Bench Africa Terms & Conditions
“You” and “Your” means all persons named in a booking (including anyone who is added or substituted at a later date). “We”, “us”, “our” and “Bench Africa” means Southern Cross Safaris Australia Pty Ltd trading as Bench Africa.
A booking request is accepted when we issue a written booking confirmation and you have paid your deposit. It is at this point that a contract between us and you comes into existence subject to these Booking Conditions. We reserve the right to decline any booking at our discretion. No employee of Bench Africa other than a director has the authority to vary or omit any of these Booking Conditions or to promise any discount or refund.
We commence providing services to you as soon as we accept your booking. This includes (often significant) work undertaken prior to travel to arrange and coordinate the delivery of your travel arrangements. The services we provide to you are limited to (a) the arrangement and coordination of your travel arrangements; and (b) the delivery of travel arrangements which we directly control.
PRICES & EXCLUSIONS
Prices stated are in Australian Dollars ($AUD) and are current at the time of publication. The price includes accommodation, transportation and other inclusions as per the published itinerary. Typically, prices are based on two people travelling together. Solo traveller supplements may be applicable. Special offer pricing has already been applied to the website pricing displayed, unless it is stated otherwise.
International and domestic airfares, airport/hotel transfers, port taxes, city taxes and security charges are not included unless specifically stated. Costs associated with passports, visas, vaccinations, insurance, meals (other than those stipulated), emergency evacuation costs, gratuities, laundry, additional beverages and consumables and all items of a personal nature are not included.
We reserve the right to surcharge the cost of your booked travel arrangements prior to commencement for circumstances beyond our control such as currency devaluation, fuel or air fare surcharges, or the imposition of new or amended Government charges. Should this occur at any time until departure date, you will be notified as soon as possible, and regardless of deposit or total payment having been made, any increase is to be paid by the client. If such increase is unacceptable, the client may cancel the booking, though, in so doing, is still liable to pay any cancellation charges imposed by our suppliers. While every effort has been made to ensure prices are accurate, please use the brochure as a guideline only, as rates are subject to change.
We will not surcharge for currency fluctuations once full payment has been received by us.
A non-refundable 25% deposit per person is required within 7 days (unless otherwise stated) of us accepting your booking. Please note that we may not hold any services for you until we receive payment of your deposit, meaning that services may become unavailable or prices may increase, in which case you will be responsible for paying the increased price, and we will not be responsible if services become unavailable. This is in addition to our right to increase prices as stated above.
Some tours and arrangements may impose a higher non-refundable deposit - please check at time of booking. Note any Gorilla and Chimp permits for tours in Rwanda and Uganda are to be paid in full at time of booking and are non-refundable.
Bookings made within 30 days of travel from Australia will incur a late booking fee of AU$50 and full payment will be required immediately.
A booking fee of AU$50 will be charged for arrangements such as hotels and car hire not forming part of a package with a minimum stay of three nights required.
Payment in full must be received no less than 60 days before commencement of your trip. Note: some trips may require payment earlier or in additional instalments and this will be advised with the booking confirmation. We are under no obligation to remind you of a payment becoming due. Travel documentation will be provided only on receipt of full payment and a signed and completed Booking Form. Documents will be despatched 2 (two) weeks prior to departure.
CANCELLATIONS BY YOU
You may cancel your booking by giving written notice to us. Cancellation fees and charges will be levied as follows irrespective of when notice of cancellation is received:
- any amounts we have paid or have contractually committed to pay to third parties to deliver your travel arrangements which we cannot reasonably recover (for example payments made or due to airlines and ground operators);
- a fee which is the greater of the deposit or 15% of the booking value to compensate us for work performed up until the time of cancellation (including work performed in connection with your travel arrangements prior to your booking);
Cancellation fees and charges will not exceed payments received by us at the time of cancellation. If after the application of these fees and charges there is a surplus of payments you have made to us, we will refund this to you within a reasonable time.
You agree that these cancellation fees and charges are reasonable and required to protect our legitimate business interests.
Any payments we have made to third parties will only be refunded to you once we have deducted the above cancellation fees and charges and once we have actually recovered the amounts from the third parties. We will use reasonable endeavours to recover third party payments, but we make no guarantee that we will be able to make recoveries.
For group departures, a transfer of a confirmed booking to another departure date is deemed to be cancellation of the original booking.
ILLNESS PREVENTING TOUR COMMENCEMENT OR CONTINUATION
If due to any illness, suspected illness or failure to satisfy any required tests (such as a temperature test in relation to Covid-19):
- an airline or other common carrier refuses you carriage;
- a hotel or vessel refuses to accommodate you; or
- we or our suppliers (acting reasonably) exclude you from the trip
and you are consequently prevented from commencing or continuing your trip, then:
- if you have already commenced your trip, we will provide you with reasonable assistance to arrange alternative travel arrangements or to continue the trip. This will be at your cost.
- if you have not commenced your trip then we regret we will not be in a position to provide such assistance.
We will not be liable to refund the cost of your trip (or any part of it) because we would have already paid (or committed to pay) suppliers and we would have already performed significant work preparing for the delivery of your trip and servicing your booking.
We will not be responsible to you for any loss or expenses incurred in connection with your booking (for example, airfares and visa expenses) if you are prevented from commencing or continuing your trip in these circumstances.
CANCELLATIONS BY US
Force Majeure - Prior to travel
If your travel arrangements cannot proceed due to flood, earthquake, war or civil strife, acts of terrorism, hurricane, cyclone, industrial disturbance, strike, fire, lock-out, epidemic, pandemic, failure or delays of scheduled transportation, or any law, order, decree, rule or regulation of any government authority (including quarantine requirements or government travel advisories), or for any other reason beyond our reasonable control (Force Majeure), we may elect to:
- reschedule your travel arrangements, in which case we will issue you with a credit equal to amounts paid; or
- cancel your travel arrangements, in which case our contract with you will terminate.
If we cancel your travel arrangements, neither of us will have any claim for damages against the other. However, we will refund payments made by you less unrecoverable third party costs (or costs legally committed to expend) and less fair compensation for work undertaken by us up until the time of termination and in connection with the processing of any refund.
Any credit issued by us:
- must be redeemed by within 6 months
- is redeemable against the same travel arrangements only
- is not redeemable for cash
- is not redeemable against flights or travel insurance
Force Majeure - During travel
If we cancel your travel arrangements after your trip has commenced due to Force Majeure, we will provide you with a refund of recoverable third party costs only.
If we provide you with any alternative services or assistance where travel arrangements are cancelled due to Force Majeure, then you agree the amount to be refunded to you will be reduced by the value of these services and assistance.
If we cancel your travel arrangements for reasons beyond Force Majeure, you will be offered (at your election) a refund of all funds paid, or the offer of a trip of substantially equal or better quality if appropriate.
We will not be responsible to you for any expenses or loss you incur in connection with your booking if your travel arrangements are rescheduled or cancelled whether or not due to Force Majeure.
AMENDMENTS BY YOU
We will endeavour to accommodate amendments and additional requests. You acknowledge that these may not be possible to fulfil, and for group departures a transfer of a booking to a different departure is deemed a cancellation. An amendment fee of $50 will be levied to cover communication and administration costs for any changes to bookings. You will also be required to pay any additional costs charged by suppliers.
AMENDMENTS BY US
Prior to travel
Occasionally, we may need to make amendments or modifications to the itinerary and its inclusions and you acknowledge our right to do this. If we become aware of a significant change to your itinerary or its inclusions prior to the commencement of your trip (where the trip can still proceed), then we will notify you within a reasonable time and give you the choice to accept the change, to receive a refund of the land portion of your trip or to accept an alternative trip if offered.
You acknowledge that the itinerary, modes of transport, accommodation and/or the trip’s inclusions may need to change during your trip due to local circumstances beyond our reasonable control, including road conditions, poor weather, changes in transport schedules, and/or vehicle breakdowns.
To the fullest extent permitted by law, we will not be responsible for any omissions or modifications to the itinerary or the inclusions due to Force Majeure or other circumstances beyond our control happening after we have accepted your booking. This includes any loss of enjoyment or distress caused by omissions or modifications.
If you are entitled to any compensation for any modifications or omissions, then you agree it will be reduced by the value of any alternative services we provide which you accept.
We will not be responsible to you for any expenses or loss you incur in connection with your booking resulting from any amendment or change to the itinerary or its inclusions.
No refunds will be made for of any travel arrangements not utilised, whether by choice or because of late arrival or early departure. This includes the failure of transport to operate according to schedule, which we disclaim responsibility for. No overseas supplier or associate is authorised to promise a refund on behalf of Bench Africa.
CLIENT NAMES – EXACTLY AS PER PASSPORT
For security reasons, airlines and our overseas suppliers require names to be given exactly as stated in your passport. If you do not advise the correct information and we have to re-issue airline tickets or other documentation, then you will be responsible for any fees charged (such as airline cancellation charges or re-issue fees) in addition to our own reasonable administration fees.
It is strongly encouraged that you are adequately insured for the duration of your trip. We recommend comprehensive travel insurance to cover cancellation, medical requirements, luggage and additional expenses. The choice of insurer is yours. We strongly suggest you purchase insurance at the time you pay your deposit. This is because cancellation fees and charges are payable from that time.
Bench Africa will not accept responsibility for loss of deposit/full payment, loss or damage to baggage and personal items, personal illness or injury, medical expenses, cancellation or curtailment of your trip.
We reserve the right to substitute hotels, vessels and other forms of accommodation with properties or vessels of a comparable or higher standard.
PASSPORTS, VISAS & VACCINATIONS
It is a requirement that you hold a valid passport and any required visas for your trip. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of the necessary documentation to comply with the laws and regulations of the countries to be visited. Visas to some African countries are required for Australian Passport holders. They can be purchased on arrival in most countries, but please note, for entry into certain countries a visa must be applied for online prior to travel. Some visa fees are payable in US Dollars cash only. Some countries have a requirement making it necessary to have a certain number of blank pages in your passport. Please check with Bench Africa regarding visa requirements. Any information provided by us is given in good faith and may not be relied upon as being accurate and does not constitute formal advice.
It is your responsibility to obtain vaccinations and preventative medicines as may be required for the duration of the trip. Vaccinations against Yellow Fever are compulsory in East Africa, and many other countries require proof of a valid vaccination card if these countries have been visited or you have been in transit. It is also highly recommended that you take anti-malaria medication. Please consult your GP or Travel Doctor for up-to-date medical advice.
HEALTH & FITNESS
A minimum level of fitness is required to be able to participate on a Bench Africa tour. In addition, some tours may require you to disclose your body weight. Please check with Bench Africa to ensure that you can meet the relevant requirements. Even if you meet the relevant requirements, this does not mean that the tour is suitable for you and is no substitute for obtaining medical advice.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you have a suitable level of health and fitness to undertake the trip of your choice. We will not be responsible for any damage, injury, death or loss of any kind arising from your failure to fully disclose relevant medical information.
If you suffer from a medical condition which may reasonably be expected to increase your risk of needing medical attention, or which may affect the normal conduct of the trip, then you must advise us at the time you make your booking request.
We may request you to provide an assessment of your medical condition from a qualified medical practitioner. If no assessment is provided or if the assessment indicates that you will require special assistance from personnel which we cannot reasonably provide, then we may cancel your booking. We will provide you with a full of refund of payments made.
We reserve the right to cancel your booking if any changed or non-disclosed medical conditions mean that you will require special assistance which we cannot reasonably provide.
We strongly suggest that your travel insurance policy includes comprehensive cancellation coverage.
AUTHORITY ON TOUR
When joining a group tour, you undertake to conduct yourself in a manner conducive to good group dynamics. If you act in a manner that threatens or disrupts the safety or enjoyment of others on the tour, the tour leader may, acting reasonably, require that you leave the tour. You will not be entitled to any refund for unused services and you will be responsible for any additional costs you incur.
Some trips are based on a minimum number of passengers travelling. We will advise you prior to confirming your booking if this is the case. If a trip fails to satisfy minimum numbers, the trip may be cancelled. If the trip is cancelled, we will at your election refund you all payments made or credit payments towards alternative arrangements. We will not be responsible for any other travel arrangements affect by, or any additional costs incurred, as a result of cancellation.
Special dietary requests are required to be notified to us at the time of booking. Although we will use reasonable endeavours to accommodate requests, we cannot guarantee requests will be met by suppliers. It is your responsibility to check that meals and beverages do not contain any allergens. We expressly disclaim any liability for meals or beverages that contain allergens.
For the latest government advice on travel safety and security please visit and register your holiday on www.smartraveller.gov.au
TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN
Travelling with children under 18 years of age through certain African countries’ borders may require further documentation in addition to their valid passport. As requirements can change, please check with Bench Africa. Any information provided by us is given in good faith and may not be relied upon as being accurate and does not constitute formal advice.
Luggage restrictions may apply to your Bench Africa tour, in particular to destinations like Kenya, Tanzania and Botswana where safari vehicles or light aircrafts are utilised.
You consent to us using images or recordings of you and your activities that identify you taken during the trip for advertising and promotional purposes in any medium we choose. You grant us a perpetual, royalty-free, worldwide, irrevocable licence to use such images for publicity and promotional purposes. If you do not consent to the use of your image or likeness, please advise us as least 21 days prior to the commencement of your tour.
We are not responsible for any additional activities or excursions which are not included in the booked itinerary or which we sell as agent for the principal operator. Any advice or recommendation made by a guide or local representative does not make us responsible.
ACCEPTANCE OF RISK
You acknowledge that travel involves personal risks which may be greater than those present in your everyday life. This could be as a result of the adventurous nature of your trip or the visiting of destinations which present geographical, political or cultural risks and dangers.
You should consult guidance issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) applicable to the destinations within your itinerary. You acknowledge that your choice to travel is made having had the benefit of DFAT guidance, and you accept any additional personal risks associated with your travel. To the fullest extent permitted by law, we disclaim any liability for these risks.
Services supplied by independent suppliers
Where a third party over whom we have no direct control (Independent Supplier) is the supplier of travel arrangements that form part of your trip, you acknowledge that our obligations to you are limited to taking reasonable steps to select a reputable Independent Supplier and arranging for them to provide those travel arrangements to you. Independent Suppliers over whom we have no direct control include but are not limited to airlines, railway and cruise operators, hoteliers, independent transport companies (i.e., vehicles not operated by us) and common carriers.
We act as an intermediary only and you will be subject to the terms and conditions of the Independent Supplier. Any disputes between you and the Independent Supplier are to be resolved between you and them.
To the fullest extent permitted by law, we will not be responsible to you for any loss, damage, personal injury or delay attributable to the actions or omissions of an Independent Supplier.
Services we directly supply
To the extent only that we are the principal supplier to you of travel arrangements or other services which we control, then we will provide those travel arrangements and services with reasonable skill and care.
We will only be responsible for our employees in the course of their employment, and for our agents and suppliers (where we are not the supplier’s agent or an intermediary for an Independent Supplier) if they were carrying out the work we had asked them to do.
We will not be responsible for any loss, damage, claim or expense caused by the acts or omissions of yourself, of any other third party not connected with the provision of the travel arrangements or services, or due to an event of Force Majeure.
While we endeavour to meet scheduled arrival and departure times, we cannot guarantee this. We will not be responsible for any loss or additional expenses you incur for any missed connections/services attributable to delays.
General liability limitation
You acknowledge that travel arrangements or services which comply with local laws and regulations will be deemed to have been properly performed, even if this would not be considered the case in Australia.
Australian Consumer Law and corresponding legislation in State jurisdictions in certain circumstances imply mandatory conditions and warranties into consumer contracts (“Consumer Warranties”). These Booking Conditions do not exclude or limit the application of the Consumer Warranties. Other than the Consumer Warranties, we disclaim all warranties.
To the fullest extent permitted by law, our maximum liability to you under these Booking Conditions, in tort (including negligence) or at law is limited to arranging for the travel arrangements to be resupplied or payment of the cost of having the travel arrangements resupplied.
In the event of a problem with any aspect of your travel arrangements you must tell us or make our representative or our local supplier aware of such problems immediately.
We will only consider and be responsible for claims made against us where we or our suppliers have had the opportunity to put things right on the ground. If you notify us of a problem during travel and we haven’t resolved it to your satisfaction, then you must make any claim in writing within 30 days from the end of your travel arrangements.
If you place a booking on behalf of another party, you represent and warrant us that you are duly authorised to provide the agreement and consent of the other party to be bound by these Booking Conditions. You agree that you will be responsible for any loss or damage we incur if this is not the case.
The contract between Southern Cross Safaris Australia Pty Ltd trading as Bench Africa and you is governed by the laws of the State of New South Wales. Any disputes shall be dealt with by a court with the appropriate jurisdiction in the State of New South Wales.
If any provision of these Booking Conditions is found to be unenforceable, then to the extent possible it will be severed without affecting the remaining provisions.
Updated: September 9th, 2020