I think it's a privilege to have had the opportunity to visit and hike in these breathtakingly beautiful and awe-inspiring locations. An amazing trip that I really can't recommend highly enough.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
Gosh, there were several! Yosemite is just so beautiful and idyllic - I had been before but I still found it stunning.
I really hadn't been sure if I would be able to brace myself to make it to the top of Angel's Landing in Zion National Park, but I did, and the spectacular view at the top was a wonderful reward!
Wading in the Narrows at Zion National Park was a very memorable experience - a beautiful setting and the water was lovely (after the initially quite bracing sensation of stepping into it!).
Monument Valley is as amazing as you hope it will be, given what a familiar location it is from films and TV. The jeep tour followed by dinner with the Navajo is extremely enjoyable, inspiring and fun. How can you beat sitting outside under the stars eating dinner by a campfire in Monument Valley?!
The Grand Canyon: even standing there in person, looking at it in the sunset, I still found it hard to truly get my head around the sheer scale and beauty of it. The true meaning of the adjective 'awesome' has been somewhat undermined as it used too lightly now, but in the case of The Grand Canyon, it truly is legitimate to describe it as 'awesome'.
- What did you think of your group leader?
Alex Yakshe was great fun, very organized, well informed and keen to ensure that we were all having the best-possible holiday experience. In a group you are always going to get varying tastes and interests, and he did everything that he could to accommodate different requests and/or suggestions.
People on holiday tend to put their brains into a bit of a 'powered-down setting', and for my own part I appreciated that he seemed to be completely un-phased by having to explain things more than once (or twice, or three times...!).
Alex has an infectious enthusiasm and energy, and I surprised myself by willingly waking very early to greet several sunrises. I'm not usually much of a morning person but it was undoubtedly worth it and in fact I would highly recommend it! It was pretty cool to get to attend a rodeo one evening, and also very educational.
Importantly, he regularly emphasized safety considerations and taking the right kit with us, and we were well drilled in keeping ourselves properly hydrated - very important in the kinds of conditions that we were often hiking in.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
Take aqua shoes or water-proof sandals so that you do have the option to wade in the Narrows at Zion National Park. You couldn't do it without appropriate footwear and it is a lovely experience.
Remember to take a spare camera battery or camera-battery charger, and a spare memory card (or a memory card with *a lot* of capacity) as you will want to take many, many photos!
If you are considering whether or not to do this trip - DO IT!
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
One of the most amazing trips I have done. I left the USA feeling really very envious of their fabulous national parks, which are run and managed so well.
I met some lovely people, had a lot of laughs, saw some amazing sights that I will never forget. It really doesn't get any better than this!