"We're in the middle of the desert. There are no neighbours, so you can make as much noise as you want! You might hear some coyotes howling or the wild donkeys, but that's it. Wood for the campfire is right over there and the stars should be pretty good tonight. Now how do you want your steak cooked?"
Betty's welcome speech is friendly and to-the-point. When you're at a cowboy camp in the Arizona outback, food, fire and fun is all you need to worry about!
Betty and Rusty's camp is located northwest of Phoenix in the Sonoran Desert. As Trek groups pass Lake Pleasant (a massive reservoir) and roll down the last few miles of dirt road to the camp, curiosity and excitement build to the breaking point: Where are we? Look at that cactus! Is that a donkey? I can see the horses!
Night in camp brings stories and songs around the fire after a big meal of ribeye steaks, jacket potatoes, ranch beans, salad and Betty's homemade fiery salsa. The reds, pinks and purples of a desert sunset fade to a dark sky full of stars. The crackle of the fire and the laughter of the group are the only sounds to be heard.
Morning brings a hot breakfast and strong cup of cowboy coffee while the wranglers saddle up the horses. It's time to don your cowboy hat and put your boots on! Betty and the wranglers match each rider up with a horse and make sure everyone feels safe and comfortable.
With names like Blue Boy, Lady Gray, King and Colorado, these beautiful horses have seen hundreds of Trek groups over the years. Don't worry – they always remember their way home, weaving through mesquite trees and giant saguaro cacti. The infamous saguaro cactus, can be seen in Western movies; this desert giant can reach 15 metres and weigh a tonne!
If desert solitude, cowboy cooking and a horseback adventure sound good to you, check out our Westerner 3 trip which spends one night at the cowboy camp. You can live your wild west fantasy, and Betty might just show you the secret of cooking a great steak. Giddy up!