During my recent travels to California and Nevada, I was lucky enough to have the incredible opportunity to see the Grand Canyon and Colorado River. A few years ago I watched the film “Into the Wild” while I was backpacking through New Zealand and it has been not only one of my favourite film ever since, but an inspiration and motivation! If you haven’t seen it, I would definitely recommend seeing it – the soundtrack alone makes it so worth it! One of my favourite parts in the film is the scene where the main character, Alex Supertramp travels down the Colorado River in his kayak. The scenery looked so majestic and calm at the same time. A place where you can feel and see the force of nature – that was it, I knew I had to see this place in person and experience exactly that!
When it comes to planning a visit to the Grand Canyon – the options are endless. I was staying in Las Vegas with family and we were looking for a day tour. It is definitely worth shopping around as the prices between the tour operators vary a lot in some cases. We managed to find a great deal on the helicopter tours with Papillion and decided to book it. We only booked the tour two days in advance but during the main season you might have to allow for some more time. The tour included the transport from our hotel in Las Vegas to Boulder city. The bus took just a little over an hour, but it felt a lot longer as the air conditioning unit was broken. I’m not normally a fan of air con, but then again, I have never been to a desert before. Once we arrived at the check point in Boulder city, we had to check in, be weighed and familiarise ourselves with the health and safety procedure. I could see the helicopters waiting outside and could not believe I was about to board one of them to see one of the most amazing landmarks in the world!
We boarded the helicopter together with a French couple and of course, our pilot. Each of us had an allocated seat depending on weight. That was it – the helicopter was about to set off. Headphones and seat belts on and off we went.
I expected to be nervous, but as soon as we were in the air I was filled with happiness and excitement. The feeling was amazing. It was so smooth. It didn’t take long until the landscape beneath us started getting rockier and after what felt like five minutes I could see Lake Mead, the largest water reservoir in the United States and the Hoover Dam. Absolutely incredible!
We flew over what the pilot explained to be an extinct volcano and then as we were getting closer to the Canyon you could see the colour of the water changing at the point where the Colorado River flows into Lake Mead. The difference in temperature between the two makes this fascinating to watch as the muddy brown runs into clear turquoise water.
We were now in the state of Arizona, surrounded by impressive rocks and then right in front of us, as if the earth opened up I saw the canyon and we flew right into the drop.
The helicopter followed the path of the Colorado River and landed at a little spot inside the Canyon. I was buzzing on a high from the flight and didn’t think it could get any better than this. That was until I stepped out of the plane. I was gobsmacked by the beauty around me.
The tour allowed for us to spend some time in the Canyon to soak in the atmosphere before we sat down to enjoy a Champagne picnic in the middle of it all. I can honestly say I never thought I would be having a picnic in the Grand Canyon. I loved every minute of the experience. I would have liked some more time to explore the Canyon and a chance to spend some time at Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam, but at least that gives me a reason to come back to the area!