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Photographer's Note

I have already expressed my opinion about Europeans who are not aware of what to visit when coming to America because Europe does not have comparable wonders of nature. Although every educated person may have heard about the Grand Canyon and many dream about visiting it, as it always tops “50 most important places to see before you die”, fewer tourists are aware of the fact that the whole area around of Grand Canyon is full of other geologic wonders. More prepared Europeans visit Bryce canyon or Zion National Parks, but only connoisseurs, and this include many TE members, want to visit slot canyons.

A slot canyon is a narrow canyon, formed by the wear of water rushing through rock. A slot canyon is significantly deeper than it is wide. Some slot canyons can measure less than one metre (3 ft) across at the top but drop more than 30 m (100 ft) to the floor of the canyon. The U.S. state of Utah has the largest concentration of slot canyons in the world.
Antelope Canyon is the most-visited and most-photographed slot canyon in the American Southwest. It is located on Navajo land near Page, Arizona. Antelope Canyon includes two separate, photogenic slot canyon sections, referred to individually as Upper Antelope Canyon or The Crack; and Lower Antelope Canyon or The Corkscrew.


There are plenty of excellent photos from Antelope Canyon on TE already so I am not going even to try competing with them. What I have different is the story.
Because the land is owned by Navajo Indians and theoretically there is a danger of flash floods you can visit the slot canyons exclusively in a guided tour. Colleagues from TE warned me that the tours taken straight from the visitor center are cheap but crowded and you may end up in a group of 150 people. I had plenty of advice from Dyerco or fallan and I also kept in mind the adventure of avene. Basically the theory is that you take either 20€ 1-hour tour with as many people as are around, or >200€ “photographic tour” with fewer people and more time for photographing (read avene experience about it though). My experience was very different from theirs. I visited the canyon in November. This time of the year there is no chance for the famous beam of light so we arrived in the Upper Antelope Canyon at 10am. There were couple of groups passing us so we expected it will be very crowded. In the visitor center we were the only ones. It seemed that everybody took a tour from numerous private companies in Page. The native American guide welcomed us and said that we can have either 20€ tour per person for 1 hour or 40€ tour for 2 hours. We were on a tight budget but we decided to take more time. Now the surprise: nobody else arrived by 10am so we were with my wife the only ones with this guide. He said he can also take us to a less know Rattlesnake Canyon which was on the way, much less known and only the Navajo have the right to take tourists there. But I wanted to see the Upper Antelope Canyon first. We arrived in the canyon when every other group was at the other end so we were alone. We did not need to rush. I could decide how fast to go. While I was focused on taking clean shots with my tripod, he was showing me best POVs, telling my wife Indian legends or playing native American music with flute. When other groups wanted to pass by he was holding them for me so that they did not disturb my shots. After 1.5 hour in the Upper Antelope Canyon I ask him to show us the Rattlesnake Canyon for the remaining half an hour and he did. The funniest thing was that we were passing a group of 20 photographers with tripods, who were all disturbing each other and paid probably over 200 bucks for that while in the meantime we were treated like VIPs. Well in the end even 2 hours was not enough if you are in such amazing place for the first time and you don’t know what to start with.

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Additional Photos by Mariusz Kamionka (mkamionka) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2865 W: 95 N: 7098] (29760)
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