To excite me about my trip to British Columbia, the Canadian Tourism Board sent me the rather cute (and soft) bear pictured above. I named him “Claws”, and the sweet and cheeky chap served as a daily reminder of the journey I am embarking on. While the bears that I will be encountering there on my Explore Canada Spring Watch trip are not going to be as charming, I am expecting they will make an even bigger (and more emotional) impact.
Canada has always sounded far away and remote. However it was pointed out to me that it is actually the same flying time as going to the popular Florida holiday centres of Orlando and Miami from the United Kingdom. At the end of May I am setting off on that flight to Canada’s British Columbia region for a week to discover what it offers a visitor in the Spring – and to find out if travellers should add it as a viable place to visit at this time of year. I suspect, from my research to date, that I am going to find out that it is. It seems to be less crowded, and less expensive, than the peak season which lasts from August to October. And it has the added benefit of being the time when the bears have their cubs!
British Columbia is on the far western side of Canada and is known for having vibrant cities, like Vancouver and Victoria. Both of which offer exciting wildlife experiences right on their doorstep – including large populations of Grizzly Bears and pods of Orca whales. You do not have to travel long distances from the comfort of the modern town centres to immerse yourself into the wilderness. This makes it a time effective vacation as there is not too much downtime lost in commuting to the wildlife highlights.
My trip is going to take in three key areas and experiences:
Victoria. My focus activity in this historic city will be to go whale watching on the 62-foot Ocean Magic Express Cruiser operated by the Prince of Whales Whale Watching company. I have never seen whales, despite chasing around in various parts of the world on zodiacs looking for them! The high concentration of them just off shore of Victoria means that I should see and capture shots of them leaping and thrashing out of the sea around the ship.
Great Bear Rainforest. A few nights at Knight Inlet Lodge, a floating eco-hotel half an hour flight from Campbell River and about 60 kilometres inland at Glendale Cove, is going to get me up close to view members of the largest concentration of grizzly (brown) bears in British Columbia.The tourism board says that it is not uncommon for there to be up to 50 bears within 10 kilometres of the lodge. This will be another first for me as the closest I have been to bears is in a zoo. We will be drifting along the rivers in small boats to seek them out. It is likely we will be seeing cubs as this is the season they are born in. Hopefully I will be sharing real-life cute and cuddly looking Claws-like bears on my return….
Vancouver. In this modern city I will be focused on seeing it from the water, which is the supposed to be the best way to see it. I will be going on a Sea Vancouver zodiac tour of the inner harbor before exploring other highlights like Vancouver’s Coal Harbour, North Shore, English Bay, False Creek and Stanley Park. This will be followed by a scenic kayak trip with Ecomarine Paddlesport along the shorelines of Stanley Park to enjoy Vancouver’s North Shore mountains and city skyline. So getting wet as well as wild then I suspect!
I will be visiting Canada British Columbia as a guest of Canadian Tourism Commission in partnership with Travelator Media. Find out more about Canada at www.keepexploring.ca