USA: Total Solar Eclipse

The Astronomy and National Parks of the American West

Trip Scholar: Professor Roger Davies / Charles Barclay

Professor of Astrophysics / Director of the Blackett Observatory, University of Oxford / Marlborough College
Available to Alumni of Oxford and Cambridge, family and friends

14 day tour
Price from £3,890

Join this once-in-a-lifetime chance to travel through America’s west with renowned astronomers to experience a spectacular total solar eclipse on 21 August 2017.

The first time in two decades that continental USA has experienced this phenomenon, witness the unforgettable sight of day turning into night and the shimmering corona of the sun blazing in the darkened sky.

Beforehand, a road trip through some of the country’s most iconic scenery from Phoenix, Arizona to Jackson Hole, Wyoming builds the excitement for the big event.

  • Experience the eclipse at a private site on a scenic ranch in Grand Teton National Park, right on the central path
  • Drive through the stunning red rock formations of Sedona and learn about the area’s original inhabitants at Montezuma Castle
  • Spend a day at the South Rim of the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon
  • Explore Bryce Canyon, known for its superb star-gazing in ultra-dark skies.
  • Visit historic Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff,  known for the discovery of Pluto
  • Enjoy hands-on expertise and informative lectures from Professor Davies and Charles Barclay

Itinerary at a glance

Day 1:    Arrival in Phoenix, Arizona  | Meet at Saguaro Hotel, Scottsdale
Day 2:    Phoenix to Flagstaff via Sedona and Montezuma Castle  |   Lowell Observatory
Day 3:    Full day at Grand Canyon  |   Optional Helicopter sightseeing
Day 4:    Flagstaff to Bryce Canyon  |   Evening stargazing
Day 5:    Bryce Canyon to Salt Lake City via Sundance  |  Evening at leisure
Day 6:    Driving Salt Lake City to Moran
Day 7:    Full day Yellowstone National Park  |  Old Faithful
Day 8:    Eclipse Day  |  Private Eclipse Viewing Site at Snake River Ranch  |  Optional Float trip
Day 9:    Departures/extensions  |  Group transfer to Jackson Hole Airport
Day 10:  Arrive Home (those flying back to the UK only)

Tour A: 14-23 August 2017 Led by Professor Roger Davies
Cabin ClassPriceSingle SupplementOptional Flight from LondonAvailability
Standard Twin/Double Room£3,890£980From £900Waitlist
Tour B: 14-23 August 2017 Led by Charles Barclay
Standard Twin/Double room£3,845£980From £900Waitlist

Share of twin or double bedded room, breakfast and lunch daily, six dinners (except on the arrival day when only dinner is included, and on the departure day when the tour ends after breakfast), all excursions mentioned with local guides including entrance fees, expert leader.

Not included
Flights to and from USA (see optional flights below), drinks, dinners on day 3 and 5, visa charges, travel insurance, tips to guides and driver, items of a personal nature.
Single supplement £980.

Optional flights
Temple World can arrange flights from London for those who need them, using British Airways or United. BA flies direct from London to Phoenix but flights from Jackson Hole back to London route via Dallas. Flights will come into range from the end of September 2016 and we recommend securing them as early as possible as the return leg in particular will be very busy. The fare is likely to be around £800 per person including taxes and fees.

Making your own way there
Clients wishing to use airmiles to buy or upgrade flights, or who wish to fly from a city other than London are advised to book their own flights. The start point for the tour is PHOENIX, Arizona and the end point is JACKSON HOLE in Wyoming. You can arrive at any time of day on 14 August but check-in at the hotel is not normally until 4pm unless you have paid for early check in (we can arrange this but the hotel may charge a full extra night). There are no activities on the first day until dinner, which is likely to be at around 7.30pm. On the last day (22 August) there are no activities after breakfast and you are free to leave whenever you want. Check out time at the hotel is 11 am but we can arrange late checkout (fee applies) for those who wish to stay longer. Bags can be stored after checkout during the day if needed. We can arrange private airport transfers to co-ordinate with any flight time – please ask for a quote.

Very Important! Clients should not make any binding or non-refundable arrangements until their place has been confirmed on the tour and Temple World has confirmed that it is a guaranteed departure.

Note about costs
This is not a cheap tour and understandably expectations will be high. Whilst we strive to offer the very best value possible on all our tours, we have found that value is hard to come by in the American West at busy times, especially when operating a group size which we guarantee will be under 20. We are entirely confident that the scenery, lectures from Professor Davies and experience of the eclipse (weather permitting) will be superb. But we would like to set expectations about the journey, hotels and meals. August is peak season in the USA’s National Parks, and demand always outstrips supply, meaning that fairly basic motel-like properties can charge similar prices to a luxury central London hotel at this time. Add to that the ‘eclipse fever’ which has taken hold in every town within the path of totality, the costs of three extra rooms throughout for our lecturer, driver and guide, the driver and guide’s (first world) wages, as well as the 10% donationto the university per client. This means that everyone is paying a premium to be in this area at this special time.
In terms of the journey, we will be using a very comfortable 24-seater mini-coach for this trip, with a separate driver and guide to look after our needs. However it’s important to note that the itinerary covers quite a lot of ground on the stretch between Flagstaff and Jackson Hole, with three days of scenic 4-5 hour drives in a row. We made the decision not to take this at a slower pace as extra nights would have added to the cost of the tour too much and we felt people would want to have time to add their own extensions to the end as the options are so limitless. It will be very hot at the time we are visiting – obviously the date of the eclipse has dictated the tour dates so this is unavoidable but we wanted everyone to bear this in mind as it can make visits rather arduous.
Finally, this part of the USA is not known for its haute cuisine and despite our careful efforts and no expense spared, our previous group to the area found the choice available to be a little monotonous. We have chosen some lovely restaurants in a few places where this is possible, but it’s important to note that when we dine as a group we are usually restricted to a very small menu choice (sometimes we are asked to choose one main course for the whole group). For this reason we have left some evenings at leisure so that individuals can choose where to dine and what to have. Feedback from recent tours suggests that clients enjoy having one or two nights where they are not forced to follow the routine and timings of a tour.

Fitness Guideline

We have graded the fitness level required for participation in this tour as Moderate. We are travelling to a very hot part of the USA at the hottest time of year. This can make sightseeing outdoors rather arduous, with dehydration and fatigue occurring quickly. Phoenix is particularly hot but as we travel north we should find that altitude helps keep temperatures down to fairly comfortable levels in many places.

At the Grand Canyon and at Bryce it’s possible to take sightseeing at your own pace. Whilst sightseeing elsewhere as a group there are no mandatory hikes but we may be ‘on the go’ for a few hours in hot weather. Participants must be able to keep up with the group in order to see everything in the time allocated – it is not fair to hold the rest of the group back as they will miss the sights they have come so far to see. Scheduled ‘comfort’ breaks will be built into every road journey but more frequent stops could cause the schedule to slip and will eat into lecture times later in the day. For the reasons we have given above, do please give careful consideration to whether this tour is for you. We do not recommend the tour for anyone who routinely has to use a walking stick to get about at home. Unfortunately the coach does not have wheelchair access.

We know that age is not always a reliable indicator of fitness, but prospective participants over the age of 80 will be given a letter to be signed by their GP to say they are fit enough to undertake this tour.


NHS Fit for Travel advises travellers to the USA don’t normally need any immunisations as long as all UK childhood vaccinations and boosters are up to date. Due to a popular anti-vaccination movement, cases of Measles are starting to return to some US cities. Most symptoms resolve but in a small number of cases, the disease which can cause serious complications or death. Please seek professional medical advice at least 8 week before departure. NHS Fit For Travel Website

Trip Scholar

Group A:   Professor Roger Davies

Professor Davies is Philip Wetton Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford.  An astronomer and cosmologist, he is one of the so-called ‘Seven Samurai’ collaboration who discovered an apparent concentration of mass in the Universe called the Great Attractor. His research interests centre on cosmology and how galaxies form and evolve. He has a longstanding interest in astronomical instruments and telescopes and developed the scientific case for the UK’s involvement in the 8m Gemini telescopes project. He has pioneered the use of a new class of astronomical spectrograph to measure the masses and ages of galaxies, as well as search for black holes in their nuclei.  Professor Davies was President of the Royal Astronomical Society between 2010 and 2012.

Group B:   Charles Barclay
Charles Barclay is Director of the Blackett Observatory at Marlborough College in Wiltshire, UK and Associate Fellow of Green Templeton College, University of Oxford.  As an Academic Visitor in the Oxford University Astrophysics department, he helps to run outreach programmes for school pupils, teachers and members of the public, accessing large telescopes in Marlborough and Oxford.  He was a Council member of the Royal Astronomical Society from 2012 to 2015 and was chair of their Education and Outreach Committee for 6 years. Lecturing on diverse topics ranging across the whole remit of Astrophysics and Astronomy, he has lectured on board the Queen Mary 2 and at venues around the UK. He writes for popular astronomy magazines and regularly contributes to local BBC radio broadcasts.

Lectures during your tour
All our tours are accompanied by an academic ‘trip scholar’ as well as local guides. The local guide or guides provide the day-to-day guiding on our tours, whilst the trip lecturer will give regular lectures on his/her specialist subject throughout to provide an academic overview.  Lectures/talks usually last 30-40 minutes including questions and answers (if applicable). These are generally held in the evenings before dinner and attendance is optional.  We don’t usually specify before travel which days the lectures will be given (for operational reasons) but guests can expect them roughly every other day as a minimum, with some lecturers giving some kind of talk or presentation more frequently.

In the case of this special Eclipse tour,  we have two tours running in tandem and we are delighted to have two excellent trip scholars accompanying them who are colleagues and friends, offering different and complimentary expertise in their field.  Trip scholars will be with their respective groups during the day and on excursions, and we plan to stagger the timings of both groups slightly to maintain the small group feel.  However as a special circumstance, all evening lectures given during the two Eclipse tours will be presented jointly, with Professor Davies and Mr Barclay taking it in turns to speak in order to give both groups the opportunity to receive the benefit of their combined knowledge.

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This is the second time I have travelled through you and arrangements throughout were excellent and reliable. The whole trip lived up to my expectation and stimulated my appetite for possible further travel in other parts of the country. Alex

Congenial Companions

Our small group tours are exclusively available to alumni of Oxford and Cambridge universities and their friends and family, making for a wonderful atmosphere amongst like-minded individuals.

Expert Lecturer

All our small group alumni tours are accompanied by a university lecturer as well as local guides, with illuminating lectures given throughout the tour to enrich understanding of the destination.

To reserve a place on one of our small group alumni tours, contact us for availability then send us a signed booking form and deposit.

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