Please see our booking terms and conditions.
Why should I choose Rockjumper Birding Tours?
Rockjumper Birding is one of the longest established and most highly regarded companies in the birding tour industry. Based in Mauritius and South Africa, with satellite offices in the USA and New Zealand, our team of professional tour leaders and dedicated office support staff arrange and guide more than 300 annual birding and wildlife tours to over 100 countries throughout the globe. During our many years in the industry, we have gained tremendous experience and in some destinations, we arrange and guide more tours annually than all our competitors combined.
At the same time, we also have a relatively young team and our tour leaders and office staff are renowned for their energy, passion and commitment to providing the ultimate birding tour for you. We believe that the recipe for a successful birding tour is simple: a well-planned itinerary with smooth running ground operations, comfortable accommodations and good food, a small group with low participant to leader ratio, and, most importantly, personable, friendly tour leaders with the necessary experience and expertise to make each tour a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding adventure – and we strive to achieve this with every single tour that we offer.
Besides set departure tours, we have a dedicated private tour department specialised in setting up customised tours. Due to the fact that we are based in Mauritius and South Africa, where operating costs are lower than in more developed countries, we are able to offer excellent value on our tour rates and we also offer a generous loyalty program that is unmatched in the bird tour industry. Another great reason to consider us is our long-standing commitment to conserving the birds that we all love so much. In order to co-ordinate and effectively implement our conservation efforts, we launched the Rockjumper Bird Conservation Fund (RBCF) in 2008. A minimum of US$50 from each Rockjumper tour sign-up goes directly into the RBCF.
For an in-depth read, please view our about us page on the website.
When does a tour become confirmed?
The tour becomes confirmed once we have booking forms and deposits from the minimum number of participants required. This is usually 6 people; however, it can vary from between 5 and 8, depending on the specific tour.
What is the main focus of our tours?
The primary focus of our tours is to locate and enjoy good views of the birds that occur in the region that we visit. Some tours are focussed on finding as many species as possible, eg. the Mega tours, whereas others are more focussed on the endemic and range-restricted birds of the region. We also seek out the mammals and other wildlife of the area, delve into general natural history, visit sites of significant historical or cultural importance and interact with local people.
Ensuring our clients enjoy great photographic opportunities is also important. Some tours have a set objective that is wider than birds, such as our South Africa – Cape Wildflowers, South Africa – Birds, Wine & Big Game, Kenya & Tanzania – Birds & Big Game or our Egypt – Birds & History tours, but for the majority of our tours, birds and birding are the main focus and other aspects are of a secondary nature, yet not ignored. Our detailed itineraries also provide clear information on the particular targets of each day of the tour.
If I am a keen photographer would a Rockjumper Birding Tour be appropriate?
Photography is welcomed and encouraged on our tours, but please bear in mind that these are foremost birding tours and are not designed as photographic expeditions. Our focus is to obtain maximum bird and wildlife sightings, not to spend significant time photographing. Therefore, we respectfully ask photographers to abide by the instructions of the tour leader when he feels that it’s in the group’s interests to leave a sighting and move on, even if the “ultimate” shot has not yet been obtained.
More ardent photographers are welcome to discuss a private tour with us that can be designed specifically around photography, or else to join a tour operated by our sister company: ORYX – Worldwide Photographic Expeditions www.oryxphotography.com
Would my non birding spouse/partner enjoy a Rockjumper tour?
Our tours are first and foremost birding tours and although many of our tours are dedicated towards the keen birder, there are many trips that we offer, such as our various Antarctica and Arctic cruises, Overland Namibia, Okavango & Victoria Falls, Egypt & Petra, Kenya & Tanzania – Birds & Big Game, Northern India – Birds & Tigers, Ethiopia – Omo Valley and Lalibela Extensions, Cuba and some of our South African tours, that a non-birding spouse/partner would enjoy due to the significant non-birding attractions that are included in these tours.
In the past, we have also had numerous non-birding couples and spouses who have thoroughly enjoyed tours through Madagascar, Bhutan and Uganda, as these all offer up a great variety of other wildlife and cultural highlights.
Does Rockjumper include non-birding attractions and activities on your tours?
The short answer is yes; in general, we have found that there are very few birders that do not enjoy watching mammals and other wildlife. Encountering a tiger in India or a group of Gorillas in Uganda can often be one of the most memorable moments on a tour. Although all our tours are focussed primarily on birds, we always take an interest in observing mammals that are a ‘must see’ in the area.
On the cultural front, a number of our tours will include some form of interesting contact with the essence of the country itself; whether it be engaging with local people in a village or standing in awe of the magnificent Taj Mahal or the ruins of Machu Picchu, there is often at least a few cultural attractions on most of our tours. The frequency and length of the cultural experiences do vary considerably between tours with a few, such as our Egypt Birds & History tour, being almost a 50/50 split between birding and marvelling at the antiquities. The detailed tour itineraries will provide ample information on the day’s activities and what birding, wildlife and cultural viewing is on the agenda.
What does an average day entail on a Rockjumper Tour?
Typical Rockjumper days are full days and, essentially, we commit to spending as much time out in the field as is appropriate. This can vary quite considerably depending on the country visited but in essence, there is no absolute daily schedule or routine for our tours. Most of our tours will begin with either pre-dawn breakfast or we will depart our accommodations armed with a packed breakfast in order to be at our required birding site at dawn. Depending on success and the on ground conditions such as heat, rain etc., we may return to our accommodations or to a nearby restaurant for lunch.
Many tropical regions can go extremely quiet during the heat of the day and on some trips, we may have a little downtime after lunch in the early afternoon. This is, however, not a given and many tours will continue birding over midday with a packed lunch. Evenings will regularly include some night activities where possible, although will often be optional.
How hard-core are your tours?
Depending on the country, nature of the birds targeted and the terrain, our tours generally range from relaxed and easy through to moderate and challenging. The majority of our tours would fall in the range of easy to moderate, as we generally put in a fair amount of effort to try and find the region’s special birds without going to extremes. Most of these tours would typically include a lot of easy birding with the occasional difficult hike for a few specials, which can always be opted out of.
Your tour leader will always give ample warning regarding the type of birding that will be done on any particular tour day. The nature of some tours, such as The Philippines, parts of Peru, Sulawesi & Halmahera and Cameroon, lend themselves to being more hardcore with some long hours in the field, occasional rustic accommodations and a number of difficult hikes. On the other side of the coin, destinations such as South Africa, Morocco, Kenya & Tanzania, Oman and Spain, to name just a few, offer easy birding and tour logistics with comfortable accommodations and sumptuous food.
Our mega tours, for example, are very fast-paced birding adventures designed for the dedicated lister and serious birder. The focus of the tour is to see as many of the endemics and area specials as possible in our given time. In order to cover the necessary route to maximise the species list, we often only spend a single night at most sites. Rockjumper also offers some very innovative tours that are quite different from our typical offerings. These tours can often involve some very basic accommodation, poor quality roads, difficult terrain and some uncertainty with regards to the best areas to find the target birds for a significant portion of the tour. Please have a look at the pre-departure information, the notes section on our detailed itineraries and our website for more information on a specific tour.
What is a typical Rockjumper group size?
Most of our tours are between 6 and 10 participants. This varies depending on the habitat, terrain, difficulty of birding, price and logistics involved. Occasionally we go up to 12 people for some destinations, where this works well together. Some of our smaller cruise offerings have a maximum of 14 participants; while others that are done through third parties are according to the ship capacity but are typically between 40 and 100 people.
We will always have at least 1 tour leader for every 8 participants on any of the scheduled tours we put together, except for some budget tours, where this is specifically stated. Should we have 9 or more people on our regular scheduled tours, then a second leader will always be provided. To sum it up, careful thought and consideration have been put into every offering, taking into account the factors mentioned above.
Does Rockjumper have guidelines for Birding etiquette whilst on tour?
Yes, we do, they are listed in detail under the pre-departure documents for each country. At Rockjumper, we are constantly striving to provide birding tours of the highest quality and would hope that every birder would familiarise themselves with these general guidelines in order to ensure a more enjoyable tour for everyone on board. The tours that we put together require an immense amount of preparation and are carefully designed to provide all participants with an unbeatable birding tour of the country visited.
Many of our travellers are avid birders and often have similar goals to many of the other group participants; however, people are different and although the common denominator on our trips is seeing birds, we do find that general group interests, personalities, behaviour etc. can differ markedly from person to person and from group to group. In a nutshell, you, along with your fellow travellers, have often spent fairly large sums of money on a particular birding holiday and the last thing you really want is someone having a negative impact on your tour experience.
The very nature of a tour does mean that people from all walks of life end up spending up to three weeks at a time essentially ‘living’ and ‘co-associating’ with people they may never usually associate with at home. We at Rockjumper take group dynamics very seriously and understand that healthy group dynamics lead to successful, homogenous tours that can be enjoyed to their full potential. Many of our travellers are familiar with general birding etiquette while on our tours; however, we have decided, for clarity, to provide a guideline to birding etiquette that should be considered while on tour.
Trail Rotation – Rotating on a narrow trail every three or so minutes allows everyone an opportunity to be at the front of the trail for a period of time. The front person will step aside after three minutes and, allowing the rest of the group to pass, join up again with the group at the rear of the line. On tours with 8 participants, the guide will always be at the front of the line; however, where there are two guides and a group of 10 or 12 participants, there will also be a leader constantly stationed at the end of the line.
We would also like to point out that it is inappropriate to walk in front of the leader whilst birding. It is important for the leader to have as unobstructed a view as possible, so they can find and identify birds and be able to call them back in if necessary. Once the bird is viewable, the leader will move out of the way as much as possible to ensure all our participants can see the bird.
Vehicle Seat Rotation – Every tour has different forms of transport, so there is no hard and fast rule that will always apply. Your tour leader will explain the vehicle rotation system to you on day 1 of the tour and will also go through it again if needed during the tour. It is important to note that sometimes different forms of transport will be used during a particular tour, all with their own set of rotation rules. Rotating every day on the vehicle again allows for different viewing opportunities while driving and also opportunities to have a conversation with different people on the tour, including the leader/s and local guide/s.
Viewing Birds Through the Telescope – This can be a contentious subject.
The golden rule is that when it’s the first view of a particular species through the scope, everyone has a brief view so that as many of the participants as possible can see the bird before it flies away. Five seconds or less is a good standard. At the same time, if you do want to see the bird through the scope, we also request that you position yourself close to the scope in a loose line in order of arrival in the scope vicinity. Once all the participants have had a first look through the scope, then it’s entirely appropriate to have a longer 2nd view to soak up the details. We also understand that everyone wants to see the bird that is in the scope; however, it is important to have a certain amount of patience in this regard. Pushing people out of the way to get to the scope first is completely inappropriate behaviour.
Furthermore, once you have had a view in the scope, please move well out of the way of the scope in order to not block scope access to those who have not yet had a look. At every scope sighting, someone obviously has to be the first to look through the scope. What we would like to avoid are the extremes in this scenario, ie. one individual who is constantly first, but we also don’t want participants close to the scope not viewing the bird and instead waiting for people who are situated far away from the scope to have their turn first (to summarise this point, we are asking participants not to always be the first to look through the scope, but also to position themselves close to the scope if they want to have a look.)Therefore, there is no hard and fast rule here, but we all just have to bear fairness in mind.
If it is drizzling or raining, please shield the eye-piece of the scope with either the scope cover or your hand between the time you have stopped looking and before the next participant has started looking. Please also understand that the guide/s cannot keep monitoring scope manners as they will also be trying to get some people onto the bird through binoculars and also explaining various features on the bird etc. If you feel that someone is hogging the scope for too long or not moving out of the way quickly enough, then please let the leader/s know in a private manner and they will discuss this appropriately with the individual.
Talking on Trails – Please keep noise levels to a minimum while we are birding, this includes roads and trails. High noise levels make it difficult for the leader to pick out those critical calls and are also likely to have a negative impact on the number of birds and general wildlife you are likely to encounter, as generally, these animals prefer a quiet, natural environment. Constant chatter on trails can also be rather annoying to those who are also trying to appreciate the tranquillity of the surroundings. However, at the same time, we do want our participants to enjoy themselves and we understand that tours are a social event; therefore, use your discretion in deciding when it’s appropriate to engage in a conversation with your leader/s or fellow participants.
General Etiquette when using Call Recording or Playback – It is very important that there is complete silence when the leader is recording or playing back a bird call, especially a shy, skulking and sought-after species. Any noise during this time can have a detrimental impact on the group’s ability to see the bird. Another important point to consider under this topic is leaning against trees while birds are being taped in. This is a very important point which people often don’t realise. What usually ends up happening is that, when the bird arrives, they let go of the tree to get a view, which results in a lot of movement from vines etc. This will usually cause the bird to disappear. Another point to consider is shuffling of feet while trying to tape in a bird. Often when we are inside the forest, there can be quite a lot of leaf litter around and it is important to find a good spot and then stand as still as possible.
The odd bit of movement or shuffling when you are by yourself birding is often okay and does not have such a huge impact on your chances of obtaining a sighting; however, when you are in a group and you multiply everyone’s movement and shuffles by eight or ten people, it quickly adds up to a rather disturbing volume, which is not conducive to seeing the special species that the group are hoping to find.
Wide-brimmed Hats – Please make sure that when on forest interior trails, wide-brimmed hats are not worn. This also goes when the group gather close before taping in a bird, as a wide-brimmed hat can significantly reduce the visibility of participants standing or crouching behind you. Wide-brimmed hats are certainly welcome when birding more open country such as deserts, grasslands, open woodlands, savannas and while walking on roads.
Appropriate Clothing – This is another topic that can cause a fair bit of debate and there are a number of theories on the topic. As a general rule, though: dark, neutral colours such as browns, greys, blacks, dark blue, dark green and khaki are preferable. Bright colours such as yellows, white, pale blues, pale greens, pinks, red and oranges are not recommended, especially while birding in forested zones. We find that the combination of wearing the appropriate clothing while taking careful measures to not talk and not move too abruptly helps significantly when searching for forest skulkers. Other items of clothing such as rain pants that crinkle while walking through a forest are also detrimental to the group’s success of finding birds close to the trail, especially some of the more shy forest species.
The same goes for rain boots such neos and rain jackets, which can make loud noises while walking through a quiet rainforest. Please be very careful about the items of clothing you pack for your tour and be aware of the noise levels your clothing can have. There is a huge range of gear out there to choose from with most of the options being quiet and thus, birding friendly.
Laser Pointers – Please be very careful if using your own laser pointer on tour. Birds can easily be frightened off if the laser pointer is shone too close to the bird particularly in dark forest conditions, where the laser beam is often very bright. Furthermore, it must never be pointed at the bird itself due to possible damage to the bird’s eyes. If the tour leader is using a laser pointer, please don’t also use yours as this will generally just confuse the situation. As a general rule, we would prefer it if you did not use your laser pointer when in a group situation, unless you are seeing the bird and the leader does not have visual, in which case you are welcome to use your pointer to assist the leader and other participants to locate the bird.
What accommodations do you use?
Our tours utilise a range of accommodations, from simple to stylish and luxurious, all of which are specially chosen for their charm, exemplary guest services and accessibility to top birding spots. We generally use the best available accommodations that are convenient to accessing the birding sites we visit. We normally don’t include 5-star lodges, due to the fact that our tours usually start out early in the morning and end late, so we would not be able to take advantage of the facilities that a luxurious lodge or hotel would offer.
Due to the nature of some of our tours, especially in remote destinations, quality lodges may not be available and we are forced to use more basic accommodation or even camp. If you are after specific accommodation information, then please feel free to contact us at either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com (if already signed up for a tour) to request pre-departure information and a list of the expected accommodations to be used on the tour. This list will also include contact numbers and which accommodations will have Wi-Fi availability.
What type of transport do you use for your tours? Are they safe?
The safety of all of our guests and our guides is of the utmost importance and every care is taken to ensure that vehicles comply with widely accepted safety standards. Some tours do, however, visit third-world countries and transport might not always meet the typical standards of first-world countries. In some countries like Papua New Guinea, Gabon and Cameroon, for example, the vehicles used can sometimes be below typical first-world standards.
Vehicles used vary considerably from country to country, depending on road conditions, group size and what is typically available. In some African countries, we like to use stretch landcruisers which are great for these locations. Elsewhere, we often use mini buses or larger coaster buses; while 4×4 vehicles are utilised when the conditions call for them. Many of our tours often involve some sort of river/lake boat trip or pelagic. We always ensure that these vessels are safe and, where required, they have protection from the sun and possible rain. For pelagic trips in places like South Africa, Japan, Australia, Chile and New Zealand, the vessels we use are always seaworthy and meet the strictest safety standards.
What happens if your tour does not fill?
We first offer to still operate the tour, but to levy a small group supplement. If the participants in your group do not wish to pay the small group supplement, then we may be forced to cancel the tour. If this were to happen, your deposit would be refunded in full. It is essential to only book your flights once the tour is confirmed.
What would happen if a tour did not meet my expectations?
If your tour did not meet your expectations, then please get hold of us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to discuss the issues with you. Sometimes a problem can be easily rectified on tour without the need for it to become a big concern. Please do feel free to discuss problems or issues with your leader so that they can attempt to solve a particular issue before it gets out of hand.
Can you arrange a pre or post extension for me?
Yes, we can. We have scheduled tours on our website that have extensions already set up or, alternatively, should you see the tour does not fit your schedule, we can customise an extension especially for you. A private extension of this nature is certainly not limited to birding and could easily include a cultural wonder such as Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, the Cape Winelands in South Africa or Angkor Watt in Cambodia, for example.
Please contact email@example.com and one of our friendly & efficient travel consultants will be able to help you plan the perfect pre or post tour extension.
Does Rockjumper arrange private/customised tours?
Yes, we do, since our humble beginnings in 1998, we have specialised in custom guided birding and wildlife adventures. Our capacity has now matured to deliver unbeatable tours for individuals, families, special interest groups, Audubon Societies, birding and wildlife clubs, and tour operators alike. Our extensive knowledge and experience have enabled us to assist thousands of delighted guests in realising their dream birding and wildlife adventures to exotic destinations around the world. Whether you are a single traveller with a specific target list, a group of birding friends, or a family seeking a relaxing and educational wildlife vacation, we have the passion and experience to create a customised private tour that will perfectly suit your particular requirements. In fact, we pride ourselves on being one of the world leaders in creating and guiding such tours!
Our customised private adventures offer a range of accommodations ranging from simple to stylish and luxurious, all of which are specially chosen for their charm, exemplary guest services and locality to top birding spots. Furthermore, our office team is highly proficient when it comes to the complex organisation of such tours, and will answer all of your queries in a friendly and efficient manner.
We invite you to explore the wealth of potential birding opportunities available on our website. Most of our scheduled departures can easily be adapted to suit your specific private tour requirements. Please feel free to contact us for a free and non-obligatory quote. We would be delighted to assist you in creating memories that will last you a lifetime!
Can Rockjumper arrange a tour to a destination not currently listed in your schedule?
Should your desired destination not be on our list of scheduled tours, you can contact our private tours department on the firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail address. They will either be able to arrange the trip, provide a reason why travel to that particular destination is unwise or else try and provide you with a contact that may be able to assist you with your desired tour.
Do you offer unguided tours?
Yes, it is possible for us to put together an unguided tour; however, we generally set up very few trips of this nature. All of our scheduled tours are guided by either one or two Rockjumper leaders and will also usually include the services of local guides as well. The majority of our private tours are guided either by Rockjumper guides or local guides, depending on specific requirements as outlined by those setting up the tour.
Due to the vast choice and flexibility of the ever increasing on-line flight deals that can be found, we do not book flights for our guests. Please ensure that you arrange and organise a suitable flight that will allow you sufficient time to arrive at the designated meeting point at the destination airport. We are happy to provide some guidance on flights where necessary.
What is included in the tour price?
At Rockjumper, we pride ourselves on providing excellent value yet at the same time, not compromising our quality. Usually the following is included in the tour price: all meals from start to completion of the tour, drinking water throughout, all lodgings, ground transportation from pick-up to drop-off from the designated airport/s or arrival hotels, all activities mentioned in the itinerary, reserve entrance fees and all guiding services – both from Rockjumper leader/s to local bird guides and tips for local guides and all services.
On some of our tours, we also include free airport transfers at the start and end of the tour. There may be the odd exceptions, so please study the tour-specific itinerary for more details of exact inclusions and exclusions. Exceptions to the above would typically apply to our budget range of tours, where not all meals are always included.
Are flights included in the tour prices?
Our tour prices do not include any flights – neither international nor internal/domestic. We recommend booking on-line or with your local travel agent for your international flight (we can usually advise on best routes). Internal/domestic flights are arranged by our agents where necessary, as Rockjumper does not issues these flights – we only pass on the cost incurred. We provide an estimate of the expected cost of internal/domestic flights on our website, but the actual cost may be more or less than our estimated website price.
What is Rockjumper Birding Tours' deposit policy?
Reservations for scheduled land tours require a completed booking form and a deposit of US$800 per person for the main tour and US$500 per person for an extension. If your tour requires a gorilla permit, please add the full cost thereof to your deposit. Our cruises and private tours have varying deposit amounts and this information can be obtained from our tour consultants at email@example.com. If you would like Rockjumper to ticket your internal flights for the tour (if internal flights are required) then please add the approximate cost of domestic flights as stated on the website for the tour you are signing up for. Should there be any price difference in the final cost of internal flights at time ticketing, it will be adjusted on the final invoice. Rockjumper will seek your permission to issue the internal flight tickets before doing so.
If the booking is made within 3 months of the tour departure date, then full payment is required.
A booking form is obtained by contacting a Rockjumper tour consultant and may be filled in electronically and emailed back to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, a hard copy can be printed out and posted to us. A booking is accepted and becomes definite only from the date when Rockjumper has confirmed acceptance in writing. At this point, a contract between Rockjumper and the participant comes into existence.
If the reservation is cancelled, cancellation fees will be due and payable, according to the following:
6 months or more prior to departure date:
- US$250 will be retained from the main tour deposit
- Any non-issued internal flight costs will be refunded in full
- US$150 will be retained per extension deposit
- Any gorilla tracking permits where relevant are non-refundable
3 – 6 months prior to departure date:
- Full deposit for the tour is non-refundable
- non-issued internal flight deposits are refundable
0 – 3 months prior to departure date:
- Full tour fee is due and payable even if you have not yet paid in full.
- Non-issued domestic flight deposits are refundable.
When is the full payment required for the tour?
Payment of the balance of the tour fee is due 3 months before departure. An invoice will be issued to you before full payment is due.
What is a single supplement?
The single supplement is a premium charged to solo travellers when they do not share a room during the tour and is levied by the accommodation establishments. The single supplement cost will be charged if you wish to have single accommodation. If RBT cannot provide you with a rooming partner although you choose to share, the single supplement will become applicable. We will make all reasonable efforts to ensure that a rooming partner is found if you do wish to share.
What is a small group supplement?
Our tour rates are based upon group tariffs and if the tour does not have sufficient registration, participants signed up may have a choice of paying an additional fee/surcharge rather than facing cancellation of the tour. The smaller the group, the higher the supplement fee will be, as fewer people will be paying towards the fixed costs such as vehicle hire, fuel and all guide related expenses. The minimum group sizes and potential small group supplement rate can be obtained on request from our tour consultants.
What is Rockjumper Birding Tours' tipping policy?
Gratuities are typically included on all of our scheduled and private tours, unless specifically mentioned otherwise. This includes tips for all drivers, hotel staff, restaurants, local guides and services. We don’t include tips for the Rockjumper leader/s. If, therefore, you feel that he/she/they have given you excellent service, it is entirely appropriate to tip them. Please note that a tip is never expected.
Why do tours with the leading birding tour companies cost more?
Due to our consistently high-quality guides, staff and services, it’s hard to provide this at a significant discount. The world’s best tour leaders command fees that reflect their exceptional knowledge and experience. We employ tour leaders that are passionate birders who have seen an exceptional number of species around the world and are specialists in their own right in different continents. In addition to our tour leaders, our office staff takes extreme pride in ensuring that every last detail is considered and that your tour is, ultimately, a quality experience.
They are also paid fair salaries for the quality that they bring to the table. Another big difference often concerns transportation and accommodations. By using substandard transport and accommodations, one can certainly bring down the price; however, this can have a serious impact on the overall enjoyment of the tour. Accommodations will almost always be the best available in a particular area, except when time is spent in capital cities or popular tourist locations where five-star accommodations commanding high prices are available. In some countries, it is, however, important to remember that some birding sites are far off the beaten track and accommodations can be rustic in nature. Even in these instances, the best accommodation will always be used.
We also include all tips for local guides, drivers, porters, waiters and for general hotel services. These can add quite significantly to the final price of a tour and also saves you the uneasy feeling of carrying around large sums of foreign cash and then having to try and figure out what a fair tip is, as this can vary quite significantly from site to site and from country to country.
Do you offer discounts?
We have a variety of discounts that are on permanent offer under our loyalty programs; while we regularly offer discounts on our specials page as well.
- Any guests who sign up for two back-to-back tours, we will deduct US$300 off the total price.
- Any guests who sign up for their 5th tour with us will be offered a 10% discount off the tour price, to a maximum value of US$600.
- A US$400 discount voucher is awarded to any of our loyal guests who refer someone who has not travelled with us before, provided the referred person signs up for one of our scheduled departures.
- A 10% Early Bird Discount will be awarded to any guest who books one of the first spaces on a tour 12 months in advance.
How do I book my trip?
What happens if a tour I want to sign up for is full?
If you wish to sign up for a particular tour that is already fully subscribed, we will be happy to add you to a waiting list. Should someone booked on the tour drop out, then names on the waiting list will be approached on a first-come-first-serve basis. If there appears to be a fair bit of interest in a tour that is already fully subscribed, or if we have plenty of time to sell a departure, then we often look at adding an additional tour to the schedule.
What happens if I need to cancel a tour?
Please see our booking terms and conditions.
What would happen if I needed to leave the tour early?
Rockjumper would do everything we can to assist you in this regard, but please note that we would not be liable for any damage, losses or expenses suffered by any participant as a result of sickness, quarantine, weather conditions, war, strikes, riots or any other cause beyond Rockjumper’s control. If sickness or accident interrupts a tour, Rockjumper shall not be liable for any loss or expense arising therefrom, save only to the extent that such sickness or accident was caused by Rockjumper’s wilful act or gross negligence. We strongly recommended that you take out comprehensive travel insurance upon booking, to cover any financial losses due to cancellation for whatever reason.
When should I purchase my airline ticket?
We highly recommend only purchasing your airline ticket once a tour is confirmed. It is important to note that there is no specific time frame as to when a tour will get confirmed. The general rule is: if we receive the minimum number of bookings to operate the tour, we will send out the official tour confirmation. For example, if we need 6 people to run a tour to Bolivia and we receive this number of bookings 10 months before the start date of the tour, we will confirm the tour and you can go ahead and book your flights.
We always encourage everyone to book their desired tour as soon as possible. Having a tour confirmed far in advance allows participants to book flights early and thus, receive better deals on flight tickets. If you require more information on booking numbers for your specific tour, please contact email@example.com.
Should I take out travel insurance?
It is strongly recommended that you take out comprehensive travel insurance upon booking, to cover any financial losses due to cancellation for whatever reason.
*Please be aware that most travel insurance policies will refuse to pay out on a travel insurance claim if your travel insurance has been purchased after a particular period of time since booking for the tour. This period may be one week to one month. Please check with your travel insurance provider to ensure you are fully covered at the time of purchasing travel insurance. It is highly recommended that if you do purchase travel insurance, that you do not delay this purchase much beyond the tour booking date.
What vaccinations are needed?
Vaccinations vary considerably from country to country. Our pre-departure information provided for each tour will give specific details in relation to the country visited. Some vaccinations, such as Yellow Fever, may be required to enter some African countries while others, such as Hepatitis A and B, are usually recommended but not necessarily required for entry. For more information in relation to vaccinations for specific countries, please enquire with your nearest travel clinic.
Do I need any special clothing?
Light-weight, neutral-colored clothing (ideally not white) that can easily be rinsed out and dried quickly (cotton or cotton blends) are recommended for the field, so as not to unnecessarily frighten away birds and other wildlife. If you prefer long-sleeved shirts and long pants, then these will help protect you from insects, thorny plants and sunburn. Strong-soled walking shoes or hiking boots are essential, as we will typically spend a good amount of time on our feet. When visiting some of the wetter forest destinations such as Colombia or Papua New Guinea, you might consider bringing along a pair of wellingtons (gum boots) for muddy conditions. This will ensure that you don’t end up messing up your hiking/walking boots/shoes.
The dress is casual throughout the tour; however, you may wish to bring a more formal set of clothes to wear during the evening. Laundry services are usually widely available; however, more detail in this regard will be provided once you have signed up for a particular tour, as each country is a little different in this regard. Making use of the available laundry service means you will not need to bring as many items of clothing as you would otherwise. Alternatively, to lighten your load, you may consider bringing some clothes that may be discarded at the end of your trip – these clothes are typically well received by the local lodge and national park staff we meet. If possible, your luggage should be in a soft bag or rucksack and should not exceed 20kg (44 Pounds).
During summer, we recommend sunscreen, a water bottle, a hat and sunglasses for your daily preparations for the field. In winter, depending on the country and especially if it snows, we suggest thermal underwear, good warm jackets, gloves, a scarf and a hat or woollen hat (beanie). Regardless of the time of the year, it is always wise to bring an umbrella or a rain jacket (poncho), especially when doing tours through the tropics. For each tour, you will be sent detailed pre-departure information by our support department. This document provides details on the required clothing and expected weather conditions for each particular tour. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for general tour information and email@example.com if you are already signed up for a tour and would like to receive the pre-departure document.
How experienced are your tour leaders?
Our bird tour leaders are all passionate birders and accomplished tour coordinators, who take great joy in sharing their birding experiences with others. Although many of our tours are guided by full-time Rockjumper leaders, we also use some of the most accomplished regional leaders across the globe.
This ensures that you always get the best possible guide for the tour of your choice. Our leaders have superb birding skills and strive to be personable, professional, friendly, and attentive and dedicated to delivering a rewarding, educational and enjoyable birding experience! Please have a look at our tour leaders’ profiles on our website which will help to give a little more insight on each particular leader.
What are the office staff like?
Our office staff are passionate about their line of work. Many have worked in the tourism industry for over 20 years. They understand that in order to provide a high-quality service, they need to be attentive, efficient and friendly. They always try to go the extra mile to exceed expectations.
Who will help me with any questions I might have?
Please feel free to get hold of us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be very happy to assist. If you are already booked onto a tour with a paid deposit and booking form sent in, then please direct your questions to email@example.com. Alternatively, feel free to call our Toll-free number (USA & Canada Toll-free) 1-888-990-5552 or alternatively call + 27 33 394 0225
What conservation/charities do you support?
Since its formation, Rockjumper Birding Tours has been supporting the conservation of the birds that bring us many delightful hours of sheer bird-watching pleasure. In order to co-ordinate and effectively implement our conservation efforts, we launched the Rockjumper Bird Conservation Fund (RBCF) in 2008. A minimum of US$50 from each Rockjumper tour sign-up goes directly into the RBCF. Organizations that we have actively supported over the years include the African Bird Club, BirdLife International, Oriental Bird Club, Tucson Audubon Society, Massachusetts Audubon Society, BirdLife South Africa, Birds of Korea, American Birding Association, Ornithological Society of the Middle East, Born Free USA, World Migratory Bird Day and the Neotropical Bird Club.
Within South Africa, we have also donated to the SOS Mtunzini Conservancy, the Middelpunt Wetland Trust, Fynbos Endemic Birds Survey and KwaZulu-Natal Crane Foundation, and been involved in the training of local guides. Other projects we have also sponsored include work on the highly threatened White-throated (Hodgson’s) Bush Chat in Mongolia, the monitoring of a Northern Brown Kiwi at Wainui in the Bay of Plenty and the protection of the severely threatened Indian Bustard. Adam Riley, Rockjumper’s founder, has recently won an Owl award for his conservation efforts from BirdLife SA.
Would I get any benefit from referring my friends to Rockjumper?
Yes, you will certainly receive a benefit for referring a friend. We currently have a referral discount whereby, if you refer a friend to one of our classic set-departure tours (minimum of 14 days in length) and the booking is made directly with Rockjumper, you will qualify for a US$400 discount. The discount can only be redeemed if the full tour price is charged and is valid only on our classic set-departure tours. The discount cannot be redeemed if other discounts are given on the same tour. Furthermore, the discount will be issued to you as soon as you contact our office, which must be within 1 month after the person that you referred registers for their first tour. If the person you referred cancels their booking, then the discount you received in relation to this referral will no longer be valid. To find out more regarding the terms and conditions of our referral discount please click here.
What kind of birders travel with Rockjumper?
Rockjumper caters to a wide range of birdwatchers and the tour variety reflects this.
Our offerings have been carefully designed to typically try and find a wide variety of different species. Particular attention is also usually given to the region’s endemics and specialities. We also focus on other unique wildlife when opportunities present themselves. Tigers are often one of the top sightings on our Northern India tours; while seeing species like Cheetah, Leopard, Lion etc. are all favourites when on our Kenya & Tanzania, South Africa and Namibia, Okavango & Victoria Falls tours. On Madagascar, we take in as many different species of lemur as we can find and time spent with these beautiful creatures is an undoubted highlight. We also enjoy a myriad of other wildlife, from chameleons and frogs to snakes and other interesting insects such as the odd Giraffe-necked Weevil.
Our mega tours are aimed at listers and are focused on maximising time in the field, in order to see as many different species as possible. The itineraries are often fast paced and attract hardcore birders. On the other end of the spectrum, a number of our tours also hold interest for those that are more general wildlife enthusiasts or those that have other interests such as history/culture and plants. Tours, like our Northern India offering, take in a variety of historical sites including the Taj Mahal, Red Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. On our Southern Peru tour, we take the time to visit Machu Picchu. In South Africa, we offer a Birds & Wildflowers tour of Western South Africa, as well as a Birds, Wine & Big Game tour; and in Egypt, we offer a fabulous birds & antiquities tour.
To sum it up, our tours are frequented by an extremely wide variety of birders, from keen listers to those who enjoy looking at birds, and everyone in between. You DO NOT need to be an expert birder to come on our tours. Our leaders are extremely patient and there is a large teaching component on our tours as well. Birders on our tours tend to come from a large variety of countries as well, with the USA, UK and Australia well represented.
We also get regular travellers, though, from South Africa, all across Europe, Malaysia, China and Japan. Everyone is welcome and we are continually finding more and more people from the less well-represented countries coming on our tours. It is wonderful to see how birding has taken hold across the world and continues to grow from strength to strength.
What is the difference between a budget and a classic Rockjumper Tour?
Our Budget tours arise from the demand for lower priced birding tours. We have been able to reduce tour rates by offering shorter tours which only concentrate on the essential birding highlights of each region, slightly larger group sizes, and utilising more economical hotels and lodges. These tours are guided by professional bird tour leaders; either full-time Rockjumper guides or premier local birding experts. Our Budget tours are also typically not full board, allowing, where possible, a flexibility of choices for lunches and dinners to suit your taste and budget.
How do your photographic, wildlife, travel and cultural tours differ to your birding tours?
Our photographic tours are offered through Oryx – Worldwide Photographic Expeditions. Our general wildlife tours are operated by Rockjumper Wildlife Tours. Our anthropological/cultural trips are set up through Tau Anthropological Safaris; while our pioneering travel tours are run by Out of Bounds.
ORYX – Worldwide Photographic Expeditions is a professional photographic safari company specialising in exceptional wildlife, landscape and cultural photographic tours to some of the Earth’s wildest and most scenic destinations, passionately prepared by photographers for photographers. These tours are geared towards small groups with a serious focus on capturing memorable images of specific highlight species. Time will often be spent in incomparable natural areas with a focus on top quality accommodations and properties offering only the very best experience. The guides are all multi award winning photographers who genuinely love sharing their passion for photography, while ensuring that you return home with an incredible portfolio of images.
Our Wildlife tours have been specifically crafted around the world’s most incredible wildlife experiences. They include an expert wildlife guide and feature iconic mammals of the world, such as Gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda, Tigers and Snow Leopards in India, Jaguars in Brazil and the fabulous Wildebeest migration and other big game and predators in Tanzania, to mention just a few. Besides these headline species, the tours take in a wide assortment of mammals and other wildlife as we enjoy a variety of activities such as night drives, boat trips and walking safaris in order to maximise our wildlife experience. All aspects of wildlife are enjoyed on these trips as they offer a holistic experience.
Our Anthropological tours are geared around exceptional cultural experiences, offering the discerning client the very best in intelligent Human History Tourism, following the journey of the development of our species from its earliest known vectors. We will explore, and even become part of, the daily lives of some of the most exciting and wildest living Tribes of people on earth, and gain an insight into how these ancient cultures have managed to persist into the modern world of the 21st century. These tours will be undertaken with expert guides, with varied specialisations, such as Archaeology, Anthropology, Southern African wildlife, Primatology and extensive guiding experience.
Out of Bounds specialises in exploratory, off-the-beaten-path locations and complex multi-country itineraries to some of the most exotic and least-known regions in the world. Working closely with the most knowledgeable and reliable ground partners in each country we visit, our tours are meticulously crafted with an eye towards guiding travellers deeper than ever before within areas of the world that are often overlooked but teeming with mysteries, adventures and surprises that will assure a rewarding and eye-opening experience.
Some of the tours on the Out of Bounds portfolio include a truly original and all-encompassing trek overland across Iran; an exploration to the furthest regions of western, central and southern China; little-known and seldom-visited regions of Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia; Northeast Brazil’s hidden islands and national parks; a nine-country sweep across Southern Africa’s most beautiful, exciting and wildlife-rich regions; a far-ranging tour throughout northern and southern Algeria, and a pioneering adventure tour to all seven of the once-forbidden Seven Sisters states of Northeast India, and many more!
What happens if a destination becomes unstable or dangerous?
This is something that we monitor very closely and take extremely seriously. We also work closely with our agents in the various countries we travel to and if there are potential issues, we discuss this with them in depth. If there was any direct cause for concern, we would assess the situation in full before making any necessary decisions. Our first choice, should the situation allow, would be to rearrange the itinerary to ensure the trip goes ahead. Should a destination become entirely unsafe for travel, then we will cancel the trip and you will receive a full refund.
It is, however, commonplace for world news to sensationalise what is sometimes going in within a particular country. It is also important to understand that conflict is sometimes regional and that our tour might not be going to the area that is deemed to be unsafe. As mentioned before, the safety of our guests and Rockjumper Leaders are of the utmost importance to us and all decisions on whether to cancel a trip or go ahead will be taken very seriously and with everyone’s safety at the core.