A must see four and a half hours from Las Vegas.
For thousands of years, the constant floods in the desert of the Far West of the United States eroded the sandstone and solidified it, creating a crack of 37 meters deep, today known as Antelope Canyon.
The only way to access it is with a tour guide, so before our arrival in Page, a small city of seven thousand inhabitants that also serves as a base to go to other destinations such as Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam; We investigated about the companies that offer tours on both sides of the canyon: Lower Antelope Canyon and the Upper Antelope Canyon.
Although both canyons are similar due to their saturated orange color and depth, the easy access to the Upper - it is at the level of the earth's surface, so it does not require climbing stairs -, along with the beams of light that enter their slots until they illuminate the ground during the midday (a phenomenon that only occurs in this canyon) and its wide passages make it the most popular one, and therefore, the most expensive. On the other hand, the Lower Antelope Canyon - our chosen one - costs half the price, although it presents a higher level of difficulty.
After checking in at Ken's Tours, we wait in a white tent in the middle of the Arizona desert to enter the canyon. It is past nine in the morning, ideal time to take pictures. Although it's July, the heat is tolerable. The busiest time of year matches the most dangerous: it is the monsoon season, a strong storm that can cause flash floods and leave tourists trapped between the narrow walls of the canyon. The precautions to avoid this type of disaster increased after 1997, when eleven people died in the Lower Antelope Canyon, where we will soon descend.
"Before the European conquest, this whole area was full of antelopes. Now there's not one left. They were all hunted", regrets Ro, our guide, a descendant of Navajo Indians, as we walk to the edge of the Lower Antelope Canyon.
A steep, narrow and somewhat slippery staircase is the only way to enter, but the effort is immediately rewarded once below, between the intense orange walls when the sun shines, and purple in the shadows. The rest of the walk -of 400 meters- is through a maze of rocks that require special attention to avoid hitting the head, narrow passages -some of them are only fifty centimeters wide- and steps uphill. But at each step there is a something new in the canyon to discover and photograph.
In Page, Arizona
How to get there: from Las Vegas by car, by interstate route 15 and national route 89 (4 hours and a half). From the Grand Canyon are just 2 and a half hours, first by route 64 and then by the 89.
Where to stay: Rodeway Inn (107 S Lake Powell Blvd). It has basic breakfast included, comfortable rooms, pool, parking and is 10 minutes from Lower Antelope Canyon.
Where to eat: Hamburger Slackers (635 Elm St).
To go to Antelope Canyon
When choosing which canyon to visit (Upper or Lower) consider two factors: the price difference - the Upper tour costs around $ 50 while the Lower 25 - and the type of access. The Upper does not require stepping down steep stairs or climbing rocks, the Lower does.
The company Ken's Tours is one of the two companies that offer excursions to the Lower Antelope Canyon for $ 25 per person the one-hour excursion. It is necessary to add an entrance of eight dollars to him for being a park inside territory of the original town "Navajo".
Reserve your tickets in advance on the website of the chosen company (www.lowerantelope.com if you decide on Ken's Tours). For the Lower it's ok to do it a week before, for the Upper for at least two or three weeks in advance.
In summer, wear white clothing and trekking shoes.
If you hire the "normal" excursion, you can not take a tripod for photography.
Each company offer tours especially for photographers, of longer duration and more expensive.