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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

California: The South

The Southern Coast, Santa Cruz Island, the Salton Sea, and the Mojave Desert

Tour Information

Note: The information presented here is an abbreviated version of our formal General Information for Tours to California. Its purpose is solely to give readers a sense of what might be involved if they take this tour. Although we do our best to make sure that what follows here is completely accurate, it should not be used as a replacement for the formal document which will be sent to all tour registrants, and whose contents supersedes any information contained here.

ENTERING THE UNITED STATES:  Non-U.S. citizens need a valid passport and may need a tourist visa. Consult your nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate for details. 

Canadian citizens should carry proof of citizenship in the form of a passport. If required by the embassy or visa-granting entity, WINGS can provide a letter for you to use regarding your participation in the tour.

PACE OF TOUR:  This tour has some long days and some pre-dawn starts. The early starts result because of the heat in southeastern California and also because of our ornithological targets. There is some hiking, but none of the walks are strenuous. 

HEALTH:  California presents no real hazards to the visiting birdwatcher. 

Altitude: We will reach 7,500 feet in elevation. 

Sun and Dehydration: The California sun can be intense, particularly in the south, on the water, and at high elevations; adequate skin protection is essential. Be sure to have water with you at all times. 

Smoking:  Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a nonsmoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail. 

Miscellaneous: Insects are generally not a problem, but may be locally present at or near the Salton Sea, and possibly elsewhere. 

Mammals, reptiles and other creatures do not constitute a hazard and we actively search for them during the trip. 

 In the desert one could have a nasty encounter with cactus if not watchful. 

Finally, the Pacific is often not smooth and participants should bring their preferred motion sickness medication for the pelagic trips. 

CLIMATE:  California weather is extremely variable. Temperatures of 110°F may occur in late summer and early fall in the southeast, but you must also be prepared for cool mornings (50s F) along the coast or in the mountains. Rain and wind are unlikely except as local thundershowers in the desert. 

ACCOMMODATIONS:  We will be staying at standard, comfortable motels during the trip.  WiFi is available at all our accommodation. 

FOOD:  Food on the tour will be U.S. standard.  WINGS tours are all-inclusive and no refunds can be issued for any missed tour meals. 

Food Allergies / Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions. 

TRANSPORTATION:  We will be traveling by 15-passenger window van or minivan, depending on the group size.  On a few occasions a local guide will likely travel in the vehicle with us for a short portion of the tour. Participants should be able to ride in any seat in tour vehicles and are expected to change seats with others daily.

Updated: 10 October 2017