Tour leader: Katya Belykh
States: Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, California, Nevada
Tour dates: October 15th — 29th, 2016
14 days, 15 nights
Phoenix, Arizona — Sedona, Arizona — First Mesa (Hopi land), Arizona — Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona — Monument Valley Tribal Park, Utah — Four Corners, Utah — Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado — Arches National Park, Utah — Capitol Reef National Park, Utah — Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah — Zion National Park, Utah — Tecopa Hot Springs, California — Death Valley National Park, California/Nevada — Las Vegas, Nevada
About the tour:
Many native tribes have populated the Southwest of America long before the arrival of white men. It is remarkable how such a deserted area with a deficit of vital resources (like water, food and building material) has become so densely populated. Scientists have ceased attempts to figure it out and now treat this fact as a given. Nomadic tribes that have previously lived in barren deserts — such as the Shoshone Tribe from the Death Valley — have coexisted in these territories in relative peace. Fertile and humid lands were occupied by the Pueblo tribes along with Anasazi, their prehistoric ancestors; the riverside was occupied by the mysterious Fremont tribes that irrigated and farmed their lands with great success. The Fremont Indians left their settlements and set out for an unknown destination somewhere around the 12th century; it can only be speculated as of where and why they have left. The first Mormon settlers found lots of perfectly functioning irrigation canals along the valley rivers and used them to produce harvests unusually abundant for a desert climate.
The tribes all differed in their culture, mythology, cosmogony, languages and customs. But their beliefs still had a lot in common.
Our route lies through different regions and landscapes of the Wild West. The focus is set on monuments and petroglyphs of the varying Indian cultures. We will also visit the reservations of various tribes and learn about their cultures. A part of the tour will be spent with Mario Blackwolf of the Apache tribe: he is a guide and a storyteller, as well as a gatherer and keeper of the Indian cultural heritage. Mario will conduct a Native Sweat Lodge Ceremony, meant for spiritual and physical purification and prayer for yourself and others. The tour is fairly physically active, with anywhere from 3 to 10 kilometers of hiking through historical trails and national parks planned for every day.
Another focus of this tour is the high possibility of the desert going into bloom this spring. For a desert to become fully covered in a blooming carpet of flowers a perfect combination of circumstances is required — that happens only once every several years. This winter has been humid and snowy, therefore this spring we will have a good chance to see this natural phenomenon, last observed in 2006.
The trip will conclude with relaxation in the hot springs near the Death Valley — a hidden gem unknown to most visitors. You will have a chance to rest before the long flight back to civilization and to digest all of the accumulated experiences.
Some things to expect on this tour include the discovery of America that you will never see on regular tours: the middle of nowhere where Time itself has stopped and spirit of the Wild West is present in everything around you. You will also become familiarized with the history and culture of Native American tribes that populate the region, and trek through beautiful, interesting places every day.
What this tour will not have: time spent in large cities will be very minimal and there will be no time for shopping. If that’s something you would like to do, the best way to arrange that is by spending an extra day in Las Vegas upon the completion of the tour. Your guide will gladly offer their expertise and assistance upon request.
October 15th, Saturday. Arrival to and pick-up from the Phoenix Airport in the evening. NIght at a 2.5* hotel.
October 16th, Sunday. A trip to the Saguaro giant cactus National Park (2 hours). Trekking in the park. Drive over to Sedona (4 hours). Night at a 2.5* hotel in Oak Creek, Arizona.
October 17th, Monday. Sedona with Mario Blackwolf. Vortexes and places of power. Night at a 2.5* hotel in Oak Creek.
October 18th, Tuesday. Greeting the sunrise at the Bell Rock vortex (optional). Sweat Lodge ceremony with Mario Blackwolf. Rest. Evening hike. Night at a 2.5* hotel in Oak Creek.
October 19th, Wednesday. A drive over to the Hopi Indians reservation — First Mesa village (2.5 hours). An excursion of the Hopi reservation and the story of this amazing tribe. Night at a hotel in the Hopi reservation, Arizona.
October 20th, Thursday. A trip to Canyon de Chelly National Monument (1.5 hours). A history of the Pueblo tribes and their ancestors. Night at a 3* hotel near Canyon de Chelly, Arizona.
October 21st, Friday. A trip to the Natural Bridges Monument (about 3 hours). At sunset, a drive to the Monument Valley (1.5 hours). Night at a hotel in a reservation, or in an Arizona/Utah town nearby.
October 22nd, Saturday. A trip to the Mesa Verde National Park (2.5 hours). On our way, we will make a stop at the historic Four Corners monument — a place where the states of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona converge. Hikes through the park; exploring one of the richest ruins of the ancient Pueblo culture. Night at a 2.5* hotel in Cortez, Colorado.
October 23rd, Sunday. A trip to the famous Newspaper Rock in the morning (1.5 hours). It is a large rock covered in petroglyphs belonging to Indians of several different cultures. A drive over to the Arches National Park (1 hour), trekking. Night at a 2.5* hotel in Moab, Utah.
October 24th, Monday. Relocating to the Capitol Reef National Park (2.5 hours). Trekking, hiking. Petroglyphs. A story of the Native Americans tribe that reside in this region. Night at a 2.5* hotel in Torrey, Utah.
October 25th, Tuesday. A drive to Escalante State Park (1.5 hours). Trekking one of the park’s trails, weather and circumstances permitting. Night at a 2.5* hotel in Escalante, Utah.
October 26th, Wednesday. A trip to the Zion National Park (2 hours). Trekking one of the park’s trails, weather permitting. The history of Mormons and Utah’s colonization. Night at a 3* hotel in St. George, Utah (1 hour drive away from the park).
October 27th, Thursday. Relocating to Tecopa Hot Springs Resort, California (3.5 hours). Bathing and relaxing in the springs. A trip to China Ranch, a desert oasis ranch specializing in date farming. Hiking the surrounding areas; the history of Amargosa Valley’s colonization. Night at Tecopa Hot Springs Resort.
October 28th, Friday. Dante’s View in the morning (1.5 hour drive). Trekking the mountain range above the Death Valley. Amazing views and scenery, provided the lighting and weather are good. Lunch at the Death Valley National Park Visitor Center. Depending on the conditions, an excursion to area of the Valley where blooming flowers are most concentrated. Farewell dinner. Night at Tecopa Hot Springs Resort.
October 29th, Saturday. Driving over to Las Vegas (2 hours), flying to Los Angeles. Leaving Los-Angeles.>
Included in the trip’s cost:
- Guide and driver service
- Breakfast in some hotels
- Entry tickets to national parks
- Excursions listed in the itinerary
- Farewell dinner in Sedona
The cost does not include:
- International flights
- Domestic flights
- USA entry visa
- Traveler’s insurance
- Any food other than what’s included
- personal expenses
- Any extracurricular activities
- Trekking boots
- Comfortable walking shoes, lighter than trekking boots (sneakers or sandals are good)
- Slippers — they will come in handy at the Sweat Lodge Ceremony and at the hot springs
- Small backpack for day trips
- Trekking clothes: a fleece shirt, comfortable pants. Be able to add/take away layers, like long or short sleeves, etc.
- Sun hat
- Sunglasses and sunblock
- Light winter jacket and a hat
- Large towel (for the Sweat Lodge Ceremony and hot springs)
- For the Sweat Lodge Ceremony, women: knee-length skirts or sarongs, and a top that covers arms above the elbow and shoulders (a t-shirt works), men: shorts and a t-shirt.
The Native American sweat lodge ritual plays an important role in the spiritual traditions of many indigenous tribes of North America. It’s purpose is to help reconsider your life, remember your place in it, express your thankfulness, and perhaps let go of something that has outlived its usefulness and needs to go. It helps to move on to a new stage of life and become born again. At the beginning of the ceremony, participants will bring offerings to the spirits of the four cardinal directions as well as the spirits of earth and the sky. The offerings are: corn — main food of the Natives, tobacco — a medical plant, and cedar needles — a sacred Native American incense. The foundation of the ritual is two forces interacting with each other: mother earth and father sky, and the rest of the world between them. The round tent in which the ritual is held represents the womb, and is covered with blankets in order to remain warm and cozy. Participants of the ceremony bring in red-hot stones from the fire outside. Rocks are some of the most ancient creatures on Earth; being over millions of years old, they have truly seen everything. Water is poured on the stones and healing vapors fill up the tent …
During the Sweat Lodge Ceremony participants speak to their ancestors and thank them for everything that happened in their life. Thankfulness is the key energy of this ceremony. We’re thanking the world, ask it for protection and open up the way for new beginnings. Everything ends with a symbolic birth — an exit from the Mother Earth’s womb. After that it’s time for hugs and congratulations, as participants emerge feeling renewed and full of energy. You will need comfortable 100% cotton clothes for the ceremony; an ideal fit for a man would be a t-shirt and shorts, and a long skirt with a comfortable top for women (it should cover the shoulders). Bring two towels: one to sit on, and one for wiping away sweat.
The main rule of the ritual: You may exit the sweat lodge at any moment. Being in a “womb” should feel nothing but pleasant and easy; it is not a place for discomfort and suffering. The Sweat Lodge ritual serves to heal mental and physical ailments, for if a trauma was experienced in the past, a piece of the individual’s soul usually stays with it and keeps fueling the pain.
Sweat Lodge will give your spirit a chance to return home! To make offerings to the spirits you will need to bring tobacco, corn flour and cedar needles. We will usually buy tobacco and corn flour in bulk for the whole group, the cedar needles we just pick from the trees. After the ceremony we will go back to our hotel to shower and change clothes