A day trip from the City of Sin to the infamous Grand Canyon is high on many people’s bucket lists when visiting the rocky and dry state of Nevada. A far cry from the bright lights and shenanigans of Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon is a long, long, long drive. I would suggest taking a helicopter if the budget can make the stretch.
With several stops along the way to break up the 5 hour one way journey to the South Rim and keep the circulation flowing, we made a brief photo stop at the almighty Hoover Dam where water levels were at an all-time low, a pit stop at Kingman before continuing along Route 66 and then enjoyed a ranch style lunch at the town of William, home to the Grand Canyon train. We still had not even reached the Grand Canyon and it was already lunch time hence why a helicopter would potentially be a much better option!
As we entered the National Park, our first viewing point of the Grand Canyon was at Bright Angel Lodge on the South Rim. It was freezing and to be honest I was somewhat disappointed. The sky was grey, miserable and threatening to open up any minute, the clouds were low and the canyon looked cold and uninviting but it was huge. And huge is an understatement. The wind whipped my hair across my face, the force so strong, my eyes were watering. This was not what I expected. Time to move onto the next viewing point where perhaps it might be a little more sheltered!
The colours of the cliffs were amazing and as we moved around to Mathers Point, this is where the Grand Canyon started to become more spectacular. The gorges and crevices were so deep you could barely see the bottom. This site was truly mind boggling. Flecks of the turquoise Colorado River could be seen with the rapids flowing urgently below. Those brave enough to go white water rafting on a chilly winters day like this were just specks at the bottom of the ravine. The canyon extending as far as the eye could see.
Vivid browns, reds and oranges curled into each other and contrasted perfectly against the charcoal sky. Each direction you looked, the scenery offered a different view and experience with every glance.
A large deer with twisted antlers causally strolled by, not at all phased by the whirs and flashes of cameras and squeals of excited children. Two mule deer lay under the shelter of nearby bushes snuggled together for warmth and two wild boars trotted past scavenging for food. Ravens and eagles circled majestically above us preparing to swoop on unexpecting prey. Mathers Point was the Grand Canyon I expected to see.
Whoop, whoop, whoop, whoop. A helicopter hovered overhead. I glanced up, slightly jealous of the small group of people in their flying capsule. Warm and cosy, not battling with crowds and can you imagine the view from a chopper? A bird’s eye view of the canyon would be truly spectacular. Not to mention then landing 4000 feet deep inside the canyon and enjoying a glass of champagne while looking up to the rim as well as having the option to cruise along the Colorado River. Next time I’ll be saving a little more money to be able to have this experience! Back on the bus for me as we return to Las Vegas and second 5 hour drive while those in luxury above, zipped back to the bright lights of Vegas in just over an hour.
Birds eye view from the helicopter
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.