TThe group flights arrive the day before, and we recommend that land only travellers also plan to arrive a day in advance. There will be a pre-tour briefing in the lobby of the start hotel (The Residence Inn by Marriot) at 20:00hrs the night before the tour begins, which it is essential to attend as this is when you will receive your waterproof stuff-sac.
The start hotel also offers an early breakfast which you may wish to take advantage of (but please request this the day before). Please be packed and checked out of your room before meeting the group in the hotel lobby at 5:00am. You will then transfer to historic Lees Ferry to begin your Grand Canyon rafting trip.
Day 2 - 7
Raft the length of the Grand Canyon in comfort aboard specially engineered 37ft motorised rafts. The pace is leisurely and there is plenty to see and do en route: hiking, swimming, wildlife and bird spotting (including Golden eagles, Bighorn sheep and coyotes), exploring ancient Indian ruins, and of course appreciating the grandeur of one of the natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon itself. Ride exhilarating whitewater rapids (up to grade IV), enjoy freshly prepared gourmet meals, and sleep beneath the Milky Way.
It is not possible to give an exact day by day itinerary for this part of the tour, but we will spend the next week navigating the twists, turns and rapids of the Colorado River amidst the Grand Canyon by motorised raft.
Travelling the full length of the Grand Canyon, there's a lot of ground to cover and plenty to see and do along the way. We'll negotiate the whitewater rapids of the Colorado River (up to Grade IV) and also enjoy the serenity of the more tranquil stretches. Leading off from the main canyon itself are numerous side canyons, caverns and waterfalls just waiting to be discovered. There's no shortage of water for swimming opportunities, but dry ground is never far away either so we'll also get the change stretch our legs on a series of short walks to gain a different perspective of the scenery. Our knowledgeable guide(s) will teach us about the landforms and geological formations, as well as the array of flora and fauna. With a keen eye looking skyward we may see many species of birds, including birds of prey such as Golden eagles and falcons, whilst along the river banks cacti, wild flowers, Bighorn sheep, Mule deer, coyotes and Ringtail cats may be seen.
We focus on enjoying the sights and sounds of the river, its hidden trails, secluded riverside campsites and stunning canyon sunrises and sunsets.
A typical day on the river:
7:00am - We wake to the aroma of fresh-brewed coffee. Although the sun will not flood our camp for some time, tops of the Grand Canyon's walls already are aglow with sunlight. While eggs, sausage, and muffins cook, sleeping bags are being packed.
9:00am - We enter a series of rapids. A Great Blue heron takes off down-river, wings pumping. Both bird and its surroundings seem somehow prehistoric. We stop to explore a narrow, beautifully sculptured wash named Shinumo. In shadow, all but fleeting moments each day, its polished silver walls shed a light of their own. To see the sky, you must tilt your head back with great effort.
11:00am - South Canyon intersects the river, signaling that Vasey's Paradise is just ahead. A paradise, indeed! Sunlight seems to explode from the fountains of water gushing from the Grand Canyon's walls. Lush growths of moss and ferns in this 'paradise' seem strangely out of place in such a desert setting. We drift close to the gushing water, giving everyone aboard a welcome shower.
12:00 Noon - Our boats stop for lunch in the shade of Redwall Cavern. Inside this great cave, there's room enough for a game of softball!
2:00pm - As two Golden eagles soar lazily overhead, we drift quietly and our boatman tells us the story of Bert Loper's historic river run in 1949. We feel the heat, but soon a roller coaster rapid refreshes us. We sight moon lilies, abloom at the mouth of Saddle Canyon. A hike to explore Saddle is topped off with a cold soda.
6:00pm - We make for Nankoweap, site of ancient Indian ruins, and our campsite tonight. After a dinner of fillet, dutch-oven potatoes, green salad, and cherry cobbler, we hike to the ruins, and view the river below.
9:00pm - Those who cannot stay awake find their sleeping bags. Bed tonight is beneath the Milky Way, and a canopy of stars that dwarfs even the Grand Canyon.
Mid-morning we are met by a speedboat which transports guests across the calm headwaters of Lake Mead to South Cove, Arizona, at which point we say farewell to our tour guides.
We'll return you by coach to the Residence Inn by Marriott, arriving late in the day. The driving time from South Cove is approximately 3 hours. Upon debarkation at South Cove it will be necessary for you to unpack your clothing, camera, and personal articles from the waterproof bag and camera case we've provided. Our company representative will meet you at trips end and supply you with a clear plastic bag in which you may transfer your belongings for the trip back to Las Vegas. This clear plastic bag is necessary to meet the requirements imposed by Hoover Dam Security. On your return to Las Vegas you will cross Hoover Dam. The camera case and waterproof bag will be emptied prior to boarding the bus.
For Land Only travellers, your tour ends here at approximately 17:00hrs. If you are not on the group flights and are planning to depart this evening, please do not book a flight that departs before approximately 21:00hrs as we can not guarantee that you will make your flight in time. For those on the group flights, your overnight flight departs this evening, arriving into London the following day.