I’m going on a bear hunt – (with camera only of course!)
Wide open spaces. spectacular wildlife, exciting sports, contemporary architecture, adventurous cuisine, intriguing history and diverse culture. Everything you can think of when you hear the word ‘Canada’ all in one state – British Columbia. With a population of about 4.5 million and an area of almost 950,000 sq km that’s a lot of country with a plenty of room for manoeuvre. To be honest, I wasn’t really sure where exactly British Columbia was when I was invited on a Travelator Media trip to #exploreCanada in late spring. A few years ago I had the pleasure of discovering the culinary delights of Montreal and Quebec City on the east coast, and I knew BC was on the other side of the country – that was about it. If you’re not sure either, have a look at this map.
Whistler for skiers, Alaska Highway for petrol heads, the Yukon for gold diggers, Victoria for Anglophiles and Vancouver for just about everyone. Nature red in tooth, claw, beak and fin can be found here – bears, beavers, eagles, whales, moose, deer and much more. The more I read about Canada’s ‘Adventure Playground’, the more appealing this place became, until now I can’t wait to go …
We’ll be exploring a relatively small but diverse area at the southern end of British Columbia. First stop is Victoria, historic capital on Vancouver Island. Named after Queen Victoria, it’s apparently redolent of ‘olde worlde Englishness’ in the nicest possible way. We’re staying in the elegant Hotel Grand Pacific overlooking Inner Harbour, slap bang in the heart of downtown Victoria. The highlight of our brief visit here will undoubtedly be going out on the Prince of Whales tour in the hopes of seeing orcas, humpback whales, sea lions and eagles.
From Victoria we transfer to Campbell River and more sightseeing around Vancouver Island. It’s largest island off the North American coast, renowned for its colourful, quirky villages, superb fishing, tranquil forests and deserted beaches. The climate in this part of the world is temperate and on a sunny hillside in the Cowichan Valley (First Nation for ‘land warmed by the sun’) is Blue Grouse Winery; delighted to say we’ll be sampling a glass or two of their wines along the way.
Then comes the main reason for going to this part of the world – we’re going to find BEARS. British Columbia has the world’s largest concentration of grizzly bears, as well as black bears and the unique Kermode (Spirit) bears. For three nights I will staying at world-renowned Knight Inlet Lodge where we are almost guaranteed to see grizzly (brown) bears in one of the most remote and spectacular landscapes in Canada.
Knight Inlet Lodge is situated in the Great Bear Rainforest on a river platform; to get there we’ll be arriving by float plane. Not only should we see the bears but hopefully bald eagles and maybe pods of orca whales. In spring the grizzly bears come out of hibernation and I’m crossing fingers and toes that there will be a number of bear cubs. It’ll be photography heaven and yes, I’m definitely after the ‘cute bear’ pic! Find out more about Knight Inlet Lodge here – as you can see it is a very special place!
The final destination on this unique Canadian adventure is Vancouver. I’ve wanted to visit this city for many years, since I worked in Hong Kong a few years before the handover from the British to China in 1997. At that time, many colleagues at HSBC were planning to move to Vancouver and from what I heard, it sounded like a beautiful, vibrant and diverse place to be. I’m about to find out …
With just one night at ‘retro boutique hotel’, The Burrard we’ve got to make the most of our time. I’m looking forward to getting a real taste of the city on a foodie tour of ‘Vancouver’s breakfast, coffee and food truck culture’ – sounds suitably quirky! Think I will then need the City Cycle Tour that follows to work off some of that breakfast fare … Our final stop on this whirlwind trip of a lifetime is Sandbar Seafood Restaurant on Granville Island, where we’ll be able to try some of the fresh seafood for which this area is famous.
Inspired? Discover more about what Canada has to offer at www.keepexploring.ca Join me from May 29th – June 7th 2015 on my trip to Canada’s two Cities on the Edge of Nature and the Great Bear Rainforest via Social Media including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook with the hashtag #exploreCanada for updates – and lots more.