Bears, Gold, Whales & Wine in Canada
Inspired by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge tour of Canada in September 2016, we looked at holidays in British Columbia and The Yukon that gives keen travellers the chance to follow in the footsteps of the royal family…
This was the couple’s second visit to Canada; the first was as newlyweds in 2011. However, it was the first time they visited as a family Prince George and Princess Charlotte accompanying them.
Pacific Coast – Victoria, Vancouver and beyond
The couple started their trip in Victoria, the laid back capital of British Columbia, moving on to the vibrant city of Vancouver, spending time in Stanley Park and enjoying some more outdoorsy pursuits which the province is renowned. Discover the World’s Ultimate Pacific Coast Experience will take visitors on a similar journey over 10 nights taking in the wild magnificence of the Pacific Coast. Guests start in Vancouver before driving past Shannon Falls on the scenic Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler, heading across the Strait of Georgia to Vancouver Island and stopping off at Desolation Sound and Quadra Island. There’s also the chance to spot black bears at Toba Inlet, enjoy whale watching cruises on Clayoquot Sound and visiting the Pacific Rim National Park for a walk along its famed Long Beach.
Bella Bella and the Great Bear Rainforest
A significant part of the itinerary was their visit to Bella Bella, a remote 9,000 year old Heiltsuk community who occupy the Great Bear Rainforest, the world’s largest coastal temperate rainforest. Since February this area was granted protection by the government who, at the same time, recognized the Aboriginal people’s rights. Our 7 night Sailing the Great Bear Rainforest gives visitors the best chance of viewing black bears, grizzlies, orcas, eagles, wolves, and the rare white Kermode or Spirit Bear by devoting a week to cruising through the remote islands.
For those that want to keep their feet firmly on the ground, Spirit Bear Lodge is an intimate guesthouse accessed by water taxi from Bella Bella. Owned by the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nations communities, the lodge’s guides are proud to share their stories and traditions. Combining an exploration of ancestral lands with a wealth of wildlife viewing opportunities, including the chance to see the elusive Spirit bear, a stay at Spirit Bear Lodge offers a truly unique interpretation of the Great Bear Rainforest and all its inhabitants.
Whitehorse and Carcross in the Yukon
Kate and William also took a few days away from British Columbia visiting the scenic Yukon Territory; including Whitehorse and Carcross. Visiting in late September there offers chances to view the northern lights in the early part of the aurora season. Those looking to follow in their footsteps can do so on our tailor made fly drive travelling around the Golden Circle route from the wilderness city of Whitehorse to the historic ‘gold rush centre’ of Dawson City. Just like the Royals, take in the 700 acre Yukon Wildlife Preserve in Whitehorse and visit the lakeside town of Carcross but also visit the famed UN World Heritage Site Kluane National Park at Haines Junction (part of the largest area of protected wilderness on earth), the American eagles that gather along the Chilkat River and the dog mushing capital of Alaska, Tok.
Haida Gwaii – known as the ‘Galapagos of the North’
The Royals also visited the remote islands of Haida Gwaii, known as the Queen Charlotte Islands – one for the young Princess to enjoy. This archipelago off the north coast of British Columbia is one of the richest biological and cultural areas in Canada, often known as the ‘Galapagos of the North’ due to the rich marine wildlife as well as ancient villages. A cruise offers superb chances to spot whales (blue, sperm, minke, humpback), witness the gathering of mating and birthing sea lions at Cape St James and a spot a variety of sea birds (such as the black footed Albatross) on Moresby Island as well as listening to local Haida stories and learning about their traditional way of life.