Close icon taken from the logo in redClose icon taken from the logo in black

Let’s start planning your next trip!

Simply answer the questions below and we’ll be in touch to work out what type of adventure will suit you best.

By submitting this form, you confirm that you have read and agree to the Privacy Policy.

Thank you! A member of our team will reach out to you shortly.
Something went wrong. Please try again.

FAQ's #2

We did a version of this a year ago. However, since that popular post, we have received a new assortment of popular questions, which means it is time for a second edition.

FAQ's #2

When is the…

…best time for Antarctica?

We actually answered something similar for Africa in our last FAQ (we’ve answered it again below), and much like that destination, there isn’t a firm answer for Antarctica. In short, the time when tourists visit in bigger numbers is more to do with when they take holidays, not the best time for the destination. Unlike Africa however, Antarctica does have a firm window for visiting, with the season running from November to March (the Southern summer). This is because in the other months it is inaccessible, surrounded by a large ring of ice.

Within that November to March season there is some variability of experience, but again like Africa, unless you are after something specific then the time you can go is the time you should go. Every month within that opening window has an advantage and disadvantage, with the early months seeing lots of pristine snowy landscapes but no baby penguins and then the final months the inverse. But, Antarctica is Antarctica, whether it be November or March, and taking advantage of lower shoulder season prices enables you to have an incredible experience and still have money left over for the next trip.

…best time for Africa?

Back by popular demand, we thought we’d answer this again. Ultimately, and as glib as this sounds, it really doesn’t matter when you go to Africa. The animals are not flowers. They don’t have seasons of bloom and seasons of absence. They are there all year round, rain or shine, high season or low season. Whenever you can go is the time you should go.

That is, of course, unless you have something particular that you really want to see, rather than a safari in a general sense. Want to see the portion of the migration when the wildebeest jump the rivers? There’s a time for that. A festival or event? Yep, a time for that. Want to see the famed Sardine Run or Fynbos season in South Africa? There is a season for that too. Or maybe it’s that you want to see the animals when there is the fewest amount of other people around? There’s a time for that too!

There are seasons in Africa, and of course, there are tourist seasons as well. But, there isn’t a 'best' time. Every month has something to offer, and the sand dunes of Sossusvlei in Namibia or the lions in the Sabi Sands in South Africa don’t look any less impressive in the lower seasons.

…Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza going to open?

Good question, another one we covered in our last Autocomplete. As we said then, “It was meant to open be a few years back, but they have delayed the opening to the end of 2023 or at worst, the first half of 2024.”

Hang on a minute, doesn’t that mean it should be open already?

Yep. But it isn’t. Rather than a museum open to the public, it appears that they have created a really expensive and decorative storage facility. We had strong indications from high up that it was to be opening around March this year, but like a pharaonic dynasty, the dates came and went. Even the official Grand Egyptian Museum website now just says ‘mid-2024’ with a big disclaimer stating that nothing is guaranteed and the government will be in charge of setting the date. So, we wait and see.


…are you?

Good thanks! We appreciate you asking. It’s been busy, but that just means many people are living out their travel dreams.

…much does a trip to Antarctica cost?

We often answer this question with another question, that being “How much is a meal?”

A meal can cost $3 from a convenience store, $30 in a cafe or $3,000 in a fancy restaurant. Vastly different experiences with vastly different qualities, but they are all meals. Travel to Antarctica can be similar. There is a starting price (around AUD$10,000 per person for a larger ship or more simple ship) and then it goes up to well over USD$1,300,000 per person for trips where you can bring your own private jet to land. So, whilst most people aren’t looking for that, there is a range.

For 90% of travellers to Antarctica, the $10-$30k pp range covers most trips to the Peninsula (and beyond) in the non-suite cabin categories. I know what visas to get?

We help with that. When you book your travel with The Explorer Society we create a customised zone called a Departure Lounge containing a wealth of information supporting your trip. Whilst visas always remain the responsibility of the traveller, we do have up-to-date information for countries that require them. Thankfully, the list of countries that require a visa for Australian travellers is quite short, so the whole process is relatively painless. Another great up-to-date source of information for the latest visa and travel requirements can be found at Sherpa.

…much should I tip?

We do provide a tipping guideline for travellers to places where tipping is a known practice, but we should repeat that tipping is a purely subjective exercise based on you and your experiences. American travellers are known to arguably over-tip (based on their country’s minimum wages and tipping culture) whilst Australians are often more loathe to tip given their lack of tipping culture, so every nationality is different. The guideline is provided so that you have a rough idea of the norm, but isn’t there to demand it or cast an opinion of you should you deviate from it.

What is important to note is that if you’re tipping generally for a camp, lodge or ship (i.e. not a guide) then there are far more people involved in the overall experience than just the few faces you see. This is why tip boxes in camps or charged gratuities on a ship exist, so that those behind the scenes working hard also benefit from any additional rewards, and not just the people on the frontline.

…can I help the communities I visit?

There is a bit of a concept that what ‘poor’ people around the world really need is our manual labour. So, endless idealistic young people head to third-world countries and dig wells or build buildings, a process known as “voluntourism”. It is a lovely thought and a kind thing to do, no doubt. But, what some local people need more than a 20-year-old with no building qualifications attempting carpentry, is money to build the building. Poverty isn’t a lack of labour, it is just the lack of money. So, instead of building a toilet block, donate the money to build two. Instead of trying to hang out with cheetah cubs under the guise of conservation, make an actual difference and provide the money to assist in real cheetah conservation.

One of the biggest things people forget is that the operators, lodges and providers we have chosen to partner with have a close relationship with the local people. Staying at this location or using that service provides employment opportunities and financial benefits to the local communities, and any ethical operator is focused on ensuring that the financial rewards of the area go to those who call that area home. This is also why we often choose private concessions and reserves over some national parks in many areas. So, by staying at that lodge in the area any money you spend that doesn’t go directly to your stay (food, fuel etc) goes into the uplift of the area and the communities within it. Compare that to a stay in a shiny new Marriott hotel in the Masai Mara Reserve and you can see that simply by being there in the right places, your stay makes a big difference. Then, any additional contribution you make is all gravy. I use my phone whilst travelling?

It depends on what you need it for. If you just want to check your email occasionally, send some messages, add some amazing pictures to social media and have a line of communication, then you typically won’t need to purchase a sim card. Most lodges, hotels and cafes have Wi-Fi that you can use and that will be enough for most people. This is especially true if you are using Apple’s iMessage or Meta’s WhatsApp which can allow you to make calls using data.

However, if you require a constant connection then you either have to have a good roaming plan with your phone provider or purchase a local sim card. The roaming plan can be a bit hit-and-miss depending on your operator and the country you’re visiting, but a local sim is pretty straightforward. You can either do this by purchasing a local SIM card at a phone store and swapping it over, or using an E-Sim. An E-SIM (which most modern phones support) is just a way to support a second local SIM card without the need to have it physically. You can purchase it in advance or get it on arrival and simply buy the data pack that best your needs.

One other way we have recently tested is a service called Airelo. It doesn’t work in all places around the world but it allows you to use a local sim card simply by downloading an app and following the instructions. You can then choose the data plan that suits you, it connects to the local network and you have access as you would at home. And, speaking of which….. I keep my online activity safe?

Following the above details, not all Wi-Fi networks are safe from nefarious people. A lodge in remote Tanzania is unlikely to have hackers hanging around, but a cafe in Rio de Janeiro just might. So, consider using a service like a VPN (Virtual Private Network). Again, it’s just another app to download for free and a service that you can pay for as you need. We use it when we travel and work to ensure our work communications are kept private. Think of it as an extra layer of protection between you and the Wi-Fi network to make sure people can’t gain access to your phone or computer. We use Express VPN (which has a 30-day free trial you can sneakily cancel after your trip), but there are plenty out there.

What sort of….

…soft bag should I take in Africa?

This is one of the most common questions we receive. For those of you who don’t know, light aircrafts are often used in parts of Africa to connect remote lodges with main towns. The Okavango Delta is a prime example, with small flights between camps and the hubs of Maun and Kasane. As the aircraft are small, there can be a luggage weight limit of 12-15kg, depending on the country. On top, the requirement that haunts travellers is that all travellers must use soft bags only.

The reason for this is that the luggage needs to be stored on a small plane with limited storage and weight capacity. Rather than trying to cram eight oversized, inflexible Samsonite suitcases into a luggage hold, the requirement for soft bags means that the bags can compress slightly and allow the luggage Tetris to work. Whilst technically a purely soft bag has no frame at all (like a duffel bag for example) they also tend to accept duffel bags that have a frame for wheeling on one side. As long as it is under the weight limit and compressible, it is typically fine. You can never guarantee you won’t get someone with a power trip on their bad day, but we have yet to encounter that. Hand luggage is taken separately into the plane and again does have some weight limits (in case you were going to claim a suitcase as hand luggage).

…clothes should I wear in Antarctica?

This is often asked with a weary secondary question - “What do I need to buy?” The answer is thankfully, very little. Whilst Antarctica is an extreme environment, you aren’t walking your way across it. The vast majority of the time you are safely ensconced inside a comfortable ship, with only the off-ship excursions requiring any sort of special clothing. And, if you have been skiing or snowboarding before, then you will find you are likely to have all the right clothing already.

The two biggest considerations for Antarctica are keeping warm and keeping dry. Consider wearing layers, starting with insulation base layers like thermal underwear. Then, have a warming layer, be it a down ‘puffer’ jacket or even just a thick jumper and warm pants (tracksuit pants for example). This warmth extends to the fingers (gloves), the neck (buff or mask) and the toes (thick socks). Then finally, when you are toasty, add the outer waterproof layer. Rain trousers worn over the top of your warm pants will work, or perhaps instead wear a waterproof ski bib or trousers. And as for the jacket and expedition boots, they are typically provided for free whilst on your trip. The boots are always returned at the end, but some operators give you the combination rain and down jacket to keep as a memento whilst others just give you the down jacket (and you return the rain jacket).

…money should I take?

It depends on the country you are visiting, and their dominant currency. For most countries, cash is convenient and easily obtained in-country at a bank or ATM, however, be aware that the currency you use on your trip may not always be the local currency. For most cities you will often find yourself needing to use local currency for purchases but on a safari circuit or onboard a ship you often will see the US Dollar, the Euro or the Pound used instead. With it not being a local currency this will need to be obtained in advance of your travels.

Don’t forget though, that nowadays even local traders and remote lodges often will be able to accept credit cards for payments, unless mentioned otherwise. Depending on who you bank with and international usage or withdrawal fees, this can be a good idea instead of carrying cash around. In fact, you don’t need your physical card and can just use your phone to purchase goods that you are likely to have anyway. If you are reluctant to travel with your own bank card then the best alternative we have found (after testing many) is a service like Wise (formerly Transferwise), which can send you a physical card or a digital one. You can choose to preload the currency or simply have it drawn from your local currency, but the fees and exchange rates are quite favourable.

However, if you are going to Argentina, then that’s a separate discussion entirely and we will run you through it!


…do park fees, conservancy fees and community levies keep increasing so much, at random intervals?

Why indeed! There are sometimes very good reasons for this, and there are the other reasons like we talked about in this piece.

…are airfares so expensive?

We did write about this in a recent Dispatch where we broke down how airfares are made and why they cost what they cost.

Does The Explorer Society…

…price match?


Well, not in the way you think of when you have a price match guarantee. We are typically less expensive than other companies for most things we offer anyway - this is because we don’t have the same overheads, operating costs, marketing costs, views on success etc etc.

But, in terms of price matching, we don’t often do it. That’s because the travel industry tends to operate via two models: experience (i.e. us) and volume (i.e. TripADeal). We hand make most of our trips, with each element selected for specific reasons to improve the experience. When we get a request to match a quote from a volume-based online company, these trips are usually price-driven with the experience second. As a result, we don’t build those trips ourselves as we know inevitably the result will be disappointing or worse, something we just won’t do. We have seen some doozies over the years, from the discount ‘eco’ safari in a secret hunting concession to one trip that involved 12 border crossings in 6 days. If that’s your cup of tea, then don’t be surprised when you are left with a bitter taste in your mouth afterwards. There’s always a good reason why our trips cost what they do, but if you’re after a discount trip, then you already know to expect a discount experience.

…think Smartraveller is accurate?

First of all, for those that don’t know, the Australian Government’s Smartraveller website provides overseas travel advice, so we have to be a little careful here. Yes, Smartraveller is very accurate in the information, but the perspective can be skewed by realities different to those of the average traveller. Like a parent living in the city and caring for a hyperactive toddler, they are on the lookout for dangers. Everything is a threat, and nothing can be ignored for the threat of a future disaster. This is the same for the US’s State Department warnings, or the UK’s FCO.

The reality is that most of us are not toddlers, and we are also not residents of the places we are visiting. The experience of a local in a city like Nairobi is different to that of a traveller. This includes the areas visited, the time spent in the city and the interactions had. We tend to pass through these areas rather than stay any great length of time, meaning our exposure to danger is limited. Even for more intrepid travellers who like to explore (like some of those in our Society), they are unlikely to wander around a city late at night anyway, be it Cairo or Cusco. This is where the concept of acceptable risk comes in. There is always a risk when travelling, but being that the biggest cause of death worldwide for tourists is a heart attack, the rest should be viewed in perspective. So, whilst it is an important resource for up-to-date information about a country and any potential issues, it should also (in our opinion) be a small factor in decisions rather than the defining one.

Also, don’t get us started on the inheritance bias towards some African countries compared to European countries.

…do any volunteering with animals?

No. Again, as mentioned above, true animal conservation organisations have long-term plans and projects that cover species protection and the issues surrounding them, like land clearance and community engagement. What they don’t need is someone to come in, chop up some meat and hold some baby lion cubs. Don’t assume someone is a conservationist just because they work with wild animals, or say it is all for conservation. Many a lion has been tamed in the pursuit of profit.

It can be a contentious discussion as to what constitutes an ethical animal interaction, but a shorthand for it is that predators (lions, cheetahs) are off limits and other animals are on a limited, case-by-case basis. The organisation has to be focused on a wild release and provide other conservation work, with the final aim to be so successful that they are no longer needed. Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya rescues orphaned animals from across Kenya with the final step being to release them back when they are old enough to do so. Only if the animal will not survive (like the blind rhino Maxwell) will they provide a safe, permanent environment. Guests to Sheldrick’s, paying the fees required to keep the place open, have extremely limited contact with the youngest elephants. There is also a difference between habituation and animal interactions. Encounters like the gorilla tracking in East Africa and meerkats in the Kalahari involve the animals becoming used to the occasional presence of animals. If humans disappeared tomorrow, they would keep carrying on as normal.

The best way to think of it is that an animal is much like a birthday cake. If you cuddle it, you have ruined it. Lion cubs are only huggable because they have been separated from their mother, and once they have been fed and cuddled and hugged by well-meaning tourists they are unable to be released back into the wild.

If you have been involved with lion cub walking, elephant riding or other activities in the past, we want to stress that it is fine. No one is judging you for decisions made in the past with good intentions. We’ve done it ourselves. But, now you know.

Sign up to our newsletter

Subscribe for the latest updates, stories from adventures and information you need to know from around the world for planning your own travel.

For all of this and more (including advance notice of specials and subscriber only insights), be sure to sign up.

Why travel with us?

Travel isn’t what is used to be. It used to be undertaken with a sense of adventure and discovery. As the world shrunk, so did our imaginations and over time, manufactured experiences, sponsored travel lists and mass tourism have slowly extinguished that magic. Amazing destinations, catering to the crowds, have become overwhelmed shadows of their former selves.

And so, we established The Explorer Society to be a travel company for like‑minded travellers. It’s for those who travel for the destination and the incredible experiences to be found within, not just for the bragging rights. We are passionate about avoiding the crowds and providing real and revelatory experiences.

Illustration of a contract with a lock in front

We always try to maintain as open and honest a conversation with you as we can throughout the entire process. We are happy to chat about what we recommend, why, and why we do what we do.

Illustration of a hand lifting a money plant
Do good, be good

The destinations we visit should be around for future generations to enjoy. We want the benefits of your visit go to those in the local area you visited, not some big corporation elsewhere.

Illustration of 2 clocks with one of them with a dollar sign instead of the hands
Value ≠ Cost

What something costs isn’t the same as what something is worth. We always try to get the best value for your trip, irrespective of how you choose to travel and what budget you have.

Illustration of a rocket taking off in a graph
Experience first

The experience always comes first. This might mean five‑star luxury, three‑star simplicity or a camp out under millions of stars, whatever ultimately best suits the experience you’re after.

Don’t just take our word for it

“I would recommend The Explorer Society every time.”

Derelle B

“I would not hesitate to recommend them for your African getaway.  I will certainly use them again.”

Poppy M

“Cannot recommend highly enough!”

Gemma G

“Seamless and perfectly executed, I would recommend The Explorer Society to anyone.”

Angela T

“I would recommend The Explorer Society and will be definitely using them in the future.”

Rowena F

What are you waiting for?

Life is short. Get started today.

Contact Us