Ibike Tours

    A to Z

    Table of Contents:
    Air Transportation
    Airline Baggage Regulations and Fees
    Bars & Alcohol
    Bed Nets
    Bicycle Ambassador
    Bicycle and Equipment
    Bicycle Donation
    Bicycle Lubrication
    Bicycle Parking and Stacking
    Bicycle Rentals
    Bicycle Security
    Bicycle Tour Hazards Evaluation
    Bicycling Difficulty
    Bicycling Pace
    Bucket Baths
    Cell Phones
    Coffee and Tea
    Cultural Sensitive Travel
    Culture Shock
    Daily News
    Daily Program
    Economic Support
    Educational Presentation
    Electrical Apparatus
    English Language
    Environmental Practices
    Full Payment
    Gratuities / Tipping
    Group Riding
    Health and Wellness
    Health Responsibilities
    Heating and Cooling
    Hotel Check-in
    Hotel Etiquette
    Immunizations / Vaccinations
    Land Costs

    Maps, GPS and Route Cue Sheets
    Medical Care
    Medical Issues and Injuries
    Packing List
    Personal Security
    Pocket Money
    Pre-Departure Services
    Risk Management
    Route Selection
    Single Supplement
    Sleep Sack
    Special Arrangements
    Taxes and Fees
    Time Zones
    Travel Documents
    Water Etiquette

    Preface: It is difficult to cover all the eventualities and elements of a program with considerable diversity in a relatively concise document.  A commonality of most of our program is that we live within the local culture.  There is a lot of diversity between cultures around the world so we encounter a range of conditions.  In many cases, we can only speak to that range.  In the end, to get pleasure from the program you will have to be adaptive, at least briefly.

    Accommodations – The choice of accommodation is often limited by the range of the bicycle. Consequently, Ibike tours utilize a variety of sleeping arrangements including, simple hotels, tourist hotels, local housing, dormitories, village camping and tented camps.  We endeavor to select locally owned, carbon-lite, clean, friendly and secure accommodations.  We tend to steer away from A/C because of its high energy consumption, it is not always available so it is good to be acclimatized and it is associated with problems like noisiness or malfunction.  Rooms are generally, but not always, double occupancy.  For those who request it, we will try to match people with roommates.  In some countries plumbing, electricity and modern services are not always available, and when seemingly available, may be malfunctioning or nonfunctioning.

    Air Transportation – Air travel to and from the tour is not included the program.  Participants usually come from multiple locations so we usually do not escort groups during air travel.  If desired, Ibike will advise clients on finding and selecting flights.  There is no extra charge to clients for this service.  We are also willing to help clients explore options for their extended travel before and after their time with out program.

    Airline Baggage Regulations and Fees – Airlines have multiple baggage allowances depending upon origins/destination and class of service.  This is covered in more depth at www.ibike.org/encouragement/travel/bagregs.htm. Some airlines charge a hefty fee for bikes-as-baggage on international flights (up to $400 roundtrip) and some charge nothing if you are otherwise within your baggage allowance.  You might want to take this into consideration when booking your flight.  If you plan to take a stand alone intra-Africa, Asia, America or Europe flight bear in mind that the baggage allowance may be by weight and generally much more restrictive than the allowance for flights that include a trans-ocean segment.

    As the airlines increasingly reduce their free baggage allowance and increase their excess baggage fees, folding suitcase bikes become a serious consideration.  For more information see “bicycles and equipment.”

    Amenities – Most hotels, but not all accommodations, on Ibike programs provide guests with linens, pillows, towels, soap, toilet paper, etc.  Because there are exceptions, on most tours it is good to have travel-size versions of these.   Tour specific recommendations are provided in the tour’s pre-departure materials.  See also the “pillows,” “sleep sack,” and “towels” headings.

    Baggage – Unless otherwise noted, participants are responsible for carrying their own belongings during all portions of the program.  Baggage is at owners' risk throughout the program.  Excess baggage charges must be borne by the individual.  Unless otherwise noted the bicycling portions of the programs are “self-contained,” which means there is no support vehicle carrying baggage (local transportation is generally available if people get tired).  For “self-contained” tour most participants carry their own gear on their bikes using a rear rack and panniers. Individual gear usually averages about 20 pounds (10 kg).  If an Ibike program will be your first exposure to self-contained bicycle touring you are not the first.  The pre-departure materials provide tips and guidance for packing for self-contained bicycle touring and the office is available to help you and answer your questions.

    Bars & Alcohol – While bars are available in some of the smallest villages in the world, Ibike tours sometimes overnight in communities without bars or facilities where alcoholic beverages are available.  If a bar beverage is important to you it may be necessary to plan ahead to have it available at the desired time.

    Baths – It is the goal of the program to have water for bathing (not always hot) available every evening.  The facilities can range from showers, to bath tubs, to outdoor enclosures with bucket baths.  For tips on bucket baths see that heading.

    Beds – Beds differ from culture to culture. They range from very soft to very firm and from a piece of furniture, to built-in platforms, to mats on the ground (village stays).  Where mattresses are too soft they can be moved to the floor to increase the firmness.  On programs with village stays and non-hotel accommodations, the pre-departure materials will provide information on sleeping pads, bedding and how to prepare for these experiences.

    Bed Nets –For a few programs we strongly recommend packing a bed net.  If this is the case it will be covered in the tour’s pre-departure materials.  The best design we have found is the "Travel Tent" by Long Road Travel Supplies, www.longroad.com, 1-800-359-6040 or 1-510-540-4763 or [email protected]

    Beverages – Due to the nature of Ibike programs, choice of beverages is often very limited.  When beverages are available they may not be available cooled or heated to the desired temperature.  Individuals are responsible for all of their own beverages.  Ibike's policy of not including drinks in the package exists for health reasons, not for financial reasons. Long ago we bought drinks at meals. The budget and cost of the trip can be adjusted to include drinks at meals. But, in the past, when Ibike bought drinks at meal there was a tendency for people to get dehydrated waiting for us to buy drinks at meals.  We found that by not covering drinks at meals, people are more likely to drink throughout the day. Since the change we have has far fewer problems with dehydration and related health issues.

    Bicycle Ambassador - It helps for bicyclists to keep in mind that whenever they are out riding, they are ambassadors for current and future riders.  It is a reality that people make judgments about other classes of people, especially those that they don’t encounter very often, based on the behavior of members of that class that they have met previously, and if you are a member of a class, people will make judgments about other members of your class based on their interaction and observations of you.  Whether it is fair or not, it happens to bicyclists.  As a bicycle traveler, people who you meet may have formed some opinions about bicycle travelers based on those who have come before you, and may adjust their expectations about bicyclists who come after you based on their experience with you.  (Not by their choosing, people may also be viewed as ambassadors for their nationality, culture, gender, age cohort, etc.)  See also bicycle parking stacking and hotel etiquette.

    Bicycle and Equipment - Participants are fully responsible for their own bicycle and personal equipment.  Mountain-bikes, suitable for touring, work for all programs.  Suspension systems are not necessary for these programs.  There are a number of programs that lend themselves to touring bikes and quality folding bikes.  This is reflected in the “fact sheets” for individual programs.  There is detailed information on selecting and setting up your bicycle and equipment is sent in the pre-departure information materials. Bikes don't have to be new.  Some participants find used bikes specifically to use on the program.  Any bike should be it good mechanical condition. There is information on selecting a bicycle for bike touring at www.ibike.org/encouragement/travel/touring-bike.htm and www.ibike.org/encouragement/travel/bikeselect.htm.

    All Ibike programs are regularly ridden on a Bike Friday, 21-speed, 20" wheel, “World Tourist”, folding bike (www.bikefriday.com).  While there are advantages to multi-modal travel with a folding bike, there are also compromises. If the folding bike is designed for touring and has a sufficiently wide gear range, the most significant disadvantages are correlated with the size of the front wheel in specific situations. The small wheel can drop further into holes and ruts, and the shorter wheelbase changes the center of gravity to be much more over the front wheel.  This is most likely to affect the handling while descending, especially on loose-gravel roads, and even more so on descents with deep ruts.  If your route includes these situations, unless you are skilled at this kind of off-pavement riding, you will be better off with a full-size MTB. If the route is paved or packed dirt/clay roads, the wheel size is not significant in the handling, and 20" wheels are fine. If you are considering taking a folding bike and have questions, please contact us.

    Bicycle Donation - Some participants have found that donating their bike at the end of the tour before is practical (they are relieved of the need to bring it back home). Worthy recipients are present in almost every local.  Identifying a specific recipient is not something that needs to be arranged in advance so you can keep your options open. If certain parameters are followed, the donation can be made through the International Bicycle Fund, making the donation U.S. tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

    Bicycle Lubrication – During a tour, the primary concern with regards to lubrication is usually the chain.  It should be kept adequately lubricated, but not over-lubricated.  This is most important on dusty roads where excessively oiled chains will accumulate gunk.  To lightly and evenly oil a chain spread one drop of oil individually across each link, at the link pin.  After completing this for the full length of the chain spin the crank for a couple minutes to distribute the oil evenly, and then dry the outer exposed surface of the link plates if there is excessive oil.  An added benefit of this procedure is it reduces consumption of toxic chemicals.

    Bicycle Parking and Stacking – It is easy to watch bikes if they are stacked, rather than scattered around.  Scattered about they can also start to get in the way of other folks, but also be careful not to block local foot traffic with a large stack - sometimes they need to be divided into two.  The key to stacking bikes in to have them snugly together, vertical with most of the weight on the wheels.  If the bikes don’t have panniers, this is usually best achieved by alternating the directions of the handle bars.  If the bicycles have panniers it is usually best to rest the rear pannier against the main triangle of the frame, of the adjacent bike – not pannier-to-pannier – again, as vertically as possible.

    Bicycle Rentals – In most of our destinations suitable rental bikes are not reliably available on the local market.  Logistical nightmares prevent us from supplying rental bikes to and between far-flung destinations.  Where local rental bikes are available it is reflected in the “fact sheet” for the individual program.   Generally, the people who have been most interested in rental bikes are those who wanted to do additional travel after the program without a bike or are try to avoid the airlines hostility towards bicyclists. The most common solutions have been to beg or buy a modest used bike at home for the trip, pay the airlines one-way, and then donate or sell the bike at the end of the program. It is possible, and sometimes cheaper, to buy a bike locally, but you have to be prepared to be challenged by the quality of the bike.

    Bicycle Security – Bicycle security is a factor in our decision making.  When we stop during rides we encourage people to stack the bikes together where there are a lot of eyes on them and they can all easily be watched simultaneously.  When we finish the ride for the day generally bikes are stored in hotel rooms, in a secure storage room or garage, or locked together within the premise.

    Bicycle Tour Hazards Evaluation and Control – Bicycle touring and its associated activities (walking, bathing, eating, drinking, etc.) expose participants to a variety of hazards.  The risk of injury from these hazards can be reduced by training, good decisions, selecting good equipment and wearing protective gear.  We implore all bicyclists to be familiar with the potential hazards of the activity and to actively participate in reducing their risks.  For more information see www.ibike.org/education/Task-Hazards.pdf.

    Bicycling Difficulty – The bicycling difficulty is moderate and designed for generally active people. There have been participants on our programs who have never cycle toured and never done international travel before who have thoroughly enjoyed the program.  It is an active program, but it is not an iron man competition.  The bicycling is meant to be a means to cultural immersion.  If you are in decent condition and curious about the destination you should be able to do the program, regardless of past experience.  Daily distances average less than 40 miles (65km) per day, are usually between 30 and 50 miles (50-80 km) per day, but may range from 20-80 miles (35-100km) per day. But distance can be misleading because a short day with steep hills can be more difficult than a much longer day with gentle terrain. The daily plan is linked to road conditions, terrain, and points of interest. We try to start programs with lower mileage and let it increase as people get in better shape and adjust to conditions.  If the roads are rough or ascending the mileage is usually lower.  If the roads are smooth or descending the mileage may be more.  Information on cycling conditions is reflected in the “fact sheets” for individual programs.

    Bicycling Pace – It is good if you can work up to averaging approaching 10-12 mph (16-20 km/h) on rolling terrain. 

    In urban areas, we generally ride as a group. 

    Over the longer distances, in rural areas, there tends to be less structure of the  group. We have no control over the composition of the group, their interests, their abilities, their willingness to adjust to others or ride with others, or whether they choose to bicycle or take alternative transportation. Ideally, there will be some group stops and group activities during the day, but with some group the extremes are so incongruent that we are reconciled to getting all the individuals going in the right direction and making it to the day's destination. When groups spread themselves out over many miles, we cannot be at the beginning, middle and end simultaneously. We encourage people to practice the buddy system. Even so, participants might find themselves riding alone in front, in the middle or at the end of the group. We would like everyone to arrive at least a two hours before dusk.

    Bucket baths – Taking a bucket bath may also require some cultural sensitivity.  The bucket of water which gives you a bath may have to be carried a quarter of a mile or more.  You should be able to take a whole bath including washing your hair with one bucket of water ‑‑ with practice, this can be reduced to a half bucket.  The first secret is to always start with your head and work down ‑‑ that is the direction that gravity pulls the water.  Note: If you use a dipping cup in your bucket of water you can keep the water cleaner, especially once your hands get soapy.  Then if you use only a half a bucket of water the bottom half is clean for someone else to use.

    A couple of cups or handfuls of water on your head, and then spread down your body should be enough to get the shampoo foaming and your body lathered‑up.  You only need to get your skin wet, not doused.

    After you are damp, give yourself a good scrubbing.

    Rinse in the same pattern you used to start with ‑‑ from the head down.  Again a limited amount of water will go further if you work the water with your hands as you follow it down from head to toe.  After a few cups of water on the head you hair should be rinsed and you can pour cups of water on your shoulders, then chest, back and so forth on down to your feet until you are rinsed clean as a whistle.

    Cameras – Cameras are probably unsurpassed in helping people remember and share their experience.  We encourage photographers to bring a camera and all of the necessary supplies.  In some countries, it may be difficult to acquire memory cards, batteries, etc.  In some areas, a power source may not be available for several days at a time.

    Cancellation – If the program is canceled by Ibike, all money paid to Ibike for services not performed in accordance with the contract between Ibike and the participant will be refunded within fourteen days after cancellation by Ibike, unless the participant requests that Ibike applies the money to another program.

    Cell Phones – There is cell phone access in every country where we do programs.  The amount of coverage differs from country to country.  Because we spend time outside of urban area it is not unusual to be outside of coverage areas.  There are two strategies for getting access; buying a local SIM card (not an option for all phones), or setting up your phone for international roaming.  The former is generally significantly less expensive.  When members of a group have cell phones they can be very useful for communications amongst the group.

    Coffee and Tea – It is almost unimaginable but we sometimes get beyond the ubiquitous access to coffee and/or tea.  If you are serious addicted to these drinks you might want to make personal arrangement for a first thing in the morning cup of caffeine.  You can check with the office to determine severity of any deprivation.

    Communications – Please see sections on cell phones, e-mail and Internet access.

    Cultural Travel – Most of our programs are in non-western countries. We provide the opportunity for individuals to have a relatively unbuffered experience in another culture. The tour may encounter events that are not predictable or familiar.  We try to select destination and itineraries that will provide a generally positive and enriching experience, but specific events may be dubious.

    We don’t expect travelers to embraces all cultures that they encounter, but do we ask program participants to show consideration for the different cultures that we interact with.  Starting points include: Respect local taboos on dress, touching and protocol.  Respect photography restrictions and sensitivity subjects.  Don't give gratuitous gifts of any kind.  Don’t support immoral or illicit activities.  For more details see www.ibike.org/encouragement/travel/travelcode.pdf.

    Culture Shock - Culture shock is a common way of describing the condition of confusion and anxiety affecting a person suddenly exposed to an alien culture or milieu.  It isn't a clinical term or medical condition and comes in a full spectrum of severity.  It can develop when an urbanite goes to a rural area, and visa-versa, or when someone has to operate within a different and unknown culture such as one may encounter in a foreign country.  The onset may be delayed after an initial enthusiasm, fascination and curiosity about the new culture – the “honeymoon phase.”  Over time the stress of the differences between the home culture and the new culture can build up.  Culture shock can manifest itself in a wide range of behaviors such as anxiety, confusion, sadness, withdrawal, irritability, “home-sickness” (missing your home foods, family, friends, etc), loss of appetite, compulsive eating,  feeling overwhelmed, hostility toward locals, excessive sleeping, insomnia, excessive concern over cleanliness and health, boredom, lethargy and depression.  It is not easily self-diagnosed directly, but the symptoms can be a signal to the underlying condition. 

    Because culture shock is about differences, you can be proactive in preventing or reducing it by spending time getting a feel for and learning about the new culture so it is not so much of a “shock.”  If the new culture speaks a different language, learning the language (as best you can) will reduce your alienation and difference with the new culture.  The pre-departure materials include a bibliography and other information to help you with this.

    The strategies for overcoming culture shock include; taking with people who are “bi-cultural”, making local friends, developing a normal rhythm of life that fits the new culture, working to understand the logic of the new culture, and adapting a repertoire of coping skills and tools.

    Currency – There are almost as many currencies as there are countries in the world – there are some region currency (i.e. Euro and CFA) and a few countries us another countries currency (often the US dollar).  For most currencies in the world the rate of exchange between currencies can change daily, but some exchange rates are set by the government and are not adjusted to changing market conditions.  Many of these currencies are overvalued and not fully convertible.  These "soft" currencies have little or no value beyond the borders of their country.  When you change a "hard" currency into a local "soft" currency generally you do not want to change any more than you expect to need for your expenses while you are in the country.  See also “money” and “pocket money.”

    Daily News – For most people, their best access to daily news is through the Internet, either at Internet café or through smart phones.

    Daily Program – At dinner or breakfast there we will try to give a briefing describing the upcoming days ride and other activities, food and rest stops, regrouping points, difficult hills, unusual or dangerous conditions, hazards, and tricky turns.  This isn’t a substitute for keeping your own vigilance.  At the start of the program, if you arrive anytime on or before "Day 1" you won't miss any major scheduled activities.  No major activities are scheduled on the final day of the as well.  On the final day of the tour the scheduled activities usually end with breakfast.

    Dress – The general tenor of the program is casual.  Most our destinations tend to be more modest than North America and Europe.  In most areas “athletic” is recognized so you can wear biking attire while your are biking.  But, if you wear highly specialized skin-tight bicycle clothing, when you are away from you bike or finished with the bicycling it is usually appropriate to pull-on something more akin to street clothes.  For specific consideration is warranted we provide guidance in the tour’s pre-departure materials.

    Economic Support – It is Ibike’s policy to support locally owned business, and buy locally produced goods and service in the areas that we operate.  In addition a minimum of twenty percent of the tour fee goes to the education, conservation, sustainable development and advocacy activities of the International Bicycle Fund, local community-based organizations and other non-governmental organizations.

    Educational Presentation – Before, during and/or after meals are often opportunities for open discussion/forums on topics of mutual interest, recaps of the day’s events, and/or presentation by the group leader on subjects that will provide a deeper understand of thinks you saw or will see.  The format and content of these events are flexible and will often depend on the desires and interests of the group.

    Electrical Apparatus – There is a variety of electricity voltage, frequency and outlet standards around the world.  If your electrical apparatus has a universal power supply (AC 100-240V, 50/60Hz) your probably have solved two of the variable.  If not you may need a voltage adapter.  The third consideration is the configuration of the plug.  Details on the electrical standard are available in the tour’s pre-departure materials or you can visit http://www.travel-images.com/electric-plugs.html.

    E-mail – E-mail access tends to mirror Internet access.  Please see section on Internet access.

    English Language – Often, English speakers expect the rest of the world to speak English.  It is, in fact amazing how often that happens, but it is also unfortunate because it puts English speakers that much further behind and without tools when they do venture beyond the reach of English.

    If you are in an area where English is not the first language of the local population, start working on the local language – foremost the greetings – as soon as you can.

    If you are relying on English and it is not the first language of your audience be prepared that the content of your message is likely to be misunderstood and nuance is almost certain to be lost.  This will manifest itself in restaurant orders arriving different that you expected, prices and quantities of purchases with be misunderstood, and a thousand other ways.  Develop flexibility and patience.

    If English is the only language you have, it will help if you;

    • Speaking slowly with normal stress and intonation. 
    • Speaking loader doesn’t improve communications.  Match your voice level with the environment and other speakers.
    • Using simple English, common words, with simple sentence structure, and pauses between sentences and longer between paragraphs.
    • Avoid homonyms; words with the same sound but multiple meanings.
    • Avoid slang and sports/military/movie/literature language.
    • Avoid conjunctions, “or” and double negatives.
    • Avoid sounds your listener has trouble pronouncing. (e.g. for Japanese l, r, ir)
    • Be subtly redundant by paraphrasing yourself – say the same thing a different way.
    • Check understanding frequently and creatively.  Show that it is OK to admit not understanding.
    • Be more patient than your audience – they the ones struggling with a foreign language.

    Environmental Practice – As human beings we are going to consume, but we can strive to avoid wasting.  The goal is to be aware and knowledgeable about our consumptions so that it strikes a balance between minimizing impact on resources and maximize the quality of life for ourselves and others.  The issues are a lot the same whether you are staying at home or traveling, but there may be a few nuances when you travel.  We try to travel by bicycle.  We endeavor to keep our energy and water consumption modest.  We generally select less-energy intensive hotels.  Participants can help by being aware of their energy and water usage – turning things off when they aren’t using them.  We encourage people not to waste or spoil food.  We promote the responsible disposal of solid waste.  We endeavor to follow the four “E’s” of good environmental stewardship (reduce, repair, reuse and recycle) in all of our activities.  For tips specifically on environmentally friendly travel see www.ibike.org/encouragement/travel/green-travel.htm and www.ibike.org/encouragement/travel/enviro-travel.pdf.  For tips on more environmentally friendly bicycling see www.ibike.org/environment/green-bicycling.htm. See also "water."

    Full Payment – Final payment is due 60 days prior to departure. If payment has not been received and no special arrangements have been made, we reserve the right to assume withdrawal and fill the space.

    Gifts – Ordinary people generally prefer gifts (hometown postcards, school supplies, articles of clothing, your photo) to money, for small “deeds of friendship”.  Please don’t bring bags of small gifts (candy) to distribute gratuitously.  It is very detrimental to the culture and individual’s dignity.  In a family or at a school it is best to give gifts to an adult.  They will know the most equitable distribution of the item.  Generally, it is best to ignore begging children.  Traditionally societies’ has mechanism for helping those truly in need.  Please have a relationship and a reason behind every gift.  Guides, porters, photo subjects and others associated with tourism generally prefer money to gifts – or both (whether they are helpful or not).  Please feel free to tip those who improve your trip.  The amount of a tip can depend upon the size of the group, the level of responsibility of the person and how well they do their job.  See also “gratuities.”

    Gratuities / Tipping– Tipping is of a personal nature; therefore, at your discretion.  For those who desire guidelines, looking around the world (cruise, safari and tour companies in Asia, Africa and America), recommended amounts in the tourism industry are generally $10-$15 per person per day, to be shared by the staff/crew (ratios on luxury programs are typically about two clients per staff). See also “gifts.”

    Greetings - A fundamental tool for crossing cultural lines is the greeting.  The forms with which you meet others are extremely important.  It is generally the responsibility of the arriving person to initiate a greeting.  In the West you can enter into routine commercial transactions without formally greeting someone, in much of the world this would be viewed as rude and uncivil even for a minor purchase.  Information about tour specific greeting rituals will be provided at the orientation talk at the beginning of the tour.  Please prepare yourself to learn at least a few words of a foreign language and be ready to greet.

    Group Riding – When bicycling with others one of the largest risk factors is your fellow bicyclists.  It is important to you use good cycling technique and group riding etiquette.  The two critical points are to be predictable and communicate.  For more details on group riding see www.ibike.org/education/group-riding.pdf.

    Health and Wellness – Ibike programs involve physical activity. For the safety and enjoyment of everyone, good physical and mental health is key to the enjoyment of these trips. We travel in areas remote from modern medical facilities. Participants may be required to furnish a doctor's statement of good health. Vaccination and prophylactic medicine may be recommended or required. Ibike provides information and guidelines to help participants stay healthy, but is not responsible for participant’s physical or mental health or for medical advice prior to or during the program. Ibike reserves the right to refuse acceptance of anyone whom it deems unsuitable for a trip. Some Ibike programs are fairly radical immersion, but it only lasts two weeks.  If you are feeling overwhelmed by the culture/experience please let your group leader know and s/he will try to help you.

    Ibike makes numerous decisions to avoid health and medical issues.  Participants also need to be active participants in keeping themselves healthy. They should be knowledgeable that food, water, insect, the sun (heat) and other vectors can lead to health issues.  At the same time not all food, water, etc, is a threat.  Be eating well, selecting safe drinking water, good exercise, and good rest, Ibike has had many 100% health programs.  The group leader will help with this.   

    For more information on heat related illnesses see www.ibike.org/education/heat-illness.htm. For information on traveler’s stomach see www.worldstogethertravel.com/healthy-travel/traveller-stomach.htm

    Health Responsibilities – Participants are responsible for their own physical and mental health.  Ibike programs include strenuous physical activity in a non-Western culture.  For the safety and enjoyment of everyone, good physical and mental health is essential for these programs.  The ability to participate by those who have any physical or mental impairment which will impede them from active daily bicycling and/or sight-seeing activities, or have conditions which will be aggravated by these activities will be evaluated on an individual basis -- we may require a statement from a physician describing the nature of the limitations and accommodation needed.  We will make a reasonable effort to accommodate some limitations.  Ibike reserves the right to refuse acceptance of anyone whom it deems unsuitable for a trip.  Under no circumstances do we refuse acceptance based on race, creed or sex.  Vaccination(s) and prophylactic medicine(s) are required or recommended for travel in some areas.  It is recommended than an ANSI/Snell approved bicycle helmet be worn during all bicycling activities.

    Heating and cooling – For conservation and comfort reasons, programs are generally scheduled in seasons with reasonably comfortable weather conditions.  In cooler locations, cold is generally a concern overnight.  Hotels in these areas generally provide adequate blankets.  In hotter location the issue is usually afternoon heat.  In these situations, we try to get the group started early in the morning so we can finish the bicycling early in the day.  In consideration of jet lag and the need to function enough to get organized, air conditions hotels rooms may be available the first couple days.  But it is import to work to get acclimatized but air conditioning is generally not available in rural communities.  Detailed clothing recommendations are available with the tours pre-departure materials.

    Hotels – See “accommodations” heading.

    Hotel Check-in – Checking into a hotel is almost a daily occurrence.  Many hotels require at least one person per room to register.  Your cooperation in having a pen and your passport handy is appreciated and will expedite check-in.

    Hotel Etiquette - Lodging is one of the most common settings where bicyclists engage with the local community.  Regardless of whether they are staying at a luxury hotel, mini-hotel, hostel, community tourism project or home-stay, one of a bicyclists’ key concern is secure storage for their bicycles.  It is usually not too difficult, through a discussion, to find mutually acceptable solution, though it may not always be your first choice.  Some establishments arrange for bicycles to be stored in secure garages, courtyard or storage room, locked together in more semi-public places, or in the client’s room.

    Most bicyclists prefer the later because they have the most control and it allows them to leave all of their equipment attached to the bike.  Many hosts will oblige, but it only takes a few bad experiences for an innkeeper to take this privilege away from everyone. To help keep the option of storing bicycles in their room open for fellow cyclists it boils down to “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  Here are a few things you can do to maintain a good relationship with the staff and management of the establishment:

    1. Pack a rag to wipe down your bike before entering the building, especially if you're coming in from the wet weather or off a muddy road. Focus on keeping the tires clean so you don't lead a trail of grit through the corridors.  If you don’t have a wipe-down cloth ask the staff if they have an old rag.

    2. Avoid crowding other guests in the halls or elevator with your bike. If there are a few people already in the elevator, let them go and grab the next empty one. They will appreciate it, and it will save you the problem of positioning your bike in a tight space among people.

    3. Be aware of your chain. Don’t to let it brush up against any bedding, curtains, upholstery, or furniture.

    4. If possible, avoid storing the bike on carpeting. Sometimes this is unavoidable, but if there is a tile or hardwood portion of the floor, leave your bike there. Inevitably, there will be some water or debris that falls off your bike.  Grit is much easier to clean up from a hard floor than from carpet.  In either case, especially on carpet, it is good to slip a piece of paper or clean cloth under the tires, especially if they are wet or dirty.  It is also advantageous to park your bike where is it not going to get bumped and coming crashing down into furniture or gouge the wall.  Private balconies are ideal on several accounts.

    5. Note where the bicycle contacts a furniture or the wall, if you are leaning it.  A clean sock at the ends of the handlebar can stop it from marring the wall.  If a pannier is resting against something, make sure the pannier is clean or separate the two objects with a clean cloth or piece of paper.  If your rack is going to be resting against the wall it may require a more substantial protection.

    6. Don't use hotel towels to clean your bike. While this can be incredibly tempting, always keep your own rag on hand for this.

    7. Don’t do maintenance on your bike that will dribble grit inside.  Even outside, pick a location for bike maintenance that won’t lead to oily grit being tracked inside.

    8. Lastly, be sure to thank the hotel staff for allowing you to safely store your bike in your room.

    Ice – Ice is often hard to come by on some tours.  If you need regular refrigeration please contact the office to discuss any challenges that you might confront.

    Immunizations / Vaccinations – Travelers are not allowed to enter many tropical countries without proof that they have had specific vaccinations.  The rules and recommendations are geographically specific and can be time and activity dependent.  They fall into several categories; required for everyone, required, depending upon status and previous activities, recommended for everyone, and recommended conditioned on activity, location and/or season.  If you will need immunizations, it is recommended, but not required, that you start your shots 6 weeks before departing.  Consult your physician or travel clinic for your specific needs.  Comprehensive information is available from the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers at www.iamat.org/country_directory.cfm.  Information is also available from the World Health Organization, the Center For Disease Control, many public health centers or your physician.  When arranging for immunizations call ahead for the times and location of immunization services, because sometimes they are available only during limited hours.  If you need a number of injections plan ahead because not all of them can be given at one time and some vaccines require a series of doses.  If you have a choice, schedule your appointments when you won't need to be making any critical decisions or pitching a baseball game.  When you receive a vaccination have it recorded on a yellow International Vaccination Card.  Carry this with your passport when you travel.  

    Tour specific immunization information is available with the tour’s pre-departure materials.

    Insurance – Personal health insurance, travel, evacuation, and baggage insurance is strongly recommended.  Cycling and travel have inherent risks.  Even the most conscientious behavior does not guarantee against illness or injury.  Medical insurance is not always valid in foreign countries.  U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States.  Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.  Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties.  Please check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, the adequacy of coverage, including provision for medical evacuation, and whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur.  Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to your home country can cost tens of thousands of dollars.  Some credit cards include travel insurance when you use them to purchase an airline ticket.

    Internet – There is Internet access in every country where we do programs.  The amount of access differs from country to country.  Because we spend time outside of urban area it is common to have days without access (less so if you have a smart phone.)  Opportunity for internet access may include Internet cafés, hotel business centers, Wi-Fi access with a personal computer and smart phones.  Details on Internet access are available in the tour’s pre-departure materials or you can contact the office.

    Land Costs – The land costs includes accommodations, two meals a day (usually breakfast and dinner), leader/ guides, transfers which are part of the program, and monument, historic site, park and museums fees, on the itinerary. Not included in the program price are: accommodations, meals, travel and transfers before and after the program; excess baggage charges, all beverages, including soft drinks, liquor, beer, coffee, tea and bottled water; airport, security and departure taxes; passport and visa fees; vaccination; drugs and medical expenses; insurance; single supplements; tips and gratuities; personal items such as laundry, postage and telephone.

    Library – To make the most of your travel we always recommend that you read as much as you can about your destination before departing.  It is also nice to have literature relevant to the location as you travel.  Because of the limitations of self-contained bicycle touring hauling a comprehensive library is impractical.  If you are interested in a specific topic we encourage you to bring materials that cover it. 

    Mail – What is now called snail mail tends to be hard to receive during tours.  If you need to receive mail during a tour contact the office to discuss the best strategy with respect to your program.

    Malaria Many of our programs are outside of the malaria belt, but where it is a concern this and precautions to take are included in the tour’s pre-departure materials.  The presence of malaria is location specific.  Generally, this is in geographically specific areas between the Tropics.  If malaria prophylactics are recommended for your destination, please remember to start taking your anti‑malaria tablets before departure as prescribed. We also provide guidance and encourage participants to take action to reduce their exposure to mosquito bikes; sleep under nets or with fans on, wear clothing barriers, treat clothing with pyrethrum, etc.

    Maps, GPS, and Route Cue Sheets – Because our routes change from program to program, and because of circumstances on a program, we depend on maps and haven’t developed databases for GPS and cue sheets.  Maps are available in the tour’s pre-departure materials.

    Meals - Meals are provided at or above the local standard and often eat family-style (a set menu, served from common dishes.)  We tend not to eat dinner at the hotels we stay at.  This gets us out into the community and spreads the economic activity.  Food for certain restrictive diets may be unavailable.  Meal times vary depending on the day’s activities.  As a general rule breakfast is about an hour after sunrise, lunch is about six hours later, dinner is twelve hours after breakfast, and snacks are as often as you want them.  Breakfast and dinner tend to be the most predictable.  Restaurants etiquette can be different in non-western cultures.  Because of cultural and language difference, the process of ordering and receiving food often works best if it is done very orderly and systematically, without impulsive behavior.  For example, it may be best if all the meals are ordered (and sometimes allowed to be delivered) before the process is distracted to ordering drinks.  For both meals and drinks, it is often best to patiently organize and deliver the order systematically as a group, rather than individuals impulsively shouting demands.  Late changes in orders can wreak havoc with the whole process so it is often wise to stick with your initial decision.

    Medical Care – Programs operate in areas remote from modern medical facilities.  Ibike provides information and guidelines to help participants stay healthy, but assumes no responsibility for medical care or advice, or for a participant's physical or mental health, prior to, during or after the program.

    Medical Issues and Injuries – Please inform your tour leader of any medical issues or injuries.

    Menu – The menu will usually reflect the local cuisine.  Variety and choice of food are often very limited.  For various reason restaurants in non-western cultures tend not to be as flexible, accommodating or adaptable to menu substitution, so may need to gin up some tolerance.  Vegetarian options are usually available, but food for certain restrictive diets may be very limited or unavailable.  Choice of beverages is often very limited.  See also meals.

    Mission – Our mission is to introduce you to the diversity and complexity of an area while being environmentally friendly, culturally sensitive and economically beneficial.  For more details see www.ibike.org/encouragement/travel/travelcode.pdf and www.ibike.org/encouragement/travel/e3.htm.

    Money - U.S. dollars and Euros are excellent portable currency, but if they are not the national currency of the country they can loose their usefulness rapidly past the airport, banks in the capital city, international chain hotels and tourism enclaves.  The exchange rate is generally slightly better for new large denomination bills (US$50 and $100 bills).  Large denomination US$ and Euros generally work about equally well (except in Cuba).  It is often fastest to change money at the airport but you will often get a better exchange rate in the city.  The usefulness of credit card is can be extremely limited outside of the industrial world. It is country specific, but ATMs are now pretty common in most capital cities, and increasingly in outlying towns – though keeping them operational seems to be problematic.  Traveler’s cheques (T/Cs) are increasingly rare and can be difficult to cash. Often only some banks and a few big hotels will change T/Cs.  To cash T/Cs in Africa and Asia you sometimes need to show your "purchase record" receipts -- bring them, but pack them separately.  In rural areas you will need small denominations of local currency to make your purchases.  Small denomination foreign currency is not usually very useful, except perhaps for settling accounts amount the group and tips at the airport.  To get a sense of exchange rates go to www.oanda.com/currency/converter.  Country specific currency information is often included with the pre-departure materials.  See also “pocket money.”

    Nutrition – Good body maintenance is very important for enjoying active travel. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for bicyclists.  We encourage participants to eat a good breakfast.  A full breakfast (protein (eggs), carbohydrates) will do you better than a continental breakfast (bread and coffee).  Lunch is the second most important meal of the day.  Snacking while you ride is third in importance.  Ironically, dinner is usually the most elaborate meal – go figure.

    Packing List – An annotated packing list, which provides good guidance on selecting what to bring, is part of the pre-departure materials

    Participants – It is very hard to identify an "average participant" or the "average group."  Past participants have ranged in age from 9 to 75 - most are between 25 and 55.  We have had groups with an average age in the 20's and we have had groups where the average age was in the 50's, so the average age for the whole program is about 40, but that may not represent any real group.  In fact, the groups are quite "age-less" once we get going -- everybody is working on a common venture and "age" falls by the wayside.  There have been more women than men, but some groups are all women and some groups are all men -- we have no way to predict the mix. No aim is put on age or gender of groups.  Most, but not all, participants sign-up alone, some of these people are single and some are married traveling without their spouse (both men without their wives and women without their husband -- we know the program doesn’t appeal to everyone.)  The maximum group size is usually ten participants. Participants have originated from every continent.  We will make reasonable accommodation to enable people with special needs to participate. Under no circumstances do we refuse acceptance based on nationality, national origins, race, creed, color, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.

    Passport – If you are traveling to a foreign country, generally you need a passport, and sometimes you will need a visa stamped in the passport (see visas.) Governments issue passports as certification of identity and citizenship. To obtain most passports you need proof of citizenship (birth certificate, expired passport, naturalization paper, etc.), proof of identity, passport‑size photographs and a fee. Passports are valid for a limited period of time so they must be checked and renewed periodically.  If you already have a passport check to see that it is valid for at least six months.  Information on applying for or renewing a passport is available from the passport agency of your government.  If you are out of your country of citizenship, information on passport renewal is available from your consulate.  Once you have your passport, photocopy the personal information page and carry it separately.

    Personal Security – There is a lot of personal invention that can increase you personal security; be aware of your surroundings, don’t carry or wear any more valuables that are necessary, don’t dress conspicuously, don’t lay valuables down in public places, be discerning about strangers you engage and share information with, know how to get where you are going by a safe route and means, etc.  For more tips see www.ibike.org/encouragement/travel/travelsecurity.pdf.

    Pillow – Most hotels provide pillows, but we occasional utilize other accommodations where pillows are not provided.  One trick for creating a pillow in a pinch is to take a small pillow case or stuff sack and stuff it with clothes until it is sufficient to cushion your head.

    Pocket Money – Pocket money used during a two-week tour varies between individuals.  Major expenses (lodging, two meal a day, transfers, etc.) of the tour are covered by the tour package.  Most people use from $50 to $250 of pocket money during a tour.  Examples of expenses are lunch, drinks, postcards, postage, tips, and laundry.  These are generally “small” expenses so in rural areas you need small denomination of local currency to make your purchases.  NOT INCLUDED in this estimate are souvenirs, and transportation, lodging, and meals before and after the tour, which may be significant ($20-$200 per day).  Now bring twice what you think you will need.  You can bring any extra home. In a number of "none-connected" areas where Ibike offers programs, credit card usefulness is extremely limited.  More guidance on this is available in the pre-departure information for each tour. See also “money.”

    Pre-Departure Services – On receipt of completed registration we forward a pre-departure packet.  This contains information on; international travel, air travel, preparing your bike, selecting personal equipment, visas, immunization, books to read, insurance options, etc.  We welcome calls or letters if you need additional information.

    Pricing – Good value and personal service are basic tenets of our program.  We try to keep our prices in line with the cost of doing business and our desire to attract participants eager to experience the culture and environment in an intimate and sensitive fashion.  Costs quoted are based on at least six participants.  There may be a 20% surcharge for trips with less than six participants.  Fares are based on the itinerary, tariffs and exchange rates at the time of publication.  No revisions are anticipated; however, fares are subject to adjustment in the event of alterations in currency exchange, inflation, the imposition of surcharges or changes in the itinerary, with the understanding that any additional expenses will be paid by the individual participant.

    Promises - If you say that you will send an e-mail or photo, find a book or pen-pal, raise money for a charity, or make any other promise, please keep your word.

    Recycling – See “environmental practices” heading.

    Registration – Register simply by sending your name, address, phone number, the name of the program(s) and a deposit of $300 per program (of which $300 is a non-refundable registration fee).  Deposit and land cost payment may be made by check or money order.  Upon receipt of your registration a Voluntary Waiver and Release Form Liability and Indemnity Agreement will be forwarded to you and must be signed and returned before your registration is considered complete.  Registrations submitted less than 60 days prior to departure should include the full program fee.  Registrations received less than 30 days prior to departure will be accepted subject to availability and a late fee of $50.  Payments within 30 days of departure must be by cashier's check or electronic transfer.  Early registration is encouraged.  Due to visa and vaccination requirements, limits on group size and the advisability of cracking the reading list, registrations should be submitted at least 90 days prior to the departure date.

    Refund – No refund or credit is given for unused services or accommodations or leaving a program early for whatever reason: culture shock, inadequate physical conditioning, health, injury, etc.  Refund will not be given to anyone asked to leave the trip because he or she is, in the opinion of the tour leader, compromising the safety, security or success of the program.

    Repairs – See “environmental practices” heading.

    Risk – Educational value, safety, security, health, road quality, seasonal climatic norms and riding difficulty are considered in the construction of the itinerary.  Paved and unsurfaced roads are used.  We do not engage in "sanitizing missions" to eliminate all environmental or societal threats and dangers.  It is our policy to avoid civil unrest and acute crisis, but these can be sudden.  While safety is a factor in planning the program, because the program involves bicycling on roads shared with motor vehicles and, in part, routes are selected because they go to desirable areas, we make no claims as to the safety of the itinerary.  Furthermore, Ibike can not anticipate and is not responsible for the actions or circumstances created and controlled by others, including but not limited to the weather, the conditions of the routes and program destinations, the behavior of other road users, the skill and judgment of participants, and the negligent or criminal actions of other individuals.  To the extent possible Ibike will make reasonable inquiries as to the conditions of our routes and destinations and inform participants of the general nature of risks we are aware of.  The right is reserved to make changes in the itinerary and its included features, with or without notice, as may be necessary for the well being and the proper carrying out of the program.  It is recommended that participants master the material covered in an "Effective Cycling", "CAN-BIKE", or similar comprehensive adult cycling course, prior to the trip.

    Risk Management – See “Bicycle Tour Hazards Evaluation and Control” heading.

    Route Selection – Educational value, cultural sensitivity, environmental impact, safety, road quality, riding difficulty, the availability of goods and services, and climatic norms are considered in route selection and scheduling. Each program is unique. While safety is a factor in planning the program and most roads are low volume, because the program involves bicycling on roads shared with motor vehicles and, in part, routes are selected because they go to desirable areas, we make no claims as to the safety of the itinerary. It should be understood that bicycling and travel are calculated risk activities.

    Safety – Avoiding accidents is very important to having a fun trip.  Accident prevention is more important in a new and different physical environment.  We can't sanitize the route so you need to be aware of your own well-being.  Each person needs to participate in his or her own safety.  Incorporate safety into all your activities.  Help each other to be safe.  If someone gives you a safety suggestion please accept that they are trying to help you have a safe and fun trip. 

    • Just because the rider ahead of you made it through an intersection without being run over doesn't mean you can, too. 
    • In urban areas because you are likely to be more independent than many other types of tourist make yourself aware of local security issues, dangerous parts of town and scams.
    • In rural areas don’t assist opportunism and watch out for things like doping.  If you don’t want to accept food or drink you can always “have any upset stomach”.
    • Wearing closed shoes and socks can prevent a multitude of misfortune (accidents, uneven walking surfaces, mosquitoes, jiggers, and snakes).

    Sheets – Most hotels provide linens, but we occasional utilize other accommodations where sheets are not provided.  See “amenities” and “sleep sack” headings.

    Showers – See “baths” heading.

    Single Supplement – If you don't have a roommate, or don't want a roommate there will be a single supplement charge. This represents the actual difference in the cost to the program.  Single rooms cannot be guaranteed.

    Sleep Sack – A sleep sack is different from a sleeping bag in that it has no loft or insulation.  They are essentially a single-bed sheets that have been sewn together along the base and side.  They were quite popular during the early days of the hostel movement.  On Ibike programs, they are useful for village stays in warm climates, where hotel bedding may not be as crisp and new as you would find at a five-star hotel, for a nap under a tree and various other situation that you might encounter traveling.

    Smoking – It is our policy to not expose others to second-hand smoke.  Participants should not smoke where prohibited, in indoor areas used by other people or with 10 meters of other people in open areas.

    Special Arrangements – We want you to have a great trip!  Please express your individual interests.  We try to be accommodating.  It is not always possible to make changes in itineraries, but we want you to be as satisfied as possible about overall arrangements.

    Taxes and Fees – Airport departure taxes and fees are the responsibility of the traveler.  These are often but not always included in the ticket price.  Taxes on lodging and meals, while with the group, are paid by Ibike.

    Telephone – Landline telephone calls tend to be hard to receive during tours.  If you need to receive a telephone call during a tour contact the office to discuss the best strategy with respect to your program. See also “cell phones.”

    Time Zones – Program specific time zone information is provide in the pre-departure materials.

    Toilets – Toilet facilities (lavatories, latrines, WC's) in around the world range from western‑style heads, to eastern‑style (squat toilets), to rustic latrines – it’s part of the education.  As might be expected some people will argue that eastern-style toilets are more healthy and hygienic and some people will argue that western-style are better.  Similarly, in some areas, instead of toilet paper, there are water jugs or pails, or spigots near the toilets for washing when finished – usually in warm climates.  The procedure is simply to wash your anus.  By tradition, this would be done with the left hand.  The irony is, those accustom to using water think it provides increased hygiene and cleanliness and those accustom to using paper think that it achieves better results.  In much of world, for those who prefer toilet paper, the user should be prepared to supply it.  It is not necessary to carry a month’s supply because re-supply is readily available.  We will stop here before we go totally TMI (too much information) on the topic.

    Towels – Most hotels provide towels, but we occasional utilize other accommodations where towels are not provided.  It never hurts to bring a lightweight, absorbent pack or camp towel.

    Training – The tours are not Tour de France training rides, but they are active travel.  The more that the bicycling comes second-nature to you the more energy you will have for the other dimensions of the program (intellectual, social, spiritual, etc.)  If it has been awhile since you have been on a bicycle start your training program with modest mileage (perhaps 40 miles per week) and increase about 15 percent per week until your weekly mileage is three to four times the expected daily mileage on your tour.

    For example, you might start out with a 50‑mile week and increase your weekly mileage from there.  After seven weeks you will be up to 150 miles per week in training and easily able to handle 50‑mile days on your tour.  Alternate hard training days with easy ones so you can recover from the hard workouts; without recovery days your body cannot benefit from the workouts!  After a day of 40 hard miles, do nothing at all or spin lightly for 10 miles.

    An example of a good 150‑mile training week consists of; rest on Monday, 15 miles each on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, rest on Friday, 40 miles on Saturday, 65 miles on Sunday and rest again on Monday.  Table 1 is an alternative.

    With a clean bill of health, and by spending time on your bike conditioning your lungs, legs and derriere, you will not only improve your health but also have more energy to enjoy the events around you as you travel.

    WEEK      MON        TUE          WED        THU         FRI           SAT        SUN         Weekly
                 Easy        Paced        Brisk       Rest        Paced       Paced      Paced      Mileage
    1.            6 miles     10           12           rest          10           30           9             77
    2.            7             11           13           rest          11           34           10           86
    3.            8             13           15           rest          13           38           11           98
    4.            8             14           17           rest          14           42           13           108
    5.            9             15           19           rest          15           47           14           119
    6.            11           15           21           rest          15           53           16           131
    7.            12           15           24           rest          15           59           18           143
    8.            13           15           25           rest          15           65           20           153

    Travel – Most travel on Ibike programs is done by bicycle. 

    Travel Documents – Participants are responsible for their own travel documents.  Participants must carry a valid passport.  A current International Certificate of Vaccination is necessary for travel in many areas of Africa, Asia, and South America.  Many countries require visas.  Participants are responsible for acquiring the necessary visas.  Visas are issued solely at the discretion of visa officials.

    Valuables – It is advisable, to the extent possible, to store valuables out of sight both on your person, your bike and in the hotel room.

    Visas – A visa is an endorsement placed in a passport by a consular officer or another government official that indicates that the passport has been examined by such an official. Technically a visa does not allow you to enter the country.  That is up to the immigration officer at the point of entry.  The visa only indicates that the official who signs it has examined the passport and information on the visa application.  The endorsement may be valid for a limited period of time: ten days, 90 days, one year, etc.

    Obtaining a tourist visa is usually a relatively simple procedure.  Obtaining business, resident, student and other categories of visas usually requires more documentation.  Unless you take an extended trip before you get to the country for which you need a visa, it is usually best to get the visa in your country of residence prior to departure.  Regardless, if a visa is required you usually must obtain it before entering the country.  The requirements for visas vary from country to country, change from time to time and may vary from consulate to consulate. The requirements may include submitting: a passport valid for six months, a completed application form in duplicate or triplicate, several passport‑size photos, a certificate of vaccination, an onward air ticket and/or verification of sufficient funds, a fee for the visa and return postage if done by mail. Visas can cost from zero to hundreds of dollars.  Visas are issued solely at the discretion of the visa official of the issuing country.  The requirements differ from nationality to nationality.  Citizens of the EU don’t need a visa for many countries.  Americans and to a lesser extent Canadians, need visas for more, but not all countries.  For the latest information, applications and instructions contact the embassy or consulate of the country you wish to visit.

    Relevant visa requirement, if any, are available with the tour’s pre-departure materials.  If a visa is denied Ibike will refund the participants program payments.

    Vocabulary and Communication – Much of our understanding of the world comes to by way of words: the words that others deliver to describe their experiences and impressions.  Conversely, what others know, about what we have learned and experience, comes from the words that we choose to explain it.  To accurately and sensitively convey our experiences and impressions we need to choose the best words for the job.  Ibike’s policy is to use language that is not biased or racist.  For more information see www.ibike.org/library/language.pdf.

    Water – Many of our programs travel in areas where there is safe tap or borehole well water.  Bottled water is almost always available in the towns at the beginning and the end of the day, but it is not a preferred solution.  If you want to avoid the expense, litter and high carbon footprint of bottled water, bring reusable water bottles and water filter or purifier, they will be put to good use.  Iodine and chlorine tablets are useful only for emergencies – if you have a half-hour to wait and once a week at the most!  Don't rely on iodized water because you will poison yourself.  The three better choices are a filtering pumps (search: hiking water filter), an ultraviolet light purifiers (search: SteriPen) or an oxidant purifiers (search MSR MIOX).  Filtering pumps tend to be the most versatile, labor intensive and requiring the most maintenance.  The latter two, hi-tech methods, require clear water, which is usually available on our programs, and use batteries -- which can be rechargeable.  The MIOX also need salt and adds a little taste to the water, which is mostly an issue if you start with a high mineral water that already has a taste.  The UV pen is the most fragile, but generally, can be protected sufficiently.  The UV pen is generally the fastest.  For more discussion on water treatment see http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/water-treatment-backcountry.html and read and click through the pages.  More specific information on water is provided in the pre-departure materials for each program.

    Water Etiquette – If the water is not coming from a tap and you want to wash your hands DO NOT stick them in the first jug, pan or bucket of water you see.  It may be drinking water.  In some areas white or blue enamel pans and buckets, with lids are standard vessels for drinking water.  If you want to use this water to wash look for a dipping cup on the lid or hanging up nearby.  Use it to dip water.  Don't put the cup on the ground.  And don't put your skin or the handle of the cup in the water. In short, it is a major faux pas to contaminate the drinking water supply.  You might ask if there is other water available for washing.

    Withdrawals – To receive a refund if withdrawing, submit a letter of withdrawal in writing.  Our policy is as follows: (1) A $300 registration fee is forfeited, per program, for all withdrawals.  (2) A fee of 50% is forfeited for withdrawals within 60-30 days prior to departure.  (3) The full price of the land costs is assessed for withdrawals initiated less than 30 days prior to departure or during a tour.  Changes in medical circumstances are not considered as exceptions to our normal refund policy.  Insurance coverage for trip cancellation/interruption is available from several companies.

    Zoology – Zoology is fascinating and some of destinations have extraordinary wildlife.  Now we are finished.

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