Grand Canyon South Rim air tour
Visiting Las Vegas without doing a Grand Canyon South Rim air tour would be a mistake.
But let me start from the beginning…
Coincidences do happen in life. Or maybe they are just meant to be.
When visiting the party Las Vegas, I just had to go away from that craziness and fulfill one of my lifelong dreams – Grand Canyon!
And I did visit it not just once, but twice. My first tour was supposed to be probably the most visited South Rim of the Grand Canyon. But in the morning I found out they were overbooked so I was offered the more expensive West Rim tour. Why not, I said!
There in the West Rim, I asked a guy to take a photo of me and then he sat next to me on the bus and it turned out he was a tour guide working for Vision Holidays. Jeremmy Bartle, the guide, recommended me to do the Grand Canyon South Rim air tour with them the following morning.
So it might have been a coincidence or just destiny but I ended up doing both tours to the Grand Canyon I wanted to.
On the 16th April, I was picked up at my hotel in Las Vegas and took to the North Las Vegas Air Terminal.
After a short check in, and Jeremmy playing a flute in the terminal (loved it!) we were all ready to jump on a small Dornier aircraft to fly to Grand Canyon. My excitement began as soon as I saw the plane. You know, for someone who worked on a plane for 2 years and who does any kind of flying whenever possible, it was all I needed to be happy!
I got the best seat 1A just behind the pilots on the left side. During an hour flight to the South Rim we flew over the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and Grand Canyon and I literally spent the whole hour taking photos and videos.
Half of the tourists in my group were Chinese and the second half Japanese but I still think I fit in the group even though I was the only European person there. A bunch of the Chinese guys were very interested in what I was doing when recording all the time.
The artificial 1930’s Hoover Dam I walked around the previous day seemed all of the sudden extremely small from the air. But the astonishing Lake Mead did show all its beauty being the biggest reservoir of the USA in maximum water capacity. And yes, it is situated in a desert! Interesting, right?
If I only did that hour flight surrounded by all the possible colors the mother nature could give you, I would be more than happy for the rest of the day. But it was just the beginning!
Once we got to the South Rim, a motor coach was waiting for us to take us to the most visited 2 points in the area. South Rim is so different from the West Rim I had a chance to explore for a bit the previous day. South Rim has big buildings, restaurants, and even chalets and hotels to stay at overnight, just remember to plan it like a year in advance, otherwise you won’t be able to find any free accommodation in the South Rim!)
South Rim completely surprised me. I can not explain the happiness coming through my veins when the motor coach drove us through both the ponderosa and pinyon-juniper pine woods getting to know them better through the stories of Pat, our driver, who knew so much of the history, geography and geology about one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
The West Rim I scratched the surface of the previous day had no forest around, it was a steep-sided canyon with hardly any vegetation surrounded by the deserted greyish layers of rock.
The Grand Canyon always appears very reddish and brownish on all the photos but after I visited the West Rim I was afraid the photoshop has been used too much with the photos of the 446 km long and up to 29 km wide stunning canyon craved by the Colorado river.
So passing through the green woods of the South Rim and then getting off at the Bright Angel, our first view point, was like a balm for my troubled soul.
The Grand Canyon, first named by the explorer John Wesley Powell in 1869, was spread there all around me with the sporadic views of the tiny Colorado river.
The thick sequence of ancient rocks showed off all the possible varieties of red, brown, orange and grey color and all of a sudden I jumped into the fairytale half rainbow world.
Our driver Pat also mentioned briefly the history of the Grand Canyon. The funniest thing I remembered was that it was explored for the first time by a non-American man, a Spaniard Garcia Lopez de Cardenas in 1540 when we was looking for gold. Garcia Lopez stated the Grand Canyon was way too hot, dry and desolated to be ever visited by anyone again. And then, in 2012 this spiritual canyon was visited by 4.8 million people! Irony, right?
At the Bright Angel point you can do a hike descending to the Colorado River and camp in the Indian Garden campground – the only green area in the South Rim you can spot from the viewpoint. With Jeremmy we just walked the trail down for a few minutes watching out where we were stepping in order not to fall down.
The Bright Angel trail is pretty touristy and a lot of families and other adventurous souls go down there. Both hiking and mule tours are popular.
Unfortunately, during an organized tour there is not enough time to hike the full length and back. But getting a couple of minutes walking at the edge with hundreds of meters of the inspiring rugged landscapes. The trail was originally built already by the Havasupai Native Americans to get to the supplies of water in the Indian Garden Creek.
A couple of condors was flying around when we stopped on a rock to take photos.
As meantime I divided from the main group and went to the Yavapai point lookout where you can get only by car (tourist buses are not allowed to stop there), I was rewarded with one of the best views of the canyon. On a clear summer day you could get a sight of the North Rim on the horizon from this viewpoint. However, our weather changed from warm we had the previous day in the West Rim into freezing and windy, with even a few snowflakes floating in the air.
Yavapai point is different from the others also because there is a Geology Museum where you can learn all the important details about the different color layers and the whole Grand Canyon rock formation and carving.
Instead of doing that, I dedicated a few minutes to reflect on life away from all the tourists on a segregated rock as close as I could get to snap some fascinating views. I always need those moments to let the mother nature make me feel alive over and over again. Gratitude, I’d call it.
For the last 30 minutes of the 3 hours we had to get under the skin of the best example of the effects of the water erosion in the famous Mather point with the rest of our group. The Colorado river showed us once again here how powerful it has been for millions of years when craving the canyon. No words can explain the magnificence of the canyon. The Grand Canyon is not the widest, nor the deepest canyon in the world, yet visited but millions of people every year who just cannot get enough of its uniqueness.
I was glad Jeremmy was there with me as the Mather point because not only he was entertaining and informative, it is a bit confusing to get from the parking lot to the viewpoint if you don’t know where you are going. Beside the more-than-I-expected views, on the way from the parking lot to the viewpoint you will see a circle with a huge native American hand in the middle and the names of all the native American tribes living in the Grand Canyon around the circle.
Unfortunately, out of the 421 species of animals living in the Grand Canyon, I got a chance to see only a few birds out of the 299 different species, such as a beautifully blue colored Pinyon jay bird that flew away before I could even get my Drift camera.
Nevertheless, the Grand Canyon South Rim air tour finally met all my expectations even though it got a lot colder than I would ever assume it to be. It also brought me back the memories from the Moon Valley in Atacama desert as the landscapes are surprisingly similar.
The three free hours around the Grand Canyon South Rim passed by so fast I was happy we got an on-to-go lunch with us and didn’t have to spend half an hour out of those 3 eating instead of enjoying the inspiring atmosphere of the canyon. My lunch moved from the box into my stomach 3 minutes after we hopped on the bus to take us back to the airport.
The tourists in my group overslept the little bumpy flight back to Las Vegas. I kept taking photos and videos but in a more relaxing way and living the moment even more.
My trip to Grand Canyon was a press trip organized by Vision Holidays and Vision Airlines as part of my Adventure and Spa project. Check here for more information about the Grand Canyon South Rim air tour. Also check out Arizona Jones – Grand Canyon by Air for more photos. All the opinions in this post are strictly my own.