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8 Days

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One Week in Las Vegas & the American Wilderness

Pass through California, Arizona and Nevada on this sight-seeing road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Hike through the spooky but beautiful Joshua Tree National Park, stare in wonder at the Grand Canyon, take in the glitz and neon lights of Vegas and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife in Yosemite National Park. This adventure covers all the best bits of these three great states.

Why we love this trip

Why we love this trip

  • Hike through spooky yet beautiful Joshua Tree National Park. We put it down to the park's desert cactus gardens, lush oases and strange rock formations.
  • It’s big, it’s beautiful, it’s the Grand Canyon! See it up close on a hike with your leader or take an optional helicopter flight overhead.
  • Lose yourself in the neon lights of Las Vegas. Maybe have a crack at blackjack, mosey the gaudy and glitzy Strip, catch a show or just soak up the craziness that is Sin City.
  • Granite cliffs, redwood forests, star-studded night skies, Instagram-smashing waterfalls… Yosemite National Park feels like utopia.
  • Camp in the great outdoors on this epic American road trip. This is a great trip for first-time campers, as the equipment is easy to assemble and there are always leaders on hand to help out.
  • Death Valley gets a bad rap, conjuring up images of a flat and barren wasteland and, y’know, death. Be surprised by the park's ethereal landscapes of sand dunes, water-sculpted canyons, extinct volcanic craters and, in the spring, fields of wildflowers.
  • End your adventure in the eclectic, multicultural City by the Bay. See the sights (the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and Fisherman's Wharf to name a few), sample the great food scene or get amongst the museums and fantastic cultural offerings of San Francisco.

Itinerary

Itinerary

  • Day:1
    Oh hey, LA! Roll into town any time today, as there are no activities planned. Check-in time at the hotel is 3 pm, but if you arrive early you can store your luggage and hit up the town for a stroll, a taco or a green smoothie. Just make sure you’re back at the hotel for an important welcome meeting at 6 pm, where you'll meet your tour leader and fellow travellers. As this is the only day you'll spend in LA, we recommend arriving a couple of days early so you can see the sights. Perhaps go celeb-spotting on Rodeo Drive, take a hike up Runyon Canyon or book a one-day sightseeing tour with Urban Adventures.
    Nights: 1

  • Day:2
    Drive into desert country to Joshua Tree National Park, famous for its spiky trees, bizarre rock formations and a pretty good U2 album. After a wander through the park, head to Lake Havasu on the Colorado River (at the Arizona border) and set up camp for the night. We cover around 600 kilometres (372 miles) of ground today, which is broken up with short walks, photo stops and some roadside snacking opportunities. It’s a good idea to load your phone with some good podcasts and playlists to pass the time.
    Nights: 1

  • Day:3
    Today we head north (4 hours north, to be precise) to one of the world’s seven wonders: the Grand Canyon. When you think about its dimensions – 450 kilometres long, 630 kilometres wide and 1600 metres deep – it really warrants the whole ‘grand’ title. Check out its massive scale on a walk on the South Rim, or if you’re feeling more active, hike into the canyon itself to stretch your legs. Angling for a bird’s eye view? Splash out on an optional helicopter ride. Spend the night at comfortable digs near the National Park.
    Nights: 1

  • Day:4
    Today we cross Arizona's western deserts on the way to Las Vegas. We'll make a stop along the way so you can get your kicks on Route 66 before arriving in Sin City in the afternoon.
    Nights: 1

  • Day:5
    Famous for its casinos, Elvis-themed wedding chapels, and epic residencies (the Backstreet Boy, Britney Spears and Elton John have all done long-running shows here), Vegas is a mecca for all things over-the-top. For those not interested in putting all their cash on black, there are heaps of other things to see and do in and around the Strip. Foodies may want to check out one of the celebrity chef restauants around town (Giada De Laurentiis, Gordon Ramsay and Wolfgang Puck all have places here).Chat to your tour leader for the lowdown on Sin City's best shows, clubs, restaurants and shopping. 
    Nights: 1

  • Day:6
    While it’s one of the hottest spots on the planet (temperatures get as high as 50°C in the summer months), Death Valley is also home to a diverse range of wildlife, such as lizards and bighorn sheep (weird), and some pretty awesome geological phenomena. Make sure the camera battery’s charged – the enormous sand dunes, sculpted rocks and volcanic craters are ready for their close-up. We’ll be covering about 600 kilometres (372 miles) of road today, before spending the night in Bakersfield.
    Nights: 1

  • Day:7
    Head north through the Central Valley to Yosemite National Park. The park is a who’s who of natural wonders: El Capitan, the largest granite monolith in the world (take that, 2001: A Space Odyssey), Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America, and some of the biggest trees on earth, the mighty Giant Sequoia. Choose between an afternoon hike to Vernal Falls or stroll to Mirror Lake. Alternatively, just soak up the sights in your own time. Spend the night at a campsite near the park.
    Nights: 1

  • Day:8
    Leave Yosemite behind and drive 240 kilometres (149 miles) west (around 3.5 hours) towards San Francisco. Our arrival time depends on the group, but we’ll aim for a 3 pm arrival, where our epic road trip comes to an end. If you’re flying out of SF today, please book your flight after 8 pm – this will give you enough time to get a shuttle to the airport with enough time to check in. There’s heaps to see and do in San Francisco – we suggest staying on for a few days to get the most out of this awesome city. If you need a hand booking accom, our reservations team will be happy to help out.
    Nights:

Is this trip right for you

Is this trip right for you

  • The US is a big country. Travel times between some destinations can be long. You'll be spending a fair amount of time in a van with other travellers, so conditions may feel a little cramped. This allows you to see some stunning scenery and is all part of the adventure - you might even make some long-term friends. Traffic in and out of LA and San Francisco can be hectic, especially during holiday periods. There may be delays, so be prepared to take part in car games to keep you entertained. The desert in the summer is extremely hot and dry. Death Valley for instance holds the record as the hottest place on earth after all. Hiking at this time of year isn't recommended. Although our vans do have air conditioning, it has to work pretty hard to keep a full group cool so expect to be hot. At other times of the year, especially in Yosemite, it might be quite cold, especially at night. Please consider the season and research the weather conditions to determine the best time to travel for you. Remember to come prepared with adequate clothing. From the steep hiking trails of Yosemite to the towering hills of San Francisco, this trip can involve a lot of walking. Please ensure you bring sturdy walking shoes and comfortable clothes. To make the most of the trip, it's best if you have at least a moderate level of fitness. The legal drinking age in the US is 21. Our leaders are unable to help under-agers procure alcohol.

Important Notes

Important Notes

  • LUGGAGE RESTRICTIONS: All luggage is carried in trailers or inside the vehicle so please don't bring more than one medium sized bag, backpack or suitcase (20kg maximum) per person, plus a sleeping bag. Your suitcase/rucksack may get some rough handling, so make sure it's a tough one. A small daypack and camera may also be carried inside the vehicle.
  • As well as your underwear, toothbrush and other items you always need to pack for travel, below are some items that you specifically need for this trip. ESSENTIAL - Sleeping bag. Please bring one from home or purchase one before your trip starts - you may not have time once we're on the road. Sleeping bags can easily be bought in the US and Canada at big stores like Walmart, Kmart, Target or at sports and camping supply stores. Renting sleeping bags isn't possible on our trips. As we offer trips throughout the year and travel in diverse climate zones, we recommend you carefully consider the weather and choose an appropriate sleeping bag. Please bear in mind that nights can be very cold even in the warmer months. We can experience temperatures as low as -5C and even snow. - Towel - Travel pillow - Reusable water bottle. We recommend at least a 1.5 litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. Tap water in the US and Canada is safe to drink and there are many places to fill up along the way, so please save plastic by bringing your own water bottle. - Sun protection - hat, sunscreen, sunglasses - Clothing you can layer. You may encounter a wide variety of temperatures en route due to altitude and unforeseen weather conditions - so be prepared! Make sure to pack a warm fleece and a waterproof jacket. We suggest you check the expected temperatures en route and bring clothing that you can layer. - Closed-in shoes. As this trip includes camping and/or bush walking we highly recommend that you take a pair of comfortable, closed-in walking shoes. Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking through bush/grass-lands, and will also act as a barrier protection in rare cases against bites or stings from dangerous animals in this environment. RECOMMENDED - Power adaptor - Insect repellent - Spare camera battery. You should have access to electricity to charge your battery most nights, but as some of the places we stay are a little isolated, it is always a good idea to carry a spare. - Swimwear - Head torch - A simple plastic bag/waterproof toiletry bag (that can hang on a nail on the back of a door) will be useful to keep your clothes dry inside basic camp shower structures. - Personal medical kit. Your guide will carry a large kit but we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes, anti-diarrhoeal, antibacterial gel, wet wipes, bandaids/plasters etc. OPTIONAL: - Sleep sheet. If you are travelling during the hot season you may wish to also pack a sleep sheet so you will be comfortable no matter what the weather. - Thermarest. While we provide a basic camping mattress for each client, some travellers find they like the extra comfort of a double layer. - Ear plugs to guard against a snoring tent-mate - A good book, a journal or an Ipod for the long drives.

Detail

Detail Notes

  • Feedback
    After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/
  • Responsible travel
    We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller
  • Trip title
    One Week in Las Vegas & the American Wilderness
  • Physical Rating
    2
  • Last modified (date)
    15 Nov 2018
  • Trip code
    SSYW
  • Validity
    Validity: 01 Oct 2018 to 31 Dec 2020
  • Introduction
    Pass through California, Arizona and Nevada on this sight-seeing road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Hike through the spooky but beautiful Joshua Tree National Park, stare in wonder at the Grand Canyon, take in the glitz and neon lights of Vegas and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife in Yosemite National Park. This adventure covers all the best bits of these three great states.
  • Style
    Basix
  • Themes
    18 to 29s
  • Transport
    Private vehicle
  • Physical preparation
    We recommend that you undertake regular aerobic exercise in the weeks before you travel, particularly if you are not in the habit of regular exercise. Walking, jogging, swimming or riding a bike are all good ways to increase your aerobic fitness, which will allow you to enjoy the trip to its fullest. Many of the National Parks that we visit have hiking opportunities where walks of up to 4 hours can be an option for you. There are often easier options. Throughout the trip there are more adventurous optional activities that require some consideration regarding your physical abilities to complete the activity.
  • Joining point
    #Freehand Los Angeles#416 W 8th St, Los Angeles#Los Angeles#CA#90014#UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
  • Finish point
    #The Red Roof Inn at San Francisco Airport#777 Airport Blvd #Burlingame#San Francisco#CA#94010#UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
  • Group leader
    Your Intrepid group leader’s role involves organising the overall operation and smooth-running of the trip, managing trip logistics and camp responsibilities. They will work to make the trip as safe and enjoyable as possible for all travellers. Intrepid's North American trips are built around the co-operation and participation of all the group members under the supervision of the group leader. On our camping trips, your leader will show the group how to set up and use the camp equipment, and form work groups to take turns cooking, cleaning and shopping. Everyone is expected participate and carry their share of the workload, making camp chores easier. If the whole group participates it will be quicker, easier and more fun. Your leader will provide basic information about the sights and cities you'll be visiting but please note that our leaders are not 'tour guides' in the traditional sense. They are adventure travel specialists and are there to organise your trip, arrange activities and help with questions or problems you may have while on your tour. Your leader will provide you with all the important information you need to embark on your own explorations. They are also responsible for driving the van and navigating across the country. The allowable driving times for drivers is strictly controlled in North America. This ensures our drivers are well rested and are not over-tired from too many hours on the roads. While your group will have a minivan for all included activities on the trip, please note that the services of the van and the driver may not be available for your use during free time, or after you have arrived for the day. If you need a special trip into town you may need to arrange transport or a taxi. We endeavour to provide the services of an experienced leader however, situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. It's strictly forbidden for non-qualified rangers to present any information about some National Parks in North America, therefore we adopt a system (as requested by the park rangers) where our leader will encourage travellers to visit the information centres in the National Parks for details about the site. We have designed our trips to make the most of your time in the States, but please understand that there are certain times during each day that your leader will need to be off duty from work. This includes having meal and rest periods and personal time. Your leader will provide you with all the important information you need to embark on your own explorations.
  • Safety
    #Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:#http://www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us/safety#PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY: While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.#DRINKING SAFETY: Please note that in the US the legal drinking age is 21 and in some parts of Canada it is 19. When out drinking in bars please be responsible and take the same precautions you would at home. Don't accept drinks from strangers, and don't let your drink out of your sight. It is always a good idea to go out with a group and stick together.#UNFENCED CAMP SITES: On some trips you will at times stay in unfenced camp sites within national parks. While this is a fantastic experience, there are a few safety rules to follow. While staying in national parks it's important that you listen to any advice given by your tour leader and the park rangers regarding responsible and safe behaviour.#BEARS: Whilst travelling throughout North America it's not uncommon to encounter bears within campsites and national parks. Your group leader has been specifically trained for these situations and, if camping, will inform the group on how to 'bear proof' the camp in the evenings or when the site is unattended. There's absolutely no reason to be alarmed by this possibility as it is extremely rare for bears to attack humans.
  • Communications
    WIFI Our vans in the USA are equipped with free WiFi however a fair use policy applies. It is limited to 5 users at one time, and is suitable for updating your Facebook status or sending an email home - not for streaming video or radio. Please be considerate of your use so that there is enough to go around. Some campgrounds also have WiFi access, as do many hotels. CHARGING BATTERIES North American electrical outlets operate at a lower voltage than much of the rest of the world. This means that your devices may take longer to charge than you are used to, or may say that they are not charging, even though they are. You may also notice that some hotels have powerboards or multiple appliances plugged into one socket. Because of the lower voltage, this is not the safety issue that it may be in other parts of the world. Some campgrounds have access to power for recharging batteries, but it may not be in an area that's safe to leave your device unattended. You can also recharge batteries on the van, although obviously this will need to be shared between everyone. You will need to bring a 12 volt/cigarette lighter adapter to plug your USB charger into.
  • Visas
    Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time. Entrance requirements to the USA have changed in recent years so please read the following instructions carefully, even if you have travelled to the USA before. Many countries now operate under a visa waiver program (meaning a visa isn't required) however you still need to obtain an authorisation which confirms that you have been approved to travel. This authorisation must be obtained in advance of travel. See https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/tourism-visit/visa-waiver-program.html Many citizens from Visa Waiver Program countries can travel to the USA without a visa for a 90 day stay, if they meet certain requirements. Travellers from all Visa Waiver Program countries must present a machine-readable, biometric passport (which meets US requirements) at the port of entry to enter without a visa, otherwise a US visa is required. You can get further information from the US Department of State website: - https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/tourism-visit.html Also please note, all travellers from Visa Waiver Program countries must obtain an electronic travel authorization prior to their flight from the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) website: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov All ESTA registration applications or renewals require a US$14.00 fee paid by credit or debit card. You should apply for your visa waiver authorisation at least 1 week prior to travel to avoid any last minute delays. You will require your passport details and your address in the US (you can use the starting point hotel/hostel address). Please note that if there is any discrepancy between the name on your ESTA, your passport, your tickets and even your frequent flyer membership, you may be detained at Immigration and subject to a secondary inspection which could take a few hours. If you have recently changed your name, please check that your details have been updated everywhere. If you are from a country eligible for the visa waiver program but are a dual citizen of Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan, or if you have travelled to Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan since 1 March 2011, you will not longer be eligible for the visa waiver program and will instead need to apply for a non-immigrant visa. Please see the Department of State website for more information: http://travel.state.gov//content/travel/en.html
  • Why we love it
    #Hike through spooky yet beautiful Joshua Tree National Park. We put it down to the park's desert cactus gardens, lush oases and strange rock formations.#It’s big, it’s beautiful, it’s the Grand Canyon! See it up close on a hike with your leader or take an optional helicopter flight overhead.#Lose yourself in the neon lights of Las Vegas. Maybe have a crack at blackjack, mosey the gaudy and glitzy Strip, catch a show or just soak up the craziness that is Sin City.#Granite cliffs, redwood forests, star-studded night skies, Instagram-smashing waterfalls… Yosemite National Park feels like utopia.#Camp in the great outdoors on this epic American road trip. This is a great trip for first-time campers, as the equipment is easy to assemble and there are always leaders on hand to help out.#Death Valley gets a bad rap, conjuring up images of a flat and barren wasteland and, y’know, death. Be surprised by the park's ethereal landscapes of sand dunes, water-sculpted canyons, extinct volcanic craters and, in the spring, fields of wildflowers.#End your adventure in the eclectic, multicultural City by the Bay. See the sights (the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and Fisherman's Wharf to name a few), sample the great food scene or get amongst the museums and fantastic cultural offerings of San Francisco.
  • Is this trip right for you
    The US is a big country. Travel times between some destinations can be long. You'll be spending a fair amount of time in a van with other travellers, so conditions may feel a little cramped. This allows you to see some stunning scenery and is all part of the adventure - you might even make some long-term friends. Traffic in and out of LA and San Francisco can be hectic, especially during holiday periods. There may be delays, so be prepared to take part in car games to keep you entertained. The desert in the summer is extremely hot and dry. Death Valley for instance holds the record as the hottest place on earth after all. Hiking at this time of year isn't recommended. Although our vans do have air conditioning, it has to work pretty hard to keep a full group cool so expect to be hot. At other times of the year, especially in Yosemite, it might be quite cold, especially at night. Please consider the season and research the weather conditions to determine the best time to travel for you. Remember to come prepared with adequate clothing. From the steep hiking trails of Yosemite to the towering hills of San Francisco, this trip can involve a lot of walking. Please ensure you bring sturdy walking shoes and comfortable clothes. To make the most of the trip, it's best if you have at least a moderate level of fitness. The legal drinking age in the US is 21. Our leaders are unable to help under-agers procure alcohol.
  • Health
    All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared. PERSONAL MEDICATIONS: Medical prescriptions written outside of the US and Canada aren't accepted at pharmacies. Therefore, we recommend you bring along your personal medications in the necessary quantities for your trip. DEHYDRATION & SUN PROTECTION: The most likely medical incidents to occur on our trips are dehydration, over exposure to the sun, and twisted ankles from walking on uneven ground. While hiking please ensure you drink enough water to remain hydrated as some hikes don't have refill stations for your water bottles. The sun (especially in desert areas in the West) can be harsh, particularly in the warmer months. Ensure you apply adequate sun protection cream and wear a hat. Travelling with sunburn can be uncomfortable.
  • Food and dietary requirements
    While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though. On our trips in North America, we operate an optional kitty, where travellers are encouraged to contribute to a central fund which is used to buy groceries which then supply meals to the entire group. In our experience all travellers generally participate, however some with special dietary requirements may prefer to opt out. The kitty is administered by the group and is payable per week of the trip. The cost is: USA - US$70 per week Alaska - US$90 per week Canada - CA$90 per week While camping, some breakfasts, lunches and dinners are paid from the food kitty. Sometimes we'll go out for dinner and eat at restaurants at everybody's own expense. Your leader will participate in the food kitty as well. On hotel nights (if included) the food kitty doesn't operate and everybody eats at their own expense. Chores such as buying and cooking the food, washing up, etc. will be shared by everyone on the trip. Teams of two people will carry out the camp duties on a rotating basis. On camping nights, we usually cook our evening meals together on our own stove, or barbecue food over the camp fire. We usually prepare salads, grill meats and cook pasta, rice and vegetables. For breakfast we usually buy milk, coffee, tea, cereals, bread, jam, butter etc. Not all personal eating preferences can be catered for, however we endeavour to provide tasty, basic meals. We keep our food costs as low as possible by sharing the expenses. The kitty is based on the average cost from our past experiences and from passenger feedback about what they are prepared to pay for shared meals. Personal beverages, lunches and snacks are not included in the food kitty. If there's any cash left over it will either be redistributed to the group or put towards paying for a group activity.
  • Money matters
    It can be difficult to exchange money while on the road so we suggest that you bring some cash in US dollars, or exchange/withdraw money at the airport when you arrive, or at least before you start the trip. Your individual budget will depend on your personal plans. Think about how much you want to spend on souvenirs, shopping, entertainment, food, drinks, excursions and attractions that aren't included in your trip (eg. helicopter flights etc). Please bear in mind that North America has endless things to do and see. Not all possible optional activities are listed in our Trip Notes. The cheapest and most convenient way to acquire money is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) which are plentiful throughout all cities and towns, and even at roadside stops. This allows you to draw funds from your personal account at a superior exchange rate. Bank fees for these withdrawals can be either a flat rate or a percentage of the amount withdrawn. Check with your bank for information on their international fees. Don't forget your PIN and make sure you know the telephone number for cancelling your card if it's stolen. Keep this in a safe place. When using your debit card, check your receipts and keep them to compare against your statement when you get home. Occasionally banks will also allow cash advances on your credit card, but it's not recommended to rely on this method only. We recommend that you carry some cash for situations when ATMs can't be accessed. SPENDING MONEY: When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document). TIPPING If you're happy with the service you receive, providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips. The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers: Restaurants: We suggest 18% to 22% of your bill. Bars: Recommended US$1 for each drink ordered to ensure you are served again. Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$5-20 per day for local guides. Ask your leader for suggestions as to what is appropriate for a given activity. Your Group Leader: You should also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. Your leader works long and hard for you. He or she may well become your friend during the trip but they do need to pay their bills. If the leader's performance meets or exceeds your expectation they will gladly accept a tip from you. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however you should plan to tip your leader US$5-7 per person per day. Another charge not normally listed in North American costs is the state and federal taxes, keep this in mind when your bill comes out slightly higher than the original price listed. Tipping in North America can be confusing. If you'd like some more detail about when and how much to tip, see http://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/tipping-guide-united-states/ DEPARTURE TAX All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket. CONTINGENCY FUNDS: We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved.
  • Climate and seasonal
    NATIONAL HOLIDAYS: The following national holidays are observed in the US, which can affect our itinerary as traffic can be extreme, and shops, restaurants and attractions can be closed: - New Year's Day - Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. - Washington's Birthday - Memorial Day - Independence Day - Labor Day - Columbus Day - Veterans Day - Thanksgiving Day - Christmas Day
  • What to take
    #LUGGAGE RESTRICTIONS: All luggage is carried in trailers or inside the vehicle so please don't bring more than one medium sized bag, backpack or suitcase (20kg maximum) per person, plus a sleeping bag. Your suitcase/rucksack may get some rough handling, so make sure it's a tough one. A small daypack and camera may also be carried inside the vehicle.#As well as your underwear, toothbrush and other items you always need to pack for travel, below are some items that you specifically need for this trip. ESSENTIAL - Sleeping bag. Please bring one from home or purchase one before your trip starts - you may not have time once we're on the road. Sleeping bags can easily be bought in the US and Canada at big stores like Walmart, Kmart, Target or at sports and camping supply stores. Renting sleeping bags isn't possible on our trips. As we offer trips throughout the year and travel in diverse climate zones, we recommend you carefully consider the weather and choose an appropriate sleeping bag. Please bear in mind that nights can be very cold even in the warmer months. We can experience temperatures as low as -5C and even snow. - Towel - Travel pillow - Reusable water bottle. We recommend at least a 1.5 litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. Tap water in the US and Canada is safe to drink and there are many places to fill up along the way, so please save plastic by bringing your own water bottle. - Sun protection - hat, sunscreen, sunglasses - Clothing you can layer. You may encounter a wide variety of temperatures en route due to altitude and unforeseen weather conditions - so be prepared! Make sure to pack a warm fleece and a waterproof jacket. We suggest you check the expected temperatures en route and bring clothing that you can layer. - Closed-in shoes. As this trip includes camping and/or bush walking we highly recommend that you take a pair of comfortable, closed-in walking shoes. Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking through bush/grass-lands, and will also act as a barrier protection in rare cases against bites or stings from dangerous animals in this environment. RECOMMENDED - Power adaptor - Insect repellent - Spare camera battery. You should have access to electricity to charge your battery most nights, but as some of the places we stay are a little isolated, it is always a good idea to carry a spare. - Swimwear - Head torch - A simple plastic bag/waterproof toiletry bag (that can hang on a nail on the back of a door) will be useful to keep your clothes dry inside basic camp shower structures. - Personal medical kit. Your guide will carry a large kit but we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes, anti-diarrhoeal, antibacterial gel, wet wipes, bandaids/plasters etc. OPTIONAL: - Sleep sheet. If you are travelling during the hot season you may wish to also pack a sleep sheet so you will be comfortable no matter what the weather. - Thermarest. While we provide a basic camping mattress for each client, some travellers find they like the extra comfort of a double layer. - Ear plugs to guard against a snoring tent-mate - A good book, a journal or an Ipod for the long drives.
  • A couple of rules
    Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption. The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips. By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund. If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.
  • Emergency contact
    While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip. We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please contact our operations base on 1-800-786-8735 (toll free in the USA and Canada) or +1 707 523 1800 (office hours). You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete. POLICE AND AMBULANCE In case of an emergency, local authorities can be contacted by calling 911 – this is the toll free phone number for the police, fire department and the ambulance in the USA and Canada. In case of doubt, call the operator on 0. BOOKING ENQUIRIES / ISSUES For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/contact-us CRISES AND EMERGENCIES In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency please contact our local ground representative on the number below (remember to drop the +xx country code if you are calling from within the country): Local operator:: +1 707 483 9460
  • The Intrepid Foundation
    Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed more than AU $6 million to over 100 community organisations since 2002. Did you know that tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the global economy, making up 1 out of every 10 jobs? That’s why we support local projects that create meaningful jobs and give people the skills they need to work in the destinations we take you to. And it’s why we exist – to make it easy for travellers to give back to the communities and places they’ve been in an effective and meaningful way. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation are matched by Intrepid Group dollar for dollar (up to AU$10,000 per donor and AU$500,000 in total each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And because Intrepid Group covers all administration costs, every cent goes directly to the projects. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information about the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or visit our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/
  • Accommodation notes
    The campsites that we use are selected for either their scenic beauty, their convenient location to places of interest and/or the facilities available. We aim to offer you a selection of different types of campsites. If you've never camped before - no problem! We provide a complete set of camping and cooking equipment. This includes roomy easy-to-pitch tents, which are shared by only two people and are equipped with thin foam rubber mattresses and vinyl floors. Your leader will show you how to pitch a tent on the first day. On many trips we also spend a few nights in reasonably priced hotels / motels / hostels (as per the itinerary). For the group, we also provide two burner stoves, efficient camp kitchen equipment, dishes, coolers, food storage boxes, a water container, lamps and a sun and rain roof. Please take good care of all the equipment. You'll be assigned a specific tent so please look after it well. The equipment has to be returned clean, complete and in the same condition as you received it. Please keep in mind that sleeping bags are not provided and you'll need to bring your own. Please read the 'What to Take' section of these notes for more information on choosing a sleeping bag. Our high quality camping equipment (including tents) can be affected by bad weather conditions. This can result in some wet and cold conditions inside the tent. Your spirit of adventure and flexibility will help make your adventure trip an exciting and unforgettable experience. On nights where the group is camping and weather conditions are extreme (such as snow or heavy rain) there may be an opportunity for the group (if everyone agrees) to stay at an alternative location such as a nearby hostel or hotel. When this is the case the upgrade is at your own expense. You'll find the necessary facilities - toilets and in most cases showers, washing machines and driers - at many of our campsites. The showers at some campsites only have cold water available and some may require a payment (usually no more than US$1-$3 for a quick shower). This is payable locally and is generally a contribution to paying for a limited water supply. Please be aware that some campsites won't have any facilities, however it will rarely be for more than one night at a time. This is true of many campsites within Yosemite National Park, so if your trip is visiting this park, please prepare to go without a shower on this night, although it can often be arranged to stop and utilise facilities on our way out of the park. In all the campsites there are strict quiet hours, when absolutely no loud noise is allowed. This means that all music, singing and group gatherings have to stop. We request that all our travellers respect these campsite rules. For trips where there are lodges/cabins used, couples travelling together may be separated as our rooming arrangements are based on single gender. CAMPING OUTSIDE THE SUMMER MONTHS: Our trips extend beyond the traditional vacation months (June - September). This is because over the years we've recognised there's a demand from our travellers for trips outside this period. Many enjoy the experience of North America in the snow, or in the crisp and clear atmosphere of spring. We've operated successful trips throughout the year however some consideration must be taken when choosing a trip that travels in the colder months such as: - Have you got a suitable sleeping bag? - Do you have suitable warm clothing - fleece, waterproofs, thermals? - Are your walking and hiking boots waterproof and warm? You may also like to think about bringing your own camping mat for this period as the double layer provides extra warmth. In some locations it may be possible to upgrade from camping to cabins if it is cold. You will need to pay for, and arrange this locally and it is of course subject to availability. In some locations it may only be possible to upgrade if the whole group is willing to. If you come prepared and are willing to experience North America at this very special time of year, then you will be set for a great time.
  • Transport notes
    FLEET Our large fleet of vans are fully equipped with dual air-conditioning system, V8 engines and any camping or cooking equipment needed for your trip. Most have cloth-upholstered seats and carpeted interior with radio/tape or CD players. Your baggage is transported in a trailer which is towed behind the van. The vans are regularly serviced in our own maintenance facility and continuously checked and serviced by a well established network of maintenance and service facilities throughout the continent. However, unforeseen maintenance problems can still occur while on the road and we appreciate the patience of our travellers as we make necessary repairs as quickly as possible. WI-FI Beginning 01 January 2013, all private vehicle trips through the United States, including Alaska, will feature mobile Wi-Fi hotspots. Please note that trips in Canada will NOT have Wi-Fi hotspots in your van. Whilst travelling in the van, use Wi-Fi to check-in back home and share your background and cultural interests with your fellow travellers. Some usage restrictions may apply depending on demand and use. Hotspot devices provide wireless connections for up to five devices (up to two for optimal service and speed). Many camp grounds and hotels supply Wi-Fi for additional use outside the van. DRIVING TIMES All driving times mentioned in our itinerary are intended as a guide only and represent an estimated driving time - not including lunch stops, fuel stops, photo stops, traffic congestion, adverse weather conditions or any last minute alterations to the itinerary for any unforeseen circumstances. Please note that there are some long driving days on this tour - we'll have some starts as early as 7am and late arrivals at our final destination, sometimes after dark). As always, your group leader will make stops for viewpoints, short walks and lunch/rest breaks to help break up the journey. We recommend you are fully prepared for these long travel days by reviewing our notes and indicated drive times. Some travellers prefer to bring pillows on board for added comfort, others prefer reading material or games and puzzles. The reality is that to get from one fabulous location to another, the distances are great and we like to think at least some of the adventure is in the journey - not just the destination. You'll be on board with up to 12 other passengers plus your group leader so patience and cooperation goes a long way in making this journey a comfortable one. SEAT BELT POLICY Safety is our priority and therefore our travellers are asked to sign a document on Day 1 of the itinerary indicating your understanding of our seat belt policy.
  • Travel insurance
    Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader. If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php
  • Your fellow travellers
    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. SINGLE TRAVELLERS: Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
  • Itinerary disclaimer
    We've allowed plenty of room for freedom and flexibility in our trips. In fact, flexibility is one of the ingredients that makes each of our trips so exciting. This style of travel offers us some unexpected circumstances at times, for example, bad weather and road conditions, technical defects of transportation, inconveniences caused by local operators and authorities, and other circumstances beyond our control. Changes in the program may be required to make the best of the unique situations that we encounter. Overnight stops and driving distances each day may vary to best suit the needs of the group. Our described itineraries are to be used as a general guide only. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
  • Accommodation
    Camping (with facilities) (4 nights),Hostel (1 night),Hotel (2 nights)

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