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When most people think of Canada they envisage the snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains, Canadian Mounties on horse-back, grizzly bears prowling for wild salmon, and the sheer space and beauty of the great outdoors. Whatever season you choose to travel Canada is spectacular, but summer and fall are particularly exceptional. Glacial mountain lakes shimmer in the sunlight, wildlife is at its most prolific and the weather is at its best for the sheer abundance of activities on offer.
Brilliant British Columbia
British Colombia is a spectacular province and Vancouver is the arrival point. It’s fair to say the city was high on the list when Mother Nature was handing out her charms. This beautiful city sits on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, enveloped by snow-capped mountain peaks. Explore Stanley Park, test your nerve on the Capilano Suspension Bridge, or head for natural attractions of Grouse Mountain. Gastown is Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood and it’s here you’ll find some of the city’s finest restaurants. This is also where you’ll discover stylish boutiques, a thriving fashion scene and unique galleries.
Beyond Vancouver, British Columbia is blessed with incredible natural attractions. Whistler is a blissful, summer adventure playground less than two hours from the city. Or hop on a seaplane to Victoria on Vancouver Island for a birds-eye view of the surrounding wilderness and likely spot a whale or two as well. For those who want to explore the great Canadian outdoors, Vancouver Island takes some beating; the wilderness is quite literally on your doorstep. Explore the Pacific Rim National Park, home to wild beaches, superb hiking trails and enjoy some of the best bear viewing to be found anywhere in North America. Take to the calm waters and kayak with Orcas, learn more of the First Nations heritage on Quadra Island or seek out the elusive Spirit Bear in the Great Bear Rainforest.
Alberta is a province of superlatives, where the scenery is quite simply off the scale. A place of soaring mountain peaks, ancient glaciers and mind-boggling history that dates back millions of years.
Banff was Canada’s first National Park and has everything you could want from a Canadian holiday. Kayak the emerald waters of Lake Louise or the vivid turquoise waters of Moraine Lake, surrounded by mountains and thundering waterfalls. Jasper National Park is the largest in the Rockies, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore its waterways with gentle float tours or if you’re a thrill seeker at heart, take to the rapids on a white- water rafting adventure.
The Icefields Parkway is Alberta’s ultimate road trip. This breath-taking drive winds its way through a vast wilderness of truly outstanding scenery. The Columbia Icefields Glacier and Skywalk is a must-see experience where you can hop on one of the Ice Explorers for a memorable ride on to the Athabasca Glacier.
In the Alberta’s Canadian Badlands, you’ll find towering hoodoo’s and can walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs. From the friendly city of Calgary host to the annual Calgary Stampede, a celebration of all things western, take a drive through the open prairies and visit Fort MacLeod, Head-Smashed-In- Buffalo-Jump and Waterton National Park.
Putting the Wild into Wildlife
Canada is renowned for its iconic wildlife and when it comes to bears is probably the best place on earth for sheer variety. The coastal rainforests of Vancouver Island offer some of the best viewing options, this is where grizzlies (brown bears) roam through pine forests and paddle in fast flowing rivers in search of wild salmon. Canada’s nutrient rich waters are also the perfect home for humpback whales, grey whales, and orcas. For polar bears however you need to head to Manitoba in the far north, this is where polar bears congregate in large numbers as they wait for the sea ice to form in the Hudson Bay. It’s also where you’ll find beluga whales swimming gracefully in the chilly waters. If you’re hoping to see iconic moose, then the Banff National Park is a good place as well as the eastern provinces of Ontario and Newfoundland where you’ll often spot them meandering along the roadside.
The Canadian roads were made for driving, they are wide and once you leave the big cities behind, very often empty. Hiring a car is an easy way to explore, or a camper van where you can travel the road less travelled entirely at your own pace. Canada also does train travel well. The legendary Rocky Mountaineer travels various routes between Vancouver, Calgary, and Jasper, whilst the Trans Canadian will take you from Toronto to Vancouver through the very heart of the country. On the east coast it’s easy to hop from Toronto to Montreal and Quebec and then into the provinces of Atlantic Canada by train.
Best Places to Stay
From five-star hotels to floating bear lodges, ranches and wilderness camps, Canada has a vast array of unique and interesting places to stay. The bear viewing lodges in western Canada offer some of the finest opportunities in the world to spot bears in the wild and, there are even some which are dedicated purely to the sightings of polar bears.
Western-style ranches are also a great way to experience Canada, whether you want something hands-on where you can get involved in everyday life, or a little more luxurious with exceptional food and activities to enjoy. there are plenty to choose from. When it comes to luxury experiences Canada also hits the mark – with uber-stylish glamping safari tents, luxury retreats and lodges where the only way in is by helicopter. There is something to suit all budgets but a stay in a bear viewing lodge is a truly unforgettable experience.
It’s fair to say that travel is in my blood, I’ve spent more than 24 years exploring almost every continent on the planet and Canada in particular is a real passion of mine. I’ve been lucky enough to live in and travel to Canada multiple times so the knowledge I offer is from first-hand experience. The service I offer is personal, flexible, and tailored entirely to you. Have a look at my website https://www.catherineblackburntravel.co.uk/ you can also follow me on Facebook for more inspiration.