Contiki Tour Day 5 – Phoenix to the Grand Canyon

Out of the whole trip, the 27th of July was one of the days that I was most looking forward to. We were again going to make another long journey however this time it was from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon. I have always seen pictures and videos of the Grand Canyon and had a desire to visit and to have the opportunity to actually see one of the seven natural wonders of the world was simply incredible. Much like usual we were up by 6.15am, loaded our bags and headed off. Luckily for me though, I didn’t have to be up at 4 am like a number of others on the group who decided to go hot air ballooning. From the photos that I saw, it also looked incredible but unfortunately I’m not made of money and I decided to helicopter over the canyon instead. This is a decision that I do not regret at all.

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We stopped off and collected those who did the ballooning and then continued the journey. The scenery for this part of the journey was much better then the scenery that we previously had passed through. The north and south of Arizona is completely different which is quite hard to comprehend. Again we travelled through the Sonoran Desert which is the only place on earth that has the Saguaro cactus species growing naturally in the wild. It was again great to see something that I have only ever seen pictures of. Fun fact: Only mature cacti have the arms and these are about 100 years old.  Just before stopping in a small town in Arizona by the name of Sedona we stopped to see Bell Rock. Although it was a sedimentary rock, it was amazing. Many other rocks surrounded this rock and they were all a vibrant red colour. Many of the rocks had layers of red and white. These are apparently limestone and sandstone and the red colour is the iron oxide of the sandstone. Apparently back in the day there was the ocean covering this whole area and hence why there are the different layers. We then continued to Sedona, a cute little village in the middle of nowhere. It is a town that relies on tourism and attracts retirees. Apparently it is beautiful in winter and even Oprah has a house here.

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We had lunch at a pizza shop before going on a Jeep tour. It was certainly a highlight of the trip. There were 6 people per Jeep and the driver. Each driver was dressed in authentic cowboy attire, even to the extent that they had guns and spurs on the back of their boots. Our driver was a real character and told us about many of the different rock formations, animals, local americans and plants. The Jeep was called ‘giddy up’ and if you called it out the guy would go faster. We went out to the bush and through rocks, a hiking trail and ended up at an old house. Back in the day apparently the government had to give people land out here to get people to move to such a place. It was a very bumpy ride but we had a good laugh. Once that had finished we headed back on the bus and continued going to the Grand Canyon. We all had to have our passports on us as we had to go through an immigration check point and there was a possibility that the bus could be searched for illegal immigrants.

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We arrived at the south rim about 4pm and headed to a look out. It was incredible to see. No words could ever describe it. It was so surreal to see and even now when  look back at pictures it is hard to believe that I was at such a place. We were told that it is up to 30km wide and a mile down. At some stage in your life you really should make the effort to go and see it! We then headed on and checked into our lodge followed by dinner at another lodge a little walk away. We all just about shit ourselves going to the lodge as there was an elk right next to where we were walking but didn’t realise as it was getting dark. It was so cute though! Once dinner was over we went on a search for wifi but it was unsuccessful as we didn’t know the passwords and so I headed back to our lodge but I got lost. Luckily I found the rest of the group when they decided to return and called it a night. This was by far one of my favourite days on tour.

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