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CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 5TH JANUARY 2021
Information on how the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak effects your tour
Date: 2021-01-05

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

 

Hi Everyone,
 
The Coronavirus pandemic continues to have a huge impact on the World, and with the restrictive measures in place here in the UK, we understand how some of you must be feeling - it's certainly a strange and unprecedented time we find ourselves in. For many of you, like us, birding is not just your hobby but an escape from the pressures of everyday life and a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the natural environment. Many people took to keeping lists of birds seen from their garden or on their daily exercise walk, and garden lists have hit previously unseen heights! We were delighted to get back to guiding during autumn with several succesful UK tours in addition to our popular 'Liberation Birding' Day Tours. We have been able to operate small groups of up to five per van, and comply with Covid-secure guidance.
 

In light of the government announcement of a national lockdown for England and with similar restrictions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all tours are cancelled until the current restrictions are lifted to an extent that allows us to safely lead tours. We shall be regularly updating this page, in response to changing restrictions, so please keep checking this page for updates.

 

If you are booked on a tour departing up to the end of February 2021, we shall be contacting you individually to discuss your options.

 

Our booking page is still open and we have a great programme of tours planned for as soon as we can get out and about again. We offer a fair and flexible refund/transfer policy set out below and are ATOL and Topps protected, so you can book with the reassurance that your money is safe.

 
Due to the fact we are still mainly working from home, an email is currently the best way to contact us if you do wish to speak to a team member, but we would like to reassure you that we are still here to help.
 
Good news too if you are looking to get away on a birding tour with us this Spring - we now have a ZERO DEPOSIT policy for all our Norfolk and UK tours departing up until 31st May 2021. For all these tours, payment will not be due until five days before commencement of the tour. We will also offer a NO QUIBBLE REFUND of monies paid or a transfer to another tour if you have to cancel due to Covid-19 restrictions (i.e need to self isolate, development of symptoms, or your region being moved into a higher risk tier that prevents travel). So let Oriole take the strain and book with confidence!
 
For overseas tours, and any tours after 31st May 2021, booking will remain by deposit as per our normal terms and conditions. If the tour is subsequently cancelled by us, or if you have to cancel due to Covid-19 restrictions, see the options in points 1-5 below.
 
If you have an existing booking with us and your balance becomes due, then please forward payment by the deadline in the normal way as per our Terms & Conditions of booking, unless you have already been advised by us to the contrary. It would be extremely helpful to us if you could pay outstanding balances by bank transfer rather than credit or debit card, to assist us with the burden of the charges, which are considerable. We are pleased to report that we are continuing to receive plenty of bookings for 2021 tours, and again if you are thinking of paying a deposit for a trip then bank transfer would be our preferred method of payment at this time.
 
If you are due to pay an outstanding balance or considering making a new booking, which is subsequently cancelled by us, then please be reassured on the following points:-
 
1. We will offer you the chance to transfer your funds to another tour and we are not making any administrative charges for doing this. If the tour you transfer to is a different price from the one you have booked, we will either refund the difference or invoice you for the additional cost, whichever is applicable. 
2. If we have to cancel any tours in 2021, we will prioritise places on the corresponding tour in 2022 for those with an existing booking.
3. If you do not wish to transfer your funds to a new tour, then we are happy of course to arrange an appropriate refund.
4. If you have to cancel a tour which has not been subject to cancellation by us, then our normal Terms and Conditions will apply and you may be able to claim for any lost funds via your travel insurance policy, depending on your circumstances and policy wording. However, we will take a sympathetic and flexible view if you have to cancel due to Covid-19 restrictions, and transfer all of your funds (or part of your funds where non-refundable costs have been incurred by us such as airline tickets or accommodation deposits) to another tour going forward. 
5. If you cancel your place on a tour for any other reason, even if it is later subsequently cancelled by us due to Covid-19 restrictions, then our normal Terms & Conditions will apply and we will not be able to retrospectively offer you the refund/transfer option. You must stay in contract with us to be offered the terms listed above.
 
Transferring to a new tour is helpful to us, our ground agents and tour guides around the World as it helps us to plan for the future so that tours may recommence as soon as practicable. We are grateful to the many of you who have done this on cancelled tours thus far.  
 
In the meantime, we are following all the advice given by the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office going forward and useful updates on individual destinations can be found here. Please do read advice for your chosen destination carefully.
 
FCDO Website : www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
 
Please be assured that we are a long established and financially robust travel company, and we will get through this emergency. As a company we are very proud of the efficiency with which we have handled your refunds and transfers, and we are very grateful for all the positive comments and support we have received from many of you in the last couple of months. Here are some examples:-
 
"You have been tireless in the efforts to get our money back and I can only say that your success on our behalf leaves me with the utmost confidence of booking a future trip with you"
 
"This must be a disastrous and heartbreaking situation for you, your colleagues, and the company, but we are agreed that the way you have handled the crisis is exemplary. It will not be forgotten."
 
"Thank you for the speedy refund, we are sorry we weren't able to roll our money forward this time but will certainly be looking to travel with Oriole again as soon as possible!"
 
Best Wishes,
 
The Oriole Birding Team