Booking Terms and Conditions
1.1 We are World Explorer Travel Limited trading as Secret Atlas ™, registered in England no 11930689 with our registered office address at 71-75 Shelton Street, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9JQ (we, us, our).
1.2 These are our terms and conditions as at the 9th of April 2023 governing the contract between all persons named on the booking with us (including anyone who is added or substituted at a later date) (you, your) where we supply scheduled expeditions operated by ourselves. Please read them carefully as they set out your and our respective rights and obligations.
Where we are providing the expedition
1.3 The terms and conditions immediately below apply when we are providing the expedition ourselves.
What we do, and where to find out more information about us
1.5 We act as tour operators (expedition organisers) and do so in respect of all bookings we take and/or make on your behalf. You can find everything you need to know about us and our services to you on our website https://www.secretatlas.com/, in our brochures or from our sales staff before you order. We also confirm the key information to you in writing before you order, either by email, by phone, in your online account or on paper
1.6 We only accept orders when we’ve checked them
1.7 We contact you by email to confirm we’ve received your order and then we contact you again to confirm we’ve accepted it.
Sometimes we reject orders before a trip begins
1.8 Sometimes we reject orders before a trip begins, for example because you disclose a mental or physical health or dietary issue at some point after the booking that results in our reasonably concluding you are not suitably fit to take the trip, or we cannot accommodate your dietary requirements. This is one of the reasons that your travel insurance must cover you for cancellation (for any reason), as a condition of booking.
1.9 In making a booking, the first named person on the booking agrees on behalf of all persons detailed on the booking that they:
a) have read these terms and conditions and has the authority to and agrees to be bound by them;
c) are over 18 years of age and where placing an order for services with age restrictions declares that he/she and all members of the party are of the appropriate age to purchase those services;
d) accept financial responsibility for payment of the booking on behalf of all persons detailed on the booking;
e) warrant that dates and timings are correct on of all documents
f) warrant that names, dates of birth and other passport details are identical to those in the relevant passports.
2. Quotations, bookings and prices
2.1 Each quotation is subject to availability and a potentially updated price at time of booking.
2.2 You must ensure that you have read and accepted the final quotation and itinerary before booking and making the first payment, and that in making that payment you are undertaking to obtain and send evidence to us of appropriate travel insurance (see Insurance below at clause 8). We shall require your data for the ship’s manifest, and insurance evidence at the time of the final payment (see Payments below), but it is helpful if you can send the insurance evidence sooner.
2.3 We reserve the right to correct any published prices, quote and itineraries and will do so when we become aware of such an error.
2.4 We do not currently book flights (other than exceptionally) and you are responsible for doing so. Nevertheless, we hereby make you aware of the UK Air Safety List, which lists those air carries prohibited from operating in the UK: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/uk-air-safety-list. The EU carries a similar list: https://transport.ec.europa.eu/transport-themes/eu-air-safety-list_en, as does the USA: https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/us_restrictions.
Late increases (decreases)
2.5 Once we’ve confirmed the price of your expedition, we still reserve the right to correct errors and to pass on any price increases occurring on or before the date of departure. We will apply a surcharge if our costs increase as a result of transportation costs e.g., fuel, airfares and airline surcharges which form part of the contract between airlines, their agents and expedition operators, other dues, taxes, and fees relating to embarkation and/or disembarkation of ports and airports, fluctuations in exchange rates or changes in costs relating to permits, accommodation or other booking components. We shall not charge a surcharge unless quoted price has increased by at least 5%, but we shall not increase any price beyond 8%.
2.6 Our prices are also subject to any additional VAT and Government charges that may be implemented between the date of booking and the date the expedition begins.
3. Payments and refunds
3.1 We use “expedition departure date” quite a bit below. This means the date the expedition as a whole commences, not the start date of your journey to get to the expedition departure point.
3.2 We require payments as follows. If you make your booking:
a) more than 6 months before the expedition departure date, we must receive an immediate deposit of 30% of the total amount, with receive balance payments of 30% 6 months before the expedition departure date, and 40% balance 3 months before the expedition departure date.
b) on or within 6 months of the expedition departure date, you must pay 60% immediately and the 40% balance 3 months before the expedition departure date; and
c) on or within 3 months of the expedition departure date, you must pay in full.
By making your first payment you accept these terms and conditions, which we shall have alerted you to in our correspondence with you. Please see also clause 4.3 about the insurance requirement and clause 5.6 about your certifying fitness to travel for every member of the party as at the date of the booking.
3.3 If you wish for different payment terms, we are always happy to consider your proposals. For example, in some circumstances we may be able to offer flexible payment schedules. Please contact us for details and availability.
3.4 We shall not pay refunds except to the account from which you made the original payment. You accept that to cover our costs we make all refunds net of any bank/credit card fees and a processing fee of £250.
4. Cancellation before expedition departure, expedition suspension (delay of departure)
If you cancel (before the expedition departure date)
4.1 If you or any person that you are travelling with cancels your (or their) expedition for any reason before the expedition departure date (including as a result of your not possessing the necessary travel documents) you must notify us in writing as soon as possible. Once we receive your written notification your cancelling is effective, but not before then. To cover our costs incurred by your cancelling we limit our refunds for your cancelling as follows, subject to clause 4.2:
a) Whenever you cancel we do not refund the initial 30% deposit.
b) However, if you cancel 3 months or more before expedition departure date, we shall refund
any amount you have paid us over and above the initial 30% deposit (so, for example, if you
have already paid 60% of the total at the cancellation date, we shall refund the difference
(30%) between the amount you have paid and the initial 30% deposit).
c) However, if you cancel less than 3 months before the expedition departure date, we shall
not make any refund of any amount you have paid (initial 30% deposit or otherwise).
4.2 However, in either case referred to in clause 4.1, if we succeed in reselling your expedition place, we shall refund you anything you have paid us. In each of refund, our refund is subject to our charges in clause 3.4.
4.3 We talk about insurance further below but it is a condition of our accepting your order that you must take out an insurance policy that includes cancellation costs.
Circumstances beyond our control: some examples
4.4 These are events which we or the supplier of the service(s) in question could not, even with reasonable diligence, prevent or foresee. These events include (by way of example) (and whether actual or threatened) war, riot, civil disobedience or strife, terrorist activity, industrial dispute, natural disaster, epidemic, adverse weather conditions, adverse flooding, fire, border closures, unavoidable technical problems with transport and all similar events such as late unavailability of a vessel outside our control. We regard Foreign Office advice against all travel or all but essential travel to a particular country or area as a circumstance beyond our control. We talk below about the consequences for you and us of such events.
If we cancel (before the expedition departure date)
4.5 Sometimes we have to cancel bookings; we make every effort not to cancel but we reserve the right to do so. We will only cancel your expedition if:
a) we have not received your full payment on or before 3 months before your expedition departure date;
b) you have not evidenced out appropriate insurance to us (see below); or
c) as a result of circumstances beyond our control (see above), including flight delays or cancellations, or your being denied permission to board an aircraft or vessel.
4.6 If we cancel your expedition before it departs (unless as a result of our not being paid in full) you will have the opportunity to either:
a) purchase another expedition from us of the same value as the cancelled expedition (If your new expedition purchase costs less than the cancelled expedition then we will refund the difference, but if costs more then you must pay the difference); or
b) be refunded by us in full.
4.7 We are not liable for any costs that you have incurred as a result of the cancellation.
Our curtailing your expedition for reason of your behaviour, and your liability
4.8 We and/or our local operators may curtail (stop / call a halt to) the expedition of any person(s) involved in that expedition if we (and/or they) reasonably feel that that person’s behaviour is causing annoyance, damage, distress, danger or injury to any person including themselves. If we (and/or they) do so, we and our local operator have no further responsibility to the person involved, who will be instructed (if a minor (under 18), with an appropriate adult) to leave the vehicle or vessel, accommodation and/or service that is being provided at the first reasonable opportunity. If this happens we (and they) are not responsible for arranging further travel and are not liable for any of that person’s costs for their safe passage home or elsewhere or for curtailing their expedition.
4.9 You accept responsibility and are liable for any damage or loss caused by you and any minor travelling with you. Full payment for any such damage or loss (reasonably estimated if not precisely known) must be made direct to the accommodation owner or manager or other supplier or to us as soon as possible. If the actual cost of the loss or damage exceeds the amount paid where estimated, you must pay the difference once known. You are also liable for meeting any claims made against us and all costs of any nature incurred by us (including our own and the other party’s full legal and other professional costs) as a result of your actions.
We can change services and these terms
4.10 We can at any time change details of an expedition to reflect changes in relevant laws and regulatory requirements and/or to make minor technical adjustments and improvements, for example to address a security threat. These are changes that don’t affect your expedition in a major way, and we are not liable to you if such events occur.
4.11 We can also make the following types of changes to your expedition or these terms, but if we do so we’ll notify you and you can then contact our Customer Service Team to end the contract before the expedition.
4.12 Sometimes, though, because of circumstances beyond our control the terms may be amended. The terms that you receive from us on confirmation of booking are the terms that apply to your contract with us.
We’re not responsible (liable) for delays outside our control
4.13 If the supply of your service after the departure date is curtailed, suspended (see below) delayed or prevented by an event outside our control (some examples are above), we shall contact you as soon as possible to let you know and do what we can to reduce the delay (etc.). As long as we do this, we won’t compensate you for the delay, but if the delay is likely to be substantial you can contact our Customer Service Team.
Expedition suspension after the departure date
4.14 We can suspend an expedition in progress. We do this to:
a) deal with technical problems or make minor technical changes;
b) update the expedition to reflect changes in relevant laws and regulatory requirements; or
c) make changes to the expedition (see We can change services and these terms).
5.0 Risks and inconveniences, medical, and behaviour during expeditions
Risks (and inconveniences)
5.1 You accept that it is in the nature of our expeditions that they bear risk above and/or additional to that which you may be familiar with, and are likely to bring inconveniences. Our expeditions may take you areas that will be remote, foreign, with cold and highly adverse weather conditions. Risks (and inconveniences) may arise from terrorism, forces of nature, wild animals birds and marine life, hotel accommodations, airplane, vehicles, trains, boats, roads, walkways, trails, and other means of conveyance and unknowns. Risks may include increased risk of injury, illness, death, loss, or damage to personal property, any of which may be caused by acts of nature, negligence or others’ actions. You accept that the best medical services and facilities may well not be readily available during all or part of the trip, including medical care, the presence of physicians, and medication. Conditions may be uncomfortable, and we may not be able to accommodate all medical and dietary requirements.
5.2 Although we seek to mitigate risks, you accept that not all risk can be completely eliminated.
5.3 We do make efforts to accommodate dietary requirements, but it is in the nature of our expeditions that this may not always be possible and we do not accept liability for not doing so (see Inconveniences above).
Medical and dietary
5.4 Our expeditions are intended for persons of reasonably good health and mobility. It is your responsibility to take the necessary health and medical precautions in preparing for your expedition and to take appropriate medical advice from your GP or another relevant medical authority before travelling.
5.5 Persons who may not be fit to participate in these trips and/or who have any medical problems and/or dietary restrictions must consult their doctor and declare such issues to us at the time of confirmation. We can then counsel you on whether the expedition you have selected is appropriate for you. The expedition leader has the right to disqualify any participant at any time during the expedition if he feels the participant is physically incapable and/or if a participant’s continued participation will jeopardise either the individual involved or the group. There will be no refund. Some other potential consequences are set out in Our cancellation for reason of your behaviour above.
5.6 By making the deposit, the person certifies that they and everybody else for whom they are booking does not have any mental, physical or other condition or disability that (if suitably controlled and/or moderated by that individual, or, if a minor, by an adult in the booking party) would create a hazard for themself or any other person.
5.7 If we have any reasonable cause for concern that the state of your mental or physical health might in any way increase risk for you or for others on the expedition, we may require a doctor’s certificate from you as a condition of your being permitted to join the expedition.
Your behaviour on the expedition
5.8 Because of the risks set out above you must:
a) take reasonable and careful responsibility for your own safety and your health during your expedition, including as to appropriate clothing and behaviour;
b) obey any reasonable instructions given by us or our agents;
c) take reasonable and careful responsibility for the safety and health of any minors (under 18 years old) in your party during your expedition, including as to appropriate clothing and behaviour;
and you must not:
d) make use of any illegal drugs during the expedition;
e) use prescribed or over-the-counter drugs except for their express purpose and if their effect is in any way disabling, ensure your own safety while they are effective and if in any doubt, consult the expedition operator; or
f) consume alcohol other than in your cabin or what is on sale on the expedition by the organisers in common areas of a vessel , and while under the influence of alcohol place yourself or others in any jeopardising situation. If you breach any of these requirements the expedition leader may disqualify you from continuing to take part in the expedition, as above. Some other potential consequences are set out in Our cancellation for reason of your behaviour above.
Inconveniences and variations in general
5.9 You accept that travel with a group unavoidably may require those participating to compromise to accommodate the wide variety of desires, travel goals, personalities, and physical abilities of group members.
5.10 You accept that although itineraries are carefully planned, they are not a guaranteed schedule of activities, events, or participation, but only a guideline and example. You undertake to allow for reasonable flexibility and any changes the expedition program leader or others providing the services. There may be situations beyond our control due to geographic, climatic, physical, or governmental restrictions that will cause further changes in timing, locations, and activities.
5.11 We do not give discounts or refunds for events or activities that are curtailed or otherwise affected by such circumstances.
6. Travel documents
You are responsible for ensuring that you have the proper travel documents and immunizations and for checking with your consulate, foreign ministry, embassy and/or visa agency to determine whether you need visas for your expedition.
7. Disputes and our liability to you
7.1 As a preliminary point: you accept when you pay the deposit that in our destination countries service levels, infrastructure, levels of hygiene, safety and security may be substantially lower than you are used to in your country of residence. Although we try reasonably hard to soften the impact of these, we cannot be held liable for local standards being below your expectations. It is important to adhere to local laws and regulations of the destination country when travelling with us and these are the laws and regulations that will apply to your expedition and not those of your country of residence.
No liability for other persons’ actions or omissions
7.2 We don’t accept liability in relation to any contract you enter into or for any services or arrangements you buy or for the acts or omissions of any supplier or other person connected with any such services or arrangements.
7.3 You must make complaints immediately to the local operator or the service provider and also in writing to our UK office hello [@] secretatlastravel.com and or 71-75 Shelton Street, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9JQ UK such that the complaint reaches us no later than 31 days after your return from your expedition. We do not accept complaints received either after this time or not in writing (or both).
7.4 You have several options for resolving disputes with us
7.5 Our complaints policy. Our Customer Service Team (hello [@] secretatlastravel.com) will do their best to resolve any problems you have with us or our services as per our Complaints procedure set above.
7.6 Alternative dispute resolution is an optional process where an independent body considers the facts of a dispute and seeks to resolve it, without you having to go to court. You can submit a complaint to ABTOT (see clause 7.12); if you’re not satisfied with the outcome you can still go to court.
7.7 Wherever you like you can bring claims against us in the courts of any of England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, in all cases exclusively. We can claim against you in the courts of the jurisdiction you are based in.
Liability and limitation of our liability
7.8 We shall at every opportunity make reasonable efforts to ensure that (1) all parts of the expedition supplied are provided as described on our website and in the brochure to a reasonable standard of skill and care; and (2) our local contractors, suppliers and sub-contractors exercise due care and diligence in carrying out our contractual obligations. If at any stage your expedition is not provided as we have advertised and to an acceptable standard, we shall (subject to the exclusions and conditions set out in this contract, such as what happens in circumstances beyond our control) compensate you appropriately in line with how your expedition has been affected.
7.9 Subject to these terms and conditions, we accept responsibility should you or any of your party suffer death, personal injury or illness as a result of any failure to perform or improper performance of the contract by any of our employees, agents, suppliers or sub-contractors (provided they were at the time carrying out work authorised by us).
7.10 We do not accept liability in any claim to the extent that damage has been caused in full or in part by your breaching any of the requirements listed under Medical, and behaviour during expeditions above.
Our liability, except in cases involving death, injury or illness, shall be limited to a maximum of the cost of your travel arrangements. Our liability will also be limited in accordance with and/or in an identical manner to:
a) (where applicable) the contractual terms of the companies providing the services. Such terms are incorporated into this contract; and
b) any relevant international convention, for example the Montreal Convention in respect of air travel, the Athens Convention in respect of sea travel, the Berne Convention in respect of rail travel and the Paris Convention in respect of accommodation, which limit the amount of and conditions under which compensation can be claimed for death, injury, delay to passengers and loss, damage and delay to luggage. You accept we are to be regarded as having all benefit of any limitation of the extent of or the conditions under which compensation is to be paid under these or any conventions.
7.12 We are a member of the Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT), a Membership Association with over 250 Members and is recognised and respected by the UK Travel Industry. This is an Approved Body, appointed by the UK Government department BEIS. ABTOT operates a regulated financial protection bonding scheme for travel organisers, who in turn need to comply with UK travel regulations. You can find their website here, and information about how to contact them for arbitration services if you have a dispute with us that we cannot resolve here.
Conditions of payment
7.13 Our (or our insurers) making any payment is conditional on the person to whom any payment is made (and their parent or guardian if that person is a minor):
a) assigning to us and our insurers any rights that person may have to pursue any third party in connection with the claim;
b) providing all necessary assistance that we and/or our insurers reasonably require.
8.1 It is a condition to your attending an expedition that you have appropriate travel insurance and evidence this to us at or before the time of your final payment.
8.2 Please read our travel information section carefully (at Plan Your Trip on our website and in particular the section on insurance, and ensure that your insurance does covers at least the issues there (as this is a condition of your attending the expedition), in particular: repatriation, emergency evacuation and search and rescue, cancellation or curtailment, medical expenses, loss of luggage, death, illness, loss or theft of personal property in and from the location of the expedition and its period. You must evidence to us must that your travel insurance covers the travel period fully, and you must send proof of policy to our UK office at or before the final payment, with the insurer’s details and your policy number.
8.3 Some of our specialist expeditions cover vast distances in remote locations that are usually outside standard insurance policy evacuation coverage. For this reason, we also recommend that you source protection for medical and non-medical search and rescue.
9.0 Your permissions to us and local operators
Any staff member or other person authorised by our local operator is entitled to enter your room to carry out necessary inspection, maintenance or repair work or for any associated purpose. Such persons are also entitled to take photographic or video records on trips for promotional purposes, and you hereby expressly grant such persons and us permission to use such videos and images for such promotional purposes.
10 Other important terms applying to our contract
No third-party rights
10.1 Nobody else has any rights under this contract. This contract is between you and us. Nobody else can enforce it and neither of us will need to ask anybody else to sign-off on ending or changing it.
Invalidation and delay in enforcing
10.2 If a court invalidates some of this contract, the rest of it will still apply. If a court or other authority decides that some of these terms are unlawful, the rest will continue to apply.
10.3 Even if we delay in enforcing this contract, we can still enforce it later.
Accuracy of Information: website and brochures
10.4 All the information we give on our website and in our brochure is to the best of our knowledge a fair and up-to-date representation whether it is of wildlife, accommodation, food, security, animal visibility, itineraries or weather. We pride ourselves on our accuracy of information, but we do not accept liability for inaccuracies caused by circumstances out of our control or for information which has changed. You must therefore ensure you check all details of your expedition (including price) with us at the time of booking.
We charge interest on late payments
10.5 If we’re unable to collect any payment you owe us we charge interest on the overdue amount at the rate of 3% a year above the Bank of England base rate from time to time. This interest accrues on a daily basis from the due date until the date of actual payment of the overdue amount, whether before or after judgement. You pay us the interest together with any overdue amount.
10.6 If the rate of VAT changes between your order date and the date of your expedition the service, we adjust the rate of VAT that you pay, unless you have already paid in full before the change in the rate of VAT takes effect.
10.7 How we use any personal data you give us is set out in our Privacy Notice.
10.8 Your contract with us and matters arising out of it will be governed by the laws of the England and Wales.