P.O. Box 945
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504
Phone: 505-988-4246 | Toll-Free: 800-842-4246 | Fax: 505-983-6061
1. What kinds of tours does Southwest Safaris offer?
Southwest Safaris specializes in taking people by unique forms of travel to the most remote and exciting frontiers of the Great American Southwest, i.e., New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. We emphasize the value of air travel in particular, as it not only eliminates days of traveling time that would otherwise be needlessly spent just driving from one scenic location to the next, but also because the airplane provides perspectives on time, landscapes, and human activities on a much broader scale than can be comprehended from the ground alone. After tour members land at the respective locations of interest, whether the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, or the San Juan River, they are met by vans, four-wheel-drive vehicles, or rafts, as appropriate to the area under study, for a closer examination of the natural history of the Four Corners Region. All tours emphasize the study of geology, archaeology, ecology, and American history.
2. How long has Southwest Safaris been in business?
Since 1974. Our philosophy of operation has not changed over the years; we conduct only the highest quality tours and never compromise on safety.
3. Are your air/land tours approved by any governmental agency?
Yes. Southwest Safaris operates under the strictest regulations imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA monitors our pilot proficiency, the routes that we fly, the landing strips we use, and the maintenance of our aircraft. We are further regulated/approved by the Civil Aeronautics Board and the National Park Service. We are members of the National Air Transportation Association.
4. What kind of planes will we fly in?
Cessna 182 and T207A aircraft provide the transportation on all expeditions. These high-performance tour planes have overhead wings and large windows, making them ideal for viewing vast panoramic landscapes. The planes cruise at 150 mph and are renowned for their in-flight stability. Each passenger has a private window, controllable air vent, and individually adjustable seat. In addition, the planes are equipped with two-way cabin intercom systems which enable the pilot/guide to give a detailed narration in flight of the geological and archaeological history of the Four Corners Region. Our aircraft serve as time machines, allowing one to explore the evolution of deep twisting canyons, painted deserts, ancient inland seas, snow-capped mountain ranges, extinct volcanoes, enchanted buttes/mesas, and grasp an exciting overview of prehistoric Indian peoples, settlements, and trade routes. Southwest Safaris welcomes you on board!
5. Who will be our pilot?
Bruce Adams, founder of Southwest Safaris, serves as professional pilot, guide, and naturalist. Bruce has more than 6000 hours of backcountry flying experience. He holds an airline transport pilot license plus flight and ground instructor endorsements and certification as an airframe and powerplant mechanic. A graduate of Colorado College with a major in English, Bruce also has an M.A. in philosophy from St. John's College in Santa Fe, NM. Bruce holds several patents on aircraft deicing equipment. He has served as field consultant/film scout for numerous movies, television productions, books, magazines, and international tour companies, including: "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (the early years)," Carl Sagen's "Cosmos," and National Geographic, amongst others.
6. How much time will be spent in the air?
It all depends on the tour. The Grand Canyon Classic Safari averages 5.25 hours of flying; the Monument Valley Classic Expedition, 4.25 hours. The Canyon de Chelly Classic Adventure and Mesa Verde Classic Explorer each involve 3 - 3.5 hours of flying; the Aztec Ruins Skyfari, 2.2 hours; the New Mexico airtreks, 2 hours; and local scenic flights, 30 min. - 1 hour. The related route segments for the Grand Canyon are 3.0 and 2.25 hours out and back, respectively; for Monument Valley, 2.0 and 2.25 hours out and back; for Canyon de Chelly, 1.5 hours both out and back; and for Mesa Verde, 1.8 and 1.7 hours out and back, for Aztec, 2.1 hours each way out and back. Generally, no stops are made en route.
7. How high will we fly?
The altitude flown will depend upon the route segment and what the pilot is trying to demonstrate. Certain perspectives on the landscape require at least 2,000 feet of altitude, others 1,000 feet. In general, the aircraft's altitude will vary between 1,000 and 3,000 feet above the ground, combining uncompromised safety with grand scenic views. With respect to our 1-day expeditions, the plane generally flies at scenic altitudes in the morning and at higher altitudes in the afternoon, taking the most expeditious route back to Santa Fe unless a scenic return option is elected.
8. Can I take pictures from the plane?
By all means, bring your camera! Our safari aircraft have high wings and large windows, making the planes ideal for aerial photography. Bring more rolls of film/memory cards than you think you can possibly shoot -- you'll use them all. If you use a conventional camera, a short, wide-angle (35MM) lens works best for aerials. On the ground, a zoom lens is recommended. Kodachrome and Kodacolor film (ASA 64, 36 exposures) seem to give consistently good results. If unavailable, use Kodak Elite Chrome Extra Color. Home movie cameras, however, do not work well in the plane; they are awkward to use, produce jerky pictures, and have generally poor resolution with respect to to air-to-ground shooting. If you use a digital camera, SLR versions work best from the air because they have no shutter delay. Set your adjustments to manual so that you can favor high shutter speed, no flash, and a focus setting of infinity.
9. Should I bring binoculars?
We strongly discourage using binoculars in the aircraft because they tend to contribute to motion discomfort. If you wish to bring them for the ground segments, however, feel free to do so.
10. Will air sickness be a problem?
Most people quickly adapt to traveling by plane. Our safari aircraft is very stable and motion sickness is generally not a problem. We prefer to get an early morning start on our flying, when the atmosphere is calm and the desert colors are at full brilliance. However, passengers prone to air discomfort should consider taking a motion sickness pill one hour before flying time, especially before an afternoon flight. Bonine is considered a very effective drug that has the advantage of not making one sleepy. Check with your family doctor if you have any questions. Wrist straps and skin patches have demonstrated surprisingly good results.
11. What is the pace of a safari?
Our expeditions concentrate on combining adventure with education. The pace is lively, as we cover a great deal of territory, but emphasis is placed on acquiring insights into geology, archaeology, ecology, and southwestern history. This can not be hurried.
12. When we get to Monument Valley, may I photograph the Navajos?
The Navajo Indians used to be very sensitive about having their pictures taken. With time, they have lost their religious objections. However, respect for all persons' privacy goes without saying. Be certain to ask permission before taking a Navajo's picture; generally it will be granted. The standard gratuity is $2. If you want to take a picture inside a hogan, the standard token of appreciation is $5.
13. How many people will be on the safari?
Five passengers maximum. Our air tours are designed for small numbers of people in order to ensure a sense of privacy, personal communication, and genuine adventure.
14. Is there any minimum age for children?
Seven years of age is the youngest we feel comfortable handling on our full-day tours, but some of our half-day and local trips pose few problems for younger children. Please consult with us for our specific recommendations.
15. How far in advance should I make reservations?
Every year we are forced to turn down applicants for our safaris due to full capacity scheduling. Short-term notice is chancy. Avoid needless disappointment; plan your vacation early this year.
16. What other kinds of tours do you offer?
Southwest Safaris offers a complete range of air/land/river adventure expeditions through New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. Tours vary in length from thirty minutes to all day. If you would like to receive information on any of our shorter trips, please call, write, or email.
17. Where do your safaris begin and end?
All tours start and terminate at the Santa Fe Municipal Airport. Allow about thirty minutes to get to the airport in a leisurely manner from downtown Santa Fe. Safari members will meet Bruce Adams, the pilot/guide, in the lobby of Santa Fe Air Center (located under the Phillips 66 sign, on the far side of the airport parking lot).
18. How do I get to the Santa Fe Municipal Airport?
If you are driving from downtown Santa Fe, you have two choices. Your first option is to take Cerrillos Road, heading south (towards Albuquerque). Drive about 6.7 miles through the business district until you see the Holiday Inn on your left and a Shell gas station on your right. Turn right onto Airport Road and then drive about 3.5 miles, heading west. You will come to a major intersection with Route 599, signaled by a stoplight. Go straight ahead, through the intersection; drive about one hundred yards and take your first left, which will put you on Aviation Drive. Go up the hill and continue to the end of the road (about 1 mile), which will get you to the airport.
From downtown Santa Fe, your second option is to drive north on Rt. 84/285, as though you were heading for the Santa Fe Opera or Taos. Go up the long hill just north of town and look for an overhead sign notifying you of Rt. 599, known as the Santa Fe Bypass. Veer off to the right and head south (towards Albuquerque). Drive about ten miles on Rt. 599 until you come to your first major intersection with a street light. At this intersection, turn right onto Airport Road. Go one block west and take your first left onto Aviation Drive. Proceed up the hill, going about one mile, and you will be at your destination.
If you are driving up from Albuquerque, your instructions are easy. Continue north on Interstate 25. After passing the old Santa Fe Racetrack, you will see an exit for Rt. 599. Take the second off-ramp (Exit 76B) and head north. When you come to Airport Road (your second stoplight), turn left, go one block, take another left onto Aviation Drive, and proceed one mile. When you can not drive any further, you have arrived.
If you are coming down from Taos or Espanola, you will drive up a big hill as you approach Santa Fe. Drive past the Santa Fe Opera on your right. When you come to the off-ramp marked "Rt. 599, Santa Fe Bypass," veer off to the right and head south (towards Albuquerque). Proceed about ten miles. Turn right onto Airport Road, go one block, and take your first left, which will put you on Aviation Drive. Continue one mile more and you will be at the airdrome.
19. Can Southwest Safaris get us to/from the airport?
Unfortunately, due to outrageous insurance rates (which we do not wish to pass on to our clients), Southwest Safaris can not provide complimentary transportation to or from the airport. However, local cab companies offer fast and convenient service to the air terminal at very reasonable cost. We especially recommend the Roadrunner Shuttle (505-424-3367); their drivers are familiar with our service and the business is based at the airfield.
20. What should I bring on a 1-day expedition?
Safari members should wear a good pair of comfortable walking shoes (sandals are not appropriate), thick cotton socks, long pants, and a long- sleeved shirt. Also bring along a broad-rimmed hat, light sweater, jacket appropriate to the season, sunglasses, sunscreen lotion, camera (and film/memory cards), motion sickness pills, and extra money (in case a night needs to be spent in the field at a lodge). This list has been carefully compiled to ensure your maximum enjoyment and protection. One must always be prepared for unforseen circumstances in the field, including weather conditions, which can change rapidly. Therefore, with the exception of a camera (and film/memory cards), these items are mandatory.
21. Are there any final instructions we should have?
Yes. On the eve of your tour, do not eat spicy Mexican food (stay away from chile!) or consume more than token alcohol. Get to bed early. On the morning of departure, drink as few liquids as possible; there is no toilet on board the aircraft. Do not drink coffee or orange juice; they are too acidic. Forget the doughnuts; these are also hard to digest. Milk and cereal are fine. Motion sickness pills, to be effective, must be taken one hour prior to flight time. There are limited candy machines available in the lobby of the departure terminal (survival rations only). We suggest that you make/procure a thick sandwich the night before departure and eat it on you way to the airport.
When you arrive in Santa Fe, please call Southwest Safaris (988-4246) in order to check in with us. This way we can answer any late-developing questions. It is very important that tour members give us a local phone number where they can be reached.
Also, please make a note to call Southwest Safaris no later than 5 p.m. the afternoon before departure. This way we can give you any last minute instructions that may be necessary.
The morning of departure, it is imperative that tour members get to the airport on time. Please do not be late. If a sudden problem or emergency comes up, call Southwest Safaris (again, the number is: 988-4246). If you get lost/disoriented on you way to the airport, call immediately; we can get you back on the way in no time. If you get the answering machine, leave a message there and then call Santa Fe Jet Center (471-2525), asking to have your pilot, Bruce Adams, paged; do not hang up without leaving word at both numbers!
TERMS AND CONDITIONS
Deposits, Cancellations, and Refunds: Because of the exotic nature of our safaris, the costs involved in preparing for an expedition, and the relatively small number of tour members on any given tour, we must be very strict with regard to reservation procedures and policies. This is done out of fairness to our clients, enabling us to protect their departure dates as much as possible and also allowing us to offer the lowest feasible fares. Therefore, we require that initial reservations on all tours be accompanied by a 25% per person, nonrefundable deposit. The balance of payment is due in full forty-eight hours prior to departure; late payment may result in loss of reservations. Tour members who cancel within forty-eight hours of trip departure are subject to forfeiture of full fare; trip cancellation insurance forms are available from travel agencies. Complete refunds will be made on all reservations which cannot be confirmed or which must be cancelled by Southwest Safaris. Once a trip has begun, no refunds will be made for unused portions of tours, whether in whole or in part, due to sickness, injury, tardiness, family emergency, personal predicament, or any other reason necessitating or resulting in a client-initiated trip cancellation, withdrawal from an expedition, or separation therefrom. No ticket or reservation is transferable without specific permission from Southwest Safaris.
Responsibility of Ticketing Agencies: Southwest Safaris (henceforth referred to as tour operator) uses the services of various agencies to facilitate the sale of tickets for its air/land adventure expeditions. Travel agencies, tour wholesalers, ticketing services, and all other persons, organizations, and businesses accepting reservations for Southwest Safaris on behalf of the public (which business entities shall hereinafter be referred to as booking agents) act only as independent fiduciary agents doing business with Southwest Safaris and have no special powers to represent Southwest Safaris other than to serve strictly in the capacity of ticketing agents for the trips of said tour operator. Booking agents do not have authority to change any of Southwest Safaris' written terms and conditions of travel, rates, dates, itineraries, nor any other details pertaining to said tours, nor to serve as legal business extensions of Southwest Safaris. Therefore, each ticket is issued with the explicit understanding that all contractual relationships of any kind pertaining to Southwest Safaris' expeditions are absolutely limited to those between tour members and said tour operator and that this contractual relationship may not in any way be extended to involve any booking agents listed above. Booking agents for Southwest Safaris hereby disclaim any and all liability for property loss or damage and/or any and all damages resulting from personal injuries or death, loss of service, personal inconvenience, or added expense which may be sustained on account of, or rising out of, by reason of, or while engaged in any Southwest Safaris tour, whether or not due, but not limited, to the ownership, maintenance, use, operations, or control of any aircraft, bus, van, automobile, raft, vehicle, inn, restaurant, common carrier or otherwise, or whether caused by any food served, prepared, or provided by Southwest Safaris, or whether caused by breach of contract by Southwest Safaris. Furthermore, regardless of any written or verbal communication to the contrary, even if the term or concept of "guaranteed" is mistakenly used by a booking agent with respect to a ticket, invoice, reservation, or itinerary, booking agents will not in fact guarantee or stand behind any of Southwest Safaris' tickets, rates, dates, itineraries, or any other details pertaining to said tours nor can they bind Southwest Safaris in any manner contrary to the terms and conditions of passage specified by said tour operator in this Q&A Summary. Tour members are hereby advised to contact Southwest Safaris (phone: 988-4246) no later than 5 p.m. the afternoon before departure to get final trip departure confirmation and last minute briefing instructions.
Delays, Changes of Schedule/Itinerary, and Nonperformance by Southwest Safaris: Although we are fully dedicated to meeting our departure/schedule/ itinerary commitments, we reserve the right to change our departure dates, en route schedules, and trip itineraries, even at the last minute, to the full extent necessary to ensure the maximum safety of our safari passengers and to facilitate rendezvous, including late arrivals. This will be done without financial reimbursement to tour members for any costs, omissions, and/or inconveniences they may experience. Unpredicted mechanical, meteorological, circumstantial, and personnel difficulties, although unlikely, represent certain facts of life over which we have no control. Tour members are cautioned that they must "expect the unexpected" and be flexible. Southwest Safaris reserves the right, without penalty or financial consequence, to "change out" or "rotate" or "substitute" aircraft, ground vehicles, rafts, and other means of conveyance in the course of a trip for safety and/or operational reasons. Departure, en route, and arrival delays are sometimes unavoidable and shall be deemed part of the "normal" safari experience. If the departure date of an expedition needs to be rescheduled, any mutually agreed- upon tour postponement constitutes a renewal of contract without prejudice; all original terms and conditions shall apply. In the remote event that a predeparture trip cancellation by Southwest Safaris becomes necessary and we cannot provide another trip and/or departure date that is acceptable, Southwest Safaris will grant a full and immediate refund. In such cases, our financial/legal liability shall be limited to the amount actually paid to Southwest Safaris and shall not be extended to cover any other costs incurred by the client. Southwest Safaris herein gives notice that it will not be held responsible for any disruption of travel and/or related services in "troubled areas" whether due to monetary crisis, political or social unrest, labor problems, mechanical or construction difficulties, bad weather, local laws, diseases, or other adverse conditions, circumstances, or situations. In the unlikely event that a safari needs to be terminated for whatever reason by Southwest Safaris en route, tour members will receive refunds prorated on the basis of the uncompleted percentage of the trip without further obligation on the part of Southwest Safaris. In any case, our arrival date and time in Santa Fe at the conclusion of a safari cannot be guaranteed; arrival times stated in our brochures are best estimates only, based on normal conditions. Southwest Safaris will not be held responsible for missed airline/bus/train connections or any other type of connections or reservations and accepts no legal or financial obligation associated therewith. Southwest Safaris will not be held responsible for any act, omission, or event during the time passengers are on board an aircraft, ground vehicle, raft, or hiking/sightseeing/study tour not owned or operated by Southwest Safaris. Southwest Safaris further reserves the right to cancel any tour at any time an insufficient number of reservations or last minute cancellations thereof make it uneconomical for the expedition to proceed. In this case, full refunds on all payments will be made without further obligation by Southwest Safaris, though every effort will be made to arrange for an alternative departure and/or tour. Finally, Southwest Safaris reserves the right to decline to accept or retain any person as a member of any tour at any time where unacceptable behavior is concerned; in the latter case the refund will be based on the actual cost to Southwest Safaris of the unfinished portion of the tour and this will be the limit of Southwest Safaris' obligation to said party.
IMPORTANT FURTHER ELABORATION: As alluded to above, the itinerary and schedule of all expeditions are subject to modification as dictated, amongst other things, by wind and weather conditions. Your pilot/guide will have the ultimate authority to make every decision regarding safety in the field. In such cases where flying and/or other activities are not advisable, no refunds will be made for alterations or omissions in any part of the air/land/river itinerary; however, whenever possible, substitute arrangements will be made. Furthermore, there is no financial allowance for extra days spent either in the field or in Santa Fe beyond those specified in writing in the tour literature. Therefore, safari members must be prepared to pay for their own additional food, lodging, and transportation should meteorological or other conditions demand the cancellation or modification of flight schedules either en route or before departure.
This Questions and Answers (Q&A) Summary has been written to inform all tour members as to what to expect on a Southwest Safaris air/land/river adventure expedition. Every effort has been made to write as clearly and concisely as possible, using plain language, in order to avoid any possibility of misunderstandings. Our operating policies have been established in the best interest of the public and, therefore, are not subject to compromise. This Q&A document constitutes a part of Southwest Safaris' brochures and should be retained by tour members until the completion of their expedition.
Southwest Safaris . . . "Flight to Quality!"