This year I’ve been lucky enough to tick a fair few things off my extremely long bucket list. Regular readers of my blog may know it all started in November with a mammoth celebration in Las Vegas for my 40th.
Part of that trip included visiting one of the seven natural wonders of the world – The Grand Canyon. It’s located 275 miles west of Las Vegas in the state of Arizona. I would have loved to have experienced the five-hour road trip, however on this trip time constraints played a major role. So what’s a girl to do but live her Airwolf dream and fly over the canyon with Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters?
They offer a range of airborne excursions with a variety of ways to explore the magnificent landscape and history. One in particular had my name written all over it – The Grand Celebration Tour. It takes 4.5 hours door-to-door from your hotel. The offering of a champagne lunch had me hooked. A helicopter flight and champagne on landing- could it get any more lavish?
A minibus collected us from our hotel and we travelled to Boulder City airport. Here you are checked in and weighed. Don’t worry they don’t announce it on a tannoy and no alarms sound if you tip the scales. It’s just to ensure the weight is evenly distributed in the aircraft for safety.
Once up in the air I was surprised at the smoothness of the flight considering the lightweight aircraft I was whizzing around in. You immediately become captivated by the stunning aerial views of the Mojave desert beneath you and that’s just the beginning.
Before long we were drinking in the most spectacular views of the world-famous Hoover Dam. The engineering marvel stretches 1,224 feet across the Black Canyon and provides electricity for a whole region. An instagram architectural geek, I was in snap happy heaven.
Our pilot kept us up to speed with all the other panoramic views like the Grand Wash Cliffs, which mark the southwestern perimeter of the Colorado Plateau.
The deep blue Lake Mead popped with colour against the dry Mojave desert. Formed by the Hoover Dam it’s the largest reservoir in the United States.
Finally we entered Grand Canyon West, and its sheer immensity is breathtaking. Measuring 277 miles long, 18 miles wide and more than a mile deep, this is one hell of a big hole! Carved out by the mighty Colorado river over the past six million years or so, it reveals the earth’s history layer by layer.
We touched down and disembarked 4,000 feet below the rim of the Canyon. Completely speechless standing in the basin, looking up I couldn’t quite believe my eyes. It’s quite a humbling experience being surrounded by walls representing two billion years of the earth’s history. A stark reminder that human beings are quite small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
Feeling like I was on location with both Planet Earth II and Westworld I could sense myself starting to get all philosophical. Thankfully our pilot had by then laid out the champagne picnic, which consisted of a sandwich, crisps, fruit and a sweet treat. It was just like being on a school trip but on a grand scale in a completely different league of its own with booze included. OK, so nothing like a school trip at all but you catch my drift.
We probably had around 25 minutes once we landed to eat and explore the immediate area. It all went too quickly for me. I didn’t feel like I had quite enough time to enjoy just being in the moment. Although drinking champagne surrounded by the magnificent Grand Canyon is now my best drinking spot to date. An incredible experience nonetheless.
I’d definitely recommend Papillon Helicopters especially if you’re pressed for time. Although expensive at $364 it is a once in a lifetime experience for many of us. I was lucky enough to receive a complimentary upgrade (usually $50 extra) to sit in the front with the pilot. From start to finish it was a dream come true.
Have you recently ticked anything off your bucket list? Let me know in the comments box below.
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