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Canada - another kind of safari


Jochen

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DAY 16

 

That day we had to start driving back to Vancouver again. But there's no way to do that in one day. At least not if you want to enjoy it. So we decided to visit Glacier National Park and Mt Revelstoke National Park and end in Kamploops.

 

After a great breakfast we left ASAP and drove straight into Glacier NP. We were surprised to see the mountains were still rather high. It had also snowed a bit at night, so the mountain tops looked like they had powder sugar on them.

 

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Our first stop was the new Rogers Pass Discovery Centre (to prolong our park pass for one day, as we mis-calculated). The we drove on a bit further and did the "Loop Brook Trail". A short hike of about an hour or so. It uses parts of an old railroad track (the bridges are gone, only the pillars remain, and the rails were removed as well). Also; this was mushroom city. So I tried a bit of macro photography, but cursed myself for not bringing a macro lens.

 

Some pillars from an old bridge;

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Next stop; Helmlock Grove trail. High trees and wooden walkways. Not bad. We ate lunch there.

 

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After lunch we drove to Mt. Revelstoke NP and did the Giant Cedars trail. Which is idem as the previous (high trees and wooden walkways), but a bit more spectacular.

 

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Some "Cabbage trail" was closed as there was a bear with cub in the neighborhood (we did not see them though). This is the beginning of the trail;

 

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We drove to a place called "Meadows In The sky", near Revelstoke town. It's a rather long drive up the mountain. And from the parking lot a small bus takes you up even a bit further. Normally there's plenty of flowers here. But of course it was the end of the season so we didn't see many. Still, we liked the views, and it was a fun hike. Perhaps also because it was a bit different than the ones we had done so far. A couple of pics;

 

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When we came back down it was high time to drive to Kamloops. By the time we passed the big Sushwap Lake it was dark. We ate dinner in a sports bar somewhere along the road. Fast-food'ish, but it was good. But very weird to see people with a rough edge who lived in the middle of nowhere (so to speak; I can only imagine the locals as loggers or farmers) watch… golf on TV.

 

We were only in Kamloops at 8PM. Luckily I had warned the owners we'd be late. This B&B was called "Wedgewood Band B&B" and strangely enough it was located two streets away from the Indian museum that we visited on our way into the Rockies. Web site; CLICK HERE. At this B&B we had the whole upper floor (living room + rooms). The rooms were huge. We enjoyed a drink, watched some TV and took a good shower. Time to hit the hay!

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DAY 17

 

The B&B gave us a fantastic breakfast. Every day we were amazed with how much (and good) food the owners bombarded us.

 

We decided to take the highway that morning, and not stop, so that we arrived in Vancouver by midday. This gave us a bit of time to visit the town. We had a walk in the park and visited the harbor. Here's a pano of park, harbour and city;

 

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In the evening we visited gas town and ate dinner there (at the Chill Winston restaurant - very delish but of course more expensive than all previous places we had been before; this was the city, and more touristy). While walking back to the parking lot, there was fire works above the water (some convention celebrating something). It looked as if the fireworks were there specially for us, to celebrate our last night.

 

Pic of the old clock that runs on gas;

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Our B&B that last night was called Thistle Down House and was located at the other side of the river (through Stanley Park and across the bridge). Their web site is HERE. The rooms were incredible here as well. They have five now, two upstairs and three downstairs. We got a different one than we had booked (more expensive normally, and brand new as it had just been refurbished) but the owners wanted our whole family to be able to sleep in rooms next to each other. Thanks for that! Needless to say the rooms were fantastic.

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DAY 18

 

In the hallway of our last B&B stood a plaque from TripAdvisor. Apparently they won a prize. No surprise. Not only were the rooms and beds fantastic, but breakfast as well. It had three courses and it felt like having a dinner party with friends. One last time we said "too bad we cannot stay longer"! But it was time to leave. To the airport. Trade in the car. And catch our plane home. Bye bye beautiful Canada.

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SOME CONCLUSIONS:

 

- Canada is big! I planned our days with not too much sightseeing stops in them (so that I could get everywhere in time, and so that we did not have to leave a certain place in a hurry). Still, I was behind schedule on a couple of occasions. Luckily enough we could always warn our next B&B. But mostly not by cell phone (only the biggest towns have coverage); I had to use the phones at the gas stations or in the restaurants.

 

- Canada does not need to be expensive. As I said somewhere higher up; I aimed for 3500€ per person, all in (rooms, flights, food & drinks, car, gas, park passes, ALL of it). But when the final VISA's came in I calculated that we had done it for a bit less than 3250€ per person. Not bad for 18 days of fun, with a few expensive sightseeing trips thrown in. Seemed I calculated too much for food. I must admit that, while there, we paid attention not to spend too much on restaurants though. And to not eat too much. No need for that; a heavy stomach and mountain hikes do not go together. Still, I reckon I could have done it even cheaper, as now I opted for B&B's that were sometimes a bit "too much" (that is to say; I paid a lot of attention that our old folks did not end up in uncomfy beds etc, while for me and Mira a sleep-out in a tent now and then would not have been a problem).

 

- Canada is far from flat. With the exception of the walks on Vancouver Island, all hikes required a minimum fitness level to get up the hill. Some had a lot of stairs (especially the "canyon" walks). You have to pay attention what walks you choose. It has to be possible for every member in your group. In our case there were no problems, our old folks managed just fine. Although sometimes they sighed a couple of times. :P

 

- Canada is not Africa. Eco-tourism, yes, as after all you're going there for "nature" and not "culture". Nature is - in places - as unspoiled as in Africa. But if you expect the same number of animals as in Africa; think again. That has everything to do with the climate, of course. Luckily Canada has a few iconic species such as bears, whales and moose. But if I were you I would not let it depend on luck to see them. What I mean is; I know you can read plenty of stories on the internet about people seeing a bear near the road, but if you read my report then perhaps you've noticed that we saw NONE while in the car, nor did we see any during our walks. Bottom line is; if you want to see bears; book specialized trips like the ones we did at Knight Inlet and Blue River. Yes, I know they're not cheap but at least you will not have traveled to Canada for nothing. Plus your pics will definitely be better than any snapshot taken from the car. Same goes for the animals at sea; book a trip! Yes, you do get to see a seal or dolphin now and then from the ferries. But you can forget taking decent pictures of it. And you will certainly not see whales from a ferry. One last thing about animals; be prepared to miss some species. Even us, with all the careful planning etc, have not seen a male moose, and only saw one raccoon (at night, in Stanley Park near the city). The weather is of great influence here. We saw very few bears because during hot days they stay higher on the mountain slopes. But the same hot weather gave us a fantastic day on the water.

 

- Be prepared to get wet. We were extremely lucky, having had fantastic blue sky and temperatures up to 30 degrees for more than half the trip, and having had only one hike with a bit of rain. But that does not mean you'll have the same luck. In fact, Canadian people told us constantly that they had had no summer so far, and that it had been lousy weather throughout most of July and August. This was confirmed by a guy at work who went for a whole month and only had 4 (!) days of good weather. In retrospect, I realized we really pushed our luck there. If I'd have to plan this trip again I'd stay one day longer at Hidden Cove lodge, simply to be able to re-do either the bear-trip or the whale-trip in case the weather - and sightings - were crap.

 

- Canada's B&B's are awesome. Either that or we were extremely lucky. To me it is clear that, compared to regular hotels, you get a better deal for less money. I cannot say much negative things about any B&B we had booked. I can wholeheartedly advise them to anyone reading this! Some really shined in one or two (or three!) particular areas;

 

Best rooms overall;

  • A Lakeside Retreat - Earls Cove
  • Clearwater Springs Ranch - Wells Gray
  • Canyon Ridge Lodge, Golden
  • Wedgewood Band - Kamloops
  • Thistle Down House - Vancouver

Best views;

  • Graycliff Cottage - Nanaimo
  • At Water's Edge - Port McNeill

Best location;

  • Hidden Cove lodge - Telegraph Cove
  • A Lakeside Retreat - Earls Cove
  • Clearwater Springs Ranch - Wells Gray

Best food;

  • Graycliff Cottage - Nanaimo
  • Hidden Cove lodge - Telegraph Cove
  • Clearwater Springs Ranch - Wells Gray
  • Mountain River Lodge - Mount Robson
  • The Glass House - Jasper

 

Absolute best for me was Clearwater Springs Ranch in Wells Gray, because on top of all the above the house looked incredible and the owners were fun and helpful. Plus they had a jacuzzi. Of the few that offered dinner, they were the best as well.

Close second would be Hidden Cove lodge close to Telegraph Cove, again because of all the above, but also because of the trips you can start from there, and because Dan - the owner - is an absolute nutcase, idem as myself. And evening dinner was almost as good as that of Clearwater Springs Ranch.

 

There you have it, folks. If you have any questions, I'll be glad to answer them.

 

Ciao,

 

J.

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twaffle

Fantastic report Jochen, thanks. Love those landscapes.

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Your photos are off the hook! Breathtaking.

 

Lost for words!

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Thanks. I try my best, lol. In this case, most credit certainly goes to the weather gods. ;)

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Marlene & John

Just starting to read your trip report.

Could have told you not to fly Air Transat. Its only ok for those misguided souls flying to Cuba for vacation.

Have travelled many times on vacation (not business though) with KLM and found them fine.

Next visit to Canada, come to Quebec. Liquor is sold freely 24/7 in corner stores etc to over 18's (not hard liquor though).

Marlene & John Feneley

Dollard des Ormeaux, Quebec, CANADA

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Your photography is absolutely stunning, my favourites being the ocean views around Georgia Strait.

 

Very cool to be reading a foreigners view of my neighbourhood! You even showed me a few places I haven't been up the coast that I'll have to check out once I get Africa out of my system.

 

"Canada is far from flat" - Now had you kept driving east from Banff into the eastern part of Alberta then onto Saskatchewan and Manitoba you would have found the Canadian prairies to be flat as a pancake!

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Hey Kath,

 

True! Calgary etc... that's flat! But I think less tourists go there (at least to us it didn't appeal that much).

 

You certainly have a fantastic country. To us it was also an eye-opener to see that a country can run so smoothly, so perfectly. All was in perfect condition (roads and public toilets). Ferries always in time (I subscribed to that mail service that warns about delays and hardly got any messages in the months prior to leaving). People were very friendly, and meant it (not like the "commercial smiles" you get in most places). And so on... I know sometimes people complain when comparing tax levels with US. But let me assure you; here in Belgium tax levels are much much higher and NOTHING works. At least you folks are getting your money's worth (including social security)

 

If not for it's hard winters and it's distance to Africa (grin), Canada might be the perfect country.

 

Ciao,

 

J.

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Glad you found everything working as it should! We sometimes don't realize how good we have it till we see it thru someone else's eyes. Even a place as civilized as New Jersey drove me crazy with it's lack of road signs, "jug handle" left turns and express freeways along side the regular freeway, also with insufficient signage!

 

Lower Mainland winters are quite temperate with the odd snowfall that just lasts a day, however I can't argue the additional 9 1/2 hrs to Africa. ;)

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... however I can't argue the additional 9 1/2 hrs to Africa. ;)

 

Well, that was the only downside to Canada (for me); the jetlag upon return. Barely couldn't keep my eyes open at work, then couldn't sleep at night. :lol:

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Atravelynn

I'm up to those dolphins and just had to comment. You got fabulous shots. Your private show comment may well be entirely accurate. Dolphins are intelligent social creatures and might have enjoyed your attention and the interest you had in them. Did the boat captain indicate how common it was to see such a large, active pod up close?

 

I find it funny you had to "learn" to drive an automatic. I'm sure it was a quicker process than what I'd have learning to drive a manual.

 

What a sunrise!

 

Off topic, what does the lion in your avatar have in its mouth? Had it eaten a blueberry popsicle?

 

Looking forward to more of this North American safari. Your trip looks so amazing that already I am mentally planning to follow in your footsteps, especially since I am accustomed to an automatic transmission.

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Atravelynn

A very watery trip so far.

 

Watery is good when it's not coming down on you from above. Such an abundance from the sea!

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Atravelynn

The whale videos are great and what luck that the camera had not been turned off. That fin flapping looked like a bye-bye wave to me. Your scenery shots are marvelous. The panorama really came in handy. Really crisp, bright days! The goats are a postcard. There are places to go in Manitoba to see hoardes of those garter snakes. Nice they were slithering around where you were. The bear does more than sit there for you and takes a drink, how accommodating. I detected a killer instinct in that sheep's eye, maybe it was charging the moms!

 

At the end can you do a summary of dates, locations, lodgings, maybe distance driven? How did you come up with this itinerary?

 

So it was you, your wife, and the mothers/mothers-in-laws? A trip with those participants is commendable in and of itself.

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  • 3 years later...
  • 3 weeks later...
offshorebirder

DAY 5

 

We had a late breakfast, together with these birds:

 

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They were there every morning.

 

Great report @@Jochen! And that is a handsome Fox Sparrow (sooty pacific subspecies) and a sharp-looking Steller's Jay.

 

A few posts later you also have a nice photo of a Gray Jay - one of my favorite birds.

 

Thanks for this trip report - but beware, @@Game Warden may be after you soon to post some whale photos or video in the whale-watching thread ;-)

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