Frequently Asked Questions

Important Information

Got questions about our tours? Looking for info regarding your destination? Need details about travel and medical insurance? We cover that and a whole lot more here in our FAQ page so please check here first for answers to your important questions. If you don’t find the answer you are looking for, by all means, get in touch with us and we’ll get back to you promptly.

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What should I pack for one of your photo tours?

The clothing you will need will depend greatly on the destination you are travelling to. We will provide a thorough suggested clothing and gear list in our welcome kit that we send out to all tour participants. Our general recommendation is to dress in layers and pack as light as possible. Try to stay away from heavy cotton clothing like jeans, sweatshirts, and coats. Lighter alternatives that are warm, wrinkle free, and light are your best bet.

What is the most appropriate type of luggage to bring?

We suggest one camera bag, preferably a backpack and one bag for clothes/gear, and one small satchel like the size of a personal item allowed on international flights. You are responsible for carrying your bags on and off buses and trains, and up and down hotel staircases, so pack smart and light.

Can you help arrange my travel visas?

The requirements for international travel visas vary widely depending on your nationality and your destination. While we can’t help you procure your visa, we will provide you with links to companies that provide this service. If you do require a visa you can arrange them yourself or use the services of a travel agent or visa processing company.

Complete and return the forms to the visa company in a timely manner so that you will have your documentation in time to travel.

How do I find out about the visa requirements for the trip I am interested in?

Some countries require you to have a visa before arrival. After you’ve booked your trip we will send you a pre-departure information pack containing all the visa information. It’s best to get visas sorted in advance because the processing time can be quite long.

How far in advance do I need to book?

The rule of thumb is: The sooner the better. We have no way to know when other people will book, so it’s hard to know if and when the tour will fill up. Our advice is to book as soon as you’ve made the decision to travel, that way your spot is secured.

Can I book through a travel agent?

Not at this time but we are looking into this possibility for future tours.

What will I need for customs?

Passport:
Due to airline security measures, your passport name must match your airline ticket name or you may be denied boarding. Your passport’s expiration date must be at least six months after your return from your trip; if it is not, you should renew your passport.

Can I just do part of the tour?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to do sections of our tours. However, some of our longer tours are made up of smaller tours completed back-to-back, so it might be possible to book a shorter trip separately.

When is the final payment due?

Generally, the final payment is due in full 60 days before the beginning of your tour. If you’ve booked your trip within 60 days of the departure date, full payment is needed at the time of booking. Last minute bookings require payment up front before confirmation.

I like tacos, do you?

That’s a silly question. Of course, we like tacos.

Do I need to take Travel and Medical Insurance?

Yes. Travel and Medical insurance is mandatory for all Discovery Photo Tours trips. Domestic government medical insurance and private health schemes will not cover you in most overseas countries. Discovery Photo Tours recommends World Nomads for your travel and medical insurance. You may take other coverage, of course, but you must be adequately insured before participating in our tours. Please check the terms of the policy carefully, particularly the limits of cover (eg. for replacement of photographic equipment, baggage loss etc) and the procedure for making claims (most policies stipulate that claims must be made within a certain time after completion of your journey).

For all the details about Discovery Photo Tours’ insurance requirements, please see our terms and conditions page.

What is required in my medical and travel insurance?

Your policy MUST cover medical costs in case of hospitalisation, emergency travel and repatriation. If you are going on one of our adventure activities, make sure your insurance covers you for this activity. Once you have paid your deposit or full payment, certain fees will apply if you cancel. Therefore we require taking insurance at the time of booking to protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances. Your Discovery Photo Tours leader will need two copies of your policies – the Tour Leader and our Ground Operator will keep one copy each in the unlikely event of an emergency. The copies must show the policy number and the emergency hotline phone number.

Required Coverage:

  • Accident & Sickness Medical Expense Coverage (minimum $100,000 USD)
  • Emergency Evacuation & Repatriation of Remains (minimum $200,000 USD)
  • Accidental Death / Dismemberment
  • Trip Cancellation Coverage

Suggested Additional Coverage:

  • Hospital Room and Board
  • Baggage and Personal Effects Coverage
  • Trip Delay / Interruption
  • Visitor to Bedside

We strongly urge you to evaluate your risk and to take out travel insurance that covers the full value of the Trip and personal effects in the case of Trip cancellation, loss or theft of baggage, and emergency evacuation. The Tour Operators their owners, agents and subsidiaries will not be held responsible for these expenses. It is vital for you to realize that if you experience a delay or find it necessary to cancel or cut short the Trip for any reason, you will lose part or the entire sum of the amount paid (see the section “Deposits, Payments, Cancellations and Refunds” in the terms and conditions above).

Travel insurance helps to minimize the risk of monetary losses you would incur in the event of a delay of your departure due to weather, airline strike, missed connection, etc., your inability to travel for reasons such as illness, injury, unforeseen financial complications and other personal circumstances, or if you were required to cut the Trip short for medical or any other reasons.

There are restrictions and limitations on any insurance program. For this reason, we recommend that you read carefully the fine print of your insurance policy.

How fit do I need to be?

Our trips are designed to be enjoyed by anyone who is reasonably fit. However some trips visit remote areas with limited or non-existent medical facilities so you must be in good health. Factors such as long walks, bumpy roads, dust, traffic, stairs, humidity, delays and unfamiliar customs and cultures also add to the physical toll. Keep in mind you will need to carry your own bags.

Do I need to take any medical supplies?

The pre-departure information kit will contain a suggested list of items to bring, but it doesn’t cover medications. We recommend you carry personal medical items for managing common minor ailments such as colds, diarrhoea, blisters, headaches, heartburn, and sore throats etc. Travellers who take regular medication should take an appropriate supply. Allergy and Asthma sufferers should ensure that they have an adequate supply of their routine medicine as some major cities have high levels of smog or pollen.

Are there any age limits?

On certain trips, we may require a doctor’s letter that certifies health and fitness of participants who are over 70 years old.

Minors between the age of 13 and 17 are not able to join our tours unless accompanied by a parent. Our tours are not suitable for younger children under 13.

I am concerned about the political stability of the country through which my trip will travel.

The safety of our clients, leaders and operators is a major priority for Discovery Photo Tours. With this in mind, we monitor world events very closely and Discovery Photo Tours makes operational decisions based on informed advice from a number of government sources in the USA, Canada, UK, and Australia. If the advisory from these sources is a ‘Do Not Travel’ warning then Discovery Photo Tours will either cancel the Discovery Photo Tours operated trip or reroute the itinerary to avoid the areas concerned.

How safe are my belongings whilst on the trip?

While we take all the precautions we can to make sure your belongings are safe, we are travelling to some exciting destinations that are sometimes home to some pretty crafty thieves. Travel insurance is a must and a lockable bag or money belt will always help too.

Please leave the fancy jewelry, watches, designer clothes and bags at home on our trips. Never leave your camera gear unattended and don’t flash large sums of cash when making purchases.

Will refrigeration be available for medicines? eg. Insulin

Availability of refrigeration cannot be guaranteed. As a general rule, many of our city hotels provide access to small refrigerators; however, outside of this, especially when trekking, eco lodges, or in homestay environments, you cannot rely on access to refrigeration. Please be sure to advise Discovery Photo Tours if you are travelling with medication that requires refrigeration.

Do your tours include international airfare?

Our guests arrive from all over the world to begin our tours and it is not possible to include international airfare in our prices.

What is the baggage policy?

Each airline has its own baggage policy which is subject to change; therefore, contact your airline(s) directly to verify carry-on restrictions, prohibited items, number of bags permitted and weight allowances for your international departure and arrival flights, as there may be penalties for additional/overweight bags. Should your luggage get damaged or lost, file a report with your airline before you leave the baggage claim area, and contact your Discovery Photo Tours leader (if possible) or hotel to advise them of your delay. For security, you may wish to use a TSA-approved lock for your bags.

What do you suggest for carry-on luggage?

We advise you pack the following items in your carry-on: any medications in their original, labeled containers; eyeglasses/contacts/lens solution; important papers, including insurance, medical records or allergy information, travel documents, emergency contact information; camera gear, memory cards and batteries; and valuables.

All your fragile camera gear should be brought on the plane as carry-on.

How do I find out more information about my aircraft?

Airlines use many different types of aircraft and offer all kinds of seat configurations and onboard services. We recommend consulting SeatGuru.com for the most up-to-date information on the aircraft most airlines are using – or by visiting the airline website.

How much spending money do I need?

Our welcome kit gives you an idea of some typical prices in the places you’re visiting, and your pre-departure pack will have more details. Remember that with Discovery Photo Tours most (if not all) of your meals, your transport, accommodation and entrance fees to major sites are paid in advance so you don’t need to factor these into your budget.

Bring cash in the local currency for arrival incidentals and you can always visit a local ATM or bank to replenish your local currency. You’ll need money for snacks, souvenirs, and for tipping our awesome local guides.

What is the best way to take money with me?

We recommend a combination of cash, an ATM card and a credit card as back-up. Travellers cheques are a safe way to carry money, however, less places are now accepting them. As a general rule, American dollars are accepted throughout the world but make sure you have small denomination bills, and that they are not ripped or marked, as this may affect your ability to change them. DO NOT expect that everyone will accept US dollars. When places do accept American dollars, they are doing so as a courtesy.

Remember to advise your bank about using your cards overseas. There may be foreign transaction fees on certain cards. If you are planning on using an ATM, you should verify with your bank that your ATM card and PIN will work overseas.

Do I need to tip the local guide?

Your local tour guide(s) works hard to ensure you have a great trip, so please don’t hold back if you feel they have earned a tip for their efforts. You can choose to tip them individually or make a group presentation at the end of the tour. Full details of tipping are covered in the trip-specific pre-departure pack that we send before you leave.

Tipping your photo tour leader(s) is not required but if you feel the urge to do so, feel free to offer. Each leader can choose to accept or politely decline your offer of a tip.

Can I use my credit card throughout my journey?

MasterCard, Visa and American Express are accepted in major shops, restaurants and hotels. Notify your credit card companies that you will be traveling abroad to avoid any restrictions on your account.

American credit cards with magnetic stripes may not work in European automated ticketing machines (such as transit vending systems) as these require chip and pin cards; contact your credit card company for details.

American credit cards that do not have four (4) a digit PIN may not work Europe and many other places. Ask your bank to change your PIN to four(4) digits before you travel.

Are ATMs (Automated Teller Machines) available?

Yes. ATM’s are a good source of cash overseas; however, they may or may not be conveniently located in the larger cities and may be rare in smaller towns. Your itinerary may not always allow you sufficient time to locate one. Your Program Director or tour guide can probably help you.

When available, ATM’s dispense local currency for internationally accepted ATM cards and/or credit cards, and have a service fee of approximately 3%. If you are planning to use ATM’s, you should confirm with your bank prior to departure that your ATM/credit card and Personal Identification Number (PIN) will work abroad.

Can you help me deal with money and currency issues?

Current exchange rates are available in the financial sections of newspapers and at websites like XE and CNN Money.

What communication facilities will be available?

Communication facilities are always improving globally. Many hotels and public places have Wi-Fi so it’s usually possible to keep in touch with home every couple of days, if you so desire. In remote places (think Jordanian desert, Burmese countryside or the Namibian desrt) or on treks or homestays, you will not be able to communicate as readily. Your leader will usually give you the heads up before you leave a place so you can send a quick email or two. Phone cards are easy to get your hands on; just make sure your phone is unlocked before you travel. Or in many countries, the cheapest way to make a phone call is at an internet cafe.

How can friends and family contact you?

If family and friends are unable to contact you in an emergency through email or phone, they can contact Discovery Photo Tours directly. Emergency contact details (for your destination) are listed in your Trip Notes.

Will my mobile phone work overseas?

We can never guarantee your phone will work as desired, as many of our destinations are out of the way and you may have limited coverage. Talk to your mobile phone provider before you leave about global roaming and the costs involved, and get their advice on the coverage you’ll receive in the places you’re travelling in. Alternatively, you can usually pick up a local sim card on the cheap (just make sure your phone is unlocked!).

Will I get internet coverage?

Some places have Wi-Fi hot spots everywhere and other places will have no coverage at all. If you stumble into the latter, take the rare chance to just sit back and get to know your fellow photographers the old-fashioned way and talk to the locals. Who knows… You may just make some life long friends.

If you absolutely need to stay connected via the interwebs, we can help you find a way to get a local SIM card or you can look into getting a mobile hot spot before you leave for your tour.

Is this a typical group tour?

The short answer is… No!

Let us expand on that, though. We like to say that as a company owned by photographers if we were not running these tours, we’d want to be participants on our tours. We have high standards, just like you. We love adventure, just like you. We can’t wait to sink our teeth into the next gourmet meal, you guessed it… just like you. We also want to have incredible moments that are shared with like-minded travellers with a passion for photography. We want to visit historic sites, marvel at natural wonders, view epic art, take part in local culture, and celebrate life along the way. Get ready for a momentous life experience because you’re in for one heck of a ride!

How do I get to the start of the tour?

Airport transfers are usually included in the price of Discovery Photo Tours – just check your welcome kit. Tours always start in a specified hotel and we let you know exactly when you need to be at that hotel.

What time can I check in at my arrival hotel?

Check-in times can vary from hotel to hotel and region to region. Generally, they are between midday and 2pm. If you do arrive earlier, you’ll be able to store your luggage with the hotel and head out to explore for a couple of hours.

What if I arrive late and miss part of the trip?

If you know in advance that you will be arriving late, please let our sales staff know. We will notify your leader, who will leave instructions with the hotel reception as to where to meet your group that night or the following morning.
If you are late due to unforeseen circumstances or flight delays, please call the emergency contact number located in the welcome kit. Discovery Photo Tours cannot reimburse you for any portion of the trip unused, but this can often be claimed on your travel insurance.

Why do you use local tour guides?

One of the main reasons travellers should choose Discovery Photo Tours is because we use tour guides (on top of our photographer leaders) who were born and raised in the region. They are highly qualified, speak excellent English and boast intimate knowledge of their homeland. Travelling with a local leader means you will enjoy a local perspective, meeting their friends along the way, eating where the locals eat and seeing sights you won’t find in guidebooks. We work to ensure our local partners are the best in the business. Throughout the regions we visit, our operators possess a wealth of knowledge and experience so you can be confident you’re in safe hands. They are out in the field, continually monitoring and refining our adventures to ensure we offer the most innovative trips, as well as the best value for money.

How much free time is there?

We pack a lot into each day to make sure that our participants have the most memorable trip possible. That being said, much of the days are filled with optional shoots and activities. If you want to skip a sunrise shoot and catch up on some precious sleep, have at it. If you’d rather go shopping rather than have one of our gourmet lunches, no problem. Just make sure that you’re back to meet us at times we are going to be in transit. We try our best to make sure that you’ll want to stick with the group for the day because of all the very cool stuff on the daily agendas.

Please note that if you choose to opt out of an included activity, no reimbursement can be made by Discovery Photo Tours.

Will there be time to explore the start and finish cities or should I allow extra time?

The short answer is there is no real extra time set aside on our tours at the beginning and end. If you do arrive earlier in the day during the arrival day, you’ll have some time to explore since the first official meeting is usually early evening on arrival day for a meet and greet before we head out for a delicious dinner at one of our favourite local restaurants.

Departure days are similar in that we have an optional breakfast before saying our heartfelt goodbyes. People will generally have quite varied departure times so the later you leave, the more time you have to explore. In both cases, we suggest that you book some extra days if you want to get out to explore and photograph more on your own. Let us know if we can be of assistance if you do choose to arrive early or stay longer.

Are there western toilets available?

Most trips have regular access to western toilets but it depends on the areas you’re travelling in. As a general rule, the more remote the place the less likely you are to find western bathroom facilities.

Will I be able to do any laundry?

Along the way there are usually chances to do laundry, either through your hotel or using local services. Your leader will be able to let you know once you are on the trip.

What type of ground transportation is used?

Trains, planes, and automobiles are just the beginning. We use everything from coaches, minivans, super 4x4s, ferries, and even have excursions in hot air balloons and on camel back.

What will the weather be like?

While we can’t promise any kind of weather in particular, we are quite certain that there will be some sunshine, clouds, rain, and wind, on both warmer and colder days. We can promise you that there will certainly be a mix of day and night on all our tours.

What will the food be like?

Epic… We kid you not. At Discovery Photo Tours, we pride ourselves on offering our clientele an epicurean experience that is offered on no other photo tour. Some destinations offer more varied food than others but we look for special places such as five-star restaurants, home dining at a renowned chef’s home, organic farms, and off the beaten path treasures of dining establishments. We like good food too and we think you’ll love the dining experiences we’ve selected for you.

I’m a vegetarian, is that a problem?

No problem. Just let us know in advance so we can inform our local leaders. That way they can make sure you are looked after in the local restaurants. Keep in mind that in some places your diet might be slightly limited, as meat often forms an integral part of the local diet.

I am Celiac or have other food allergies, what about me?

We do everything in our power to make sure that you will be taken care of with no risk to your health. There may be places that cannot cater to you, especially in more remote places. In those rare cases, it would be best that you carry some dried, canned, or other transportable food to make sure that you’re able to eat food that agrees with you. Better safe than sorry.

How many people will be on the trip?

The maximum group size on all trips is 12. We also have 2 pro photographer leaders as well as our expert local guide on our tours.

Will I be able to charge my electrical appliances?

In most places, you’ll be able to recharge your appliances at the hotel. We recommend you bring a travel adapter with you and if you have lots of batteries to charge, a travel sized power bar.

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