About this time last year my wife and I were in Canada. When I first started this blog I had intended to write a sort of diary with a post for what we got up to. A whole year has passed and I never managed to get to it so instead I thought I would write a single post with the highlights of the trip.
We flew in to Vancouver, drove around Vancouver Island, then back to the mainland, through the mountains and eventually flew back from Calgary. Here is a Google Map to show the complete route of our trip, where we stayed and any points of interest.
Along the way we saw Grizzly and Black Bears, Humpback Whales, Bald Eagles and many other creatures all in the wild as well as taking trips on a helicopter, ski-lifts and gondolas, sea planes and boats of all differing sizes.
Anyway with all the pictures this post grown into a bit of a monster so lets get to it…
This fly–drive trip was planned through Holidays2, based around their Whales, Bears, Vancouver & Mountain Peaks trip but we also wanted to add in the trip to Knight Inlet to see the Grizzlies. Luckily they are very flexible and allowed us to tailor our itinerary a bit to include everything we wanted to see. This saved a lot of time planning the route and sorting out where to stay at each stop but also provided an excellent packet containing maps and detailed route plans for our trip which proved invaluable.
We got to stay in Vancouver for a couple of days before getting the hire car so that gave us the opportunity to explore places like Stanley Park with the Vancouver Aquarium and Grouse Mountain with its wildlife rescue.
Raccoon running around Stanley Park. The locals consider them pests but they seem interesting to us outsiders…
This is the first Grizzly Bear we came across. It was a rescued animal that shares a large enclosure at the top of Grouse Mountain. There were also some captive birds of prey that were demonstrated flying around so all in all definitely a worthwhile day out.
We even took the opportunity to take a helicopter ride from the top of Grouse Mountain over Vancouver which was pretty amazing.
Next we picked up the hire car and get the ferry across to Vancouver Island. First stop was Victoria. The weather took a turn for the worse here and we were glad to have our waterproof jackets but luckily the sun came back out before we had to leave. The one regret of the trip was that we didn’t take the opportunity to see the Killer Whales from Victoria. There were lots of boat trips out from the harbour there and they pretty much guaranteed sightings while we were there. We had hoped to see some on one of our later trips but that didn’t happen unfortunately.
Anyway after Victoria we drove to Tofino where we stayed at the Pacific Sands Beach Resort. We had a lovely room with full cooking facilities which made a nice change rather than having to go out to eat every night. There was a power cut while we were there though which knocked the whole town out for hours and so we had to use one of the gas barbeques to cook our dinner one night. Even this turned into quite a nice experience as we lit a large log fire out in the barbeque pit while we were waiting for dinner to cook. Then a bit of stargazing as the sky was incredibly clear with the lack of lighting.
The place we stayed in Tofino was right next to this beach…
Our trip included a tour to go Black Bear watching and here is one of our first sightings of a bear picking it’s way down the beach.
We got a little bit closer to this bear and he happened to spot us…
We also went on a Whale Watching trip. It is not easy to capture a decent photo but it was still great to see a few Humpback Whales roaming around in the ocean.
There are lots of Sea Lions around and the locals call them Orca Sausages as they look a bit like a plump sausage and they are the staple diet of the Killer Whales.
We stayed the night in Campbell River and then got a sea-plane over to Knight Inlet Lodge first thing the next morning. This was absolutely amazing getting close to Grizzly Bears in their natural environment, watching them fish for salmon. There was so much other wildlife as well so the single day we spent there was barely enough as there is just so much going on.
We didn’t get to see much when we first set up shop in one of the hides so I took some photos of the salmon leaping out of the water. The food was obviously here so where were the Grizzlies?
It didn’t take long though before they started showing up.
This Grizzly wasn’t phased by the cameras and just sat there in front of us.
We approached this one in a boat and the Grizzlies seem quite happy in water and so wasn’t bothered by us.
The trees were lined with Bald Eagles, also taking advantage of the abundance of fish.
After returning from Knight Inlet we got another ferry back to the mainland and drove up into the mountains to Whistler. They were heavily into preparation for the Winter Olympics which happened a few months after our visit. From Whistler we continued through Sun Peaks—although there wasn’t much to see there—followed by Lake Louise and finally Banff—both of which I would recommend staying for at least a couple of days if you get the chance—before heading to Calgary to get the plane home.
This is Lake Louise and this perfect reflection was captured by my wife Shirley. I didn’t have my camera with me at the time and the weather wasn’t so good when I did get a chance to go back. It is great to know that Shirley can take such great photos.
We spent ages watching these playful chipmunks. This is another of Shirley’s photos as she was able to get right up close to it.
Moraine Lake is a short drive from Lake Louise.
This shows the amazing colour of the glacial water in these lakes.
Another cute little Chipmunk…
Banff is great little place. This is the river running through the town and it is amazing to think that this photo was taken just on the edge of town. It seems to be out in the wilderness…
Banff is a ski resort and you can go up the Banff Gondola to look out at some pretty amazing views.
Images: Pete & Shirley O’Shea