Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Katherine visits America's Wild West...

After months of excitement, the day I had been waiting for was finally here – my trip to America – a place I had never visited before!

After a pleasant flight with British Airways I arrived into Denver and was transferred to the Grand Hyatt for my first nights stay. After a good nights sleep in a very comfortable bed, I met up with the rest of the group along with our Tour Manager Evan and our coach driver Tim. As this was my first time travelling as part of a group I didn’t really know what to expect but Evan and Tim were fantastic and introduced everyone in the group.

After our luggage was transferred from our rooms to the coach the journey began! I was very surprised at how spacious our coach was with lots of legroom.

The first stop of today was at the resort of Vail – a very quaint picturesque alpine village. We were lucky as it was the local market day and Evan insisted on everyone trying the famous ‘Palisade Peaches’ that Colorado had to offer!

Next we carried on our journey and entered the state of Utah travelling through the Rocky Mountains before arriving in Moab for our 2 night stay at Red Cliffs Lodge. As we arrived I was blown away by the spectacular scenery of the red rocks surrounding the lodge on the banks of the Colorado River – it was beautiful. Our lodge was superb and had a very homely feel to it.

After our nights stay at Red Cliffs Lodge – today we visited Canyonlands National Park where we saw wonderful views from the Island in the Sky. After an afternoon at leisure, tonight we decided to take part in the optional excursion – ‘a jet boat ride along the Colorado River’ which is an absolute must! As we travelled down the river we saw some beautiful Blue Herrings on the banks of the river. The guide was brilliant and was very knowledgeable about the surrounding area.

After a wonderful night last night, this morning we left Red Cliffs Lodge and began our journey with a visit to Arches National Park, followed by a visit to the Anasazi Heritage Centre before ending the day in Mesa Verde National Park where we stayed overnight at Far View Lodge – where I had an amazing close up view of a deer right in front of our lodge!

This morning after exploring Mesa Verde and visiting Spruce Tree House – an amazing dwelling built into rock, we began our journey to Monument Valley – which I was particularly excited to visit as it is a very famous backdrop for many western films! As soon as we arrived at Far View Lodge and went out onto our balcony I was astonished by the view of the valley right on my doorstep! This evening we had a guided tour of the valley floor by an all-terrain vehicle which although being very bumpy was fascinating! The guided tour was then followed by a Navajo cookout with storytelling and music which was fantastic!

After waking up to the stunning view of the valley, we started our journey to Lake Powell which proved to be a dramatic change in scenery! We boarded a ferry from Hall’s Crossing to Bullfrog Marina and transferred to Defiance House Lodge for our overnight stay. On arrival at the lodge we were very lucky to watch a big lightning storm across the lake which was spectacular!

This morning we left Lake Powell as we began our journey to Bryce Canyon. En-route we had a short stop at Capitol Reef National Park. On arrival into Bryce Canyon I was truly blown away by the dramatic scenery – I have never experienced such a unique place and it really did have the wow factor for me! Bryce Canyon was a place that I didn’t know an awful lot about, but now I would recommend it as a must see!

After a good nights sleep at Bryce Canyon National Park Lodge, we left for Zion National Park. On arrival into the park we had a guided tour by private shuttle, the guide was very informative and taking the shuttle was a good way of seeing the park as it is quite spread out. I enjoyed Zion National Park as we visited from ground level whereas all of the other parks were visited from a high level – so it allowed us different views. Later this afternoon we left Zion National Park and headed for Grand Canyon National Park – North rim. As we drove into the park I was amazed by the surrounding greenery – a lasting memory was seeing the many Bison grazing along the roadside!

Our log cabin at the North Rim was very cosy and was only a short walk to the edge of the rim. One unique view over the canyon was from the dining room – the huge glass windows allowed the most spectacular view!

After a good night’s sleep in our lodge, we awoke the following morning to watch the fantastic sunrise over the canyon which was beautiful. Today we drove along the Cape Royal Scenic Drive to Point Imperial and Cape Royal for some of the best views over the Grand Canyon – we also watched a lightning storm over the canyon which was pretty amazing!

This evening we had a farewell dinner at Grand Canyon Lodge.

This morning we left Grand Canyon Lodge and started our journey to Las Vegas – at this point I was very excited as Vegas is a place I have always dreamt of visiting!

This afternoon on arrival into Las Vegas we were transferred to Planet Hollywood where we would stay for the next 3 nights. Las Vegas was added onto my trip as an extension and I felt that it was a nice way of finishing the tour as it was 3 days of my own arrangements.

Las Vegas certainly lived up to my expectations and I would definitely go back. A must do is the Stratosphere Top of the World Restaurant – located on the 109th floor it has the most spectacular views over Vegas which is certainly impressive as night falls and the lights come alive!

After 3 nights in Las Vegas it was time to return home and back to reality but I have the best memories and photographs of the trip of a lifetime!

Tour Fact File:

Price: from £1875 per person
Departure dates: various throughout the year (book now for 2012)
Duration: 10 days (we suggest you extend your stay to take in Las Vegas like Katherine did above)

How to book: Call Katherine on 01543 258631 or email katherine@robertbroadtravel.co.uk

For more photographs visit our Facebook gallery by clicking here.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

India - the second love of my life...

As seen on the ITV1 documentary with Caroline Quentin...

Our resident India tours & holiday expert Dave tells us why he loves the country so much.

What is it that attracts me so much to India? – after all there’s the heat, the noise and the smells to contend with let alone the chaos that greets you after an 8 and a half hour flight from Heathrow as you emerge into the sunshine at Delhi Airport. The sheer amount of people, the noise from hundreds of car horns and the shock of seeing live animals in the street are enough to send most people into a state of shock and a wish to return home as quickly as possible.

How quickly however those first feelings evaporate and by the end of your stay you are already planning your return.

Most people visiting India for the first time, travel to Northern India and in particular Rajasthan home of course to the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra (remember it is closed on a Friday!) The Taj is everything you would expect it to be and my advice would be to try and visit twice, once at sunset and again at sunrise. Best time to visit Rajasthan is November to April although early part of January can be misty and sometimes a little cold.

Apart from Delhi and Agra, Rajasthan is home to Jaipur , Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Udaipur. You should also look at including if you have the time a visit to Ranthambore to try and spot a tiger in the wild – an experience which will live with me forever. In Delhi don’t forget to visit Humayun’s Tomb built in the 16th century by the second Mughal Emperor. In Agra also take the time to visit Baby Taj as it is known which is a smaller mausoleum on which the more famous Taj Mahal is based. The journey there across a bridge crammed full of people, cars rickshaws and monkeys is worth doing for this alone.
India is a fantastic country packed full of surprises wherever you go. The currency is the rupee, time difference is + 5.5hrs. My advice is to travel with an open mind - be prepared to see some amazing sights and as the advertising says just enjoy ‘Incredible India’ !

If you are interested in visiting India call our India Tours & Holidays expert Dave on 01543 258631 or email dave@robertbroadtravel.co.uk. To view more pictures from Dave's trip click here