select - Canyons
Written by Brian Johnston
A showcase of the best of a nation’s landscapes, a preserve of nature for future generations to admire, and providing a chance to enjoy the great outdoors: who doesn’t love a good canyon?
Antelope Canyon, USA
Located on native Navajo land near Page in Arizona, Antelope Canyon is favoured by artistic photographers for its sculptural rock formations (actually petrified sand dunes), pink-orange walls, and shafts of sunlight which penetrate the narrow canyon to spectacular effect. The wonderful formations are the result of aeons of flash flooding in the desert. Upper Canyon is most easily visited on a flat walk along the canyon floor; Lower Canyon features metal stairways worth negotiating in late afternoon to admire the beautiful light.
Distance: 12,758 km
Flight Time: 16 hour, 5 minutes
Frequency: Daily Flights
Colca Canyon, Peru
The Colca Canyon of southern Peru is nicknamed ‘Valley of Wonders’ for its plunging gorges, green valleys, snow-capped volcanoes, and desert landscapes. The vast canyon plunges 3,400m and is one of the world’s deepest. Cacti grow out of the pink rock. Llamas and alpacas are native to the region, and condors soar overhead. A centre for hikers, white-water rafters, mountain bikers, and climbers drawn to its surrounding peaks, the canyon also offers more sedate pleasures such as walking and horse riding between its colonial-era villages, which sit framed by ancient agricultural terraces.
São Paulo, Brazil
Distance: 11,874 km
Flight Time: 14 hours, 45 minutes
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, USA
The red, yellow, and orange walls of this canyon on the Yellowstone River in Wyoming are topped by bright green forest and graced with waterfalls, providing colourful osprey-eye outlooks from its rim viewpoints. Marmots and foxes scamper among the rocks. Bighorn sheep graze in the surrounding meadows, which are carpeted with wildflowers in spring and summer.
Distance: 11,473 km
Flight Time: 14 hour, 35 minutes
Canyon Sainte-Anne, Canada
The highlight of this canyon, a short drive from Quebec City, is the spectacular waterfalls – at their full effect in springtime. Take to the footbridges across the water; the most adrenalin-inducing bridge passes over the lip of the falls right above the thundering water. You can also ride a zip-line. Scenic outlooks along the canyon allow you to view giant potholes, waterfalls, and the forest.
Distance: 10,414 km
Flight Time: 13 hours, 40 mins
Frequency: 3 flights a week
Fish River Canyon, Namibia
On a continent fabled for the scale of its natural wonders, this canyon in Namibia’s far south is outstanding: 160km long, 27km wide in places, and 0.5km deep. It’s also a true wilderness, necessitating a challenging five-day hike to appreciate its wonders, which include rust-red rock, twisted cliffs, and refreshing rock pools ideal for swimming. You might spot antelope and zebras. At hike’s end, reward your muscles with a dip in the Ai-Ais hot springs.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Distance: 6,750 km
Flight Time: 8 hours, 20 minutes