Tag: British Columbia

When I first heard that my trip to Canada was going to involve a few days out in the remote Great Bear Rainforest, I did wonder if I was going to be roughing it. But it turns out that at the Great Bear Lodge you can do luxury in the wilderness. Out in the fjords to the north of Vancouver Island, the lodge is surrounded by miles of unspoilt temperate rainforest. The area is home to grizzly, black and Kermode bears as well as plenty of other wildlife – cougars and wolves on land, whale and dolphins in the water, and hundreds of bird species in the air.
Think of a rainforest and you imagine tropical heat, howling monkeys, scuttling insects and colourful birds. But a rainforest doesn’t have to be hot – there’s also another, lesser-known version, the temperate rainforest. They’re both packed with natural riches and share the same high rainfall of 250–450cm a year, but where the tropical version is hot and steamy, the temperate version is cool and damp.
‘World’s Most Liveable City’, ‘Top Destination in Canada’ – Vancouver really knows how to win awards, and it’s easy to see why. It’s got big-city facilities with a friendly, relaxed feel. If you love the outdoors you have snow-covered slopes to one side and the ocean to the other. Or if you’re more into the arts you have theatres and galleries, and so many films are made locally it’s been christened Hollywood North. It’s also Canada’s most ethnically diverse city, so you’ll find food all the way from Ethiopia to Venezuela alongside local BC produce and wines.
Looking at a map of Canada, Vancouver Island isn’t much more than a dot off the coast of British Columbia. But this is Canadian scale – where everything is bigger than it looks. In reality it’s the largest Pacific Island east of New Zealand, stretching 290 miles from north to south. After exploring the city of Victoria, our next stop was the Great Bear Rainforest, reached via Port Hardy at the north of the island. Now in this part of the world you can get almost anywhere by air – seaplanes mean you don’t need an airport or even a runway. But if you flew over you’d be missing out on seeing the island itself.
Canada had topped my travel wishlist for years, so as we boarded our last flight the excitement started to grow. Down below I could see pine-covered islands dotted in shimmering water – we had made it to Vancouver Island. And I couldn’t think of a better place to start my adventures than Victoria, the island’s biggest city and capital of British Columbia. It is known for being one of Canada’s most English cities, so I was expecting to feel at home, but I found it mixed up different European influences –  Gothic style at the Parliament building, French Renaissance at the Empress Hotel and Ancient Greece at the ferry building.
Canada has been top of my travel wishlist for so long – and with good reason. It’s the perfect combination of modern city life meets wilderness wildlife adventure. Though with over 5000 miles from coast to coast you’d need a while to see it all. So I’m starting with a province which brings together some of the country’s best features in a much smaller area (by Canadian standards at least) – British Columbia. Along with fellow bloggers Travel with Kat, Quirky Traveller and Tips for Travellers, I’ll be spending a week exploring the coastal area around Vancouver Island – home to Vancouver and Victoria, two cities on the edge of nature.
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