United States of America
Grand Canyon Trek with Rafting
- n/a days
About the challenge
The Grand Canyon is justifiably world-famous for its spectacular scenery, and considered one of the seven wonders of the natural world. At 277 miles long, 18 miles wide and in places one mile deep, it is a breath-taking sight to see – and provides some unforgettable trekking. We base ourselves at our camp on the Havasupai Indian Reservation west of the Grand Canyon’s main tourist focus, and trek each day through different parts of the canyon. The trekking is challenging and the heat can be exhausting, but we trek through incredible landscapes with striking colours and rock formations, and beautiful blue-green creeks and waterfalls which present some great opportunities for a dip! We finish our adventure with an exhilarating day of white-water rafting, before a big celebration in Las Vegas, an energetic city which couldn’t contrast more to the natural beauty we have been immersed in!
Day 1: London – Phoenix
Depart London bound for Phoenix, capital of Arizona. We transfer to our hotel, have dinner and relax! Night hotel.
Day 2: Phoenix – Sedona – Route 66
Drive approx 2 hours; trek approx 3-4 hours / 5-6 miles; drive approx 2.5 hours
After an early breakfast and a detailed trip briefing we have a scenic drive north (approx 2 hours) through the Sonoran Desert. We arrive in the beautiful area of Sedona, known for its beautiful red sandstone landscapes and dramatic rock formations. We spend the rest of the day walking along the beautiful Oak Creek Canyon, often referred to as the Grand Canyon’s small cousin! This is the perfect acclimatisation trek, helping our bodies to get used to the heat and the terrain. We then meet our vehicles and transfer to our hotel, which lies on the historic Route 66. Night hotel.
Day 3: Route 66 – Grand Canyon Trailhead – Havasu Falls Camp
Drive approx. 2.5 hours; trek approx 5-6 hours / 10 miles
We drive to our trailhead at Hualapai Hilltop, where we begin our descent into the Grand Canyon! We are heading towards Supai, the centre of the Havasupai Indian Reservation which will be our home for the next three nights. The only way to reach Supai is by foot, mule or helicopter; it is the most remote village in mainland USA and still uses mule trains to carry out its post. The trail takes us steeply down from the crater rim, following a series of hair-pin bends down into the canyon – the first mile is the day’s toughest part! Having descended roughly 2000ft, we reach a dry stream-bed and the trail starts to level out. We follow it though cottonwood trees, descending deeper into the red sandstone. Crossing a bridge into Supai, we continue on through the village and out into canyon back-country until we reach Havasu Falls and our camp. Night camp.
Day 4: Grand Canyon Trek: Beaver Falls
Trek approx 7-9 hours / 7-8 miles
Another adventurous day today, with some spectacular scenery! Leaving Havasu Falls, we head down the trail towards Mooney Falls. Our route descends adjacent to the waterfall using a series of ladders and tunnels to reach the base. The descent is not for the faint-hearted, but it allows us to access the beautiful canyon below the falls. We continue our trek on a rough trail which crosses the creek several times and takes us over boulders and rock outcroppings. A series of limestone ledges takes us to a beautiful pool at the base of Beaver Falls. From here we return to camp, exploring hidden falls and pools on our way. Night camp.
Day 5: Grand Canyon Trek: Carbonate Canyon
Trek approx 5-7 hours / 6-7 miles
After breakfast we trek up-canyon to a hidden cleft in the cliff wall, where we enter Carbonate Canyon. In the early 19th century there was mineral mining activity in this area of the canyon, and Carbonate Canyon was one of the main sites. We can search for ancient fossils in the dry creek bed here, and explore some of the deep clefts and caverns in the cliff face. We head back to camp for lunch, stopping on the way for a swim in the pool below Havasu Falls. In the afternoon we trek to Rock Falls, where it’s possible to walk along a narrow ledge behind the roaring spray – a real experience. We continue to the many pools and cascades of New Navajo Falls, where there is time to swim and explore before heading back to camp.
Day 6: Havasu Falls Camp – Hualapai Hilltop – Peach Springs
Trek approx 6-7 hrs / 10 miles; drive approx 2-3 hours
After an early breakfast, we leave camp, returning to the crater rim the same way we arrived. The first part of the trek climbs gradually back along the streambed, but once we arrive at the hair-pin bends we take our time, ascending steadily up the side of the canyon. This is very demanding, but is the last part of our Grand Canyon trek challenge! Back at Hualapai Hilltop, we load up the vehicles and drive southwest to Peach Springs, where we’ll start tomorrow’s rafting adventure.
Day 7: White-Water Rafting in Grand Canyon
Today’s rafting takes us on the Colorado River, gliding through stunning Grand Canyon scenery. The rafts are motorised, allowing us to cover the distance to Lake Mead, where the Colorado River flows out of the Canyon. There are plenty of rapids on the river, which makes for a very exhilarating end to your trip – you will get wet! Between these exciting rushes, the water glides smoothly, allowing you plenty of time to enjoy the scenery and your last experience of the Grand Canyon. After an exciting day, we are met by our vehicles and we head west (approx one hour) to Las Vegas, entertainment capital of the world. On arrival we are free to relax and explore. Night hotel.
(Dinner not included)
Day 8: Las Vegas
Vegas is renowned for its casinos, shows, spectacular hotels and wedding chapels. We are free to explore the sights, including the famous sound-and-light fountain shows, fake erupting volcanoes, Elvis impersonators and replicas of everything from the Eiffel Tower to the Sphinx! It’s not subtle, but it’s a real contrast to the past week and great fun! We meet again in the evening for a slap-up celebration meal to celebrate our achievements of the past week. Night hotel. (Lunch and Dinner not included)
Day 9: Depart Las Vegas
We are free to explore or relax until we transfer to the airport for our international flight home. (Lunch not included if not in-flight)
Day 10: Arrive London
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
The tour cost includes all accommodation, as well as all flights and transfers, personal travel insurance, airline fuel supplement if charged by the airline, camping equipment (except sleeping bag), all meals except three or four as specified in the itinerary, and permits to any sites visited as part of the itinerary. White-water rafting equipment, guides and instruction are also included. Experienced Discover Adventure leaders and doctor (depending on final group size) are also included, along with a local support crew of guides, cooks and drivers.
It does not include three or four meals as specified, or international departure tax. It also does not include any entrance fees for any optional sites you may wish to visit. Remember to allow extra for drinks, souvenirs and other personal expenses. This recommendation is a guideline only. Please note that costs may fluctuate and we have no control over any changes. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
Group flights leave from London Heathrow or Gatwick, (we regret that we are unable to book connecting flights) and are booked through Discover Adventure Ltd under ATOL licence 5636. By travelling with Discover Adventure you are protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are most likely to fly with Delta Airlines or United Airlines, however, we don’t always fly with the same airline so this is a guideline only. You will usually receive confirmed flight details several months before departure. Our itineraries are always based on current flight schedules and are therefore subject to change by the airline. If you prefer to book your own flights please ask us for a land-only cost. Y
We camp for three nights in the Canyon and stay in hotels the rest of the time. The campsite has outhouses containing composting toilets and there is plenty of natural water to use for washing. It is rustic, which is natural given its remote location! Hotels are good (though not luxurious) with ensuite facilities, though standards may vary between hotels.
All food is included when camping. The food is great, varied and there is plenty of it! Three or four meals (depending on flight departure time) are not included as specified in the itinerary.
Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Please do not expect as much variety as you would have access to at home – we will be in a remote area where access to supplies is not easy. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Please feel free to ask us for advice. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally when we are in towns or cities and you are free to explore and try other culinary experiences! There is always something to suit every budget.
Discover Adventure Crew
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.
All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. Although our leaders are trained in expedition first-aid, they are accompanied by an expedition doctor or medic, who is there to look after the well-being of the whole group and deal with any incidents. They help the leaders to ensure the trip runs smoothly and encourage you when things get tough. The number of crew looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but at Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: trekker ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.
Local Support Crew
Our local support crew is made up of local guides, drivers, and cooks. Your local guide knows the local area well, and is a great source of knowledge about local customs and lifestyles. The Discover Adventure crew works closely with the local crew to ensure your trip runs smoothly and safely.
Vehicles take the group to the trailhead and pick us up at the end. All luggage, food, water and camping equipment is carried by mules into the campsite so it is vital you stick to the 7kg weight limit. It is essential that your luggage is carried in either a soft expedition kitbag or soft rucksack. These are easily loaded onto the mules. Hard-sided luggage is completely unsuitable. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. You should also bring a small daypack to carry items needed for each day’s trek.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency satellite phones, extensive medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up in the UK. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and travel insurance – is all done with your safety in mind.
Preparing for the challenge
Trails are varied and largely over rocky or sandy ground. Some trails are well-maintained, others more overgrown and make the walking harder. There are numerous creek crossings where we may get wet! There are many uphill and downhill sections, with the descent and ascent of the crater rim being particularly strenuous. Mooney Falls can be challenging for those who are nervous of heights or enclosed spaces – please contact us if you are concerned about it. The main challenge is usually the heat, which can be intense as the canyon walls and the sand tend to reflect and radiate heat onto us, even when the actual temperatures are not very high. This trek takes place in challenging wilderness terrain which should not be underestimated.You will trek approximately 40 miles on this trip overall. It’s much more useful when training to think about the type of terrain you are trekking over and the amount of hours you need to walk for!
We are always happy to talk through the trip in more detail with you if you are worried about your fitness at any stage.
All safety equipment will be provided, along with a full safety briefing and rafting guides. It does not matter if you have never been white-water rafting before – you just need a sense of adventure! Our rafts are motorised so you don’t need to paddle, just hold on over the rapids! You will get wet and the water is cold even on the hottest days. Between the rapids the river is calm and beautiful – relax and enjoy it!
Clothing & Equipment
The information below gives you an idea of the climate, but be prepared for all weathers and temperatures. Weather conditions can change quickly. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.
Summer days in the Grand Canyon are usually clear and sunny, and it can get very hot. Elevation has an impact on temperatures – a pleasant warm day on the crater rim can become uncomfortably hot 3000ft lower down. Nights are colder and the temperature can drop noticeably as soon as the sun sets. Rainfall continues through the summer, with thunderstorms fairly frequent in late summer.
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.
Passport & Visa
A valid ten-year passport is essential; it should be valid for at least the duration of your stay. British passport-holders are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) provided they fulfil the requirements and have registered online with ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) before travel. See http://london.usembassy.gov/visas.html. We will provide you with further information nearer to departure. Other nationalities are responsible for checking their entry requirements.
We insist that you have had a Tetanus injection in the last ten years. You should always check with a GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.
Worldwide Sustainable Tourism
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through.
Discover Adventure Projects
We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with The Conversation Volunteers and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org or call 01302 388883.