The Tour Price displayed here is for the tour only and does not include international flights. Our flight prices are very competitive, please ask for a quote when making your booking
This trip is an overland trip run in an overland truck. In addition to paying for your trip, you're require to make a separate payment to your tour leader at the start of the trip, usually in USD. Kitties are flexible and change as prices are updated. Therefore you should check the latest kitty amount on this website before you depart.
A kitty is a group fund which covers all accommodation, meals while camping (not in hotels) and activities listed as included. It's a system unique to overlanding to provide the maximum flexibility and best value on the road (you get everything at cost price!). The kitty is your money, not ours, so any amount left over is divided among the group as a refund.Close
|Trip Code||Start Date||End Date||Currency||Kitty|
|SSOS||Wednesday 31 Jul 2013||Wednesday 21 Aug 2013|
|SSOS||Wednesday 07 Aug 2013||Wednesday 28 Aug 2013|
|SSOS||Wednesday 14 Aug 2013||Wednesday 04 Sep 2013|
|SSOS||Wednesday 21 Aug 2013||Wednesday 11 Sep 2013|
|SSOS||Wednesday 28 Aug 2013||Wednesday 18 Sep 2013|
|SSOS||Wednesday 04 Sep 2013||Wednesday 25 Sep 2013|
|SSOS||Wednesday 11 Sep 2013||Wednesday 02 Oct 2013|
|SSOS||Wednesday 18 Sep 2013||Wednesday 09 Oct 2013|
|SSOS||Wednesday 30 Apr 2014||Wednesday 21 May 2014|
|SSOS||Wednesday 14 May 2014||Wednesday 04 Jun 2014|
|SSOS||Wednesday 28 May 2014||Wednesday 18 Jun 2014|
|SSOS||Wednesday 11 Jun 2014||Wednesday 02 Jul 2014|
|SSOS||Wednesday 18 Jun 2014||Wednesday 09 Jul 2014|
|SSOS||Wednesday 25 Jun 2014||Wednesday 16 Jul 2014|
|SSOS||Wednesday 02 Jul 2014||Wednesday 23 Jul 2014|
|SSOS||Wednesday 09 Jul 2014||Wednesday 30 Jul 2014|
|SSOS||Wednesday 16 Jul 2014||Wednesday 06 Aug 2014|
New York excites the senses with its mixing pot of cultures, artistic prowess, flashy commercialism and depth of soul that inspires everyone who visits.
You can arrive at any time on Day 1 as there are no scheduled activities. You can check in after 3pm but if you arrive early you can store your luggage. You won't be meeting your leader or your group until the morning of Day 2.
New York is the city that never sleeps. Grab a slice and see those famous sites - Times Square, Broadway, Central Park and the Empire State Building.
As there's no time spent in New York City on this trip, we recommend you arrive a few days early to see the sights.
Hotel (1 nt)
Awash with iconic buildings, political intrigue, absorbing museums and eclectic neighbourhoods, Washington DC is a compelling city to explore.
There will be an important welcome meeting at 8am this morning. Meet in the hotel reception/lobby. We'll be collecting your insurance details, kitty and next of kin information at this meeting so please ensure you have all details on hand to provide to your leader.
We then head south to Washington DC, stopping to visit Philadelphia along the way. The journey will cover 400 km and, depending on the busy east coast traffic, can take anywhere from 4-5 hours, including a lunch stop.
Founded in 1682, Philadelphia is home to the Liberty Bell and it was here that Thomas Jefferson proclaimed the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
The nation's capital, Washington DC, is easily explored by foot. Don't miss the White House, Capitol Building, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and National Air and Space Museum, as well as many other museums of interest. In the evening you can stroll through Georgetown, the centre of the city's nightlife.
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Also called the Blue Ridge Mountains, the mighty Appalachians are a wilderness of ancient forests, jagged peaks and breathtaking scenery.
Our journey into the breathtaking scenery of the Appalachian Mountains, also called the Blue Ridge Mountains, is around 500 km and take approx 5.5 hrs. We'll camp for one night en route to Nashville.
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
The undisputed capital of country music, Nashville is home to the famous Wildhorse Saloon and the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The drive to Nashville is around 600 km and takes approx 6 hrs.
Known as 'Music City', most of Nashville's attractions revolve around country music.
Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, which contains Elvis' golden Cadillac. Another point of interest is Music Row, where more than 50 record studios and approximately 200 music publishing houses are located.
Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville - USD20.00
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Memphis is the home of the Blues. Its traditional music clubs were made famous by legends such as Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters and B.B. King.
The journey south to Memphis takes approx 3.5 hrs.
Memphis is the home of the Blues. In the evening, you can head down to Beale Street's traditional blues clubs, made famous by legends such as Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters and B.B. King. For those with an interest in history, there's the National Civil Rights Museum at the former Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
Pay a visit to Graceland - Elvis Presley's home and his tomb.
Graceland Museum, Memphis - USD32.00
Sun Studios, Memphis - USD12.00
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Known as the 'Big Easy', an eclectic mix of European, Creole and Cajun culture is clearly evident in every aspect of New Orleans's architecture, cuisine and vibrant music scene.
Our drive takes us 650 km across the state of Mississippi to New Orleans - the 'Big Easy' (approx 7 hrs with a lunch stop).
Most of the action in New Orleans takes place in the French Quarter, where Bourbon Street's many jazz clubs come alive at night.
Honey Island Swamp Tour, New Orleans - USD23.00
Hostel (2 nts)
Home to NASA's Kennedy Space Centre, Houston is the largest city in Texas.
It's quite a journey from Louisiana to Houston, Texas (nearly 700 km, approx 7 hrs).
Visit the NASA Kennedy Space Center for an insight into mankind's adventures in space. It features a multitude of permanent exhibits, attractions and theatres.
Cajun Jack's Swamp Tour, Patterson - USD35.00
NASA Space Centre, Houston - USD20.95
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
A little piece of Mexico in the US, San Antonio is the home of the Alamo, a Spanish-Mexican fort which was the site of the legendary Battle of the Alamo in 1836.
The drive today is along Highway 10 to San Antonio (430 km, approx 4.5 hrs).
You can stroll along the famous River Walk and get to know the city's many canals and backstreets by night.
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Carlsbad Cavern is a massive cave system containing many chambers (including the 8.2 acre 'Big Room'), rock formations and thousands of bats, which swarm out on summer evenings.
Our drive today takes us across Texas, into the deserts of New Mexico and finally to Carlsbad Caverns (745 km, approx 9 hrs including our lunch break).
One of the largest caverns in the world, Carlsbad Cavern is still only partially explored. Hike deep into the 8.2 acre 'Big Room' and beyond. In the evening, take a seat outside the park to witness the overwhelming sight of a bat flight - thousands of bats swarming out of the caverns. This is seasonal, as the bats migrate south in October for the winter, and is best viewed in July/August.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
The oldest capital city in the US, Santa Fe's Spanish-influenced town plaza features historic pueblo architecture and its museums and galleries are full of south-western art.
The journey north to Santa Fe is around 470 km and takes approx 6.5 hrs.
You can visit the town plaza surrounded by pueblo architecture, view the south-western art and décor at local museums or enjoy a drink and take in Santa Fe's quaint atmosphere.
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Colorado's fascinating Mesa Verde National Park is filled with thousands of archaeological sites and hundreds of cliff dwellings dating from 1190 AD.
Drive to Aztec Ruins National Monument.
Famous for its sandstone pueblo, Aztec Ruins National Monument was built around the 11th century and contains more than 400 rooms. Take a self-guided 800 m walk through rooms built centuries ago, where you can discover skilful stone masonry remarkably preserving the original walls.
Continue on to Mesa Verde National Park. Total driving distance is about 430 km (approx 6.5 hrs).
Mesa Verde National Park is home to the largest and best-preserved cliff dwellings of the Anasazi Indians. It protects over 4,000 known archaeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. These sites are some of the most notable and best preserved in the US.
Explore a cliff dwelling on a short walk or (for a small fee) join a ranger-led walk to the harder-to-access sites.
Aztec Ruins National Monument
Mesa Verde National Park
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Red-hued sandstone buttes rise strikingly from the earth in Monument Valley, the setting of many a western and home to the Navajo Nation Reservation.
After a ride through fascinating desert regions, we reach Monument Valley (200 km).
Monument Valley is part of the biggest Indian reservation in the US and home to more than 200,000 Indians of the Navajo Tribe. Monument Valley is so-named for the giant sandstone formations scattered across the desert. The angle of the sun means that the landscape is constantly changing colour and it's near impossible to take a bad photo.
See all the magnificent sights Monument Valley has to offer in the back of a jeep with a Navajo guide. Visit areas only open to the Navajo, see traditional Navajo homes, hike the sand dunes and gaze up at spectacular rock formations - all with the insight of a local guide.
Monument Valley National Tribal Park
Jeep tour & overnight experience, Monument Valley - USD75.00
Navajo-guided jeep tour (2.5 hrs), Monument Valley - USD35.00
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Words don't do justice to the Grand Canyon, a stunning 1.5 km deep gorge formed by over six million years of erosion from the Colorado River.
Our drive from Monument Valley to the Grand Canyon is 260 km and takes approx 3 hrs, stopping at Native American trading posts on the way.
The Grand Canyon is one of the world's seven wonders! It's 450 km long, 6-30 km wide and 1600 m deep. Marvel at this immense canyon on a rim walk or, for those that are feeling more active, a short hike into the canyon will help stretch those legs out.
For a bird's-eye view, there's an option to take a helicopter ride over this breathtaking landscape.
Grand Canyon National Park
Helicopter flight (25 mins), Grand Canyon - USD220.00
IMAX movie, Grand Canyon - USD13.72
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
To witness the roll of the dice, the brightness of the lights and the general ostentatiousness of Las Vegas is a quintessential American experience.
The drive on from the Grand Canyon and across the western deserts of Arizona to Las Vegas is 450 km and takes approx 5 hrs. Along the way, drive a section of the famous Route 66 and stop in the nostalgic township of Seligman.
Las Vegas is the gambling capital of the world, but there's plenty to do along the Strip for gamblers and non-gamblers alike - there's the casinos and shows, of course, plus shops, amusement rides, dance clubs and great value 'all you can eat' buffets.
Las Vegas Strip tour
Limo tour, Las Vegas - USD25.00
Hotel (2 nts)
Located within the Mojave Desert, Death Valley is one of North America's hottest places. Despite its grim name, the area is beautiful and full of life. A mountain range that runs for 640 km through California and Nevada, the Sierra Nevada is host to stunning mountain peaks, alpine lakes and beautiful wilderness areas.
There is a lot of driving today - we cover more than 550 km through Death Valley and across the Eastern Sierra.
One of the hottest deserts on the planet, temperatures in Death Valley rise to record-breaking levels (up to 56C in summer).
Death Valley National Park includes a wealth of geological phenomena: large sand dune formations, sculpted rocks, isolated valleys and volcanic craters. The canyon and mountain walls change colour with the changing sunlight. Elevations fluctuate from 85 m below sea level near Badwater Point (the lowest point in the United States) to 3756 m above sea level at Telescope Peak. Stop at the visitor centre and, heat permitting, take a walk on the stunning salt flats.
** NOTE** On early and late season departures the Central California Valley may replace the Sierra Nevada as a night stop as snow levels in the Sierra Nevada range may leave roads closed.
Death Valley National Park
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
If heaven descended to Earth, it would probably look like Yosemite. One of America's most popular national parks, its waterfalls, dramatic cliffs and wilderness areas are breathtaking.
Our drive today is around 300 km, travelling west over the Tioga Pass (snow levels permitting) into the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
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.
Yosemite National Park
Bike rental (2 hrs) (in season), Yosemite National Park - USD20.00
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
As a truly multicultural city, San Francisco has a wealth of cuisines, cultures, artistic events and eclectic scenes over every hill and around every corner.
The journey to San Francisco is around 240 km (about 3.5 hrs).
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 arrival time depends on each group but we generally aim for a 3pm arrival. If you are flying out today, we suggest you don't book a flight before 8pm to allow enough time to transfer to the airport for check-in 2 hours before your flight.
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.
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.
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. Our brochure is usually released in November each year. 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.imaginative-traveller.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.
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.
Many of the North American national parks that we visit have hiking opportunities where walks up to 4 hours can be an option for you. There are often easier options too.
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.
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 for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Imaginative Traveller nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Imaginative Traveller. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
The receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops or services is ingrained in the culture of the North American tourism industry. Rather than turn a blind eye to this unavoidable issue, we have established a centralised system whereby commissions from recommended suppliers are distributed back to the leader. Details of these arrangements will be provided by the leader on request.
While Imaginative Traveller endeavours to ensure that these recommended suppliers and services maintain reasonable levels of quality - they are chosen based on the feedback and experiences of past travellers - we can't explicitly guarantee the quality or safety of the product or activity.
A priority in establishing this service is that your travel experience isn't compromised in any way. Please let us know via the feedback form completed after your trip if we are successfully meeting this objective.
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.
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'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 of our 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$3-5 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.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
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
Please note that the legal drinking age in the US is 21 and in some parts of Canada it's 19.
Maximum of 13 travellers per group.
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.
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 room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
Camping (with facilities) (16 nts), Hotel (3 nts), Hostel (2 nts)
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.
For trips where there are lodges/cabins used, couples travelling together may be separated as our rooming arrangements are based on single gender.
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.
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?
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.
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.
No meals included
On our trips in North America, we operate an optional kitty, where travellers are encouraged to contribute to a central fund which is used to buy groceries which then supply meals to the entire group. In our experience all travellers generally participate, however some with special dietary requirements may prefer to opt out. The kitty is administered by the group and is payable per week of the trip. The cost is:
USA - US$50 per week
Alaska - US$70 per week
Canada - CA$70 per week
While camping, some breakfasts and dinners are paid from the food kitty, while lunch is not included. Sometimes we'll go out for dinner and eat at restaurants at everybody's own expense.
Your leader will participate in the food kitty as well. On hotel nights (if included) the food kitty doesn't operate and everybody eats at their own expense.
Chores such as buying and cooking the food, washing up, etc. will be shared by everyone on the trip. Teams of two people will carry out the camp duties on a rotating basis. On camping nights, we usually cook our evening meals together on our own stove, or barbecue food over the camp fire. We usually prepare salads, grill meats and cook pasta, rice and vegetables. For breakfast we usually buy milk, coffee, tea, cereals, bread, jam, butter etc. Not all personal eating preferences can be catered for, however we endeavour to provide tasty, basic meals.
We keep our food costs as low as possible by sharing the expenses. The kitty is based on the average cost from our past experiences and from passenger feedback about what they are prepared to pay for shared meals. Personal beverages, lunches and snacks are not included in the food kitty. If there's any cash left over it will either be redistributed to the group or put towards paying for a group activity.
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.
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.
Sometimes we experience high demand for a trip at particular times of the year. If this is the case we may consider creating an additional departure by using an extra van and driver. The groups will be divided and will travel separately, with the possibility of using the same accommodation along the route.
Safety is our priority and therefore our travellers are asked to sign a document on Day 1 of the itinerary indicating their understanding of our seat belt policy.
Your 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. Our 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.
For trips departing on the following dates, use this joining point.
17 Apr 2013 (ISSOS130417), 01 May 2013 (ISSOS130501), 15 May 2013 (ISSOS130515), 22 May 2013 (ISSOS130522), 29 May 2013 (ISSOS130529), 05 Jun 2013 (ISSOS130605), 12 Jun 2013 (ISSOS130612), 19 Jun 2013 (ISSOS130619), 26 Jun 2013 (ISSOS130626), 10 Jul 2013 (ISSOS130710), 17 Jul 2013 (ISSOS130717), 24 Jul 2013 (ISSOS130724), 31 Jul 2013 (ISSOS130731), 07 Aug 2013 (ISSOS130807), 14 Aug 2013 (ISSOS130814), 21 Aug 2013 (ISSOS130821), 21 Aug 2013 (ISSOS1308212), 28 Aug 2013 (ISSOS130828), 28 Aug 2013 (ISSOS1308282), 04 Sep 2013 (ISSOS130904), 11 Sep 2013 (ISSOS130911), 18 Sep 2013 (ISSOS130918), 30 Apr 2014 (ISSOS140430), 14 May 2014 (ISSOS140514), 28 May 2014 (ISSOS140528), 11 Jun 2014 (ISSOS140611), 18 Jun 2014 (ISSOS140618), 25 Jun 2014 (ISSOS140625), 02 Jul 2014 (ISSOS140702), 09 Jul 2014 (ISSOS140709), 16 Jul 2014 (ISSOS140716)
Hostelling International - New York
891 Amsterdam Avenue (near 103rd Street)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Phone: 212 9322300
Fax: 212 9322574
The hostel is located on Manhattan's Upper West Side Corner of 103rd St & Amsterdam Ave.
Transfer from Newark Airport - Take the Super Shuttle to 891 Amsterdam Avenue. The rate is between $15-$19. The travel time is approximately 30-60 minutes and it is longer during peak hours. The shuttle runs on by calling 1-800-258-3826.
Transfer from JFK - Take the Super Shuttle to 891 Amsterdam Avenue. The price is $17-$19. The shuttle runs on demand 24 hours by calling 1-800-258-3826. Taxi's charge a flat rate of $USD45 plus tolls, available 24hrs. Allow 40-60 mins, longer in peak hours.
Transfer from La Guardia - Take the Super Shuttle to 891 Amsterdam Avenue. The rate is from $15-$22. The shuttle is on demand between 7:00AM to 11:00PM. Call 1(800) 358-5826. Taxis cost between 30-40 mins and costs from $30-$30 plus tolls.
Please see hostel website for further transport options - http://www.hinewyork.org/directions.shtml
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.
USA Hostel San Francisco
711 Post Street
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
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. Private rooms with en suite available, and dorms with up to 4 beds. In addition to all-you-can eat pancakes and oatmeal every morning, there's free wireless internet, secure storage lockers and laundry facilities.
If you have pre-booked a departure transfer, please inform your leader and they will notify you of your departure transfer time.
If you are making your own way to the airport the hotel will be able to help book you an airport shuttle or taxi. Please ask at reception.
For cases of genuine emergency or crisis, please contact 1-800-786-8735 (within the USA)
From outside the USA please call +1 707 483 9460
Police and Ambulance - In case of an emergency, local authorities can be contacted by calling 911 – this is the toll free phone number for the police, fire department and the ambulance in the USA. In case of doubt, call the operator on 0.
We also have a dedicated 24 hour telephone number which should only be used once you have left the UK and in the event of a real emergency. Should you need to call the number, we will do what we can to help but please bear in mind that real progress or action may not be possible until normal office hours.
If your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know and then make your way to the joining hotel as instructed in these trip notes. If you cannot get through leave a message and a contact number as these will be regularly checked. Emergency Number: +44 (0) 7985106564
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.
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:
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
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).
All baggage is transported in a trailer which is towed behind the vehicle. Please bring tough bags as small scratches and minor damages can occur. Avoid packing anything that can be easily broken such as glass bottles. Travelling light is recommended as you will be expected to carry, load and unload your luggage from the van/trailer.
The luggage limit for our trips is:
- 1 medium sized suitcase/backpack
- 1 sleeping bag/sleeping mat
- 1 piece of hand luggage
- Max. weight limit: 20kg
Our baggage is packed away in our trailer, and therefore inaccessible, for much of the day so your hand luggage or day pack should be a suitable size to hold all your belongings that you may need for the day.
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.
If your trip departs from November to March sleeping bags may not be required as accommodation will vary to accommodate for the cooler weather. Please check the overview page of your trip for more information.
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
All 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, we reserve 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.
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.
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 itinerary, and we make 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.
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.
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.
At Imaginative Traveller we love helping our clients experience the beauty and cultures of the destinations we visit. However, hand in hand with this we have always been aware that we have a responsibility to minimise any negative impacts that tourism can bring.
Responsible Travel is twofold. It's about taking people to the places they want to go in a safe and responsible manner but also about respecting and maintaining the natural and often delicate balance of the destination. Economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, but should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment.
• It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit.
• We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.
• Whilst it is our aim to show destinations and cultures in a positive light, we do not believe in papering over the cracks or shielding visitors from the realities of life. This does not mean, however, that we condone or endorse certain situations or regimes that may be in place.
Our guidelines are meant not as rigid instructions but rather as suggestions to make our holidays more enjoyable – for everybody. As cultural and environmental sensitivities vary from country to country more specific guidelines can be found in our individual country and trip dossiers.
Before you depart try to spend some time familiarising yourself with the destination you will be travelling to – their culture and customs. The country dossiers on our website offer detailed information about all the regions we visit. They also include some useful phrases in the local language for you to use on your trip! A few words of the local language can open up many more opportunities for you to interact with the people you will meet.
Although it is tempting to give out pens, sweets and money to people begging, and particularly tempting to give to children, we feel that this encourages a begging mentality and has a long-term negative impact on communities. If someone begging earns more than someone in the same community who works this can discourage local employment. If children regularly bring home money it may discourage their parents from sending them to school.
Always ask permission to photograph local people and respect their decision if they would prefer not to have their picture taken.
Respect local dress codes, especially at religious sites. Our tour leaders are always on hand to give you advice about this.
In many of the countries we visit you might see examples of animal cruelty (for example dancing bears, performing monkeys and snake charmers). Please do not take photographs of this or offer money as it encourages the activity.
Respect the environment you are in. It sounds obvious but do not throw litter, take it with you or use rubbish bins! You may see locals throwing rubbish on the street but do not follow their example!
When shopping in countries where haggling is the norm – enjoy it and only pay what you feel is a fair price for the goods you are purchasing. However, remember that the shopkeeper does have to make a living so do stop once you have reached a price you are happy with. Bargaining should be fun but always remember that a small amount can mean much more to the vendor than to you.
Endeavour to take home souvenirs made locally; the money you spend can be very important to the local communities. However, do use your common sense and don't buy anything that you think might be made out of endangered animals or plants.
To help keep as much money as possible in the host country - try to eat in locally owned restaurants and order local drinks and produce rather than international brands.
In hotels do be conscious of how much water you are using. Many of the areas we visit regularly have shortages; try not to have hour long showers! Don't leave lights, air conditioners or fans on when you leave the room – you wouldn't at home!
Respect the environment you are in, especially when in national parks or reserves. Pay attention to rules about keeping on paths, keeping a distance from animals and not removing any of the natural habitat.
Relax and immerse yourself in the differences of the culture you are in – you'll be back home in the familiar soon enough (and wishing you were still on holiday!). These cultural differences are part of what makes your experience special.
If you would like to offset the carbon dioxide that will be produced on your flights you can do this on our website (on our Responsible travel page). We work with climatecare, who will reduce the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide that you produce in another part of the World through their emission reduction projects. These projects are low carbon efficient technologies in developing countries and not only serve to reduce emissions but also help to spread the adoption of low carbon technologies and improve the quality of life for local communities. Details of climatecare's projects can be found on their website.
Please do let us know if you have any comments about responsible travel at email@example.com
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 our travellers. Our 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.
Carbon Offset C02-e 1294.00 kgs per pax.
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