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The Green Tortoise is a bus tour company founded by Gardner Kent in 1974 and based in San Francisco, California that hosts tours in North America, mostly within the United States. It operates a bus line and two hostels (in Seattle and San Francisco). They cater particularly to backpackers; generally young adults and many foreigners, particularly Europeans.
Adventure travel utilitarian-style
Green Tortoise buses are customized so that passengers can lounge around informally or sleep on bunk beds while the bus is moving. This is done at night so that a new destination can be reached in the morning, saving travelers both the cost of hotel/hostel and the time of traveling so that sights can be seen during the day. The social environment on Green Tortoise buses is more communal than other carriers such as Greyhound or Amtrak. Passengers work together to cook most meals, which are often vegetarian, and include fresh produce. There are usually opportunities for camping during a Tortoise trip. Itineraries typically try to avoid heavily touristed locations and prioritize places of natural and cultural interest such as national parks, monuments, forests, hot springs, or archaeological ruins.
Green Tortoise has historically made trips to a number of destinations in the USA including Alaska and regular summer coast-to-coast routes from San Francisco to Boston and back. Special trips are also arranged to popular festivals every year, including a Mardi Gras trip to New Orleans, the Oregon Country Fair and Burning Man, where they also operate a shuttle bus from the event into nearby Gerlach and Empire, Nevada. International trips have included Mexico (including the Yucatán peninsula and Baja), Guatemala, Belize, and Canada.
The San Francisco hostel shares its space with the bus line headquarters. It is located at 494 Broadway in North Beach, close to Chinatown. Similar to the hostel in Seattle, Washington (see below), it has free dinners three nights a week, free daily breakfast and free internet and WiFi throughout the building. Daily events include live music, guided pub crawls, pool competitions, Beer Olympics, and a food tasting tour of local eats. It operates 365 days a year, has more than 40 rooms with can sleep over 120 people in dormitories or private rooms. The Hostel is typically filled to capacity.
The Seattle, Washington hostel is located centrally at 105 Pike Street, adjacent to Pike Place Market. The hostel has approximately 120 beds, some in dormitories and some in private rooms, and operates 365 days a year. Visitors must have a valid government-issued ID from outside King County to be checked in (such as a passport or a driver's license). Individuals involved in the Alaskan fishing industry frequently stay before or after expeditions along with younger people and foreign travelers. As with the San Francisco hostel, free dinners are offered three nights a week (Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday at 7:00 PM). Free breakfast is also offered every morning.
The hostel employs an event coordinator who runs several free tours around the Seattle area. Visit http://www.greentortoise.net/calendar.php for the most current event calendar.
- Gardner Kent Biography
- Official Green Tortoise FAQ
- "Tourism slump to hit U.S., Europe". Seattle Times. 2009-02-01. Retrieved 2009-09-17. "Hostelworld.com has named two Seattle hostels and one in Portland among its Top 10 hostels in North America. The online reservations booker of budget hostels and hotels named Hostel Seattle in Ballard ... as the top-rated North American hostel. Also in the Top 10 were HI hostel in Portland, Ore., ... and the Green Tortoise ... in downtown Seattle across from the Pike Place Market."
- Official website - Bus Line and San Francisco Hostel Info
- Emerald Island in a Turquoise Sea (Part 5) - Photo-narration of GT Mexico Trip, attempt at becoming Tortoise driver (in Part 5)
- It was, like, real; Green Tortoise tours delivers intimate views—of your fellow travelers. (Travel) Kelly Wilkinson. The Washington Post, June 21, 1998 pE01
- Slow, but steady: with the Green Tortoise Bus line, getting there is half the fun. (adventure tours bus line) Steve Wilson. E, May–June 1998 v9 n3 p46(2)
- Tortoise on a desert run: relive the days when getting there was half the fun. (Green Tortoise bus tours) T. Kelly Rossiter. Vegetarian Times, Sept 1995 n217 p92(3)
- A 1990's road trip worthy of Kerouac. (Green Tortoise bus tours) Lynda Edwards. The New York Times, November 14, 1993 v143 s9 pV8(L) col 1 (43 col in)
- A day camp on the road. (Green Tortoise offers travel and living in a bus) Eric Hubler. The New York Times, March 8, 1992 v141 s5 pXX41(N) pXX41(L) col 1 (27 col in)
- Trip on the Tortoise can be hair-raising if you aren't hip; rolling remnant of the 1960s, a bus unlike Greyhound, still plies the West Coast. (Green Tortoise a gypsy bus line) Bill Richards. The Wall Street Journal Western Edition, January 14, 1991 pA1(W) pA1(E) col 4 (29 col in)
- Touring with Green Tortoise; this California-based company offers the ultimate in adventure travel by motorcoach. (Green Tortoise Tours) (Focus: Group Travel) Susan O'Gorman. Travel Weekly, March 31, 1987 v46 p54(3)
- A personal narrative about GT Baja trips. Permafrost (newspaper), Summer 2009.