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The Big West plus Calgary Stampede

Want the USA & Canada? Get the best of the west with some of the countries favourite spots. From the beaches to cities to mountains to lakes, this trip is an epic blend of adventure, culture & chilled out times

North America

Duration: 25 Days Guaranteed Departure: Yes
For lovers of: Physical rating: Easy
Accommodation standard:   Budget% Traveller Tour Rating: 0%  
Your Guide: English speaking Tour code: 161914
Starts: Los Angeles, United States Finishes: Vancouver, Canada
You will Visit
  • San Diego
  • Phoenix
  • Grand Canyon
  • Las Vegas
  • Vancouver
  • Whistler
  • Bass Lake
  • San Francisco
  • Jasper
  • Kamloops
  • Banff
  • Calgary
  • Vernon
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Los Angeles

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Arrive Los Angeles

Meet up with your fellow travellers and Trip Manager before heading straight out into the city that mixes up glamour, grit and the American Dream: Los Angeles. It’s packed with legends, full of energy and there are loads of things to do. You’ll head out for an insider’s look at downtown LA on our morning walking tour. Your Local Guide will tell you all about the architecture, fill you in on American pop culture and show you some of the old theatres from Los Angeles’ heyday. Then head to mythical Hollywood and onto holy ground for the stars. Check out the Kodak Theatre, where the Oscars are held every year and the Chinese Theatre, where so many greats have pressed their hands into the cement. We’ll cruise down the hottest shopping street in LA, Melrose Avenue, and one of the best areas for nightlife, the Strip (Sunset Boulevard), with its billboards, clubs and eateries, before getting a glimpse at one of the world’s wealthiest suburbs in Beverly Hills, where your Trip Manager will give you the background on the who’s who of Hollywood. A little further west and we arrive in Santa Monica, LA’s oldest beach resort. Known for its liberal vibes, art galleries and wide sand beaches, Santa Monica is all about the California coast lifestyle. Your Trip Manager will give you some history on the city and then show you the famous pier, which serves as a permanent amusement park, complete with a solar powered Ferris wheel. Later, we travel out to LA’s quirkiest suburb where anything goes: Venice Beach. A favourite hang out spot for locals, colourful Venice Beach attracts all sorts of people. Get a feel for street life when you hit the buzzing boadwalk, where performers, tattoo artists, hair braiders, musicians and roller bladders gather. Make sure you check out the markets and stalls, as well as the greased-up body builders pumping iron at the famous open air gym, Muscle Beach. After dinner, you’ll head straight out for an optional Hollywood Pub Crawl through some of the towns hottest bars and clubs.

02

Day 2: Los Angeles to San Diego

Meet up with your Contiki crew and Trip Manager before cruising through Orange County and along the Pacific coastline to laid-back San Diego. Get a feel for the city’s easy-going vibes with a look around San Diego’s vibrant neighborhoods. In Old Town, your Trip Manager will give you the story behind the original pueblo (village), with its Adobe buildings (made of brick, straw and mud) and show you the 19th century buildings of the Gaslamp Quarter's. You’ll also see Balboa Park, which holds the largest urban cultural park in the USA and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Tonight, make your first night on trip one to remember and get to know the group over dinner before heading out for a fun night exploring the Gaslamp District’s funky live music venues or one of the many cool bars.

03

Day 3: San Diego

With a full day in San Diego, live a bit of the California lifestyle and get into some outdoor activities. With 42 miles of beaches, a Mediterranean climate and loads of parks, San Diego is all about kicking back in the pleasant surrounds. Otherwise, visit the San Diego Zoo, known for its conservation efforts and vast numbers of animals (over 4000!) If the weather is good, we’ll cruise out to the locals’ favorite spot, Mission Beach, for a few hours soaking up the sun or walking along the boardwalk for views of ocean. Don’t forget your towel and swimmers.

04

Day 4: San Diego to Phoenix

Things are about to get hotter as we head to Phoenix, a massive metropolis sitting smack in the middle of the desert. With around 300 days of sunshine per year, this place is all about shopping, sports and nightlife.

05

Day 5: Phoenix to the Grand Canyon

Kick start the day with an unforgettable optional excursion: a hot-air balloon ride over the Sonoran Desert and “Valley of the Sun”. The combination of full blown vistas over the desert and a champagne breakfast upon landing make this an amazing experience. We continue deeper into the Wild West as we head to stunning Sedona. Chill out and watch the region’s recognizable red rock cliffs, rugged spires and mesas (flat-topped rock formations) go by from the coach. Your Trip Manager will tell you about this eco-friendly town that is also known for its high-energy red rocks. There’s a chance to explore this stunning red rock country with our Local Guide on an optional 4WD tour through the historic canyons. Learn local legends and even pick up a piece of Native American jewelery. We continue on to the mind-blowing landscape of the Grand Canyon, one of the world’s most recognizable natural wonders and pride of Arizona.

06

Day 6: Grand Canyon National Park

A day here means time to take in the immensity and spine-tingling beauty of the scene-stealing Canyon – it has got a rep for a reason! This morning get up close to this UNESCO World Heritage site on an optional helicopter ride and get another angle on the Canyon as you fly over it. Hike along the South Rim for mind-blowing vistas of the dramatic scenery. See some of the oldest exposed rocks on earth, take in the deep abyss and soak up the wildness of the area. There are trails for all levels of hiking, so take it up a notch or cruise along at your own pace. Wrap up the day with a canyon sunset and take in the stunning changes of light while the sun goes down.

07

Day 7: Grand Canyon to Las Vegas

Leaving behind the Grand Canyon, we stop off at Seligman, an historic Route 66 town. Get a feel for the old style as you check out 1940’s shop fronts and motels. Maybe pick up a souvenir for back home. Then following a section of the legendary Route 66, we head north. With down time on the coach, plug in your MP3, catch on some sleep or chat with your friends. Get ready to arrive in larger-than-life Las Vegas – a man-made entertainment oasis smack in the middle of the desert. Often dubbed Sin City, it’s all about glitz, neon lights, and excess. See the bright lights of this city and its world-famous casinos in a first taste of Vegas kitsch as the group heads down the main drag, the “Strip”, and your Trip Manager fills you in on the story behind Vegas. Then cruise downtown to Freemont Street and experience a slice of the spectacular at a light and laser show in a massive pedestrian mall.

08

Day 8: Las Vegas

With a free day, you’ve got time to get a real feel for this outrageous town, so keep an eye out for Elvis impersonators and fast-paced chapel weddings! Explore more of the Strip and check out over-the-top versions of international icons, like the Eiffel Tower, Venetian canals and gondolas, a Roman temple or the pyramid, whose nightlight can be seen from the moon. Try your luck at one of the casinos, sit yourself down at a blackjack table and watch the high-rollers or go for a ride at one of the casino’s theme-parks. If you work up an appetite, tuck into an all you can eat buffet, and lunch American style. For something different, discover Las Vegas’ trademark art at the Neon Museum and for a look into this town’s atomic heyday in the 50s, visit the Atomic Testing Museum. Tonight, get some pointers on Las Vegas’ hot spots from your Trip Manager and make the most of this towns’ 24/7 action with some of your new friends.

09

Day 9: Las Vegas to Bass Lake

Today, it’s a total change of scene when leave behind flashy Vegas and the desert to arrive in the outdoor capital of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Make the most of picturesque Bass Lake and wind down in your chalet. With two nights at this lakefront resort, you can unpack your things, kickback on your chalet’s deck and soak up the views.

10

Day 10: Yosemite National Park

Get back to nature with a day in Yosemite National Park. This place has a reputation for a reason – it’s absolutely stunning. With a dramatic combination of waterfalls, woods, towering mountains and wildlife, Yosemite will take your breath away. Keep an eye out and a camera handy in case you’re lucky enough to see black bears, deer and coyotes. Your Trip Manager will tell you all about Yosemite as you check out the massive El Capitan rock and the sheerest cliff in the USA, Half Dome. It’s guaranteed to impress. You’ll also see the breathtaking Yosemite and Bridalveil Falls. Add to your time here and hike or bike along the park’s trails to experience this unique environment first hand and close up. Tonight, if the weather is good, cook up a BBQ on your chalet’s deck and enjoy eating under the open night sky.

11

Day 11: Bass Lake to San Francisco

Cruise on through the San Joaquin Valley to free-wheeling San Francisco, via Oakland. Colourful, cosmopolitan and creative, San Francisco is packed with characters, free-thinkers, and artists. You’ll see the signs of its recent history where it served as the hub of the gold rush, as well as the center for Beatnik and Hippy cultures. After crossing over the Bay Bridge for a panorama of the area, get familiar with this buzzing city as your Trip Manager shows you around San Francisco’s key sights. We stop off at Fisherman’s Wharf for a slice of the historic waterfront lifestyle, where you can order some fresh fish or crab from sidewalk stands. Cross San Francisco’s landmark suspension bridge, the Golden Gate, and check out the city’s iconic row houses on Alamo Square. This afternoon, take it down a notch & soak up the sunset on out included catamaran cruise around San Francisco Bay.

12

Day 12: San Francisco to Vancouver

This morning, say farewell to the Golden Gate Bridge & American dream. Next up, we're headed on an afternoon flight to Vancouver, Canada, a place well known for its majestic natural beauty & it is frequently ranked as one of the "best cities to live in". There are 11 more days of endless adventure awaiting, enjoy every moment & make the most of this beautiful country 'ay' (as the Canadians would say).

13

Day 13: Vancouver to Whistler

With beaches, forests and mountains, this town is all about location and fusing big-city living with an outdoor lifestyle. You’ll enjoy a first taste of it all with the group when your Trip Manager points out historic Gastown, Vancouver’s founding district, the city’s own Chinatown – home to the largest minority group in Vancouver and the landmark Lion’s Gate Bridge. In Stanley Park, see the colourful Totem Poles of Canada’s First Nations People and learn about traditional culture as your Trip Manager tells you the stories behind them. We’ll then wind our way along the spectacular cliff-top Sea to Sky highway and arrive in Whistler, one of the most popular ski resorts in North America and home to the 2010 Winter Olympics.

14

Day 14: Whistler

Today is yours to enjoy this beautiful mountain resort. Perhaps you'll want join us in an exciting Peddle and Paddle trip (optional), challenge yourself to the Ziplines or do some hiking on one of Whistler's trails. This afternoon you'll have an opportunity to take a scenic gondola ride to the top of Whistler/Blackcomb Mountain.

15

Day 15: Whistler to Kamloops

Leaving the mountains behind, we make our way to the desert and to Canada’s impressive interior. Passing the picture-perfect Seton Lake, we’ll make a stop in Lillooet, a former gold rush town. We travel on to our next night stop, Kamloops, sitting at the confluence of 2 rivers. Once a former meeting point for traders, it continues to serve as a stop over point for travelers and still has touches of the Wild West.

16

Day 16: Kamloops to Jasper

Get ready Rockies, here we come! Today we will drive into the spectacular Rocky Mountains, via the scenic Yellowhead highway. En route, we will stop to view Mt. Robson, the highest point in the Canadian Rockies, as well as drive past Moose Lake. You also have a chance to go white water rafting today! (Optional/seasonal)

17

Day 17: Jasper

We drive through the wild beauty of Jasper National Park to Maligne Lake, known for its stunning scenery and vivid colors. There’s a chance to take in the snow capped mountains from the water and visit iconic Spirit Island on an optional cruise. Later, your Trip Manager will take you for an easy-going hike through the Maligne Canyon, an impressive limestone gorge – the result of years of raging waters. Use your free time to make the most of lesser-known Jasper Park. With 1000kms of trails, from hour loops to day hikes, it’s easy to get off the beaten track and into nature.

18

Day 18: Jasper to Calgary

Catch you later Jasper - we've got some rodeo-ing action to get to… Dubbed 'the greatest show on earth', the Calgary Stampede is some next level rodeo action and guess what - we've got you the best seats in the house. Stopping off at Stephen Avenue you'll have the chance to pick up some cowboy garms to get you looking the part, then it's straight into the action of the Stampede. Bull-riding, calf-roping, steer-wrestling and cow-tackling are all on the agenda, then tonight prepare to have your mind blown at the GMC Rangeland Derby. What this entails we'll keep a surprise, but we can promise you you'll never of seen anything quite like it...

19

Day 19: Calgary for Stampede

With a day at Stampede Park, you’ll experience one of the world’s biggest rodeos and get a look into cattle country lifestyle. Today it’s all about the rodeo but if you think that’s means men riding on bulls all day your wrong! You’ll see people hitting the dust in more ways than one. The action includes ladies barrel racing, bareback, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc, bull riding and the lifesaving clowns who will be out there entertaining throughout the day. Make the most of your time here and discover Canada’s country core. With square dancing, mock gun fights, country bands, bars, restaurants and livestock, there is loads to see. Or why not head to the Teepee village, where the five nations peoples are represented and learn about indigenous peoples’ traditions.

20

Day 20: Calgary to Banff

With cloudy heads and western spirits on high we'll leave Calgary in our dust this morning. Keep those eyes to the horizon as today's drive to Vernon promises to be nothing short of spectacular. We’ll roll into Banff – the unofficial capital of the Canadian Rockies. You’re in cowboy country now, and who are we to buck tradition? Saddle up for a round of drinks before dinner and check into your chalet.

21

Day 21: Banff

We have two days free to enjoy everything that Banff National Park has to offer. You're able to sightsee, hike, shop, or just relax in the beautiful town of Banff. Why not take the optional gondola ride to Sulphur Mountain where spectacular views of Banff await? Or take a breathtaking helicopter ride over the Rocky Mountains, a once in a lifetime experience. Join us one night for an optional horseback ride and steak fry.

22

Day 22: Banff to Vernon

Bye Bye Rockies! We bid farewell to the Rockies today as we drive through three national parks in a single day. Yoho, Glacier and Mt. Revelstoke National Parks all await us as we make our way back into British Columbia. Tonight we stay in the Okanagan Valley - Canada's fruit basket, full of orchards, farmlands and vineyards.

23

Day 23: Vernon to Vancouver

Hello Big City! Today we travel via the Coquihalla and Transcanada highways enroute to the cosmopolitan city of Vancouver with time to explore the city this afternoon.

24

Day 24: Vancouver

Feel the young vibe of this city while exploring its hip shops & cafes. Later, enjoy a dinner cruise around the harbor & head out for a night on the town!

25

Day 25: Depart Vancouver

Your Canadian adventure ends this morning and it’s time to say farewell to your new friends. For those who are keen for some more action, there’s the option of a trip to Grouse Mountain or Butchart Gardens.

Inclusions:
      Accommodation
    • 24 nights accommodation: 2 nights at The Pines Resort overlooking Bass Lake, 2 nights in a Rocky Mountain chalet, 2 nights twin-share lodge & 18 nights in twin-share hotels
    • An experienced & professional Trip Manager & Driver team
    • Modern, air-conditioned coach with powerpoints for charging
      Staff
    • An experienced & professional Trip Manager and Driver
      Food
    • 24 meals: 14 breakfasts, 1 lunch & 9 dinners
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Tour Highlights:
  • See the famous Hollywood sign, Mann's Chinese Theatre & Hollywood's Walk of Fame
  • Drive along famous Sunset Strip
  • Visit Santa Monica and its famous pier
  • See Beverly Hills
  • Drive through the O.C. & along the scenic Pacific Coast
  • See downtown San Diego, the Gaslamp Quarter, Balboa Park, Coronado Island & Old Town San Diego
  • Panoramic view of the city's skyline from Coronado Bridge
  • Visit Mission Beach (weather permitting)
  • Scenic drive through Cleveland National Forest, the Anza Borrego and Sonoran deserts
  • Drive the scenic route through "Red Rock" country
  • Shop for Native American jewelery
  • Drive through beautiful Oak Creek Canyon
  • Visit Grand Canyon National Park
  • Hike along the Canyon's South Rim
  • Capture incredible photos with a visit to a panoramic viewpoint
  • Stop for photos & souvenirs along Route 66
  • Evening tour of the famous Vegas 'Strip'
  • Visit Fremont Street & see the light-and-laser show
  • Experience some of the world's largest hotels & casinos
  • Go wild in Vegas with a Party Bus
  • Non-stop nightlife
  • See the famous Joshua Trees
  • Relax in the stunning mountain paradise of Bass Lake - swim, catch some rays & enjoy watersports (seasonal)
  • See Yosemite's famous rock formations, El Capitan & Half Dome
  • See incredible Yosemite & Bridalveil Falls
  • Hike around Yosemite Valley's Park trails (seasonal)
  • Cross the Oakland Bay & Golden Gate Bridges
  • See North Beach, Chinatown, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury & the city's iconic cable cars
  • Visit Fisherman's Wharf
  • Sit back, chill & enjoy the San Fran sunset on a catamaran cruise
  • Enjoy the shopping & activities in and around the quaint village
  • Hike one of Whistlers' many trails
  • Scenic drive through the Lillooet Mountain Range
  • See Seton Lake reservoir & picturesque Lillooet, Duffey & Kamloops Lakes
  • Scenic drive along the Yellowhead Highway into the Rocky Mountains
  • View Mt. Robson, the highest point in the Canadian Rockies (weather permitting)
  • Visit Maligne Canyon, the deepest & longest limestone canyon in the Rockies
  • Visit Maligne Lake, the largest in the Canadian Rockies (seasonal)
  • Drive through Yoho, Glacier & Mt. Revelstoke National Parks
  • See the incredible Spiral Train Tunnels
  • See Kicking Horse Valley
  • See Lake Okanagan & its large floating bridge
  • See Gastown, Chinatown & Lion's Gate Bridge
  • Visit the Totem Poles of Canada's First Nations People in Stanley Park