Bright Lights & Canyons of the USA Trip Notes

Bright Lights & Canyons of the USA

Last Modified: 16 Aug 2016
Bright Lights & Canyons of the USA
Trip code: SSRUC
Validity: 01 Jan 2017 to 31 Dec 2017
Head out across the wide, rugged western expanses of the US of A for an enthralling sampling of all-American culture and landscapes. Whir along Route 66, gape in awe at the world's grandest canyon and embark on nature hikes through Zion National Park. Revel the night away in Las Vegas, camp out in Monument Valley and wander among the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon. For a travel experience that leaves no stones unturned in mining one of the world's richest travel destinations, this two-week adventure is just the ticket.
Table of Contents
StyleAccommodationEmergency contact
ThemesAccommodation NotesVisas
Is this trip right for you?Meals introductionWhat to take
Why we love itMealsClimate and seasonal information
ItineraryMoney mattersHealth
Itinerary disclaimerGroup leaderTravel insurance
Physical ratingSafetyA couple of rules
Included activitiesJoining pointResponsible Travel
Important notesJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
Group sizeFinish pointFeedback
Your fellow travellersFinishing point instructions
Is this trip right for you?
- You'll be travelling in a van with a group of travellers, so conditions may feel a little cramped. This is all part of the adventure, however, and you might even make some long-term friends.
- The USA is a big country. Distances between destinations may be longer than what you're used to, especially if you're coming from Europe. There are many long days of driving, so expect to spend a lot of time in the van.
- Although our vans 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.
- This trip involves a lot of walking through the trails of the national parks and the sparkling streets of the cities. 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.
Why we love it
- The Grand Canyon is one of the most immense and spectacular canyon systems in the world. We spend two days here to make the most of this incredible site
- From the stone hoodoos of Bryce Canyon to the hanging gardens of Zion National Park, see a diversity of landscapes all within a short drive of each other
- As well as the famous must-see attractions on this trip, visit some lesser-known but no less spectacular national parks, such as Dead Horse Point and Arches National Park
- The iconic sandstone formations of Monument Valley have played backdrop to many a cowboy western. Learn about Navajo culture and history during a jeep tour of the park, before spending a unique night in a traditional hogan hut

Day 1 Los Angeles
Welcome to the USA! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting today at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

As this trip spends little time in Los Angeles, we recommend you arrive a few days early to see the sights. The 'City of Angels' is world-renowned for the glamorous districts of Hollywood and Beverly Hills, not to mention the shopping on Rodeo Drive. From Venice Beach to Disneyland, it's a veritable smorgasbord for the senses. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). You might consider doing our one-day Urban Adventure sightseeing tour of Los Angeles (see
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 San Diego
Today drive south for two-and-a-half hours to San Diego, close to California's border with Mexico. Sunny San Diego is a great city to get out and explore as it serves up year-round temperate weather. Perhaps relax along the golden beaches of Mission Bay or take a stroll through Balboa Park. In the evening, head down to the Old Town for some delicious Mexican fare. Afterwards, you might like to make your way to the historic Gaslamp Quarter, a lively hub of restaurants, bars, shops, galleries and theatres.
Optional Activities
  • Balboa Park Museum Pass - USD44
  • San Diego Beaches - Free
    Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
    Day 3 Joshua Tree National Park
    Today head away from the coast and drive to Joshua Tree National Park. Sitting between the Mojave and Colorado Deserts, the park is famous for its spectacular desert plants, including Joshua trees, cacti and Mojave yuccas. The area is also home to striking rock formations and mountain ranges. You might like to head out on a scenic hike around the park or even take a refreshing dip in the Colorado River. Today's total driving time is around seven hours.
    Included Activities
    • Joshua Tree National Park
      Optional Activities
      • Colorado River Swimming - Free
      • Joshua Tree National Park Hikes - Free
        Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
        Day 4 Grand Canyon National Park
        Drive for six hours to Grand Canyon National Park. Words don't do justice to the Grand Canyon. This stunning gorge is 1.5 kilometres deep, formed by over six million years of erosion from the Colorado River. You'll spend two nights here, in order to allow a full day of exploration tomorrow.
        Included Activities
        • Grand Canyon National Park
          Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
          Day 5 Grand Canyon National Park
          Today is a free day to explore the Grand Canyon, one of the largest canyon systems in the world. Stroll along the meandering South Rim Trail or hike your way down to Plateau Point. If you're feeling extra adventurous, you might even opt for a scenic flight over the area (at your own expense). In the early evening, relax at the canyon's edge and enjoy a spectacular sunset over one the world's natural wonders.
          Optional Activities
          • Helicopter flight (25 mins) - USD244
          • Helicopter flight (45 mins) - USD295
          • Grand Canyon hiking - Free
          • IMAX movie - USD15
            Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
            Day 6 Las Vegas
            Today we drive for about five hours to Las Vegas. This may be the gambling capital of the world, but there's plenty to do if gambling isn't your thing. Hit the shops, feel your stomach drop on a rooftop roller coaster or simply stroll along the Strip, soaking up the glitz and gaudiness. In the evening, perhaps feast on an 'all you can eat' buffet, check out one of the many shows on offer or party the night away in a Vegas nightclub.
            Hotel (1 nt)
            Day 7 Zion National Park
            Today leave Nevada and drive for around three hours to Zion National Park. The park is home to stunning desert landscapes, sculpted rock formations, waterfalls and hanging gardens. There will be plenty of time on arrival to stretch your legs and have a good look around the park. You might even like to float down the surprisingly chilly Virgin River in a tube. In the evening, set up camp for the night.
            Included Activities
            • Zion National Park
              Optional Activities
              • River Tubing (seasonal) - USD15
              • Zion National Park Hikes - Free
                Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
                Day 8 Bryce Canyon National Park
                Drive for around two-and-a-half hours to Bryce Canyon. The canyon is famous for its 'hoodoos' - odd-shaped rock spires formed by centuries of erosion. You will have ample time to explore the park's extensive network of hiking trails, from the easy Rim Trail, to the moderate Queen's Garden Trail or the strenuous Peek-a-boo Loop. Wherever you walk, you'll encounter unique landscapes and a kaleidoscope of desert colours.
                Included Activities
                • Bryce National Park
                  Optional Activities
                  • Bryce Canyon National Park Hikes - Free
                  • Horseback Riding - USD60
                    Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
                    Day 9 Moab
                    Continue on your journey this morning through the impressive Utah landscape. Make a stop at Capitol Reef National Park before heading to Moab. Close to the incredible Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, Moab is a small city in Utah that attracts hikers, mountain bikers and nature enthusiasts. Arches National Park is punctuated with spectacularly eroded sandstone formations, and contains the world's largest concentration of natural stone arches. Take a hike out to see famous sights such as Delicate Arch and Landscape Arch. The total driving time today is approximately five-and-a-half hours.
                    Included Activities
                    • Arches National Park
                      Optional Activities
                      • Arches National Park Hikes - Free
                        Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
                        Day 10 Moab
                        On your second day in Moab, discover the red plateaus, cliffs and canyons of nearby Deadhorse Point State Park. Enjoy incredible views from Deadhorse Point. 610 metres (2,000 feet) above the ground, cowboys used to the point to round up wild mustangs in the 19th century. You might like to take an optional float down the Colorado River, or even hire a mountain bike to explore the area.
                        Included Activities
                        • Dead Horse Point
                          Optional Activities
                          • Float Trip on Colorado River - USD45
                          • Moab Mountain Biking - USD50
                          • Slickrock Hummer tour - USD91
                            Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
                            Day 11 Monument Valley
                            Today drive for about three hours through southern Utah to Monument Valley. Monument Valley is so-named for the giant sandstone formations scattered across the desert. The backdrop for countless westerns, the valley is part of the biggest Indian reservation in the US and home to more than 200,000 Navajo Indians. Head out on a guided jeep tour of the valley. Get your camera out and snap some photos of the spectacular landscape, which changes colour with the movement of the sun. Spend the night in a hogan, a traditional Navajo hut made of logs and earth.
                            Included Activities
                            • Jeep tour & overnight experience
                              Hogan (1 nt)
                              1 dinner
                              Day 12 Lake Powell
                              Drive through the unspoiled landscapes of the northern Arizona desert plateau to Lake Powell in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. This enormous manmade lake was created from the building of the Glen Canyon Dam, the first in a series of dams along the Colorado River. Explore hidden coves and canyons, take a dip in the fresh water or laze on the lake's sunny shores. You could even paddle around in a kayak. Total driving time today is around three-and-a-half hours.
                              Included Activities
                              • Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
                                Optional Activities
                                • Antelope Canyon tour - USD35
                                • Glen Canyon Dam Tour - USD5
                                • Jet ski rental --Lake Powell - USD435
                                • Kayak Rental - USD55
                                • Lake Powell Swimming - Free
                                • Horseback ride - USD64
                                  Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
                                  Special Information
                                  ANTELOPE CANYON
                                  Please note that while there are several operators running tours of Antelope Canyon, we only work with a select few who have satisfied our safety criteria. As a result, it can sometimes be difficult to get bookings for this activity, and it therefore cannot be guaranteed. If you particularly wish to do this activity, please speak to your leader on day 1 so that they have the best chance of getting a booking.
                                  Day 13 Las Vegas
                                  Today drive across the border into Nevada and back to Las Vegas. The drive should take around five hours in total. Las Vegas may be the gambling capital of the world, but there's plenty to do if gambling isn't your thing. Hit the shops, feel your stomach drop on a rooftop roller coaster or simply stroll along the Strip, soaking up the glitz and gaudiness.

                                  The trip finishes on arrival into Las Vegas and no accommodation is provided tonight. The arrival time depends on each group, but if you decide to fly out on this day, please don't book a flight before 8pm. This will give you enough time to catch a shuttle from the hotel to the airport and be there two hours before departure. If you are staying in town for the evening, perhaps feast on an 'all you can eat' buffet, check out one of the many shows on offer or party the night away in a Vegas nightclub. If you do wish to spend extra time in Las Vegas we'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
                                  Optional Activities
                                  • Las Vegas Go-Karts - USD25
                                  • Las Vegas Helicopter Strip Tour - USD110
                                  • Las Vegas Limo (per group) - USD250
                                  • Roller Coaster - Las Vegas - USD14
                                    Itinerary disclaimer
                                    ITINERARY CHANGES Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff. We are here to help you! Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.

                                    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.
                                    Physical rating

                                    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.
                                    Included activities
                                    Joshua Tree National Park
                                    Grand Canyon National Park
                                    Zion National Park
                                    Bryce National Park
                                    Arches National Park
                                    Dead Horse Point
                                    Jeep tour & overnight experience
                                    Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
                                    Important notes
                                    1. This trip finishes on arrival into Las Vegas in the afternoon on day 13.

                                    Group size
                                    Maximum of 13 travellers per group.
                                    Your fellow travellers
                                    GROUP TRAVEL
                                    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.
                                    Camping (with facilities) (9nt), Hogan (1nt), Hotel (2nt)
                                    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.
                                    Meals introduction
                                    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.
                                    1 dinner
                                    Private vehicle

                                    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.

                                    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.
                                    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).

                                    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.

                                    DEPARTURE TAX
                                    All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.

                                    EMERGENCY FUNDS
                                    Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
                                    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.
                                    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:


                                    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.

                                    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.
                                    Joining point
                                    Aloft El Segundo - Los Angeles Airport
                                    475 North Sepulveda Boulevard
                                    El Segundo
                                    Los Angeles
                                    UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
                                    Phone: +1 310 356 4587
                                    Joining point instructions
                                    The hotel offers a free pick-up from LAX airport. Call the hotel on 310 356 4587 and they will pick you up from the designated hotel courtesy shuttle area.

                                    PRE/POST TOUR ACCOMMODATION:
                                    If you have booked additional accommodation in conjunction with your trip, please note that it is standard policy in the USA for debit and credit cards to be authorized at check-in by hotels for the amount of your stay, plus an amount to cover incidentals. The authorization will hold the funds until check out, at which time the amount actually incurred during the stay will be charged. Authorized amounts can take up to 30 days after departure to be released by your bank or financial institution. If you are unsure at check in as to what your card is being charged for, please ask the staff to explain their policy. Please also clarify with the hotel when you check in or out that all deposits will be refunded as promptly as possible.
                                    Finish point
                                    Alexis Park Hotel
                                    375 East Harmon
                                    Las Vegas
                                    UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
                                    Phone: +1 702 796 3300
                                    Finishing point instructions
                                    A taxi to the airport will cost approximately US$20 (plus tip) and can be booked through the hotel reception. There are also shared-ride shuttle services available for approximately US$9-12 (plus tip) per person. The trip takes approximately 5 minutes in a taxi (longer if in a shared van making many stops) and transport services operate 24 hours a day.
                                    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. 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

                                    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
                                    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.

                                    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:

                                    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:

                                    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:
                                    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.

                                    SLEEPING BAGS AND WARM CLOTHING:
                                    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 and clothing. 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.

                                    Your own sleeping bag is required for some nights on this trip. 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. A pillow can also be useful both for sleeping at night and for extra comfort in the van.

                                    CLIMATE & CLOTHING:
                                    Keep in mind that our dress tends to be informal. Take a practical selection of clothes for both warm and cool climates to suit the season. 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 as well as comfortable walking shoes.

                                    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.

                                    WATER BOTTLE
                                    Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.
                                    Climate and seasonal information
                                    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
                                    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.
                                    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.

                                    USA HEAT WAVE 2016
                                    So far in 2016 the USA has been experiencing a severe heat wave, and predictions are that this will continue and that 2016 will be a hotter than usual summer. As a result, from time to time it may be necessary to change the itinerary with little notice, or cancel hikes, if we deem the conditions to be unsafe. Please make sure you take a water bottle and hat with you, and pay attention to how you are feeling, and alert your tour leader if you feel unwell at any time, particularly with symptoms such as muscle cramps, headaches, nausea or dizziness.

                                    ZIKA VIRUS
                                    Recently it has been confirmed that 4 people in Florida have been infected by the Zika virus by local mosquitoes. These are the first known infections of the virus being transmitted by mosquitoes locally. Up to this point all other cases have been contracted overseas.

                                    This virus is mostly concerning to pregnant women as recently in Brazil local authorities have linked the virus to an increase in babies born with microcephaly (smaller than normal skull). In addition to this risk, the World Health Organisation have reported that Zika symptoms may include mild fever, skin rash and conjunctivitis. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.

                                    At this stage, WHO is not recommending any travel or trade restrictions related to the Zika virus, however we recommend all women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant to closely monitor the information provided by the World Health Organisation, and also the USA government's Center for Disease Control (

                                    More information on the Zika virus can be found at the following links:
                                    World Health Organisation:
                                    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.

                                    A couple of rules
                                    Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

                                    Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
                                    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.


                                    The Intrepid Foundation
                                    Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.

                                    The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:


                                    Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in the USA include:

                                    * Bay Area Wilderness Training creates opportunities for urban youth to experience wilderness first hand and often for the first time. Operating out of the San Francisco Bay Area, BAWT supports teachers and youth workers with training, gear, funding and community support to help them get youth outdoors.

                                    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.