This tour has to be one of the highlights of all my Travels, it has always stuck in my mind and Yosemite is at the top of places I want to return to and explore further. On a tight schedule of trying to see as much as possible in a short period of time in California and Nevada, we opted for a one day tour with Extranomical Tours and it was a perfect taster! The mini bus picked us up bright and early from our hotel entrance and after doing the rounds of picking everyone else up, we were on our way. It was a fair drive over to the park from the centre of San Francisco where we were saying but the bus stopped off for toilet and snack stops – one of which had a small supermarket where it was suggested we picked up lunch for a picnic later, an excellent recommendation from the Guide.
The National Park is stunning from the second you enter – just picture perfect. The bus stopped off quite quickly for an initial photo op before the first longer stop at Bridalveil Falls. Here we had the opportunity for a short walk around and a chance to explore freely. Following quite a dry spell the falls were not as spectacular as pictures I’ve seen since the water wasn’t gushing down but there was a fall and the bright sunlight was glinting off it and it was certainly a sight to behold. Everything is well sign posted and easy to find, we ventured a fair way and paddled in the water as it was much hotter than anticipated (it was recommended to cover up but I wish I’d taken a pair of shorts in my rucksack to change into). The second stop was one of 2 main ones of the day. It was around lunch time when we made it to the area near Tuolumne Grove, we started with a look around the gift store where we purchased the obligatory souvenirs but were pleased to have bought lunch along with us as the food was a little pricey. The Tour group really split up at this point, it seemed everyone did as we did, which was pick a direction and see where it lead. We found ourselves on the edge of a lake which felt like our own private beach. Lunch was eaten with terrific mountain views and followed by more paddling and a short adventure back through the woods to the bus.
The final stop on the tour was a chance to see the Giant Sequoia Tree’s including the ‘Tunnel Tree’. These are amazing beasts of a tree, you may think you’ve seen a forest and big trees before but these will give you a chance to see life from an ants perspective. The journey to these trees is quite strenuous and the time allotted meant you needed to trek at a brisk pace; but the scenery was stunning and definitely worth it, even if you only went part of the way down the trail. The wild life in this section made the experience all the more enjoyable from a variety of birds to deer and other woodland creatures. There were plenty of fantastic photo opportunities and with other people always around and about there was a great atmosphere too.
Back on the bus and time to leave, but the drive out offered a panoramic tour of a good section of the Park with the Guide speaking out at times of key points of interest. The day was over all too fast and as I said initially I’m keen to return and explore this beautiful place more, but considering I’d never really thought of going in the first place (it was my parents who chose the tour) I will be forever grateful for their choice.