Barack and Michelle re-trace the steps of a poignant family journey with their girls

Gazing out across the breathtaking vistas of the Grand Canyon, Barack Obama was no doubt thinking back to his first visit there.

Then he was as an impressionable 11-year old on a family holiday with his mother, grandmother - both of whom have since passed away - and his sister Maya.

This weekend, the US leader returned to the site, considered one of natural wonders of the world for its immense size and rugged landscape.

Taking advantage of an engagement in nearby Phoenix, Arizona, he toured the area with wife Michelle and their two children, Malia and Sasha.

In doing so the presidential couple joined some of the 5 million visitors to the park each year.

Since moving into the White House, the Obamas have tried to include their daughters on their travels, educating them about each place they visit.

In Britain, they were given a special tour of Buckingham Palace and had an audience with the Queen after the First Lady struck up a warm relationship with her.

This followed a stay in Paris where Sasha celebrated her eighth birthday with a party at the Elysee Palace hosted by Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.

Later the girls experienced the colourful sights and sounds of Ghana, also receiving a history lesson with a tour of the port through which slaves were transported to America.

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