How do I know if I’m fit and experienced enough for a trek?
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.
WALKING GRADE Easy
Gentle terrain, four to six hours walking per day without steep climbs or vertiginous mountains.
WALKING GRADE Moderate
Rolling uplands, five to six hours walking per day with some uphill climbs and the odd longer day.
WALKING GRADE Challenging
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.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT HOLIDAYS
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.
What will I have to carry?
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.
Where will I stay?
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
How about the food?
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.
How do I get to the starting place?
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).
I’m travelling on my own – can I go on a self-guided tour?
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.
Are there any Sherpa Independent Self-guided walking tours that my whole
family could take part in?
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
Are there escorted group departures on any of the self-guided routes?
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.
What’s included in my Sherpa Independent self-guided walking tour?
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
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.
Where can I get more detailed information?
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).
Can I make a provisional booking?
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
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.
How do I book?
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.
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).
Can I book an extra night along the route?
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.
Do I need travel insurance?
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
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
What is the ‘Single Supplement’?
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.
What is the ‘Solo Traveller Supplement’?
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.
Can I change the date of travel after I book?
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.
What if I have to cancel?
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.
How should I prepare for the trip?
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).
What do I need to bring?
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.