From the horse’s mouth
Visa & Health
You’ll need prior authorisation to enter the United States using a British passport, either through a visa, a Permanent Resident Card, or the Visa Waiver Programme. To enter the United States of America, a passport valid for the duration of stay is required by Australian, British, Canadian and other EU nationals.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS - VISA WAIVER PROGRAMME
Most passport holders can get an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) through the Visa Waiver Programme, which allows travel to the US for up to 90 days. Visit the official US website to apply for your ESTA: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/
All travellers entering the USA under the Visa Waiver Program require individual machine-readable passports. Children included on a parent's passport also require their own machine-readable passport. Travellers not in possession of machine-readable passports require a valid USA entry visa.
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) aren’t valid for entry into the United States or transit through the United States under the Visa Waiver Programme; if you’re planning to enter or transit through the US using an ETD you must apply for a visa from the nearest US embassy or consulate before you travel, or hold a valid lawful permanent resident card (often referred to as a ‘green card’), which you must have with you on arrival; you can leave the US using an ETD that has been issued in the United States
Visitors to the USA travelling under the Visa Waiver Program must obtain authorisation from the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), a fully automated, electronic system for screening passengers before they begin travel to the USA, if arriving by air or sea. It is recommended that applications are made at least 72 hours prior to travel but you may apply at any time prior to travel. Airlines must now deny check-in to passengers without a valid ESTA. There is a US$14 fee. An ESTA is valid for two years, so if you've applied for one previously, ensure it's still valid.
When applying for ESTA-authorisation and entering the passport number, the number 0 must not be replaced by letter O as this can lead to problems upon entering the USA. The granting of an ESTA does not guarantee entry to the USA. Canadian citizens do not require an ESTA, but permanent residents of Canada who are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program must obtain one.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS - VISAS
If you don’t qualify for entry under the VWP, and don’t have a US Permanent Resident Card, you should apply for a visa from the nearest US Embassy or Consulate before travelling.
Holders of UK passports with the endorsement British Subject, British Dependent Territories Citizen, British Protected Person, British Overseas Citizen or British National (Overseas) Citizen do not qualify for the Visa Waiver Program and need to obtain a visa.
Travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP):
- Nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country).
- Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.
IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR TRAVELERS TRANSITING THROUGH CANADA
If you are travelling to the USA visa Canada, please remember you also need to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), mandatory for anyone transiting through Canada. Completing ESTA formalities do not replace your eTA.
Addresses of consulates
- Paris | Ambassade des Etats-Unis
2, avenue Gabriel
Tél. : 01.43.12.22.22
- Ambassade de France aux Etats-Unis
4101 Reservoir Road, N.W.
20007 Washington D.C.
Tél. : +1 (202) 944 60 00
- US Embassy
24 Grosvenor Square
W1A 2LQ London
Tél. : 020 7499-9000
Travel insurance that provides medical coverage is a requirement for visitors to the US. Only emergency cases are treated without prior payment and treatment may be refused without evidence of insurance or a deposit. All receipts for services rendered must be kept in order to make a claim. Medical care in the United States tends to be quite expensive, especially for emergency treatment provided in hospital settings, paid for out of pocket.
Budget and money
Most major credit cards are accepted throughout the USA, including American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa. Visitors are advised to carry at least one major credit card, as it is common to request pre-payment or a credit card imprint for hotel rooms and car hire, even when final payment is not by credit card. Be sure to check with your card issuer for current surcharge rates imposed for use of the card outside your home country. You should also inform your issuer that you are travelling for a specified period so your card is not flagged or temporarily suspended.
Bank-issued debit cards are accepted at many businesses in the US; however, using them to pay for many travel-related expenses, such as car hire and hotel rooms, often incurs a surcharge, deposit, or a hold on your account.
Telephone and jetlag
The country stradles a number of different time zones. Eastern Daylight time (eg. New York) is GMT -4. Mountain Daylight time (eg. Montana) is GMT -6. Pacific Daylight time (eg. California) is GMT -7.
Capital: Washington DC
Area: 9,826,675 sq km (3,794,100 sq miles).
Population: 323,1 million (2016).
Population density: 32.3 per sq km
Language: English, with significant Spanish-speaking minorties (10.7%).
Religion: Protestant majority (51.3%) with Roman Catholic, Mormon, Jewish and many ethnic minorities. An increasing percentage of Americans are distancing themselves from formal religious affiliations; 12.1% currently declare no affiliation.
Political regime: Federal Republic. The USA has 50 States and the District of Columbia (as in 'Washington, DC'), which lies between Maryland and Virginia
President: Donald Trump
The enormous influence of US-based multinational companies within the world economy affords unparalleled global influence and allows its currency unique international status.
Large areas of the USA, particularly in the Midwest, are under cultivation and produce a wide range of commodities: important are cotton, grain and tobacco, all exported on a large scale. Principal mining operations produce oil, gas, coal, copper, iron, uranium and silver. US industry leads in steel production, automotive manufacturing, aerospace technology, telecommunications, chemical engineering, electronics, computer-based commerce and manufactured goods.
The largest employment is in the service sector, finance, leisure and tourism. The unemployment rate in 2011 was 9.1%, with growth at 2.5% and inflation at 3%.
After Columbus landed in the Americas in 1492 as he searched for a quick route to India, exploration began of North America and South America. These areas were colonized by the English, French, Spanish, Russians and other Europeans over the next several centuries, much to the peril of Native Americans, who were fatally susceptible to the colonizers' foreign diseases.
The first European settlements on what was to become the USA were in Florida and New Mexico. The British set up many failed colonies in present day North Carolina until Jamestown was finally settled in 1607 that survived and thrived. The north was settled by the pilgrims, religious refugees from England, at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620. During the time of colonization several wars broke out with the indigenous tribes, which usually ended with the colonials defeating and killing people. The plight of Native Americans was not set to improve, as the British Colonies declaring independence in 1776 translated into the colonizers' gradual, determined march west. This settlement of the west forced westward migration of indigenous Americans. The Indian Wars were fought from the foundation of American history until the 1890s. At the same time the USA government set the foundation for the future modern democracies of the world.
In the century after the War for Independence, the issue of slavery gained momentum, culminating in the Civil War between the northern states, which had outlawed slavery, and those in the south, where slavery had not been outlawed. The war was fought between 1861 to 1865 with the north winning. But policies of the 1870s reconstruction continued to limit the rights of African Americans, notably with the creation of Jim Crow laws.
Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the USA exploded with industrial might, slowly growing to become one of the most important countries in the world. The world wars forged its industrial might into a military powerhouse. Following World War II, the United States entered a period of cold war with the former Soviet Union and the world of communism in general with its European Allies. Controversy marked the United States' war in Vietnam in the 1970s. War is also a central and controversial theme of recent US history, as the current situation in the Middle East highlights.
In the 20th century, the United States also took the lead in many scientific fields and became a world leader in education. These included events and inventions like the space race, the personal computer, the internet and many medical discoveries.
There are several mountain ranges. These include the Cascade Ranges near the Pacific coast and the Rocky Mountains in the inner west of the country. In Alaska, Mount McKinley is the highest point in the USA at 6,194 metres above sea level. This is followed by California's Mount Whitney, the highest point outside Alaska at 4,421 metres. The Cascade range also has a number of distinctive peaks, most prominent of which is Mount Rainier in Washington State at 4,392 metres. The Appalachian Mountains in the east typically have lower peaks than those found in other ranges.
In the north, along the border with Canada are the Great Lakes, with the northernmost Lake Superior being the highest inland body of water. The longest and most important river in the country is the Mississippi River which acts as a border between many states, among which are Mississippi, Louisiana, Missouri, Illinois and Wisconsin. Its source is located in the state of Minnesota.
Between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains are the Great Plains. West of the Rocky Mountains lies a system of basins, salt flats, plateaus and gorges, with the Grand Canyon being one of the most visited natural wonders on earth. Here you'll find the Great Basin desert system and further west and south are the warmer deserts of the Mojave (including Death Valley and the Sonora desert).
Although the Atlantic coastal areas are a rather flat and bleak area, the Pacific coastal zone is more rugged and mountainous with mountain ranges like the Sierra Nevada, located in California.
Apart from these general geographical divisions, there are many smaller systems. From the swamp areas in the southeast of the country to the Arctic tundras in the northwestern Alaska.
But the USA has some more fragile areas as well, with areas sensitive to earthquakes (the San Andreas fault for example) and volcanic activity in the western part of mainland USA and in Alaska and Hawaii. The area from California upwards towards the southwestern islands of Alaska is also known as the Ring of Fire, with major eruptions throughout history.
People, culture and traditions
Shaking hands is the usual form of greeting. A relaxed and informal atmosphere is usually the norm. As long as the fundamental rules of courtesy are observed, there need be no fear of offending anyone of any background. Gifts are appreciated if one is invited to a private home. As a rule, dress is casual. High-end restaurants, hotels and clubs may require more formal attire.
Smoking is increasingly unpopular in the US; it is essential to ask permission before lighting up. Smoking is not allowed on city transport and restricted or forbidden in public buildings in most states. There will be a posted notice where no smoking is requested. An increasing number of states (including California and New York) have banned smoking altogether in bars, restaurants and many public places.
Choosing the right riding holiday
Choosing the right riding holiday
USA RANCH TYPES
Our ranch holidays in the US generally fall into one of these categories, although some offer a combination. If you are not sure what to expect from your horseback adventure, please contact us with your requirements and we will point you in the right direction!
Working ranches offer you the chance to enjoy the real myth of the Wild West. You will participate in the ranch activities, joining the wranglers in their daily work. Depending on the time of year you could be moving cattle to new pastures, branding, vaccinating, sorting cattle and checking fences. This will give you a real insight into cowboy life.
These ranches will give you a western experience, but they may not have cattle to work. Riding is the main focus and most ranches cater for all types of rider, even beginners. A good riding holiday for riders looking to experience the magical landscape of the Rocky mountains but prefer long trail rides and a relaxed atmosphere!
GUEST / WORKING RANCHES
These ranches are a mix of a guest ranch and a working ranch. They tend to have many of the amenities of a guest ranch but they also work cattle. There is usually a chance to help with the stock whilst having the luxury of many guest ranch amenities.
HORSE / CATTLE DRIVES
Cattle and horse drives provide the ultimate cowboy experience; spend all day in the saddle admiring the unspoilt scenery while doing a worthwhile job. Accommodation can be basic whilst out on the drive but back at the ranch the accommodation will be much more comfortable.
Joining a trail ride can mean leaving the comforts of the ranch behind and staying in different accommodation along the way - sometimes camping, sometimes in local hotels. Follow a route through spectacular landscapes and cover different ground everyday.