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  • Monday 9.00am - 5.30pm GMT
  • Tuesday 9.00am - 5.30pm GMT
  • Wednesday 9.00am - 5.30pm GMT
  • Thursday 9.00am - 5.30pm GMT
  • Friday 9.00am - 5.30pm GMT
  • Saturday 9.00am - 5.30pm GMT
  • Sunday 10.00am - 4.00pm GMT
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Highlights of Texas and Eclipse

USA - Trip code TXE Eclipse
Carbon Footprint Leaf Icon
164Kg of CO²e
Average carbon footprint per person
Carbon Footprint
You deserve to know everything about your holiday, from what is included, what to expect and every kilogram of CO2 emitted on average per person along the way.

We've partnered with ecollective to measure the carbon footprint of this tour based on an average group size. Find out more about how we calculate this and why we think it's important here.
Days 8
Deposit From CHF 385
Price from CHF 3845
Flights not included
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Why book this trip?

Cowboys, BBQ and live music; the Lone Star State has Americana written all over it. Combining NASA's Johnson Space Center, in Houston, with the spectacle of an annular eclipse in Texas Hill Country, this trip travels through back country USA to the honky tonks and BBQs of Austin, and Spanish-American San Antonio.

  • Annular Eclipse - Experience this event at a cowboy ranch in Texas Hill Country
  • The Alamo - Discover the history behind the watershed moment in US-Mexican relations, in San Antonio
  • Austin - Watch live music at a honky tonk bar, and see bats take flight on a sunset boat trip
  • Included meals

    Breakfast: 7

    Lunch: 1

    Dinner: 2

  • Trip staff

    Explore Tour Leader / Driver

    Astronomer

  • Transport

    Boat

    Maxiwagon

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    Accommodation

    5 nights comfortable hotel

    2 nights comfortable ranch

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    Trip pace:

    Relaxed

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    Group Size:

    8 - 13

Itinerary

Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.

Day 1 - Join trip in Houston

Arrive in Houston. America's fourth-largest city is part cowboy boots and Texas charm, and part high-powered urban metropolis.

Due to the number of evening flights into Houston, your Leader plans to do the welcome meeting on the morning of day two, and will leave a message in reception with details on timings and everything else that you'll need for the day. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive at any time. We don't provide arrival transfers on this tour, but information on how to reach the hotel will be provided in your final documentation.

Our hotel is located in uptown Houston. If your flight arrives early in the day, why not take a stroll through Memorial Park or down Buffalo Bayou, two of the green arteries running through the city. Alternatively, head to the world-class museum district - try the Holocaust Museum or the excellent Museum of Natural Sciences, if you have time.

Accommodation:

Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Swimming pool available

Meals Provided: None

Day 2 - Journey through the world of space exploration at NASA's Johnson Space Center

NASA's Johnson Space Center seems like a fitting beginning to our eclipse journey, being home to the USA's long and illustrious career in space exploration. The center serves as the training base for the country's astronauts, and is also the site of the famous Apollo Mission Control.

The 'tram tour', which forms part of our entrance ticket, is a guided tour through several of the different Johnson Space Center locations - for example, the George W. S. Abbey Rocket Park, where three of the original Saturn V rockets are proudly displayed, the Astronaut Training Facility, and Apollo Mission Control Center. There are also a large number of other galleries housing memorabilia and artefacts such as spacesuits and shuttle carriers, as well as films and occasional live shows. There is a lot to see in this enormous site, so we may not get around everything.

After our morning visit, we'll drive back to the city where we have some free time.

Accommodation:

Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Swimming pool available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 3 - Drive to Austin; wine-tasting at a Texas vineyard; sunset bat-watching cruise

Getting on the road to Austin this morning, we drive through small Texas towns and outposts that offer a classic slice of Americana. The rest-stop of Buc'ees is one such place - this gas station's souvenirs offer the classic kitsch of an American road trip. While driving through the back roads, we also plan to stop at one of the state's many vineyards for a wine-tasting under the famous Big Texas Sky.

We'll arrive in Austin this afternoon. This arty, creative and outdoorsy city is known as the Live Music Capital of the World, and on that front it doesn't disappoint. There are more than 250 live music venues in the city, from ice houses to honky tonks, and from BBQ restaurants to coffee houses. Over the next two days our Tour Leader will see what's on so that we can get out and catch a performance - whether country, tejano, blues or more, Austin has it all.

In the early evening, we'll get an unusual take on the city, with a sunset boat trip to view the enormous colony of Mexican free-tailed bats that make their home under the Anne W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge. This spot on the Colorado River is actually the largest urban bat colony in the world, and most often the bats start emerging as the sun goes down. Afterwards we'll head out for dinner and maybe find some live music.

Accommodation:

Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Swimming pool available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 4 - Free day in Austin; catch live music at a local bar

We have the entire day free in Austin today, to spend as we choose. For music fans, there is the option to take a venue tour of the Austin City Limits at the Moody Theater - home of the longest running music series in American TV history. You could also visit the Umlauf Sculpture Garden, and stroll through Zilker Park and its Botanical Gardens or swim in Barton Springs if its hot. There is a 10-mile hiking trail around Lady Bird Lake, or keen shoppers might want to head to Allen's Boots in South Congress to purchase the classic Texan souvenir - a pair of your very own cowboy boots. With an array of museums, the State Capitol Building (free to enter) and plenty of parks, open spaces and shops to explore, Austin is a great city in which to spend a day.

Note - the Austin City Limits music festival may be on, or being set up, while we're in the city. Dates for 2023 are not yet released, but it's commonly in October. If you're particularly interested in music, you may want to keep an eye on online ticket availability. And if not, just be aware that Zilker Park may have restricted access.

Accommodation:

Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Swimming pool available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 5 - Drive to San Antonio; visit the Alamo and the River Walk; transfer to a ranch in the Hill Country

We're driving into the heart of Mexican America today, visiting San Antonio and the famous Alamo. The Alamo has a complex history, that lives at the heart of Texas lore as the cradle of their fight for 'freedom', with the names of Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie being known worldwide. However, before the Battle of the Alamo in 1836, its important to remember that the Alamo was set up as a Spanish mission church, along with several others in San Antonio, as a way to forcefully convert local Indigenous people to both Catholicism and the Spanish language. In the 1800s, Mexico first sought to gain its independence from Spain, and then in turn Texians (mainly Anglo settlers, with some Mexicans) fought to establish Texas as an independent state. While a visit to the Alamo today mainly concentrates on the 'heroism' exhibited by Crockett, Bowie and the like, contrasting them with the 'villainous' Mexicans, it's worthwhile remembering that this is not the site's only history.

After the Alamo, we'll head to the beautiful River Walk that carves its way through the heart of San Antonio. Lined with eateries, bars, cafes, cobbled bridges and beautiful architecture, there's plenty to stop and look at aside from the river itself, and we'll stop somewhere along route for lunch.

In the afternoon, we plan to visit some of the other missions in San Antonio, both by vehicle and on foot. While the Alamo is the most famous, the other Spanish missions, each one dating back to the 1700s, are all worthy of a visit for their architecture and history.

Afterwards, we'll leave the city for the big open skies of Texas Hill Country, journeying into the heart of cowboy country to our dude ranch for tomorrow's eclipse.

Accommodation:

Grade: Comfortable Ranch

Single room available

Swimming pool available

Meals Provided: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 6 - Witness the annular eclipse with an astronomer

An annular eclipse of the Sun will take place today, 14th October 2023. Our location for the eclipse is at our ranch, so we just need to step out of the front door when, at around 11.50am, we can expect to experience some four minutes and 45 seconds of annularity (weather permitting).

Eclipse glasses will be provided to allow you to view this natural wonder safely and we will be accompanied by an expert astronomer to provide an insight on the science behind the eclipse, and to answer any questions you may have. There will be another Explore group with us, and we'll be able to share stories about our travels so far.

According to weather records, this day in Texas Hill Country has had some level of cloud cover 61% of the time (since 2000), although we are unable to make any guarantees regarding the weather conditions and the likelihood of seeing the eclipse.

The afternoon will be spent doing ranch activities. We have horseback riding available to us, and all manner of other rootin' tootin' cowboy experiences. Every day is different on the ranch, but typically you might take a hayride or saddle ride to the cowboy breakfast cookout where southern grits and over-fresh biscuits will be on the menu. After the eclipse it might be lunch, listening to some country-western music and swimming in the outdoor pool (unheated!), walking the trails of the ranch's 300+ acres, playing table tennis or learning the art of 'roping' (using a lasso). Spend the evening with country dancing or roasting marshmallows around a fire.

Accommodation:

Grade: Comfortable Ranch

Single room available

Swimming pool available

Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 7 - Drive to Houston; free afternoon

It's a three hour drive to Houston this morning, as we leave Hill Country for the big city. We'll arrive this afternoon and have the rest of the day free to enjoy the end of our time in the Lone Star State. Head to the Museum District for a bit of culture, or to the Buffalo Bayou for hundreds of acres of green space and waterways right in the heart of the city. The city also has some great breweries and bars if that's what you fancy. You could try La Carafe - the oldest building in Houston - a cash only haunt with character.

Accommodation:

Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Swimming pool available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 8 - Trip ends in Houston

The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Houston.

There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Houston at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to depart from George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), which is a 30 minute drive away.

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Trip information

Climate and country information

USA

Climate

There are great variations in the altitude and terrain of the areas visited and this is reflected in the temperatures. Desert areas can be extremely hot in the summer months (49°), though temperatures can drop dramatically at night. The mountains are cooler and wetter especially in the north of the Rockies. At the beginning and end of the season there may still be some snow around in the high passes and it can be cold, whereas in mid-summer the day time temperatures can soar.

Time difference to GMT

-9

Plugs

2 Pin Flat

Religion

Christian

Language

English

Budgeting and packing

Optional activities

The following excursions and/or activities are usually available and may be arranged locally. Estimated costs are provided below for guidance only, are on a per person basis unless shown otherwise, and may depend on the number of participants. Prices quoted are correct as of the date these tour notes were originally issued but may change at any time due to currency fluctuations. Please note: These activities are booked and paid for direct with the supplier and do not form part of your Explore holiday contract.


The following excursions and/or activities are usually available and may be arranged locally. Estimated costs are provided below for guidance only, are on a per person basis unless shown otherwise, and may depend on the number of participants. Prices quoted are correct as of the date these tour notes were originally issued but may change at any time due to currency fluctuations. Please note: These activities are booked and paid for direct with the supplier and do not form part of your Explore holiday contract.

Austin - Zilker Botanical Gardens US$8; Umlauf Sculpture Garden US$7; Austin City Limits venue tour US$6

Clothing

Although autumn is setting in, October is still fairly warm in Texas. Average temperatures will most likely be in the early-mid 20s Celsius, so light layers are best. Hill Country will get cold in the evenings, so make sure that you pack warm clothes for your ranch stay. A sunhat, sunglasses and lightweight waterproof are essential.

Footwear

Bring trainers or comfortable shoes for walking around the cities. Closed-toe shoes should be used for horse-riding. Sandals are fine for the rest of your time on the ranch.

Luggage

20Kg

Luggage: On tour

One main bag plus a small daypack for walking and for personal items. Soft luggage is more practical than a hard shell suitcase for loading into the trailer. Please pack light as you will be expected to carry your own luggage at times.

Equipment

Bring a water bottle (3 litre capacity), high factor sunblock and mosquito spray.

Tipping

Explore leader
Tipping isn't compulsory, and we work hard to ensure that our leaders all receive a fair wage. However, you might want to recognise a leader that's done a great job or really added to your trip by giving them a tip. We're often asked about the recommended amount. It's a tricky one, and down to personal preference, but we'd recommend between US$5 to US$10 per person per day as a guideline.
Local crew
In North America tipping 15%-20% is a recognised part of life across the service industry, including restaurants, activity suppliers, taxis and guides. Local staff will look to you for personal recognition of particular services provided.

Unlike other Explore trips, during our trips in North America our Explore leaders will not operate a tips kitty. However, they will be more than happy to provide guidance throughout the trip on who to tip when and to suggest appropriate amounts.

USA

Food and drink

The costs for meals may vary depending upon location, type of restaurant and number of courses eaten and so the prices given are an average guide. Local restaurants located off the beaten track may be less expensive, whereas an upmarket restaurant located in the centre of a major city may charge more.


Lunch price
£15
Dinner price
£21
Beer price
£Varies for different towns, average £4.00
Water price
£1.1
Foreign Exchange
Local currency
US Dollars.
Recommended Currency For Exchange
Bring your money in US$ cash.
Where To Exchange
Banks or 'Forex' offices in main towns/cities. Your tour leader will advise you on arrival.
ATM Availability
Widely available.
Credit Card Acceptance
Widely accepted just about everywhere.
Transport, Accommodation & Meals

Transport Information

Boat, Maxiwagon

Accommodation notes

During this tour we use comfortable hotels in Houston and Austin. Note that these cities are enormous, with each area of the city being quite diverse. So during free time you may be taking public transport or taxis to explore; ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft also work very well here.

Our Dude Ranch in Hill Country will give you the Texas cowboy experience you've been after. The family-run ranch is incredibly welcoming, with comfortable twin-share rooms and excellent activities and food (including wine and beer until 10pm). The horse-riding is easy 'walking rides', in single-file, so its perfect for beginners. It's worth noting that this is a traditional dude ranch in Texas, and as such they serve a lot of beef. While side dishes like corn, potatoes or rice will be available, a vegetarian or vegan diet will be limited.

Essential Information

Government Travel Safety Advice

We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.

Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
 

Under 18 immigration guidance

Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.

Price Guarantee

Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions

Visa and Passport Information

When travelling to the USA, you will need the following:

ESTA - Citizens of the UK, New Zealand, Australia and passport holders from several EU countries can apply for an ESTA here - https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov - you must have an electronic passport with a digital chip containing biometric information. If you have visited Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen since March 2011, or dual national of these countries, you cannot travel with an ESTA. In this case you will need to apply for a visa from the nearest US embassy or consulate.

Please note for your ESTA application you will be required to supply Point of Contact information. This will be provided in your final documentation, which you will receive 3-4 weeks before departure. Explore's USA contact information will be listed as the first nights' hotel in the US. If you are leaving for the USA before this, please call the Explore team to get this information.

ETA - only if transiting via Canada
Citizens of the UK, New Zealand, Australia and passport holders from several EU countries can apply for an ETA here - http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta.asp - other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office.


If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
 

Booking conditions

Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
 

Minimum age restrictions

For our group tours, the minimum age is 16. The minimum age on Family trips varies between 7 and 11 - please check the 'Family information' section of the trip page for more information. 


Your safety and enjoyment on tour

We want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable holiday, so we ask you to confirm when booking this trip that you are fit and able to fully participate in all elements of the itinerary. If you have any concerns about your fitness or ability to complete any of the activities, please get in touch with our Customer Relations team at cr@explore.co.uk as soon as possible. Our tour leaders are trained and experienced in managing differing abilities within a group, but if they have concerns about a group member’s ability to safely participate in any element of the itinerary or believe someone’s presence could affect the safety or enjoyment of the holiday for others, in accordance with our Booking Conditions our tour leaders have the authority to ask an individual to miss an activity or activities. This decision would never be taken lightly, but on the rare occasions our tour leaders ask someone to sit out part of the tour, refunds will not be offered and individuals may be liable for additional costs incurred. 

Transfers

Find out more about Trip Transfer Terms and Conditions before you book.

Booking a land only package with Explore

Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information. 

You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.


Joining Tour Abroad

Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.

The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.  

Free transfers are not available for Self-Guided, Polar, Tailormade or Tours for Churches customers.

If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.  

For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here

Insurance

It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.

Flight information

Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.


Flight Information

You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.

  

Booking a flight inclusive package with Explore

We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.

On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.

USA

Vaccinations

Nothing compulsory, we recommend protection against typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, polio and hepatitis A. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.

Additional Information

Why book this trip

This trip not only gives you the opportunity to watch a solar eclipse from the comfort of a Dude Ranch in the heart of Texas Hill Country, but it is also somewhere that Explore has never taken groups before. If you're interested in pioneering a new area for us, this trip is the one for you.

Dates, prices and booking

📢 Prices may change - book now and today's trip price is guaranteed in our price promise
Mon 9 Oct 2023 - Mon 16 Oct 2023
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CHF 3845
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SINGLE ROOM OPTION
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+CHF 910
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Add a flight with Explore

  • Full Explore refunds in the event of FCDO cancellations or major disruption at your UK departure airport
  • Carbon neutral flights – Gold Standard offsetting included
  • Rearranged flights and transfers in the event of delays, missed connections, or cancellations (including accommodation overseas)
  • ATOL protected
  • No surcharge guarantee
 
Wed 11 Oct 2023 - Wed 18 Oct 2023
TXE_2023 Reverse
CHF 3845
was Save
SINGLE ROOM OPTION
i
+CHF 910
TXE_2023 Reverse

Add a flight with Explore

  • Full Explore refunds in the event of FCDO cancellations or major disruption at your UK departure airport
  • Carbon neutral flights – Gold Standard offsetting included
  • Rearranged flights and transfers in the event of delays, missed connections, or cancellations (including accommodation overseas)
  • ATOL protected
  • No surcharge guarantee
 

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