for some coronavirus related situations, including:
When international tourist travel becomes possible again to each of our destinations, and before we start operating again ourselves, we will complete a Covid-19 risk assessment and audit of our operations and tours in that country. This process may result in some changes to the way some tours, or parts of tours are run both to comply with our own best practice requirements and with updated local regulations. Information will be provided to all customers before travel about any significant changes.
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Need some travel inspiration or looking for some handy travel tips? Our blog provides excellent insight into our travel destinations - from tour updates to country guides, packing lists to little known things to do, you'll find it all in our travel blog - My Travel Encounters.
The town of Baalbek is located in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, approximately 85km northeast of Beirut and 75km north of Damascus (Syria). Nowadays the town is famous for its exquisitely detailed Roman ruins which attract thousands of tourists to the country each year and also plays host to the annual Baalbek festival.