Small Groups – Natural Habitat Adventures’ Specialty
Natural Habitat Adventures (NHA) emphasizes throughout their catalog that their focus is on small-group nature and wildlife experiences. The average number of travelers on their trips is about eight or nine. In some regions it’s less (seven in Africa) and in some places it’s more (13 in Canada), but in all areas, it is substantially fewer than any other company they know of, even the companies that say they focus on small groups. NHA is committed to genuinely small groups because they believe the best wildlife encounters can only be experienced in the company of few people. If you want a small group experience, they're confident that they are the nature travel company for you!
Specially Selected Accommodations
NHA's Air Travel Department
NHA takes the selection of their accommodations very seriously, as the places they stay can often add to the delight and authenticity of a nature travel experience. They generally choose the best accommodations available that are close to wildlife and wild places. They won’t, for example, travel for miles to a fancy hotel if there is a simple and classic accommodation that will place them “where the action is.” In fact, they mostly choose accommodations that have been specifically designed to place them in wild places in a comfortable and authentic manner, often including such features as verandas overlooking the African veldt, or special viewing platforms for watching wildlife. There have even been times when they have funded the construction of such facilities to be certain that their travelers can comfortably visit the planet’s wild areas. On some trips, they have included stays at classic lodges (like national park hotels in Yellowstone and Glacier) that are larger but well worth the relative crowds, as they are on lifetime “must-see” lists of travel experiences. In hub cities where trips start and end, they try to choose accommodations that balance comfort, charm and authenticity—an important combination, as they have learned through their many years in business. All accommodations have private toilet and shower facilities unless otherwise noted. Single, triple and quad accommodations are not always available. Double accommodations have twin beds or one bed that sleeps two, such as a double, queen or king.
Natural Habitat Adventures employs their own full-time air and travel department to assist guests with air transportation from their home cities to the starting point of their trip, plus any required additional nights' accommodations.
Signing On to NHA's Adventures
- Reserve your spot
Most trips require a $500 deposit to reserve space, which can be made by Visa, MasterCard and Discover. Some deposits are nonrefundable. Custom itineraries require a 25% nonrefundable deposit. When signing on to an adventure, you agree to sign the Acceptance of Terms & Conditions Form, which states that you and your party have read and understand the important information on these pages, including a release of liability prior to and/or during your trip. Deposits are due upon making your reservation. Your reservation is neither guaranteed nor considered complete if they do not receive an Acceptance of Terms & Conditions form from you. All fees are in U.S. dollars.
- Receive confirmation
You will receive a confirmation letter upon booking, along with a reading list prepared exclusively for your expedition. You will also receive an insurance form and brochure detailing the service we offer, as well as booking forms requesting additional vital information.
- Final balance for all scheduled tours including Antarctica and Small-Ship voyages
Your final balance will be automatically charged to your credit card 90 days prior to departure unless you return your booking form prior to final balance due date indicating you prefer to pay by personal check. At this time NHA will charge the insurance premium with your final balance unless we receive a written decline of insurance. If payment is not received by the due date, the reservations are subject to cancellation.
- Custom Individual & Group Departures: If you are booking a custom trip, the payment, cancellation and refund policies that have been provided to you by NHA supersede the policies listed above. Note: Some Adventure Cruises require final payment 120 days prior to departure. Please ask your Adventure Specialist.
- Receive your Pre-Departure Briefing & preparation materials
Your Pre-Departure Briefing will arrive approximately two to three months prior to your trip. This booklet will inform you on how to prepare for your trip, what to bring, what to leave home and what to expect. It will be accompanied by further material that will help you prepare for your expedition. NHA can now send your Pre-Departure Briefing electronically to your e-reader!
- NHA Pre-Trip forms
In order to enhance their service to their guests and to reduce paper waste, Natural Habitat Adventures provides pre-trip forms online. Please submit these forms online after booking.
Included in NHA’s Expeditions
Unless otherwise noted in the “Included” section, trips include: accommodations, meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on the final day, services of NHA’s professional Expedition Leader(s), transportation within the trip, airport transfers on Day 1 and final day, gratuities for airport transfers provided by NHA, baggage porterage, permits and parks fees while on the trip. Some trips also include air transportation within the itinerary and many other items.
Trip Deposit, Cancellation & Refund Policies
NHA understands how disappointing it is for travelers in the event they are forced to cancel their adventure, especially one which they have been looking forward to for a long time. But they, too, plan for these adventures for quite a long period prior to departure and continuously send non-refundable payments to hotels and suppliers of transportation. Therefore they must strictly adhere to their Cancellation & Refund Policy for all travelers. They strongly suggest purchasing travel insurance in case of cancellation. The following are cancellation policies for their adventures:
- All cancellations must be made in writing and delivered to NHA at the following address: P.O. Box 3065, Boulder, Colorado, 80307. You may also email. The Travel Protection services purchased through NHA are completely nonrefundable once purchased.
- All cancellations processed before 90 days prior to departure require a $100 cancellation fee per person. Some trips have nonrefundable deposits.
- Cancellations made 45 to 89 days prior to departure require a loss of 50% of the entire program fee, including all extensions.
- Cancellations made within 44 days of departure require a loss of the entire fee.
Terms for Adventure Cruises
On Adventure Cruises travelers contract and make payments directly with the ship operator and must adhere to their specific terms & conditions and payment policies. Some adventure cruise companies require personal checks for final payments or charge a processing fee to use credit cards. NHA provides the service of Adventure Specialists who are intimately familiar with adventure cruise options and will guide you to the best ship choice for you.
Some of NHA’s trips are customized for independent travelers, allowing guests to travel in the company of established local guides and operators who also focus on nature expeditions. Each trip is different in its inclusions – some may include a Natural Habitat Adventures Expedition leader and some may not, depending on the travelers’ requests. Options for independent trips include: Custom Southern Africa, Namibia, Custom Kenya & Tanzania, Custom Costa Rica, Independent Antarctica and Independent Galapagos trips. Other destinations may be included as well. Many extensions are also operated in this manner. On some trips they offer both Natural Habitat Adventures scheduled departures and the option for travelers to participate in independent trips with custom inclusions as requested and detailed in their custom proposals. With custom departures guests have the flexibility to travel as a private group exactly when and where they want. All custom trips and custom extensions require a 25% nonrefundable deposit.
NHA strongly suggests purchasing travel insurance, so they have contracted to provide to their guests travel insurance with some of the most comprehensive benefits possible. It may cost slightly more, but it is well worth it! Because they must send your payment to suppliers well in advance of the departure date, they cannot offer refunds beyond those described in their Cancellation & Refund Policy. NHA even has a “Cancel for Any Reason” policy. They will include the cost of a Full-Coverage Travel Insurance protection in your confirmation letter along with information on specific coverage. NHA will charge the insurance premium with your final balance unless they receive a written decline of insurance. All insurance is nonrefundable. Pre-existing medical conditions can be covered if payment is made for your insurance within 14 days of NHA processing your initial reservation. Medical Evacuation Insurance purchased through NHA, either as a part of Full-Coverage Insurance or on its own, is required for all Africa, some Small-Ship Voyages, China, and all Natural Habitat Expeditions trips. In the future other trips may be added to this list with little or no notice.
NHA encourages single travelers to join our trips! Travelers who would prefer a single room (not available on some trips or portions of some trips) may have one at a single-room surcharge. The company cannot always guarantee single accommodations even after reservations and confirmations have been made. They apologize for having to charge the single-room fee, but their program costs are based on two people sharing the expense of a hotel room. NHA will be happy to attempt to make a roommate match for those who choose. If they cannot arrange a match, only 50% of the single supplement fee will apply (except on certain trips where matches are guaranteed and on all custom trips where there is no opportunity to arrange a match). To accommodate single travelers, they have made a concerted effort to keep our single-supplement fees as low as possible.
NHA's Expedition Leaders, staff and drivers are all paid salaries for their work. They will go out of their way to make your trip special and do not perform their jobs just for money. However, they do accept gratuities should you determine that they performed their jobs at an outstanding level. Gratuities should reflect your satisfaction with their level of service.
Our Quality & Value Guarantee
NHA has committed to you that our trips are of the highest quality at the best value, and we’ll back that up:
- Satisfaction Guarantee
NHA guarantees that your trip will meet your expectations or they will gladly give you a credit toward a future trip! They’re so confident that their trips offer a life-enhancing experience that they’re happy to stand behind their quality with what they believe is the best guarantee in the travel industry. Of course, as with any guarantee, they are required to present you with the restrictions. NHA travelers tend to be very sophisticated and honorable people, but the company must cover themselves should someone attempt to take unfair advantage of their making such a bold promise. This satisfaction-guarantee can apply to an entire trip or to a portion of a trip. For example, should you find that the accommodations do not match the standards that were promised in their printed materials but the rest of the trip was great, they will apply the accommodations portion of your fee to a future trip. Some items cannot easily be quantified, so, in the off chance that you are dissatisfied with an item that does not have a straight dollar value, they’ll work with you to come up with a credit amount. NHA’s operations department will make all final decisions on values. The important part of this guarantee to remember is that the trip must meet expectations set by our printed materials, not by unreasonable expectations that do not match these promises made. As you read the catalog you’ll see that they’ve made some pretty bold promises, so the standards set are already very high.
- The Best Trip at the Best Fee!
If you book a trip with NHA, and, in the off chance you find a trip that matches our itinerary and inclusions at a better rate, NHA will gladly refund the difference. Here are the restrictions: You must notify them within 30 days after your initial booking with us; the other company must be a U.S.-based tour operator (not a travel agency) that is actually participating in the operations of the trip (i.e., using their own guides) rather than just booking a foreign company’s product; you must fax or send them the brochure from that company indicating who that company is (or direct NHA to their website); the trip must be of equal quality and the same or very similar itinerary; the departure dates must be the same or very similar, not dates that are what NHA would consider off season; the trip must be available from the company offering it, not a “base price” that they offer on one single departure. The trip cannot be a “fire sale” offer of unused inventory. Here are the parameters within the trip itself: all inclusions must be similar; the accommodations must be similar; the group size must be the same; the level of training of the Expedition Leader must be comparable; if the itinerary is a slightly different length, they will pro-rate it. Should the other trip include airfare where theirs does not, you must ask the other company to quote you a land-only rate.
- NHA Will Never Cancel
NHA has created a “no cancellation policy” so their travelers can feel comfortable in their travel plans. On rare occasions outside of their control, local ship or hotel owners may cancel departures. Should this occur, NHA will do everything they can to move you to a comparable trip, but cannot guarantee that they will be able to do so. Should traveler numbers on a specific departure be below a certain level, some activities and services, including the size of vehicles and the guiding service, may be altered to be more consistent with a smaller group size. (NHA also reserves the right to cancel Exploratory and Natural Habitat Expeditions trips, although they do not anticipate that this will happen.) Furthermore, included activities or excursions within a trip itinerary could conceivably be cancelled or rearranged with little or no notice as a result of factors out of the company’s control (e.g., inclement weather leading to safety concerns). In some cases where a comparable activity or trip cannot be arranged, NHA may provide a trip credit. Please remember this is adventure travel, and even the best-laid plans can be fluid.
The Habitat ClubM
NHA has created the Habitat Club to reward those travelers who dedicate their vacation time to traveling with them. They truly appreciate your patronage. Trip discounts are retroactive, meaning that discounts on Special Club departures will be offered to all travelers who have, over the last 25 years, participated in two or more trips. The count for receiving Special Habitat Club Gifts begins with all trips departing after Jan. 1, 2002 (regardless of when they were booked). Restrictions: Trips booked through affinity groups and Habitat Club departures are not included in the trip count. Should a trip be placed on the Habitat Club and you’re already booked on that trip, you will receive the Habitat Club discount, so feel free to go ahead and book— you’ll be protected. NHA reserves the right to change the benefits of the Habitat Club and/or cancel the program with little or no notice. All other normal booking terms apply.
Booking Adventure Cruising with Natural Habitat
Over the past three decades Natural Habitat staff has been on many adventure cruises, inspecting ships and company operations so that they can assist their travelers in booking these adventures. Should you book an adventure cruise through Natural Habitat (such as an Antarctica trip aboard a large ship or a custom Galapagos trip) please know that these trips are run through a third party and that Natural Habitat is acting only as a consultant to recommend which ship and which type of operations would best suit your needs. The company that operates the trip is responsible for delivering their product as well as for any refunds should their trip fail to depart or to meet your standards.
Educating and preparing NHA travelers is a priority for the company. Approximately two to three months prior to departure, you will receive a comprehensive Pre-Departure Briefing detailing your trip, the history and wildlife of the region, what to pack and how best to prepare. Depending on the specific trip, you may receive other documents at this time or at a later date. Air tickets purchased through the NHA Travel Department to get to the starting point of your trip will generally be included at this time, but may, in some instances, arrive at a later date.
Family Travel & Age Limits
NHA welcomes families on certain trips and often arranges special departures for them. Some trips have minimum age requirements. Please call for these details. On all trips, guardians of children under 18 must sign a minor permission waiver requiring them to make certain that the children do not place themselves, other travelers or wildlife in harm’s way, or jeopardize the enjoyment of the trip for the group as a whole. NHA also wants travelers to understand that they accept minors with the understanding that parents or guardians believe that their child/children is/are unusually mature and capable of acting like an adult.
Natural Habit Adventures generally welcomes children ages six and older on their family adventures. However, while some six-year-olds are well-suited for some or all of their family adventures, others may not be ready for the requirements of structured group travel. For this reason, they believe it is more useful to consider this age limit a guideline rather than a hard and fast rule. They believe that you, as a parent or guardian, are best qualified to decide whether or not your child would enjoy the experience without compromising the comfort of others. NHA is unable to allow children younger than six on scheduled departures due to safety regulations, physical limitations, and concerns regarding group dynamics.
Some of NHA’s trips have enforced luggage weight restrictions for their guests’ comfort and safety. Many vehicles have limited space, and when traveling in light aircraft, overweight conditions create a serious safety hazard. Baggage exceeding specified limits is subject to being left behind or forwarded to the ending point at your expense. “All carry-ons” includes camera equipment. Please pack lightly and follow the guidelines in your Pre-Departure Briefing.
Documents & Vaccinations
NHA will provide details on visa and vaccination requirements in your Pre-Departure Briefing.
Viewing Wildlife & Itinerary Changes
Because NHA programs specialize in viewing wildlife, every effort is made to plan programs where wildlife is known to exist. However, the animals live wild and free, and NHA cannot fully predict or control their migratory patterns (nor would they want to). In an attempt to locate wildlife, which may have deviated from its normal pattern, or in the interest of traveler comfort or safety, the company may be required to make changes in itineraries. If they feel it is necessary to change hotels, boats or other facilities, they will make reasonable efforts to substitute comparable accommodations wherever possible. If such changes or fluctuations in exchange rates occur, additional costs may require the program fee to change with little or no notice. Additionally, an increase in the cost of fuel may require that NHA enforce a fuel surcharge upon travelers booked on an existing trip, particularly on small-ship voyages. Should NHA be required to cancel a trip due to unforeseen circumstances, travelers will be granted trip credit in the amount of their trip cost already paid, but NHA will not be liable for accompanying expenses (such as gear purchases, airline tickets, etc.). It is very important for their guests to have realistic expectations for their wildlife encounters on our trips, so they try to portray accurate accounts of the wildlife viewing activities in their itineraries. Of course, weather conditions may preclude tours from participating in any or all activities as listed. The images shown in NHA’s printed materials represent what guests have regularly seen on “normal” trips in the past (or in the case of a new trip, what staff and researchers have seen). Due to the weather and/or wildlife conditions, some trips naturally will have fewer close encounters with wildlife than NHA normally anticipates, and they ask their guests to sign onto their adventures knowing this. Also, be aware that some images in our materials are taken with a telephoto lens, and guests should not assume that they will get this close to the wildlife. For example, NHA may show a close-up shot of a wolf, but nearly all of encounters with wolves are at some distance. Please note: due to the nature of the programs NHA provides, hotels, modes of transportation and, in some cases, itineraries are all subject to change.
Getting to the Starting Point of NHA’s Trips
NHA’s travelers are responsible for getting to the starting point of their trips, and should airlines fail to deliver them on time to participate, there will be no refund made for missed services. NHA’s Air Travel Department is happy to assist guests with their air tickets.
Currency, Fuel & Other Fluctuations
Out of respect for their guests, only in an extreme situation would Natural Habitat Adventures consider increasing a trip price due to fluctuations in exchange rates, energy prices and government surcharges.
Cell/Satellite Phone Usage on Our Trips
Guests who require access to an emergency cellular or satellite phone may carry one during their trips. However, NHA does not allow guests to use those phones in the presence of other guests, especially in closed areas.
Terms & Conditions
It is NHA’s, their cooperating agents’ and representatives’ goal to select reliable suppliers and contractors to provide air and other transportation, hotels, guides and other travel-related services; they do not assume responsibility, directly or indirectly, for any loss, damage or injury to property or person in connection with such services. Each traveler agrees not to hold NHA, its owners, employees, agents and representatives liable, in the absence of their own gross negligence, for any loss or injury, expense or damage which results directly or indirectly from any act or omission of any person or firm which is to or does provide goods or services in connection with the trip or with any available option. You agree that NHA and its cooperating agents and representatives shall not be liable for circumstances arising as a result of acts of God, weather, detention, annoyance, delays and expenses arising from quarantine, strikes, theft, pilferage, force majeure, military, political or terrorist action, civil disturbances, government restrictions, failure of any means of conveyance to arrive or depart as scheduled, discrepancies or changes in transit over which they have no control. NHA reserves the right to change the program fee, dates or itinerary with little or no notice. If such changes do occur, no refunds will be made beyond those described in the cancellation policy, and NHA will not be liable for expenses incurred as a result of the change (such as air ticket change fees, etc.). Should you book an independent custom trip through Natural Habitat Adventures (such as an expedition cruise, a custom Galapagos trip or a custom safari) with a third party, please remember that NHA is acting only as a consultant to recommend which cruise company would best suit your needs in terms of ship features. That third party is responsible for the delivery of their product as well as any and all refunds should their trip fail to depart or to meet the standards they have set.
Safety & Trip Enjoyment
Natural Habitat Adventures plans these trips in natural areas where the environment can sometimes lead to unpredictable conditions. To avoid possibly dangerous situations, both for travelers and the animals, it is extremely important that all travelers obey the rules and regulations set forth by the Expedition Leaders and/or Local Guides and demonstrate reasonable consideration for all staff and travelers. We reserve the right to prohibit any traveler from continuing on a journey if, in NHA’s opinion, that traveler’s actions pose a threat to the safety of her/himself, others, or to the wildlife, or if that traveler’s actions or behaviors are seriously jeopardizing the enjoyment of the trip for others, determined by NHA’s staff. Should a guest be asked to leave a trip, there will be no return of unused funds nor will NHA be responsible for additional expenses incurred by the guest for accommodations, return transport, etc. Participation in the program will require that travelers sign releases and covenants not to sue NHA or its participating agents and representatives. On advancement of a deposit, the traveler agrees to be bound by the terms and conditions set forth herein.
Smoking on NHA’s Trips
Travelers may not smoke in areas where others are affected (in vehicles or within enclosed areas or while others are around). Most of the rooms NHA secures do not allow smoking, and smokers should be aware that even if the company tries to secure them a “smoking room” NHA cannot guarantee that one will be provided. Please sign on to NHA’s trips knowing that there may be times when you will not be able to smoke.
Important Form Information
NHA must receive in its Boulder, Colorado office traveler(s)’ Booking and Acceptance of Terms & Conditions Forms within 14 days of making an initial booking or deposit (all forms can be completed online). Failure to do so may result in the cancellation of the booking by NHA with no refund beyond those listed in their cancellation policy. If a traveler’s Booking and Acceptance of Terms & Conditions Forms are received later than 14 days after initial booking/deposit and the forms indicate, in the company’s estimation, that a traveler or travelers may not be able to perform the physical requirements for their selected trip, NHA reserves the right to cancel the booking with no refund made beyond those listed in the cancellation policy. It is very important to ensure the quality of the trips for all participants, and one or more travelers who cannot perform the required physical activities, however limited those activities may be, may adversely affect the experience for the entire group. The earlier NHA can know of physical limitations, the better chance we have of a) handling the situation, and b) getting some refund for the guest, though neither of those are guaranteed.
Small Aircraft on NHA’s Trips
On many NHA trips they use small aircraft to access our planet’s most pristine wild areas. Please consult the individual web page for each trip to find more information on aircraft sizes.
NHA's Exploratory Adventures
On NHA’s Exploratory Adventures, a select small group of travelers takes an exhilarating inaugural journey to a new destination. While these trips tend to be very exciting (and often include surprises that even the company is unaware of), they ask travelers to “go with the flow” and expect the unexpected. These departures are for those true explorers who enjoy a free-spirited adventure, as the itineraries will most likely change. The flexibility in the itineraries allows NHA to give their travelers the best travel opportunity for each region. Since these are Exploratory Adventures, they may be canceled by NHA if we deem it necessary. Exploratory Adventures will only depart with a minimum of five travelers. NHA hopes you will join them for a truly thrilling adventure off the beaten path!
World Wildlife Fund
Natural Habitat Adventures is a proud supporter of World Wildlife Fund and will donate $307,000 by June 30, 2013, in support of WWF’s mission to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth. Further information is available from Natural Habitat Adventures. World Wildlife Fund, Inc. (“WWF”) does not own, operate or control Natural Habitat Adventures or any of the companies or individuals that supply goods or services for the travel described in this publication, including without limitations, hotels, restaurants and transportation whether by air, boat, bus, train, automobile or other vehicle. As a result, WWF is not liable for any negligent or willful act or failure to act of any such company or individual not within its control.