Please read on for our various company policies, including:
Payment / Reservation Policy
Clear Skies & Clouds
Use of Company Assets
Safe Learning Environment
Participant Code of Conduct
Committment to Reducing Light Pollution
Changes to Terms & Policies
Health & Safety Policy
The Health & Safety Plan that we developed at the beginning of the COVID-19/Coronavirus Pandemic has continued to evolve. At this time, we continue to rigorously clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces, including, but not limited to, the Dark Sky Tour Bus, headlamps, hiking poles, snowshoes, stargazing chairs, and the Waterton Planetarium. We continue to offer hand sanitizer onboard the Dark Sky Tour Bus, and in the Waterton Planetarium. We support those who wish to try and maintain 2-meter physical distancing between others while on our experiences, but we cannot guarantee such distancing at all times (unless you book a Private/Custom Tour). We also support those choosing to wear a mask (while onboard the Dark Sky Tour Bus, out on a tour, or in the Waterton Planetarium). We respect, and encourage you to behave in a manner that makes you feel safe and comfortable, so long as that behavior does not negatively impact others.
Payment and Reservation Policy
Full and complete payment is required at the time of booking, to secure a stargazing tour. The fastest way to secure a booking reservation is via online payment. Acceptable forms of payment include VISA, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. Google Pay and Apple Pay are also accepted. Please Note: since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and continuing forward, we will not actually charge your card until your tour departs.
Additionally, if you have a company credit, or a gift certificate, this may also be used as acceptable payment. These forms of payment can be applied during online reservation check-out. Alternatively, you can contact us via email with details of your credit or gift certificate.
Tour prices as advertised online do NOT include GST (unless explicitly stated).
Once you have submitted your credit card information, you will receive a confirmation email describing the tour you are reserved for. Please review our Cancellation Policy (directly below this), so that your expectations concerning refunds, cancellations and changes to tour times are consistent with Dark Sky Guide policies.
Please meet at your desired reservation pick-up location 10 minutes prior to departure, so that we are not delayed in picking up other participants after you. We thank you for your cooperation.
Dark Sky Guides is committed to providing all of our tour participants with an exceptional tour accompanied by exceptional service. When a tour participant wishes to cancel or reschedule their tour without giving enough notice, they prevent other potential participants from enjoying the tour.
In light of the COVID-19 Pandemic, our tour prices and gift certificates are now refundable.
As the health and safety of our guides and our guests is of the utmost importance, we understand that unexpected health concerns can arise suddenly. As such, cancellation requests will be accepted up to 12 hours prior to your scheduled tour. For all cancellation requests, we can issue a full company credit for the value of the original purchase (if your card has already been charged). Otherwise, we will simply cancel your reservation and NOT charge your card. This credit can be used on any future tour (subject to availability) at any point in the future.
Another option that you have is to reschedule your tour. This can be accomplished by clicking the appropriate link found at the bottom of the confirmation email you received immediately after purchasing your tour. You can reschedule your tour (subject to availability) any time, for any reason, up to 12 hours in advance. Note: that the sooner you reschedule, the more likely it will be that your second choice tour will be available.
In the event that you need to cancel your tour, a company credit can be issued to the primary booking contact (the person who made the original reservation). A full company credit will be issued for the total value of the original purchase, and can only be redeemed towards a future stargazing tour offered by Dark Sky Guides Ltd. If a credit card refund is requested, payment may be refunded, subject to a 10% administrative fee.
Dark Sky Guides Ltd reserves the right to refuse service and refuse issuing a company credit at any time, for reasons including, but not limited to:
• Inappropriate personal conduct or verbal or written abuse directed towards our guides, booking agents, or other tour participants.
• Cancellation requests made less than 12 hours prior to tour departure.
• Reschedule requests made less than 12 hours prior to tour departure.
• “No Shows” (a failure by the purchaser or tour participants to show up on time for their tour).
Clear Skies & Clouds Policy
Dark Sky Guides Ltd. is prepared to go stargazing in all weather conditions. Our guides are excited to provide you with a memorable tour, regardless of whether the skies are clear or cloudy. If the weather looks inclement, we will still take a tour, because here in the mountains, the weather can change very quickly. A completely overcast sky can potentially clear in minutes.
We understand that it can be hard to go stargazing when you can’t see through the rain, snow and clouds. As such, if the weather doesn’t cooperate, our guides are authorized to make a last-minute decision to adjust the tour itinerary/route. This may involve traveling to a different location closer to the northern edge of Waterton Park (where the clouds tend to disperse).
If you do not want to go stargazing in predicted less-than-ideal weather, it is your responsibility to cancel or reschedule your tour, prior to the stated cancellation and/or reschedule cut-off times, as described in our Cancellation Policy (above). Failure to cancel or reschedule in advance may result in your tour payment being forfeit.
Extreme Situations Policy
As with any activity dependant on the natural environment, there is always a rare possibility that a tour may be impacted to the point that the tour would have to be cancelled prior to departure, or that a tour may have to be cut short, so as to ensure the safety of all participants. Such unlikely events may include, but are not limited to forest fires, flooding, and other acts of nature. In the case of such extreme or extenuating circumstances, our guides have full authority to cancel a tour.
If Dark Sky Guides Ltd. is forced to cancel your tour prior to departure, due to extenuating circumstances, you will be given the option of either 1) rescheduling your tour at no charge (subject to future tour availability), or 2) receiving a full company credit for the original amount paid, with no expiry date, or 3) receiving a refund on your credit card (less the 10% administrative fee).
Use of Company Assets Policy
Throughout the course of your stargazing tour, you will have access to a number of different pieces of equipment (“assets”) that are owned by Dark Sky Guides Ltd., including, but not limited to telescopes, binoculars, mobile tablets, headlamps, hiking poles, and stargazing recliner chairs. We endeavor to provide you with access to these assets, to further enhance your stargazing experience with us. Our guides do their best to maintain these assets to the highest standard and ensure all equipment is in working order, prior to each tour. If for some reason an asset does not meet your expectations, we apologize in advance and request that you inform us immediately. We do not assume responsibility for the misuse or abuse of our assets, nor for an asset’s unexpected failure during a tour.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, seating aboard the tour bus will be designated by the tour guide at the start of the tour. Please respect the guide's seating directions, as they are made to ensure the best physical distancing possible. Also, please return to the same seat (no seat changes) throughout the entire tour. If you have a request based on special needs, please speak with the driver upon boarding the tour bus and we will do our best to accommodate you. Personal belongings can be left aboard the tour bus, but are left solely at your discretion. Dark Sky Guides Ltd. is not responsible for the damage, or loss of personal belongings that are left unattended.
The Dark Sky Guides are all dog owners, and as such strive to accommodate peoples' four-legged family members. We do permit pets on the Starry Skies Townsite Stroll Tour, as we are just walking around the Waterton townsite. We also allow pets on the Night Sky Telescope Tour. However, we cannot guarantee that your pets will be permitted on the Dark Sky Tour Bus (depending on available space and the number of participants on the tour), unless you book a Custom/Private Tour. If you are just booking the regular (non-private) tour, and you want to bring your pet, you may have to drive yourself.
Pets are NOT permitted on the Dark Sky Adventure Tour. This is to ensure the ecological integrity of the areas that we will be visiting, and to reduce the chance of wildlife encounters.
Safe Learning Environment Policy
Part of Dark Sky Guides’ mission statement pertains to education, and as such, our guides are committed to ensuring a safe learning environment for all participants regardless of their age. In particular, our guides do their best to facilitate a safe environment for children (specifically those aged 12 and under). Tour participants are requested to be mindful of their children and our guides ask that all children remain with their parent, legal guardian or assigned caregiver throughout the tour.
If a child is found unattended at any time during or at the conclusion of a tour, our guides will first attempt to locate the parent, guardian or caregiver. If such a person cannot be found by the end of the tour, attempt will be made to contact the person who made the reservation. If this course of action does not result in success, our guides will contact the local RCMP (police) to assist.
Participant Code of Conduct Policy
In order to be respectful of all tour participants, smoking is not permitted at any point while on a stargazing tour, especially while aboard the tour bus. To mitigate the risk of potential forest fires, as well as to ensure a garbage-free natural environment, smoking is also not permitted while stargazing or walking.
Furthermore, for the safety of each tour participant, the use of drugs and alcohol is not permitted at any point during a stargazing tour. If a participant is blatantly exhibiting the effects of drug or alcohol use at the start of a tour, that participant may be refused access to the tour, and will not be compensated or refunded. If a participant is found to be using drugs or consuming alcohol while on the tour, that participant may be requested to leave the tour at any moment, when safe to do so, without compensation or refund.
While on tour, participants are expected to behave in a way that is mature, responsible, and respectful of our guides, company assets, other participants, their belongings, and the natural environment. Deliberate damage to company assets will not be tolerated and participants found to have purposefully damaged an asset may be required to purchase that asset at the “end of season sale price”, as determined by Dark Sky Guides Ltd. Physical, verbal, psychological, sexual or other abuse by a tour participant towards one of our guides, towards another tour participant, or towards the natural environment will not be tolerated. Participants that are deemed to have misbehaved in a way that is detrimental to other tour participants or the natural environment may be requested to leave the tour without notice, when safe to do so. Any abusive behavior may be reported to third party authorities by our guides, at their discretion.
"Leave - No - Trace" Policy
Our guides embody the “Leave-No-Trace” ethos, no matter where they are in Waterton Lakes National Park or the World. And we encourage all tour participants to learn what it means to “Leave-No-Trace” and practice this sustainable behavior regardless of where their activities take them in the natural world. Dark Sky Guides Ltd. is committed to limiting unnatural impact on the local environment. It is for this reason that we generally try to keep our tours on already developed hiking trails, so as to limit the trampling effect of walking on native vegetation and soil. We encourage participants to be mindful of their belongings and personal effects (including snacks, garbage and other disposables and recyclables). We encourage a “pack-it-in, pack-it-out” mentality. In other words, every single item that you take into the backcountry with you also comes back out with you. This includes items like snack wrappers and toilet paper.
Another way to consider this is to “Take only Pictures; Leave only Footprints”. Our guides discourage participants from taking home any natural souvenirs (e.g. rocks, flowers, sticks). Removing such items degrades the natural environment and prevents future travelers and tour participants from enjoying the aesthetic beauty of the local area. Such behavior could also result in monetary fines from Parks Canada officials.
Dark Sky Guides Ltd. is committed to ensuring wildlife welfare. Our guides do not condone wildlife entertainment in terms of attempted and/or actual physical contact with wildlife. Our guides will provide a wildlife safety talk at the start of the tour, to educate participants on expected behavior during a potential wildlife encounter. While we understand participants’ desire to experience wildlife while visiting Waterton Lakes National Park, we believe the best way to experience wildlife is from a safe distance. It is unlawful to tempt or physically feed wildlife in a National Park and doing so can ultimately cause animals to suffer later in life. Attempting to take a selfie with wildlife is dangerous for both people and animals, and should be avoided at all times. Dark Sky Guides Ltd. is committed to educating participants about the harmful effects associated with feeding, touching and otherwise intimately interacting with wildlife. We encourage behavior towards wildlife which does not unduly disturb, harass, or cause undue stress on the animals.
As such, when our tours are underway, our guides will occasionally announce the group’s presence to potential neighboring wildlife using the human voice. This is to let wildlife know the group is in the area, which ultimately provides animals with advance notice/warning of the group approaching. This allows the wildlife ample opportunity to lay quietly, or remove themselves from the area and avoid any close-quarters interaction with people.
Furthermore, we encourage all participants to use the red-light feature on the company-provided headlamps. Red lights are not nearly as bright and do not harm or negatively impact wildlife, the same way that white light can. Bright white lights can temporarily impair wildlife vision after dark, which can potentially result in disorientation and even physical harm from collision with their surrounding environment. Light pollution can also negatively influence wildlife’s internal rhythm and body processes.
Commitment to Reducing Light Pollution Policy
Waterton Lakes National Park has been named a Dark Sky Park, because of the lack of light pollution found in the area, but that doesn’t mean there’s not room to continue to reduce light pollution. Dark Sky Guides Ltd. is committed to reducing light pollution footprint, as it currently explores alternative lighting options for its Company Headquarters.
The Company is also attempting to educate the local community about light pollution and encourage other businesses and local residents to switch their external light fixtures to newer lighting methods that serve to reduce unnecessary extra light pollution. Dark Sky Guides Ltd. is committed to assisting Parks Canada in moving towards better lighting solutions, both inside and outside the National Park.
Commitment to Reducing Single-Use Plastics Policy
In order to begin addressing the growing concern about single-use plastics in Waterton Lakes National Park and across planet Earth, Dark Sky Guides is committed to reducing single-use plastics in all company operations. Dark Sky Guides has taken it upon itself to accept the self-imposed challenge of eliminating single-use plastics from all operations in an attempt to become a role model for other organizations around the globe.
Aside from the obvious, environmental benefits to the local community and greater environment, the company recognizes that it must live up to its responsibility to act as a steward of Waterton Lakes National Park and the World by demonstrating to the public best practices with regards to eliminating single-use plastics. Furthermore, Dark Sky Guides hopes that it can serve as inspiration to others in the local community to eliminate their own use of single-use plastics.
Currently, Dark Sky Guides does not utilize single-use plastics such as plastic shopping bags; instead, customers are encouraged to take any purchased merchandise and put it in a personal handbag, purse, backpack, or to simply carry away in hand. The company avoids plastic disposable drinking cups when serving hot chocolate on tours (and tries to avoid the use of plastic straws and stir-sticks). The company does not regularly serve foodstuffs, so single-use plastic cutlery and plates are not purchased nor used. Dark Sky Guides has made a conscious decision to not offer plastic bottle beverages for sale / retail consumption; instead, the company is currently researching options to offer stainless steel reusable water bottles for purchase and a water bottle fill station at its company headquarters.
What little trash that is generated from company operations (primarily trash from tour participants bringing snacks/drinks with them on the tour) is collected by Dark Sky Guides and sorted appropriately and disposed of in the proper receptacles. Dark Sky Guides endeavors to educate tour participants about the need for everyone to reduce their use and consumption of single-use plastics and do their part to help the planet.
The company also encourages employees to use reusable (stainless steel or equivalent) water bottles and reusable lunch containers, and to shop for consumer items (groceries, household products, etc.) that use as little plastic packaging as possible.
Participant Waiver Policy
All tour participants are required to have read, understood and signed our waiver form, prior to the departure of the tour. All individuals not of majority in the Province of Alberta (that is, under the age of 18) must have their waiver explained to them and signed by a parent or legal guardian prior to participating in any stargazing tour or activity. The waiver used by Dark Sky Guides Ltd. can be viewed in advance of the tour; participants are encouraged to click here to view the waiver found on our website.
When you complete your booking reservation you will be asked to complete the digital waiver. If you don't have time to complete the waiver when you book your experience, look for the link in the follow-up confirmation email. All participants must have read, signed and submitted a waiver prior to the start of the tour. We thank you in advance for completing one (1) waiver per person, prior to meeting your guide at the start of the tour, so we can make the most of our tour time together!
Changes to Company Operations, Terms & Policies
Dark Sky Guides Ltd. and its guides reserve the right to refuse service, adjust or otherwise change tour itineraries, delay or reschedule or cancel tours, alter tour prices, amend operational schedules, and make changes to our cancellation policy, at our discretion, and at any time.
Dark Sky Guides Ltd. reserve the right, at any time, to modify, alter or update any or all other Company Terms and Policy, without prior notice. You are encouraged to check this page regularly for any changes to terms or policy. Modifications will become effective immediately upon being posted on our Sites, without further notice to you. Your continued use of any of our sites or services after such modifications are posted constitutes an acknowledgement and acceptance of such terms, whether modified or not. These terms and policies can only be amended by Dark Sky Guides Ltd.