Tag Archives: arizona

Photographing the other Antelope Slot Canyon in Arizona

The Slot Canyons in Page, Arizona are one of the most visited places around and have been my dream to visit for the longest time.  The famous Antelope Canyons are the most photographed in the SouthWest, of course I want to be there!

You can’t visit it on your own being on Navajo Reservation land. It is expensive to visit, crowded and restricted, with little time and having non-photographic friends along, I skipped the Upper Antelope Canyons and headed straight for the lower Antelope Canyons.

Visiting the Upper Antelope Canyons does set you back a couple of dollars. The entry into the Canyons cost $9 plus paying for a guided tour of $35. The whole trip would last about 1 1/2 hours,  another $80  if you want to be in the photographic tour that is really more of you wandering along the canyons on your own for 2 hours.

The lower Antelope canyons is the less famous but not necessary less crowded, it does cost a little less, a total of $38 incuding the permit.  It last about 2 hours if you decide to be on your own on a ‘photographic permit’. Basically if you choose that option, instead of the hour long guided trip,  you are left on your own to photograph the various sights.

For some reason, most of the Americans on the internet were avoiding the Lower Antelope canyon, apparently only recommending it for fitter hikers. But it is quite an easy stroll with a few ladders. My friend who had a slightly sprained ankle managed quite well with her walking stick. Unless you are super large and hardly exercise at all, it is quite a comfortable walk through.

It gets super crowded, we got in at 8am and the carpark was already packed with photographers and their huge tripods waiting to get in. You don’t really need to book one of those tours from Page. Just get to the carparks early, wait for the tour office to open before you join in.  The preferred timing is in the summers of June, July and August when the sun is at the highest. I was there between 830am to 11am and the colors of the walls does get washed out by 1130am when I visited in June.

The lower Antelope Canyon was quite magical, I got carried away and spend longer than my time slot just walking around and discovering the light. By the time I got out around 11.30am, the crowd was packed waiting their turns to get in.

The guides would play their flutes, guitars or sing as they bring streams of tourists into the narrow slots. Quite a great acoustic experience listening to these young Native kids telling stories of their ancestors as they lead the tourists.

The Slot Canyons look totally different from the outside and the colors were washed out to even realise how magical it would be when you walk through the canyons.

The canyons are narrow but some parts do allow space for you and your tripod.

That classic light beam in the slot canyon. Photographers play with the light by throwing sand into the air, creating light beams when the sun is glowing through.  Time is essential here as in the Lower Antelope Canyons, light quickly changes by 11am and you won’t get the classic beam shot.

The Raven’s Nest

Large Raven Nests scattered around the Canyons, not quite a santuary for them with streams of tourists disturbing their peace.

The lion’s spot

Hard to tell from here, but look at 4 dark spots slightly off the center. The discoloration is basically the lack of iron in the stones.


My first camping experience

Canyonlands Utah, Needles campsite

In the years I have been travelling around the world, I have never camped nor stayed in tents. Sure there is the occasional weekend thing but to stay weeks travelling with a full set of camping equipment. Never!

Sure you might say whats the big deal for those who have camped before, but my family and my friends were in horrors when I told them I was renting a car and camping around national parks. These are people who do not camp. The closest they remotely been in were safari camps operated by some big hotel or in the army some distance century away.

Visiting the various national parks in New Mexico and Utah, you need to camp, thats the only option.  The parks are situated in the deserts away from everything. The nearest motels and hotels are at least 20 -30 miles away from the parks and I had my fair share of horrid worry and torturing search for hotels in the busy Arizona national parks. That was enough and too stressful to deal with.

Borrowed a few camping equipment from my amazing friends P and J, bought a pretty comfortable tent and got all the necessary sleeping material, food and camping stove. The US national parks are pretty organised and the campsites are the closest to all the sites you would want to stay for sunset and be the first to get to the sites before sunrise. Many sites I had camped in are what you call dry camps. There are no showers, sometimes no water and only non-flushable pit toilets. The closest you go for drinking water is that 10mile drive to the visitor center. A little tough for those who prefer their beds and hair dryers and not having to shower for a few days. Living in the tropics, I need my daily showers and  somehow managed getting my washing done in these sites despite.

Still this is luxury camping to me. This is better than staying in the well known roach motels in the US that are not necessary cheap either. I prefer paying the us$30 per camp versus that average us$150 a night in crappy motels that surrounded the parks.

You drive to the camp sites, set up, pay for your site in a envelope and dropping it into a box at the entrance. Sometimes I had the whole camp site to my own in less visited national parks and sometimes there is a huge rush to scoring the best site during the public holiday week. I enjoyed cooking under the stars and waking up surrounded by nature.  Sometimes deers and an accidental bear would appear around me. Sometimes I had to deal with the hot summer heat in Utah and New Mexico at 100F temperatures.

Next experience to look forward to : real camping in the wilderness during mid winter.