Experience some of the highlights of California and Nevada in a short period of time. Enjoy the freedom to discover cities and national parks at your own pace, while letting someone else drive you from A to B. Towering granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls, redwood forests and epic night skies – Yosemite National Park feels like utopia. While other tour groups breeze through in a day, you’ll spend two nights in the park, allowing for a full day of hiking and exploring. For many, Death Valley conjures up images of a flat and barren wasteland. Be surprised by the park’s ethereal landscapes of sand dunes, water-sculpted canyons, extinct volcanic craters and, in the spring, fields of wildflowers. Tightly hugging the spectacular California coast, Highway 1 is simply one of the most amazing drives in the world. This trip allows you to focus all your attention on the incredible views and let someone else do all the driving!
Take in Las Vegas to Los Angeles while making your way across the countryside, passing through the scorching Death Valley, the forests of Sierra Nevada and the famous Pacific Coast. Enjoy the sights, sounds and decadence of Sin City, then leave the desert as you make tracks for California’s mountain region. Trek and explore Yosemite, marvel at the size of Half Dome, and then head on to the coast as you move through America’s constantly changing scenery.
Breakfast Included: Lunches Included: Dinner Included:
Welcome to the USA! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting in the hotel lobby today at 6 pm. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Las Vegas may be the gambling capital of the world, but there's plenty to do if gambling isn't your thing. We recommend you arrive a few days early to make the most of this exciting city. Hit the shops, feel your stomach drop on a rooftop roller coaster or simply stroll along the Strip, soaking up the glitz and gaudiness. In the evening, perhaps feast on an 'all you can eat' buffet, check out one of the many shows on offer or party the night away in a Vegas nightclub.
Today is a long day of driving (approximately six hours). You'll cover more than 550 kilometres through Death Valley and across the Eastern Sierra. Death Valley is one of the hottest places on the planet, with temperatures rising to 56°C in the summer. The park features huge sand dunes, sculpted rocks, isolated valleys and volcanic craters. The canyon and mountain walls change colour with the changing light. Elevations fluctuate from 85 metres below sea level near Badwater Basin (the lowest point in the United States) to 3,756 metres at Telescope Peak. Stop at the visitor centre and, if it's not too hot, take a walk on the stunning salt flats.
Yosemite National Park
Driving west, travel through the Tioga Pass (snow levels permitting) into the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Your destination is Yosemite National Park. One of the most famous parks in the USA, Yosemite's colossal granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls and redwood forests attract visitors from all over the world. You'll spend two nights in the park in order to have a full day of exploration tomorrow. The total driving time today is approximately five hours, or longer if the Tioga Pass is closed.
Yosemite National Park
Today is a free day to get out and discover the park. There are plenty of hikes available, each varying in steepness and difficulty. Hike under the cooling breezes of Nevada Falls (4-5 hours) or to the serene Mirror Lake (45 minutes). Keep an eye out for squirrels and perhaps even a bear along the way. You might prefer to hire a bike and explore Yosemite Valley. Visit the park's museum, photo gallery, shops and restaurants along the way. 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.
Leave Yosemite behind today and drive west for about four hours to San Francisco. In the evening, perhaps head out with the group to sample some dumplings in Chinatown or pasta in North Beach.
The 'City by the Bay' has a beautiful setting and a vibrant, multicultural heart. You might like to check out the vintage stores along funky Haight Street, catch the tram down to the waterfront or take a cruise on the bay to see the impressive Golden Gate Bridge.
We leave the city this morning and drive south down the coast to Monterey (approximately 3.5 hours). You’ll spend the afternoon in the Monterey area, which is home to a National Marine sanctuary – an incredibly deep ecosystem just metres off shore. Mammals, seabirds, fish, invertebrates and plants all thrive in a remarkably productive coastal environment. Maybe see it up close up with a kayak around the bay, or head further out to try and spot some whales. On dry land, you can wander down atmospheric Cannery Row, a favourite hangout spot for sea lions. This evening you’ll set up camp here along the beautiful California Coast.
Santa Barbara Area
Today, cruise southbound along Highway 101 for approximately 4 hours. There will be restroom breaks along the way before stopping for lunch on San Simeon Beach. After lunch, head north and check out the elephant seals near Piedras Blancas. This special spot is visited by over 25,000 elephant seals every year! From here, head up to Ragged Point for a short walk overlooking the cliffs. Time permitting, we may also stop at one of the small seaside communities, such as Cambria or Morro Bay, before driving past classic Californian hotspots like San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach on the way Santa Barbara (approx. 2.5 hours).
Spend some time in Santa Barbara this morning, one of the prettiest towns in California. The relaxed atmosphere, Mediterranean-style architecture and an exceptional year-round climate have long made it a millionaire’s residence of choice. It’s attracting a younger, ‘hipper’, crowd these days too thanks to its new “Funk Zone”, a 12-block area of converted warehouses with new restaurants, pop-up shops, galleries and craft breweries. A walk along the long beach, gazing out at Stearns Wharf, and then a sip of one of the famous local wines is the perfect way to round out your time here. Then it’s on to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood with a drive down to LA. The adventure down the California coast ends on arrival in the City of Angels. There much to see and do here, so maybe stay a couple of days longer to explore.