The PhotoPills Expedition to the Canadian Rockies is Sold Out (Join the Waiting List)

By Rafael Pons

The PhotoPills Expedition to the Canadian Rockies is SOLD OUT!


All 10 spots are already gone!

Thanks so much :D

Wish to join us?

Don't give up!

Click here to join the Waiting List.

Be the first one to know when a cancellation occurs.

PhotoPillers in the Canadian Rockies...

Are you in?

Around the Crescent Moon...

From February 23rd to March 1st 2023, Rachel Jones Ross (PhotoPills Masters), Antoni Cladera (PhotoPills Master) and Rafael Pons (the bard, PhotoPills Team) will be traveling across the Canadian Rockies to photograph the Aurora Borealis, the Milky Way and the Winter Golden Light along with frozen landscapes, turquoise lakes and majestic mountains...

Right when the Sun is entering the period of solar maximum, which means we will be more likely to see and photograph the dancing green lights of the Aurora!

Of course...

We’ll be taking photos all day long... and all night long!


Can you imagine it?

To photograph the Aurora Borealis, the Milky Way and the beautiful Winter Golden Light with blooming frost flowers, frozen turquoise lakes, methane bubbles trapped in ice, rushing rivers, deep forests, glaciers and snow-capped mountains.

We’re dreaming about it!

To achieve it, we’ll use the planning power of PhotoPills and the expert knowledge of Rachel Jones Ross and Antoni Cladera to always be at the right place at the right time.

Top secret: we have quite a few legendary photos planned already ;)

The Deal (only 10 spots)

Since you subscribed to the Priority Access list...

We're offering you a $500 discount on the regular price!

All you have to do is to book 1 of the 10 spots available before Sunday October 9th.

Read carefully all the details of this unique adventure.

And when you’re ready, click here to book your spot.

Please, book as soon as possible. The seats are sold on a first come, first served basis.

The Adventure

10 PhotoPillers | 3 PhotoPills Masters | Canadian Rockies | Endless legendary photos

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Warning! This is not a honeymoon...

But it’s not a hiking adventure either... All shooting spots are at a short walking distance from the car.

We’re recruiting 10 brave PhotoPillers (PhotoPills and photography nerds) to join us on an 7-day expedition to photograph the Aurora Borealis, the Milky Way and the Winter Golden Light along with some of the gems hidden in the majestic Canadian Rockies.

It’s winter and it’s going to be cold!

The average temperature is between 0ºC (32ºF) and -12ºC (10.4ºF). The lakes are frozen, and the snowpack is deep.

Frost flowers “bloom” along open bodies of water, and mounds of pillowy snow simplify the landscape. Snow and ice are the perfect companions for Aurora as they reflect the dancing green lights.

This expedition is a non-stop adventure to chase legendary photos and you are a key asset!

We have planned tons of photos, and we’ll travel many kilometers to capture them...

But we also want to maximize our flexibility in terms of itinerary and schedule in order to take advantage of all the opportunities that the changing weather will surely put in our way.

If we see something interesting happening in the sky, we’ll pick the best location possible, stop and take advantage of the occasion.

When we are hungry, we’ll stop and eat. When we are tired, we’ll stop and rest...

You’ll be a true photographer!

You are about to embark on a PhotoPills’ style journey. And it’s not going to be a honeymoon precisely... :P

But it's going to be so much fun!

Are you in?

Bonus: Online Aurora Photography Live Course

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We want you to feel confident in your night shooting skills before you arrive on location. So we will schedule with the group two online classes in advance of the expedition with Rachel to cover the basics for capturing the Northern Lights and the Milky Way.

Rachel will cover some field techniques and show you how she blends images for the best image quality.

Day 1. Thursday, February 23rd - Welcome to the Canadian Rockies

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It’s Thursday morning...

And you land in an early flight at the YYC Calgary International Airport in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Although I suggest arriving the day before and staying at a hotel near the airport to have time to rest a bit before the action begins. I recommend the Wyndham Garden Calgary Airport Hotel.

9:00 am

After picking you up at the airport (or from a hotel nearby the airport) we’ll do a quick stop for groceries and snacks. And we’ll continue our journey towards the Rockies.

Due to its wonderful pristine nature, the Canadian Rockies have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage-list. The magnificent mountains stretch for about 180,000 km2 (69,500 mi2) through Alberta and British Columbia.

And in the heart of the Rockies, we find the Emerald Lake and the iconic Emerald Lake Lodge, where we’ll set our base camp for the whole expedition.

The lodge is an ideal location as it has a beautiful north facing view, perfect for shooting the Northern Lights.

11:30 am

On our way, we’ll stop for lunch at the Juniper Bistro. The view from up there will lift our spirits. This place inspires delicious dishes, always made from scratch. Proudly independent, they support local suppliers who share our care for the planet.

What about having the huevos rancheros or the salmon benny? Delicious!

2:30 pm

We arrive at Emerald Lake, one of the most stunning lakes in the Canadian Rockies.

Located in Yoho National Park, Emerald Lake is known for its blue and turquoise waters, surrounding pine forest and snowy peaks.

There we’ll find Michael Peak (2,701m or 8,862ft), Walcott Peak (2,575m or 8,448ft) and President Peak (3,123m or 10,246ft).

Checking-in at the Emerald Lake Lodge and siesta (nap time)!

3:30 pm

Time to begin the expedition briefing.

We’ll show you some photos and PhotoPills plans of the Sunset and Aurora spot from where we’ll be photographing today at Emerald Lake.

Also, there’ll be time to go over some compositional tips, the gear you need and the shooting techniques we’ll be using.

It’ll be a great opportunity to refresh what you learnt in the Online Aurora Photography Course with Rachel before the expedition.

5:00 pm

It’s a 10min walk to the Sunset spot in Emerald Lake. Here we enjoy a beautiful view of the frozen landscapes: the water, the trees, the peaks.

It’s time to scout the area and fine tune your compositions. And to practice the focus stacking techniques you’ve learned with Rachel.

Look! As the Sun goes down the golden light begins to fall on Michael Peak.

The spot is perfect to use both a wide angle lens and a telephoto lens if you wish to capture some parts of the landscape.

Open PhotoPills and check this out:

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We’ll learn how to make the most of PhotoPills while in the field.

Golden hour begins at 5:29 pm, Sunset is at 6:15 pm, golden hour ends at 6:36 pm, and blue hour ends at 6:50 pm.

7:00 pm

After the blue hour, when the light begins to fade away, we’ll pack up and go back to the lodge, where a delicious dinner awaits.

8:30 pm

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The astronomical twilight ends at 8:07 pm. It’s when the nighttime begins. And if the sky is clear, we’ll be right by the lake, photographing the Aurora Borealis.

The Moon (20%) sets at 11:11 pm, so we’ll have a partial Moon to work with in the early evening, which will be bright enough to illuminate the landscape, allowing us to capture all of the beautiful details of the scene while shooting the Aurora.

10:00 pm

As soon as we’re happy with our shots, we’ll go to bed. Because tomorrow we’ll get up very early to photograph the Milky Way.

Photographic pills:

  • Sunset at Emerald Lake.
  • Aurora Borealis under a Moonlit landscape at Emerald Lake.
  • Practicing Focus Stacking technique.

Day 2. Friday, February 24th - The Milky Way and the Red Train

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2:00 am

Wake up! We’re going to photograph the Milky Way core rising next to Mountain Peak in Bow Lake.

4:00 am

Bow Lake is located on the Icefields Parkway, about 1h and 30min away from our lodge.

The impressive rock wall of Crowfoot Mountain (3,055 m or 10,023 ft), the glacier, and the infinite Wapta Icefield provide us with a unique photo opportunity.

And, on top of that, let’s add some frost flowers in the foreground and the Core of the Milky Way rising next to Crowfoot mountain in the background. Cherry on the cake!

The Moon is below the horizon. The Galactic Center visibility begins at 5:08 am. Nighttime ends at 5:50 am. It’s when we enter the astronomical twilight. A period of time when, despite the sky not being completely dark, the Milky Way is still visible.

7:00 am

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As the blue hour begins, the scene changes completely. The sky is filled up with beautiful cold colors. Later, as the Sun rises, the blues give way to the reds and oranges. The colors of the golden hour…

Colors that fall on Crowfoot Mountain, just in front of us.

Blue hour begins at 7:08 am, golden hour begins at 7:21 am, Sunrise is at 7:42 am and golden hour ends at 8:28 am.

9:00 am

On our way back to the Emerald Lodge, we’ll stop for a well deserved breakfast at the Trailhead Café in Lake Louise.

Moonrise is at 9:31 am (24%).

10:30 am

Nap time (siesta) at the lodge.

1:00 pm

Because we understand that you prefer to have more sleeping time, lunch will be on your own.

When you’re hungry, get up and go grab lunch at the lodge restaurant.

Our suggestion: rest and sleep as much as you can to be fresh and ready in the field.

3:00 pm

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We arrive at our Sunset spot.

Morant’s curve is located in Lake Louise, about 1h drive away from Emerald lodge.

What’s so unique about this curve?


The story involves a train...

Morant's Curve gets its name from Nicholas Morant, a photographer working for the Canadian Pacific Railway in the mid 20th century.

His photos helped promote the railway and the Canadian Rockies.

So, in addition to the stunning mountains and the Bow River, the Canadian Pacific Railway train wraps itself through the beautiful scenery.

And this is what we want, to photograph the Red Engine train slowly traveling along the valley, next to the Bow River and among the mountains: Mount Temple (3,544m or 11,627ft), Mount Aberdeen (3,152m or 10,341ft), Popes Peak (3,163m or 10,377ft), and Waputik Peak (2,755m or 9,039ft)...

Golden hour begins at 5:30 pm, Sunset is at 6:15 pm, golden hour ends at 6:36 pm, and blue hour ends at 6:49 pm.

7:30 pm

Dinner at the Truffle Pig Bistro.

10:00 pm

Today we’re planning to go to bed early because the idea is to photograph the Milky Way again early tomorrow morning.

But, if the skies are clear and there is a chance to photograph the Aurora, we’ll shoot from Sunset to Sunrise and sleep during the day!

Photographic pills:

  • The Milky Way Core rising next to Crowfoot Mountain at Bow Lake.
  • Frost flowers and the Crowfoot Mountain at Sunrise.
  • The Red Engine train at Morant’s Curve at Sunset.
  • Aurora Borealis under Moonlit landscapes if the sky is clear.

Day 3. Saturday, February 25th - Frost Flowers

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1:00 am

Wake up! And get ready to photograph the Milky Way, we’re going to Tangle Ridge.

4:00 am

Tangle Ridge is an impressive 3,000m (9,800 ft) mountain summit located in Jasper National Park. Due to its pointy shape, it forms a beautiful triangle under the stars.

The Milky Way Core is slowly rising behind the peak, forming a beautiful diagonal of stars. We’ll shoot the Milky Way until dawn.

The Moon is below the horizon. The Galactic Center visibility begins at 5:13 am. Nighttime ends at 5:51 am. But we’ll keep shooting the Milky Way until not a single star is visible.

7:00 am

The Sun is rising on the left side of Tangle Ridge, hidden by the Rocky Mountains. It’s impossible to see it.

But what we do see is the golden light hitting the top of the ridge!

Blue hour begins at 7:10 am, golden hour begins at 7:23 am, Sunrise is at 7:44 am and golden hour ends at 8:31 am.

9:00 am

On our way back to the Emerald Lodge, we’ll stop for a well deserved breakfast at the Trailhead Café in Lake Louise.

Moonrise is at 9:48 am (33%).

10:30 am

Nap time (siesta) at the lodge.

1:00 pm

Lunch on your own.

5:30 pm

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After a relaxing sleep, and a 1h and 45min drive, we arrive at Vermilion Lakes, our Sunset destination in Bow Valley.

Here the view of Mount Rundle (2,948m or 9,672ft) and Sulphur Mountain (2,451m, 8,041ft) is spectacular.

We’re shooting towards the south. The Sun is setting in the west casting the afternoon golden light on Mount Rundle’s characteristic shape. In my opinion, the rock formation resembles the back of a dragon… What do you think?

We’ll shoot here until the end of blue hour.

Golden hour begins at 5:34 pm, Sunset is at 6:19 pm, golden hour ends at 6:40 pm, and blue hour ends at 6:56 pm.

8:30 pm

Dinner at the Emerald Lodge.

10:00 pm

Nighttime begins at 8:10 pm, so, if the skies are clear and the Aurora is dancing, we’ll get to the shore of Emerald Lake and photograph the show until midnight.

The Moon will be out, helping us capture detail in the foreground too.

And if there is no Aurora, then we have the thin part of the Milky Way arching above the mountain peaks in the west.

12:00 am

Bed time.

Photographic pills:

  • Frost Flowers and the Milky Way Core rising behind Tangle Ridge.
  • Golden light on Tangle Ridge at Sunrise.
  • Vermilion Lakes and Mount Rundle at Sunset.
  • Aurora Borealis (or thin Milky Way) at Emerald Lake under Moonlight.

Day 4. Sunday, February 26th - The Secret

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I’ve been giving you lots of details of this amazing expedition to the Canadian Rockies.

Maybe far too many...

But on February 26th we’ll do something very special…

What will that be?

Well, you'll have to be there, with us, to figure it out :P

Day 5. Monday, February 27th - The Lake and the Castle

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2:00 am

Wake up! Milky Way time!

4:00 am

Today we’ll photograph the Milky Way in Lake Minnewanka, located in Banff.

Lake Minnewanka is a super large glacial lake. It’s 21 km (13 mi) long and 142 m (466 ft) deep.

The lake is surrounded by a stunning mountain range. Among the peaks, we find Mount Inglismaldie (2,964m or 9,724 ft) and Mount Girouard (2,995m or 9,826 ft).

We’re staying on the other side of the lake, where the view of the mounts is spectacular. It’s time to use the PhotoPills Night Augmented Reality view to plan our Milky Way shot.

The Milky Way is slowly rising. As planned, the Milky Way Core appears on the right-hand side of the mountain peaks. It’s time to press the shutter.

The Moon is below the horizon. The Galactic Center visibility begins at 4:49 am. Nighttime ends at 5:41 am. But we’ll keep photographing the Milky way during the astronomical twilight until dawn.

7:00 am

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The Sun is rising behind Mount Girouard, providing us with a back lit view of the peaks in front of us. As the Sun goes up slowly, more light hits the surrounding peaks.

Blue hour begins at 7:08 am, golden hour begins at 7:21 am, Sunrise is at 7:42 am and golden hour ends at 8:28 am.

9:00 am

On our way back to the Emerald Lodge, we’ll stop for a well deserved breakfast at the Juniper Bistro.

Moonrise is at 10:33 am (54%).

10:30 am

Nap time (siesta) at the lodge.

1:00 pm

Lunch on your own.

5:00 pm

Our next photo involves the golden light and a stunning mountain that resembles a castle. It’s called Castle Mountain (2,766m or 9,075 ft). It’s located in the Banff National Park, at about 1h 30min drive from the lodge.

The shooting spot is by the Bow River. We’re shooting, pointing to the north. So, as the Sun is setting in the west, it’s casting its light on the rocky Castle from the side, creating a show of spectacular shapes and textures.

Golden hour begins at 5:32 pm, Sunset is at 6:17 pm, golden hour ends at 6:38 pm, and blue hour ends at 6:51 pm.

7:30 pm

Today we’ll order dinner “to-go” at the Emerald Lodge. The Aurora forecast looks promising (I hope) and the clouds are disappearing. We’ll have dinner in the great outdoors. Our plan is to stay here as much time as we can photographing the green dancing shapes of the northern lights.

8:30 pm

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At 8:11 pm, the astronomical twilight ends and nighttime begins. With the absence of sunlight, the sky belongs to the Aurora Borealis – the real queen of the night.

The Moon, as always during the expedition, is out there helping us to correctly expose the foreground.

And Castle Rock is placed in the perfect spot. Can you imagine it? To photograph the auroras with such a natural castle? Can’t wait!

2:00 am

Today it’s been a very long day. It’s time to go to bed and recover some energy. Tomorrow more northern lights await!

Photographic pills:

  • The Milky Way Core rising next to Mount Inglismaldie and Mount Girouard at Minnewanka Lake.
  • Sunrise at Minnewanka lake.
  • Castle Rock at Sunset.
  • Aurora Borealis dancing over Castle Rock under Moonlight.

Day 6. Tuesday, February 28th - Frozen Bubbles

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10:00 am

After a good sleep, we’ll have a slow breakfast at the Emerald Lodge.

Moonrise is at 11:12 am (64%).

11:30 am

Editing class with Rachel. She’ll show us the exact workflow she uses to create her stunning images, including image editing, blending, focus stacking and more!

1:00 pm

We’ll take the lunch bags that the cook at the Emerald Lodge has kindly prepared for us and we’ll jump into the vehicles to go to our next Aurora Borealis destination: Abraham Lake.

4:00 pm

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In winter, a curious phenomenon occurs here in Abraham Lake: methane bubbles are trapped between the layers of ice.

The methane bubbles are produced by the bacteria eating dead organic matter at the bottom of the lake. As they float upwards towards the surface, the bubbles get trapped in the ice… Creating a unique foreground for our photos!

So the idea here is to photograph the bubbles along with the majestic Mount Michener (2,545m or 8,350 ft) at Sunset and at night, when we expect (we beg) the Aurora Borealis to appear in the sky.

Look! The Sun is already setting and the golden light is falling on Mount Michener.

Golden hour begins at 5:36 pm, Sunset is at 6:24 pm, golden hour ends at 6:44 pm, and blue hour ends at 6:57 pm.

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7:30 pm

Dinner in the field. It seems that we’re going to be lucky. A strong Aurora has been predicted and the skies are clear.

If the Aurora finally doesn’t occur, we’ll stay and photograph the thin part of the Milky Way and, why not, a cool Star Trails image.

8:30 pm

The Moon is already lighting the landscape…

One thing we love about Abraham Lake is the multiple photography options that it offers. We could spend several days just photographing the frozen lake, the trees, the mountains…

Nighttime began at 8:16 pm. We’re getting ready at our shooting spots to photograph the Aurora. We’ll spend hours photographing it, until well past midnight.

2:00 am

We’re driving back to the Emerald Lodge. It’s a 2h 30min long drive, but we’re so happy. Whether we get the Aurora, the stars or the clouds, the photos we bring home deserve being hanged from a wall!

4:30 am

Bed time! Tomorrow we’re going home.

Photographic pills:

  • Methane bubbles and Mount Michener at Sunset in Abraham Lake.
  • Aurora Borealis dancing over Abraham Lake lit by the Moon. Or maybe the stars or clouds!

Day 7. Wednesday, March 1st - The Farewell

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11:00 am

After a copious breakfast at the Emerald Lodge, we will check out and make our way back to Calgary Airport, where we expect to arrive at about 4:00 pm (after stopping for lunch, of course).

It’s time to say goodbye.

See you soon friends!

Life goes on...

Book now and save $500 (only 10 spots)

To book your spot to join the expedition to the Canadian Rockies at a reduced price of $4,900 US (the official price is $5,400), a $1,000 deposit is required by Sunday, October 9th.

Payment in full is required by Sunday November 20th, 2022.

Please, finalize your booking as soon as possible. The seats are sold on a first come, first served basis.


What’s included in the price
  • A 7-day expedition photographing the Canadian Rockies along with the Aurora Borealis, The Milky Way and the winter golden light.
  • 7 days of learning, fun and adventure with Rachel Jones Ross, Antoni Cladera, Rafael Pons and the funniest geek community – the PhotoPillers.
  • The Online Aurora Photography Live Course with Rachel Jones Ross.
  • Full immersion in the PhotoPills method (Imagine.Plan.Shoot!).
  • 6 nights of lodging, sharing a double room with another PhotoPiller (Optional $800 single room supplement upon availability).
  • All activities on the Secret day.
  • Ground transportation during the expedition.
  • All transfers.
What’s not included
  • Flights/transport to Calgary, Canada.
  • Medical and travel insurance coverage (strongly recommended).
  • Breakfast, lunch & dinner.
  • Snacks, alcohol and beverages.
  • Visa.
  • Anything not mentioned in the “included” list.

Do you want an example of how huge this will be?

This is a glimpse to what happened in the PhotoPills Expedition to Iceland. We had so many adventures and so much fun... We can’t wait for the Canadian Rockies!

But you don’t have to take our word for granted. Here’s what some PhotoPillers say about the PhotoPills adventures:

“I went to Iceland expecting to have the opportunity to photograph the marvelous landscape and master nightscapes. What I encountered was so much more – 14 kindred souls from across the globe who share a passion for photography. Together we expanded our creative boundaries, learned from one another and had an insane amount of fun in the process. I am confident that everyone came away from the experience a better photographer.”

“From the very moment the guys from PhotoPills announced the expedition to Iceland... I didn’t think it twice! I was using PhotoPills but not at its full capacity, so I had no better chance to learn from the creators of this amazing app. The experience was even more amazing than anything I could have imagined. In Iceland, I discovered a bunch of folks as crazy about photography as I am. I had a blast!

Photography is a continuous learning process, you always find something new that motivates you to improve. And this adventure made me improve more than I could imagine.”

"The PhotoPills guys know how to create a fantastic experience. They bring an infectiously fun energy and are always willing to drop some handy photography knowledge on you that you will take with you. You take their trip and you'll for sure have a good time, get some amazing pics and leave a better photographer."

“During my experience in Iceland I lived wonderful moments and had surprises that were beyond the expected. It completely exceeded my initial expectations! Sharing knowledge, experiences and ways of working and living photography with such a great group has been one of the most enriching life experiences I have ever had.

Who he said that learning and knowledge sharing can not be wonderfully fun?”

“I can't say enough about what a fantastic time I had during the PhotoPills Iceland photo tour! The guys from PhotoPills and Donal Boyd were so knowledgeable, accommodating, and especially lots of fun. Never a dull moment – nonstop action and shooting of amazing landscapes for 10 days. I came away with enough images and memories to last a lifetime!”


What’s the temperature in the Canadian Rockies in February?

February is a unique time of year in the Canadian Rockies, as the mountain region slowly begins to transition to spring. The average temperature is between 0 degrees Celsius (32ºF) and -12 degrees Celsius (10.4ºF). The lakes are frozen, and the snowpack is deep. Frost flowers “bloom” along open bodies of water, and mounds of pillowy snow simplify the landscape. Snow and ice are the perfect companions for aurora as they reflect the dancing green lights.

For more information about how to prepare for this winter expedition in the Rockies, check out Rachel’s winter gear guide.

What gear and clothes should I bring?

You’ll find all the gear and clothing you need in Rachel’s winter gear guide.

Is travel insurance included in the price of the expedition?

No. Participants are suggested to purchase national or international medical and travel insurance coverage.

Also, we recommend you to choose a travel insurance that:

  • Covers trip cancellation costs.
  • Covers Covid-19 health, travel and cancellation costs.

What is the cancellation policy?

We hope you don’t need to cancel your spot, but if a situation arises where you don’t have a choice, our cancellation policy is the following.

If you cancel and the expedition is otherwise filled, we'll refund you the full booking fee you have paid, minus a $300 administrative fee.

If you cancel and the expedition doesn’t fill, then you’ll be refunded according to the following schedule, based on the full fee of the expedition:

  • 61 days or more before the expedition: 100% refund, minus the deposit payment and the non-refundable costs that are withheld by our travel partners.
  • 60 days or less before the expedition: No refunds will be given.

Refunds will be paid using the same original method of payment.

Credits: All photographs by Rachel Jones Ross.

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