Policy, Pertinent and Important Info on Tours etc.
All Tours and Packages require a 50% deposit by check of the total amount. We will accept a credit card for deposit if there is not enough time to get a check to us (6 days or less before reservation date). We can hold the reservation 4 weekdays by a credit card as a commitment deposit for the dates reserved until we receive your deposit check by mail after which we send you a confirmation package by e-mail.
Deposit refunds are available but only with a minimum of a two or more week advance notice less a $25 cancellation fee, exceptions to this include Holidays, Event times, Weekends, Spring = February 15th – May 31st, Fall = October 1st – November 30th Summertime (no refund possible.) = June 1st – September 15th. A shorter notice or a cancellation during the exception times mean that the best we might be able to do is a 50% deposit refund but only if we are able to fill in the tour time-slot and only on a case by case basis. Expect to lose your deposit with a short notice or exception time cancellation. We always seem to lose money when we have cancellations that means you would also, so please be sure of your dates. The more time we have, the better we might be able to deal with you on this matter.
All boating activities but especially coastal boating are subject to extreme weather, tidal and water conditions which can become unsafe. We reserve the right to substitute different tour venues (of the swamp or the river) and if needed change departure times or event dates if conditions are not acceptable to our standards of safety and common sense concerns. Sometimes we might not know this until very near the time.
Timing & organization are very important to us so we may deliver a high quality of service. We maintain a tight schedule and we need you to respect departure times. Please be punctual, otherwise it will shorten your time on the water or it adds extra charges to an unguided trip.
A cancellation because of weather is our call. You should be prepared and ready to go rain or shine. A cancellation because of events beyond our control, such as a Govt. shutdown of the Refuge by Fire, Hurricane, Politics or Hydrological extremes, etc. is considered an act of nature cancellation. Under those rare extreme circumstances the whole amount will be refunded less a $10 cancellation fee, except in some cases for Package Tours involving lodging.
With Package Tours, only a part of the package that is affected (like a tour of the river during extreme flood conditions) would cause the venue to be substituted or may be refund adjusted according to the normal non-discounted rate for a part of the package that was used less a $10 refund fee. It would be subject to our assessment and discretion.
In other words, if there is a cancellation refund of any part of a package expect to lose the discounted amount for the remainder of that package.
Specific to Paddle Tours Info, please read:
All paddle tours except our “Beginning Kayaking Instruction on St. Marys River” expect all participants to have competent paddling knowledge and experience. This is especially applied to the tours that state not for inexperienced paddlers and all swamp paddle tours during mid March through October (peak dangerous aquatic reptile activity months). The paddle tour or package could be seriously cut short or cancelled entirely without refund if any paddle participant has not been truthful with us of their paddling experience or expertise. Please communicate with us fully and truthfully, so that we can attempt to accurately access all participants experience and skill levels before we get on the water.
Okefenokee Pastimes paddle tours are geared to adults. Families with mature acting young adults 14 and older are permitted to paddle in a boat by themselves but only when accompanied on tour by parent or guardian. Young children are discouraged unless they are well behaved, disciplined, having patience, stamina and the ability to ride up to 4 hours safely in a boat paddled by an experienced parent. We will in certain circumstances shorten a tour length but we cannot shorten a price.
Paddlers participating in our paddle tours need to understand, they will be expected to paddle at our pace if they wish to be guided and receive an interpretive discourse or to make photographs along the way. Booming voices out in the swamp are not conducive to a quality wilderness experience in our opinion. Only in emergency or when absolutely necessary will we raise our voice for those farther away. Participant paddlers will need to stay close if they wish to hear what is said and understand this can be almost impossible sometimes in single file situations. Handling a camera and paddling miles through Okefenokee swamp simultaneously is a difficult skill. We expect you to possess that skill set if you bring a camera and anticipate taking lots of photos. Otherwise you might consider one of our quiet electric motor boat tours instead.
Because of time and schedule restrictions it is very important to make a reservation for a time slot and put down a deposit.
Deposits and Payment:
We always prefer to receive cash or a personal check for payment unless it’s a hardship. We can always take Visa and Master Card but banks take a ridiculous percentage of the credit card charges and we hate to have to pay them. It does not cost you a penny more to pay us cash or check and it allows us to keep more of what should be our money rather than the bank taking it.
Contact: Phone us to set up a reservation (912) 496-4472 during our regular office hours of 2PM to 6PM Tuesday through Saturday unless seasonally noted. Please E-mail us swampers(AT)okefenokee.com (Replace AT with @)or from our contact page.
Guide Bio/Background - Steve and Jo Knight are the co-owners of Okefenokee Pastimes. They are both five or more generational natives from this region of the deep South, a Georgian and a Floridian. Together they have been paddling and boating too many years to want to list and have been enjoying poking around the rivers, the swamps and the tidal marshes of North Florida and Georgia since the 1960’s. They are very knowledgeable of their guided areas and are adept at making Kayaking, Canoeing and Motor boating safe, fun and thoroughly enjoyable for everyone who participates.
In My Own Words - “My idea of guiding is doing just that, showing you around this natural wonder in a safe, quiet, fun loving almost spiritual way that enhances the experience of being. Of course there will be questions and I will try to answer all that I can without degrading the experience. A large part of the reason for going into a wilderness should be a desire to perceive and embrace the environment with a minimum of non wilderness distractions.”
Little known facts about Okefenokee Pastimes Inc.
Okefenokee Pastimes was the first and one of the only businesses in this area to put itself fully in opposition to DuPont’s mining proposal. DuPont (the giant chemical corporation) insisted on a 40+ year mammoth strip mining project, stretching approximately 40 miles from top to bottom and over one mile wide. This Titanic earth moving project was set to begin operations in 1997 along the eastern edge of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Unfortunately, the mine would threaten the future health and well being of the Okefenokee Swamp. In 1996-2000 we were front and center in protests, strategies, hands-on organizing, activism, public education campaigns and negotiations aimed at attempting to halt the proposed mining operation. We took our assertion against the mining even before the Government and numerous other organizations had taken a firm public stance against the project. We believe that our hard work had more than just a little bit to do with DuPont abandoning the project in 2000 and recently announcing the retirement of their mineral rights forever. Way to go Dupont!
Okefenokee Pastimes is the oldest operating guide service (Eco-Tourism) business located by the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge’s East Entrance – the Charlton county & Folkston areas, including the government’s contracted concessionaire (Okefenokee Adventures). Over the years we have taken many nice people from all around the World and every part of North America out into the Great Swamp, stressing Quality over Quantity.
Okefenokee Pastimes is the birthplace of the Georgia Nature Based Tourism Association. The idea was hatched here and then brought to fruition from bull sessions, discussions and meetings that took place in our living room in the late 1990′s.
Okefenokee Pastimes is a designated guide service operating in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, registered and in compliance with all requirements put forth by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service operating under jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior of the United States of America. We not only meet the standards of the government but hold ourselves to an even higher standard of ethics encompassing ecology, safety, and all around personal and environmental interactions.
Steve is a guide and co-owner of Okefenokee Pastimes, possessing a commercial Captain’s license able to operate a passenger vessel up to 100 miles offshore and on all inland and inshore navigable waterways. He is, to our knowledge, the only guide operating power boats at the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge who has ever possessed a valid Coast Guard Captain License.
For more info on our business you can e-mail or call (912) 496-4472 between 2pm & 6pm E.S.T. (closed on Sunday & Mondays)