Yosemite and Tahoe Trip Notes

Yosemite and Tahoe

Last Modified: 07 Apr 2016
Yosemite and Tahoe
Trip code: SSAY-B
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
Venture out from San Francisco Bay on a three-day adventure to Yosemite and Tahoe. Spend time enjoying water sports in California's laidback Lake Tahoe before continuing on to the splendour of Yosemite National Park. Hit Yosemite's hiking trails to see iconic sights, impressive waterfalls and mountain vistas that are bound to captivate. Return to the uber-trendy city of San Francisco, a great place to hang out and reflect on this bite-sized California adventure.
Table of Contents
StyleAccommodationFinish point description
ThemesAccommodation NotesFinishing point instructions
Is this trip right for you?Meals introductionEmergency contact
Why we love itMealsVisas
MapTransportWhat to take
ItineraryMoney mattersClimate and seasonal information
Itinerary disclaimerGroup leaderHealth
Physical ratingSafetyTravel insurance
Included activitiesJoining pointA couple of rules
Important notesJoining point descriptionResponsible Travel
Group sizeJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
Your fellow travellersFinish pointFeedback
Style
Basix
Themes
Short Breaks
Is this trip right for you?
- As this short trip covers a lot of distance, you'll spend a lot of time in a van with other travellers, so conditions may feel a little cramped. This is all part of the adventure and is a great opportunity to make new friends.
- Traffic in and out of San Francisco can be very busy, especially during the holiday period. There may be delays, so please be patient and be prepared to take part in car games to keep you entertained!
- Weather conditions in northern California vary depending on the season (it can be surprisingly cold even in summer). As this is a camping trip, you need to be prepared for cold days and nights spent in basic conditions in the wilderness. Please bring warm clothes and layers.
- As this trip focuses on Lake Tahoe and Yosemite, you won't be spending much time in San Francisco. We recommend planning an extra couple of days in the city to see the sights. We'll be happy to help you book additional accommodation (subject to availability).
Why we love it
- See the best of northern California's natural wonders in just a few short days. Let someone else take care of getting you from A to B, and enjoy freedom to explore each destination in your own time
- Surrounded by snowcapped mountains and pine trees, Lake Tahoe is idyllic. Swim in the lake during the day and take a boat cruise as the sun goes down
- With its redwoods forests, waterfalls, mountains and granite cliffs, World Heritage-listed Yosemite National Park calls to mind an almost prehistoric utopia
- Camp in the great outdoors under the stars. This is a great trip for first time campers, as the equipment is easy to assemble and there are always leaders on hand to help
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 San Francisco/Lake Tahoe
Welcome to the USA. Your short-break adventure departs at 7:30 am from the lobby of the USA Hostel, so please be there at least 15 minutes before departure. Hit the road out of San Francisco to Lake Tahoe, which usually takes around four hours. Arrive at your lakeside campground in the early afternoon, and enjoy the rest of the day free to hike, swim, rent bikes or simply relax. An optional sunset sailing cruise on the lake is also available. In the evening, return to camp for dinner with the group.

Notes: If you have any arrival complications, please contact our local office on the following number: 1800 786 8735.

In the event that Tioga Pass is closed, you'll spend two nights in Yosemite instead of one in Tahoe and one in Yosemite.
Optional Activities
  • Lake Tahoe sunset catamaran cruise - USD47
    Accommodation
    Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
    Meals
    1 lunch
    Day 2 Yosemite National Park
    In the morning, head out through Tioga Pass to Yosemite National Park. With its immense granite cliffs and waterfalls, Yosemite's natural beauty is astounding. There are plenty of things to see and do in the park. Perhaps enjoy an afternoon hike to the lower part of Nevada Fall or take an easy stroll to Mirror Lake. Set up camp in the evening and settle down for dinner. Total driving time today is 6-7 hours (more if Tioga Pass is closed).
    Included Activities
    • Yosemite National Park
      Optional Activities
      • Cycling in Yosemite Valley - USD12
      • Yosemite National Park Hikes - Free
        Accommodation
        Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
        Meals
        1 breakfast, 1 lunch
        Day 3 San Francisco
        Leave Yosemite behind and drive west towards San Francisco for about four hours. Stop to see a grove of giant old sequoia trees on the way. Your arrival time into the city will depend on your group, but you'll usually arrive around 3 pm. Your trip comes to an end here, as there are no more activities planned for the day. If you decide to fly out today day, please don't book a flight before 8 pm. This will give you enough time to catch a shuttle from the hotel to the airport.

        As there's a great deal to do in San Francisco, we recommend you stay a few extra days to make the most of the city. If you need help booking extra accommodation, our reservations team will be happy to assist (subject to availability).

        Notes: As this trip doesn't allow time for a visit to Alcatraz, you'll need to make your own arrangements if you'd like to see the island prison. Tickets must be booked in advance, as they sell out quickly and numbers are limited. You can make your reservations online at alcatrazcruises.com or call +1415 981 7625 between the hours of 8 am and 7 pm Pacific Standard Time (USA). It's a good idea to reserve your tickets for the day after the trip finishes.
        Meals
        1 breakfast
        Itinerary disclaimer
        ITINERARY CHANGES Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff. We are here to help you! Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.

        OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
        Physical rating

        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
        Yosemite National Park
        Important notes
        1. This trip departs at 8am on day 1 and finishes at approximately 5pm on day 3.

        Group size
        Maximum of 13 travellers per group.
        Your fellow travellers
        GROUP TRAVEL
        As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

        On some trips accommodation is available only on a shared basis with other travellers, who might not necessarily be Intrepid travellers. Arrangements vary depending on the trip from twin to multishare, so refer to the daily itinerary for more details on your accommodation. In some situations you may have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure you have your own room.
        Accommodation
        Camping (with facilities) (2nt)
        The campsites that we use are selected for either their scenic beauty, their convenient location to places of interest and/or the facilities available. We aim to offer you a selection of different types of campsites.

        If you've never camped before - no problem! We provide a complete set of camping and cooking equipment. This includes roomy easy-to-pitch tents, which are shared by only two people and are equipped with thin foam rubber mattresses and vinyl floors. Your leader will show you how to pitch a tent on the first day. On many trips we also spend a few nights in reasonably priced hotels / motels / hostels (as per the itinerary).

        For the group, we also provide two burner stoves, efficient camp kitchen equipment, dishes, coolers, food storage boxes, a water container, lamps and a sun and rain roof. Please take good care of all the equipment. You'll be assigned a specific tent so please look after it well. The equipment has to be returned clean, complete and in the same condition as you received it. Please keep in mind that sleeping bags are not provided and you'll need to bring your own. Please read the 'What to Take' section of these notes for more information on choosing a sleeping bag.

        Our high quality camping equipment (including tents) can be affected by bad weather conditions. This can result in some wet and cold conditions inside the tent. Your spirit of adventure and flexibility will help make your adventure trip an exciting and unforgettable experience. On nights where the group is camping and weather conditions are extreme (such as snow or heavy rain) there may be an opportunity for the group (if everyone agrees) to stay at an alternative location such as a nearby hostel or hotel. When this is the case the upgrade is at your own expense.

        You'll find the necessary facilities - toilets and in most cases showers, washing machines and driers - at many of our campsites. The showers at some campsites only have cold water available and some may require a payment (usually no more than US$1-$3 for a quick shower). This is payable locally and is generally a contribution to paying for a limited water supply. Please be aware that some campsites won't have any facilities, however it will rarely be for more than one night at a time. This is true of many campsites within Yosemite National Park, so if your trip is visiting this park, please prepare to go without a shower on this night, although it can often be arranged to stop and utilise facilities on our way out of the park.

        In all the campsites there are strict quiet hours, when absolutely no loud noise is allowed. This means that all music, singing and group gatherings have to stop. We request that all our travellers respect these campsite rules.

        For trips where there are lodges/cabins used, couples travelling together may be separated as our rooming arrangements are based on single gender.

        CAMPING OUTSIDE THE SUMMER MONTHS:
        Our trips extend beyond the traditional vacation months (June - September). This is because over the years we've recognised there's a demand from our travellers for trips outside this period. Many enjoy the experience of North America in the snow, or in the crisp and clear atmosphere of spring. We've operated successful trips throughout the year however some consideration must be taken when choosing a trip that travels in the colder months such as:
        - Have you got a suitable sleeping bag?
        - Do you have suitable warm clothing - fleece, waterproofs, thermals?
        - Are your walking and hiking boots waterproof and warm?

        You may also like to think about bringing your own camping mat for this period as the double layer provides extra warmth.

        In some locations it may be possible to upgrade from camping to cabins if it is cold. You will need to pay for, and arrange this locally and it is of course subject to availability. In some locations it may only be possible to upgrade if the whole group is willing to.

        If you come prepared and are willing to experience North America at this very special time of year, then you will be set for a great time.
        Meals introduction
        While travelling with us you'll have the opportunity to experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. 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.
        Meals
        2 breakfasts, 2 lunches
        Transport
        Private vehicle

        FLEET
        Our large fleet of vans are fully equipped with dual air-conditioning system, V8 engines and any camping or cooking equipment needed for your trip. Most have cloth-upholstered seats and carpeted interior with radio/tape or CD players. Your baggage is transported in a trailer which is towed behind the van.

        The vans are regularly serviced in our own maintenance facility and continuously checked and serviced by a well established network of maintenance and service facilities throughout the continent. However, unforeseen maintenance problems can still occur while on the road and we appreciate the patience of our travellers as we make necessary repairs as quickly as possible.

        WI-FI
        Beginning 01 January 2013, all private vehicle trips through the United States, including Alaska, will feature mobile Wi-Fi hotspots. Please note that trips in Canada will NOT have Wi-Fi hotspots in your van. Whilst travelling in the van, use Wi-Fi to check-in back home and share your background and cultural interests with your fellow travellers. Some usage restrictions may apply depending on demand and use. Hotspot devices provide wireless connections for up to five devices (up to two for optimal service and speed). Many camp grounds and hotels supply Wi-Fi for additional use outside the van.

        DRIVING TIMES
        All driving times mentioned in our itinerary are intended as a guide only and represent an estimated driving time - not including lunch stops, fuel stops, photo stops, traffic congestion, adverse weather conditions or any last minute alterations to the itinerary for any unforeseen circumstances. Please note that there are some long driving days on this tour - we'll have some starts as early as 7am and late arrivals at our final destination, sometimes after dark). As always, your group leader will make stops for viewpoints, short walks and lunch/rest breaks to help break up the journey.

        We recommend you are fully prepared for these long travel days by reviewing our notes and indicated drive times. Some travellers prefer to bring pillows on board for added comfort, others prefer reading material or games and puzzles. The reality is that to get from one fabulous location to another, the distances are great and we like to think at least some of the adventure is in the journey - not just the destination. You'll be on board with up to 12 other passengers plus your group leader so patience and cooperation goes a long way in making this journey a comfortable one.

        SEAT BELT POLICY
        Safety is our priority and therefore our travellers are asked to sign a document on Day 1 of the itinerary indicating your understanding of our seat belt policy.
        Money matters
        SPENDING MONEY
        When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

        It can be difficult to exchange money while on the road so we suggest that you bring some cash in US dollars/Canadian 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.

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

        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.

        EMERGENCY FUNDS
        Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
        Group leader
        Your Intrepid group leader’s role involves organising the overall operation and smooth-running of the trip, managing trip logistics and camp responsibilities. They will work to make the trip as safe and enjoyable as possible for all travellers. Intrepid's North American trips are built around the co-operation and participation of all the group members under the supervision of the group leader. On our camping trips, your leader will show the group how to set up and use the camp equipment, and form work groups to take turns cooking, cleaning and shopping. Everyone is expected participate and carry their share of the workload, making camp chores easier. If the whole group participates it will be quicker, easier and more fun.

        Your leader will provide basic information about the sights and cities you'll be visiting but please note that our leaders are not 'tour guides' in the traditional sense. They are adventure travel specialists and are there to organise your trip, arrange activities and help with questions or problems you may have while on your tour. Your leader will provide you with all the important information you need to embark on your own explorations.

        They are also responsible for driving the van and navigating across the country. The allowable driving times for drivers is strictly controlled in North America. This ensures our drivers are well rested and are not over-tired from too many hours on the roads.

        While your group will have a minivan for all included activities on the trip, please note that the services of the van and the driver may not be available for your use during free time, or after you have arrived for the day. If you need a special trip into town you may need to arrange transport or a taxi.

        We endeavour to provide the services of an experienced leader however, situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

        It's strictly forbidden for non-qualified rangers to present any information about some National Parks in North America, therefore we adopt a system (as requested by the park rangers) where our leader will encourage travellers to visit the information centres in the National Parks for details about the site.

        We have designed our trips to make the most of your time in the States, but please understand that there are certain times during each day that your leader will need to be off duty from work. This includes having meal and rest periods and personal time. Your leader will provide you with all the important information you need to embark on your own explorations.
        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.

        In addition to any included activities on your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. Our local representative may be able to assist you with 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 our local representative 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:

        http://www.intrepidtravel.com/safety

        PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
        While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

        BEARS:
        Whilst travelling throughout North America it's not uncommon to encounter bears within campsites and national parks. Your group leader has been specifically trained for these situations and, if camping, will inform the group on how to 'bear proof' the camp in the evenings or when the site is unattended. There's absolutely no reason to be alarmed by this possibility as it is extremely rare for bears to attack humans.

        UNFENCED CAMP SITES:
        On some trips you will at times stay in unfenced camp sites within national parks. While this is a fantastic experience, there are a few safety rules to follow. While staying in national parks it's important that you listen to any advice given by your tour leader and the park rangers regarding responsible and safe behaviour.

        DRINKING SAFETY:
        Please note that in the US the legal drinking age is 21 and in some parts of Canada it is 19. When out drinking in bars please be responsible and take the same precautions you would at home. Don't accept drinks from strangers, and don't let your drink out of your sight. It is always a good idea to go out with a group and stick together.
        Joining point
        USA Hostel San Francisco
        711 Post Street
        San Francisco
        CA
        94109
        UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
        Joining point description
        The USA Hostel San Francisco is located just three blocks from Union Square in the heart of the city, a short walk from Chinatown, the historic cable cars, and San Francisco's best shopping. Dorm rooms have up to 4 beds with shared bathrooms. In addition to all-you-can eat pancakes and oatmeal every morning, there's free wireless internet, secure storage lockers and laundry facilities.
        Joining point instructions
        BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT:
        From San Francisco International Airport - catch the tram in the arrivals area which will take you to the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) stop. Take BART to Powell Street station. ($8.10)

        From Oakland International Airport - take the AirBART bus to Coliseum BART station ($3, exact change required.) Take a BART train to Powell Street station. ($3.80)

        At Powell Street, exit station and take escalator to street level. At the top of the escalator you will see the cable car turn around. Turn left and walk up Powell Street to Post Street. Turn left onto Post and walk three blocks to Jones Street. The hostel will be on your left after you cross Jones.

        BY SHUTTLE:
        From SFO - exit from the baggage claim and cross the walkway. Look for the shuttle signs. Hop on with Airport Express. The cost is $17 per person plus tip (usually $1-$2 depending on how many bags you have).

        PRE/POST TOUR ACCOMMODATION:
        If you have booked additional accommodation in conjunction with your trip, please note that it is standard policy in the USA for debit and credit cards to be authorized at check-in by hotels for the amount of your stay, plus an amount to cover incidentals. The authorization will hold the funds until check out, at which time the amount actually incurred during the stay will be charged. Authorized amounts can take up to 30 days after departure to be released by your bank or financial institution. If you are unsure at check in as to what your card is being charged for, please ask the staff to explain their policy. Please also clarify with the hotel when you check in or out that all deposits will be refunded as promptly as possible.
        Finish point
        USA Hostel San Francisco
        711 Post Street
        San Francisco
        CA
        94109
        UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
        Finish point description
        The USA Hostel San Francisco is located just three blocks from Union Square in the heart of the city, a short walk from Chinatown, the historic cable cars, and San Francisco's best shopping. Dorm rooms have up to 4 beds with shared bathrooms. In addition to all-you-can eat pancakes and oatmeal every morning, there's free wireless internet, secure storage lockers and laundry facilities.
        Finishing point instructions
        Walk to the Powell St BART Station and take the train to San Francisco Airport.

        If you are departing from Oakland International Airport - take the BART from Powell St Station to Coliseum Station, then change to the AirBART bus to Oakland Airport.

        Alternatively the hotel will be able to arrange a shuttle or taxi for you.
        Emergency contact
        While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

        We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please contact our operations base on 1-800-786-8735 (toll free in the USA and Canada) or +1 707 523 1800 (office hours).

        You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

        POLICE AND AMBULANCE
        In case of an emergency, local authorities can be contacted by calling 911 – this is the toll free phone number for the police, fire department and the ambulance in the USA. In case of doubt, call the operator on 0.

        BOOKING ENQUIRIES/ISSUES
        For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

        CRISES AND EMERGENCIES
        In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency please contact our local ground representative on the number below (remember to drop the +xx country code if you are calling from within the country):

        +1 707 483 9460
        Visas
        Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

        Entrance requirements to the USA have changed in recent years so please read the following instructions carefully, even if you have travelled to the USA before.

        Many countries now operate under a visa waiver program (meaning a visa isn't required) however you still need to obtain an authorisation which confirms that you have been approved to travel. This authorisation must be obtained in advance of travel.

        Many citizens from Visa Waiver Program countries can travel to the USA without a visa for a 90 day stay, if they meet certain requirements. Travellers from all Visa Waiver Program countries must present a machine-readable passport (which meets US requirements) at the port of entry to enter without a visa, otherwise a US visa is required. You can get further information from the US Department of State website:
        - http://travel.state.gov/visa/tempvisitors.html

        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).

        Please note that if there is any discrepancy between the name on your ESTA, your passport, your tickets and even your frequent flyer membership, you may be detained at Immigration and subject to a secondary inspection which could take a few hours. If you have recently changed your name, please check that your details have been updated everywhere.

        If you are from a country eligible for the visa waiver program but are a dual citizen of Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan, or if you have travelled to Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan since 1 March 2011, you will not longer be eligible for the visa waiver program and will instead need to apply for a non-immigrant visa. Please see the Department of State website for more information: http://travel.state.gov//content/travel/en.html
        What to take
        LUGGAGE RESTRICTIONS:
        All luggage is carried in trailers or inside the vehicle so please don't bring more than one medium sized bag, backpack or suitcase (20kg maximum) per person, plus a sleeping bag. Your suitcase/rucksack may get some rough handling, so make sure it's a tough one. A small daypack and camera may also be carried inside the vehicle.

        SLEEPING BAGS AND WARM CLOTHING:
        As we offer trips throughout the year and travel in diverse climate zones, we recommend you carefully consider the weather and choose an appropriate sleeping bag and clothing. Please bear in mind that nights can be very cold even in the warmer months. We can experience temperatures as low as -5C and even snow.

        Your own sleeping bag is required for some nights on this trip. Please bring one from home or purchase one before your trip starts - you may not have time once we're on the road. Sleeping bags can easily be bought in the US and Canada at big stores like Walmart, Kmart, Target or at sports and camping supply stores. Renting sleeping bags isn't possible on our trips. A pillow can also be useful both for sleeping at night and for extra comfort in the van.

        WATER BOTTLE:
        Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.
        Climate and seasonal information
        NATIONAL HOLIDAYS:
        The following national holidays are observed in the US, which can affect our itinerary as traffic can be extreme, and shops, restaurants and attractions can be closed:
        - New Year's Day
        - Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
        - Washington's Birthday
        - Memorial Day
        - Independence Day
        - Labor Day
        - Columbus Day
        - Veterans Day
        - Thanksgiving Day
        - Christmas Day
        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.
        Travel insurance
        Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

        When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the trip until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by our local representative.

        If you have credit card insurance our local representative will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact telephone 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:

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

        Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
        Responsible Travel
        We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller.

        http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

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

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

        http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

        Feedback
        After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

        http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback

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