WHY BOOK WITH US?

We give you real, authentic experiences that immerse you in the local culture.  You are an active participant in your adventure and will return home with a sense of fulfilment, excitement and possibly even a new outlook after learning from your global neighbours their ways of life, their culture and about their land.

We’ve done the hard work for you.  We’ve delved through the masses of tour providers and came up with a selection of responsible, sustainable tour providers.

We’re asking you to get behind something that will change the world, forever.  Our giving back model supports WaterAid Australia who are making impact worldwide in the quest for clean water for every person on the planet by 2030.

ARE ALL SMALL GROUP TOURS ESCORTED?

If a tour is advertised personally escorted by a Trailblazers Travel hostess, it is subject to minimum numbers.

If a tour falls below the minimum number required for a fully escorted tour, Trailblazers Travel reserves the right to offer the tour to be led by local guides on arrival to your destination.  Should a tour be cancelled for any reason, Trailblazers Travel cannot assume any responsibility for any additional costs relating to travel arrangements including travel insurance.

This aligns with our mission to travel responsibly and sustainably and ensure we keeping the tourist dollar in the communities and countries we visit.

DO YOU BOOK FLIGHTS?

On the designated small group departures we book your flights departing and returning to Australia for you through our travel partners.  We collaborate with some of Australia’s most trusted airlines and companies to secure you the best airfare possible.

For flights with no Australian connection, ie. Victoria Falls – Johannesbug or Kuala Lumpur – Sandakan we can book these flights, however you will be required to use your personal credit card for payment as many airlines and low cost carriers require you to show the credit card used to purchase the fares at check in, or they may refuse boarding.  You have the option or organising the flights yourself or if you prefer Trailblazers Travel to coordinate the flights with the itinerary, will need to authorise us to purchase fares on your personal credit card that will be available at airport check in. This would involve you advising your credit card details and permission to purchase.

Trailblazers Travel charges $50 per ticket per flight to supply this service.

FLIGHTS BOOKED AS NON CONNECTING – Flying twice on one day on different airlines.

NB: All flights are with various airlines, ticketed separately and classed as completely independent flights.  The airline does not have an agreement to honor your booking should the connecting flight be delayed or late.

It is of utmost importance, that if for any reason whatsoever your 1st flight is delayed or cancelled, you contact the 2nd airline carrier (your next flight) immediately to advise them you will be late or miss the flight.  Failure to do so will result in a ‘no show’ and your return flight to Sydney may be cancelled.  Even with notification, the airline may have no obligation to honor your flight.

We always follow connecting flight time guidelines and allow ample time for connection.  Any fees associated with a change of flight or having to repurchase flights is a cost borne the travelers and Trailblazers Travel will not be liable for any costs incurred as a result of passengers missing any flight.

HOW DO I PAY?

Prices advertised are based on fee free payment via direct deposit directly into the Trailblazers Travel account.  See below for account details.

Payments via Mastercard, Visa & American Express have a service fee of + 1.95%.  Payment via PayPal has a service fee of + 1.65%

Payments for US dollars: exchange rate will be calculated on the day, including relevant exchange fees.

Direct credit account details:

Account Name: Trailblazers Australia

BSB: 082 855

ACCOUNT #: 202105572

BOOKING PROCESS

You can make a booking inquiry online, on our contact us page or you can contact us by phone. Some popular destinations are often fully booked so it is a good idea to book in advance. We will send you the booking form to complete and once availability confirmed you will be required to pay a deposit.

You can access our BOOKING FORM here once you are ready.

50% deposit will be required on booking;

25% progress payment due 12 weeks prior to departure;

25% final balance due 8 weeks prior to departure.

Some airfares or services must be paid in full at the time of booking.  Please be aware that all deposits are non-refundable for changes of mind or cancellations by you (subject to your rights under the Australian Consumer Law).

BOOKING FORM

You can access our BOOKING FORM here.  This will need completion prior to deposit being taken.

HOW DOES TRAILBLAZERS TRAVEL GIVE BACK?

EVERY BUM ON A SEAT MAKES A SOCIAL IMPACT!

Every group booking can give clean safe drinking water to 2 people.

When a community gets access to the safe water and sanitation they desperately need, their:

  • health improves, and fewer lives are lost
  • time is freed up to do other important tasks, like harvesting food, or caring for children
  • children have the chance to go to school and play

Your investment will positively impact communities by multiplying four times in its impact and economic benefit.

Safe water, improved hygiene and sanitation transforms lives. When children’s health improves, they are able to attend school. When women are freed from the burden of water collection, they have more time to work to earn an income and grow food.

The way to eliminate world poverty begins with clean water.  If we get the basics covered and it frees up valuable time and energy to allow those less fortunate to create sustainable lifestyles for themselves.  This in turn allows them to pull themselves, their families and their communities out of poverty and create hope for all future generations.

With this in mind we have partnered with WaterAid Australia and by choosing to travel with us, every bum on a seat makes a contribution to reaching the water challenge to deliver clean water to every human on earth by 2030.

By traveling with us, you quite literally change the world!

WHO DOES TRAILBLAZERS TRAVEL GIVE TO?

We are very proud of the contribution we make to WaterAid Australia.  WaterAid works in 37 countries worldwide, transforming millions of lives every year with safe water, sanitation and hygiene projects.

WaterAid is made up of member countries in Australia, Canada, India, Sweden, the UK and the USA, and has a presence in Japan. The member countries help to coordinate and fund operations across country programmes. WaterAid Australia coordinates and fund programmes in Cambodia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste and supports programmes in Africa and India.

There are 650 million people in the world who need access to safe water. With your support, together we can bring clean water to everyone everywhere.  Currently dirty water and poor sanitation kills almost 900 children per day (information as per WaterAid Australia website).

Many children across the world who have no choice but to drink filthy water that makes them dangerously ill. There is no choice but to drink it, even though every sip could kill them, just like it kills almost 900 children per day.

THE FACTS:
Over 650 million people live without safe water.

2.4 billion people don’t have access to adequate sanitation, one in three of the world’s population K

Around 315,000 children under-five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. That’s almost 900 children per day.

Every minute, every day, people suffer and lives are lost needlessly because of a lack of safe water and sanitation. Help us end this global crisis and transform lives.

BORN TO LIVE WILD PLEDGE

                             BTLW-logo

BORN TO LIVE WILD PLEDGE

We want our travelers to have the best experience possible. Yes wildlife viewing is a big part of many of our itineraries, and we believe it’s best to view animals in their natural habitats and to do so with the greatest level of respect. We request all of our travelers to refrain from visiting any venues that exploit animals or use them for any forms of entertainment.

Facilities displaying captive animals and advertising activities like cub petting, walking with lions, elephant riding or handling of wildlife must be avoided. While they may appear fun and educational, or even claim to be working in the name of conservation, they are unnatural and stressful for the animals involved.

The cub petting and lion walking industry directly contributes to the exploitative breeding and canned hunting of lions (and other predators) and is especially rife in South Africa. Currently, almost 8,000 predators are being held in terrible conditions, living in cages and/or confined areas; none of this has anything to do with conservation. If we don’t act now, that number could blow out to over 12,000 within the next few years.

The recently released feature documentary Blood Lions (www.bloodlions.org) has brought the horrors of predator breeding, canned hunting and a variety of other exploitative activities to the world’s attention. The film is a compelling call to action to have these practices stopped.

Trailblazers Travel, an African-based safari and eco-tourism operator support Blood Lions and its aims.

The group includes many leading non-consumptive safari and ecotourism companies across southern and east Africa. Whilst predator breeding and canned hunting practices are currently confined to southern Africa, we stand together as a pan-African industry in joining our voices with the global call for having them stopped.

And we do so for good reason:
 The established predator research and scientific community do not recognize any of the breeders or operating facilities as having conservation merit.
 In marketing themselves, breeding facilities confuse the conservation messages and priorities, specifically with lions, which in turn results in a misdirection of vital funding that negatively impacts wild lion populations.
 There is sufficient evidence to show that their activities put additional pressure on wild lion populations: intensive breeders have illegally acquired new genetic stock from the wild, and the burgeoning lion bone trade remains a risk because of an illegal demand for bones from wild lions.
 We are deeply concerned about the welfare conditions of the animals kept in these facilities.
 Canned hunting does not reduce the hunting pressure on wild lions and is unethical.
We strongly request that the respective authorities take note of the mounting global opposition to these practices and begin a process of shutting them down.

Furthermore, we commit ourselves to the following:

1. To not knowingly book or otherwise support any breeder or operator that contributes to the cycle of breeding, exploitation and senseless killing of predators. This includes all petting and ‘walking with lion’ facilities.
2. To continue our support and promotion of the formal conservation community in their endeavours to secure the survival of Africa’s predators in the wild. Without wild lions and the rest of the predator guild extant in functioning ecosystems, there will be no African tourism industry; a calamitous situation for many economies.
3. To continue in our own endeavours towards wildlife conservation and economic development wherever we operate across Africa.
4. To continue supporting an ethical and responsible interaction with Africa’s wilderness and wild animals.
5. To continue promoting Africa as an authentic, wild and rewarding tourism destination.

We urge all of our passengers, crew and staff to please THINK before you VISIT, CUDDLE, WALK, VOLUNTEER or SHOOT. You have the power to stop lions being bred for the bullet.

OUR STANCE ON ANIMAL TOURISM & WELFARE

Animal welfare concerns the health of an animal’s physical and mental state. At Traliblazers Travel, we believe that a animal’s welfare should be measured against the Five Freedoms – universally accepted pillars established to protect animals living under human control. These are:

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst
  • Freedom from discomfort
  • Freedom from pain, injury or disease
  • Freedom to express normal behaviour
  • Freedom from fear and distress

We accept that the welfare of wild animals is compromised in captivity, and captivity is only acceptable when it is in the animal’s best interests and the highest possible standards of care are given to that creature.

WHAT ABOUT HORSES, CAMELS & DONKEYS?

Horses, donkeys and camels are considered domestic or working animals. These are the only animal rides that are offered as an included activity on our trips, and only when the well being of the animal has been previously established. General things to look out for:

  • When riding donkeys or camels during our trips, helmets are generally not available to travellers. We therefore need to ensure that only slow moving and even-tempered animals are provided by the operator.
  • Riders should choose an animal that is appropriate to their size.
  • Animals should not carry more than half their body weight, and less in hot conditions or on steep declines. If extreme temperatures are experienced, animals should not be ridden.

As a general guide, look out for the following before riding or walking with  domestic/working animals:

  • The animals should look well fed.
  • Their coats should be in good condition and without sores (check near the mouth, shoulders, spine and belly, as these areas are typically in constant contact with harnessing equipment). Wounds may also be hidden under a saddle or harness. It is NEVER acceptable to use wild animals for riding.
  • The animal’s eyes should be clear, bright and alert.
  • Handlers should not use physical force (including hitting or beating with crops, sticks or hands) to control or manoeuvre the animal.
  • Passengers should never feed the animals.
  • Check your donkey or horse for ‘firing’, where the animal’s legs are burnt with red-hot metal. Practitioners believe this ‘traditional healing’ method will make the animal ‘strong’.
  • Never overload a horse-drawn carriage.
  • Never ride with more than one person on the back of a horse or donkey.
  • Consider your own weight when riding – aim to choose an animal appropriate to your own size and weight.
  • Praise owners whose animals are in good condition.

PHOTOS WITH ANIMALS

In some parts of the world, you may meet local people who have taken animals from the wild so tourists can pay to have their photos taken with them. We advise our groups NOT to participate in this activity – it’s not known how these animals are treated. Are they drugged? Are they fed properly? Are they kept in inadequate conditions? Bottom line, unless it’s a sweet little cat or a eager dog, walk away – the profile pic isn’t worth it.

We also discourage people from visiting venues that offer animal shows, ‘selfie’ opportunities or direct interaction with wild animals. The animals involved in these activities are sometimes taken from the wild, bred in intensive conditions, taken prematurely from their mothers as babies, and submitted to cruel physical and psychological conditioning to make them compliant and perform on cue. Visiting these venues perpetuates a cycle of animal cruelty.

For more information on our pledge to animal welfare see the BORN TO LIVE WILD PLEDGE tab in the FAQ’s.

HOW CAN I TRAVEL SUSTAINABLY?

Want to be part of a global community of passionate travelers committed to making a difference? We’re excited to announce that we’ve partnered with Sustainable Travel International to give you complimentary membership in the Travel Better Club, an online community and interactive training course for travelers just like YOU who want to positively impact the people and places you visit.

Join the club to share your experiences with like-minded travelers, get tips and advice and enjoy more rewarding travel experiences!

Enrolling in the club is easy and free! To get started, simply register at http://travelbetterclub.org and enter coupon code “iTravelBetter” to waive the enrollment fee!

BORNEO INFO

What kind of climate should I expect?

Borneo has an equatorial climate, which means it is generally hot and sunny all year with a relative humidity of around 80%.

The average temperature in the lowlands is 32°C, while in the highlands it is around 21°C.

Temperatures remain stable throughout the year, giving the climate a sense of uniformity on a day-to-day basis.

Do you cater to dietary requirements?

Yes. Please inform our tour consultants at the time of booking of any food requirements or allergies and we’ll make the necessary arrangements.

Do I need a Visa to enter Malaysia?

To enter Malaysia, a passport or internationally recognised travel document must be VALID for more than SIX (6) months from date of entry.

Visitors from most countries are not required to obtain a visa and receive an immigration stamp upon arrival at the airport or other entry points. Nationals of Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, United States of America and Other European Union are EXEMPT from obtaining visa for visits NOT exceeding 90 Days (3 Months).

To find out more which countries have visa-free entry and the length of stay allowed, please visit the Immigration Department of Malaysia website.

Should I purchase travel insurance before travelling to Malaysia?

Yes. Trailblazers Travel require that your purchase travel insurance before traveling to Borneo and is mandatory on all our tours.

Due to the nature of some tours (e.g. adventure trekking, hiking, mountain climbing etc.), we recommend you select a travel insurance policy that covers not only your medical expenses (including emergency repatriation) but also personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage. Doing so can prevent major disruptions and additional costs.

What vaccinations will I require?

In addition to being up-to-date on routine vaccinations (i.e. measles/mumps/rubella/tetanus etc.), we recommend other vaccines such as Typhoid (food & water borne diseases), Hepatitis A (food and water borne diseases) and Hepatitis B (liver infections). Sabah and Sarawak are rabies-free.

What kind of electrical travel adaptor will I need?

The electricity supply is 230/240 volts at 50/60 hertz. The 3-pin electrical sockets used in Borneo are similar to those used in Britain.

Are these trips good choice for solo travelers?

Absolutely. Our tours tend to attract a great mix of solo travelers, families, friends, etc. we can often match you up with another group traveling on the tours so long as it lines up with your dates and tour availability

What are the accommodations like?

Most hotels have private bathrooms, hot water and clean, comfortable rooms except in instances like Laban Rata climbing hut on Mount Kinabalu or rural-family run guesthouses. We also strive to use charming accommodations that are locally owned and characteristic of that area.

Can I book extra nights of hotel accommodation before or after my tour?

YES. Simply get in touch with us to make necessary arrangement here

What happened should I have an emergency, and I can’t proceed with the tour? Can I postpone the dates?

This can be done, however do take note of our terms and conditions as several conditions do apply shall amendment or postponement occur. This is because we have prearranged fees and payment in order to secure your reservation. Subject to availability.

What is your group size?

We take a maximum of 12 persons on tour and on our speedboats. For special interest groups and those travelling in groups will travel separately as private tours.

What should I do if I need to change or cancel my booking?

Please contact your Tour Consultant as soon as possible if you wish to change or cancel your booking. Any cancellation requests must be submitted to us in writing via email. We regret that we are unable to issue a full refund for cancellations.

Do you offer discounts for children?

We offer discounts for children for most tours published on our website. The discount depends on the age of the child and on the type of service being offered. Please contact our tour consultants for more information.

What is the most appropriate type of luggage to bring?

You are advised to travel light especially if you are travelling to Sukau and the islands. For travel to Selingan Island, guests are advised to bring the suitable luggage for short overnight stay.

Will somebody pick me up from the airport upon arrival and how will I identify the person when I reach the airport arrival hall?

YES, most of our tour packages include airport transfer (pick-up and drop off). Our tour guides can easily be identified as they are wearing Borneo Eco Tours uniform with logo while holding a placard bearing your name.

What are the age restrictions on your tours?

Most of our tours are family friendly, so there are no age limits. Do take note that some of our adventure/trekking tours are of strenuous level and requires a certain level of fitness. Please refer to the Physical Level of each tour, which are indicated wit 1 (Easy), 2 (Medium); and 3 (Strenuous). Strict adult supervision is required at all time to ensure the safety of children throughout the tour.

How much should I tip?

Tips are NOT included in the tour and package price. Tipping is not mandatory in Borneo but will be greatly appreciated by the guides and captains.

Our guests often ask us whether or not they should tip their guides and captains. You can use tipping to reward exceptional service, particularly for those who go the extra mile and work beyond the normal eight hours day. This will encourage those providing the service to continue doing so for you and others.

For general guidance, you can tip your guide and captain RM10 – 20 ($4 – $7) per person per day. For Specialist Guides, you can double the tipping amount to RM20 – 40 ($8 – $15) per person per day DEPENDING on the expertise, level and quality of service provided.

Is it safe for me to drink tap water in Borneo?

We strongly advise you NOT to drink tap water in Borneo unless it is boiled. However, tap water is safe for cleaning teeth and personal hygiene. In our efforts to reduce waste in Borneo, we highly recommend that you bring your own water bottle to refill along the way.

What is included in my tour?

Our tours are INCLUSIVE of:

  • Van, coach or boat transport – and occasionally other forms of transport – as detailed in each specific itinerary
  • Accommodation and meals as detailed in each specific itinerary – included Breakfasts are indicated with a (B), included Lunches with a (L), included Packed Lunches with a (PL), and included Dinners with a (D).
  • Transfers as specified in each itinerary
  • Entrance fees as specified in each itinerary
  • English speaking guide
  • Our commitment to corporate social responsibility

What is NOT included in my tour?

Our tours are NOT INCLUSIVE of:

  • Tipping
  • Airport and other transfers that are not specified in each itinerary
  • Domestic flights (unless specified)
  • Some meals that are not specified in each itinerary
  • Optional excursions and sightseeing
  • Travel visas
  • Camera fees
  • Personal expense money
  • Travel insurance and medical fees
  • Other items that are not mentioned in each itinerary

Do you provide luggage storage?

If you wish to store your luggage, you can simply drop off your luggage at our Sandakan office or jetty. Please kindly inform in advance shall you wish to store your luggage.

What will the meals be like on my tour?

Simply AMAZING! Food in Borneo is not one particular kind of food, but instead a unique culinary spectrum of tastes and textures. Borneo has plenty of simple yet delicious dishes, which are mainly pickled or preserved. The staple food in the interior areas include rice, noodle, fish, meat, local vegetable dishes and fresh fruits. In the city, you can easily find restaurants catering to different tastes such as Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Korean, Indian, Western and many more. Fresh seafood is the most popular menu selection and it is widely available in the city.

What is the Internet access like?

All major towns in Borneo have internet access. Coverage and speeds in rural areas are patchy. Restaurants, cafes and fast food joints often have Free Wi-Fi. There are some hotels in Borneo that still charge a fee for in-room internet access. However, internet access is often free in hotel lobbies and certain public areas. Sukau Rainforest Lodge has free lounge and in-room Wi-Fi for all guests. Internet speeds in Borneo are generally slow to medium.

INDIA TRAIN TRAVEL INFO

THE LOW DOWN ON YOUR TRAIN TRAVEL IN INDIA

For some it is fun and for some it is a learning experience! Whichever it is to you, it’s an opportunity to throw yourself head first into all that is India.  It’s a time for possibly meeting new people, an insight into their daily lives and a chance to appreciate the complexities that separate our normal lives.

Trains are a major source of transportation in India. To adjust the train fares to everybody’s budget various traveling classes are provided. For long distance trains the traveling class may be categorized as (from highest to lowest) AC First Class, AC II tier, AC III tier, Sleeper Class and general. For short distance or day trains the traveling class could be categorized as AC Executive Class, AC Chair Car and general.

AC First Class is the highest traveling class in long distance Indian Trains. Depending upon the capacity of trains an AC First class coach consists of coupes with the capacity of accommodating 2 persons and 4 persons. Every coupe is lockable from inside. A 4 person coupe consists of 4 sleeping berths in 2 tier arrangements. The sleeping berths are wide & long enough to accommodate an average built person. Similarly, a 2 person coupe has 2 sleeping berths in 2 tier arrangement.

Every coupe has electric points to charge cell phones. In all of our train journeys we have successfully charged our laptops and cameras through these electric points.

There is also a small closet to keep passengers belongings. There is good space beneath the sleeping berths to store larger luggage like suitcase and bags.

A full AC Coach has 4 bathrooms 1 with western style toilet and 3 with Indian style toilets. The housekeeping is done by either Indian Railways personal staff or through contracted labour.

The bed linen is provided by Indian Railways. Each berth is allotted 2 bed sheets, 1 blanket, 1 pillow and 1 hand towel.

The windows within the coach are fixed and can’t be opened. There are curtains on the windows. The outside scene is visible during the day time but during the night time it becomes pitch dark.

Every coach has 2 attendants to take care of the upkeep and the passengers requirements. For any assistance they can be contacted.

The long distance trains in India normally have pantry cars from where breakfast and major meals are provided to the passengers.  However, the food could be of varying standards. In Rajdhani Express Trains food and mineral water remains included in the tour price.

AC II tier is the second highest traveling class in Indian Trains. AC II tier coach has 46 berths (sleeping units) all together. Each compartment has 4 sleeping berths which are wide enough for a person to sleep comfortably. After a general passage there remain 2 sleeping berths known as side upper and side lower. Each compartment is separated by the other compartments (on both sides) by walls in the side and curtains in the front. Each coach has 4 common toilets which are cleaned and managed by the railway staff or the contracted workers.

AC III tier coach is the third highest traveling class in long distance trains. It has 64 sleeping units all together. Each coach has 6 sleeping berths in III tier arrangement. After a general passage there remain 2 sleeping berths known as side upper and side lower. Each compartment has 4 common toilets which are cleaned and managed by the railway staff or the contracted workers. There is no screening between the sleeping berths.

Day trains are normally intercity trains. The highest traveling class is AC Executive Car. It has seating arrangement as in the business class in flights. The second highest traveling class is AC Chair Car with seating arrangements as in the economy class in flights.

The train booking can be done only 90 days in advance of the actual traveling dates. There are a few trains where the booking is allowed only within 30 days of actual traveling date.

The seat/ berth allotment is on complete discretion of railways and our company does not have any control over it. In case of AC 1st class travel the berth and compartment allotment is known on the date of traveling itself.

As for Indian standards AC 1st class travel is quite comfortable and exclusive but it may be not of the same standards as it is in USA, Europe or in some western countries.

Train travel should be taken more as an experience rather than a source of comfort and luxury.

There are a few things which can make any train journey more comfortable. Some of the important points are listed as under:

  1. Seat allocation is done by Indian Railways on its personal discretion and Indian Moments doesn’t play any role in this.
  2. Normally, old travelers are accommodated on lower berths however the same again depends upon railway’s discretion.
  3. Carry water and packed food sufficient for 1 overnight at least as the food is normally not of a good quality in the trains (except Rajdhani Express).
  4. Meals are not included in the train ticket prices. Long distance trains generally have pantry car available but the food could be of varying standards. We suggest carrying some packed food to be consumed during the train journey.
  5. Carrying fruit, biscuits, or other dry snacks may be a good idea.
  6. Always try to use the toilet first thing in the morning before anyone else does. Toilets are best to use in the early morning hours.
  7. Carry a chained lock (chain your luggage with the berth) for the extra safety of luggage.
  8. Carrying a soft pillow could prove to be a good idea for extra comfort. In AC III tier travelling it is better if you may carry 2 clean bed sheets with you to use while sleeping (you are already provided with 2 bed sheets, 1 blanket and 1 pillow).
  9. Long train journeys may provide an opportunity to complete any unfinished novel or to browse through the magazines and books of one’s taste.
  10. Anti-mosquito cream or lotion is good for the safety from mosquitoes. Normally the mosquito doesn’t survive in AC temperature but better to come equippied.
  11. Carry enough tissue papers, hand wash gel, towel and toilet rolls.
  12. 2 attendants remain present in each coach for the assistance of the travelers throughout the journey.
  13. If you are not comfortable with the AC temperature or you have any other grievance, you may contact these coach attendants on an immediate basis.
  14. The coach attendants also carry a list of doctors who are travelling in the same train. Should you require any such assistance during the tour please contact the attendants immediately.

GORILLA TREKKING INFO

You need to know: 

Seeing the enigmatic mountain gorillas in their natural habitat is a life-changing experience; something that you’ll forever remember.

Lead by a highly trained guide, you’ll trek through dense rain forest in search of a gorilla family to observe. As you see the young gorillas race about playing, the females cooing over their babies, and the brash posturing of a silverback, you’ll begin to understand the enduring fascination with these almost human creatures.

It truly is a bucket list worthy experience.

Before you embark on your once-in-a-lifetime gorilla trek, there are a few things you should know. Unlike a game drive, you’re much closer to the action when on a gorilla trek. Read on to learn the important things you should know before paying a visit to these gentle giants.

My number 1 tip is hire a porter before you start your trek. Your porter is your best friend while climbing and will help and support you.  He will take photos for you, carry your back pack and be there with a keen hand when the going gets steep.  And by employing him for those few hours, creates sustainable tourism for the local community and helps them understand how essential it is to keep the gorillas safe and the tourists visiting.  You will make a real impact on their lives.

About Mountain Gorillas

A subspecies of the Eastern gorilla (the other being the lowland gorilla), the mountain gorilla is the largest primate in the world, and also one of the most endangered. Poaching and habitat destruction has led to a situation in which there are only 840 mountain gorillas remaining in the wild, with the majority of these residing in Rwanda and Uganda.

Unlike the smaller primates that spend a great deal of their lives in trees, mountain gorillas are ground-dwellers who prefer to live in open canopy forests where light reaches the forest floor. They are herbivores whose diet consists of roots, leaves, vines, stems, and bamboo.

Despite being capable of bipedal movement, gorillas are predominantly knuckle walkers who move about on all fours. Females choose their breeding partners based on their ability to protect them, and groups of gorillas range in size from anywhere between a mated pair to up to thirty individuals. On average, ‘families’ of gorillas are comprised of nine gorillas.

Male mountain gorillas stand approximately six feet tall and can weigh up to 200 kilograms, while females are smaller at under five feet in height and weighing around 100kgs. Despite their size, mountain gorillas do not range widely, and tend to keep to a relatively small area of their habitat.

Best Time to Visit

While it is possible to go gorilla trekking throughout the year, the dry season tends to be the best time to enjoy a gorilla trek. Not only does the wet season tend to make for more difficult hiking conditions, but the rain also encourages the gorillas to seek shelter – making them harder for you to observe.

Depending on the country you are in, wet season falls during different months.

  • Rwanda: The short wet season is from October to November, while the long wet season stretches from mid-March through to June.
  • Uganda: The wet seasons are March – May and September – November.
  • Congo: North of the equator, the wet season is April to October. South of the equator, wet season stretches from November to March.

Fitness & Health

It is not possible to predict ahead of time just how long you’ll be hiking before you encounter a gorilla family. Some people spend as little as 40 minutes hiking before they come across gorillas, while others can spend up to seven hours.

For this reason, it is recommended that all gorilla trekkers be in good physical and mental condition.

As gorillas are susceptible for human borne illnesses, you are not permitted to participate in a gorilla trek if you are sick.

Rules & Codes of Conduct

As gorillas are wild animals and an endangered species, there are a number of rules that must be followed when tracking them and observing them.

  • At all times, you must obey all instructions given by your guide. Your guide knows the gorillas very well, and will direct you as to where it is safe to stand.
  • Keep a minimum distance of 7 metres between you and the gorillas at all times.
  • If the dominant male gorilla (silverback) approaches you or charges aggressively, it is very important that you not back away. Remain where you are, low downward, and adopt a submissive, crouched posture.
  • Never make any sudden moves or loud noises.
  • If approached by a young gorilla, never touch it! Your touching a young gorilla might create a confrontation between your group and the dominant male.
  • If a gorilla stares at you, do not hold eye contact. Look away and down.
  • Never use a flash when photographing gorillas. Try to limit the number of photos you take.
  • You must be in good health when tracking gorillas. Gorillas are susceptible to human borne respiratory infections and you put them at risk if you visit them while ill.
  • Each gorilla family can be visited just once per day by groups of no more than eight people. Your time with the gorilla family is limited to a single hour.
  • Smoking, drinking, or eating are not permitted within 200 metres of a gorilla family.
  • Littering is strictly prohibited.
  • Children under the age of fifteen are not able to join a gorilla trekking safari.

While gorillas are not aggressive in the way that predators are, they are still wild animals capable of hurting people if they feel threatened. It is imperative that you follow all instructions your guide gives you.

As these are wild animals, we cannot guarantee that you will see them. While most groups do encounter a family group, we cannot give refunds if you do not spot the animals. The fee charged goes to the park for the ongoing conservation efforts.

What to Wear

The hike through the rain forest to reach the gorillas can be strenuous, so it is important to dress appropriately and comfortably for the trek.

Due to the rugged nature of the land you’ll be passing through, it is advisable that you wear a long sleeved shirt, trousers, and a good pair of lightweight hiking boots to protect against scratches. You may also wish to wear protective gloves, although these are not necessary.

As temperatures can vary greatly during the day, it is also advisable to bring along a light jumper and a light, breathable rain jacket or poncho.

You’ll also wish to bring along a small backpack in which to store your extra clothing, water, lunch, and your photography equipment.

While on your gorilla trek, you should wear neutral coloured clothing that is comfortable.

What to Bring

In addition to the aforementioned warm clothing and rain protection, there are a number of other handy things we recommend you bring along with you on your gorilla safari.

The below packing list is much the same as what you would bring along for a traditional game drive safari.

  • A backpack;
  • A warm sweater or light fleece;
  • A windbreaker or waterproof jacket;
  • Walking shoes or boots;
  • A long sleeve dress shirt and trousers;
  • Sunglasses;
  • Hat;
  • Sunscreen and lip balm;
  • Insect repellant;
  • Camera;
  • Binoculars;
  • Batteries and/or charger for your camera;
  • A flashlight or headlamp;
  • Guide books;
  • Phone and charger.

You may also wish to bring your own first aid kit. While all of our tour partners vehicles have their own on board first aid kit, it never hurts to be prepared.

  • Anti-malarial medication;
  • Painkillers;
  • Antihistamines for allergies and insect bites;
  • Cold and flu medication;
  • Anti-Diarrheal medication;
  • Medicines for rehydration after diarrhea or sunstroke;
  • Insect repellant;
  • Sunscreen and lip balm;
  • Eye drops;
  • Moisturiser for treating sunburn;
  • Antiseptic lotion;
  • Rubbing alcohol;
  • Bandages and plasters;
  • Scissors;
  • Tweezers;

You may also wish to bring along water purification tablets and any medications you take for any existing medical conditions.

Don’t let the above list daunt you. Many of these items are only necessary in extreme cases, but it’s better to have something and not need it than it is to need something and not have it!

What to Expect When Gorilla Trekking

As the gorillas you’ll be tracking are wild animals, it’s accurate to say that no two gorilla trekking expeditions are the same.

One group might get lucky enough to find their group almost immediately, while another may trek an entire day and come up empty-handed. Thankfully, visitors get to observe the gorillas more often than not.

Due to the unpredictable nature of the gorilla tracking experience, it is important that all participants be of good physical health and come adequately prepared to tackle a hike of varied length and difficulty.

Porters are available for a small fee, please support these local workers. A porter can carry a single bag for you, making your travels a little easier.

After meeting with your guide, you will travel on foot to the place where your gorilla family was last seen. The tracker will then examine the evidence in the area to discern in which direction the family might have moved.

As you move along, the tracker will examine footprints, scat, and other clues to get a clearer picture of where the gorilla family has moved. As gorillas are capable of venturing to areas virtually inaccessible by humans, the hike can sometimes get quite difficult – moving over rough ground, dealing with thorny or stinging undergrowth, or climbing up steep hills.

Your guide will move at a moderate pace, as it is his job to get you to the gorillas with enough time to spend an hour with them and still make it back to the park gate before dark. While you will occasionally stop to rest and you’re welcome to pause to take photos, you should be prepared to move at a good pace throughout the day.

When you draw near to your gorilla family, you’ll likely smell them long before you hear or see them. Your guide will move ahead making soothing sounds to ensure the gorillas that you are friendly, and will then direct you where best to stand. Following his instructions is important, as it is his job to ensure the gorillas do not feel threatened and act accordingly. He will position you so that you can be seen by the silverback.

While observing the gorillas, it is important to maintain at least 7 metres of separation between you and the gorillas. If you are approached, it is important not to touch the gorillas. It is also important not to hold eye contact, use flash photography, or make loud noises.

On occasion, a male gorilla may charge towards the group beating his chest, hurling vegetation about, and acting aggressive. It is crucial that if this happens, you do not back away. Instead, remain where you are, lower your eyes to look at the ground, and adopt a submissive posture. This behavior is rarely an actual sign of aggression against humans, and is instead a display of dominance.

Your time with the gorillas is limited to one hour. This time limit has been carefully chosen to ensure the gorillas do not get too stressed. As used to visitors as the family groups are becoming, they often end the visits themselves after an hour by vacating the area.

If you find yourself unable to complete the gorilla tracking for whatever reason, your guide will advise you as to whether you should return to camp with your porter or whether it is better to remain where you are and await their return.

SAFARI INFO

BOOKINGS

You can make a booking enquiry online on our contact us page or you can contact us by phone. Some popular destinations are often fully booked so it is a good idea to book in advance. We will confirm if there is availability during your requested dates. Once your booking is confirmed we will advise you regarding the deposit required.

We are also represented on SafariBookings.com

TRAVELING WITH CHILDREN UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE – SOUTH AFRICA

Amendments to South Africa’s Immigration Act 2002 (Act No 13 of 2002), regarding travel documentation requirements for children, came into effect on 1 June 2015. All travel documentation must be available for presentation on arrival into and departure from South Africa.  To find the information applicable to children (under 18 years of age) when travelling to or from South Africa please visit this website.  You can find the Parental Consent Affidavit here

BEST TIMES FOR A SAFARI

Best time to visit – most of our safaris and tours are all year and each season has its own pros and cons. Game viewing is best during the dry winter months, but during summer you will still see many animals and the vegetation is lush. Summer is also great for swimming and other outdoor activities.

PEAK TIMES

These usually coincide with school holidays. South African school holidays take place over April, June, September, and December to February, and these are peak times for the game parks and reserves.

WHAT TO BRING ON A SAFARI

Pack light – South African summers are hot and even winters in the Kruger Park are relatively warm. Bring some warm clothes for chilly evenings and night drives. Insect repellent is a must in the summer months for mosquitoes, and sunscreen is useful if you plan on being outdoors. Pack a couple of long sleeved shirts and a pair of long trousers. The evenings can be chilly and they are also good for keeping mosquitoes and other insects at bay. In winter you can be very cold on a morning game drive, but perfectly comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt at midday. The secret is to wear several layers that you can take off or add to as needed. Unless you are doing a walking safari, there is no need to pack heavy duty hiking boots. A good durable pair of trainers is all that is needed. You might also like to pack a pair of sandals for around the lodge or pool. Other useful items include hat, sunglasses, camera, mobile phone, binoculars, small flashlight, cash, card, reading materials. See a comprehensive list HERE

FACILITIES IN THE PARKS

Some camps run generators that are switched off at certain times. Some campsites are electrified, some partially so. Campers should bring a 25m extension cord fitted with a 240 Volt blue plug. Exceptions to amenities will be indicated either on the camp listing, or during the booking process. Some camps have cell phone receptions. All our lodges have restaurants and shops.

WATER

It is entirely safe to drink the tap water, but bottled water is available at the various restaurants and convenience stores, should visitors prefer it.

MALARIA

Although the Kruger Park is a malaria area, and guests are advised to take precautions, travel is quite safe. Malaria prophylaxis is recommended, but please talk to one of our agents for more information. It is advisable to take only children above the age of five into the Kruger Park We also offer numerous safari options in malaria free areas.

SERVICE GRATUITIES

In most cases, a gratuity or service fee is not included and tipping is at your discretion. Standard tips are as follows: Transfers – ZAR 10 per person Restaurants – 10-15% for good to exceptional service Rangers – ZAR 50-100 per drive

INTERNET CONNECTION

Some lodges offer Wi-Fi. You can also use a HSPA USB stick to connect your notebook in areas that have cell phone reception. We strongly advise you, however, to disable the geotagging function before posting any animal sightings as this could help poachers find their next kill.

CHILDREN

All the parks are child friendly. Please see our pricing regarding children.

PACKING LIST FOR YOUR SAFARI

What you need to bring will vary according to the type of tour you have chosen, the countries you will be visiting, and also the time of year in which you are travelling.  Generally speaking, however, you should try to pack as light as possible. Please note that this packing list is a guide only, and is not meant to be a complete packing list.

Travel documents:

  • Passport including any visas required for the trip. If you have a partner, ensure he or she also has the required visa. If you are visa exempt for a specific country, it does not necessarily mean your partner is also exempt. Please check!
  • Vaccination certificates if required
  • Travel Insurance details (including 24 hour emergency contact telephone number)

INDEMNITY FORMS must be signed at the start of your safari. We highly recommend that you take out travel insurance against personal accident, medical expenses, baggage loss and loss of certain valuables.

  • Flight tickets / e-tickets
  • Tour confirmation voucher
  • Credit card & cash
  • NB: Do not keep all your cards and cash in one wallet!! Have a spare card and cash that you keep separate in a safe place!
  • Emergency funds – we recommend that you have access to an additional sum of money (approximately $500 is good) to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of disease) necessitate a change to our planned route or itinerary.
  • Photocopies of important documents (passport, etc. – please keep them separately from your actual documents). We also recommend that you leave a copy at home, with a family member or a friend)
  • Spare passport photos
  • Driving licence if you intend to hire a car whilst abroad (international licence’s are also a good idea)

Personal health:

  • Toiletries
  • Personal medication / prescriptions / prescription glasses or contact lenses
  • Personal medical kit
  • High factor sunscreen in summer
  • Sun hat
  • Sun glasses
  • Malaria prophylaxis if necessary (please check with your doctor or travel clinic regarding the area you are travelling to)
  • Insect repellent
  • Lip balm / lip salve
  • Antihistamine / insect bite cream
  • Antibacterial gel / wipes
  • Travel sickness tablets
  • Aspirin / Paracetamol
  • Rehydration sachets
  • Anti-diarrhoea pills.  Travelan is a product that reduces the risk of travelers’ diarrhoea caused by e. coli.  Available over the counter at most pharmacies.
  • Any chronic medication

Clothing:

  • Clothes that are easy to wash and fast drying are recommended, especially for longer trips
  • Ex-military or military-style clothing is not recommended in any areas
  • If going on safari, please bring some neutral-coloured clothing, such as beige, green, brown (no bright colours please)
  • Some smarter clothes are also recommended for nights out
  • Warm windbreaker/fleece for winter and cool days and game drives
  • Long-sleeved top and trousers for evenings when mosquitoes are out
  • Jeans / trousers / shorts
  • T-shirts / cotton shirts
  • Sarong
  • 50+ rated UPF cover up for sun protection. This sun poncho is a perfect choice and colour.
  • Rain coat / Umbrella for rainy season
  • Some warm clothes for sunrise / sunset game drives
  • Hiking shoes / closed-in shoes for walking safaris, especially in the Kruger (sandals are not allowed) and the Okavango Delta
  • Sandals / flip flops / thongs

Swimming:

  • Swimming costume in summer
  • Beach towel

Camping:

  • We provide the tents, camping gear and equipment. We can also provide sleeping bags. However, do bring a travel pillow.

Travel accessories:

  • International plug adapter
  • Mobile phone* and charger
  • Notebook or Tablet or smartphone for Internet*

* PLEASE NOTE: We strongly advise you, however, to disable the geotagging function before posting any animal sightings as this could help poachers find their next kill.

  • Photographic: Video / Camera and charger / spare batteries
  • Binoculars
  • Flash Light
  • Eye mask
  • Ear plugs
  • Alarm clock
  • Towel (even on accommodated tours, some places do not necessarily provide towels)
  • Water bottle / bottled water (can buy en-route and in various parks such as Kruger National Park)
  • Guide books for the areas to be visited
  • Reading material / travel games
  • Pen & paper
  • Diary / travel journal
  • Postcards & photos from home to share with the locals

Diving:

  • Please bring along your mask, fins and wet suit if you have. If not, all the places we visit have equipment available for rent.  Cylinder and weight belts are usually included.

Valuables:

  • Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables

NB:  Please do not keep all your cards and cash in one wallet. Keep a backup card and some cash separate.  It is your responsibility to ensure you keep your valuables safe at all times.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

Mandatory on all Trailblazers Travel tours.  Please refer to our Travel Insurance page to apply.

Why get travel insurance?

Travellers without travel insurance are personally liable for covering any medical and associated costs they incur. The Australian Government won’t pay for your medical treatment overseas or medical evacuation to Australia or a third country.

Get full cover

You should make sure your travel insurance covers all medical expenses for injury or illness, as well as theft of valuables, damage to baggage and cancellations or interruptions to flight plans.  You must ensure the cover is comprehensive and covers the country/countries you are visiting and covers all activities you plan to undertake.

Your family may foot the bill

If you are uninsured, you (or your family) are personally responsible for covering any medical or other costs resulting from unexpected incidents or accidents.

Accidents happen

Accidents can happen to anyone, and medical costs overseas can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars. Australians have faced financial hardship to cover these costs when things go wrong.

 Buying guide

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has teamed up with independent consumer advocate CHOICE to provide two simple travel insurance guides for you, the Aussie traveler, to help you get the right insurance for your trip.

Read the CHOICE travel insurance buying guide

Download .pdf (2MB)

Cheat sheet

Don’t have time to read our full guide? Check out the cheat sheet for all the essential information.

Read the cheat sheet

Download .pdf (291KB)

TRAVEL ADVICE

Visas, including transit visas, are the passenger’s own responsibility.

Travel documents / passports are the passenger’s own responsibility:

You need to ensure that you have at least 6 months validity on your travel document / passport from the date of your return.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are aware of any health requirements for your travel destinations.

Vaccinations are strongly recommended for certain destinations.
You need to contact your local doctor who will advise you of these requirements.
Please note that vaccinations may be recommended some period in advance of travelling.
If you are travelling internationally, you may need travel documents such as a passport or travel visa.

Travel advice:

The Australian Government’s Smartraveller website publishes country-specific travel advice, including safety and security notices, health issues, and other issues to be aware of before travelling.
Governments reserve the right to change the visa conditions of entry into their country, so it is for this reason that we asks all clients to organise their own visas through the applicable embassies or, through a specialist visa company. For up-to-date visa information please log-on to the Australian Government’s www.smartraveller.gov.au website or to organise visas please visit visalink.com.au.
Customs / Border Protection:

When travelling to another country, be prepared to show customs agents the following documents:
Proof of citizenship, such as a valid passport or a government-issued photo ID.
Travel visa, if required by the country you are visiting.
Customs declaration form, provided by flight attendants or cruise staff.
See the Australian Government’s Smartraveller/ relevant country’s Customs (Border Protection) websites for further information.

PASSPORT INFORMATION

To travel overseas, citizens must have a passport. In general, it should be valid for at least six months after your return date, and passports expiring before then should be renewed as soon as possible. You can apply for or renew your passport on the Australian passport office website.

We recommend that passports contain at least 2 blank pages for each country visited. Some countries require 4 pages.  You can find more information on the Australian Governments Department of Foreign Affairs www.passports.gov.au website.

Minors (children under 18) travelling abroad without parents or with only one parent may be required to present additional documents such as (but not limited to) notarised permission letter and/or unabridged birth certificate. Some other countries have similar requirements; check with the consulates of all countries you’ll be visiting to learn more.

You can check if the country you’re visiting requires blank pages and how many on the Smart Traveller website — choose your country and look at the entry and exit requirements.

VACCINATIONS

Travel Health Information can be found on the Australian Governments Department of Health website.

Before you leave, it is important to research every country you will visit, and to get advice that is tailored to your health needs. The risk of acquiring an infection and the appropriate preventative measures can be different for older travelers, children, pregnant women or those with underlying chronic diseases.

While you are away, there are some things you need to keep in mind to prevent illness, like preventing insect bites and being careful of what you eat.

When you return, keep an eye on your health. Some diseases may not become apparent until you have returned home and could spread to your loved ones.

You will also find some great information on the Australian Governments smarttraveller.gov.au website.

VISAS

Governments reserve the right to change the visa conditions of entry into their country, so it is for this reason that we ask all clients to organise their own visas through the applicable embassies or, through a specialist visa company. For up-to-date visa information please log-on to the Australian Government’s  www.smartraveller.gov.au website.

You can also look up whether you’ll need a travel visa on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade visa requirements page, or on the Visa Central website.

SPECIAL REQUESTS & DIETARY NEEDS

Please ensure you advise all food allergies, health issues and any other concerns of this nature on your booking form at the beginning of the booking process, so that this can be managed effectively throughout and suppliers/restaurants etc can be advised.  Every effort is made to meet your expectations during this experience, but it is necessary for you to make any special requirements known prior to arrival.

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