When I dream of Canada, it’s images of vast forests, soaring mountains, grizzlies snapping at salmon that appear. All that (and more) are what British Columbia, Canada’s western most province, is all about.
British Columbia does nature in spades — a wild place where nature, not man, creates the boundaries, and its people, history, and culture are all shaped by the environment.
It all starts on the Pacific coast, cut by hundreds of impossibly steep, blue fjords and scattered with thousands of forested islands. The coastal villages here are home to locals whose lives revolve around the ocean. Needless to say, the fresh seafood on the coast is second-to-none! Also along the coast is BC’s legendary Great Bear Rainforest, where a wealth of wildlife, including the rare white Kermode (or spirit) bear, wanders free. This forest of towering cedars and spruce is also home to grizzlies, wolves and cougars.
I highly recommend you experience the true nature of BC at one of the region’s luxurious wilderness resorts.Go whale or bear watching by day, retreating by night to beautiful accommodation and world-class local cuisine. One of my favourites is the thoroughly indulgent Sonora Resort, set amidst the wild beauty and pristine waters of BC’s West Coast. Here you can get out amongst it to view grizzly bears, go kayaking, salmon fishing, or even heli-hiking.
When it all gets too much there is absolutely no shame in retreating to the outdoor heated pool or hot tub,or refuelling with some gourmet cuisine. And the best part? Getting to Sonora involves a helicopter flight followed by a floatplane transfer – where else but in BC!
Beyond the rainforest, you can also visit the Gulf Islands to explore artists’ communities, organic farms, and white shell beaches, or drive high into the CoastMountains on the dramatic Sea-to-Sky Highway to experience Whistler Blackcomb, a four season resort with excellent skiing, dog-sledding, snowshoeing, and one of the most exciting gondola rides in the world. When all that nature builds up an appetite, head for the sun-drenched Okanagan Valley in BC’s heartland Here you’ll find hundreds of wineries, fruit stands, and farm-to-fork eateries inviting you to sample their wares.It would be rude not to!
Your entry-point to BC, and your base from which to explore, will usually be Vancouver.Fine dining, shopping, nightlife and enough arts to satiate even the most ardent culture vulture are all on offer.A side trip out to Victoria on the southern tip of Vancouver Island is a must, as is journey aboard the Rocky Mountaineer train to Whistler, Jasper or even Lake Louise and Banff.
In Vancouver, and throughout BC, there are opportunities to experience the ancient cultures of its First Nations peoples. Guided explorations of traditional lands can reveal art galleries and craft studios, live performances and traditional feasts.
Wherever you go in British Columbia, allow enough time to do it all, and nature will prevail.
Words: Sue Barnaby, World Journeys Travel Designer