Why Travel The Unknown?
Why should I travel with Travel The Unknown?
While most travel companies focus on well-worn paths to places that are now overcrowded, at Travel The Unknown we offer truly off the beaten track tours and unique experiences. We have travelled extensively within the countries and regions we offer and have personally crafted each tour taking into consideration that all travellers are different. We believe that the diversity of our tours is unrivalled: from volcano treks, tribal festivals, ancient monasteries and temples, undiscovered tropical islands, wild safaris, lost cities, and much more.
We are passionate travellers and have travelled extensively and as such we bring an intimate knowledge of travel to each of our tours. Our focus is on providing awe-inspiring trips and ensuring that our tours benefit the local communities directly, hence we plough back some of our profits into local projects.
What makes Travel The Unknown different?
We have gone out of our way to find truly off the beaten track places. We have a genuine passion for travel and believe that our tours offer everything a traveller would want in a package tour. They have also been designed in a way which benefits the local communities, keeping alive ancient traditions, and investing in local development projects.
We also prefer to keep group sizes to a maximum of 12 with the dual purposes of reducing the environmental and cultural impact of our tours as well as enabling closer contact with locals. We also feel that the group members get to know each other better if the group size is smaller, which makes for a better holiday experience for everyone.
We personally review all of our tours ensuring that our high standards are always maintained and o we handpick professional, experienced and friendly guides so we know we can rest easy in the knowledge that they will ensure your tour runs smoothly.
Couldn't I do this on my own?
Travel The Unknown specialises in destinations that are generally undiscovered and off the tourist trail. Therefore, in many instances it can be surprisingly difficult to organise a cohesive trip independently. Through extensive travel in these regions, Travel The Unknown has first-hand knowledge of these places and has developed excellent contacts on the ground. Some places also require permits, so we take care of these bureaucratic formalities for you. We provide local guides who are experts in their regions. We also act as a point of contact for all arrangements, give you financial protection and due to our relationships with suppliers, are able to offer you the best trips for the most reasonable prices available.
I have generally travelled independently, so why should I join a group?
We have also travelled independently, and while it is often the best way to travel it does depend on the destination and the difficulty of arranging things. Our tours have been designed with people like you in mind and in such a way that we include as much free time as feasible and you will generally be free to participate as much or as little as you want. By keeping our group size down to 12, we are offering the best of both worlds: the camaraderie of a group and the flexibility for you to have some 'me-time' too.
Booking and Payment
How far in advance do I need to book my trip?
It is best to book your spot as soon as possible to ensure your place on a tour since we do not take more than 12 people in a group. It also helps us to arrange your flight booking in advance ensuring we can get you the best price.
When do I need to make payment?
For scheduled group departures, a non-refundable deposit of £250 is paid at the time of booking or 10% for tailormade trips. A second payment (40% of the tour cost less deposit) is due 6 months before departure. The final balance is paid 10 weeks before the tour start date. If the tour starts within 10 weeks of booking, then the full amount is payable. If you require us to book your international flight, then full payment for this has to be made in advance.
What if I need to cancel or transfer my booking?
Should you wish to cancel your holiday, you must notify us as soon as possible. Please advise the reason for cancellation as you may be covered by your insurance policy. In the event of cancellation, all flight costs will be forfeited. In certain instances, some flight costs may be recoverable by you. The following cancellation charges apply:
∑ Over 70 days Deposit
∑ 31 - 70 days 50% of total tour price
∑ 11 - 30 days 90% of total tour price
∑ 0 - 10 days 100% of total tour price
If you wish to transfer to another tour cancellation charges may apply depending on services booked for which we cannot receive compensation or transfer to a future date. See our booking conditions here. Please contact us if you have any specific questions.
How can I pay for my trip?
We encourage people to pay by bank transfer as there are typically no charges for this from within the UK. We also accept cheques. Surcharges apply for paying using credit and debit cards as we incur charges to accept such payments. There is a 3.4% charge for UK cards and 3.9% for international cards.
Can you organise international flights?
Yes. Most of our trips have the option of arriving in the destination country independently or booking flights through us. Both prices are displayed on individual tour pages. The flight prices quoted are for flights from London Heathrow airport. We can also organise departures from regional airports in the UK and airports in other countries. Please contact us for more information.
What is included in the price of our tour?
We firmly believe in being upfront with our clients, and avoid hidden extras like 'local payments'. The prices quoted are inclusive of internal airfares (and international flights from London where indicated), transfers, ground transportation, accommodation, meals as indicated in the itineraries, permits and entrance fees to sites and parks, where applicable. You should refer to the 'What's included' tab on the individual tour page on our website or at the end of a printed itinerary for a comprehensive list, as this will vary according to the tour.
There are sometimes 'add-on' activities, such as paragliding or scuba diving and these would not be included in the published price. Activities that are not included are specified clearly in the individual itineraries.
Do I have to pay more for my holiday if I am a single traveller?
If single travellers are happy to share a room with another same sex single traveller, there will be no charge for a single supplement. However, if you would like your own room, a single supplement will be required and this rate varies between tours and is indicated on individual tour's webpage or at the end of a printed itinerary.
Is my payment protected?
Travel The Unknown are fully bonded by ATOL issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (ATOL number: 9854). This means that your trip with Travel The Unknown is 100% financially guaranteed so you can relax and look forward to a trip of a lifetime.
We also have additional insurance through our TOPP (Total Payment Protection) policy with Travel and General. In compliance with the UK Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 and the Civil Aviation (Air Travel Organiser's Licensing) Regulations 1995 an insurance policy has been arranged with Travel & General Insurance Company plc, authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, to protect customers' prepayments in the unlikely event of our financial failure and paid in respect of:
∑ flight inclusive packages commencing and returning to the UK
∑ non-flight inclusive packages commencing and returning to the UK
∑ flight inclusive packages, where the initial flight from your home country, which is outside of the UK, was included in the package price of the holiday
∑ the ground handling aspects of packages where the customer is responsible for arranging travel to the destination offered in this brochure/literature/document/on this website (subject to the terms of the insurance policy), for:
∑ a refund of such prepayments if customers have not yet travelled, or
∑ making arrangements to enable the holiday to continue if customers have already travelled, or
∑ repatriation of customers to the UK or their home country as may be applicable.
Customers' prepayments are protected by a topp policy. In the unlikely event of financial failure please contact the claims helpline on 0870 0137 965. A copy of the policy is available on request.
BEFORE YOU GO
Visas & Insurance
Can Travel The Unknown arrange my visa?
In some instances your visa is arranged on arrival and is included as part of the tour cost (e.g. Syria). In other instances, such as India, we can organise reasonably priced fast track visa services with our partner company - Travcour. You can download the visa application form at: www.traveltheunknown.com/downloads/general/indiavisaappform.pdf Please ask us if you are not sure about your visa requirements.
Do I need special travel insurance for your trips?
All clients must have the relevant personal travel insurance suitable for the region they are travelling to. Travel The Unknown offer very competitive insurance through our own insurance providers, making it even easier for you to organise your trip.
However, Travel The Unknown recognises and you must also recognise, that for a very small minority of regions, insurance is either impossible to obtain, or is just commercially unviable for Travel The Unknown to obtain in order to operate in areas where War and Terrorism (mostly non-insurable anyway) have recently been a factor of life. Therefore we recognise and accept that you will not be covered in those regions/countries but also that you must recognise and accept that Travel The Unknown and its staff are also†not†covered in these areas. Nevertheless, you should still purchase travel insurance which should cover you for holiday cancellation, etc. Please ask us about the insurance situation for any tours you are interested in.
Health and Safety
Do I need inoculations?
The NHS 'Fit For Travel' website provides up to date and accurate information on what inoculations or medication is necessary for specific destinations. For more information, visit: www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk. Nevertheless, you should also consult your GP for further advice.
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against travel to the place I want to go to. Should I be worried about security?
Travel The Unknown takes safety and security very seriously. We constantly consult the FCO and our contacts on the ground, so are up to date with the latest situation in the places we are visiting. We will always ensure that our clients and our staff are not put at any risk. It should be noted that for certain areas, the FCO advises against travel "except when travelling as part of an organised group'.
What if the FCO advice changes after I have booked my trip?
We constantly consult the FCO and our contacts on the ground so are always up to date with the latest security situation wherever we are touring. We will amend the itinerary if there is any risk to the safety and security of the group. In the unlikely event that we are forced to cancel a trip due to a major incident, refunds will be applicable as per the terms and conditions of booking. However, it does not necessarily mean we will cancel trips simply because the FCO advice changes.
When will I get my tickets?
You will receive these up to 4 weeks prior to departure date.
What will be in my travel pack?
About 4 weeks prior to departure, we will send you a travel pack including your final itinerary, list of emergency contacts, check list, trip notes, any flight/train tickets if applicable, and any further information required for your trip.
When do I meet the rest of the group?
If your flights are included in the price of the tour, you will probably be on the same flight as other members of your group. If you are flying out independently, you will most likely meet them in your hotel on the first day of your tour.
What sort of luggage should I bring?
Generally speaking a soft bag is better than one with rigid sides - they're easier to fit into vehicles when you're travelling. We generally don't recommend hard sided suitcases or anything too big. We ask that you keep your luggage to a maximum of 20kg, and remember that there will be instances when you'll need to carry it yourself. If your trip includes hiking or trekking, we strongly advise you to pack into a backpack rather than a suitcase.
What do I need to bring with me?
This depends on the tour you have booked. Most of our tours are off the beaten track and climates and terrains can vary during the tour. After booking you will be sent a checklist of essentials to bring with you on the trip. The most important thing is that you bring an open mind and sense of adventure!
General Trip Info
I live outside the UK, can I still join a Travel The Unknown tour?
Yes. We have had many travellers from outside the UK join our tours. We welcome travellers fromall countries as it adds to the diversity of the group and makes our tours all the more enjoyable. If you are based in the USA, we also have a US contact number or you can always reach us on skype (id: traveltheunknown).
Are your tours environmentally friendly?
Responsible travel and the 'carbon footprint' have always been important to us, even before they hit the headlines. We ensure that all of our tours are 100% carbon neutral, by offsetting carbon emissions using the highly acclaimed Climate Care scheme. Furthermore, we educate our clients on the importance of responsible travel and our guides follow strict ethical guidelines, so that future generations can benefit from tourism.
Are your tours suitable for families?
We do not accommodate young children on our scheduled group departures. However for private trips, this is usually not a problem, depending on the nature of the tour. Some of our itineraries are quite demanding however and may not be suitable for children so please contact us for further information regarding individual trips.
How fit do I need to be to join a Travel The Unknown tour?
You don't have to be an endurance athlete to participate in our tours! However, since our tours will involve some element of physical exercise (walking city tours at a minimum) and depending on the altitudes of some places we visit, it is advisable that you should have some degree of general fitness. However, should you not be able to do any particular trek or activity, we can often arrange an alternative activity ensuring you can still enjoy your trip. Please contact us with any specific questions you might have. We have included an activity rating on each of our tours to give you an indication of the level of physical demands it entails. Activity levels of 4 and 5 are more active trips and will require a decent level of fitness. Please ask us if you are unsure about the physical demands of any particular trip.
What's the transport like?
It varies according to the itinerary. For regular road travel we typically use air-conditioned and well-maintained vehicles where appropriate. However, on rougher terrain, we use jeeps. Private transport allows more flexibility and is often more comfortable, however part of the experience is to use local transport and therefore some itineraries include local trains, boats, canoes or camels! However we do not compromise on safety. For domestic as well as international flights we use reputed airlines.
What standard of accommodation do you generally use?
Accommodation is an integral part of the travel experience. We aim to provide you with accommodation which best represents the diversity of our tours. Our accommodation varies from traditional bamboo houses, delightful eco-camps, Buddhist and Orthodox monasteries, small guesthouses and boutique hotels and the occasional homestay. We have spent a lot of time researching accommodation with the best character. We want you to get the best cultural experience out of where you stay as well as being as comfortable as possible.
Who accompanies these trips?
We have close contact with our local ground handlers who will take care of your trip. For many tours we use English-speaking drivers in conjunction with experienced local guides. However, other tours we also use guides who escort the trip throughout.
Can I opt out of certain activities if I want to?
Nothing is compulsory, so yes, you can opt out of any activity if you want to. We are flexible so alternative arrangements could be made. There may be extra charges depending on the alternative activity. Please discuss this with us at the time of booking. We do advise however, that you do not join a trekking tour if you feel you will not be able to complete it as this may disrupt the tour for other people.
Can you arrange pre- and post-tour accommodation?
Yes we can arrange accommodation and transport for you both before and after the tour dates. However, the cost of this is not included in the original tour price.
Can I extend my trip?
Travel The Unknown aims to be the premier travel company for adventurous travellers, and we have designed our tours to be as flexible as possible. We understand that if you are visiting India for the first time for example, you may be interested in visiting some remote little visited villages but also want to take in some of the more conventional sites, such as the Taj Mahal. As such we offer a range of shorter trips that can be added on to your main trip. These can also be taken as stand-alone trips as long as we can get minimum numbers required.
I prefer not to travel in groups - can I still do a Travel the Unknown tour as a private trip?
Absolutely. If you'd like to travel privately then please contact us and we'll be happy to arrange a tailor-made trip to your specifications. Click here to request a customised trip.
Can I combine specific parts of your various itineraries to create my own tailor-made trip?
Yes. You can choose parts of different itineraries that appeal to you and we can tailor-make a private trip to incorporate only those aspects.
I want to travel, but none of the dates/trips you run coincide with my holiday dates. Can you organise something for me?
No problem! If we have other clients who are looking to travel around the same date as you, we will happily accommodate you together. If you have your own group of 4-12 people, we can arrange the same tours on a date which suits you! In fact if your group is big enough you may qualify for a discount.
On your group trips, what is the maximum and minimum group size?
We believe in keeping our group sizes to no more than 12 people to minimise the cultural and ecological footprint in the regions and communities we will be visiting. Since we often visit very remote areas, there is often very limited accommodation. Also, if the group size is limited, interactions with local people are more natural and organic, we find it is easier for travellers in the group to get to know each other better, and gives us extra flexibility on our tours.
What happens if my tour doesn't reach the minimum group size?
Our minimum group size is typically four, and for some tours as low as two. In the event of a tour not reaching its minimum group size, we could still run the tour if you are ok with paying an additional surcharge so that we can cover our operational costs. Otherwise, we could postpone the tour until we reach sufficient numbers. We will try our utmost to ensure the tour runs, but if we have to cancel the tour for this reason, you will be offered a full refund.
Is my tour guaranteed?
Once we have the minimum number for a group tour, we will make the trip guaranteed. We do our best to make trips go ahead whenever possible. If we do need to cancel a trip, you will be informed no less than one month before the departure date.
Are your tours suitable for single travellers?
Definitely. Our clients tend to be a mixture of couples, small groups, friends and single travellers. In fact, many single travellers join tours as a way of meeting other like-minded travellers wanting to get off the beaten track.
Ask us a question.
Why Travel The Unknown?
Travel The Unknown Ltd. Registered Address: Hyde Park House, 5 Manfred Road, Putney, SW15 2RS Company number: 06347869 | ATOL number 9854
Copyright © Travel The Unknown 2012. All Rights Reserved. Terms Privacy Booking Conditions Design by Matthis Duclos & Heather Park [offthebeatentrackfaqs]
Travel The Unknown is a UK based tour operator specialising in off the beaten track travel in some of the least explored places on Earth.
We are currently offering tours to North East India: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya; Serbia, Syria and Colombia. Our off the beaten track tours are diverse and include tribal tours, cultural tours, Kaziranga safari trips, mountain trekking expeditions, village tours, Buddhist temple tours and camping in stunning remote places. We also offer festival tours including the Ras Festival in Majuli and many festivals in Arunachal Pradesh including Nyochum, Si-Doni, Losar, Tawang Torgya, and many more. In Colombia the Barranquilla festival is available.
Please choose your country of residence.