USA Family - Western Discovery Trip Notes

USA Family - Western Discovery

Last Modified: 12 Dec 2013
USA Family - Western Discovery
Trip code: FWC
Validity: 01 Oct 2012 to 31 Dec 2013
Take the children on an unforgettable tour of some of America’s most extraordinary natural sights. Starting in San Francisco, the family will explore the legendary Wild West country and be stunned by the staggering beauty of its national parks. Camp in the wilderness and spend evenings gathered around a fire. Watch young eyes light up at the vastness of sites such as the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Monument Valley and find out more about the Navajo people who call this area home. Share fun new experiences with the family that will be remembered forever.
This trip is operated by our trusted local partners, The Adventure Company.
Table of Contents
StyleDeparture taxFinish point instructions
ThemesImportant notesEmergency contact
MapGroup sizeEmergency funds
ItineraryYour fellow travellersVisas
Also available to purchaseAccommodationIssues on your trip
Itinerary disclaimerMeals introductionWhat to take
Culture shock rating MealsHealth
Physical ratingTransportSafety
Included activitiesGroup leaderTravel insurance
Optional activitiesJoining point descriptionResponsible Travel
Money ExchangeJoining point instructionsA couple of rules
Spending moneyArrival complicationsThe Intrepid Foundation
TippingFinish point descriptionFeedback
  • 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.
Family, Explorer
USA Family - Western Discovery
Days 1-2 San Francisco
Welcome to America.
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.
The following morning, after a brief tour of San Francisco, head east through California's historic gold country, where stunning scenery and an abundance of activities make Yosemite National Park the perfect base for the next two days.
Hotel (1 nt), Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 3-4 Yosemite National Park
Go cycling in the valley, float down the Merced River on an inner tube and keep an eye out for bear or even a wild marmot. Yosemite National Park sits nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range of Northern California. Here green forest meets granite walls measuring several thousand feet in height. Rock climbers come from all over the world to scale rocks named Half Dome and El Capitan. Hike to the base of some of the largest waterfalls in the world or rest on the banks of the Merced River.
Included Activities
  • Hiking
Optional Activities
  • Biking - USD20
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Day 5 Great Basin
Traverse the 10,000ft Tioga Pass and skirt the eerie shores of Mono Lake before journeying down the Extraterrestrial Highway and stopping at the Little A'Le' Inn. Pitch camp in one of the most remote and idyllic high desert locations in all of the Desert Southwest.
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 6-7 Zion National Park
Hike to Emerald Pools, ford the Narrows or climb to Angels Landing in one of America's most spectacular National Parks. Just a few hours northeast of Las Vegas, lies Zion Canyon, named by the early Mormon settlers of Utah.
Some of the best hiking in the desert Southwest can be found here in the fertile Virgin River Gorge.
Ascend 2500 feet to experience unbeatable views from atop Angels Landing, take a short hike from the valley floor to view the Emerald Pools, or cool off from the summer sun by exploring the Narrows section of the Virgin River.
Included Activities
  • Hiking
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Day 8 Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon is a fascinating landscape of thin spires of pink and orange stone. The Navajo Loop trail enables you to hike right in amongst these unique formations. Or perhaps you would prefer to remain on the rim, photographing the change of colours and shadows as the sun moves across the sky.
Included Activities
  • Hiking
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Day 9 Lake Powell
After a busy few days, it's time to relax and take a refreshing dip in the clear blue waters of Lake Powell. But if the kids just can't sit still, there are plenty of water based activities to keep them busy. Created by the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River, Lake Powell has a shoreline that stretches longer than the west coast of the United States. Now the lake is a haven for watersports and swimming.
Included Activities
  • Hiking
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Day 10 Monument Valley
Discover the hidden secrets of Monument Valley and learn more about the Native American culture and way of life, on our included Navajo guided backroads tour. In the heart of the Navajo Nation, Monument Valley is sacred land to those who call it home. The red sandstone monoliths have been the backdrop to countless 'westerns' featuring cowboys riding off into the sunset.
Included Activities
  • Hiking
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 11-12 Grand Canyon
Take a scenic flight or a guided nature walk along the rim of one of the Earth's greatest natural wonders, the Grand Canyon. The spectacular views here are best enjoyed in the incredible audio-visual Grand Canyon IMAX cinema experience that provides the best possible views. This incredible spectacle is difficult to comprehend, even as you stand at the rim or hike down into the canyon. Carved over millennia, this massive wonder of nature is 277 miles long, up to 16 miles wide and 1 mile deep. We highly recommend a scenic flight over the canyon and the IMAX film to obtain perspectives you cannot achieve on foot.
Included Activities
  • Hiking
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 13-14 Las Vegas
After visiting so many of nature's creations, we return to a surreal man-made one, Las Vegas, to say goodbye. Your tour ends the next morning at your hotel after breakfast
Hotel (1 nt)
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
  • Western Discovery - Single supplement (FWC)
    Itinerary disclaimer
    We've allowed plenty of room for freedom and flexibility in our trips. In fact, flexibility is one of the ingredients that makes each of our trips so exciting. This style of travel offers us some unexpected circumstances at times, for example, bad weather and road conditions, technical defects of transportation, inconveniences caused by local operators and authorities, and other circumstances beyond our control. Changes in the program may be required to make the best of the unique situations that we encounter.
    Overnight stops and driving distances each day may vary to best suit the needs of the group. Our described itineraries are to be used as a general guide only.
    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.
    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 and are subject to availabilities. For our families we have priced an all inclusive package including entrance fees, transport and local guide where relevant to assist you with budgeting the exact amount required on tour. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. The optional activities listed in your itinerary are activities that are available to you as a guideline and have been checked locally.
    The decision to partake in any activity not listed above is entirely at your own discretion and risk. If you do have any complaint about or problem with, any such optional activity your claim should be directed to the activity provider and not to us.
    Money Exchange
    The most convenient and cheapest way to acquire money is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) or Bancomat as they are often referred to. Check with your bank in advance concerning the suitability of your account / card overseas and any international fees that will be applied. You can obtain local currencies easily at airports and major train stations, but be sure to bring some extra emergency cash in a major currency that can be exchanged if the ATMs are not functioning. When leaving home don't forget your PIN and make sure you know the telephone number for cancelling your card if it is stolen. Keep this in a safe place. Credit cards are not always accepted in stores and restaurants. While travelling we recommend you carry some cash to pay for restaurant bills and other services. Change can be difficult to obtain so throughout the day, try to gain as many small denominations as you can. You might be advised to take some of your money as travellers' cheques from a major financial institute. Travellers' cheques have security advantages, however please be aware that the exchange rates may not be favourable and that it is difficult to change Travellers' cheques in most countries. Be particularly aware that after hours money exchanges and hotel receptions carry high commissions- sometimes up to 20%. For money safety we recommend that you carry your cash and credit cards in a secure money belt or pouch concealed under your clothes.
    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.
    If you are happy with the services providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is 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. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.
    The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
    Restaurants: Please check the bill and if there’s an addition of 10% service charge, there’s no requirement for tipping. Otherwise, 10% of the total bill amount is appropriate.
    At local markets and basic restaurants: Leave the loose change.
    Local guides/Porters: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$1 per person, per day for local guides/porters.
    Your crew (including the leader and driver, and perhaps cook depending on your trip): You may also consider tipping your crew for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$2-3 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
    Departure tax
    All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
    Important notes
    Age restrictions apply to this trip: minimum age 5. Please note that anyone aged under 18 must be accompanied by (and share accommodation with) a parent or legal guardian.
    This trip is operated by our experienced local partner, The Adventure Company.
    Group size
    Maximum of 13 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:
    Camping (with facilities) (11 nts), Hotel (2 nts)
    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 your selected accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
    Family of two - All family groupings of two will be put into a twin room.
    Family of three - Wherever possible we will put you in a triple room. Please be aware that in some places triple rooms are in short supply. This means that, in practice, a triple room will often simply be a twin room with a mattress on the floor or a further bed squashed in. Where it is impossible to provide a triple room, you will have to decide which of your party takes the single room.
    Family of four or more - You will most likely stay in two twin rooms. If and wherever possible we will aim put you in a quadruple room. Whilst we will do our very best to ensure that families are roomed close together (in some cases, we can arrange adjoining rooms), we can’t guarantee this. Most family holidays occur during peak season and we sometimes have little to no control over where you will be put. You need to come prepared for this.
    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.
    11 Breakfasts, 11 Lunches, 11 Dinners. All meals when camping
    Budget for meals not included:
    USD 100.00
    Private Bus
    Group leader
    Family Trips
    All Intrepid Family trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to assist your family take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for fun things to do and see- for both kids and parents, recommend great local eating venues that will even get the kids trying new things, 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 countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects.
    Our leaders are not babysitters on this trip - we leave that to you (the experts), but they will make sure that group members of all ages are able to explore their destination safely and with as much fun as possible. Our group leaders are not responsible for looking after children at any time and children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times throughout this itinerary.
    Joining point description
    The Holiday Inn Golden Gateway in the heart of San Francisco is 26 stories tall with 499 hotel rooms and suites. It is located next to a cable car stop, and minutes away from San Francisco attractions, shopping, dining, and businesses.
    The hotel feature two onsite restaurants, an outdoor heated swimming pool boasting views of the city, and complimentary Wi-Fi in all guest rooms.
    Joining point instructions
    The hotel is located downtown in the Nob Hill area. The hotel can be reached from San Francisco International Airport by shuttle which leaves approximately every 10 minutes. There are several companies available including Super Shuttle and Lorries and all cost around $15 per person, including tip. They are available 24 hours a day and can be found just outside the terminal. The trip takes approximately 45 minutes depending on traffic.
    Alternatively you could take a taxi which would take approximately 30 minutes depending on traffic and cost about $45.
    Or you could take the BART (train) from San Francisco Airport to Powell Street and then take the 38L bus in the direction of 48th Avenue, getting off at Van Ness Avenue. This is the cheapest option and should only cost about $10 but be aware that in peak hour the buses can be packed, and there is about a 10 minute uphill walk from the bus stop to the hotel.
    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 group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
    If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
    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 description
    Finish point instructions
    Most tours end at our finishing point hotel between 5pm to 6pm on the final day. Some tour activities scheduled for the last day may preclude an earlier arrival at the hotel, so you should not book a departure flight that leaves prior to 9pm. You will be responsible for any transportation costs if you have to arrive for an earlier flight.
    If you require accommodation on this last night, it is essential that you book this before your tour departs. If you would like to reserve additional nights in our hotel after the tour, please contact our sales team for additional information and associated costs.
    Emergency contact
    In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Grand American Adventures can be reached as follows:
    Tours commencing in Las Vegas, Los Angeles & San Francisco:
    - Toll-Free: 1 (800) 786 - 8735
    - Int’l: 001 (707) 523 - 1800
    Tours commencing in New York, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago & Houston:
    - Toll-Free: 1 (800) 637 - 8931
    - Int’l: 001 (973) 989 - 7501
    Tours commencing in Seattle, Vancouver & Anchorage:
    - Toll-Free: 1 (800) 600 -5343
    - Int’l: 001 (206) 878 - 0948
    For all other enquiries please contact our Reservations department which is open 24 hours, 6 days per week (excluding Sunday). 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 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.
    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 ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
    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), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
    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.
    Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. We recommend at least a 1.5litre capacity. 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 end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Please avoid the purchase of bottled water by using the chemically sterilized water stored in the purpose-built storage tank or in water jerry cans in your overland vehicle. You're free to refill your bottle as many times a day as you like.
    A sleeping bag (we recommend a 3–4 season). It can get very cold at night in winter months in desert and mountainous regions. If you are travelling during the hot season you may wish to also pack a sleep sheet so you will be comfortable no matter what the weather. Pillows are not provided so please bring a travel pillow along. While we provide a mattress for each client, some travellers find they like the extra comfort of a double layer and choose to bring their own mattress.
    A simple plastic bag/waterproof toiletry bag (that can hang on a nail on the back of a door) will be useful to keep your clothes dry inside basic camp shower structures.
    A headlamp or torch is recommended for around the campsite at night. Some campsites have limited lighting and are powered by generators that switch off at a certain time. Although the trucks do carry lamps for meal times it’s a good idea to bring a headlamp to navigate the campsites and in particular going to the toilet in the middle of the night.
    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.
    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:
    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:
    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.