A Perfect California Group Tour

El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, California, USA
El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Group tours have been something I avoid when traveling. Huge, hot busses, packed with complaining passengers; standing in long lines for everything, including bio-breaks, were my past tour experiences. No thanks.

Things have changed

While that may have been the norm 20-years ago, tours have changed. They come in all shapes and sizes, to fit all budgets and expectations. There are free walking-tours and break-the-bank ultra-luxury tours. Some are escorted, others take you to your destination, and leave you to your own devices. Tours are available for foodies, artist, photographers, historians, hikers, bikers, boaters, and many, many more interest.

I took a seven-day group tour with Grand American Adventures. GAA is a London-based tour company with 40+ years of experience in the Americas. They curate small escorted adventure tours that provide “authentic travel, shared experiences, and real adventure.” My tour, Yosemite & Tahoe In-Depth, is focused on hiking and walking in forests, oceanfront, lakefront, and mountains.

Japantowntown, San Francisco. Photo: Mary Charlebois
Japantowntown, San Francisco. Photo: Mary Charlebois

All aboard for Monterey

My trip began in San Francisco’s Japantown at my favorite San Francisco hotel, Kimpton Buchanan. After a night in Japantown, we boarded our Land Cruiser and headed west to Monterey.

In Monterey we’ll hike the Monterey Peninsula Recreation Trail along the bay and take a whale watching cruise. Our hotel is Casa Munras, a place I dreamed of staying when I lived and worked in Monterey as a young woman. The hotel is a short walk from the wharf, the place I’m certain to have dinner and suggest to my tour companions.

Whale watching in the Monterey Bay
Whale watching in the Monterey Bay


From Monterey, we head to Yosemite National Park for two nights and two days of hiking, biking, or a float trip on the Merced River. Our lodging has pools and hot tubs. I’m sure my old bones will want a good soak after our hike to Vernal Falls.

Yosemite National Park, California USA
Yosemite National Park, California USA

Lake Tahoe

We move on to Lake Tahoe for two nights and two days. We’ll take the Mount Tallac Trail through the forest, ridgelines, alpine lakes, and wildflower meadows. We’ll have a sunset, champagne cruise on the lake as our final evening before returning to San Francisco with a stop in Sausalito.

Tahoe Sunset
Oh My!

This tour suits me well. It’s a small group of 8, in a comfy touring van. The destinations are familiar to me but are places I haven’t been in years. Each of our hikes is led by a Naturalist from the area. During the day we immerse in nature, at night, we relax in luxury. I don’t have to drive, haul my bags, or plan anything.

Group Tour Bus
Land Cruiser – Grand American Adventures

My tour is sold out but there are plenty of others you will enjoy. Visit Grand American Adventures, they have tours throughout all the Americas – USACanadaAlaskaCosta RicaPeruCubaGalapagos.

Thanks for stopping by, MaryGo

One Comment Add yours

  1. Marsi says:

    I too shy away from tours, but a this van tour looks great. It would be nice for a change to have someone else do all the planning and driving!

Leave a Reply