USA Parks Trip Notes

    • 14
    • STKP
    • Total price tool tip
      USD $3,599
      CAD $3,620
      AUD $3,819
      EUR €2,699
      GBP £2,249
      NZD $4,499
      ZAR R34,210
      CHF FR3,225
      *
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    • Explorer
    • Comfort
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Print Version
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2014
USA Parks
Trip code: STKP
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
Plunge into a rich natural world on a tour of some of the USA’s best national parks. This trip follows a trail from Seattle to San Francisco, taking you into the depths of spectacular natural reserves including Mount Rainier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park. Be taken aback by cascading waterfalls, overgrown forests, crystal clear lakes and bubbling hot springs. A wealth of majestic wildlife is waiting; keep your eyes peeled for moose, bison, elk and grizzly and black bears and look to the skies to spot an array of unique birdlife. From the snow-covered peak of Mount Rainier to the lush valleys of Jackson, this is a get-back-to-nature trip you’ll never forget.
This trip is operated by our experienced local partner, Grand American Adventures.
Table of Contents
StyleImportant notesEmergency funds
ThemesGroup sizeVisas
MapYour fellow travellersIssues on your trip
ItinerarySingle travellersWhat to take
Itinerary disclaimerAccommodationHealth
Culture shock rating Meals introductionSafety
Physical ratingMealsTravel insurance
Physical preparationTransportResponsible Travel
Included activitiesGroup leaderA couple of rules
Optional activitiesJoining point The Intrepid Foundation
Money ExchangeJoining point instructionsResponsible Travel projects
Spending moneyArrival complicationsFeedback
TippingFinish point
Departure taxEmergency contact
Style
Comfort
  • Comfort is your style of travel if you want the whole grassroots experience with more inclusions, meals and creature comforts. While accommodation is predominantly tourist class (3-4 star), on some itineraries there is the opportunity to stay with a local family, spend the night on a train or camp out in exotic places (without putting up your own tent of course). Along the way, you'll really experience the destination up close. You'll mingle with locals, enjoy a taste of their way of life and gain special insights from your leader. This is not luxury travel, but real world experiences - just with a softer landing!
Themes
Explorer
Map
USA Parks
Itinerary
Days 1-2 Seattle/Mt Rainier National Park
Welcome to the USA!
There will be an important welcome meeting at 7:30 am this morning. Meet in the hotel reception/lobby. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting so please ensure you have all details on hand to provide to your leader. You should have packed your bags and have eaten breakfast so that you are fresh and ready to start the journey.
Known as the 'Emerald City', Seattle offers a multitude of sights including the Space Needle, Jimi Hendrix Memorial, the original Starbucks and Bill Gates' house. As you would expect from the city that invented 'grunge', Seattle also has an edgy culture with hip cafes, quirky galleries and a vibrant live music scene. If you didn't stay out too late the night before, it is worth rising early and heading down to Pike Place Market to grab a fresh breakfast and watch the fish fly.
As there's a great deal to do in Seattle we recommend arriving a few days early to make the most of this exciting city. If you need help booking extra accommodation, our reservations team will be able to assist. Consider doing our one day sightseeing tour of Seattle (see www.urbanadventures.com).
We depart Seattle this morning and drive to the Cascade Mountains, home of the stunning snow-covered peak of Mount Rainier.
An active volcano covered with glaciers, Mount Rainier is one of the highest points in the continental United States (4392 m). Home to a diversity of plants and wildlife, there are plenty of hiking trails here to explore the old growth forests and subalpine meadows.
Included Activities
  • Mt Rainier National Park
Optional Activities
  • Space Needle observation deck - USD19
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 3 Missoula
Today we retrace Lewis and Clark's path across the Columbia River and into Montana.
Missoula is nestled in the midst of the western Rockies in Montana's 'Big Sky Country'. The sky really does look bigger here, and this makes it a great place for star-gazing. Grab some warm gear and head out at night ready to be awed by a blanket of stars.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 4-5 Yellowstone National Park
Today's destination, Yellowstone National Park, is nature at its best, and we have a full day to explore it.
America's first national park and largest thermal basin, Yellowstone represents one of the earth's thinnest surfaces, which in turn has created a fantastic world of bubbling geysers ('Old Faithful'), sulphuric springs and colourful paintpots (boiling mud). The park is home to moose, bison, elk and grizzly and black bears.
Take time to visit the park's famous sites as well as the impressive Yellowstone Falls. Short walks on wooden platforms allow us to walk around the geysers, staring into their epicentres of fantastic turquoise colours, all with the familiar scent of sulphur in the air. This park is also home to grizzlies, elk, deer, wolves, coyotes and a host of other creatures. However, the most notable resident is the American bison. These incredible animals roam freely in herds throughout the park and often use the park roads as well (not to mention wandering through the campgrounds).
Included Activities
  • Yellowstone National Park
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 6-7 Jackson
We continue south today past Grand Teton National Park to Jackson, Wyoming.
Once home to trappers and a hideout for outlaws and rustlers, Jackson is now the base for hikers to take on challenging trails and relax in one of its many renowned cafes and western style saloons. With a permanent population of around 8,600 people and a far greater transient tourist population including the rich and famous, it is the ideal base for exploring Grand Teton National Park. Surrounded by beautiful scenery, spend your time here hiking, mountain biking, rafting and more.
Optional Activities
  • Mountain biking - USD65
  • River rafting - USD70
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 8 Salt Lake City
We then continue into Utah, and stop for the night in Salt Lake City.
Founded by the Mormons as a religious centre in 1847, Salt Lake City is today the centre of the Mormon State. Today, only about half the city's population are members of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, however the city remains synonymous with the religion. If you are interested in the Mormon faith you can visit the historic Temple Square area among other city sights. The city itself is beautifully located, surrounded by mountains and the Great Salt Lake.
Optional Activities
  • Salt Lake City Tabernacle - Free
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 9 Humboldt National Forest/Elko
We head west from Salt Lake City into Nevada and visit Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.
The largest national forest in the US's 48 contiguous states, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest stretches across Nevada and into part of California. The terrain of the forest varies greatly from Joshua trees to pines, and canyons to peaks, which are home to animals such as deer, elk, squirrels, mountain goats, turkeys, numerous other bird species, and trout.
There will be a chance here to go on a walking tour before continuing on to the city of Elko where we spend the night.
Included Activities
  • Humboldt National Forest
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 10-11 Lake Tahoe
We turn west today and drive into the Sierra Nevada Range to explore the vibrant forests and deep blue waters of beautiful Lake Tahoe.
The second deepest lake in the USA, Lake Tahoe was formed about 2 million years ago and is located on the border of California and Nevada. It is a major tourist recreational area in both summer and winter, and one of its ski areas, Squaw Valley, hosted the Winter Olympics in 1960.
During the summer the lake is popular for watersports and boating activities like standup paddle boarding, kayaking, and waterskiing. There are also hundreds of hiking and mountain biking trails to suit all abilities surrounding the lake. After a fun-filled day, we can relax and enjoy champagne aboard an optional sunset catamaran cruise, which is sure to be an unforgettable experience.
Optional Activities
  • Lake Tahoe sunset catamaran cruise - USD47
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 12-13 Yosemite National Park
We drive south today to the incomparable Yosemite National Park.
One of the most famous parks in the USA, Yosemite National Park's colossal granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls and redwood trees attract visitors from all over the world.
There are plenty of hikes available in Yosemite, each varying in steepness and difficulty. Hike under the cooling breezes of Nevada Falls (4-5 hours) or to the serenity of Mirror Lake (45 minutes). Keep an eye out for squirrels, and perhaps even a bear, along the way. There are also non-hiking activities such as bicycling around Yosemite Valley, visiting the park's museum, photo gallery, shops, restaurants and just walking the trails on the valley floor. In the heat of summer, a relaxing float down the Merced River followed by a few drinks at the park's cafe is just the trick.
Included Activities
  • Yosemite National Park
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 14 San Francisco
Today we journey through California's historic gold country to the 'City by the Bay'.
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.
We end the adventure with a tour through the neighbourhoods that make San Francisco unique - Chinatown, North Beach, the Wharf, and Golden Gate Park.
This tour ends at our gateway hotel at approximately 5pm. No accommodation is included tonight. If you would like to stay longer, we can book your post-tour accommodation at our gateway hotel if required. If you are planning to fly out tonight, please do not book a flight that departs before 9pm to allow for any delays.
As there's a great deal to do in San Francisco we recommend staying a few extra days to make the most of this exciting city. If you need help booking extra accommodation, our reservations team will be happy to assist. Consider doing our one-day sightseeing tour of San Francisco (see www.urbanadventures.com).
This trip doesn't allow time for a visit to Alcatraz, so you'll need to make your own arrangements 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 8am-7pm, Pacific Standard Time (USA). We recommend you reserve your tickets for the day after the tour finishes.
Included Activities
  • San Francisco - City tour
  • STKP Single Supplement (STKP)
    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.
    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
    LOCAL PARTNER:
    This trip is operated by our trusted local partners, Grand American Adventures.
    AGE RESTRICTIONS:
    Grand American Adventures tours are designed for adults over 18 years old. For safety reasons, travellers over 70 will be asked to complete a self-declaration of fitness, although experience has shown us that our senior travellers are often in the best shape!
    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 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: 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 (13 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 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
    No meals included
    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 420.00
    On our lodging tours we eat in local restaurants where passengers pay individually for each of their meals and drinks. Average hotel breakfasts cost from US$6-$12, lunches from US$8-$15 and dinners from US$13-$30; this does not include alcoholic beverages. Wine costs approximately US$5 per glass and beer US$4 per bottle.
    Most group leaders will offer their tour members the choice to operate a ‘lunch only’ food kitty that has proven to be a popular alternative to three daily restaurant meals. Leaders will more fully explain this option and the whole group will have to agree to implement this system. Please make sure we are aware of any special meal requirements before travelling.
    Transport
    Van
    FLEET
    Our large fleet of vans are fully equipped with dual air-conditioning system, V8 engines and any camping or cooking equipment needed for your trip. Most have cloth-upholstered seats and carpeted interior with radio/tape or CD players. Your baggage is transported in a trailer which is towed behind the van.
    The vans are regularly serviced in our own maintenance facility and continuously checked and serviced by a well established network of maintenance and service facilities throughout the continent. However, unforeseen maintenance problems can still occur while on the road and we appreciate the patience of our travellers as we make necessary repairs as quickly as possible.
    WI-FI
    Beginning 01 January 2013, all private vehicle trips through the United States, including Alaska, will feature mobile Wi-Fi hotspots. Please note that trips in Canada will NOT have Wi-Fi hotspots in your van. Whilst travelling in the van, use Wi-Fi to check-in back home and share your background and cultural interests with your fellow travellers. Some usage restrictions may apply depending on demand and use. Hotspot devices provide wireless connections for up to five devices (up to two for optimal service and speed). Many camp grounds and hotels supply Wi-Fi for additional use outside the van.
    DRIVING TIMES
    All driving times mentioned in our itinerary are intended as a guide only and represent the minimum 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 (which are based on average drive times from past trips). 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.
    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.
    Joining point
    Clarion Hotel
    3000 South 176th Street
    Seattle
    WA
    98198
    UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
    Phone: +1 2062420200
    Joining point instructions
    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
    Holiday Inn Golden Gateway
    1500 Van Ness Avenue
    San Francisco
    CA
    CA 94109
    UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
    Phone: +1 4154414000
    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
    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), 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.
    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 where required on your trip. 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.
    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.
    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.