Navajo Territory

We arrive at Page, a very bustling town surrounded by Navajo’s reserve, most of the people come here because they want to visit the Antelope canyon, and that’s why we are here, too 🙂 but first, and before going to our motel, we drive to the horseshoe bend, named after the shape the Colorado river makes just there. This place is very popular among photographers, especially at sunrise and sunset.

A short 15 minutes walk leads us to a magnificent view. There are no fences or anything at the edge, so you can reach your prefered viewpoint at your own risk. We see people risking really too much just for a good selfie, but we prefer the safer selfie version 😉 The landscape is jaw-dropping, it’s amazing how the erosion and the power of the river have created this beautiful place.

The next day, after a really good breakfast, we decide to visit the horseshoe bend one more time to see how different it is with the early sun rays. We take some more pictures and head towards the entrance of the lower antelope canyon (book the tickets some days in advance). Actually, the most famous canyon is the upper antelope canyon, but tickets are sold out and besides that, it is double price than the lower, so we decide to give a chance to the lower one.

On the confirmation email is written that you have to be there 30 minutes prior to your tour, so that’s what we do, but when we arrive near the entrance of the navajo reservation we see a veeeeery looooong line of cars waiting to enter. The reason for this long line? there is only one navajo lady in the toll cabin, she is the responsible for charging the fee to the reservation (note that the fee is not included when you book your tour). We are there 35 minutes before our tour, but with this line we can never make it! And that’s just what happens, we can’t make it!

Nerves start to heat up, and also other people there start to worry about their tours. As it always happens in these situations, there are people who think they are more important than others, and just decide to overtake every car in the line to get first to the toll cabin. grgrgrgr!!!

Well, we have to say here that these people might have got confused by the fact that sometimes a second line is formed for drivers who already have the ticket fee from the day before. In any case, isn’t it suspicious that the majority of the people are making the line? why should one go first?

We finally pay the fee and, of course, we arrive late at our tour. We are very upset, as we think we won’t neither get in any tour nor get any money back. Luckily, the agency is very well aware of the situation and rebook us in the next tour. They should advice to be there 1:30h earlier, 30 minutes is not enough!

Our guide is a navajo girl called “Valencia” we tell her that her name is the same as a city in Spain but when she spells the name “Balence” we feel like idiots …
She explains us that she is “Native-American” and not “Indian” (they don’t like being called “indian”) and in school they study the navajo language, but she can speak and write just a little because it’s very difficult.
She also tells us that the canyon was made by the water of floods and the erosion of the wind and sand, and, as the canyon is inside a navajo reservation they have the full rights for managing (and profiting from) it.

A steep staircase brings us inside the canyon and our eyes start to get crazy! the formations on the walls are simply amazing. We manage to take 400 pictures during the 1:30h we are inside the canyon! that’s a record! (thanks Balence for telling us how to set the camera right! WhiteBalance: cloudy; ISO: 400, and most important: NO flash light).

So, now we have a collection of really nice wallpapers that have nothing to envy to the famous one from apple 😉

After the tour, the navajos are so considerate that they gift us with a bottle of water!
All in all it was a really nice tour, and even though we had read that the upper canyon is more beautiful if you are lucky to see the sun rays trespassing the gaps, we are more than pleased with the lower one.Even after some minutes outside the canyon, the astonishing red waves images keep flashing in our mind, but we still have some hours of driving ahead to reach the monument valley. After the impressive horseshoe bend and the fabulous antelope canyon, we can’t wait to see what the monument valley has to offer us.Accommodation in monument valley is expensive, in fact there are very few options there, and one hotel has the “monopoly” there, “the view”, with all rooms facing the most popular spot in the valley. People pay at least 120$ for a room. It is expensive, but you can take pictures from the balcony at sunrise and sunset. We choose a cheaper option (as the 120$ rooms in “the view” were booked out). We say cheaper, actually the cheapest in the valley, but at the end not so cheap and the most luxury accommodation of our trip: The Gouldin’s lodge, a complex with groceries market, gas station, shops and spa, and also they have the cabin of John Wayne (he crashed here when was filming John Ford’s films). They have also an entertainment program: they project western films every evening. The hotel is very nice and we can also see the valley, but much farther away than from “the view” 😀

Sunset and sunrise are popular times in the valley, and, of course, we want to see the magic of them. There are a lot of people waiting there for the sun to set, and honestly it is not big business, it’s nice but not spectacular. Probably our fault, as we saw a lot of processed pictures on the internet before going, and we expected something more awesome. The most popular viewpoint is the one right next to the hotel “the view”, but there is also a loop road inside the valley with different viewpoints. This road is unpaved and mostly sandy and dusty, so better for 4×4 cars (not for us 😦 ).

We want to give it another try for sunrise, at 7:15 we are driving to reach the viewpoint one more time, it is very cold! So cold that we start to do jumping jacks in order to get warm, after the exercises we decide they don’t work and a wiser idea would be to get back into the car and switch on the heater… few minutes later people start coming, figures in the dark planting their tripods and freezing themselves waiting for the sun.

We like more this view of the valley, during the sunrise, when the dark shapes of the giant rocks turn light little by little, and it’s kind of mystic. Also people are respectful and everybody remains in absolute silence, or is it maybe too cold to open the mouth?
Once the sun shines on our heads, is time to hit the road again, we have more miles to burn until our next destination. But we can’t leave the valley without playing Tom Hanks at the “Forrest Gump Point”, the famous spot on the road to Mexican Hat from the movie “Forrest Gump”. Some more stupid pictures and we are all set to our next stop: Flagstaff, let’s see how American people lives thanksgiving and more important … the black friday !

 

did_you_know Did you know that…

… Monument Valley appears in films such “Forrest Gump”, “Back to the future”, and the best-known films of John Ford?

… there are two Antelope canyon tours, upper and lower being the price for the upper 40$ and 20$ for the lower? (the double price is because it suppose to be more beautiful and more people wants to take pictures of the sunrays entering the canyon)

… there are also photography tours in the canyons?

… the horseshoe bend is a “meander”, that is a bend in a sinuous watercourse or river?

… Navajos are the second largest tribe in the US after the Cherokees?

likes Likes:

  • Horseshoe bend: Impressive, easy to reach, very well indicated and free entrance.
  • Antelope canyon: The whole canyon, every inch is beautiful.
  • Monument Valley: Feel like a cowboy waiting for a apache chief to smoke ceremonial pipe in Monument Valley.
  • Forrest Gump point: Run like Forrest Gump, and enjoy it even more when the film was playing on national TV just 1 hour before going there.
dislikes Dislikes:

  • Navajo Administration: The endless line for paying the navajo fee, this is a bottleneck problem, because there is only one person managing it.
  • Accommodation in Monument Valley: Very expensive and few choices. (“The view”: expensive but fantastic views, “Goulding’s Lodge”: “cheaper -75$-” but not so great views, convenient driving distance to the viewpoints in the valley).

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