Terms and Conditions
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PLUS GENERAL INFORMATION for ZOOTHERA GLOBAL BIRDING LTD ATOL NO 10436
Financial Protection: The EC Package Travel, Package Holiday and Package Tour Regulations 1992 state that all clients’ money must be fully protected. All monies paid to ZOOTHERA are deposited into a separate client account where the money remains until the completion of the tour.
What the tour price includes: Tour prices are inclusive of all ground logistics including accommodation, meals (except where stated otherwise), guiding, entry permits into reserves, tips and taxes. Not included in your tour price are International flight costs, travel insurance, visa fees, drinks, laundry and telephone bills, tips, excess baggage charges, items of a personal nature and any relevant fuel surcharges. Our holidays are very competitively priced and offer you exceptional value for money.
Reservations: To make a reservation, complete and return the booking form, together with the deposit for the tour you are interested in. If payment is by cheque please make this out to ZOOTHERA GLOBAL BIRDING . If you wish to pay by other means please contact us. On receipt we will then send you an invoice showing deposit paid and balance due date. Provisional bookings may be made by telephone as long as booking form and deposit follow within 10 days. Because of the popularity of some tours they are liable to be booked up quickly. It is in your own interest to get your deposit in early to avoid disappointment as we can only confirm reservations with paid deposits (and accept reservations) in order of receipt. Bookings are welcome up to the last minute so please contact us for details of vacancies.
Payment: The balance for all bookings must be paid 12 weeks before the holiday is due to commence. You will be sent an invoice showing monies paid and the balance due for the holiday you have chosen; if the said balance is not paid by the due date the booking will be deemed to have been cancelled. If making payment by cheque this should be made out to ZOOTHERA GLOBAL BIRDING. Please note that we do not accept payments by post-dated cheques. We do accept bank transfers but note that you are responsible for any bank charges. After receipt of balance we will send you written confirmation of all monies paid, along with advisory notes, names of other group members, and bird check list for your particular holiday.
Cancellations: Any cancellation must be sent to us in writing and signed by whoever signed the booking form. In the event of you cancelling your booking at any stage, all payments you have made to us will be retained by us, except at our discretion. Please ensure you take out adequate insurance to cover this as early as possible. Please note that in some circumstances we would have secured accommodations or paid out deposits and in these instances you will be invoiced for outstanding money that is not recoverable by us from any of our agents. You may have the opportunity to transfer your booking to another person, provided you are unavoidably prevented from coming on the tour, and bear any extra costs that such changes may incur.
If it becomes necessary that we have to cancel a particular holiday, whether it's through insufficient reservations, illness etc, then all deposits, and other payments will be refunded in full.
Insurance: ZOOTHERA does not offer travel insurance. However we would highly recommend clients to take out adequate holiday insurance. This should be taken out at time of booking and we accept no responsibility for any person who has not covered themselves for medical/repatriation expenses while abroad and cancellation/curtailment charges in the event that you, or a close travelling companion/relative fall ill either before or during the tour. You need to be covered from time of booking your holiday, until the time you return home. As many insurance companies offer varying cover it is important that you read through and understand what is and what is not covered by your policy.
Please note that regular travel insurance does not provide sufficient cover for expensive optical and photographic equipment. You need to have these items covered by your household policy or take out a specialised insurance.
Passports and Visa Requirements: It is your responsibility to ensure that you have a valid passport and where necessary a visa or Yellow Fever certificate. Your passport should be valid for at least six months after the duration of your holiday. If a visa is required for holders of British Citizens Passports, then you will be advised under the holiday’s itinerary, and note that you are normally responsible for obtaining your visa from the appropriate embassy or consulate. We accept no responsibility for your failure to comply with these regulations.
Health and Vaccinations: Because of the constantly changing recommendations as to immunisation requirements, malaria risk or health certificates, it will be your sole responsibility to seek the most up to date information from your G.P or health centre. All costs arising out of failure to comply must be met at your own expense. It must be emphasised that if you do have a health problem or physical limitation, we need to know so we can be prepared in the case of an emergency.
Restrictions on Participation and other important details: It is ZOOTHERA’S aim to take small groups on tours that entail a varying amount of strenuous activity. If on occasions the activities become, long, arduous or difficult and this cannot be avoided it will be made perfectly clear in the holiday’s itinerary/details. Some destinations will require early morning starts and possibly late returns, this maximises our opportunities to find and see certain species, and as regular wildlife watchers understand these are by far the most productive times of day. It will be necessary for participants to be able to complete moderate walks of up to several kilometres over a wide variety of terrain. It may be of particular interest to note that some of our tours base themselves in either one centre, or spend several days in each lodge allowing for a more relaxed and flexible itinerary. There will be the opportunity for those of you who wish, to opt out of any particular excursion and do your own thing at your own expense. You are free to do this but ZOOTHERAwill not be held responsible for you while making a departure from the itinerary and it must be stressed that this can only be done if the itinerary and the leader allow. Anyone wishing to partake of an activity not within our birdwatching programme may only do this at their own expense and if it does not in any way interfere with ours and the groups schedule. Small groups call for consideration from all participants so that we may all enjoy the holiday. Any antisocial behaviour (swearing, smoking etc) that could be detrimental to the enjoyment of a tour by the other group members, shall be deemed to be unacceptable. If after complaints from other tour members the leader finds any person still unable to conduct themselves in a manner seen fit, then they reserve the right as tour leader to send them home at their own expense. If you have any health problems or restrictions please contact us and we can advise as to your participation in a tour you may be interested in.
Forest birding: While birding in forests or narrow trails we require the following to be adhered to: when in rows following the leader everyone must rotate on a regular basis – i.e. the person or couple directly behind the leader should allow themselves 3 – 4 minutes before stepping aside and dropping to the rear of the group. This gives everyone an equal opportunity to be in the front and alleviates any frustrations caused by the same people always occupying this position. It is also important that we do not wear bright and gaudy colours while searching for birds, as this will obviously draw attention to ourselves and thus scare off any particular species we may be working hard to find. If the leaders are using tape recorders or trying to track down specific species by call, then it is important to keep silent so as to give us the best chance of finding our quarry. Although we are very good at giving instructions as to the whereabouts of particular species it is essential that you pay attention and listen carefully. It is not only deemed disrespectful to the leaders who work hard to find the birds it also becomes very frustrating if the rest of the group has to wait while we try and re-find a species because you were not aware of what was going on. When you are asked to gather together for a particular species we expect a prompt reaction to this, followed by silence as we explain crucial directions, and in the case of skulking and wary species we ask that you do not move around, open sweet wrappers, undo zips, velcro straps, step on dead leaf litter or hold inappropriate conversations with other members of the group. This may all sound a bit harsh but many a time we have had persons frighten off incredibly difficult species by any of the above, or simply continue talking or not keeping up with the leaders which could mean not knowing where a particular species is or what has just been seen. The most frustrating thing for any tour leader is to be continually asked what we are looking at or looking for when it has been specifically pointed out and told on numerous occasions. Please pay attention so that you and all other tour participants have the best chances to see everything on offer. It must be remembered that for some clients these tours may be a once in a lifetime event, please respect this and allow them to enjoy and witness everything the leaders can find.
Vehicles: Finally we would draw your attention to the fact that while travelling in vehicles we must again rotate. With a once or twice daily rotation everyone gets a chance to sit in the best seats, if these exist. Note that unless a leader says different, this is not negotiable and you will have move positions on a daily rota.
Tour Alterations: Circumstances can change i.e. weather conditions, transport, political situations and even bird migration. Because of this ZOOTHERA and local ground agents reserve the right to change an itinerary and even the advertised leader, especially if we feel it necessary or beneficial to the participants. If major changes are foreseen before the commencement of a tour you will be informed by us in writing, after which you have the option to continue or to cancel. If you decide to cancel your tour then you will be refunded in full. If an itinerary has to be changed by the leader while you are on the holiday then you must respect their professional decision.
Group Sizes: Birdwatching holidays are best enjoyed in a small group. This allows for more personal attention and better opportunities for all group members to see and enjoy the birdlife. Most of our groups will be between 4 - 9 persons which most birders would agree is an ideal size with which to enjoy your holiday. On a few tours our group size will be slightly higher up to 10 persons, but this is only to destinations where this will not affect the birding and overall pleasure of the holiday. And even then, the group size will probably be less than other tour companies. It is important to realise that some tour companies offer low prices by accepting large groups which can even go up to 16 persons. You should always check before booking! There are also some occasions when it may not be viable for us to send a ZOOTHERA leader, or we may have organised a particular tour to be lead only by one of our very competent local guides. In any of these circumstances you will be asked to meet the local guide at the destination airport.
Accommodation: Firstly we would like to say ZOOTHERAis generally all in favour of situating ourselves quite often right in the heart of the best birdwatching areas. We pride ourselves on our carefully picked lodges & hotels, wherever possible staying in good quality, comfortable accommodation often of a high standard and mostly with en-suite facilities. This is a feature of all ZOOTHERA tours, and even though our tour costs are among the lowest around, we never want to compromise on quality. Occasionally, we may have to use a hotel/lodge that does not have en-suite facilities or is more basic than we are used to. But this is only used where nothing else is available or a very long drive from more comfortable accommodation to the birding area is deemed unrealistic. If this is the case, then this fact will be stated in the holiday itinerary. The food we offer in our wide variety of establishments is again normally of the best quality and enhances our reputation even further. We will always try to accommodate clients who request single rooms, but this is not always possible, and if you are a single traveller who is prepared to share a twin room then we will do my utmost to find you a compatible room-mate. If this is not possible, or if you are not prepared to share, then a single room supplement may apply.
Meals: You will find which meals are included within the tour price under each tour’s itinerary. Note that most tours are fully inclusive of all meals, including picnic lunches and sometimes even wine! A few destinations do not include food, and these are normally in the USA and Canada. The choice and variety of eating establishment’s here means you can budget to your own needs, and hence the tour remains very competitively priced. Our choices of hotels and restaurants offering good quality food, show how dedicated we are to providing you with a top quality holiday. Nearly all tours can now cater for vegetarian or other special needs meals, but please specify this on our booking form.
Itineraries: We have put a lot of thought and ground work into these so as we get the most out of each area visited. It is our aim to provide you with the best possible overall experience. We will take time to appreciate and savour each destination visited, often combining spectacular scenery with just as spectacular birds and other wildlife. Our itineraries are designed to let you see as many species as possible within the particular areas visited. An emphasis will be put on finding and seeing well, interesting or speciality species all at an enjoyable pace. The travelling on certain tours can however be very tiring. Note that the itineraries within our brochure are a guide only and places to be visited and occasionally days may change either prior to or during the tour. There are many factors involved here but whenever a change occurs it will be for the benefit of the said tour. Please respect our decisions in these circumstances. We try not to rush around getting brief views of birds just to build up a huge list. It is very important to us that you come home from a ZOOTHERA tour with wonderful memories of birds, other wildlife, and also of new friends made. We really do our best to take care of you and it is this care and commitment that has seen a huge growth in happy and loyal clients.
Tour Information: After we have received your final balance for a particular tour, you will be sent additional information regarding meeting points, currency, clothing, names of your fellow travellers, recommendations, and any other relevant details. You will also be sent a check list of the birds it may be possible to see while fully participating in your chosen tour. Please contact us if you require any further information.
Birds and other Wildlife: Any species mentioned in the tour itineraries or check lists are meant as a guide only, and in no way should you expect to see everything mentioned, although you should see a good proportion if you participate fully in the tour. Persons who listen carefully to instructions and pay close attention to the leaders always see the most. Previous tour sightings are listed within the checklists and we try to do a roll-call at the end of each day. We have a few rules regarding bird/wildlife sightings while on tour and these we believe give us the truest and most accurate records.
Firstly we do not include leader only sightings. Secondly we need at least two members of the group to see a particular species for it to be entered as a group total. This does not mean we disbelieve single observer sightings but ensures we have as accurate a trip list as possible. Many companies sell themselves on the number of species seen, as indeed we do but note that on a ZOOTHERA tour we make a concerted effort to ensure every group member gets a chance to see the species we find. Many companies are happy to let one or two persons see a particular species before moving on, or let a large group split of in different direction to build up an overall total. Something again to check before booking!
Surcharges: Unfortunately as everyone is aware the travel industry is suffering with uncontrollable and escalating costs relating to fuel, flights and an erratic world economy. Any unforeseen cost increases will be absorbed by ZOOTHERA up to an amount equivalent to 2% of the tour price which excludes insurance premiums and any amendment charges. Only amounts in excess of 2% will be surcharged. Note that companies who claim that no surcharges will be added have actually already built this into their tour cost, and this will be obvious by the inflated price in comparison to ZOOTHERA. We believe in trying to keep the low competitive price we have offered, if we do not pay any more then nor do you!
Liability: We have taken all reasonable steps to ensure that the holidays published on our website and in any literature we send out have been properly arranged. The travel agents, vehicle hire, hotel and restaurants are all reputable. We will accept liability as a direct result of negligence or breach of contractual duty in making arrangements for you, including omissions by our agents. We will not accept liability for claims arising out of carriage by air or sea. We will also not accept liability for matters such as losses or additional expenses incurred as a result of transport delays, including missed flights, sickness, weather, strikes, war or other political crises, acts of God or other events which amount to force majeure. Please ensure you carry adequate means of payment i.e. credit card to deal with any of the above. If for example there becomes an additional cost for accommodation or flights due to say a delayed internal flight, it will be your responsibility to pay for this at the time, and later re-claim from your insurance company. ZOOTHERA cannot and will not pay these costs as we are not liable.
Complaints: In the unlikely event that you have cause to complain you should notify at least one of your party leaders as soon as possible in order that we may assist you. If you are not satisfied there and then, you should write to me stating the nature of the complaint within 28 days of the completion of the holiday.
Contracts: When you sign the booking form you are entering into a contract made with ZOOTHERA GLOBAL BIRDING LTD. This means that you agree to accept all the conditions of booking. The written confirmation of your booking means that we agree to operate your holiday as stated in the brochure. The contract is governed by English law and is subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.