FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

Thank you for your interest in Golden Horizon Travel and Tours. We appreciate your interest in our business.

Please find more answers to frequent questions under each tour page you are interested in as shown below.

 

General Questions

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San Francisco City Tour Questions

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Muir Woods & Sausalito Tour Questions

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Napa & Sonoma Valley Wine Country Tour Questions

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Monterey, Carmel, and Pebble Beach Questions

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Questions about our Alcatraz Combo Tours

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Questions about Yosemite, Sierra and Lake Tahoe Tours

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Dinner Cruise Questions and Other Questions

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Questions about our Hot-Air- Balloon Rides

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Frequent Questions about Silicon Valley

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General Questions

 

How do I make my reservation?
Guests can book any tour on Golden Horizon Travel to save money and time. Choose a tour(s) you like, then add it to your secure shopping cart and check out your secure order. We will confirm your reservation(s) as soon as we will receive it by email. Please provide a valid email and a cellphone number.

Click here to learn more about our Private tours: Learn More

Do you offer semi-private and public tours?
Golden Horizon Travel is the premier tour company in San Francisco specializing in personalized, VIP, and private, expertly guided, custom tours. We sorry, but we don’t offer public or semi-private tours, our tours are 100% private.

Do you pick up and drop off ours guests up at their hotel and desired locations?
Yes. We offer complimentary pickups at any location or hotel located in the following districts of San Francisco: downtown including Union Square, Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf, Japan Town, Market, Mission, Folsom and Howard Streets located between Van Ness and the Embarcadero, Financial District, Nob HIll, North Beach, Telegraph Hill, Russian Hill, Lombard Street, Marina District, Pacific Heights, Cow Hollow, Presidio. We also offer complimentary pickups for all Yosemite tours in the following locations: In Emeryville at the Amtrak Train Station and surrounding hotels, at any of Oakland's BART stations such as Mac Arthur BART Station located at 555 40th Street, Oakland 94609. In addition, we also pick up at the Dublin-Pleasanton BART Station and at any hotel located on highway 120 in the city of Manteca and Oakdale. We can also arrange pickups in the East Bay and South San Francisco including SFO Airport. Please call us at 1 800 210 3008 to schedule a pickup in these areas. It may involve some additional fees. Golden Horizon Travel may offer additional complimentary pickups in Sausalito, in Sonoma and Napa including Napa airport for all wine tours. Please call us at 1 800 210 3008 to schedule a pickup in these additional areas. It may involve some additional fees.

For additional services, fees may apply. Please call our office at 1 800 210 3008 to arrange a customized pickup location not stated above. Learn More

Do you pick up in Oakland or San Jose?
Yes, please call 1-800-210-2008 to schedule a pick-up, and the additional fees that involve the duration of your use of one or more of our tours.

Is lunch included in your tours?
Lunch, beverages, wine tasting, and entrance fees to sights and events are not included unless noted otherwise.

Do you have restrooms on the bus?
Yes, many of our coaches have bathrooms for longer overnight travel package for large groups of 35 or more, but not for local day trip.

Are your vehicles clean, and well-maintained for safety?
Yes. All our vehicles comply with state and federal regulations. In addition, drivers are drug tested randomly, and well- trained.

Have you been rated? If so, what's your rating?
We have been rated. We've been given 10 out of 10 stars.

Do you have a lost and found department?
Yes. All valuable items left in our vehicles are stored in a lost and found department for a month. Please call our office if you have forgotten anything in our vehicles. However, we are not responsible for property damage, missing or stolen items.

Are the driver's and tour guide's tips included?
No. Your driver or tour guide’s top is not included, they will greatly appreciate any gratuities you give them. It's up to your discretion, but gratuity is usually about 15%

Are your vehicles equipped with handicapped and baby seats?
Regretfully, we are not equipped to provide handicap-specific seating, or baby seats. We are working hard to be able to provide those services in the future.

What type of vehicles do you provide?
We provide minibuses, vans, limousines, and SUV's.

What's the difference between group and Daily tours, and a private tour?
Our daily tours are open to everybody, for individuals and groups from all over the US, and the world. Our private tours are only for private individuals, or groups who pay for privacy and service a la Carte.

How do I book or make a reservation?
You can book directly online and save time and money: Golden Horizon Travel Or by calling online our office at 1 800 219 3008.

How do I pay for my tour?
You can pay online at Golden Horizon Travel. We accept all major credit cards and debit cards. We also accept cash and traveler's checks.

What is a vacation package?
A vacation package combines multiple travel elements into an all-inclusive price. This price is usually more affordable than separately booking the travel elements, because of volume purchasing. A package may include air transportation (we do not presently offer this service), lodgings and accommodations, meals, motor coach, rail or private vehicle, entertainment, car rental, airport shuttle, and sightseeing excursions.

What are the benefits of a tour or vacation package?
Lower prices, convenience, and peace of mind.

What if a problem occurs on my vacation?
The vast majority of tours go off like clockwork. But if a legitimate complaint should arise, please contact our office and we will do our best to resolve the issue.

Where do the tours depart from, and at what time?
Please see our website at Golden Horizon Travel and look at the tour you've booked for details concerning departure times and locations.

Is your website safe to enter credit card information?
We have taken every precaution to ensure safety and secure transactions through our website. In addition to all the safety and security measures to protect our website from hackers and fraud, we added an additional Fraud Detection Suite to filter and identify and eliminate any eventual fraud before it occurs. We maximize all chances to guarantee your secure transactions and protect your identity.

What forms of payment are accepted?
For internet bookings on our website, we accept PayPal, Bank wire transfer, Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. For group bookings made by email, fax, or phone, the same credit cards are accepted. Certified US and Canadian checks may be accepted and money wire.

What are your office hours of operation?
Every day 8 am - 8 pm, except Sundays, 9 am- 7 pm. These hours are subject to change and may vary based on the season and availability of or staff.

Do I get a discount if I purchase 2 or more tours?
Yes, you can get a discount on your second purchase. More you book, more you save! You may contact us for more information.

Do you provide group discounts?
Yes, we do, please contact us at Contact Us for more information.

Once I make reservations, will I receive tickets for my tour?
You will receive a tour voucher or an email confirmation after booking. Just print it out and present it at the time of check in.

What if our tour is delayed due to traffic?
Any traffic delays just mean that the tour will run a little later.

What should I wear on my tour? Are there special items I should bring?
In the summer months, dress for warm weather and bring water and sunblock. In the winter, layered clothing is your best bet. But regardless of the time of year, bring your camera. For the Yosemite tours, get ready to hike with comfortable shoes and clothing. We often hike to waterfalls and to see the Giant Sequoias.

It's my birthday/anniversary/wedding/honeymoon. Can I arrange for a little extra on my trip?
We love to take people on special days! If you are interested in making the occasion more memorable, just give us a call at 1 800 210 3008, and we should be able to arrange something to suit your needs. We recommend our brand-new SUV for a private tour.

I have seen cheaper tours advertised in brochures. Would you make a price match?
Yes, we will match the price, as long as you provide a valid written promotion.

How soon should we reserve our tours?
We recommend booking your tours at least two weeks in advance. However, we do our best to make room for our last- minute reservations as much as possible.

How long have you been in business?
Our company has been providing quality tours at the lowest prices for 5 years. However, our teams have more than 20 years of experience in the tour industry, and wide international experience.

Is smoking or drinking allowed aboard your vehicles?
For the health and safety of our passengers and drivers, smoking is not allowed on any of our vehicles. Charter groups may transport unopened alcoholic beverage containers in the luggage bays for use at the guest's destination.

Do you have gift certificates available?
Not at this time but we are willing to work out something similar with you.

Is my credit card safe?
Golden Horizon Travel is a safe website, ensuring the safety of your credit card information as mentioned above.

How can I contact your company?
For more information, you may contact us at https://www.goldenhorizontravel.net/contact-us

Do you drop off at our hotel after the tour?
We always drive you back to the same location where we picked you up. However, if you came on your own from a location where we are not able to pick you up, we will do our best to drop you off as close as possible to where you need to be. Please note that buses and minibuses are not allowed to drive in certain areas. In this case we may have to drop you off in a different location.

Do you pick up in Oakland, San Jose, or Dublin/Pleasanton?
We pick up in Oakland and Dublin/Pleasanton when going on the Yosemite Tour. Unfortunately, we do not pick up in San Jose. However, you may take BART from Oakland, or CALTRAIN from San Jose, and we will pick you up at any Bart Station downtown or at the CALTRAIN station at 4th and Townsend Street in San Francisco. We will assist you when making your reservations to help in the best way to find your way around the city.

Do you include wine tasting and meals in your tours?
Meals and wine tasting are not necessarily included in the tours. However, some tours provide wine tasting. We are working hard to provide a package that includes both meals and wine tasting.

Do you have restrooms on the bus?
The majority of our full-size coaches are equipped with restrooms. Our "mini coaches" and vans do not have bathrooms. All our trips go through cities and towns, or down highways with gas stations on both sides of the highway. We do make several stops to accommodate our clients. Many of our daily trips involves short driving anyway between two points.

Are vehicles clean and well-maintained for safety?
They are well-maintained and checked daily by trained teams and dedicated mechanics in accordance with the California Department of Transportation (CHP).

What method of payment do you accept?
All major credit cards, cash and traveler's checks, signed properly, that match your ID or passport.

Q. Do you provide a complimentary pick up at our hotel?
A. Yes, we provide complimentary pickups in San Francisco and in Sausalito.

Q. What’s is the best combination tour you recommend with Alcatraz Island?
A-We recommend one of these three private custom combo tours with Alcatraz Island:

Muir Woods redwoods and Alcatraz Island combo tour. Learn More

San Francisco city private tour and Alcatraz prison combo tour. Learn More

Silicon Valley and Alcatraz combo tour. Learn More

Seaplane and Alcatraz combo adventure. Learn More

Horseback ride and Alcatraz combo tour. Learn More

UC Berkley campus walking tour and Alcatraz combo tour. Learn More

Napa Valley Wine Country and Alcatraz combo tour. Learn More

Alcatraz combined with a tour of the Jelly Belly Factory or with Budweiser Brewery Experience. Learn More

Alcatraz Night Tour. Learn More

Ferry Cruise Tours around Alcatraz. Learn More

Q. Do you offer half-day and full day trips?
Yes, we do offer both half-day and full day private custom tours. Our San Francisco full day tour is very popular. Yes, we do. Learn More

Q. What is your reservation and cancellation policy
A. Please click on this link to read more about our reservation, refund and cancellation policy. https://www.goldenhorizontravel.net/terms-conditions

Q. Are you a pet-friendly tour company?
A. Unfortunately, pets are not allowed in our vehicles out of respect for those who have allergies to pets. Smoking is not permitted in our vehicles either. Learn More

San Francisco City Tour Questions

 

What method of payment do you take besides cash?
We accept MasterCard, Visa, Discover, and American Express credit cards. Debit cards are also accepted. American Express is always subject to additional fees, due to their transaction costs per item and per person that they apply to us. Please note that foreign credit cards may be subject to some additional fees due to currency conversions. Learn More

Do we remain inside the bus for the entire tour, or are we able to walk around certain points of interest?
Many smooth hiking excursions to waterfalls, wine tasting, and walk around some sites of interest are built into the tour to provide the opportunity to spend quality time in the outdoor, rather than on the vehicles.

Does the tour guide have the required knowledge and experience necessary to successfully lead the tours?
Yes. All of our tour guides are well-trained, state licensed guides, and are members of SFTTG.org. Many are multilingual, and all are able to communicate easily and efficiently.

Do we make photo stops at Vista points when we go on sightseeing tours?
We make photo stops at the major and famous key locations. Stops can range from 5 minute photo stops to 20 minutes such as the stop at the Golden Gate Bridge and in all other sites of interest. We also add stops as the weather permits. These stops often include the Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, Twin Peaks, Civic Center by City Hall, Alamo Square the Palace of Fine Arts, and more. Learn More

What is the difference between your tours and big coaches "hop on/hop off" tours?
Unlike Coach and "hop on/hop off" tours, we are not restricted to a single itinerary all the time. We have the advantage of vans and SUV's to drive almost anywhere in the city that might be off-limits to other tours. We are also able to add locations. Learn More

Muir Woods & Sausalito Tour Questions

 

Do we need to make an advanced reservation to visit Muir Woods Tour?
Yes, Muir Woods National Monument now requires advanced booking to visit Muir Woods and a special commercial vehicle parking permits which cost additional fees(included).

Do we need to make an advanced reservation to visit Muir Woods Tour?
Yes, there many other parks of giant redwoods you can explore in the Bay Area and without reservations. We offer many of these custom tours and advantages you can check on our website. Learn More

How long is the Muir Woods Tour?
From San Francisco, including Sausalito, the Golden Gate Bridge to Muir Woods tour lasts about 4 hours.

How much time is allowed in Muir Woods?
About an hour is allotted to explore Muir Woods. Private tours and charters are able to stay as long as they want within the agreed time slot for the trip. (2-3 hours)

What's special about Sausalito?
Picturesque views of San Francisco from a small, Mediterranean style town set in the hills of Marin County. Outside of San Francisco it's the most visited town in San Francisco Bay Area. Home to movie stars and celebrities.

How long do we stay in Sausalito?
We stay in Sausalito about an hour, unless you're with a private tour, which can stay longer.

How long is the Muir Woods/Golden Gate/Sausalito Tour?
This tour has been designed for clients who only have one morning or afternoon. The entire trip lasts about 4 hours. We are working on a new tour called the Great Muir Woods Escapade that involve points of interest in Muir Woods. Click here to learn more about this new and exclusive tour.

How much time is allowed in Muir Woods?
Visitors are allowed to an hour or more to walk around Muir Woods. Private Tours and charters are allowed 2 hours or more. Sausalito usually takes an hour.

Why Sausalito?
Sausalito is a picturesque relative to Mediterranean seaside towns. Sweeping, panoramic views of the San Francisco skyline, unique boutiques and famous cuisine make Sausalito a great place to spend some quality time.

Can we take the ferry back to San Francisco from Sausalito?
You are welcome to take the ferry back to San Francisco from Sausalito. Please visit the ferry website to learn more about schedule and prices.

Where do we stop on the way to Muir Woods or the wine country?
We make 2 or 3 stops: at the Golden Gate, often in the Marin Headlands for its unique view of San Francisco and the Bay; there is also a stop in Sausalito, and an optional stop at the Palace of Fine Arts. Learn More

Napa & Sonoma Valley Wine Country Tour Questions

 

How long is the wine country tour?
7-9 hours. Click here to learn more about our Wine Country tours: Learn More

How many wineries are included in this tour?
For the Muir Woods/ Wine Country Tour, we generally visit 3 wineries, and have lunch at the historic Sonoma Plaza. However, we can add one more winery if time permits. For the Wine Discovery Tour in Sonoma and Napa, 4-6 wineries can be included. Private tours are the most popular options that allow more quality time to be spent at the wineries, more wine tasting, and less driving.

Is wine tasting included? If so, are they included in the ticket price?
Wine tasting is not included. However, we always manage to offer one or more complimentary wine tasting as a courtesy to our customers. But we can't guarantee that, depending on each wine maker's policy.

Will we be able to walk through the vineyards?
Depending on the wine tour, walking through the vineyards is possible. But we can only guarantee that on our charter and private tours.

May we bring our children on the tours?
Yes, but no one under 21 is allowed by law to drink wine.

This is a full day tour; will we have time to eat lunch?
We will spend time in places that combine architecture, history, views, shopping, and more. Many of these places have restaurants, cafes and diners, so lunch is almost always available.

When do we start the tour? How long is it?
We leave San Francisco at 9 am. The tour is about 8 hours long.

How many wineries are included on the tour?
We try to provide visitors with experiences at 4 or more wineries located in California's famed wine growing regions of Sonoma and Napa.

How long is the drive time between wineries?
We know you want to spend time in the wineries, not sitting in traffic. That's why we pick up the best wineries located in the same region. We often target smaller wineries to provide you with excellent wine and great service.

Are we allowed to walk through the vineyards?
Yes, some of our tours includes walks through the vineyard. A wine maker or a specialist may be available to explain the wine-making processes, from planting to harvesting, to bottling. Some wineries also allow guests to walk through the vineyards and take pictures as well.

May we take our children along?
Children are welcomed aboard. No wine tasting is permitted by law for anyone who's under 21, but a vineyard is an exceptional learning experience for all ages.

Do we stop for lunch?
We will spend time in places that combine architecture, history, views, shopping, and more. Many of these places have restaurants, cafes and diners, so lunch is almost always available.

What wineries do we usually visit?
There are over 1200 wineries in California Wine County, we can visit any wineries you may choose. We are constantly adding more wineries to our list. We strive to provide you with the best wineries and service. If you have a special request, please contact us and we will accommodate you.

Click here to learn more about our Wine Country tours: Learn More

Monterey, Carmel, and Pebble Beach Questions

 

How long is the drive to Monterey?
The Monterey Tour is an all-day trip lasting 9-11 hours. Learn More

How long do we spend in Carmel and Monterey?
We arrive at around 10:30 am and leave around 4:15 pm.

We would like to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Do you stop there?
Yes. We allow 2 hours to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. You can visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium website to Learn More

Do we get to visit the Pebble Beach Golf Course?
Yes, visitors are able to walk around the golf course.

When do we leave for the tour? How long does it last?
We usually leave between 8 & 9 am. The trip is day-long, lasting about 10-11 hours. We drive for about 2 hours each way between San Francisco and Monterey. We stop at a coffee shop stand along the highway where you can use the restroom and refresh yourself.

How long do we stay in Carmel and Monterey? What is included?
Please refer to our itinerary. We usually start at the famous Cannery Row, where you can enjoy high quality seafood. And shopping. We allow you enough time to walk around and take pictures, about 2 hours. We then head down to the famous 17 Mile Drive. We wind our way along the picturesque Pacific Coast, where we make several stops at the best vista points, like Cypress Point and Pebble Beach.

What are the charges for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the best time to visit?
Please refer to the Monterey Bay Aquarium website www.montereybayaquarium.org for more information. They usually charge: Adult - $24.95; Child (3-12) - $15.95; Children under 3 are free, students 13-17 or with a college ID - $22.95; seniors (65+) - $22.95; disabled- $15.95. These are subject to change. Only our private tours and charters may include the Aquarium due to time considerations as we deal with a group of people who have different interests.

When is the best time to visit the Aquarium? How long does the average visit take?
The best time to visit the Aquarium is during the peak season, especially on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. The average visit lasts 2 to 3 hours, but it is easy to spend more time there. We allow 2 hours, and we have to leave on time. We recommend hiring a private tour or charter service to enjoy Monterey or Carmel at your ease. Please call us to arrange a private tour. If you are 3 or more, you save time and money on doing so. Please visit our Private Tours webpage.

Overview Experience the Ultimate Bucket-List Outdoor Adventures, Day Trips and Vacation Packages to the Golden State Iconic Sights and Hidden Treasures: Discover the Central Coast’s Must-See World-Class Attractions, Glorious Beaches, Iconic Monuments, Oceanside Unique Sights and Awesome Hidden Gems.

Discover Majestic Hearst Castle and Big Sur Breathtaking Natural Wonders, Giant Redwoods, San Luis Obispo County Beaches & Top Attractions as Well as Monterey, Carmel, the 17-Mile Drive, Santa Cruz , Pacific Coast Highway 1 Top Sights, Vistas and Much More. Learn More

Questions about our Alcatraz Combo Tours

 

A. Guided tours in foreign languages are optional and can be subject to extra fees to cover tour guides or freelancers we may hire to honor your tour in the required language. All reservations are based on availability. However, we often offer complimentary guided tours in French, German and Spanish.

Q. Is Alcatraz Cellhouse Audio tour available in other languages?
A- Alcatraz cellhouse audio self-guided is available in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, and Mandarin. It is also available in an English Braille version. It is included when you purchase your ferry tickets and our combo tours.

Q. How long is the trip to Alcatraz?
You can stay on Alcatraz as long as you like but allow at least 2 1⁄2 to 3 hours for sailing to the island, taking the cellhouse audio tour, exploring the rest of the island and its historic exhibits, and returning to the mainland.

Q. What is the gratuity chart for tipping in the United States?
A. Gratuity: 15 to 20% gratuity is required and customary in the USA. Generally, a tip may vary between 15% to 20% of the total purchase amount, or it can be a flat amount that is near the appropriate percent. It really depends upon the situation.

Q. Why my reservation was declined and what to happens next?
A. When a reservation is declined by client’s own bank, this is often due to a mismatch between customer’s bank information (such as the name on the credit card, card number, expiration date, CVV, zip/postal code or billing address). If any one of these verification factors don’t match the information you provided on our website, comparing to the bank information when placed your order, your transaction is automatically declined by your own bank to protect your bank information from fraud. Sometimes, transactions are also declined due to insufficient funds as well. Your tour(s) will not be confirmed until your new transaction is approved by your own bank. We apologize for the inconvenience, but your own bank did so to prevent fraud and protect your credit card information.

Q. Do you guarantee my tour of Alcatraz when my transaction is approved on your website?
A- Approved transactions of Alcatraz tours on our website do not constitute a guarantee of Alcatraz tours and tickets until Alcatraz official tickets providers approve it, which takes several weeks due to the increasing popularity of Alcatraz.

Q. How Alcatraz combo tours work?
A. The first part consists of conducting private your guided and custom tour of the required destination you booked from our website; you can choose between our Muir Woods park of redwoods combined with Alcatraz, Napa Valley wine country combined with Alcatraz or San Francisco city tour combined with Alcatraz prison tour.

The second part of your Alcatraz combo adventure will take you to legendary Island also known as the ‘The Rock’. Following your private tour, your personal tour guide will drive you to the Alcatraz Ferry building, a terminal for Alcatraz ferries that provide transfers from San Francisco Bay to Alcatraz and return.

Q. Why should you know when you visit Alcatraz Island?
A.-Alcatraz is a steep and hilly rock located in the heart of San Francisco Bay. You will have to walk uphill, downhill, upstairs and downstairs (no elevators available). The distance from Alcatraz Ferry dock to the prison is about a quarter mile each way.

-No minors under the age of 18 are allowed to visit Alcatraz without the accompaniment of their parents or adults at all times.

Carrying food and beverage: There is no food service available at Alcatraz. Eating is strictly prohibited on the dock area. You may enjoy a variety of snacks and foods on the ferries or simply have an early dinner.

-No food, luggage, coolers, over-sized backpacks or packages are allowed on Alcatraz

Limited tickets available for visitors: Alcatraz tour tickets are sold out up to 10 weeks or more in advance during summers and holidays, but night tour tickets are extremely hard to get and are sold out as soon as they become available (in summer only). We recommend that you secure your Alcatraz tickets at your earliest by booking it on our website.

Q. What’s the best time of year to visit the island? To avoid crowds, schedule your visit during the winter months of January through March. To experience the nicest weather, plan your Alcatraz visit for April-May or September-October. (Surprisingly, summer actually brings cold and foggy weather to the island). Learn More

Q. What months are best for viewing nesting seabirds? February through August. Nest building and egg laying occur in April and May, and chicks begin to hatch in mid-June. Learn More

Q. What water birds can I see on the island? Western gulls are seen all over the island. Along the West Road, Brandt’s cormorants can easily be viewed. Snowy egrets and black crowned night herons can also be seen from the West Road. Pelagic Cormorants, pigeon guillemots, Canada geese, mallards and several species of songbirds are also seen on the island. Learn More

Q. How accessible is Alcatraz?
Much of Alcatraz is steep and hilly, so be prepared for walking long distances uphill. The distance from the dock to the prison at the top of the island is about 1/4 mile (.4 km) and the elevation change is 130 feet (40 meters). Visitors unable to make the climb up Alcatraz’s roads may take advantage of SEAT –Sustainable Easy Access Transport — an electric shuttle that meets each scheduled arrival at the Alcatraz dock and transports visitors requiring mobility assistance from the dock to the prison building.

Q. How are Alcatraz Island Day and Night Tours different?
The day tours are more available as the night tours are extremely hard to get and not available in winter. Alcatraz night tour can be interesting for some visitors and too creepy for other tourists.

Q. Are minors under the age of 18 allowed to tour Alcatraz Island without the accompaniment of an adult?
No minors under the age of 18 are allowed to tour Alcatraz Island without the accompaniment of an adult. An adult must be with them at all times while on their tour of Alcatraz Island.

Q. Can I bring luggage/coolers/oversized backpacks or packages to Alcatraz Island?
No. Luggage, coolers, oversized backpacks or packages are not allowed on Alcatraz Island due to safety concerns. Learn More

Q. Why don’t you visit Lombard Street?
A. Yes, we do, unlike all large van and large commercial vehicles like bus tours, we are allowed to drive you on Lombard street as we operate by luxury 4×4 SUVs adopted to all San Francisco steep hills and narrow streets. Learn More

How safe is the seaplane or helicopter flight?
Helicopter and Seaplane Adventures maintains one of the highest standards of safety in this industry and has a pristine safety record. Seaplanes themselves are extremely safe – as we like to say, “We have millions of square feet of runway everywhere in the San Francisco Bay!”

There is a patchy fog /clouds over the Golden Gate Bridge, will we still fly? Yes, fog is unpredictable and can be very tricky as it can come and go at any time in just minutes. We will try our very best to fly you over the bridge or alternate the flight route so that you can get the best view of the bridge possible.

Under what weather circumstances will my flight be canceled?
All air-tours/rides are subject to cancelation for severe weather conditions. This determination is made by the pilot up to 30 minutes prior the scheduled flight, but the portion and cost of this flight is refundable when it is cancelled by the pilot due to unforeseen weather conditions or reasons.

Why do you need the age and weight of each participant?
All passenger weights are required as we do have a maximum weight limit based on the total weight of all participants for safety considerations. Pilots are also trained to load the aircraft safely based on weight distribution, so please be patient with where the pilot asks you to sit. Besides – everyone gets a window seat! For all misleading information regarding age and weight, the flight may be canceled and not refundable.

What age is considered a child?
Anyone under the age of 12. Price for a child will only apply for children aged 3-11 years. Children under two years of age may sit in a parent’s lap and are free of charge. The pilot will provide noise cancelation headsets or earplugs but if you have your own, feel free to bring them on board.

Why do I need to sign a release waiver before boarding my flight?
All passengers are required to sign a waiver before boarding their flight, this is the standard operating procedure as everywhere else.

Q. Do we have to book our Alcatraz tour in advance?
Advance ticket sales are strongly recommended with 2 months booking in advance at least because Alcatraz tickets are always sold out in advance, the sooner your reserve your tour; the better to maximize your chances to visit Alcatraz Island and Prison,

Q. What to wear during Alcatraz excursion?
A. Please be prepared for cold weather, slippery roads and hiking trails, so have comfortable waterproof hiking shoes to walk on the snow, in winter and spring. This long day-tour can be challenging for kids and seniors in winter.

Q. Do you offer guided tours in foreign languages?
Yes, we do in certain languages including French, Spanish and German. Learn More

Questions about Yosemite, Sierra and Lake Tahoe Tours

 

How do I get to Yosemite?
We highly recommend going on a tour because it’s extremely hard to navigate in and around Yosemite it you don’t have knowledge of the area. Learn More

Are there vehicle restrictions in Yosemite?
Some roads have vehicle restrictions on height, length, and/or width, and only commercial vehicles can access certain areas. Therefore, we recommend going on a tour to save yourself time, traffic and hazardous road conditions.

Will I need to bring tire chains in winter?
Tire chains are required in fall, winter, and spring due to snowy and icy conditions. Winter driving can be hazardous. One simple way to keep yourself and everyone on the road safe is to slow down, have a 4x4, satellite phone or better, hire a professional driver.

Will the Tioga Road be open?
The Tioga Road (Highway 120 through the park, from Crane Flat to Tioga Pass) is open approximately late May or June through October, though these dates vary depending on weather conditions.

What is there to do in Yosemite?
Yosemite is filled with natural wonders worth a visit. Among top things to see in Yosemite may include, but are not limited to, the following: Tuolumne & Merced groves of sequoia, Half Dome, Glacier Point, Mariposa Grove, Tuolumne Meadows, Taft Point, Sentinel Dome, John Muir Trail and the Mist Trail, as well as the Yosemite Valley visitor center.

What are the top sights, attractions and things to see in Yosemite?
There are so many things to do in Yosemite National Park. Yosemite is filled with natural wonders worth. Among top things to see in Yosemite may include but are not limited to the following: Tuolumne & Merced groves of sequoia, Half Dome, Glacier Point, Mariposa Grove, Tuolumne Meadows, Taft Point and Sentinel Dome, Olmsted Point and overlook, Lembert Dome, Ellery Lake and Lee Vining Canyon, Tioga Lake, Tenaya Lake, May Lake, Polly Dome, John Muir Trail and the Mist Trail, as well as Yosemite Valley visitor center.

When is the best time of year to visit Yosemite?
It depends on what you're looking for! While most people visit Yosemite during summer, there are advantages to visiting throughout the year. Winter is magical and a better time to visit Yosemite without putting up with the crowds of the summertime.

When do the Half Dome cables go up and come down?
The Half Dome cables are normally installed immediately before Memorial Day weekend, but this can vary depending on conditions and trail crew availability. The cables usually remain up through Columbus Day (in October). A permit is required to hike Half Dome. The National Park Service strongly discourages hikers from attempting the cable route when the cables are down.

Where can I see giant sequoias?
There are three giant sequoia groves in Yosemite National Park: The Mariposa Grove, the Tuolumne Grove, and the Merced Grove.

Where and when can I see Horsetail Fall, the waterfall that resembles the Firefall?
Horsetail Fall flows in winter and early spring, when snow is present on top of El Capitan. On sunny afternoons in mid-to late February, the setting sun can cause it to glow orange.

Where and when can I see frazil ice?
Frazil ice forms along Yosemite Creek, and some other creeks in Yosemite Valley, most commonly in March and April. The phenomenon is entirely weather-dependent, so it's difficult to know when exactly it may happen (or if it will happen at all).

Why are animals so tame here? Can I feed them?
Animals in the park are wild, but many are accustomed to people because they have been fed so often. It is illegal to feed any animal in the park. Feeding animals contributes to poor nutrition, ill health, and the alteration of natural behavior patterns. Visitors who get close to, or feed animals, may also be bitten, scratched, or otherwise injured, or even become ill.

How can I protect bears from my food (and my food from bears)?
Yosemite's bears are always searching for food and consider anything that looks or smells like food to be food. Do some research about how to properly store your food while visiting Yosemite.

How can I protect myself from bears?
Black bears in Yosemite tend to avoid people and can be scared off but stay away and keep your distance if you come across a bear.

What services are available for visitors with disabilities?
Citizens and legal residents with permanent disabilities are entitled to a free America the Beautiful Pass that provides the holder free access to federal fee areas. The park strives for full and equal participation for all visitors and continually upgrades facilities, programs and services to improve accessibility. The Yosemite Accessibility Guide outlines a variety of accessible services, facilities, and activities available in Yosemite.

Can I bring my pet to Yosemite?
Pets are allowed in Yosemite though there are regulations one must follow. However, our vehicles are not pet friendly.

Is Internet access available in Yosemite?
Internet kiosks and wi-fi are both available in several locations but tend to be slow.

Will my cell phone work in Yosemite?
Voice and data service are available in parts of Yosemite Valley and limited areas. However, most of Yosemite is wild and there is not cellphone service in these remote areas.

Where to stay in Yosemite?
There’s no greater convenience than staying right in Yosemite National Park – waking up with all the Park’s natural wonders right at your doorstep. With a range of accommodation – from elegant hotels with exceptional service to simple canvas tent cabins—you’ll find the perfect place to settle in, surrounded by some of the most majestic natural wonders on earth. Choose your favorite hotel or resort from: Yosemite Majestic Hotel, Yosemite Valley Lodge, Big Tree Lodge, Rush Creek, Tenaya Lodge, Yosemite Resorts, Yosemite View Lodge or Stay out of Yosemite places like Oakhurst, Groveland, Mariposa or Merced. Most hotels inside Yosemite are often booked up one year in advance. Learn More

What is the Glacier Point seasonal closure?
The Glacier Point Road is usually closed in the winter from November to late May, but this vary from year-to-year.

What are the best day hikes in Tuolumne Meadows?
Tuolumne Meadows is a dream destination for hikers and rock climbers. Tioga Road is the only access by vehicle to these day and overnight hikes and trails. It is usually open around late May or early June, depending on weather and road conditions.

What are the top day and overnight hikes in Yosemite Tuolumne Meadows?
Dog Lake and Lembert Dome (moderate) Dog Lake: 2.8 miles (4.5 km) round-trip, 600-foot elevation gain; 3 hours. Lembert Dome: 2.8 miles (4.5 km) round-trip, 850-foot elevation gain; 3 hours. Dog Lake and Lembert Dome: 4 miles (6.4 km) round- trip; 4 hours begin at the Dog Lake parking area (shuttle stop #2, just west of Tuolumne Meadows Lodge).

Tuolumne Meadows: Soda Springs and Parsons Lodge (easy) 1.5 miles (2.4 km) round-trip; 1 hour. Begin at Lembert Dome parking area (shuttle stop #4). Walk along the gravel road and pass the locked gate (signed Glen Aulin and Soda Springs).

Elizabeth Lake (moderate) 4.8 miles (7.7 km) round-trip, 1,000-foot elevation gain; 4 to 5 hours Begin at Tuolumne Meadows Campground near group camp. The trail begins in the B loop of the campground and climbs steadily to a glacier-carved lake at the base of Unicorn Peak.

Lyell Canyon via the John Muir Trail (easy) 8 miles (12.9 km) round-trip, 200-foot elevation gain; 4 hours. Begin across the road from the Dog Lake parking area (shuttle stop #2). This trail passes through Lyell Canyon, along the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River. Early in the season the trail can be muddy in places (please remain on the trail even if it’s muddy).

Cathedral Lakes (moderate) 7 miles (11.3 km round-trip), 1,000-foot elevation gain; 4 to 6 hours. Begin at Cathedral Lakes trailhead, 1/2 mile west of the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center, Shuttle Stop #7.

Gaylor Lakes (moderate) 2 miles (3.2 km) round-trip, 500-foot elevation gain; 2 hours. Begin at Tioga Pass Entrance Station. (Shuttle service is available twice per day.)

Mono Pass (moderate) 8 miles (12.9 km) round-trip, 1,000-foot elevation gain; 4 to 6 hours. Begin at Mono Pass trailhead, on the Tioga Road six miles east of Tuolumne Meadows (shuttle service is available twice per day).

Vogelsang High Sierra Camp (strenuous)13.8 miles (22.2 km) round-trip, 1,400-foot elevation gain; 8 hours. Begin across the road from the Dog Lake parking area (Tuolumne Meadows Shuttle Stop #2) The first two miles of the John Muir Trail are relatively level...

Glen Aulin (moderate) 11 miles (17.7 km) round-trip, 800-foot elevation gain; 6-8 hours Follow the Tuolumne River as it drops to Glen Aulin.

Where can I find an ATM?
In Yosemite Valley there are ATMs in Yosemite Village inside the Village Store and to the south of the store at the Art Activity Center, at Yosemite Valley Lodge inside the main registration area, and at Half Dome Village inside the gift/grocery store. In Wawona, the ATM is inside the Wawona store, and at Tuolumne Meadows it’s inside the grocery store.

Where, exactly, is Yosemite National Park located?
Yosemite National Park is located in the central Sierra Nevada of California and lies 168 miles east of San Francisco and only a 4 1/2 to 5-hour drive from Los Angeles.

Where can I find a post office?
In Yosemite Valley, the main post office is in Yosemite Village near the Ansel Adams’ Gallery and Yosemite Visitor Center.

What is Yosemite Valley?
The Yosemite Valley is the heart of Yosemite National Park. It’s a wide glacier-carved valley, centrally located within Yosemite National Park in the western Sierra Nevada Mountains of California.

What are the entrance fees into Yosemite?
For us as a commercial operator, we have to pay $125 per vehicle and per tour
For the public, rates may vary and subject to change or increase, for now, the public rates are as follows:

  • 7-Day Automobile/Vehicle Permit
  • $35.00 per vehicle w/15 or fewer passengers
  • 7-Day Single Entry Permit
  • $25.00 per person aged 16 and older
  • Entrance Fee by motorcycle
  • $30.00 per motorcycle

What is the recommended stay duration?
The ideal way to enjoy Yosemite wonders and huge wilderness is by spending one week. However, 3 to 5 days are also a good option.

What is the closest major city/airport to Yosemite National Park?
The closest airport is Fresno-Yosemite International and is about an hour and a half away from the park's south entrance or two and a half hours to the Yosemite Valley. San Francisco is the largest city nearby and will take approximately 5 hours to reach the valley.

Do you provide a car seat?
You can bring a car seat or ask our staff to provide one for you, free of charge.

Can we bring a stroller?
You can bring a stroller that collapses and can fit under your seat or the trunk.

Can we bring our pet?
Unfortunately, we do not allow pets on our tours out of consideration for clients who are allergic to pets.

What is your policy regarding Foreign Languages?
Our tours are conducted in English unless otherwise indicated on your tour voucher. Some foreign languages are subject to additional fees.

Are the driver and tour guide tips included?
No. Your driver and tour guide will greatly appreciate any gratuities you give them. It's up to your discretion, but gratuity is usually about 15% average.

What is the amount of gratuity for the driver or tour guide? How do I calculate that?
15% to 20% gratuity is required and customary in the USA. Generally, a tip may vary between 15% to 20% of the total purchase amount, or it can be a flat amount that is near the appropriate percent. It really depends upon the situation. You may check out this website regarding the amount and how-to calculation the tip: https://percentcalculators.com/gratuity-or-tip- calculator/

Are your vehicles non-smoking?
Our vehicles are all non-smoking.

What shall I wear in Yosemite?
Please be prepared for cold weather, slippery roads and hiking trails, so have comfortable waterproof hiking shoes to walk on the snow in winter and spring. This long day-tour is hard on kids and seniors, we therefore recommend the overnight tour package.

Is this a Family Friendly Tour Company?
100%! Our goal is to eliminate the prep work and uncertainty of family travel, enabling you to focus on making memories that will last a lifetime.

What sets you apart?
At Yosemite Private Tours operated by Golden Horizon Travel, we treat your travel dreams as if they were our own. We are an award-winning tour company with a passion for service, and we have built our business on the principles of transparency, safety, reliability, accountability and professionalism. Our expert tour guides are fluent in English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Italian, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Hebrew, and Russian.

Tell us more about your safety and maintenance policy?
At Golden Horizon Travel and its sister companies are fully licensed and insured by the State of California, and we meet all requirements of the Public Utilities Commission guidelines and regulations. Our vehicles are well-maintained and inspected regularly for safety by the California Highway Patrol and Department of Transportation. Daily cleaning and preventive maintenance ensure that our guests travel in comfort and safety at all times. Learn More

What about your chauffeurs?
Customer service is always at the top of our list, and to us, that goes far beyond opening doors and handling luggage. Our drivers are courteous, professional, and highly trained. Chauffeurs must pass a background check and random drug and alcohol screening to ensure ongoing guest safety.

What about your tour guides?
Our guides are state licensed, multi-lingual, and far more than simply a driver. They are knowledgeable hospitality professionals who can tweak your itinerary on a whim, and make sure your trip is about you. The privacy and flexibility of an SUV or luxury van tour is incomparable, allowing your party the space and time to travel deeper and soak it all in. Our expert tour guides are fluent in English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Italian, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Hebrew, and Russian.

What kind of vehicles do you use?
Whether you’re booking a business trip, an intimate getaway, or a family vacation, our well-appointed fleet of luxury touring vehicles has something for all travelers and groups.

The ideal choice for leisure and corporate transportation. Choose between top of the line SUVs, sedans, limousines, 15 passenger vans, and luxury motor coaches.

Is your website secure? What are the methods of payments you accept? We accept all major credit and debit cards including Mastercard, Visa, Discover, American Express, Euro cards, JCB, Chinese UnionPay, Cartes Bleue, and PayPal. We also accept wire transfers from tour operators, customers, and travel agents.

Our website is hosted on local private, secure and encrypted server. Our website and shopping cart are available in many languages. You can book with confidence. We offer a simple and convenient cancelation and refund policy far more flexible than all other tour companies.

Are your prices in U.S. Dollars?
Yes, all of the advertised prices are in U.S. dollars as we are based in California, USA.

Can I use PayPal to pay in stores?
Yes, we accept and offer PayPal payment option on our secure website.

Why Are Hotel Rates Based on Double Occupancy?
Yes, indeed.

How to book my Tour? How does it work?
You can secure your booking directly through our secure reservation page (click here) and then once on that page, please scroll down to ‘Step 1-Tour Information’ section to choose your preferred tour from the ‘select tour’ drop down. Please fill out the credit card information under section ‘Step 2-Cardholder Information’. Then check your email you entered on our reservation form to get our merchant receipt, generated ONLY when transactions are approved! We will also send you a tour voucher confirming your tour, date and pick-up time if your transaction is approved and based on availability. We will fully refund your transaction if the required tour or date is not available

Do you pick us up and drive us back to our hotel after the tour?
We offer complimentary pick-up and drop-off at any location or hotel.

Do I get a discount if I purchase 2 or more tours?
Yes, you can get a discount on your second purchase. The more you book, the more you save. You may contact us for more information.

Once I make reservations, will I receive tickets for my tour?
You will receive a voucher for confirmation and travel within 24 hours of booking. Just print it out and present it at the time of check in.

What are the best tips you can give for visitors and hikers?
- If you are subject to car or motion sickness, please consider asking your doctor for recommended medication or stop by a pharmacy and consult a pharmacist in this regard.

- Consider leaving unnecessary luggage at your hotel and travel light so you have more room in the vehicle.

- Wear clothes and shoes suitable for walking and hiking (Snowshoes in winter are recommended, and a swimsuit to enjoy the hotel’s swimming pool and hot tub).

- Bring sunscreen, bug spray, extra memory cards, and batteries for your camera (if applicable).

- Warm layers for cooler weather, and a raincoat for summer showers.

- Drink lots of water due to the high altitude and don't hike alone, as we offer fully guided tours.

- We are not responsible for injuries or accidents that may occur during this trip in or out of Yosemite National Park. Please read our terms and conditions for more information. Learn More

What do you mean by “The misconception about private tours”?
Ever wondered why small group private tours are more expensive than large group tours, if in fact you are going to the same place? Simply because public group tours are more cost-effective for the operator, than private tours. In essence, the input cost of private tours and public tours are roughly the same - both provide one driver or a tour guide, one vehicle, same trip length whilst both companies assume the same business expenses and commercial insurance liability. However, private tour operators (like ours) make 95% less profit than public group tours, because all our resources are dedicated to a small group (couples or families), whilst the pubic tour operators make 10 times more profit thanks to the larger number of passengers per vehicle (quantity).

We, on the other hand, focus on quality as we never share our private tours with other customers. In addition to offering a more personalized service and customized trip itineraries, conducted in luxury vehicles, we also have access to all sites where large vehicles and buses are prohibited.

What about your tour company and how long have you been in business?
We are travel industry veterans with roots in Europe and the United States. Using expertise gleaned from decades of experience, we keep the ship sailing smoothly to ensure the best possible guest experience. We gladly accommodate special requests and work diligently to resolve unforeseen circumstances if and when they arise. operated by Golden Horizon Travel Inc. has been operating out of San Francisco and Yosemite National Park area for more than 18 years, and our commitment to excellent service permeates everything we do. From your first inquiry, to booking, to a luxury vehicle arriving at your door, we strive to maintain trust and transparency throughout the entire process. We are fully licensed and insured, and only hire drivers that are experienced, knowledgeable, passionate, professional, and drug free. We respect the privacy and payment information of our guests, and gladly work with travel agents and businesses to accommodate special groups.

Do you have tips for hikers?

Tips for Hikers:

  • Carry enough water for fairy rigorous hike allowing 1.30mnt for 2 miles round trip when hiking on one of our hiking tours
  • no restroom is available in certain hiking trails such as the Sequoias grove hiking tours
  • if you see a bear do not get to close
  • have hiking shoes.
  • Do not hike if you smoke or pregnant or have any health & respiratory issue. Golden Horizon Travel assumes no responsibility of any accident injury that may occur. Hike at your own risk
  • the return uphill is fairy rigorous hike about 400 elevations on our Yosemite hiking trails (Usually the Yosemite hiking trails are open from June through October) The hiking trails are located above 5000 and 6000 ft high.

What to bring on the Yosemite tours?

What to Bring (May-October) & (November-April)

  • Small Overnight Bag (that can fit under reseat)
  • Sneakers or Hiking Boots
  • Hiking Clothes (Shorts & T-shirt)
  • Swimwear
  • Sun Protection & Bug spray
  • Water Bottle
  • Warm Layers (Evenings can be cooler)
  • Raincoat/Jacket (summer rain showers are common)
  • Hiking Boots or Sneakers (waterproof proffered)
  • Warm Layers (Long Underwear Suggested)
  • Swimwear (Hotel has Indoor Pool & Jacuzzi)
  • Waterproof
  • Jacket/Pants for winter conditions. Learn More

Dinner Cruise Questions and Other Questions

 

What is the dress attire for the dinner cruises?
Depending on the cruise, it will usually be dressier when dinner is involved. Learn More

When or how do we pick up the tickets?
We will provide the guest with their ticket if the dinner cruise is included. Otherwise we will give the guest recommendations and provide them with the required information.

What time do I board the ship?
Boarding is usually around 7 pm for 7:30 departures from the Fisherman's Wharf. The cruise boats will occasionally board at 6:30 for 7 pm departures.

How much are the dinner cruise tickets?
The dinner cruise tickets generally start at around $125.

Where is the best place to park?
Depending on where you come from and which area you decide to park your car, we suggest parking at the parking lot located between Jones and Taylor and Beach/Jefferson. It is safe and reliable outdoor parking.

Can I cancel my reservations?
It is possible. Please refer to our cancellation policy for more information. All cancellations must be made 72 hours before tour departure. Cancellations are subject to fees.

Do you pick us up at our hotels?
Yes. As stated before, we pick up anywhere Downtown, Japan town, the Marina District, or Fisherman's Wharf. Please call to confirm your pickup location and time. Many hotels have the same name, so please ensure that you are providing street address, city, and zip code.

Frequently Asked Questions about our Hot-Air- Balloon Rides

 

If you have never flown on a hot-air balloon before, we highly recommend reading our frequently asked questions. We want to make you feel as comfortable as possible about this new experience and also let you know that we are very experienced with the whole process, including getting the jitters.

Brief History: Did you know that the hot-air balloon is the oldest successful human-carrying flight technology and is a subset of balloon aircraft? It was invented and created back in 1783, in the city of Paris when the first manned flight was made by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes. The French called it ‘Montgolfier’ after the Montgolfier brother’s invention of what would become the hot-air balloon.

What is a Hot-Air Balloon made of?
A balloon consists of a bag called the envelope that can hold heated air. Suspended beneath is the gondola / basket which is proven to be the most hardwearing and durable material. Inside the basket, you will find the fuel system which consists of the ‘LPG’, liquid propane gas, which supplies the burner the required power to heat the air in the envelope. Unlike gas balloons, the envelope does not have to be sealed at the bottom since the air near the bottom of the envelope is at the same pressure as the surrounding air. In today's sport balloons, the envelope is generally made from nylon fabric and the mouth of the balloon (closest to the burner flame) is made from fire resistant material such as Nomex.

Why do I have to fly so early in the morning?
Although we need some wind to fly the hot-air balloon, we cannot fly if there is too much wind either. We fly early in the morning because that is when the winds are at their calmest. In addition, a lower ambient temperature means that it is easier to get the balloon off the ground and keep it in the air because we wouldn’t have to heat it to a high temperature. This, in turn, means we will not use as much gas and can fly for longer time and even fly over other valleys and mountains away from Napa. An additional benefit to flying early in the morning is that you get to see the beautiful sun rise on Napa Valley.

What type of clothing should I wear?
Because you are waking up very early in the morning, the early morning’s briskness might require a few layers. Please bring warm clothes or layers and gloves and a hat to protect your hair from the warm air coming from the burner. Please wear sturdy shoes as well. You can leave your extra layers and belongings in the car while you take your hot-air balloon flight.

How do you fly and steer the hot-air balloon?
The pilot maintains the balloon's altitude and steers it in the same direction as the wind. The pilot is able to steer and maneuver the balloon when it is in the air by venting, which allows the hot-air to release from the envelope (balloon) allowing it to descend (fall), and ascend (rise) when the pilot turns the burner on heat it up.

When the air in the balloon is warmer than the air outside, it rises up because the hot air inside the balloon is lighter than cool air outside. The balloon then travels slowly in the same direction of the wind, and this factor (the wind) determines the launching and landing site (location). You will either land in the middle of a vineyard or anywhere within California wine country. A typical landing spot is clear of crops, livestock, small trees, power lines or other obstructions. The pilot will be on-hand to guide you through this process, he or she will also point out sights and wineries as you fly over the lush vineyards of California wine country.

How high do you fly and how fast the balloon can go?
Regarding elevation, on an average flight, the balloon will reach a tree-top level up to the top all the surrounding peaks in California wine country.

An average Balloon usually travels 4 to 8 miles per hour (MPH) with the wind. Speed and landing will be determined by the pilot and his crew based on weather and wind conditions. The length of a balloon flight is usually determined by many factors, including the temperature and the weight carried in the basket. For this reason, customers are required to provide their exact weight. On a cold day, with only one person flying, a longer flight is possible which usually last about 30 minutes or more.

How do you inflate the hot-air balloon?
We begin by laying the basket on its side and then laying out the envelope (the balloon bit) and attaching both sides with strong wires. Then we inflate the balloon with cold air using a portable petrol-powered fan. When the envelope is almost completely inflated with cold air, we turn on the burners and begin to heat the air inside the envelope. This will help the balloon to begin to rise to an up-right position. Then we just keep heating the air until it is hot enough inside to take us up for a ride.

As the balloon team starts inflating the balloon, attaching the cables and securing the portable (gasoline powered) fans, these fans push the air into the envelope to inflate what will look like a giant balloon rising up in the sky slowly and gently. When the envelope is almost filled with cold air, the propane burner is ignited to push warm air into the envelope, when the air inside is heated enough, the balloon starts to rise to an upright position. When the pilot adds the required small amount of additional heat, the balloon will become buoyant and start rising up in the sky slowly. The inflation of the envelope (balloon) usually takes about 20 minutes before it gets off the ground to an upright position.

How long does it take to inflate and deflate the balloon?
Once the envelope has been laid-out and the cables attached to the basket, a portable (gasoline powered) fan pushes air into the envelope. When the envelope is almost filled with cold air, the propane burner is ignited and the air inside is heated enough for the balloon to rise to an upright position. With a small amount of additional heat, the balloon will become buoyant. The inflation usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes and it takes about the same amount of time to deflate and pack up the balloon after the flight.

How big is a balloon?
There are many different sizes of balloons, ranging from small balloons that are meant for one person to very large ones that can carry 20+ persons. Sports balloons average size is between 65,000 and 105,000 cubic feet and carry three to six people. When inflated, these balloons can vary in height from eighteen to twenty-seven meters and are between thirteen and eighteen meters in diameter.

Do you fly in the rain?
No, it is not very pleasant to fly in the rain. The rain cools the balloon down, adds a lot of extra weight to the balloon and due to the curved shape of the balloon, the water does not drip off, but gathers in the load tapes and runs down the sides and you get covered in a hot dirty shower.

How many people can the hot-air balloon carry?
Our largest balloon is licensed to carry up to sixteen passengers plus the pilot, but it is also dependent on the total weight. Our mid-size balloon can hold up to 11 passengers and our smallest can hold up to five passengers plus the pilot. It is extremely important that you provide your exact weight for safety purposes. Learn More

Frequent Questions about Silicon Valley

 

Why should you visit Silicon Valley? This new discovery custom tech-tour is a must-do for everyone who wants to understand how the people behind the high-technology and innovation in Silicon Valley transformed and changed our daily lives. Our Silicon Valley discovery experience appeals to all generations and visitors with varying levels of technical knowledge and interests. This trending tour destination appeals to all ages.

Our Silicon Valley guided tech-tours are totally private and will be customized to your needs, special interests, and requirements. We can provide you with many options to choose from, and we remain 100% available and flexible to tweak your private trip itinerary and travel your way. We will do our very best to meet your expectations and carry out this private custom tour according to your special needs and visit your preferred sites and attractions. There is so much to explore and see in Silicon Valley regions for visitors who are not interested in innovation and technology. Learn More

How big is Silicon Valley? Silicon Valley is an overwhelmingly widespread area, and it is almost impossible to cover and see all of its attractions and places in a one-day trip. You can simply let your personal and passionate tour guide know more about special interests and preference so he or she can customize your tour itinerary accordingly. If you need recommendation, you may also ask your private tour guide to make suggestions based on your preferences and special interests. Learn More

What to expect on your tour itinerary to Silicon Valley? This custom tour will take you to sites of interest and high-tech firms. Because Silicon Valley is overwhelmingly spread out, it is impossible to cover it all in a one-day 8-hour trip. Please choose one of the above tour options so we may inform your guide and prepare the trip in advance - particularly for museums and high-tech firms that require appointments. Your Silicon Valley tour starts and ends in San Francisco and lasts eight hours door-to-door. Driving time is about one hour each way (depending on traffic conditions), which leaves six hours to explore Silicon Valley. We highly recommend adding overtime to your tour if you wish to explore Silicon Valley in-depth. We have just added new attractions for visitors, with or without kids, who are not interested in high-tech firms. Some of these new attractions include the Japanese Friendship Garden, Children's Discovery Museum, hidden wineries, groves of redwoods, Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, and California's Great America Amusement Park. These are optional side trips and entrance fees are not included. Learn More

Can we go inside Silicon Valley tech firms like Google, Apple, Facebook, etc. ?
Note: The question we get a lot from customers and travelers are whether they can go inside tech giant’s facilities or not. Yes, it’s true that the most notable Silicon Valley tech giants offer no tours of their campuses or access to the public inside their facilities. However, some allow limited public access inside their premises, whilst others like Google, Oracle, Apple and Facebook, don’t. They are secretive and they have the right to be protective in this new era of cyber-attacks and security issues. The only way a member of the public can tour the inside of campus buildings is if they are escorted by an employee. So, if you happen to have a friend or relative who works there, ask them to get an invitation, and we will get you there.

Many sites, firms and museums are closed on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, during the Holidays and weekends, this vary from place to place. Most of museums and sites have admission fees that are not included in your tour price. We are extremely transparent, so we are not to blame for any misunderstanding regarding our Silicon Valley tour, terms and policy as stated on this website. We highly recommend that you check out these places and firms before you book your tour, so we are not to blame. Check out these private museums, firms and their websites to learn more about their schedules, closures and hours of operations. Learn More

What are the top museums and firms to visit in Silicon Valley?

 

Here are the most famous sites and their websites:

 

Intel Museum: http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/company-overview/intel-museum.html (daily open 9AM–6PM but closed on Sunday,during the holidays(and may close at any time without a prior notice as this a private firm).

The Computer History Museum: http://www.computerhistory.org/hours/ Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and for private events without a prior notice. Otherwise, it opens from 10 to 5 pm Wednesday to Sunday (but may close at any time without a prior notice as it’s a private museum).

Stanford Campus Walking Tour http://visit.stanford.edu/tours/ offers a 70 minutes approximately free walking tour at 10:45 am and at 3 pm upon availability (first-come, first-served basis). Closed during the holidays, inaugurations and for private events. Sometimes, they may not have enough volunteers to carry out this free tour and may cancel it at any time and without a prior notice.(may close to the public at any time without a prior notice as it’s a private university).

NASA Ames Research Center: https://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/home/exploration.html Hours: Tuesday - Friday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. and Saturday - Sunday noon - 4 p.m. Closed Mondays and federal holidays and for private events. Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose: https://www.cdm.org/please check their schedule as it changes constantly

The Tech Museum of Innovation: https://www.thetech.org/ please check their schedule as it changes constantly

Hiller Aviation Museum: http://www.hiller.org/ please check their schedule as it changes constantly

***Its customers’ responsibility to check all these sites and other firms before booking this Silicon Valley tour.

Please understand that many sites, firms, parks like Alcatraz and Muir Woods, or universities like Stanford, do not allow tour guides to carry out guided tours inside their campus or perimeters. In addition, parking in places like Stanford is a major issue regardless the size of the vehicle you book, please exchange your telephone numbers with your driver so he or she meets you back at a specific place or landmark after your self-guided walking tour (on your own). All vehicles more than 7 seats require extra $400 parking fees at Stanford (at the charge of customers).

This tour lasts 8 hours’ door to door service when we start and end the tour in San Francisco. We are located in San Francisco, not in Silicon Valley. But when our Silicon Valley tour starts, and or ends in Silicon Valley Area (instead of San Francisco), the tour lasts 6 hours’ maximum as it takes us 90 minutes’ drive each way to drive from San Francisco to Silicon Valley, and vice versa for the driver to get back to San Francisco where we are based.

***Its customers’ responsibility to check all these sites and other firm’s hours of operations and closures before booking this Silicon Valley tour

***We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone ***

What all visitor should know is that even if you are invited by a famous Silicon Valley firm like Google, they never allow anyone to go upstairs to visit their offices. All visitors remain limited to the lobby area downstairs or in the food court area, which offers no benefits, only a lot of hassle and nothing much to see. Our tour guides’ tip of the day. Our tour guides recommend that you take full advantage of your one- time trip to Silicon Valley and rather focus on what you can see and get insider access to places that make the most of your day. Learn More

Authentic reviews from Trip Advisor

  • Lake Tahoe & Yosemite tour experience

    What an amazing trip around Lake Tahoe after a 3-day custom adventure of Yosemite national park sights and attractions - a wonderful destination.

    Chris G., Dallas, Texas

  • Lake Tahoe is stunning & spectacular!!

    Even if you’re not a fan of outdoors activities, Tahoe worth the long drive from San Francisco. This is a must-see destination with remarkable attractions.

    Martha Frierrs, Alabama

  • Tahoe & Yosemite; must-see destinations in California

    Tahoe is a must-see place & Yosemite is the crown jewel of California, they offer amazing outdoor activities for families with kids

    Jimmy & family, Belize

  • A 5-star Yosemite & Tahoe experience

    Our 3-day private tour package to Lake Tahoe wonders, Gold Country & Yosemite National Park top attractions was excellent, exciting & memorable!

    Nicky & Bannysh. Kolkata (Calcutta), India

  • Tahoe is a bucket-list vacation destination

    The Lake is pristine, wonderful, so clean, the air is so fresh & pure with magnificent surroundings, what an awesome paradise on earth?

    Lucia & Rogelio Mérida, Mexico

  • Our Incredible experience in Lake Tahoe and Reno

    Our adventure to Lake Tahoe and Reno from San Francisco was amazing and unforgettable thanks to Golden Horizon Travel attentive staff, and tour guide.

    Gabriela & Oscar Reyes, Lima, Peru

  • Dream vacation to Tahoe, Yosemite & Mammoth Lakes

    My wife and I want you to know how much we enjoyed our time in Tahoe & Yosemite, we loved travelling with your company

    Bob and Faith, Australia

  • A memorable Tahoe -Yosemite combo tour experience

    Trust their tour reviews on trip advisor 100%, they earned our satisfaction, they have a great customer service and amazing tour guides.

    Naina Kwok- Jakarta, Indonesia

Visit_California_sights_and_attractions_vacation_package_trip_reviews
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