Santa Fe Ghost Ranch

Santa Fe Opera, Georgia O’Keeffe and Walks in the Southwest

Join us as we take you to the Land of Enchantment. Experience the landscapes that inspired Georgia O’Keeffe, rightly dubbed ‘America’s artist’. Visit the locations of her iconic works and walk through the studio that provided the settings for her major paintings.

See opera as you never have in the covered, but open, Santa Fe opera. We will attend Verdis Rigoletto and Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. If we are lucky, the vistas of New Mexico will produce complimentary sunsets or even sturm and drang thunder and lightning.

There will be time for optional walks along the Rio Grande and in canyons roamed by the folklore cowboys of the Wild West with a gentle climb to a lake at 11,000 feet. Summer temperatures are moderated by high altitude and a lack of humidity. New Mexican food will be accompanied by great U.S. wines and a stay overlooking an archetypical Mid-Western square in Las Vegas – no, not that Las Vegas!

HIGHLIGHTS of the tour include: 

  • 2 opera performances (Verdis Rigoletto and Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro) in the remarkable - covered but open - Santa Fe opera theatre in the countryside and a chamber music festival concert in a concert hall in the historic centre of Santa Fe
  • 9 walks of 1 to 3 hrs in an impressive range of wilderness areas of New Mexico and Colorado
  • visits to locations that inspired the painter Georgia O’Keeffe, including Ghost Ranch and her Abiquiu home and studio
  • discovering New Mexican cuisine with its emphasis on native plants including corn, beans and squash accompanied by flavourful (but not too hot) chile sauces
  • a Cog Railway trip to the top of the 14,000 feet Pikes Peak in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado

DAY 1  
D included
After a late afternoon arrival at the Mile-High airport of Denver on a direct flight from London, we have a 45-minute transfer to our conveniently located small modern hotel.

DAY 2 
B, L, D included
Fortified by our first breakfast burrito, we head south into the wide-open spaces of the Colorado plains with the Rocky Mountains rising to the west. A morning’s circular walk (2 hrs) takes us through Ponderosa Pine and Douglas Fir forest on a gently rising trail. We reach a viewpoint offering the first glimpses of some of Colorado’s fifty-four Fourteeners (14,000 feet peaks). After lunch, we continue into New Mexico where our destination is Taos, the artists’ colony established by a fortuitous accident. We dine in a restaurant known for its excellent New Mexican cooking with a twist and a cosy ochre-coloured dining room with local art on the walls.

B, L, D included
After waking in our adobe-built boutique bed and breakfast, we drive to the steel arch bridge across the Rio Grande Gorge where we walk (1 hr) along the West Rim. Next, we visit the oldest continually inhabited community in the USA, the Taos Pueblo, with multi-story buildings originating from the 13th century. These homes are repaired and recoated annually with mud by the Pueblo Indians, who live here year-round without electricity or running water. A short drive south brings us to Ranchos de Taos and the 18th century San Francisco de Asis Church, the subject of Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings and Ansel Adams’ photographs. The rest of the afternoon is free for individual explorations. There are galleries and art museums as well as a museum dedicated to the legendary (notorious) scout Kit Carson.

B, L, D included
A fairly energetic and optional walk (3 hrs) on the forested slopes of New Mexico’s highest mountain, the Wheeler Peak, takes us 300 m/900 feet up to a remote lake at 11,000 feet where the clouds are beneath our feet. We return to Taos for lunch before driving cross country (1.5 hrs) to Abiquiu, our base for the next two nights and the home of Georgia O’Keeffe for over thirty years. We stay in the spacious and comfortable rooms of the village inn which also functions as the area’s visitor centre.

DAY 5 
B, L, D included
In the morning, we follow the Rio Chama valley through striking scenery of countless shades of red to Ghost Ranch, the scene of many of Ms. O’Keeffe’s paintings. We walk for two hours in a picturesque river canyon as we anticipate the tour of her Abiquiu home. We see the studio, kitchen and living room, maintained as they were when she left for Santa Fe towards the end of her life. In the garden, we admire the fully functional acequia, the traditional Spanish irrigation system, built by Georgia in order to bring running water to her home and to her neighbours.

B, L, D included
The cliff and cave homes at Puye Cliffs were occupied by Native Americans until the early 17th century and we walk through the awe-inspiring area guided by a well-informed descendant of the cliffs’ inhabitants. We follow the local advice and take a short detour to Chimayo to enjoy a traditional New Mexican lunch (perhaps Chile Relleno, fried stuffed green chilli peppers, or Tamales with black beans and zucchini) at a famous country restaurant. Finally, we drive to the New Mexican state capital, Santa Fe, where we stay for 5 nights in a small hotel built in adobe style, situated on a tree lined street a brief walk from the Plaza, the heart and traditional gathering place of the city. We orientate ourselves on an introductory walk through the historic streets and alleyways of the oldest capital in North America led by our knowledgeable guide.

B, L, D included
We continue our exploration of Santa Fe’s heritage on Museum Hill where we have a choice of four museums covering American Indian, Spanish colonial and international folk art. After lunch in the Museum Café, we wander through the recently established botanical garden consisting of a fruit orchard bordered by a meadow garden and a dry garden and, optionally, follow the 2-mile leisure trail connecting Museum Hill with the city centre. The evening starts early with a preview dinner at the Santa Fe Opera, followed by our first performance: Verdi’s Rigoletto.

B, D included
The morning sees us back at the opera house for a special backstage tour with our own guide, while preparations for tonight’s performance are in full swing. The rest of the day is free to pursue individual interests in this jewel of a city until we reconvene for an early dinner where the only decision we make is our choice of chile to accompany the dish – green, red or a combination of both, known as Christmas. The opera tonight is Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro.

B, L, D included
A morning’s walk in the Santa Fe National Forest (3 hrs) takes us along a mountain stream and we also follow a trail used by shepherds bringing sheep to Santa Fe market. We enjoy a simple picnic in a meadow before completing the 4-mile circle. Tonight, we attend the Apprentice Scenes which provide opportunities for young singers and theatre technicians to showcase their talents in a relaxed but public setting, following a three-month programme of coaching, rehearsals and master classes.

DAY 10
B, L, D included
An hour’s drive away from Santa Fe is Bandelier National Monument, an atmospheric ancient site set in 23,000 acres of wilderness. We take the Frey Trail (1.5 mile) to descend into the Frijoles Canyon where the Ancestral Pueblo people lived between 1150 and 1550 AD in houses carved from volcanic tuff. This evening we attend a concert of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. At dinner, we have a further opportunity to sort out the difference between tacos, burritos, quesadillas, enchilladas, chimichangas and sopaipillas.

DAY 11
B, L, D included
Reluctantly, we say farewell to Santa Fe and head east for the Fort Union National Monument, where we see the remains of the short-lived military depot, located strategically as protection above the Santa Fe Trail. The nearby small city of Las Vegas has an archetypal central tree-shaded square and many historic buildings preserved in the adjacent streets. In the old-fashioned Santa Fe Trail interpretive centre, we learn about the importance and the decline of the 900-mile 19th century trading route. We spend the night in an historic hotel on the Plaza.

DAY 12
B, L, D included
A 2-hours’ drive brings us to the Cimarron Canyon State Park, known for its dramatic granite palisades and clear rivers and creeks. We walk on a trail along one of the creeks through an aspen wood and pass a few small waterfalls en route. The small mountain village of Cimarron was renowned in the past for gunfights and lawlessness. We take an exploratory walk through the village before traveling north to re-enter Colorado. We stay in Colorado Springs at a charming bed and breakfast presided over by a brother and sister team. We sample the best of new Southwest food at one of the city’s many fine restaurants.

DAY 13
B, L included
Our final day sees us board a cog railway train for a spectacular journey to the top of the 14,000 feet Pikes Peak. After a light lunch, we transfer (2 hrs) to Denver Airport for flights home.

Trip Price, per person sharing:
£6,650.75 until 8th November 2024
£6,830.50 until 8th February 2025
£7,010.25 until 8th May 2025
£7,190 after 8th May 2025
£1,500 deposit per person
£1,390 double for single room supplement

Please note that the double room for single use supplement is imposed by the hotel and not by Kudu Travel. If you are willing to share but no other suitable guest books on the trip, we regret that the supplement will be payable.

Price Includes

  • Accommodation for Days 1 through 13, on a twin shared basis
  • Top category tickets for 2 opera performances and a chamber concert as described (costing approx. £550)

  • Meals (with beer or soft drinks at lunches and wine at dinners) as listed in the daily notation

  • Land transportation in a private vehicle, as described, except during free periods

  • Cog railway trip as described
  • Entrance, National Park and sightseeing fees, except during free periods

  • Gratuities for hotel and restaurant staff and local guides (appreciation for tour leaders is discretionary)

Price does not Include

  • Flights to and from Denver International Airport

  • Trip cancellation, medical or other insurance

  • Immunisations, prescriptions or other medical requirements

  • Passport, visa and health documentation

  • Personal expenses (laundry, alcohol other than wine/beer with group lunches and dinners, free time activities, etc.)

  • Meals noted as excepted in the daily notation

  • Transport and transfer of excess baggage

On Kudu trips, you will only need money for postcards, presents to take home, the odd G & T or an irresistible ice cream. Festival and opera tickets, museum and gallery entrances, National Park fees, all meals (with a very few exceptions specified in individual itineraries), wine with lunch and dinner, access to specialist books carried by the guides, gratuities for porters and hotel and restaurant staff, boat rides, train trips, internal flights, wine tastings, 4WDs with drivers, the services of skilled local guides and trackers etc are ALL INCLUDED in the cost of your holiday. 

We are confident that, like previous very satisfied guests, you will discover that our tours give you excellent value for money.

  • 1 night in a small modern hotel conveniently located near Denver airport
  • 2 nights in Taos, in an adobe built boutique bed and breakfast
  • 2 nights in Abiquiu, in a village inn with spacious and comfortable rooms
  • 5 nights in Santa Fe, in a small hotel built in adobe style, situated on a tree lined street a brief walk from the Plaza
  • 1 night in Las Vegas, in an historic hotel on the central tree-shaded Plaza
  • 1 night in Colorado Springs, in a charming bed and breakfast in the city centre

Visa and Health Requirements

Visitors from EU countries currently require a valid passport and a prior authorisation to enter the United States, either through a visa or the Visa Waiver Programme. Please see for the latest information. If you are a national of any other country, please check visa regulations with your nearest Embassy of the USA.

Normally, there are no specific and compulsory health requirements for entry to the USA. You may also wish to check the advice given to travellers by the Department of Health and the FCO

It is essential, and a condition of booking, that you protect yourself with a suitable travel insurance policy as soon as you book a trip. Follow this link for a quote for a policy available to UK residents.

If you are already insured or a non-UK resident, please inform us of your policy at the time of booking.

Size of party 
This trip will run with a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 14 guests.