USA: Cowboys, Canyons & Coast Trip Notes

Unearth the natural wonders of the USA’s west coast, from the deserts of Arizona to the sparkling beaches of California.

    • 16
    • SSSQC
    • Total price tool tip
      USD $3,298
      CAD $3,406
      AUD $3,339
      EUR €2,295
      GBP £1,930
      NZD $3,717
      ZAR R33,421
      CHF FR2,781
      *
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    • Explorer
    • Original
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There is an earlier version of this trip also available for travel from Jan 1, 2014 to Dec 31, 2014. View earlier USA: Cowboys, Canyons & Coast.
Print Version
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2014
USA: Cowboys, Canyons & Coast
Trip code: SSSQC
Validity: 01 Jan 2015 to 31 Dec 2015
Uncover the natural wonders of the USA’s west coast, from the desert ranches of Arizona, to the astonishing scenery of the Grand Canyon to the brilliant beaches of California. Get a taste of cowboy life with a stay at a ranch and drop by rodeo shows and traditional whisky bars. Be mesmerised by the amazing colours of the deserts and the breathtaking sights that await at the Grand Canyon. Then head down to the coast and enjoy the postcard-perfect beaches and the thriving arts culture that gathers around the flawless shores.
Table of Contents
StyleYour fellow travellersEmergency funds
ThemesSingle travellersVisas
ItineraryAccommodationIssues on your trip
Itinerary disclaimerMeals introductionWhat to take
Culture shock rating MealsHealth
Physical ratingTransportSafety
Physical preparationGroup leaderTravel insurance
Included activitiesJoining point Responsible Travel
Optional activitiesJoining point descriptionA couple of rules
Money ExchangeJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
Spending moneyArrival complicationsResponsible Travel projects
TippingFinish point Carbon offset
Departure taxFinish point descriptionFeedback
Important notesFinish point instructions
Group sizeEmergency contact
To save you money and the hassle of booking multiple trips, this journey is a combination of some of our most popular adventures so your leader and the composition of your group may change.
Style
Original
  • Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Themes
Explorer
Itinerary
Day 1 Las Vegas
Welcome to the USA!
Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel 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.
Las Vegas is the gambling capital of the world, but there's plenty to do along the Strip for gamblers and non-gamblers alike - there's the casinos and shows, of course, plus shops, amusement rides, dance clubs and great value 'all you can eat' buffets.
As there's a great deal to do in Las Vegas we recommend you arrive a few days early to make the most of this exciting city. If you need help booking extra accommodation, our reservations team will be happy to assist.
Optional Activities
  • Roller Coaster - Las Vegas - USD14
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Zion National Park
With its soaring cliffs and cascading waterfalls, Zion National Park is one of the Southwest's most beautiful and dynamic places. There is a variety of trails to choose from and you will have plenty of opportunities to explore. Warm up with a gentle walk to Lower Emerald pool and then continue on to the sparkling Upper Emerald pools, passing a waterfall along the way to discover Zion's "beach."
If you are feeling ambitious, enjoy the park's most famous challenge, Angel's Landing. After a beautiful but strenuous hike along the knife-edge ridgeline you will be rewarded with one of the most breathtaking and powerful panoramas you will ever experience.
Included Activities
  • Zion National Park
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 3 Lake Powell
We leave Nevada today and enter Arizona, on our way to our cowboy camp at Lake Powell. We spend the night in a ranchhands' bunkhouse.
Located on the border of Utah and Arizona and created by the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River, Lake Powell has a shoreline that stretches longer than the western coast of the USA. Many say that Glen Canyon was even more spectacular than the Grand Canyon before the dam was built. Now the lake is a haven for water sports or just relaxing in one of the many sandstone coves.
Enjoy the wide open spaces with a stay at the Paria Canyon Ranch in the remote Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. We spend the night in a ranchhand's bunkhouse. The bunkhouse is multi-share and houses the whole group, including the leader. There is a kitchenette, small living area, a porch with picnic tables, and a nearby shower block with toilets and hot showers.
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
Accommodation
Cabin (1 nt)
Day 4 Monument Valley
We have a short drive today to the spectacular Monument Valley.
The backdrop for countless westerns, Monument Valley is part of the biggest Indian reservation in the US and home to more than 200,000 Indians of the Navajo Tribe. Monument Valley is so-named for the giant sandstone formations scattered across the desert. The angle of the sun means that the landscape is constantly changing colour and it's near impossible to take a bad photo.
Included Activities
  • Jeep tour & overnight experience
  • Monument Valley Tribal Park Entry Fee
Accommodation
Hogan (1 nt)
Days 5-6 Grand Canyon National Park
No matter how many pictures you've seen, you can't fail to be awed by our destination today - the Grand Canyon.
This national landmark is 18 miles wide, 277 miles long and over a mile deep, making it one of the largest canyon systems in the world. Stroll the meandering South Rim Trail, hike your way down to Plateau Point, opt for a scenic flight or simply relax at the canyon's edge and enjoy a spectacular sunset over one the world's natural wonders.
Included Activities
  • Grand Canyon National Park
Optional Activities
  • Helicopter flight (25 mins) - USD244
  • Helicopter flight (45 mins) - USD274
  • Grand Canyon hiking - Free
  • IMAX movie - USD15
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 7 Prescott
Heading out of the Grand Canyon today, we drive south, stopping en route at the Route 66 town of Flagstaff, the red rocks of Sedona, and the historic mining town of Jerome, before continuing on to Prescott for the night.
Once Arizona's capital, Prescott is now a small community located half way between the Grand Canyon and the present capital, Phoenix. Prescott is situated on the edge of the Prescott National Forest, and is also close by the stunning Willow and Watson Lakes. In the evening, head for a drink down on Whiskey Row. Once a notorious red light district, this street is now full of historic bars and saloons, many featuring live music.
Optional Activities
  • Aura photo - USD30
  • Gold King Mine and Ghost Town - USD5
  • Jerome Historical Society Mine Museum - USD2
  • Red Rock State Park - USD10
  • Sedona Vortex Jeep Tour - USD65
  • Slide Rock State Park Entrance - USD20
  • Whiskey Row Entrance - Free
Accommodation
Motel (1 nt)
Days 8-9 Los Angeles
We have a long drive today to our destination, Los Angeles.
Los Angeles - the 'City of Angels' - is world-renowned for the streets of Hollywood and Beverly Hills, and the shopping on Rodeo Drive. From Venice Beach to Disneyland, it's a veritable smorgasbord for the senses.
As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting in the hotel lobby at 6pm to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and meet any new fellow travellers. Please ask your leader for the exact day, time and location of this meeting.
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 10 Santa Barbara
Today we take a spectacular train journey up the California coast to Santa Barbara. We have a free afternoon in Santa Barbara.
Often referred to as the "American Riviera" because of its Mediterranean climate, Santa Barbara is known for its pearly-white beaches, star-studded address book, Spanish Colonial-style architecture, and, of course, some of the best wines California has to offer. You'll have plenty of time to explore this seaside resort on foot, by bike or by rollerblade.
Optional Activities
  • Santa Barbara Beaches - Free
  • Santa Barbara Bicycle Rentals - USD49
  • Santa Barbara Mission - USD8
  • Santa Barbara Zoo - USD14
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 11-12 San Luis Obispo
Following a free morning in Santa Barbara, we take an early afternoon train to San Luis Obispo.
Self-claimed to be the happiest place in America, San Luis Obispo is a charming city with great weather, a thriving arts scene and plenty of outdoor activities. Visit the mission, hike up to Bishop's Peak for a panoramic vista over the bay, or explore the many cafes and boutiques around the town.
Optional Activities
  • Bubblegum Alley - Free
  • Hearst Castle Day Tour - USD135
  • Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa - USD3
  • San Luis Obispo Farmers Market - Free
  • Central Valley Wine Tour - USD120
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 13-14 Monterey
We leave San Luis Obispo this morning on a train to Salinas, and change to a bus to continue to Monterey.
Monterey is home to the legendary Cannery Row, subject of John Steinbeck's novel by the same name. Lying within one of the world's most diverse marine ecosystems, it's home to numerous mammals, seabirds, fish, invertebrates and plants in a remarkably productive coastal environment.
There is time here to go kayaking, visit the Aquarium, or journey down the coast to see the magnificent redwoods and spectacular coastal views at Big Sur.
Optional Activities
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium - USD28
  • Day Trip to Big Sur - USD250
  • Monterey Bay Whale Watching - USD50
  • Bike rental - USD20
  • Kayak rental - USD30
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 15-16 San Francisco
Today we travel by a combination of trains and buses north to San Francisco.
San Francisco is a chilled-out city with a vibrant, multicultural heart. You can catch a tram to visit the waterfront, feast like a king in Chinatown or peruse zany artwork in SoMa.
With iconic sights like the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Lombard Hill, The Castro and Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco is one of the world's most visited cities.
This trip doesn't include a visit to Alcatraz, so you'll need to make your own arrangements if you wish to visit. Tickets must be booked in advance as they sell out quickly and tickets are limited. You can make your reservations online: http://www.alcatrazcruises.com/ or by calling +1.415.981.7625 between the hours of 08:00-19:00 Pacific Standard Time (USA). We recommend you reserve your tickets for this day of your trip.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Included Activities
  • Temples, Tea, & Beatniks Urban Adventure
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
  • SSSQC - Single Supplement (SSSQC)
  • California Coast (SSSI)
  • USA: Wine, Desert & Coast (SSSMC)
  • Western USA Circuit (SSSNC)
Itinerary disclaimer
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. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
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.
Culture shock rating

This is the least confronting of Intrepid's product range. English is the native language and the food, customs and access to services will be similar to home.
Physical rating

Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
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.
Included activities
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
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.
The receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops or services is ingrained in the culture of the North American tourism industry. Rather than turn a blind eye to this unavoidable issue, Intrepid has established a centralised system whereby commissions from recommended suppliers are distributed back to the leader. Details of these arrangements will be provided by the leader on request.
While Intrepid endeavours to ensure that these recommended suppliers and services maintain reasonable levels of quality - they are chosen based on the feedback and experiences of past travellers - we can't explicitly guarantee the quality or safety of the product or activity.
A priority in establishing this service is that your travel experience isn't compromised in any way. Please let us know via the feedback form completed after your trip if we are successfully meeting this objective.
Money Exchange
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
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
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 15% to 20% 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$3 per day for local guides.
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.
Important notes
MINIMUM AGE:
The minimum age for this trip is 15 at the time of travel. Any travellers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a legal guardian, or in lieu of a legal guardian, by an escort over the age of 18, appointed by their legal guardian. The legal guardian or their designee will be responsible for the traveller under the age of 18 day to day’s care. If a legal guardian elects to designate an escort in their lieu, they will be required to complete and sign a relevant document, to delegate their authority.
LEGAL DRINKING AGE:
Please note that the legal drinking age in the US is 21 and in some parts of Canada it's 19.
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
Group size
Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
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. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit: www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
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.
Accommodation
Hotel (12 nts), Cabin (1 nt), Motel (1 nt), Hogan (1 nt)
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 hotels 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.
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
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. 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.
Meals
1 Breakfast, 1 Dinner
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.
USD 500.00
Transport
Private vehicle, Train, Bus, Taxi
TRAVELLING TIMES:
All travel times mentioned in our itinerary are intended as a guide only and do not allow for traffic congestion, adverse weather conditions or any last minute alterations to the itinerary for any unforeseen circumstances. Please note that there are some long travel days on this tour - we'll have some early starts and late arrivals at our final destination (sometimes after dark). We recommend you are fully prepared for these long travel days by reviewing our notes and indicated 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.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT:
For long distance and inter-city travel on these trips we use a mixture of Amtrak trains (USA), VIA Rail (Canada), Bolt Bus, Megabus and Greyhound. Trains and buses are comfortable, although they don't always run to schedule so a degree of flexibility is needed. In many cases inter-city transport has free wifi on board, although this does not always work.
Group leader
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
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.
Joining point
Mardi Gras Hotel & Casino
3500 Paradise Road
Las Vegas
NV
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Joining point description
The Mardi Gras Hotel & Casino is located close to the famous Las Vegas Strip, and all its attractions. Rooms include refrigerator, free wireless high-speed internet access and cable TV. Amenities include an on-site restaurant and cocktail lounge (Bon Temps Cafe), an oversized outdoor swimming pool and hot tub, a 24-hour casino lounge and a courtesy shuttle to both McCarran International Airport and the Las Vegas Strip.
Joining point instructions
The hotel is located 5km from McCarran International Airport. You can either take a taxi or the free shuttle, which runs from 6am-1pm and 4pm-10pm. To get the shuttle to pick you up please call the hotel on (702) 731-2020, after you get your luggage.
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.
Arrival complications
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please refer to the emergency contact section below for who to contact depending upon your starting location.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
Finish point
The Good Hotel
112 Seventh Street
San Francisco
CA
94103
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Finish point description
The Good Hotel is a hip San Francisco hotel that practices philanthropy and believes in doing good for the planet, located south of Market Street - in the SoMa district - one of San Francisco's youngest and most stylish areas. The eco-friendly hotel décor features reclaimed and recycled construction materials. Rooms include cable TV, coffee and tea-making facilities, personal safes, free WiFi and iPod docks. You can borrow one of the resident Globe® bicycles for free and wander the city on two wheels.
www.thegoodhotel.com
Finish point instructions
Your hotel reception will be able to book a taxi or shuttle transfer for you.
To catch public transportation to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) you can take a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train. Walk up Seventh Street to Market and take a left turn, then walk to the Civic Cente / UN Plaza station at 1150 Market Street (approximately a 5 minute walk). Take the San Francisco International Airport train, disembarking at the International Terminal, Level 3. The trip to the airport will take approximately 30 minutes.
Emergency contact
For cases of genuine emergency or crisis, please contact 1-800-786-8735 (within the USA)
From outside the USA please call +1 707 483 9460
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.
For further contact details please use the following page:
Emergency funds
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
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 passport (which meets US requirements) at the port of entry to enter without a visa, otherwise a US visa is required. Canada doesn't require a visa for many foreign nationals however you should check to see if this applies to your country. You can get further information from the US Department of State and the Canadian government websites:
- http://travel.state.gov/visa/tempvisitors.html
- http://canadainternational.gc.ca
Also please note, all travellers from Visa Waiver Program countries must obtain an electronic travel authorization prior to their flight from the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) website: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov
All ESTA registration applications or renewals require a US$14.00 fee paid by credit or debit card. You should apply for your visa waiver authorisation at least 1 week prior to travel to avoid any last minute delays. You will require your passport details and your address in the US (you can use the starting point hotel/hostel address).
USA TOURIST VISA:
Australia: No - ESTA required
Belgium: No - ESTA required
Canada: No - not required
Germany: No - ESTA required
Ireland: No - ESTA required
Netherlands: No - ESTA required
New Zealand: No - ESTA required
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: No - ESTA required
UK: No - ESTA required
Issues on your trip
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.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes).
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
SLEEPING BAG:
A sleeping bag is required for the night in the Hogan. A sleeping mat will be provided.
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.
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.
Health
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid 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.
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. 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 group 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 group 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 and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
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 group 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.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
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:
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.
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$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Responsible Travel projects
Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in America 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.
Carbon offset
Carbon Offset C02-e 580.00 kgs per pax.
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.
Remember that once you’ve left your feedback you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.