San Fran to Vegas: Parks, Canyons, Valleys
from $3695
Duration: 9 Days
Fall in love with the rugged and diverse American West on this nine-day adventure, from the granite peaks and pine forests of Yosemite National Park to the sun-baked dunes and canyons of Death Valley. This itinerary packs in the highlights of the wild west coast and will see you kayaking the clear waters of Lake Tahoe, traversing the wilderness of Hetch Hetchy Valley and strolling neon-lit boulevards in Las Vegas.
  • Beginning in the eccentric city of San Francisco, explore the hidden gems of Chinatown with a local insider. From dim sims to traditional tea – savour the treats and tastings of this iconic neighbourhood on your personalised Urban Adventure.
  • From shimmering blue waters in summer to snow-dusted pine forest in winter – enjoy a full day of optional activities to suit every adventurer, in every season, during your 2-night stay in Lake Tahoe.
  • Featuring sequoia forests, granite cliff faces and cascading waterfalls – get the most out of your Yosemite experience by spending three nights in the park, meaning two full days of exploration.
  • With undulating sand dunes, water-sculpted canyons, extinct volcanic craters and fields of wildflowers that blossom in the spring: Death Valley is a geological paradise.
  • Wrap up your west coast adventure on the glitzy Strip of Las Vegas – hit the town for a dose of bright lights and the chance to win big!
  • San Francisco - Chinatown Discovery Urban Adventure
  • Lake Tahoe - Emerald Bay sunset cruise (summer only)
  • Lake Tahoe - Snowshoeing (winter only)
  • Yosemite National Park - Entrance Fee
  • Yosemite - Pizza Picnic Dinner
  • Death Valley National Park
  • Day 1 Location: San Francisco
    Welcome to San Francisco! A city with a storied history and plenty of eccentric characters – your adventure begins at 3 pm with an important welcome meeting, followed by an Urban Adventure through the hidden gems of Chinatown. Explore this iconic neighbourhood with a local who has all the insider knowledge on how its residents live, eat and drink. Indulge in treats and tastings as you sample authentic Chinese pastries – mooncake anyone? And learn about the powers of traditional Chinese tea with a tea master. Make your own fortune cookie while listening to the sounds of an erhu – a traditional two-stringed instrument – and snack on a delicious dim sim! It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.
    Day 2 Location: Lake Tahoe
    This morning, explore the architectural landmarks of San Fran with a guided visit to the Palace of Fine Arts and the iconic Ferry Building – a historical monument home to an array of food stalls and eateries, then get your camera ready as you gaze upon the Golden Gate Bridge from the best view point in the city. After your guided tour, head across to Sausalito and stop for lunch (own expense) in Placerville – an old mining town with a notorious past, before continuing your drive to Lake Tahoe – the USA’s second-deepest lake and home to 116 km (72 miles) of scenic shoreline. This evening, (depending on the season) set sail on a sunset cruise around the stunning Emerald Bay and watch the orange hues glisten on the surface of the calm, cobalt waters.
    Day 3 Location: Lake Tahoe
    Enjoy a day of leisure in Lake Tahoe, this natural adventure park has plenty going on all year-round which means there’ll be plenty of activities for you to choose from depending on the season. In summer, you can paddle on the clear, blue waters of the lake in a kayak or take a refreshing dip, and for the hiking enthusiasts – the surrounding hillside is perfect for scenic walks during the warmer months. During winter the area becomes a snow-covered playground where you can choose to take a sleigh ride or try your hand at ice skating. If you didn’t get chance to cruise around Emerald Bay yesterday, then (season dependent) try your hand at snowshoeing! An amazing way to explore the powdery white surrounds.
    Day 4 Location: Yosemite National Park
    This morning, head south to the world-famous Yosemite National Park. Featuring colossal granite cliff faces, cascading waterfalls (depending on the season) and redwood forests, the scenery in Yosemite attracts travellers from all over the globe. On arrival, wander through the jaw-dropping Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias, home to two-dozen of the largest known trees on earth. These colossal, ancient wonders are adapted for survival. They’re resistant to disease, thanks to a large content of tannin (a type of natural chemical) in the wood – and their thick asbestos-like bark means that they can withstand the hottest of forest-fires, making them almost indestructible. The resilient beauty of these redwood beasts makes them a phenomenal must-see on any Yosemite itinerary.
    Day 5 Location: Yosemite National Park
    Enjoy a guided walk around the spectacular scenery of Yosemite National Park followed by a free day to explore. The breathtaking landscapes have made Yosemite a favourite among hikers for generations, and there are plenty of trekking routes on offer with varying degrees of difficulty. If you feel like breaking a sweat, the 5-hour hike to the top of Nevada Falls features plenty of switchbacks, and depending on the season, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the cascading waterfall beneath the giant Half Dome. Feel like taking it easy? No problem, there are plenty of gentle trails on offer, like the one-hour walk to the popular swimming spot, Mirror Lake, Keep an eye out for squirrels (and watch for bears!) along the way. If you’d prefer, you can hire a bike and cycle around Yosemite Valley, stopping by the park's museum, photo gallery, shops and restaurants on the way. In the heat of summer, a nice option is a float down the Merced River on a raft followed by a few drinks at the local cafe. This evening, if the weather is right, join the group for an included pizza picnic in the park! Alternatively, warm up with a local meal in the cosy indoors.
    Day 6 Location: Yosemite National Park
    Today there’s a chance to explore a different side of the park as you join your leader on a guided hike to Hetch Hetchy Valley. Tucked away in the northwest corner of Yosemite, Hetch Hetchy is a wilderness of cascading waterfalls, towering cliff faces and beautiful wildflowers. Boasting one of the longest hiking seasons in the park, the ecologically diverse valley attracts a fraction of the visitors in comparison to other more well-known hiking spots in Yosemite – which means it’s an ideal area for those who have extra time to explore the park in depth.
    Day 7 Location: Eastern Sierra/Lone Pine
    This morning, stop and admire the glistening waters of Tenaya and Mono Lakes on the drive south to Death Valley (approximately 6 hours). On the way to Lone Pine, perhaps stop at Manzanar National Historic Site, a former military-style camp where more than 110,000 Japanese-American men, women and children were detained during WWII. Continue to Alabama Hills – where colourful undulating peaks roll in the foreground of the contrasting jagged, snowy Sierras – this beautiful landscape is just a stone’s throw away from where you’ll be spending the night in Lone Pine – not far from the entrance to Death Valley. On arrival, there's the option to visit the Museum of Western Film History, which celebrates the many movies that have been filmed in the area, such as Iron Man, Django Unchained, How the West Was Won, and True Grit.
    Day 8 Location: Death Valley / Las Vegas
    This morning you'll explore the geologically rich Death Valley National Park. Don't let the name fool you, this park features huge sand dunes, canyons, sculpted rocks, valleys and volcanic craters. Death Valley is extremely hot and dry (the highest recorded temperature in the world was measured in local Furnace Creek at 56.6˚C in 1913) so remember to pack plenty of water and don't overexert yourself. For expansive views of the valley, you can hike to Dante's View, or perhaps visit the puckered, volcanic Ubehebe Crater. Continue your drive through Nevada to the glitzy desert city of Las Vegas – it may be a gamblers paradise, but if the tables aren't your thing there's still plenty to discover! Maybe wander along the Strip past impersonators, billboards and hotels to the choreographed Bellagio Fountain show, or perhaps head to a rooftop amusement park, hit the chain stores or lose all sense of time exploring the gaudy interiors of hotels like The Venetian, Caesars Palace and New York-New York. In the evening, why not join your travel buddies for an optional dinner!
    Day 9 Location: Las Vegas
    There are no activities planned after breakfast this morning – perhaps indulge in an unforgettable helicopter trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon – the trip includes champagne, beverages and a light snack, all served above the Colorado River. Or maybe you’d like to learn more about the history and evolution of gaming in Vegas on an Urban Adventure – join an expert local guide and get the lowdown on some of the most iconic casino games, pick up some insider tips and then learn how to play them yourself. From poker to pokies – you never know, you might hit big! Find out more at urbanadventures.com.
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    Last modified (date)

    23 Jan 2020

    Trip title

    San Fran to Vegas: Parks, Canyons, Valleys

    Trip code

    SSKG

    Validity

    Validity: 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020

    Introduction

    Fall in love with the rugged and diverse American West on this nine-day adventure, from the granite peaks and pine forests of Yosemite National Park to the sun-baked dunes and canyons of Death Valley. This itinerary packs in the highlights of the wild west coast and will see you kayaking the clear waters of Lake Tahoe, traversing the wilderness of Hetch Hetchy Valley and strolling neon-lit boulevards in Las Vegas.

    Style

    Comfort

    Themes

    Explorer

    Transport

    Private vehicle

    Physical Rating

    2

    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

    The Red Roof Inn at San Francisco Airport

    777 Airport Blvd

    Burlingame

    San Francisco

    CA

    94010

    UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

    Joining point description

    The Red Roof Inn at San Francisco Airport includes on-site 24-hour restaurant, baggage hold, ATM, heated outdoor pool, fitness centre, 24-hour complimentary coffee, and a free shuttle bus to and from the airport and the local BART station so you can catch public transport into the city (approx. 30 mins). www.redroofsfairport.com

    Joining point instructions

    A complimentary airport shuttle runs from 4am-12:30am every half hour. You can find the shuttle at the Hotel Courtesy Shuttle zones on the center island of the Departures Level roadway at all terminals. If you arrive outside this time, taxis and ride-shares apps are available to you. The hotel is located two miles away and the ride would cost around $10.

    Finish point

    Bally's Las Vegas Hotel & Casino

    3645 S Las Vegas Blvd

    Las Vegas

    NV

    89109

    UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

    Phone: +1 7029674111

    Finish point instructions

    Group shuttles are an economical way to get to the airport. Please ask your group leader or hotel for options. Despite the ample shuttle services, a cab, LYFT, or Uber is your best bet for getting around quickly. Rates will vary based on the time of day, but will typically takes 15-20 minutes and cost around $20.

    Important information

    1. A single supplement is available on this trip. 2. Please note this trip starts with a welcome meeting at 3pm on Day 1.

    Group leader

    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 trips. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight 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 or relax and take it easy. 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:

    https://www.intrepidtravel.com/safety-field

    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.

    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. Most hotels have WiFi access although on occasion you may need to pay extra for it. 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. 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. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking 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. PLEASE NOTE: 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 Apply for ESTA no later than 72 HOURS (we recommend 1 week prior to travel) before departing for the United States. Real-time approvals will no longer be available and arriving at the airport without a previously approved ESTA will likely result in being denied boarding. 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 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 Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan, or if you have travelled to Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan or Yemen since 1 March 2011, you will no 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

    Beginning in the eccentric city of San Francisco, explore the hidden gems of Chinatown with a local insider. From dim sims to traditional tea – savour the treats and tastings of this iconic neighbourhood on your personalised Urban Adventure.

    From shimmering blue waters in summer to snow-dusted pine forest in winter – enjoy a full day of optional activities to suit every adventurer, in every season, during your 2-night stay in Lake Tahoe.

    Featuring sequoia forests, granite cliff faces and cascading waterfalls – get the most out of your Yosemite experience by spending three nights in the park, meaning two full days of exploration.

    With undulating sand dunes, water-sculpted canyons, extinct volcanic craters and fields of wildflowers that blossom in the spring: Death Valley is a geological paradise.

    Wrap up your west coast adventure on the glitzy Strip of Las Vegas – hit the town for a dose of bright lights and the chance to win big!

    Is this trip right for you

    Less time spent in a vehicle; more time to explore each destination. This trip has been carefully designed to give you the best experience of a region by reducing the number of one-night-only stops, giving you extra time in the places that matter. Death Valley in the summer is extremely hot and dry. It does hold the record as the hottest place on earth after all. Hiking at this time of year isn't recommended. Although our private vehicles do have air conditioning, it has to work pretty hard to keep a full group cool. Expect to feel hot during summer and cold at other times of the year, 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. Some of the best scenery in Yosemite is found on hikes. So, while this trip doesn't require a high level of fitness, it’s essential to be at least moderately fit if you want to partake in all activities. This trip includes time spent travelling in a vehicle with your group. Extra space can be tight, and conditions may feel a little cramped. It’s all part of the adventure and a great way to get to know your fellow travellers. Please read the itinerary carefully for travel time estimates. If you wish to spend more time in San Francisco or Las Vegas, we'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).

    Health

    All 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 before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. 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. 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 lodging tours we eat in local restaurants where passengers pay individually for each of their meals and drinks. Average hotel breakfasts cost from US$6-$12, lunches from US$8-$15 and dinners from US$13-$30; this does not include alcoholic beverages. Wine costs approximately US$5 per glass and beer US$4 per bottle. Most group leaders will offer their tour members the choice to operate a ‘lunch only’ food kitty that has proven to be a popular alternative to three daily restaurant meals. Leaders will more fully explain this option and the whole group will have to agree to implement this system. Please make sure we are aware of any special meal requirements before travelling.

    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$7-10 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. Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less. 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. The recommended amount is listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however the local currency is needed in the countries you are visiting.

    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. 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: - 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. If you are planning on doing any hiking during your trip 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 it is always a good idea to carry a spare. - 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: - Travel pillow if you like to sleep during long drives - Reusable coffee cup such as a travel mug or KeepCup if you are a coffee drinker. Not only is it much better for the environment, but many places in the US and Canada also give a discount for bringing your own cup. - Ear plugs to guard against a snoring room-mate - A good book, a journal or an Ipod for the long drives. - Swimwear - Head torch

    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

    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.

    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/

    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): +1 707 483 9460

    Responsible travel

    Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers and staff are trained on these principles, and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel. Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/responsible-travel http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

    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 style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances. Throughout the trip we request that our lodgings prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

    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 Essential Trip Information. 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

    ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, 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 may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk. MEALS Please note that day-by-day meals are indicative only. You will receive the same number of meals, but they may not happen exactly on the days indicated. Your leader may change the days that meals are provided to best suit the needs of the group and the timing of the activities on your trip.

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