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  Age on Sunday   18 Dec 2016  Under the sun, moon and stars

Under the sun, moon and stars

THE ASIAN AGE. | FATIMA AGARKAR
Published : Dec 18, 2016, 12:12 am IST
Updated : Dec 18, 2016, 4:15 am IST

A trip to The Grand Canyon, USA, is more than just about scorching heat and a rocky landscape.

Grand Canyon
 Grand Canyon

Can we go back and relive the magical moments of our summer vacation?” asked my 12-year-old son, Raj. We had just flown down to Mumbai after a fun-filled vacation at Grand Canyon in The United States of America. And not only did Raj want to go back, even my husband felt we had lost ourselves to the beautiful locale.

Grand Canyon is divided into three major rims — the North Rim, South Rim and West Rim. While the mile-deep gorge and divine red cliffs plummeting into the Colorado River revolved through my mind, we started our expedition from the South Rim.

Having done a lot of research and scrolling through the pictures of the site, nothing really prepared me for the sight of it. We just could not take our eyes off this iconic landscape for reasons more than one. Its enormity and  breath-taking views of the sunset, just scream for attention.

The view after completing the Rim TrailThe view after completing the Rim Trail

We dedicated day one and two to explore the South Rim. We started off with the National Geographic Grand Canyon Visitor Centre and Grand Canyon IMAX Theatre. Raj found this information centre to be the best part of our vacation especially because he got the opportunity to see the IMAX theatre. Located in Tusayan just outside the National Park, the theatre allows visitors to pre-purchase a park pass. We thoroughly enjoyed watching the IMAX movie, Over the Rim and Beyond, Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets. The entire IMAX experience with all the well-tuned sound systems and amplifications gave us a serene movie-watching experience. Another wonderful resource had to be the Canyon View Information Centre located at Mather’s Point in the park. The centre boasts of awe-inspiring exhibits, films and bookstores with a great compilation of books informing one about ranger programmes familiarising you with the history and geology of Grand Canyon.

One might find it fascinating to drive through the canyon. I think the most unique way to witness the canyon is by riding on a horseback! We travelled along streams of the rim on a horseback with a guide. The best part of this experience was having our meal beside a campfire. The vast magnitude of the city almost overwhelmed me. With the setting sun, we realised it was time to say goodbye to this beautiful day.

We woke up charged for the next day that was devoted to museums and trails. Putting on our backpacks, feeling exhilarated, we left for the day that awaited us. Museums always excite us, and when we heard from the locals about the Yavapai Geology Museum, we knew it was on our to-do list. The museum is nestled on the most remarkable belvederes of the South Rim. If geology interests you, this is going to be a one stop destination that you must visit.

View from the helicopterView from the helicopter

I got to know so much about the topography and evolution of Grand Canyon through this place. We were advised by friendly locals to not leave the area without experiencing the various trails. We started off with the 12 mile long Rim Trail. There is no water throughout the trail, so it is advisable to be prepared with water bottles. Next was the desert trail named Bright Angel Trail. This one was really tough as we hadn’t expected the extreme heat and undulating landscape. The next morning was bright and sunny and something exciting was in store for us. If you are in South Rim you cannot miss the mule ride. We decided to try the three-hour long New Canyon Vistas Ride along a four mile trail close to the South Kaibab trailhead. We were in saddles for almost two hours and our guide kept flooding us with information about the history of the area.

Next up, The Mather Point Campground in the Grand Canyon Village gave us peaceful countryside vibes with its train station, shuttles and lodges. It’s the most sought after destination if you love camping. The tents are equipped with picnic tables, grills for barbeque and electric services. That night was the most memorable night of the trip — we slept in the tents on our backpacks gazing at the stars and feeling like a part of the universe. As the day drew to an end, a strange thought gripped me — we were about to end our vacation. That meant we would soon have to bid adieu to the canyon — our week-long home. No more trails, camps and museums. We were hundreds of miles away from home but Grand Canyon was still home away from home.

The writer is an educationist.

Tags: travel, grand canyon, colorado river