Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we get on our self-guided holidays. 

Besides the activity and the destination the most important thing about choosing your trip is making sure it suits your background and physical abilities. To help you select the right trip we’ve classified our self-guided walking tours  into the following grades: Easy, Moderate and Challenging.  The grade is clearly shown on each brochure and web page at the top of the block listing departure dates.

Gentle terrain, four to six hours walking per day without steep climbs or vertiginous mountains.

Rolling uplands, five to six hours walking per day with some uphill climbs and the odd longer day.

Real mountains like the Alps or the Pyrenees, six to eight hours walking with longer ascents and perhaps a scramble on a ridge and rough conditions underfoot on occasion.

WALKING GRADE Challenging Plus
Challenging trips are made more difficult by factors such as altitude, long ascents, backpacking or longer walking days. Please read the brochure and dossier very carefully for trips of this grade and ensure that you are fit enough to cope.

Some escorted group departures are designated ‘Research and Development’. This means that the leader will be checking routes and possibly trying out new variations during the trip. Historically this has been done without clients in tow but we thought that some clients might like to take advantage of lower prices and join the trip with a pioneering spirit and the acceptance that on occasion they may have to retrace steps to find the way or take a break while the leader checks out the route.

If you want more advice on whether a particular trip is right for you, please call us in London, England on  *44 208 577 2717 or email us: [email protected]   Our staff will be able to help you choose the trip that’s right for you by asking detailed questions about your outdoor background, physical activity, and preferred style of travel. We want you to be on the right trip just as much as you do yourselves.

A daypack with lunch, water bottle, first-aid kit, waterproofs, camera.  Your main baggage is transported each day from hotel to hotel. There’s no backpacking on any of our self-guided trips, although on certain trips you may be away from your main baggage for one or two nights (not more than two) in which case you may have to carry overnight things in your day pack.

This is made clear in the dossiers for the trips concerned JMB Tour de Mont Blanc, JEC Exploring Crete, JZV Zagoria Villages, JWS Wildstubel Circuit, JAP The Alpine Pass Route, JHR The Haute Route and JCS Mountains To The Sea.

Sherpa will  pre-book and pay for your accommodation, normally in double or twin-bedded rooms, with en-suite facilities when available, which is 95% of the time. However we do get to some remote spots where there is little or no choice of accommodation, and then facilities may be limited.

For example, on our Zagoria Villages trek in Greece we stay mostly in small village guesthouses and (for one night) a mountain hut. In larger towns such as Florence or Siena our preferred hotels are often located in the old part of town, away from the main tourist scene but close to local points of interest like small shops and colourful markets. 

All breakfasts are included, together with other meals as specified 'Sherpa Notes' on each web page in the brochure and dossiers.  We like to include evening meals, but where these are not included there is always somewhere nearby (often a choice of places) where you can obtain a good meal.  When we include meals, these are from a fixed (‘table d’hote’) menu of two or three courses.  

Drinks, tea, coffee (except for tea and coffee with breakfast) are not normally included. Vegetarians and ‘vegetarians plus fish’ can be catered for; please tell us of this requirement when booking – there is a space on the booking form.  We may also be able to accommodate more restricted diets, but it is best to call us about these before booking.

Packed or picnic lunches are not generally included on our self-guided tours (again with some exceptions – for instance on JZV Zagoria Villages), but many overnight stops are in small towns and villages where picnic materials can be bought from local shops before you start the day’s walk; alternatively a packed lunch can be ordered the evening before from your accommodation. There is often a café or restaurant en route where you can get a sit-down lunch: this is a notable feature of our Bavarian tour (JKL), but also on odd days on many other tours.

We explain in the Trip Dossiers and in more detail in the Route Notes how to reach the starting point and return to the airport at the end of the tour by means of public transport (train, bus and taxi). European train timetables are now readily available on the internet.

Transfers between the airport and the starting and finishing points of the tour are not normally included in the tour price – again with some exceptions, e.g. JCY (Cyprus), JAW (Hidden Andalucia).

Yes, with some exceptions (e.g. JEC Exploring Crete, JAA Apuane Alps, JDO Dolomites, JNO Fjordland, JMO Atlas Mountains, JZV Zagoria Villages. JMS Corsica Mountains and Sea, JAW Hidden Andalucia, JAR Alto Aragon). The exceptions are generally more difficult or remote routes, where we consider it potentially unsafe to walk alone.

This is made clear on the web page and in the dossiers. For singles on self-guided tours a Single Supplement fee must be paid; this is to cover the extra cost of single rooms or occupancy of double or twin rooms. A Solo traveler supplement must also be paid to cover the cost of baggage transfers for one rather than two customers, and of a set of route notes and maps for one rather than two people.

Yes, although your children will need to be as fit and as motivated you are. Our experience is that many (not all) children from 11 years upwards can enjoy taking part in a Sherpa trek of easy or moderate grade. You will be responsible for your children’s behaviour and for ensuring that they can complete the programme.

Yes. This option is likely to be particularly attractive to singles, but also to others who prefer to walk – as well as eat and drink – in company. Dates are listed on trip pages and prices are given on the price list.

For UK-based full package customers - Flights from a UK airport to the most convenient airport for the tour, or surface transport eg. rail as an alternative to flights where applicable.

Accommodation and meals as specified on the web, in the brochure and dossier.

Transfer of baggage are generally included (one piece of baggage per person, not more than 20kg) when you walk from one hotel to the next during a tour.

Specially researched Route Notes, in a wire binder. One copy per two clients unless a solo traveler supplement has been paid.

Walkers’ maps normally at 1:25,000 or 1:50,000 scale, usually with the walking route highlighted.

A plastic case to carry the map and Route Notes in and to keep them dry.

In some cases a book or general guide book with background information on the area of the tour. In a few cases (e.g. JAP Alpine Pass Route, JHR Haute Route) we include a walkers’ guidebook as an ancillary to the Route Notes.

First of all from the trip dossiers. These are detailed fact sheets, one for each tour, identified by the 3-letter trip code. Our dossiers are available from the website either as a download or via email; alternatively we can email or mail or fax to you the dossiers you would like to see.

For more specific enquiries, please contact us in London by phone on (*44) 208 577 2717, by fax on (*44) 208 572 9788 or by email [email protected] Our office is open on Mondays to Fridays from 9.00 am to 17.30pm UK time (often later).

In general, not for a self-guided tour. Our Independent self-guided tours are in principle available starting on any date (in some cases restricted to certain days of the week on account of hotel or flight availability), and we are usually able to provide your first choice of starting date. Simply complete the booking form.

However if you need to fit your tour dates with flights obtained elsewhere or with other travel arrangements not yet finalised, then it is best to give us a call before sending us the booking form. Don’t commit to buying flights elsewhere without ensuring that we can confirm your land arrangements first.

First decide on the date you want to travel, if possible with alternative starting dates in case your first choice is not available, and any extra nights you may wish to include. Complete the booking form on our website.

If you are booking a single room on an Independent self-guided tour, a single room supplement will apply and if you are travelling alone there may be a solo traveller supplement. If your holiday package includes a charter flight(s), full payment for these must be made at the time of booking. £100 per person is required as a deposit. If you are booking within 56 days (8 weeks) of the start date the full payment will be due as soon as the trip is confirmed.

Indicate method of payment - normally cheque or credit card (e.g. Visa or Mastercard, please note that American Express is not accepted) or debit cards (e.g. Switch or Delta). Add card details or send a cheque. Note that for payment of the balance of the tour price and flight costs, payment by credit card or using a debit card not issued in the UK is subject to a 2% surcharge. Sign the form (if faxed or mailed).

Yes. Extra nights should be booked at the same time as the rest of the tour, i.e. you should include them on your booking form. The cost varies according to the actual cost of the room; call us for a quotation before you book. We may also be able to suggest which place might suit you best for an extra night.

Yes. This should cover cancellation, loss/theft of personal possessions and/or money, medical expenses, repatriation and should be valid for the region to which you are travelling and the activities you are undertaking. Nowadays many customers have their own multi-trip travel insurance, but check on its validity for your trip.

Travel insurance is a condition of booking. This is not included in the price of the trips as many people already have travel insurance cover. Cover should be similar to that listed below.

Due to regulations governing the sale of insurance, Sherpa can no longer sell or advise on insurance cover. You may wish to consider cover from Insurance Broker Campbell Irvine underwritten by AXA Insurance (UK) plc. Details of cover are given below. To apply please follow the link Campbell Irvine Insurance

The following details summarise the extent of cover. The full terms and conditions are shown on the certificate of insurance, which will be sent to you when you have paid the premium. If you are not happy with the cover provided you have 14 days from the date of premium payment to cancel your insurance and obtain a full refund of premium paid.
A 24-hour emergency assistance service is available so that any Insured Person may request help in the event of a medical emergency whilst overseas.
Personal Accident up to £25,000
Medical & Air Ambulance £5,000,000
Cancellation/Curtailment £5,000
Hijack £3,000
Travel Delay £100 - 1000
Baggage & Personal Effects £2,000 Single article limit £250
Personal Money £500
Personal Liability £2,000,000
Legal Expenses £15,000
Important: Persons aged 66 years and over at date of premium payment will have to pay double the premiums, there is no upper age limit.
N.B Residents outside of the UK, Eire and mainland Europe cannot take out Insurance cover with Campbell Irvine.
Insurance cover should provide similar cover to that detailed above and you should ensure that the activities involved in your Sherpa holiday are not excluded.

The ‘Single Supplement’ fee on an independent self-guided tour reflects the additional cost of a single room, or of single occupancy of a double or twin room, rather than two customers sharing a room.

The ‘Solo Traveller’ fee on an independent self-guided tour reflects the additional per person cost of baggage transfers for one customer rather than two and the additional cost of providing a set of route notes and maps for one customer rather than two.

Yes, but…as a considerable amount of work is involved in reserving hotel accommodation an amendment fee of £25 per person is payable. It may not be possible to change flight dates or times, but if they can be changed an amendment fee of £25 per person is also charged in addition to any fee charged by the airline.

For date changes 56 days or less before the start date of the tour, cancellation charges may apply.

Inform us in writing (which can be faxed or emailed) as soon as you are sure that you will have to cancel. Insurance companies insist on written cancellation. The date that we receive your written statement of cancellation is the date from which cancellation fees/insurance claims will be calculated.

We emphasise that whatever the grade of the walk it is important that before you start the trip you must be in good physical shape and both your feet and your footwear must be accustomed to walking the distances indicated in the dossier for the particular tour. The best way to ensure this is to go for a number of walks during the weeks immediately preceding your departure, wearing the boots that you will wear during the trip.

Further hints on getting and staying fit are given in the ‘Pre-departure Information’ leaflet which is sent to you with confirmation of booking. You will also need to ensure that you apply in good time for any requisite visas or vaccinations (nowadays few vaccinations are needed for Europe, but check anyway).

An equipment list is included in the ‘Pre-departure Information’ which is sent to you with confirmation of booking. If you have any questions please call us or e-mail us.