Where to Watch Wildlife in British Columbia, Canada

In this article our guest author, A J Walton shares his love of British Columbia in Canada and the best places to watch wildlife such as seals, whales, eagles and grizzly bears.

British Columbia has some of the most exciting and diverse wildlife habitats in all of North America. As a child of the Canadian prairies, I fondly remember yearly summer trips to BC, where hiking & camping became familiar friends. Nothing has changed as an adult adventure seeker. In fact, I still consider British Columbia my top outdoor travel destination in the world.

In BC, with its sprawling forests, expansive coastline and mountainous peaks, you can expect to see all kinds of animals even just driving along in your car. For adventurous travelers who are ready to get a bit more up close and personal, these 7 wildlife watch tours will open your eyes to a world of natural beauty and the wonders of the animal kingdom.

Whale watching from Stevenson

This unique whale watching tour gives you a stunning view of the BC coastline. It’s the perfect way to watch the world’s largest creatures at home in their natural habitat. The tour meets in the historic fishing town of Stevenson, just South of Vancouver. From there, expert guides take you on a day trip in their 40-foot cruising vessel through the Gulf Islands in search of orca whales, sea lions, aquatic birds and much, much more. Tours from Stevenson Seabreeze Adventures are available from April 1st through October 31st.

A chance to view Sea Lions off the coast of BC, Canada Photo: Richard Gould on Flickr

A chance to view Sea Lions off the coast of BC, Canada

Nature Discovery Tours from Whistler

Offering a range of private and semi-private land rover excursions, Whistler Discovery Tours lets you experience the beauty of the Coastal Mountain Range like never before. With so many natural wonders to choose from, it’ll be difficult to pick just one. They offer morning and evening bear watch tours that let you get up close and personal to these gentle creatures. You can also take a ride through a 450-acre ancient rainforest, where you’ll see massive century-old trees and a host of indigenous wildlife. Any tour you choose, you’re bound to see stunning wildlife and rarely seen views in some of the most remote places on Earth. Tours from Whistler Discovery Tours start on May 1st and run until November 15th.

Rainbow Lake Trail near Whistler Photo: Iwona_Kellie on Flickr

Rainbow Lake Trail near Whistler

Wildlife spotting along the Fraser River

Perfect for a summertime adventure, Fraser River Safari is the ultimate tour of wildlife on the river. Starting in the town of Mission and ending in Harrison Mills, they take you on a wild ride up the Fraser River to see diverse animal life, scenic riverbeds and breathtaking views. You’ll board a cozy “Safari Craft” that’s perfect for those shallow waters, delicate natural habitats and close range glimpses at bears, bald eagles, seals, and the great white sturgeon. It’s ideal for couples, a small group of friends or adventurous families. You’re free to book a personal tour with Fraser River Safari any time during the year, but the busy season starts in July and runs until November.

Fraser River in BC, Canada Photo: John Bromley on Flickr

Fraser River in BC, Canada

See bears in their natural habitat

Based in Fraser Valley, you’re free to rent ATVs or hop on a guided tour as you explore the vast Coastal Mountain Range of BC. With its remote location and rugged terrain, Bear Country Tours gives you unprecedented access to the deep reaches of this wildlife reserve. You can take a two-hour tour or gear up for a multi-day excursion. They specialize in tracking down black bears, grizzlies, and bear cubs in their natural habitat. Don’t worry; these guides are safety experts. Plus, every tour comes with their famous BBQ lunch. Bear Country Tours are available year round. This is an experience that lasts a lifetime.

Bear watching in BC, Canada Photo: Stephen Mattucci on Flickr

Bear watching in BC, Canada

Explore the sea life around Nanaimo

If you love to scuba dive, then you’re in for a real treat. Sea Dragon Charters lets you explore the magnificent sea life in either Howe Sound or Nanaimo, just outside of Vancouver. You can kayak with the seals, go snorkeling with the fish, or sightsee from the boat. Experts take guests to stunning views of the coastline where you’re bound to see octopus, king crabs, wolf eels, and dozens of species of fish. If you choose to go kayaking, the seals love to introduce themselves by playing with the guests. Get off the boat and discover a world of wildlife up close and personal.

Whale Watching from Victoria

Departing from Victoria or Vancouver, this whale watching tour puts an educational twist on your big sea adventure. Guests get to board a mighty passenger vessel as it sets sail through the Gulf Islands, usually pointing out numerous orcas, humpbacks, and sea lions along the way. They refer to their cruises as floating classrooms with some of the finest wildlife tour guides on board. Every trip with Prince of Whales Whale Watching comes with valuable information that will only enhance your experience and knowledge of these spectacular creatures.

Whale watching in BC Canada Photo: Natalie Tsang on Flickr

Whale watching in BC Canada

See Grizzly Bears in Knight Inlet

Cruising through the Knight Inlet in Northern BC, Tide Rip Grizzly Tours gives you an intimate look at the local wildlife throughout the many uninhabited islands, inlets, reefs, and rocky shorelines. You’ll see plenty of grizzly bears as they feast on salmon jumping upstream, plus dolphins, seals, and bald eagles. As one of the few sightseeing tours in the region, this is a rare experience that’s not to be missed. The action heats up in June, but Tide Rip Grizzly Tours are available from April to October.

Bear watching in BC, Canada Photo: Stephen Mattucci on Flickr

Bear watching in BC, Canada

Visit the #explorecanada official Canada Tourism Website for more information on things to do in British Columbia and Vancouver Island as well as their social media channels on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

AJ WaltonAuthor Bio: Thanks for this article to AJ Walton – a world traveller focused on traveling, learning languages and entrepreneurship.

More Canadian adventures:

Vancouver Island – Nature Lover’s Paradise
How to Enjoy a Great Day in Victoria, BC
5 Reasons to Put Canada on Your Bucket List

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Where to see wildlife in BC Canada

Photo Credits: Sea Lions by Richard Gould , Rainbow Lake Hiking Trail by Iwona_Kellie , Fraser River by John Bromley , Grizzly bears by Stephen Mattucci, Whale Watching by Natalie Tsang , Grizzly bear and cubs by Stephen Mattucci

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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Dancing with Darwin: an unforgettable week in the Galapagos

In this article, our guest author, Kate Convissor, shares an unforgettable week in the Galapagos, with pristine beaches, aquamarine seas and of course the birds, seals and other wildlife.

Most people travel through Quito in Ecuador, heading for the Galapagos Islands as their main destination. My experience was the opposite. I was already traveling through Ecuador and planned to spend several days in lovely Quito. The city was UNESCO’s first cultural World Heritage Site, so it’s very historic and photogenic. Since I was already so close, my trip had to include the Galapagos and when my sister learned of my plans, she decided to join me.

Galapagos 6

Mating sign of the Magnificent Frigatebird

Still, my expectations were, well, non-existent. Other than cute sea lions and birds with funny names, I had no idea what to expect from an 8-day cruise through one of the most precious and unique places on the planet.

I must say, my first sight of the Galapagos through the windows of the tiny Baltra airport was underwhelming. It looked like a dry, shrubby, rocky moonscape with heat that would melt your eyeballs.

Galapagos Cactus Photo: Kate Convissor

Galapagos cactus

On board the San Jose

But things improved once onboard the breezy deck of the San Jose, the ship that would be our home for the next eight days. Once we found our cabin, which was more comfortable and spacious than I had expected, with twin beds (not bunks) and a nice-sized bathroom and a big window (not to mention blessed air-conditioning for those blistering afternoons), I began to feel the excitement build and the tension drain away.

A ship at sea! What could be more delightful?

And indeed, once we were underway, slicing through an impossibly blue ocean with a far horizon melting into a similarly blue sky and the wind rushing off the bow of the ship, I began to catch the magic of the Galapagos.

View of Pinnacle Rock from atop Bartolomé Island Photo: Kate Convissor

View of Pinnacle Rock from atop Bartolomé Island, Galapagos Islands

 The amazing animal culture

Our first landing that afternoon was on the tiny islet of Mosquera, which was little more than a lump of sand with sea lions lazily scattered about and a handful of other creatures I’d read about, like Sally-lightfoot crabs and tiny lava lizards. At this point, I was completely smitten.

This would be a great week.

Sea lions and Sally Lightfoot crabs in the Galapagos Islands Photo: Kate Convissor

Sea lions and Sally Lightfoot crabs in the Galapagos Islands

Almost every day we woke to sun, sea, maybe another boat or two at anchor, a satisfying breakfast, and new wonders to explore. Days were filled with activity, which usually involved one or two hikes and/or one or two snorkeling adventures, and maybe a panga ride to some interesting cove. We usually visited two different sites each day, but the boat motored during mealtimes or at night, so we weren’t twiddling our thumbs en route to the next place.

The hikes, while sometimes very hot, were always interesting and sometimes entrancing. And, of course, there was always the blue ocean to cool off in.

Pristine beaches and aquamarine waters in the Galapagos Islands Photo: Kate Convissor

Pristine beaches and aquamarine waters in the Galapagos Islands

Snorkeling is almost de rigueur in the Galapagos since the water is teeming with all sorts of life, from sea turtles to small sharks to schools of colorful fish. The color and variety is fascinating.

I am not an avid swimmer, but I was determined not to miss this opportunity, so I grit my teeth and wore a life jacket for the first snorkel. It was fantastic! The water was warm and so bouyant that staying afloat was effortless and all that aquatic life under the surface of the ocean was worth enduring any momentary discomfort.

Remnants of volcanic activity in the Galapagos Islands Photo: Kate Convissor

Remnants of volcanic activity in the Galapagos Islands

One of the more delightful hikes was at Punta Suarez on Espanola Island. Since it was high tide with waves crashing against the rock, our “dry” landing was a little tricky. (This is where you want experienced guys driving your panga – the little boats that takes you from your cruise ship to the shore.) We walked across a tide-flooded inlet guarded by a big bull sea lion who was jealous of his girls. (This is where you want an experienced naturalist-guide who knows the ways of macho sea lions.)

Birds, birds, birds

Espanola is a nesting condo for Nazca boobies and other birds I’ve forgotten the names of. The rocks are dripping with whitewash, and fluffy juveniles are waiting patiently (or not) for a snack, while their beleaguered parents are trying to oblige (by regurgitating the fish they’ve worked hard to find). Bird families were strewn haphazardly across the relatively flat and somewhat rocky clifftop. An occasional blue-footed booby broke the monotony.

Nazca booby in the Galapagos Islands Photo: Kate Convissor

Nazca booby in the Galapagos Islands

We clambered over rocks snapping photos like crazed tourists, while the birds couldn’t have cared less. The trail wound among the nesting birds and along a cliff edge until we all settled cliff-side to watch the waves crash on the black volcanic rock and send plumes of mist and water through a blowhole. All of which formed a dramatic foreground as the sun slowly rode down the western sky.

Blow hole on Suarez Point on Espanola in the Galapagos Islands Photo: Kate Convissor

Blow hole on Suarez Point on Espanola in the Galapagos Islands

Now, I ask you, where else in the world can you sit with 16 people with this kind of natural wonder playing out around you? (Okay, there was another small tour group waiting to take our place on the rocks, but that doesn’t change the overall picture.)

Small luxuries combine with pleasant company

After every activity, our long-suffering steward, Jackson, met us with his broad smile and a juice drink and snacks. Every evening we passengers gathered for a beer to chat and swap notes about the birds or fish we’d seen. And every night we fell asleep to the gentle rocking of the boat as it steamed toward our next magical destination.

Red-footed booby in the Galapagos Islands Photo: Kate Convissor

Red-footed booby in the Galapagos Islands

Our naturalist-guide, Carlos, was an energetic, informed and personable 26-year-old. He, like many other guides, had grown up on the islands and that native knowledge was honed by the compulsory training all the guides receive.

My sister and I were also lucky in that all the passengers on our small boat were wonderful to travel with for a week, from the 86-year-old lawyer and his wife (Please, God, may I be like them when I am old) to the young brother and sister who came with their mom.

Pinnacle Rock on Bartolomé Island in the Galapagos Islands Photo: Kate Convissor

Pinnacle Rock on Bartolomé Island in the Galapagos Islands

I think our group was so compatible, in part, because we all opted for a small, less luxurious boat (but make no mistake, the San Jose was very clean and comfortable) so that we could focus on experiencing the islands and not staying comfy and entertained on board the ship. Some of the luxury cruise liners carry 100 passengers and can’t get to as many islands as the smaller boats.

“If you want a bigger cabin and more amenities, you should choose a luxury cruise. If you want to really experience the islands, you can have a very good time on a smaller boat,” said Evelyn, my agent at Happy Gringo, through whom I booked our cruise.

True in every way. Cruising in the Galapagos Islands was a fantastic experience, and a longer cruise on a smaller boat like the San Jose was, for me, the best way to do it.

Sleepy sea lion in the Galapagos Islands Photo: Kate Convissor

Sleepy sea lion in the Galapagos Islands

About our guest author: Manykconvissor bio photo thanks for this story to Kate Convissor who has been traveling more or less continually since she sold her house in 2010 and trailered around North America. Kate blogs semi-regularly at Wandering Not Lost. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter

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Read about Dancing with Darwin - a week in the Galapagos

For more Ecuadorian delights:

Ecuador and the Amazon Rainforest
Take a Hot Bath in Banos, Ecuador
Beyond the Galapagos Islands – Ecuador’s Forgotten Treasures

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Visiting Angkor in Cambodia – Fascinating ruins or hot and expensive?

In this article our guest writers, Illia and Nastia share their tips for visiting Anghor in Cambodia – while it’s a one of those must-see sites with a huge amount to cover in a day or two, we find out whether the heat and high prices were worth it.

Angkor, a UNESCO heritage site, is considered to be a photo paradise. Unbelievable sun rises, ancient ruins and wild rainforest combine to make this place unbearably attractive for any photographer. Of course, we weren’t that lucky: while we enjoyed ancient ruins, it was raining, cloudy and gloomy. The temperature was either extremely high (in the middle of the day) or extremely low (early in the morning), so it was pretty hard to choose what to wear. Nevertheless, we managed to take a few of pictures and now want to share them with you.

Illia and Nastia at Anghor, Cambodia

Illia and Nastia at Anghor, Cambodia

When you depart early in the morning from Siam Reap, the nearest Cambodian town, it is 6 o’clock in the morning and the only thing you can think about is how much you want to sleep. The wind blows through an open tuk-tuk and it’s freezing cold. The price of the entrance tickets – $40! – quickly wakes you up and here you are, awaken and ready to explore ancient Hindu-Buddhist temple complex. Ancient? Hmm, not really. In fact the majority of temples were constructed in the 12th-15th centuries. However, if Lara Croft considered it to be old enough to die for its treasures, we can assume that it’s old enough to pay $40 entrance fee.

View from a tuk-tuk, heading to Angkor

View from a tuk-tuk, heading to Angkor

The Angkorian period began in AD 802, when self-confident Khmer monarch Jayavarman II decided that he was a “god-king” and “universal monarch” and lasted until the late 14th century, when Ayutthaya conquered “god’s territories”. Khmers didn’t like it and organized a rebellion which resulted not in freedom, but in migration of population to Longvek.

A donkey, offering a ride (good alternative to tuk-tuk)

A donkey, offering a ride (good alternative to tuk-tuk)

It’s pretty dangerous to climb on ruins, since the quality of conservations here is questionable.

It’s pretty dangerous to climb on ruins, since the quality of conservations here is questionable.

Backyard of famous Angkor Wat

Backyard of famous Angkor Wat

The complex includes so many temples that it is physically impossible to visit all of them. Scientists believe that some of them are still hidden in jungles and are impossible to reach both for tourists and explorers. Many temples are built on moors, so it’s hard to understand how Khmers managed to access them at all. We took a traditional two-circle tour (small + big circles) and were completely satisfied with the amount of ruins we saw.

Door from the movie about Lara Croft

Door from the movie about Lara Croft

Interestingly enough, these ruins were never used for living or praying in them, but were rather considered to be home for gods, accessible only for priests. The great-grandchildren of the architects and constructors believed that the temples were erected by gods. In 1850 Angkor was found by a French priest, owing to whom it became a popular destination for European tourists and researchers.

Jungles do their job of destroying the temples

Jungles do their job of destroying the temples

Nowadays there are so many tourists in Angkor that sometimes it’s impossible to take a picture. The situation is worsened by numerous local sellers, trying to persuade you to buy totally unnecessary stuff. In addition to the crowds of tourists there are lots of orphans hanging around in Angkor. At first, it looks strange, but in fact there is nothing surprising about that: there are several orphanages in the temples’ neighborhood. Orphans either beg for food and water, or collect plastic bottles, thrown away by tourists, to sell them to recycling companies. Even though the life style of these children is miserable, they don’t look unhappy: we saw lots of them playing in the jungles and riding the vines.

A girl having rest after gathering plastic bottles

A girl having rest after gathering plastic bottles

To cut a long story short, the visit to Angkor can be described as follows:
Day 1 – Wow! Ancient ruins!!! I must see ALL of them!
Day 2 – Hm, that is interesting collection of stones, I think it differs a little bit from the previous temple.
Day 3 – I am fed up with heat and rocks! I want ice-cream and rest.
That’s why we conclude that two days are enough.

Angkor, Cambodia

Angkor, Cambodia

In general, visit to Angkor was unusual and quite inspiring experience we highly recommend to everyone visiting South East Asia.

Practical information for visiting Angkor

How to get there: from Cambodian town Siam Reap you can take a tuk-tuk ($7) per day or a bike ($4). Take into consideration that Angkor is pretty big; walking might take too much time.
Cost: $40 for three days
Where to stay: Only in Siam Reap – our budget (but totally fine) hotel cost $6 per night for double room.
Where to eat: Only in Siam Reap. When going to Angkor, take food with you, since it is quite expensive to eat there.

Nastia at Anghor - yes I think it was worth it?

Nastia at Anghor – yes I think it was worth it?

author_profileMany thanks for this article to who are passionate about each other, traveling around the world and sharing their experiences at crazzzytravel.com, a blog where you can find plenty of budget travel tips as well as practical information about numerous destinations. They have already been to 33 countries on 4 continents and ain’t no stopping. Visit their Facebook or Google+ pages and follow them on Twitter.

For more things to see in Southeast Asia:

The highlights of Phnom Penh – Cambodia
Take your hobby on holiday – follow your interests in Vietnam
The Best Places to Snorkel in Thailand

Photo Credit: All photos by crazzzytravel.com

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

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