Best of the West
About South America, South America
Skyscrapers, sequoias, and impossibly big skies await you in America’s West. This 14-day tour through the urban and natural wonders of California, Arizona, and Nevada is perfect for travellers who want to inject a little downtown energy into their out-of-town escapes. In the cities, you’ll traverse the concrete jungle by day with an expert CEO and overnight in centrally located hotels and hostels. Elsewhere, you’ll get the chance to marvel at the grandeur of the Grand Canyon and the giant sequoias of Yosemite before diving into a barbecue dinner and camping under the stars. This is no dream; it’s the West like you’ve never seen it before.
Your Welcome Moment: Meet Your CEO and Group
Your Discover Moment: Las Vegas
Your Big Night Out Moment: Americana Party , Bishop
Your Discover Moment: Yosemite National Park
Your Discover Moment: San Francisco. Entrance fees to all national and state parks with hiking and walking excursions. Orientation to Las Vegas. Sunset at the rim of the Grand Canyon. Death Valley visit. Mono Lake visit and walk amongst tufas. Drive along California’s scenic Highway 1 including Santa Cruz and Big Sur. Self-inflating mattresses and dome tents. Transportation between destinations and included activities.
Stargaze in Los Angeles, marvel at a Grand Canyon sunset, get your kicks on Route 66, take a chance in Las Vegas, camp under the stars, hike in Yosemite.
The information in this trip details document has been compiled with care and is provided in good faith. However it is subject to change, and does not form part of the contract between the client and the operator. The itinerary featured is correct at time of printing. It may differ slightly to the one in the brochure. Occasionally our itineraries change as we make improvements that stem from past travellers, comments and our own research. Sometimes it can be a small change like adding an extra meal along the itinerary. Sometimes the change may result in us altering the tour for the coming year. Ultimately, our goal is to provide you with the most rewarding experience. Please note that our brochure is usually released in November each year. If you have booked from the previous brochure you may find there have been some changes to the itinerary.
VERY IMPORTANT: Please ensure that you print a final copy of your Trip Details to review a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans.
While it is our intention to adhere to the route described below, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The Trip Details document is a general guide to the tour and region and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered. Aboard expedition trips visits to research stations depend on final permission.
Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.
1. An essential part of your trip is participation – from putting up your tent (while camping) or packing it away in the morning, to helping with meal preparation and cleaning up – it is all part of your adventure and when everyone puts in a little effort the trip will run smoothly. Your CEO will do all the meal planning, but we do ask the clients to help with the preparation and washing up. Team spirit is part of the fun! All camping equipment (with the exception of your sleeping bag and pillow) is supplied. We supply dome tents and assembly/disassembly takes only 5 minutes. All tents have built-in insect nets. Comfortable, self-inflating mattresses are also provided, which are approximately 4cm thick.
2. Proper sleeping bags are necessary for this tour. Evening temperatures can reach
9°C – 0°C. Please ensure that your sleeping bag is rated to (-17°C for spring and fall trips and 0°C for trips June – Sept). If you prefer you can purchase a proper sleeping bag on the first day of the trip. Prices range from $50$150USD.
3. In order to cover the vast distance in North America to be able to visit several different parks and cities along our trip, we will have a couple of long driving days.
4. All walks and hikes proposed by our CEO will be easy to moderate level. You may choose to participate or not, but exploring our national parks on foot is part of our way of travelling. It’s a healthy way to discover North America’s beauty and landscape.
5. Tioga Pass is a route through the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California on the eastern edge of Yosemite National Park, and we travel through the pass en route. In the spring and autumn seasons, there’s a chance that the pass will be closed due to poor weather conditions or even snow. In such a case, we use an alternate route. The status of the road is monitored daily, and our travel plan for the area will be confirmed during the trip.
6. Please note that some trips could be a combination of multiple G Adventure tours. You should expect some group members to join or leave the tour between tour segments.
7. The American west is generally known for warm weather, but temperatures do vary significantly in the mountain and desert areas especially. The day time temperature could exceed 30 C, while the night time temperatures do regularly decrease to single digits, or even possible below freezing. Please be prepared for such extreme conditions.
8. Regarding our wi-fi equipped vehicles: we have limited bandwidth, and in the interests of allowing all travellers to access the wi-fi, travellers should limit their access to reasonable levels. Please note that wi-fi is not always available due to areas with limited or no cell phone service (e.g. in parts of national parks).
9. Please note that the legal drinking age in the United States is 21 and in Canada, 19 (with Alberta and Quebec at 18). Many bars and clubs will ask for ID at the door, therefore listening to live music in certain bars or spending a night out in Las Vegas or New Orleans is not possible when you are under the legal age, even if you don’t plan on consuming alcohol. Drinking laws in both countries are strictly enforced and our CEOs are unable to help those under age obtain alcohol of any kind.
While this should not stop those under legal drinking age from booking a tour, it is important to note that if a traveller is under-age there are certain optional nighttime activities that they may not legally be able to participate in. When trying to book the right trip, we recommend that travellers under legal drinking age take this into consideration when booking a tour that visits several big cities.
Group Leader Description
This G Adventures group trip is accompanied by one of our group leaders, otherwise known as a Chief Experience Officer (CEO). The CEO will be the group manager, leader and sometimes the driver – this person is knowledgeable in the routes travelled and will organize and lead the meal preparations and has experience in cooking a variety of local and international dishes for large groups.
As the group coordinator and manager, the aim of the CEO is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. They will also offer suggestions for things to do and to see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends.
If a group exceeds 16 travellers, there will be a second CEO/CEO Driver co-leading the group to allow for a better overall experience.
While our CEOs are trained and have resources to assist them along the way, the United States is the fourth largest country on the planet, and it is impossible for them to know everything about this massive country. We recommend local guides where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting – we think it’s the best of both worlds.
Please note that specific tour guide licenses are required to guide in certain cities and regions, and as such, our CEOs will oftentimes provide brief orientation walks or drives to point out useful places like supermarkets, main squares and ATMs but for more specific or in depth destination information, an official guided tour is recommended.
Group Size Notes
Max 22, avg 18.
8 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 8 dinners
All included meals will be prepared from goods bought en route from supermarkets, local shops and markets. Breakfasts will generally consist of breads and cereals, if time allows a warm breakfast may be prepared. Many lunches will be provided en-route and will be light meals such as sandwiches and/or salads. All evening meals will be freshly-prepared hot meals, and will consist of a variety of continental and local dishes.
Air-conditioned private vehicle, hiking
About our Transportation
We use 25-passenger vehicles perfect for cross-country road trips on our 18-to-Thirtysomethings tours in the United States. Our new fleet of more cushy vehicles give travellers all the comfort of a big coach bus, but with a small-group experience. They put rider wellbeing first and foremost, with high-backed bucket seats and built-in headrests for all seats on board, huge 92cm-tall (36 in) windows that make every seat a window seat, an aisle way with enough headroom for most of stand upright, sliding seats that free up more shoulder room while on the road, A/C, charging stations, wi-fi, and loads of other features. We use a trailer to carry luggage and camping equipment. These are durable vehicles that allow us to drive on most types of roads in North America.
This is not a physically demanding journey. However, please take note of the travel times and distances in the itinerary. Despite some of the long days, most clients feel that the diversity of the North American landscape, culture and wildlife are all well worth the experience! A typical day of driving will include about six hours driving by one of the CEOs and two to five hours of stops along the way. Keep in mind that North America is a really big place – New York to New Orleans alone is the equivalent of driving across most of Europe, and we cover that much ground in a single week. Driving time is the perfect opportunity to catch up on sleep, relax, and swap stories with your fellow travellers.
While we try to travel into and out of cities during non-rush hour times, heavy traffic is a reality of some of the places we visit. As a result, some drives may be a bit longer than listed in the day-to-day itineraries. Bring your patience and a smile, and we’ll get through it!
We believe single travellers should not have to pay more to travel so our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers joining group trips are paired in twin or multi-share accommodation with someone of the same sex for the duration of the trip. Some of our Independent trips are designed differently and single travellers on these itineraries must pay the single trip price.
Hotels/hostels (5 nts, some multi-share), participation camping (8 nts).
My Own Room Exceptions
Please note that if you have booked the “My Own Room/Tent” option for this tour, you will receive your own single room/tent for all nights, except for days 1,11,12
Accommodation will be varied throughout your adventure. We use a combination of hotels and hostels, but most of the nights on tour are spent camping in tents in public and private campgrounds.
Multi-share accommodation, on a single-sex basis (typically 4-6 people per room), is common in the U.S. and is the way you will be spending your hostel nights. We have specifically chosen unique accommodations to give local flavor to your trip.
Couples: Please note that due to the types of accommodation used in the U.S., couples will likely be split into separate rooms where we use multi-share hostels. Pending availability, couples may be able to pay extra while on tour to have their own room in some destinations.
All camping equipment (with the exception of your sleeping bag and pillow) is supplied, including comfortable camp mattresses. We supply dome tents that take only 5 minutes to assemble/disassemble. They are good quality, durable, industry-standard, oversized 2-person tents, each with 2 separate and convenient zip-up doors, so that each person has his/her own entrance.
We use 2 types of campgrounds in North America:
1. Private campgrounds: These are privately run sites, usually with all services such as fire pits, picnic tables, drinking water, toilets & shower buildings. Some have small outdoor swimming pools and laundry facilities. These campgrounds are typically located near national park entrances or towns.
2. Public campgrounds: These are park-run sites, usually with basic facilities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and drinking water. In some cases, this type of campground doesn’t have showers, only pit toilets and a lake! In other locations, toilet and shower facilities may be located outside the campground, or at times in another location a drive away. Some may have shower fees for onsite facilities ($2-6/shower).
For details of your joining hotel please refer to your tour voucher, G Account, the G Adventures App or contact your travel agent.
When arriving at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) proceed to the Arrivals Hall. From LAX, you have a few transportation options to get to the Joining Hotel, which is 25 miles away: public taxi, door-to-door shuttle also knows as “Shared-ride Vans”, or a ride sharing app such as Uber or Lyft.
Taxi The taxis are located outside of each terminal on the Lower/Arrival Level islands marked with a yellow sign. The cost is approximately $50 plus gratuity but can vary greatly depending on arrival times.
Door-to-Door Shuttle also knows as “Shared-Ride Vans” This is probably the most cost effective way to get to your hotel and definitely cheaper than a taxi ride from the Airport. You will see quite a few shuttle companies, but you can save money and receive detailed joining locations by pre-booking at www.supershuttle.com. The fare to your hotel is around $15-20 plus gratuity.
Please note that Day 1 is an arrival day and no activities have been planned for that day other than your welcome meeting in the evening, so you can arrive at any time.
Your CEO will organize a short meeting soon after arrival, during which you will meet other tour participants and receive information about general and specific aspects of the trip. A welcome note will be left for you in the hotel so you have all the necessary information regarding the meeting time. If you arrive late, s/he will leave you a message detailing what time and where you should meet the next morning.
Should you need to contact us during a situation of dire need, it is best to first call the G Adventures Local Representative. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, so they may return your call and assist you as soon as possible.
EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBERS
G Adventures Local Representative (Las Vegas)
From outside the USA: 1-412-423-8143
From within the USA: 412-423-8143
If you are unable for any reason to contact our local representative, please call the numbers listed below, which will connect you directly with our 24 hour Sales team, who will happily assist you.
Toll-free, North America only: 1 888 800 4100
Calls from UK: 0344 272 0000
Calls from Germany: 0800 365 1000
Calls from Australia: 1 300 796 618
Calls from New Zealand: 0800 333 307
Outside North America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the UK: +1 416 260 0999
What to Take
You will be on the move a lot, so our advice is to pack as lightly as possible.
For days in the outdoors, we recommend the use of lightweight, breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics made of wool or synthetic fibers. Cotton is not recommended for days spent hiking as it does not allow for heat or moisture to enter or escape, and it will not dry easily once wet.
We recommend using a backpack for your convenience, or a medium-sized suitcase if you prefer. Heavy luggage is not recommended for the health of the CEO, who will take a lead in loading the storage trailer. Due to space in the trailer, we will not be able to accommodate more than one piece of main luggage per person. A good size day-pack (20-35L) is also essential to carry your personal gear for the day, as access to luggage between destinations will be limited. This daypack will be used to carry your personal gear for the day, your lunch and a water bottle.
The American west is generally known for warm weather, but temperatures do vary significantly in the mountain and desert areas especially. The day time temperature could exceed 30 C, while the night time temperatures do regularly decrease to single digits, or even possible below freezing. It is therefore important to pack clothes for warm days and cool evenings – a light jacket is necessary.
Seasonal temperature ranges:
March – May ; September to December: -7 C to +30 C
June – August: 0 C to + 35 C
Additionally, a set of smart casual clothes is also advisable.
• Hiking boots/sturdy walking shoes
• Sleeping bag and liner, 4 season
• Thermal base layer
• Travel pillow
• Windproof rain gear
• Long-sleeved shirts or sweater
• Warm gloves
• Warm hat
• Warm layers
• Flight info (required) (Printouts of e-tickets may be required at the border)
• Insurance info (required) (With photocopies)
• Passport (required) (With photocopies)
• Required visas or vaccination certificates (required) (With photocopies)
• Vouchers and pre-departure information (required)
• Binoculars (optional)
• Camera (With extra memory cards and batteries)
• Cash, credit and debit cards
• Day pack (Used for daily excursions or short overnights)
• Ear plugs
• First-aid kit (should contain lip balm with sunscreen, sunscreen, whistle, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, bandaids/plasters, tape, anti-histamines, antibacterial gel/wipes, antiseptic cream, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, rehydration powder, water purification tablets or drops, insect repellent, sewing kit, extra prescription drugs you may be taking)
• Flashlight/torch (Headlamps are ideal)
• Fleece top/sweater
• Locks for bags
• Long pants/jeans
• Outlet adapter
• Personal entertainment (Reading and writing materials, cards, music player, etc.)
• Reusable water bottle
• Small travel towel
• Toiletries (Preferably biodegradable)
• Watch and alarm clock
• Waterproof backpack cover
• Windproof rain jacket
Health & Safety:
• Face masks (required)
• Hand sanitizer (required)
• Pen (Please bring your own pen for filling out documents.)
• Rubber gloves
• Shorts/skirts (Longer shorts/skirts are recommended)
• Sun hat/bandana
Note: For evenings out in some cities there will be a dress code. If you wish to participate, please bring a nicer outfit for these occasions. We recommend a nicer pair of shoes and a collared shirt or blouse.
Laundry can be done at least once a week while on tour. Some private campgrounds and most cities have laundromats where you can buy soap and wash your laundry in coin-operated machines. Your CEO will advise you along the trip where you will be able to do your laundry.
Visas and Entry Requirements
All countries require a valid passport (with a minimum 6 months validity). Contact your local embassy, or consulate for the most up-to-date visa requirements, or see your travel agent. It is your own responsibility to have the correct travel documentation. Visa requirements for your trip will vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. We keep the following information up to date as far as possible, but rules do change and sometimes without warning. While we provide the following information in good faith, it is vital that you check yourself and understand that you are fully responsible for your own visa requirements.
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 and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
The United States currency is the US Dollar (USD).
Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere in the US and can be used to purchase small and large items. When purchasing products or services with a foreign credit card in the USA, you may be charged additional fees by your credit card company for foreign purchases.
Credit cards and debit cards are very useful for cash advances but you must remember to bring your PIN number (be aware that many ATM machines only accept 4-digit PINs). Both Cirrus and Plus system cards are the most widely accepted debit cards. Both Visa and Master Cards are the most widely accepted credit cards. While ATMs are commonly available, there are no guarantees that your credit or debit cards will actually work check with your bank before you travel. A visit to an ATM can be arranged on Day 1 and other days of the trip.
Do not rely on credit or debit cards as your only source of money. A combination of US Dollars as cash (preferably smaller bills, 5’s, 10’s and 20’s), traveller’s cheques and credit cards is best. Currency exchange is best obtained prior to travel or at the airport, currency exchange is very difficult to find in the USA and most banks do not accommodate.
Always take more rather than less, as you don’t want to spoil the trip by constantly feeling short of funds.
As currency exchange rates can fluctuate often we ask that you refer to the following website for daily exchange rates: www.xe.com
Please also make sure you have access to at least an additional USD $200 (or equivalent) as an ‘emergency’ fund, to be used when circumstances outside our control (ex. a natural disaster) require a change to our planned route. This is a rare occurrence!
It is customary in North America to tip service providers such as waiters, bartenders and taxi drivers, at approximately 18-20%, depending on the service. Tipping is an expected – though not compulsory – component of your tour program and an expression of satisfaction with the persons who have assisted you on your tour. Although it may not be customary to you, it is of considerable significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels. There are times during the trip where there is opportunity to tip any local guides used. Recommendations for tipping local guides would range from $2-8 USD per activity depending on the quality and length of the service; ask your CEO for specific recommendations based on the circumstances and culture.
Also at the end of each trip if you felt your G Adventures Chief Experience Officer did an outstanding job, tipping is appreciated. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline $5-10 USD per person, per day can be used as a guide. If your CEO exceeded your expectations, feel free to tip more.
- Santa Monica Pier Visit (Free)
- Universal Studios Hollywood (90-150USD per person)
- Venice Beach Visit (Free)
- Gaslamp Quarter District Visit (Free)
- Surf and Boogie Board Rental (8-20USD per person)
- Old Town San Diego Visit (Free)
- Surf Lesson (69USD per person)
Lake Havasu City
- London Bridge Visit
Grand Canyon National Park
- Grand Canyon IMAX Movie (14USD per person)
- Grand Canyon Hiking (Free)
- Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour (284-309USD per person)
- VIP Party Bus Experience (45USD per person)
- Gambling at Vegas Casino
- Las Vegas Show (60-200USD per person)
- Vegas Strip Visit (Free)
- Optional Welcome Meeting for Travellers on Combos
- Hoover Dam Visit (65USD per person)
Yosemite National Park
- Yosemite National Park Hike (Free)
- Yosemite Bike Rental (12USD per person)
- Fisherman’s Wharf Visit (Free)
- Cable Car Ride San Francisco (7USD per person)
- Sunset Sailing San Francisco
- Haight-Ashbury Visit (Free)
- Bike Rental San Francisco (8-32USD per person)
- Golden Gate Bridge Visit (Free)
Safety and Security
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. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe keeping of your passport, air tickets, travellers’ cheques, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home – you won’t need it while travelling. Many of the hotels we use have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. When travelling on a group trip, please note that your CEO has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it is deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Your CEO will accompany you on all included activities. During your trip you will have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your CEO will assist you with options available in a given location please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and we offer no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgment when selecting an activity in your free time. Although the cities visited on tour are generally safe during the day, there can be risks to wandering throughout any major city at night. It is our recommendation to stay in small groups and to take taxis to and from restaurants, or during night time excursions.
Protests and Demonstrations- Protests and demonstrations, even those that are well intended, have the potential to turn violent with no warning. Counter protests can also turn violent. Action by security forces to disperse demonstrators and protesters may occur at any time. If you are in an area where demonstrators or protesters are gathering, avoid the temptation of staying for a good photo opportunity and leave the area immediately.
Water based activities have an element of danger and excitement built into them. We recommend only participating in water based activities when accompanied by a guide(s). We make every reasonable effort to ensure the fun and adventurous element of any water based activities (in countries with varying degrees of operating standards) have a balanced approach to safety. It is our policy not to allow our CEOs to make arrangements on your behalf for water based activities that are not accompanied by guide(s).
Swimming, including snorkeling, is always at your own risk.
We take all prudent measures in relation to your safety. For ways to further enhance your personal safety while traveling, please visit:
A Couple of Rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on any 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 the world the special place it is. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our CEOs have the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
Travel Insurance: Travel insurance is compulsory in order to participate on any of our trips. When travelling on a group trip, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance has been sighted by your CEO, who will take note of your insurance details. When selecting a travel insurance policy please bear in mind that all clients must have medical coverage and that we require a minimum coverage of USD 200,000 for repatriation and emergency rescue. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. If you have credit card insurance we require proof of purchase of the trip (a receipt of credit card statement) with a credit card in your name. Contact your bank for details of their participating insurer, the level of coverage and emergency contact telephone number.
Planeterra Foundation - the non-profit partner of G Adventures
Planeterra International Foundation is a non-profit organization committed to turning travel into impact by helping local communities earn an income from tourism. Planeterra connects underserved local communities to the benefits of tourism by developing and supporting small community-owned businesses. These businesses support Indigenous people, empower women, grant youth access to employment opportunities, and protect the environment. Planeterra also works to ensure these businesses have a thriving customer base by integrating their projects into G Adventures’ itineraries globally.
G Adventures is Planeterra’s largest corporate donor, covering all operating costs, so 100% of your donation will bring opportunity to people in need.
G Adventures Dollar-a-day Program – Make Every Day Count – Turn your travel into impact with Planeterra Foundation.
Did you know? Most communities around the world do not benefit from tourism. Give back to the places you visit on your travels by creating opportunities for local people to earn an income, and protect the environment.
Make every day count by donating $1/day for the length of your trip, and join us in empowering the communities you will visit when you travel. 100% of your donation goes directly to Planeterra projects.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! Your feedback information is so important to us that we’ll give you 5% off the price of your next G Adventures trip if your feedback is completed on-line within 30 days of finishing your trip. Your tour evaluation will be e-mailed to you 24 hours after the conclusion of your trip. If you do not receive the tour evaluation link in the days after your tour has finished, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send it on to you.
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Minimum age of 18 years for this trip.
Check-in times and baggage allowances/restrictions vary by airline and can change at any time. For the most up-to-date information for your flight, please contact your airline. We recommend checking in online in advance to avoid potential delays at the airport.
1 or 2 Chief Experience Officers (CEOs) throughout, depending on group size.
PRODUCT_LINE: NUAA, ID: 24289