Today is considered to be the Scenic highlight of the Trip. Ill be honest with you I was always very sceptical of the Grand Canyon. My nieve idea was that it would just be a big boring valley. I had some friends that had informed my otherwise. But truthfully if my tour wasn't going there already I probably wouldn't have made the effort to get out there myself. But in true Contiki spirit I got behing it, listened to all the Hype about these Helicopter Flights, signed up and got excited.
As always it was up early and out to the Heliport by 8am. Before I even tell you about the flight. Me being stupidly Nieve again, had no idea that the Grand Canyon and the surroundin town would be so freezing cold. The night before got down as low as -5c and even at this time 8am it was still only approx 2c. Blonde me just assumed, it's the desert, it will be sunny and warm.
Anyways so back to the Helicopter. I was super lucky to snag front row centre in the 7 seater Helicopter. Pretty much uninterrupted 180deg views straight out the front window. So we load up and take off from the Heliport, and for the next 8mins or so we are flying over the forest land that surrounds the Canyon. That in itself had plenty for you to look at. At this point the Canyon was not in sight. Just quickly before we get to the exciting part. The pilot had control of a pretty cool stereo system within the Helicopter, but the funny part that made us all have a giggle. They played a rang of cheesy comical songs that all had something to do with flying or grand nature or being swept away. Quite funny. But the best was as we approached the Rim of the Canyon for the first time, she flicks over to the the Star Wars theme song.. too funny.
Sorry getting sidetracked. So flying over the forest lands. Can start to see the Canyon approaching, the pilot begins to narrate to you about the area we are coming to etc. Then 200m out everything and everyone goes silent in anticipation.
What happens next, no words, no photos can ever truly explain or do justice too. You go from flying maybe 100m high over some trees and then once you fly over the edge of that rim… WOW! The rush..you gasp in pure overwhelming amazement. The only thing I personally can compare it to. Was when I Skydived, and that split second when you jump out of the plane. As I said you go from maybe 100m above some trees then woosh your over 1km above the biggest most amazingly overwhelming landscape you could imagine. To be honenst, it just dosent even feel real, its like you dreaming. Litterally my words, my photos capture 1/1000 of the feeling.
For the next 35mins as we fly over the area of the Canyon, everyone was just eyes wide open in awe trying to take it all in. Every way you look every turn just opens up a whole new amazing landscape to view. My thoughts of it being a boring and repedative valley was so so so wrong. It was carved out over millions of years by the Colorado River and the shifts in the platonic fault. So at the very bottom you can still see the Colorado River running through, and it looks just like any other river in size, maybe 40m wide in the area we were over. But as it flows it changes through an amazing spectrum of colours. Including a bright blue/turquoise shade that is stunning against the copper red tones of the Canyon. As for the Canyon that rises up from the river, there is everything imaginable. Smooth rolling hills, sharp jagered peaks, shear cliff faces, every imaginable shade of orange through red and copper and of course pockets of trees and vegetation. And to think in our whole 35mins flight over the Canyon we saw like 1/100 of it. That's whats amazing, it just spreads over hundreds of Km's.
Ok so following the Helicopter flight we drove into the main town/national park area for the chance to hike and explore the canyon. My group of 6 hiked maybe 4kms round trip over 3hrs maybe, you loose track. This time seeing it from down below the Rim and being up close and peronal with the Canyon, was just a whole new light on the landscape. I guess you could say to an extent it was a little repedative. When you get maybe 1/10 deep into the canyon in an area of a mass that covers 100's of KM. But still just an amazing experience. As we were going down, there was a lot of people coming up, that had huge packs on their backs, honestly looking like they were about to drop dead half of them. Getting talking to them we found out that at the bottom there is both camp grounds and a lodge on the banks of the River that you can stay at. Amazing, definitely on my To Do list. But its not for the faint at heart. You gota be commited to it 110%. I say that because a middle aged couple, quite fit, moving quite freely, had left their lodge at 3:30am to begin hiking back to the top. From where we saw them, and how much further they had to go. I anticipate it took them close to 12hrs to hike from bottom to top. That is a mean feat for anyone.
Following our hike we all gathered at a look out point to watch the sunset. It has a reputation of casting the canyon in an amazing light. Unfortunately it was not our lucky day. The sunset was unfavourable and really didn't change the appearance of the canyon in anyway. To make it worse though the temp dropped close to -deg again and there was a piercing wind.
But all in all our full day at the Grand Canyon was just amazing. A life experience that I could recommend to everyone. I still just cant comprehend the sheer size and mass of this 7th wonder of the world.