Avocet Tours was formed in 2002 by owner Chris Charlesworth. The company is based in Canada’s beautiful Okanagan Valley, where breathtaking scenery and legendary birding can be experienced. It is here in the Okanagan Valley that Chris began leading trips and tours in his early teens. Many birders enjoyed Chris’s relaxed style of birding and the pressure was on for him to begin organizing trips to locations farther afield. His first guided trip outside of BC was into the interior of Washington State. Soon after, trips to Texas, California, Oregon, Colorado, Arizona and Florida followed. These trips were a great success. Avocet Tours was born. Now, although Chris leads many of the tours, he has a network of fantastic guides to assist with leading responsibilities. With the popularity of birding growing exponentially and with the increased demand for guided birding trips, the future looks promising for Avocet Tours.
There are a number of factors to take into account when trying to determine which tour is for you. If you are interested in seeing new bird species, study the species lists for each tour. These comprehensive lists will tell you which species are likely on each trip. If you are interested in seeing new places and different scenery, study the trip itineraries to see where we’ll go and what we’ll see. You can also read past tour accounts for an in depth, day by day detail of what we’ve seen and where we’ve gone on previous trips.
If you’re interested in a relaxed pace tour, Avocet Tours may have just the trip for you. Our trips are organized so that we’re not running from one place to the next. We’ll take time at each stop to study the birds and take in the full range of natural wonders. On most tours we will include some hiking, although we do not attempt hikes that are extremely strenuous. A typical day while you’re with Avocet Tours goes as follows. We may have optional pre-breakfast birding outings to take advantage of early morning bird activity. Breakfasts will usually be taken in restaurants at the motel. We’ll then head out into the field for a morning of birding. Lunches, either at a restaurant or in picnic form, will be taken around noon. Our explorations will continue for the afternoon and we’ll head back to the motel usually around 5:00 PM for an hour or two to relax before heading out as a group for dinner. While at dinner we’ll go over our daily checklists. If there are any evening owling outings, they will be optional.
Our tour prices are all-inclusive from the tour origin location. All accommodations, transportation, meals, park fees, bottled water and guiding services are included in the tour price. Items of a personal nature, such as phone calls, laundry services and alcoholic beverages are not included. All prices are based on double occupancy. If you would prefer to have private rooms, where possible, you will need to pay the single room supplement. If you do not have a roommate, we’ll try to find you one. If not, it is required that you pay the single room supplement. Most of our tours do not include international flights, and it is wise to hold off on booking your flights until you know for sure whether or not the tour is going ahead.
In order to hold a reservation on one of our tours, a deposit of 1/3rd of the tour price is required to ensure you a space. The full payment of the tour is due no later than 90 days prior to departure. An invoice for the remaining costs will be mailed to you approx. 14 weeks prior to departure after which the remainder of the cost is due. We do not accept credit cards, so please pay with cheque or money order. Do not book flights or make travel arrangements before checking with our office to be sure the tour is going ahead.
If you cancel your reservation on a tour no later than 90 days prior to departure, you will be refunded the full amount you have paid. If you cancel your reservation on a trip between 70-90 days prior to the trip’s departure, your deposit will not be returned, but any payments will be. If you cancel your reservation on a trip with less than 10 weeks (70 days) before the departure date, you will only be refunded monies not previously allocated (ie deposits made on hotel and car reservations, etc.). Cancellation of trip between 1-7 days notice before start of tour, results in no refund. If we have to cancel a trip due to lack of interest, we will return your full payment. If a trip has to be cancelled with short notice, for any reason out of our hands, such as natural disasters or airline shutdowns, we will return your payment, minus any unrefundable payments we have made. Consider purchasing CANCELLATION INSURANCE for your own protection.
If need be, due to the unexpected rise in cost of transportation, lodging etc. Avocet Tours holds the right to increase the amount for each tour to adjust accordingly. If the increase exceeds 10 % of the initial tour cost, participants may withdraw from the tour with a full refund. In some cases, if an insufficient number of people sign up for a tour, those that have signed up have the option to pay a higher fund if they wish, and they then can enjoy the benefits of a smaller group.
To enhance the quality of our trips, the itinerary of any tour may be changed in the months leading up to the tour. If the chosen leader for the trip must decline, a new leader will be announced. If either of these changes occurs the participant holds the right to cancel their reservation on the tour, with a full refund.
Most birders own a pair of binoculars, which are a necessity on any birding outing. If you don’t own binoculars, let us know in advance and we will try to help you obtain a pair, although their quality may not be the best. Your leaders will bring a spotting scope, but if you feel you would like to bring you own, please do so. A field guide to the region’s birds is helpful to have along, for you own consultation, however your guides will have the appropriate books handy. Any checklists or applicable information packages will be provided by Avocet Tours. Sturdy footwear is a necessity and for your own comfort, waterproof shoes may come in handy. Casual attire is appropriate on all tours at all times. Be prepared for variable weather conditions. In warm climates, hats, sunscreen and bug repellents should be carried, while warm clothing is needed for cooler climates. On any of our tours that include a pelagic trip, you will want to consider bringing rain gear and taking precautions to prevent sea-sickness. Prior to joining a tour with us we’ll mail you a complete package, including a list of things relevant to bring on that specific tour.
Avocet Tours is not responsible for any death, injury, damage, loss or accidents which may occur as a result of any vehicle defects, defaults or acts of any company or person who is carrying passengers, the acts of any hotel proprietors etc. Any damages, or inconveniences experienced by fault of late air, bus or any other transportation means, is not the fault of Avocet Tours. Avocet Tours assumes no responsibility for the loss or damage of baggage or any other personal item.
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