Western Wonder

Cat Rayson, UK

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  • With slight apprehension, I met with my fellow trekkers at our gateway hotel in Los Angeles on a baking hot April morning. Our combined gratitude for the van's air conditioning soon had us chatting away like old friends and the 14 of us - including our hilarious leader Justin and his variety of bandanas - set off for a whirlwind week of canyons, cities and national parks.

    The sun gazed down on us with 100°F intensity on our first day as explorers. We checked out the Mann's Chinese Theatre and placed our digits in the handprints of the rich and famous. We hopped from Marilyn Monroe to Steven Spielberg on the walk of fame and had our names made into a rap by the craziest busker I've ever seen. In the cool sanctuary of the van, we cruised Rodeo Drive then headed up the hills, past the lavish homes of the wealthy and privileged to catch a glimpse of the great Hollywood sign.

    Leaving Hollywood we used the long journey to our overnight camp to get to know one another. The 14 of us originated from 7 different countries and we soon bonded over the combined tasks of washing and drying up! The next morning before the sun could reach its full power, we were in the van and heading towards one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

    The Grand Canyon is one of the sites that the word 'breathtaking' was invented for. Its immense size and physical geography has to be seen to be believed. I was lucky enough to take a helicopter flight over part of the canyon, a memory I will never forget. The next morning we woke before the sun and headed into the park to watch it rise. I seem to remember a revered silence as we watched the light break the surface of the ancient rock and continue its steady rise into the now orange tinged sky. After a time of reflection, it was time to head back to the van of adventure and head to Vegas!

    We drove across miles and miles of desert with only symbolic tumbleweeds and a few wind turbines for company. I loved Vegas and our first stop was to sample to delights of the Luxor casino buffet. All you can eat for $12, needless to say we didn't need to eat again for quite some time! Once the sun went down that night, Vegas came alive with its cornea searing light displays and promises of wealth and fortune with just the pull of a leaver or roll of a dice. We explored the strip in a limo, tried our luck at the slots in the Bellagio, strolled along a Venice canal in the Venetian and watched as a truck drove past with a burning effigy of George Bush on the back. Anything can happen in Vegas.

    Tired and slightly worse for wear after our exuberant night out on the strip, we headed towards the remarkable and beautiful (and as far removed from Las Vegas as you can get!) Yosemite National Park. Warnings of bears ransacking our tents during the night resulted in us locking everything we owned but the clothes on our backs, into the van. We were early to rise the next morning and into the park before the bears had a chance to steal our breakfast! The more adventurous of us (most of the group) decided to scale the park's two stunning waterfalls - Vernal and Nevada falls. The effort it took to scale the highest, Vernal, was rewarded with a great sense of achievement (and some chocolate!) as we gazed out onto the park below.

    Day seven found us on route to San Francisco, the colourful and decidedly bohemian City by the Bay. We toured the city and looked out to Alcatraz, trying to forget that it was our last day together. We all took great advantage of the photo op provided by the Golden Gate Bridge and later had a farewell dinner and toasted our new friendships.

    The sights of West Coast America in a 7 day whirlwind tour, one of the best weeks of my life.
Hollywood Sign Grand Canyon Grand Canyon Sunrise Las Vegas Bellagio Fountain Yosemite Valley Vernal Falls, Yosemite National Park San Francisco Skyline
  • WESTERN WONDER

    7 days from LOS ANGELES

    Apr-Oct from

    USA West - Camping

    What a week in the US Southwest. A double dose of national park adventure, sandwiched right between two of its most unforgettable cities. This trip can promise canyons, casinos and cacti. Yep, this is the Big Country, make no mistake!

    LATE BOOKING DISCOUNT AVAILABLE - SAVE 20%

    View tour
  • WESTERN WONDER

    7 days from SAN FRANCISCO

    Apr-Oct from

    USA West - Camping

    What a week in the US Southwest. A double dose of national park adventure, sandwiched right between two of its most unforgettable cities. This trip can promise canyons, casinos and cacti. Yep, this is the Big Country, make no mistake!

    Highlights: San Fran | Yosemite | Vegas | Grand Canyon

    View tour
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