The Tour Price displayed here is for the tour only and does not include international flights. Our flight prices are very competitive, please ask for a quote when making your bookingAll departures for this trip are guaranteed.
This trip is an overland trip run in an overland truck. In addition to paying for your trip, you're require to make a separate payment to your tour leader at the start of the trip, usually in USD. Kitties are flexible and change as prices are updated. Therefore you should check the latest kitty amount on this website before you depart.
A kitty is a group fund which covers all accommodation, meals while camping (not in hotels) and activities listed as included. It's a system unique to overlanding to provide the maximum flexibility and best value on the road (you get everything at cost price!). The kitty is your money, not ours, so any amount left over is divided among the group as a refund.Close
|Trip Code||Start Date||End Date||Currency||Kitty|
|Saturday 22 Jun 2013||Saturday 29 Jun 2013|
|Saturday 06 Jul 2013||Saturday 13 Jul 2013|
|Saturday 17 Aug 2013||Saturday 24 Aug 2013|
|Saturday 31 Aug 2013||Saturday 07 Sep 2013|
|Saturday 14 Sep 2013||Saturday 21 Sep 2013|
|Saturday 28 Sep 2013||Saturday 05 Oct 2013|
|Saturday 12 Oct 2013||Saturday 19 Oct 2013|
|Saturday 26 Oct 2013||Saturday 02 Nov 2013|
|Saturday 09 Nov 2013||Saturday 16 Nov 2013|
|Saturday 23 Nov 2013||Saturday 30 Nov 2013|
|Saturday 07 Dec 2013||Saturday 14 Dec 2013|
|Saturday 14 Dec 2013||Saturday 21 Dec 2013|
|Saturday 21 Dec 2013||Saturday 28 Dec 2013|
|Saturday 04 Jan 2014||Saturday 11 Jan 2014|
|Saturday 18 Jan 2014||Saturday 25 Jan 2014|
|Saturday 01 Feb 2014||Saturday 08 Feb 2014|
|Saturday 15 Feb 2014||Saturday 22 Feb 2014|
|Saturday 01 Mar 2014||Saturday 08 Mar 2014|
|Saturday 15 Mar 2014||Saturday 22 Mar 2014|
|Saturday 29 Mar 2014||Saturday 05 Apr 2014|
|Saturday 12 Apr 2014||Saturday 19 Apr 2014|
|Saturday 26 Apr 2014||Saturday 03 May 2014|
|Saturday 10 May 2014||Saturday 17 May 2014|
|Saturday 24 May 2014||Saturday 31 May 2014|
|Saturday 07 Jun 2014||Saturday 14 Jun 2014|
|Saturday 21 Jun 2014||Saturday 28 Jun 2014|
Travel to Finland and experience the diverse culture of Helsinki. If in the city early, maybe check out the magnificent Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, Senate Square or catch a performance at the National Theatre.
Welcome to Finland!
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Surrounded by the sea, Helsinki is a modern European city that offers an endless array of options. Throughout its 450-year history, Helsinki has often been the buffer between the East and West. The hallmarks of history can be seen everywhere, from the magnificent Suomenlinna Sea Fortress to the cutting-edge architecture of the 21st century.
For those who arrive early, we recommend purchasing the Helsinki Card - an economical way to travel on Helsinki City Transport (HKL) services as well as free admission to the main Helsinki sights and nearly 50 museums (EUR25 for 24 hours, EUR35 for 48 hours).
As there are no included activities here, we recommend you arrive a few days early to enjoy the sights of the Finnish capital. Make time to see the highlights such as the Senate Square, the Russian Orthodox Church, Kaisaniemi Park, the National Theatre and Helsinki Railway Station. You can take a local ferry out to the islands and the imposing Suomenlinna Sea Fortress - a World Heritage-listed site.
Cathedral, Helsinki - Free
City Museum, Helsinki - Free
Design Museum, Helsinki - EUR7.00
National Museum of Finland, Helsinki - EUR6.00
Hotel (1 nt)
Catch a ferry across the Gulf of Finland to Estonia's charming capital, Tallinn. While here, the impressive Kadriorg Palace and quaint Old Town are worth a visit, or perhaps take a more active approach on a guided city bike tour.
Catch a ferry across the Gulf of Finland to the Estonian capital of Tallinn (approx 3 hrs).
With its steep red roofs, spires, pastel-coloured buildings and new restaurants and bars, Estonia's capital is a real treat to explore. Seeing the vibrant streets of Tallinn now, it's difficult to fathom that Soviet occupation only ended 19 years ago.
Start our time here with a short walk through the city centre to get oriented.
You have a free day here and and an exploration of the Old Town is a must. You'll see the last remaining gothic town hall in northern Europe, Old Thomas; the Räapteek which has housed a pharmacy since the 15th century; and St Olaf Church, a major landmark of Tallinn.
You can head towards Upper Tallinn, home to the noble families, to see the amazing views of Lower Tallinn and the medieval spires of the town walls. The 13th-century Toompea Castle, where the Estonian Parliament sits, and the 19th-century Alexander Nevsky Cathedral are some of the main attractions of Upper Tallinn. Alternatively, you could go to Pirita to chill out at Tallinn's most popular beach.
Estonian History Museum, Tallinn - EEK25.00
Kadriorg Palace, Tallinn - EEK55.00
Old Town Audioguide, Tallinn - EEK300.00
Peter the Great Museum, Tallinn - EEK15.00
City Bike Tour, Tallinn - EEK250.00
City Museum, Tallinn - EEK35.00
Tallinn Tower Museum, Tallinn - EEK25.00
TV Tower, Tallinn - EEK50.00
Hotel (2 nts)
Country-hop once again, this time into Latvia. Discover how Riga is renowned for its welcoming locals and a fascinating art nouveau heritage. Pay a visit to the Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum, haggle with vendors in the Central Market or learn about the country's history at the Museum of Occupation.
Cross the border by local bus and travel to Riga (approx 5.5 hrs).
Latvia's capital rests on the Daugava River and is a living museum of architectural eras. Riga is particularly famous for its art nouveau heritage, with many fine examples dotted around town.
Take a walk around town to see some of the sights such as the Doma Cathedral, St Peter's Basilica, House of Blackheads, the Swedish Gate, Mentzendorff's House, Riga Castle, The Great Guild & Small Guild and the Cat House.
The Museum of Occupation gives a very thorough and fascinating insight into the hardships suffered by Latvians during its occupation by, first, the Germans and, later, the Soviets. It's highly recommended.
The Old Town in Riga is just as charming as the one in Tallinn, with St Peter's Church as its centrepiece. You can catch the elevator to the top for fine views of the Old Town and its surroundings.
Visit the Latvian Open Air Ethnographical Museum.
You might want to head to Riga's colourful Central Market, which dates back to 1201, to pick up supplies for a picnic.
Riga Orientation Walk
Mentzendorff's House, Riga - LVL1.00
History Museum, Riga - LVL1.00
National Art Museum, Riga - LVL8.00
Riverboat Cruise, Riga - LVL5.00
St Peter's Tower, Riga - LVL2.00
The Museum of Occupation of Latvia, Riga – Free
Hotel (2 nts)
Make tracks to the former Prussian capital of Klaipeda and take a day trip to the unique, World Heritage-listed Curonian Spit National Park, a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. If feeling adventurous, grab a bicycle and explore this exceptional region on two-wheels.
Set off by bus to the former Prussian capital of Klaipeda.
Formerly known as Memel, Klaipeda used to be a member of the Hanseatic League and is the gateway to the Curonian Spit - a long, narrow sand dune peninsula separating the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea.
Take a trip to explore the unique World Heritage-listed Curonian Spit National Park - a real Baltic beach experience.
For the more energetic there's the option to ride a bike along the shores.
Day trip on the Curonian Spit
Bike Hire, Curonian Spit - LTL6.00
Guesthouse (2 nts)
Be wooed by the cosmopolitan charms of Lithuania's capital. See how each of the several European powers who have occupied this city have left their unique impression. Visit Cathedral Square and see Gediminas Tower on a city walk. In free time, why not take a peek into the mysterious world of espionage at the KGB Museum.
Continue by bus or train to Vilnius (approx 4 hrs).
Lithuania's capital has at different times been occupied by Sweden, Poland, France and Russia, each leaving its mark in some way on this lovely city. Vilnius offers a different picture of the Baltics than Riga and Tallinn, but it's every bit as interesting. Its lovely parks and gardens offer a break from historic monuments.
Your leader will show you the highlights of the city on a walk that covers Cathedral Square and the famous chapel of Saint Kazimieras, Gediminas Tower and the Gates of Dawn, one of the original gates giving access to the city.
Take a trip to Trakai (approx 40 mins by bus), the former capital of Lithuania. It's situated on lakes with two castles dating from the 14th century, which were built to defend the capital from German knights. Trakai has a small population of Karaim people who were brought here in the 14th century and who still hold their traditional Jewish services in the Kinessa, built in 1812.
Higher Castle Museum, Vilnius - LTL4.00
KGB Museum, Vilnius - LTL4.00
National Museum, Vilnius - LTL4.00
Guesthouse (2 nts)
Hike and canoe through dense forests and appreciate the serenity of this natural wonderland. Come across medieval villages and learn about Lithuania's ancient beekeeping industry. Perhaps take the opportunity to soak in a traditional sauna.
Travel by local train to Aukstaitija ('Owk-sty-chee-ah') National Park (approx 2 hrs).
This is a land of lakes, waterways, hills and woods. One of the most delightful national parks in the Baltic States, Aukstaitija has 126 lakes.
Transfer to the charming village of Ginuciai.
Take a canoe ride (weather permitting) through the lakes to a viewpoint with a wishing tree. Then transfer back to our accommodation - the whole journey takes about 3 hours.
You'll have a free day to visit some of the local attractions such as nearby villages that date from the 14th century, traditional wooden houses and farmsteads. The 19th-century Ginuciai Watermill operated till 1968 and is another point of interest. Or you can hike to some glorious lookouts, do some fishing, enjoy a sauna, swim in the lake or just relax.
Guided canoe trip
Sauna, Aukstaitija - LTL10.00
Guesthouse (2 nts)
Travel to Poland and spend time learning about how Warsaw was rebuilt from rubble after World War II. Mosey about in the Old Town and delve further into history at the Warsaw Uprising Museum. While here, perhaps take an excursion through the gilded hallways of the Royal Castle.
Make the long journey by train to Warsaw (approx 12 hrs, unfortunately there's no faster way)
Warsaw is Poland's large, bustling capital. It's remarkable to see the achievements of the Polish people who rebuilt their city from mere rubble at the end of World War II. The city folk are lovers of culture and art, as well as entertainment. There are numerous theatrical and musical venues including the prestigious National Opera, the Chamber Opera and the National Theatre.
Visit the Uprising Museum. Opened on the 60th anniversary of the Uprising, this museum recounts the events which saw the people of Warsaw fighting against the Nazi occupation. The museum is a moving tribute to those who fought and died for independence.
Palace of Science and Culture Observation Deck, Warsaw - PLN20.00
Jewish Cemetery, Warsaw - PLN4.00
Marie Curie Museum, Warsaw - PLN10.00
National Museum, Warsaw - PLN12.00
Royal Castle, Warsaw - PLN20.00
Hotel (2 nts)
Arrive in Germany and uncover the tumultuous past of Berlin. Perhaps gaze up at the symbolic Brandenburg Gate and end the adventure in one of the city's modern bars or nightclubs.
Travel by train to Berlin, the heart of modern Germany (approx 6 hrs).
Berlin is a vivacious city where fast-paced modern development is overlaid on a history familiar to everyone. Surviving pre-World War I attractions include the Schloss Charlottenburg, the Prussian Queen's Summer Palace, and the Prussian Victory Column. The Tiergarten, Berlin's largest green space with 23 kilometres of pathways, is also home to the world famous Berlin Zoo.
There are countless unique memorials and sites holding significance in Berlin's more recent history, all designed to provoke thought as well as commemorate, such as the Jewish Memorial, the empty shelves of Bebelplatz or the confronting Topography of Terror. The Reichstag holds a special and symbolic meaning, outside its role once again as the home of Parliament, and the great glass dome that today crowns the building offers sweeping views over Berlin. At the very heart of Berlin stands the Brandenburg Gate, once a symbol of a divided city, and the crumbling remnants of the Berlin Wall that can still be seen.
Don't miss out on Berlin's up-beat nightlife. Consider spending an evening celebrating life as the locals do - at a bar, lounge, nightclub or embracing some live music.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart our accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
Bike tour, Berlin - EUR20.00
Jewish Museum, Berlin - EUR5.00
National History Museum, Berlin - EUR4.00
Pergamon Museum, Berlin - EUR12.00
River sightseeing tour, Berlin - EUR16.00
Walking tour, Berlin - EUR15.00
Zoo, Berlin - EUR11.00
Berliner Dom, Berlin - EUR5.00
German History Museum, Berlin - EUR5.00
Kulturforum Potsdamer Platz, Berlin - EUR6.00
Reichstag, Berlin - Free
Schloss Charlottenburg, Berlin - EUR10.00
Hotel (1 nt)
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. Our brochure is usually released in November each year. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by ImTrav nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with ImTrav.
The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in the following destinations: Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain. All other European countries still have their own national currencies.
The most convenient and cheapest way to acquire money is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) or Bancomat as they are often referred to. Check with your bank in advance concerning the suitability of your account / card overseas and any international fees that will be applied.
You can obtain local currencies easily at airports and major train stations, but be sure to bring some extra emergency cash in a major currency that can be exchanged if the ATMs are not functioning.
When leaving home don't forget your PIN and make sure you know the telephone number for cancelling your card if it is stolen. Keep this in a safe place.
Credit cards are not always accepted in stores and restaurants. While travelling we recommend you carry some cash to pay for restaurant bills and other services. Change can be difficult to obtain so throughout the day, try to gain as many small denominations as you can.
You might be advised to take some of your money as travellers' cheques from a major financial institute. Travellers' cheques have security advantages, however please be aware that the exchange rates may not be favourable and that it is difficult to change Travellers' cheques in most countries. Be particularly aware that after hours money exchanges and hotel receptions carry high commissions- sometimes up to 20%.
For money safety we recommend that you carry your cash and credit cards in a secure money belt or pouch concealed under your clothes.
The local currency in Latvia is the LAT (LVL).
The local currency in Lithuania is the Lithuanian Litas, plural Litai (LTL).
The local currency in Poland is the Polish Zloty (PLN).
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many ImTrav destinations. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.
The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - leave the loose change. More up-market restaurants we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest EUR1-2 per person per day for local guides.
Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline EUR3 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our Comfort and Original style trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
A single supplement is available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information.
The price of the Single supplement does not include the following nights where single rooms may not be available. If a single room becomes available at check in for these nights, there is the option to upgrade to a single room and pay the surcharge locally for that night. :
Days 6-7 Curonian Spit
Days 10-11 Aukstaitija National Park
Hotel (8 nts), Guesthouse (6 nts)
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
Your accommodation may not always have private en suite facilities or air-conditioning. European hotels generally don't provide kettles or fridges.
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
4 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch, 2 Dinners
Budget for meals not included: EUR 400.00
Vegetarians might find the menu selection less varied than they would see at home. Vegetarianism is not as common in this region and generally the choices are basic, involving vegetables and fried cheese. Vegans will find it even more challenging. Vegetarians might choose to supplement meals with supplies bought from home, e.g. protein bars, dried fruits and so on.
Train, Ferry, Metro, Bus, Tram, Minibus, Canoe
All ImTrav group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. ImTrav endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At ImTrav we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
Hotel Arthur is located close to the railway station in the heart of Helsinki. The main sights, shopping district and theatres are just walking distance away. The recently refurbished rooms are cosy and brightly coloured. All rooms have private shower/toilet, telephone, colour tv, and hair dryer - some also have a minibar.
Please note that we have been informed by our hotel that they do not have long-term luggage storage facilities. If you arrive early on day 1 of your trip, the hotel will store luggage until check-in time.
Also, if you choose to arrange additional accommodation at this location you may be required to change rooms for the nights which are not included as part of your ImTrav itinerary.
Tel: +358 (0)9 173 441
Hotel Arthur is located 2 blocks east of the railway station in the centre of Helsinki, right next to the Kaisaniemi Park.
If you are coming from the Vantaa Airport, take public bus No. 615 to 'railway square' (Rautatientori) and walk to our hotel. The bus journey takes 35 minutes and departs every 20 minutes on weekdays, every 30 minutes on weekends.
From the station, take Vilhonkatu Street which leads off the top left corner of the square with the railway station behind you. You will come to a metro station at the corner of Vilhonkatu and Kaisaniemenkatu, turn left again and head towards the Kaisaniemi Park, our hotel is located on the next corner. From the train station to the hotel it is approximately a 5 minute walk.
Alternatively, you can take a taxi direct to the hotel - the cost is approximately EUR30, or EUR20 per person if more then one person.
Travelling from St Petersburg or Moscow:
Fares: Moscow to Helsinki costs about EUR100 one-way per person in 2nd class (4-berth sleepers) or EUR140 in 1st class (2-berth sleepers). If you're over 60, the fare is EUR80 in 4-berth, EUR115 in 2-berth.
St Petersburg to Helsinki costs EUR60 one-way in 2nd class, EUR90 in 1st class. If you're over 60, the fare is 50 euros 2nd class, EUR80 1st class.
How to book: If you are on an ImTrav trip in Russia, your leader can organise tickets through our agent in Moscow and St Petersburg and you can pay directly to our agent. Or you can buy tickets online: http://www.waytorussia.net/Services/TrainTickets.html or at the train station.
There are daily and overnight trains.
Alternatively you can catch the bus. Daily buses cost approx USD35-50 and take 7 hours. Savavto buses (Russian) ticket office & buses depart from St Petersburg, Pulkovskaya Hotel, Pobedy square (p loschad). Metro: Moskovskaya.
Please be aware that those prices are approx. numbers and can change without notice.
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
Hotel and Hostel Friedrichshain
Warschauer Str. 57 D-12043
Hotel and Hostel Friedrichshain is situated around a peaceful courtyard, all rooms have private bathrooms & tv.
If you have pre booked a departure transfer, please inform your leader and they will notify you of your departure transfer time.
If you are making your own way to the airport the hotel will be able to help book you an airport shuttle or taxi. Please ask at reception.
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, our local Morocco / Europe Office can be reached on Tel: +212 (0) 66192 2693.
We also have a dedicated 24 hour telephone number which should only be used once you have left the UK and in the event of a real emergency. Should you need to call the number, we will do what we can to help but please bear in mind that real progress or action may not be possible until normal office hours.
If your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know and then make your way to the joining hotel as instructed in these trip notes. If you cannot get through leave a message and a contact number as these will be regularly checked. Emergency Number: +44 (0) 7985106564
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
EUROPEAN COUNTRIES ON THIS TRIP (EXCLUDING RUSSIA, UKRAINE, TURKEY):
Australia: No - Not required
Belgium: No - Not required
Canada: No - Not required
Germany: No - Not required
Ireland: No - Not required
Netherlands: No - Not required
New Zealand: No - Not required
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: No - Not required
UK: No - Not required
USA: No - Not required
With the so called "Schengen Agreement" there are no border controls any more. However in special situations passports may be checked. There are no passport stamps issued.
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader if you may speak to their direct manager.
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT:
It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary to store your luggage separately (and unattended) from the group. The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers, for when it comes to travelling on local buses and trains it's often only the smaller bags that will fit into the storage areas. If your bag does not fit in these areas then often the only place to put it is on your bed or seat. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.
Where ImTrav covers the cost of luggage storage for included day trips, we allow for one bag/backpack only, so it's advisable that you travel lightly and keep luggage to a limit of one item (plus your day pack). Extra luggage storage will be at your own expense.
CLOTHING & CLIMATE:
The climate in this region is extremely varied. From October until May you can expect temperatures close to and below zero, while from June until September temperatures can reach well above 30 C. For departures October to May you'll need to bring a warm windproof jacket, scarf, gloves, warm hat and waterproof footwear. On all other departures it can still get quite cool at night especially when in the countryside, so we recommend that you bring a warm jacket or fleece.
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation.
Cold tap water is generally safe and good to drink so you can avoid the purchase of bottled water by refilling from the tap. It may be better to boil water before use in some areas, please check with your group leader.
IMAGES FROM HOME:
During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos / postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country etc.
All ImTrav travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, ImTrav reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your ImTrav itinerary, and ImTrav makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware.
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
While travelling in this part of the world there is the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
We highly recommend the Imaginative Traveller travel insurance which is tailored specifically for adventure travel and covers ALL activities featured in any of our tours. For more details please go to http://www.imaginative-traveller.com/travel-insurance
At Imaginative Traveller we love helping our clients experience the beauty and cultures of the destinations we visit. However, hand in hand with this we have always been aware that we have a responsibility to minimise any negative impacts that tourism can bring.
Responsible Travel is twofold. It’s about taking people to the places they want to go in a safe and responsible manner but also about respecting and maintaining the natural and often delicate balance of the destination. Economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, but should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment.
It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit.
We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.
Whilst it is our aim to show destinations and cultures in a positive light, we do not believe in papering over the cracks or shielding visitors from the realities of life. This does not mean, however, that we condone or endorse certain situations or regimes that may be in place.
Our guidelines are meant not as rigid instructions but rather as suggestions to make our holidays more enjoyable – for everybody. As cultural and environmental sensitivities vary from country to country more specific guidelines can be found in our individual country and trip dossiers.
Before you depart try to spend some time familiarising yourself with the destination you will be travelling to – their culture and customs. The country dossiers on our website offer detailed information about all the regions we visit. They also include some useful phrases in the local language for you to use on your trip! A few words of the local language can open up many more opportunities for you to interact with the people you will meet.
Although it is tempting to give out pens, sweets and money to people begging, and particularly tempting to give to children, we feel that this encourages a begging mentality and has a long-term negative impact on communities. If someone begging earns more than someone in the same community who works this can discourage local employment. If children regularly bring home money it may discourage their parents from sending them to school. It is of course your own personal choice but you could consider giving to registered charities or contributing to our Responsible Travel fund instead. Money donated through our fund to our worldwide projects is matched pound for pound by Imaginative Traveller and used to help local grassroots projects.
Always ask permission to photograph local people and respect their decision if they would prefer not to have their picture taken.
Respect local dress codes, especially at religious sites. Our tour leaders are always on hand to give you advice about this.
In many of the countries we visit you might see examples of animal cruelty (for example dancing bears, performing monkeys and snake charmers). Please do not take photographs of this or offer money as it encourages the activity.
Respect the environment you are in. It sounds obvious but do not throw litter, take it with you or use rubbish bins! You may see locals throwing rubbish on the street but do not follow their example!
When shopping in countries where haggling is the norm – enjoy it and only pay what you feel is a fair price for the goods you are purchasing. However, remember that the shopkeeper does have to make a living so do stop once you have reached a price you are happy with. Bargaining should be fun but always remember that a small amount can mean much more to the vendor than to you.
Endeavour to take home souvenirs made locally; the money you spend can be very important to the local communities. However, do use your common sense and don’t buy anything that you think might be made out of endangered animals or plants.
To help keep as much money as possible in the host country - try to eat in locally owned restaurants and order local drinks and produce rather than international brands.
In hotels do be conscious of how much water you are using. Many of the areas we visit regularly have shortages; try not to have hour long showers! Don’t leave lights, air conditioners or fans on when you leave the room – you wouldn’t at home!
Respect the environment you are in, especially when in national parks or reserves. Pay attention to rules about keeping on paths, keeping a distance from animals and not removing any of the natural habitat.
Relax and immerse yourself in the differences of the culture you are in – you’ll be back home in the familiar soon enough (and wishing you were still on holiday!). These cultural differences are part of what makes your experience special.
If you would like to offset the carbon dioxide that will be produced on your flights you can do this on our website (on our Responsible travel page). We work with climatecare, who will reduce the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide that you produce in another part of the World through their emission reduction projects. These projects are low carbon efficient technologies in developing countries and not only serve to reduce emissions but also help to spread the adoption of low carbon technologies and improve the quality of life for local communities. Details of climatecare’s projects can be found on their website.
If you would like to contribute to our Worldwide projects, helping communities all over the World, you can also do this on our website or with a sales consultant. Please refer to our responsible travel page on the website for details of our current projects. Any donation you make will be matched £ for £ by Imaginative Traveller (up to a maximum of £1000).
Have a great trip!
Please do let us know if you have any comments about responsible travel at firstname.lastname@example.org
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for ImTrav travellers. ImTrav's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
Carbon Offset C02-e 164.00 kgs per pax.
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