Southwestern Desert Explorer

12 days
from
£3,359
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Culture
Suitable for:
Age 16+
Activity level:
Leisurely / Moderate
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
Trip code: 
PCA
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Culture
Group size:
1–13
Min age:
16

Enjoy a medley of otherworldly desert landscapes and natural wonders.

Across our exhilarating tour of Western USA, where rolling canyons, babbling brooks and majestic mesas converge and where the Grand Canyon and the Las Vegas Strip are rivalled only by the incredible red rock buttes of Sedona and the yuccas of Joshua Tree National Park. Take a dip in refreshing lakes and dine on freshly sourced ingredients on Southern Arizona's Apache Trail.

Highlights

  • Ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tram to the unspoiled wilderness of Mt. San Jacinto State Park
  • Farm to Table dining experience at Queen Creek Olive Mill 
  • Visit the healing red rock buttes on a jeep tour and enjoy Sedona’s sweeping hiking trails
  • Admire Spanish Revival architecture in the historic downtown area of Palm Springs
  • Marvel at ancient Indian petroglyphs in Joshua Tree National Park
  • Enjoy the ultimate sunrise or sunset experience overlooking the Grand Canyon 
  • Zion's sandstone cliffs and hanging gardens

Key information

  • 4 US States: California, Arizona, Utah & Nevada
  • Length: 12 days land only
  • Departs: Los Angeles
  • Accommodation: 10 hotel nights
  •  Meals: One dinner included. All other meals paid locally
  • Staff: Services of a professional tour leader and local guides 
  • Transport: Transportation by private vehicle. Free Wi-Fi in your vehicle (Maximum 5 users at one time).
  • Countries visited: North America

What's included

  • Services of a professional tour leader
  • All transportation by private vehicle
  • Free Wi-Fi in your vehicle (Maximum 5 users at one time)
  • 1 dinner included. All other meals paid locally

What's not included

  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • Arrival & departure transfers
  • Optional activities
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailor made trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

Los Angeles
to
Las Vegas
  • Day 1

    Los Angeles

    Welcome to 'The City of Angels'. Blessed with golden strip beaches and flower-carpeted hillsides, its hard not to see the sunny-side when you’re in LA. Aside from its massive population, this city is inextricably linked to mother nature, with hiking opportunities just a mere 9 miles away from its city hall. In the evening, we’d recommend strolling through its vibrant neighbourhoods and along the Santa Monica Boulevard, where you can take a ride on its iconic ferris wheel before meeting your tour leader at 18:00hrs.

    Fairfield Inn & Suites Los Angeles (or similar)

  • Day 2

    Idyllwild; Palm Springs

    Head to the mountain town of Idyllwild, set amongst the San Jacinto range, offering the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of California. Here, you can explore the tall pine and manzanita trees, with the sweet smell of cedar on a short hike in the state park. Enjoy trails crossing babbling brooks and many species of trees along the way, that are enough to impress any botanist. Managing to keep its small-town vibe, Idyllwild’s breath-taking scenery is the perfect pit stop before you make your way to Palm Springs. This evening wander across the downtown district, to see retro-chic boutiques and craft markets.

    Palm Mountain Resort (or similar)

  • Day 3

    Palm Springs; Joshua Tree National Park

    This morning enjoy an exhilarating ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tram. The world’s largest rotating tram car will deliver you from the desert floor, across the cliffs of Chino Canyon to the incredible heights of the San Jacinto where panoramic views of the Coachella valley await. Once at the top, explore the hiking trails and enjoy a picnic with a view. In the late afternoon you will travel to Joshua Tree National Park, a haven of yuccas, boulders and hidden oases. This protected environment is something special.

    Best Western Gardens at Joshua Tree (or similar)

  • Day 4

    Joshua Tree National Park; Phoenix

    Beat the heat with an early start at Joshua Tree National Park. Named after the bristled Joshua trees that dot the landscape, this park lies in between the high Mojave Desert and the low Colorado Desert. Weave between clumped rock formations, gold mining ruins and marvel at Indian petroglyphs near Barker Dam, before discovering Keys View. From here, the park’s Keys View offers a brilliant panoramic overlooking the Coachella Valley, Mount Gorgonio and the Salton Sea. Afterwards, we cross over into Arizona where you’ll spend two nights in Phoenix.

    Hotel San Carlos (or similar)

  • Day 5

    Apache Trail; Phoenix

    Enjoy a scenic drive on the Apache trail, taking you to the craggy Superstition Mountains, just east of the Phoenix metropolitan area. Follow in Native Americans footsteps towards old western towns such as the Apacheland Movie Ranch and canyon lakes, where you can kayak or take a boat to the incredible Saguaro forest. Delve into its rich history by uncovering the legend of the Lost Dutchman’s Mine, a seam of gold ore that was lost in the region and has never been found since. This evening enjoy a sunset dinner at the Queen Creek Olive Mill, where they produce their own olive oil.

    Hotel San Carlos (or similar)

  • Days 6-7

    Sedona

    Stop in Sedona, whose red rocks are locally known to have healing powers. With its lush pine forests, steep canyon walls and mild climate, Sedona is beautifully picturesque and well worth exploring. Many locals believe that the area’s vortexes radiate the earths energy, allowing for the practice of alternative medicines in the region, while the more outdoorsy travellers spend their time in Sedona, climbing or mountain biking through these iconic, red rose desert spires. You will discover this beautiful backcountry on a jeep tour where you can explore the sacred landscape of the Yavapai and Apache tribes, at your own leisure, taking in their epic hiking trails or browsing their shops that boast high quality southwestern art.

    Cedars Resort Sedona (or similar)

  • Days 8-9

    Grand Canyon (South Rim)

    Visit the Grand Canyon National Park, one of the world’s seven natural wonders for the ultimate desert showstopper! Officially becoming one of America’s most famous national parks in 1919, it’s continued to awe visitors and locals alike over the last century. Admire the panoramic vistas at viewpoints across the South Rim trail, including the Desert View Road, Grand Canyon Village and Hermit Road, with some of our favourites including the Moran Point and Yavapai Point. The Grand Canyon has been carved over several millennia, spanning 277 miles long and over one mile deep. In your free time, take a once in a lifetime helicopter flight for a birds-eye view overlooking the canyons or hike your way down the challenging trail to Plateau Point.

    Red Feather Lodge (or similar)

  • Days 10-11

    Zion National Park

    Make your way to Utah’s Zion National Park where the multi-coloured cliffs and hanging gardens are nothing short of spectacular. Revolving around Zion Canyon, that’s almost 3,000 feet deep in places, the surrounding park’s ecosystem is extremely diverse, with over 800 native plant species, making it a pleasure to trek across. Discover the best hiking in Southwest USA with Lower Emerald Pools and waterfall trails near Zion’s ‘beach’. For the adventurous, we’d recommend hiking the 2,500 ft ascent to Angels Landing.

    La Quinta Springdale (or similar)

  • Day 12

    Las Vegas

    Prepare to be dazzled by the bright city lights of Las Vegas strip– a truly memorable end to your journey. The trip ends in Gateway Hotel at 17:00 hrs.

Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Eating and Drinking

Meals are paid locally on this trip.

On hotel based tours, you will usually eat out in local restaurants. To help you budget for your meals on average hotel breakfasts cost from US$6-12, lunches from US$8-15 and dinners from US$13-30; this does not include alcoholic beverages. Wine costs approximately US$5 per glass and beer US$4 per bottle. Please also be aware that a tip of approximately 15%-20% is added to group meals in North American restaurants. Applicable taxes will also be added to all listed menu prices.

Your tour leader may offer your group the option to operate a ‘lunch only’ food kitty, this has proven to be a popular alternative to three daily restaurant meals. Leaders will explain this option while on your tour, and the whole group will have to agree for this system to run.

Please make sure we are aware of any special meal requirements before travelling. We will do all we can to accommodate for various dietary requirements but in certain parts of North America certain food types can be limited.

Weather

Weather can be changeable so it’s wise to pack something to cover all seasons! 

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailor made trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels

Hotel accommodation will be in clean, comfortable three star hotels or lodges with en suite bathroom facilities, chosen for their friendly atmosphere and proximity to the highlights of the region. You will be roomed with a fellow passenger of the same sex on a twin share basis (two people per room) unless you are travelling as a couple. In the event that you cannot be matched with another passenger there will not be a single supplement charge.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailor made trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

Have you been on this adventure? Tell others what it’s like by writing a review.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

For anyone leaving from the UK we would be pleased to book your flight in conjunction with your tour. Please contact us for competitive prices on flights departing from most UK airports.

If you are booking your own flights, you are free to arrive at any time on day one but it is advisable that you arrive in plenty of time to reach your joining hotel and attend your welcome meeting. We also suggest that you book your return flight the day after your tour finishes. If you do have to return home on the day your tour finishes, please make sure that your flight does not depart before 21:00 hrs.
Please note that we cannot be held responsible for any delays, cancellations, changes to your flights, or any missed flights. We are unable to delay a tour, or finish a tour early due to your flight times.