Our Coronavirus COVID19 Update 25th January 2021

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus

We have also successfully applied for the UK Visit Britain standard for industry. We are pleased to confirm that you have successfully applied for the We’re Good To Go Industry Standard and we are satisfied that your business is indeed good to go. We know it has been a challenging time and now we all need to work together to aid your recovery.

 

CORONAVIRUS (COVID 19) UPDATE: 25th January 2021

We are adopting the ATTA, Adventure Travel Trade Association guidelines for covid safety as well as implementing the “good to go” recommendations. ATTA also have a covid risk assessment planning tool. In particular we are adopting guidelines on trekking, cultural visits camping as well as putting in thought to our specific situation. We are very much looking forward to welcoming you and it is a hard time for us with the UK quarantine measures currently in place, but that doesn’t mean we can’t plan more amazing adventures and adapt to the situation. We have local programmes happening both in the UK and Pyrenees in line with current regulations, and of course this can change.

As well as government information we also look at our in sport news for guidance and in particular with the UIAA, the international federation for climbing and mountaineering for country specific reports. https://www.theuiaa.org/home/uiaa-members-report-on-latest-national-covid-19-measures/

https://www.adventuretravel.biz/covid19guidelines/

Our Coronavirus COVID19 Update 9th November 2020

We know that many of you will have concerns about whether or not you’ll be able to travel in 2021. We certainly hope so, and are planning to run as many trips as any potential travel restrictions allow. Our experience from running trips in summer 2020 is that travel corridors, quarantine rules and local lockdowns change frequently and without much, if any, warning. As a result, a degree of flexibility about your travel plans may be required.

Having said that, we had a number of successful trips for those who were willing to travel. Hotels and mountain huts operated with reduced capacity, and we were able to run safe, socially-distanced trips.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I book a holiday for Winter 20-21 or Summer 2021?

Absolutely! We intend to run any trips that we can, and a number of our group trips are already guaranteed to run. We would recommend booking with an open and flexible mind.

Is my deposit or trip balance protected?

Yes: as part of the EU Package Travel Regulations, all payments you make to us are protected, and in the unlikely event of our financial failure, you would receive a full refund of anything you have paid to us.

When will I know if my holiday will take place?

If your trip is not imminent, we just can’t tell if it will run. What we do know is that If we can run your trip, then we will!  We will be in touch with you individually 8 weeks before your trip if there are no travel restrictions in place, and 4-6 weeks before your trip if there are travel restrictions.

Should I make my travel arrangements yet?

Under normal circumstances, we usually suggest that you make your travel arrangements as soon as your trip is guaranteed. However, due to current unpredictability, we would now suggest doing so with caution. Either by booking a flexible, refundable travel option, or by booking with shorter notice once you have more of an idea that your trip will go ahead.

Will the trip run?

If in the run-up to your trip it is still unclear about whether the trip can go ahead, we won’t ask for the trip balance until nearer the time. We will be in touch individually about each trip, in the order that they are due to happen. Don’t be alarmed if you were expecting a balance reminder and haven’t received one: your trip is still confirmed, we just don’t want to ask you for the trip balance too soon if we might not be able to run your trip.

I am not resident in the UK. Does this affect my trip?

As a British company, with many British clients, we follow UK government advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCO). Many of our clients are from outside the UK. Each country has different rules about where they can travel to, so please refer to your own foreign office website to check whether you can travel to your destination. As an example, all of our USA, Australian and New Zealand clients have been able to cancel or postpone their trips due to current travel restrictions. Please check with the country in which your trek is being held, your own ministry of foriegn affairs and the news.

The FCO is not advising against travel to my destination, but I still want to cancel my trip. Am I entitled to a refund?

If your holiday can still go ahead as planned, but you have changed your mind about travelling, then our normal Terms and Conditions apply. You should check whether your travel insurance covers your reason for cancellation. You can transfer your place to another person if you wish.

The FCO is advising against travelling to my destination. Am I entitled to a refund?

If we have to cancel your holiday due to FCO travel travel advice, then we will be in touch with you individually no earlier than 6 weeks before your trip, and you will be able to choose from the following 4 options:

  • postpone your trip to later dates (no fee to swap dates)

  • put your deposit towards a 2022 trip (and subsequently receive that trip at the 2021 price)

  • if you’re not sure of the new dates you would like, you can still postpone your trip, and just let us know when you know your dates – you’ll still receive the trip at the 2021 price

The FCO is advising against all but essential travel to my destination: can I still come on holiday?

If the FCO advise against travelling to your destination, then we would offer you the option to postpone the trip. If you would still like to travel, then we are happy to run your trip as long as any local restrictions allow. In the case of a group trip, we would still need to achieve the minimum number of bookings for the trip to go ahead. In the case of a private trip, you will have been quoted based on the number of people in your group, so if some of your party choose to cancel, you may have to pay a supplement to cover the additional trip cost (eg guiding and luggage delivery is better value per person when split over a larger group than a smaller group). You would also need to be fully aware of the risk involved in travelling, and would need to check the validity of your travel insurance.

What happens if there are quarantine or self-isolation measures when I return home?

If your country of residence requires a quarantine or self-isolation on your return home, this does not affect the delivery of your holiday and our normal Terms and Conditions would apply.

What happens if a lockdown where I live prevents me from being able to travel?

If a lockdown in your country of residence prevents you from travelling, this does not affect the delivery of the holiday, and our normal Terms & Conditions would apply. We would advise making sure that your travel insurance covers this eventuality.

What if I fall ill with Covid before or during my trip, or come into contact with someone who has tested positive?

Please ensure that your travel insurance covers this eventuality. If at any time during the trip you display symptoms of Covid-19 (high temperature, persistent cough, difficulty in breathing, sore throat, loss of sense of smell or taste), you will be asked to seek medical advice and take appropriate action. We will ask you to sign to say you do not have any of these symptoms. 

What if my trip has to change due to covid regulations?

If we can still run your trip by making some small changes to accommodate any new rules, then we will. If you booked a private trip, and new rules require group size to be capped (and therefore the guiding ratio may need to change), or transport rules require smaller group sizes in minibuses, then we will need to charge for any additional services used, but will discuss this with you first.

What precautions are you taking with regard to covid?

Mask wearing: masks are obligatory in many of the places we visit: indoors whilst moving around in public places, on public transport, in any of our vehicle transfers. We do not ask people to wear masks whilst hiking, running, cycling, skiing or snowshoeing.

Hand sanitiser:  we ask all of our clients to have this handy, use it regularly, and wash your hands thoroughly and often.

Meals:  on our group trips, you will normally be sitting at a table for your group. This is the one aspect of group trips where it is difficult to socially distance. Please let us know in advance if you would like to be seated separately. We can’t promise it will be possible (due to reduced capacity in restaurants), but we will try to arrange this for those who wish.

Social distancing: our holidays are outdoors and in the mountains, so we’re happy that this element of your trip is possibly the safest way to eliminate exposure to crowds. It has been hard to get used to not giving our guests a great big hug when we say goodbye, but we’ve had to stop hugging, kissing, and hand-shaking for the time being. Where you have a choice, choose to sit alongside fellow guests rather than opposite. And please don’t share food and drink – no more handing round of sweets!

Mountain huts: huts in different countries have different guidelines to follow. All have reduced capacity in order to allow people to be further apart. In many huts, it is now obligatory to bring your own sleeping bag. Pillows were not provided in some huts, and most had to stop providing hut slippers (this may change for summer 2021).

Health: We ask you not to come on your trip if you are suffering from covid symptoms. In the event of symptoms, we ask you to leave the trip to seek a covid test / medical advice. 

We also have guidelines for our contractors and follow local regulations.

Exempt countries and territories list

Countries and territories exempt from advice against ‘all but essential’ international travel for British citizens  that we run treks to:

Europe

Travel corridors where quarantine on return to the UK is not necessary:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-travel-corridors

Mask wearing

Luckily in the mountains it is advised to carry a mask and not wear one unless going into an enclosed space. Outside in restaurants it’s fine too and we have the latest refuge guidelines too.

People in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland now have to wear face coverings if they are travelling on public transport. The rule is coming into force in Wales from 27 July. And if you live in Scotland, face coverings must be worn in shops too. Face coverings will also have to be worn in when visiting shops in England from 24 July.

France

Wearing of masks in enclosed public spaces is planned to be compulsory for August 1 in France.

Spain

The use of face masks is obligatory to anyone over the age of six-years-old in all public spaces. The rule is mandatory for where it’s not possible to maintain social distancing of 1.5 metres.

Greece

It is mandatory to wear facemasks on public transport (including flights and ferries), at airports, in taxis, in all medical facilities and in lifts. The use of facemasks is strongly recommended in other closed spaces, but not compulsory.

Italy

Mandatory on public transport and in shops.

Mountain regions and advice

The international body for climbing and mountaineering the UIAA has created a task force to share good practice in Mountain areas relating to Covid 19. You can see the updates from Federation members here:

VISITING MOUNTAIN HUTS IN FRANCE, ITALY AND SWITZERLAND

 

CORONAVIRUS (COVID 19) UPDATE: 29th June 2020

Summer holidays abroad have been given the green light after ministers confirmed the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days upon returning to the UK will be scrapped for a slew of popular destinations.

Trips to FranceGreece and Spain look on the cards after the government confirmed it will revise the quarantine measures at Monday’s review.

In place of the quarantine arrangements will be a traffic light system, with officials placing countries into green, amber and red categories based on the prevalence of coronavirus within each nation’s borders.

Only passengers arriving into the UK from nations in the red category, where the spread of coronavirus is deemed to be high, will be told to self-isolate for two weeks.

ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Wiener says the travel ban on all but essential travel is likely to be lifted on July 6 and in its place a traffic light system will be introduced

Are we ready? 

YES!

  • Yes we have guidance in place and extra hygiene measures for our treks this summer crossing the Pyrenees
  • Yes we follow refuge regulations and they are filled to half capacity. We have precautions for transport we offer and extra hotels are open according to French and Spanish regulations.
  • Yes Restaurants are open outdoors without a mask and indoors with a mask though this requirement could be lifted soon.
  • Yes You will be able to travel here by plane and ferry. Please enquire if you prefer to bring your own car and not have airport pick up as this will reduce the trek cost for you 🙂
  • Yes We can’t wait to welcome you!

CORONAVIRUS (COVID 19) UPDATE: 8th June 2020

Spain confirms quarantine on foreign tourists will be lifted on June 21st which is good for our treks transiting from Spain to France

Pyrenees has opened its mountains to tourists and most refuges are ready to receive guests including those on the Freedom Trail. Cafe’s and restaurants open

Our Freedom Trail itineraries are operational if people can get there and cafe’s and restaurants are opening in France with it possible to eat food and drink outside.

And the less good news for tour operators an travel professionals is that the UK has imposed a 14 day quarantine rule on the 8 June for those entering the UK from Abroad except from Ireland:

which is expected to mean the situation will unfortunately stay the same for at least 3 weeks though there is opposition to it. We strongly hope this will be lifted in early July at the latest as we see Covid 19 cases falling.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/explainers-52544307

Today Covid19 death rates fall to below lockdown level

The UK has recorded its lowest daily rise in the number of coronavirus deaths since before lockdown on 23 March, latest government figures show and also the lowest number of new cases.

What to book for August, September and October?

We will be very excited to welcome you then! In fact any time if you can get here or to one of our Covid Safer locations.

What’s going on in Europe?

Andorra Freedom Trail, Dolomites WW1, Andorra 3 Nations Trek, The Freedom Trail, Coastal Freedom Trail, Ariege GR10, Cathar way and Carcassonne

What’s going on in the rest of the world?

Jordan Petra and Wadi Rum, Nepal trekking, Toubkal, Tenerife Sea to Summit, Kalymnos round island trek.

NEW Toubkal and Aconcagua

CORONAVIRUS (COVID 19) UPDATE: 13th APRIL 2020

The current situation is unlike anything the travel industry has ever seen before, and we are all working hard to get through it as best we can. This is the first time we have had to put a pause on customers adventuring somewhere in the World. Our whole ethos is based around enabling people to get out there and adventure and as a small business this is a difficult time. Therefore we have made the tough decision to suspend all trips until 1st June 2020 for the health and safety of our own contractors and customers always have and always and always will remain our priority.

We are very honoured that you continue to choose to travel with us. As a ground operator for larger companies we also respect their operations too and their charity clients who may be disappointed to need to postpone their fundraising activity or if you planned to travel from a country with extensive restrictions. Rest assured we are keeping up to date with this.

The global spread of Covid 19 and the knock on effects it had on travel (not to mention the more recent restrictions the whole of the UK now find themselves in) could obviously not have been foreseen

We totally appreciate it’s going to be much tougher right now but know that the determination some of you have shown on previous trips will enable you to find a way through this challenging time and the rewards at the end will be all the sweeter. Were here to take you on your next adventure.

It’s crucial to us and our partners, and for our local teams, as small businesses, that people begin to travel again when it is safe to do so. With this in mind, at such a time we have to cancel any trips due to travel restrictions, we ask you to strongly consider postponing your trips with us rather than cancelling, as we would love to take you on the adventure of the lifetime in the future. We’ll be reaching out as soon as things return to normal and once it’s safe to live the adventure again. We’re in this together.

In the mean-time please stay safe, look after yourselves and family and we’ll see you out there again when we’re able.

Anne Arran – MD and Founder

OFFICIAL INFORMATION AND SOURCES

If you would like to understand more about the latest Government Travel Advice explicitly linked to the COVID-19 situation, please follow this link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus

The World Health Organisation publish a daily situation report and have a whole section of their website dedicated to Covid-19. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

You can access the situation reports here: WHO situation reports

It is worth noting that the WHO numbers tend to lag a little behind general news reports. However, we use this as our main reference point because these are verified figures.

Practical advice and guidance can be found at the following links:They also publish daily reports here.   Travel Pro Health website

FAQ’S RELATING TO COVID-19

WHAT HAPPENS IF SPA ADVENTURE TREKS LTD (freedom trail treks) CANCEL MY TRIP?

If we cancel your trip, or if we cannot deliver a significant part of it as a result of Covid 19, then you can choose from the following 3 options:

  • Transfer to another departure of the same trip up until the end of 2021.
  • Transfer to any other trip we’re offering of the same or higher value until the end of 2021.
  • If you do not wish to transfer your booking or the same trip is not available during that time, we will provide you with a Refund Credit Note for your trip payment which is valid until at least 31st July 2020, and likely to be extended beyond that.  You can use this credit note towards any other trip with us at any time in the future but the trip must be booked by 31st July 2020.

If we have to cancel your trip, we will contact you as soon as possible with as much advanced notice as possible.

We want to avoid cancelling trips unless absolutely necessary: that is, unless travel advice from the FCO changes for your destination country, or unless the trip becomes operationally unviable due to safety or logistical concerns.  But please be assured, the safety of our customers will ALWAYS come first. If we have any doubts whatsoever about our trips and the associated risk, they will be cancelled. You will be informed if this impacts you. We want you to make the decision that is right for you

We are prioritising our imminent departures at the moment, but continue to monitor every destination we travel to.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I CHOOSE TO CANCEL MY TRIP?

Spa Adventure Treks will only cancel trips due to operational restrictions or safety concerns, or if the FCO advise against travel to your destination. We will let you know as soon as we can if we’re due to cancel your trip.

If you choose to cancel your trip with us, before we have made a decision about the trip, or if the trip is still going ahead as planned, our usual cancellation policy will apply. You may be able to claim costs on your travel insurance depending on the circumstances and the extent of your insurance coverage, but no refund or compensation can be claimed from Spa Adventure Treks Ltd. You can read our Ts&Cs in full here. We would respectfully ask all of our clients to postpone their trip to a later date or take advantage of this refund credit note scheme, rather than asking for a cash refund. In most cases we have already secured bookings on behalf of clients for which we are not receiving a refund, so it is clearly an unfair situation where we have to give refunds but get none in return.

WILL MY TRIP IN JULY OR AUGUST RUN?

We haven’t cancelled any trips in July or August 2020 and are waiting to see how the situation evolves. We will contact you ASAP as soon as we see what is likely to be the situation with travel and on the ground in country at that time.

WHAT HAPPENS IF SOMEONE IN MY GROUP SHOWS SYMPTOMS WHILST ON THE TRIP, OR THE GROUP GETS INFECTED?

If you or another member of your group displays symptoms of COVID-19 we will work with our leaders and local team to ensure that you and the rest of your group are safe. This would likely involve the affected participant being isolated from the group and transferred to a medical facility to receive the appropriate treatment, and if necessary, the cancellation of the rest of the trip.

If you suspect you are ill on a challenge, or if you believe that you have come into contact with a known COVID-19 case, we advise the following steps:

  • Stay indoors if possible and avoid contact with other people, as you would with the flu.
  • Call your leader to inform them of your unwellness.
  • Call your travel insurance company to discuss what you should do.
  • Follow local public health guidance (if available)

WHAT HAPPENS IF I AM PUT INTO QUARANTINE IN MY DESTINATION, AND WHO WILL COVER THE COST OF THIS?

Many travel insurers will not cover the costs of medical expenses incurred whilst choosing to travel in a country known to have a coronavirus risk. You must check your travel insurance policy to see whether you are covered – this may depend on when you purchased the policy.

We always recommend bringing a contingency fund for emergencies for circumstances such as this. The recommended amount is listed in your challenge FAQs and information.

Whilst we will do our best to assist you in coordinating with our team on the ground, medical facilities, and other partners, we cannot cover costs associated with being quarantined in-country.

WHAT DOES MY TRAVEL INSURANCE COVER IF I BECOME ILL?

Every travel insurance policy is different. You must read your policy wording carefully, and contact your insurer if you have any questions or concerns. You should also travel with copies of your travel insurance documents. Whilst we take copies of your insurance as proof of coverage, the ultimate responsibility for having the correct and adequate coverage is your own.

We always recommend bringing a contingency fund for emergencies for circumstances. The recommended amount is listed in your challenge FAQs and information.

HOW IS THE SPREAD AND CONTAINMENT OF COVID-19 BEING MANAGED IN MY DESTINATION?

In all of our destination countries, we are working closely with our ground teams and are monitoring their operational responses to the coronavirus outbreak regularly. The key things to be aware of are:

Our ground teams and leaders in all destinations are following and implementing all of the World Health Organization recommendations for infection prevention.

All contractors and partners are closely monitoring multiple channels of official news, including the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the World Health Organisation.

Ground teams and leaders in all destinations are informed of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, and the safety precautions required to prevent transmission of the disease. Staff and participants will be assisted in isolation and seeking medical attention where necessary.

Hand-washing and the use of alcohol-based handwashes are available for all participants throughout our trips, including implementing new hand-washing stations at campsites and equipping vehicles with hand sanitizer.