The Grand Canyon needs no introduction. Camp for two nights in the national park, allowing a full day to explore, a chance to see an incredible canyon sunrise, and maybe fly overhead. Explore parts of Monument Valley only accessible with a Navajo guide, and share in the unique opportunity to learn the culture and customs of one of the largest North American Indian tribes. In Mesa Verde National Park, step back into North American history with the ancient cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Pueblo people. These 600 rock cut houses are one of the best and largest archaeological sites in the country. Santa Fe is a haven for colourful characters, a place where New Mexico’s artists and culture-buffs flourish under the hot sun and year-round blue skies. Explore its ancient history, contemporary heart, desert soul, and tongue-tingling food
Explore southern America on a road trip and discover what is surely one of the USA’s kookiest corners. Beginning among the fun and colour of Las Vegas, take in the legendary Grand Canyon and sacred desert landscapes of Monument Valley. From there it’s on to New Mexico, home to the legendary Carlsbad Caverns, UFO sightings and ‘the city different’ – also known as Santa Fe. Head east into Texas, stopping by the historic riverfront of San Antonio along the way and then finish up this adventure in New Orleans. In a country that’s all about the big, the bold and the bizarre, America’s southwest is not to be missed.
Breakfast Included: Lunches Included: Dinner Included:
Welcome to the USA! Kick off this adventure in the Neon City, Las Vegas, the entertainment capital of the world. Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm – double check with reception to confirm the time and place. There are no activities planned today so you can arrive at anytime before then. If you can't arrange a flight that arrives on time, you may wish to arrive a day early – we’ll happily book you additional accommodation (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. As there’s so much to do in Vegas we recommend arriving a few days early anyway! We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at the meeting, so please ensure you have these on hand. Las Vegas caters to all tastes, from opulent casinos on the Strip and all night party spots, to stimulating museums, dazzling circus shows, aquariums and botanical gardens. Try your luck on the casino floor, catch an eye-popping show, hit top speed at a theme park, relive the city’s past at the Neon museum (graveyard of iconic Vegas signs), head downtown for a slice of retro Vegas, or just simply relax at the pool. This evening, maybe head out with the group and test your limits at an all you can eat buffet!
While the lights of Las Vegas might be dazzling, your eyes are in for a real treat today as they'll fall on the incredible Grand Canyon. Leave Vegas and drive along a section of famous Route 66 to one of the world’s seven wonders (approximately 5 hours). You’ll have two nights here to help you’ll fully comprehend this amazing sight. There are plenty of things to see and do during your time here, so be prepared for busy and active days. Peer over the rim and stand in awe as you watch the setting sun ignite the multi-coloured rock walls. For the next two nights you’ll camp out in one of the world’s most magnificent settings, surrounded by the smell of pine and cedar and enveloped by a stunning canopy of stars at night.
Take time today to explore at your own pace. Maybe rise early for an incredible sunrise, then soar like a California Condor over the canyon with a scenic helicopter flight (not included). If you get active, then descend through pine trees into the heart of the immense abyss, hiking from red rock to white powder. Discover this stunning gorge – 1.5 kilometres deep and formed by over six million years of erosion from the Colorado River – by strolling around the edges, or hiking along the South Kaibab trail or to Plateau Point. Or perhaps join rangers to learn about the park’s geological story, watch an IMAX film to discover the canyon from a different perspective, or simply relax with a book and a backdrop like no other. Whatever you choose, you’ll find that the canyon depths are nothing short of mind-blowing.
Cruise the scenery of classic Western cinema into the Navajo Nation, home to Monument Valley and one of the largest North American Indian tribes (approximately 4 hours). The reservation here is the largest in the US and home to more than 200,000 Indians of the Navajo Tribe. The towering sandstone formations scattered across the landscape give the area its name, and the angle of the sun means that the landscape is constantly changing colour and it's near impossible to take a bad photo. When you arrive, let a Navajo guide share their culture and knowledge on an optional Jeep ride through the beautiful landscape, taking in flaming red cliffs, visiting traditional Navajo homes, and hiking up sweeping sand dunes. You’ll visit places that are only accessible with a Navajo guide, and tonight you can choose to join the locals for an authentic Navajo dinner around a campfire, listening to their traditional songs and stories.
Mesa Verde National Park
Step back in time today and understand human history in North American with one of the best and largest archaeological sites in the country. Travel from Monument Valley to Mesa Verde National Park (approximately 3.5 hours). Although the desert-scapes and cactus-spiked mesas might seem pretty uninhabitable, this part of the American Southwest has been settled for thousands of years. The park protects over 4,000 known archaeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Puebloans, who made the area their home for over 700 years from A.D. 550 to A.D. 1300. Explore a cliff dwelling on a short walk – where you can descend a ladder into a kiva, a round, subterranean ceremonial structure – or (for a small fee) join a ranger-led walk. The ranger will help you access the more difficult sites like ‘Cliff Palace’ or ‘Balcony House’, and help you learn more about this ancient site.
Continue the journey north to Santa Fe (approximately 6.5 hours). Welcome to a place that the locals call ‘the city different’, a place often seen as a haven for colourful characters. Santa Fe is a city whose artistic, musical and culinary offerings are greater than its size suggests. The capital of New Mexico, Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in the US, and a place where artists and culture-buffs flourish under the hot desert sun and year-round blue skies. Pop your head into the museums (like that dedicated Georgia O'Keeffe or those dotted around downtown), or contemplate eccentric (weird, wonderful and just downright bizarre!) folk-art at the numerous galleries. You might like to check out the pueblo architecture surrounding the town plaza or see the San Miguel Mission, the USA's oldest church.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Head south and unearth a world hidden beneath the stark, barren desert after leaving Texas behind for New Mexico (approximately 5 hours). When you arrive, head deep underground for a world-class cave experience in Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Marvel at the massive, ornate formations that burst from the cavern’s edges in the 8.2 acre ‘Big Room’ and beyond. One of the largest caverns in the world, Carlsbad Cavern is still only partially explored, with 119 caves recorded so far. There are yet more wonders outside the cave – take a seat outside the park at sunset and watch hundreds of thousands of bats spiralling out in a swarming column in search of food. Please note that as the bats migrate south in October for the winter, this is a seasonal sight and is best viewed in July and August. You’ll spend the night in a campground near the town of Carlsbad.
Take a long full day’s drive southwest across the Lone Star state of Texas to San Antonio (approximately 9 hours). This is the perfect chance to soak up the scenery, catch up on some reading, and ask your fellow travellers any questions you’ve been dying to know the answer to. In San Antonio discover a little piece of Mexico in the US and a city full of rich history. San Antonio is home to the famed Alamo, a shrine to Texan liberty. The 18th century Spanish-Mexican fort has been reconstructed and you can relive Davy Crockett’s last days here. The famous frontiersman was one of 187 people who died trying to defend the fort against a 1,000-strong Mexican army. San Antonio is also brimming with historical missions and fine art museums. Don’t miss the chance to meander through the shops and restaurants that line the city’s famous River Walk, sample the impressive cocktail scene, and seek out some of the city's amazing food trucks.
Join the truckers along Highway 10 for the drive towards Louisiana (approximately 7 hours). Today is flexible as we try to cover as much ground as we can to get us as close to New Orleans as possible. We will likely camp somewhere in East Texas, or near Sam Houston Jones State Park or the town of Lafayette in Louisiana.
Head across the state of Louisiana to New Orleans - the 'Big Easy' (approximately 2.5 hours).
The trip finishes on arrival into New Orleans and no accommodation is provided tonight. The arrival time depends on each group, but if you decide to fly out on this day, please don't book a flight before 9pm. This will give you enough time to catch a shuttle from the hotel to the airport and be there two hours before departure. If you are staying in town for the evening, perhaps take a walk down rowdy Bourbon Street or through the former plantation area of the Garden District, or head out for a typical Cajun-style dinner and toast to your adventure.
If you do wish to spend extra time in New Orleans we'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).