A dangerously beautiful hike in British Columbia

July 25, 2015 by  
Filed under Canada, featured, Guest post, Leisure, Misc, Nature, Photography, World

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Our guest author, Dana Sibilsky takes a hike in the beautiful woods of British Columbia that proves more dangerous than she anticipated when she finds signs of bear activity along the trail.

In 2013, my husband and I made the mutual decision to spice up our lives together and really venture out to see what the world has to offer. With this decision, we agreed to travel at least twice a year; one place within the first half of the year (January-June) and another place within the second half of the year (June-December).

In our journey to explore the world together, we have visited nearly all of the United States and only half of Canada. The world is big and we aren’t even halfway through yet! If you were to ask what is the most beautiful place we’ve been to, it would without a doubt be British Columbia, Canada. If you have ever seen pictures, no photo nor video does this incredible place justice because you simply must be there to FEEL the atmosphere.

Beautiful British Columbia

The air seems cleaner, fresher and easier to breathe with a certain natural “crispness” to it that my husband and I have not found anywhere else in our travels. The water seems to be more pure, more fresh with the same crispness that makes you say to yourself, “This is the way it’s meant to be. What have we done to our world in other places?”

Sunset over British Columbia mountains Photo: danasibilsky.com

Sunset over British Columbia mountains

Through our travel in British Columbia, we hiked until we came to our destination at the well-known and popular Three Valley Gap Hotel. Oh my, if you could just see the scenery of nature that surrounds this place. There’s a saying that we kept hearing while visiting that went something like, “Out here, you are normally no further than 20 feet from a bear at all times.” I’m not sure how true it is or if they were just trying to scare us knowing we weren’t locals from around the area.

The wildlife is just as spectacular as the surrounding scenery. My husband and I (but honestly mostly my husband) wanted a closer look at the the wildlife. “What is the point of coming 2000 miles out here if we are just going to sit in a hotel?” he questioned. “Let’s venture out to see what we can never see at home.” With that said, we got a nature tour guide and began to explore the surrounding wooded area at least 3 miles away from the comfort of our hotel. At first, walking through the thickness of the brush and woods was intimidating. What if we saw a bear? What if we ran into a pack of wolves or coyotes? I remembered hearing stories from our friends in Toronto and Mississauga about coyotes running freely through the city in 2010. The more we tracked through the woods, the more comfortable I became until the tour guide stopped us in our tracks.

The look on our guide’s face was the look of fear and nervousness he was trying his best to hide for our sake. “Is everything ok?” I asked him, touching his arm gently in concern. “You look like there is a problem.” With a shaky hand he was trying to control, he pointed to the tree in front of us roughly 10 feet away and said, “Bear.”

Bear sighting

My eyes widened as my head quickly snapped to the general direction he was pointing. The tree had claw and teeth marks on it and was missing chunks of bark. Bears do this to mark territory and possession of their favorite trees. These marks usually are present on other trees given by the same bear in a trail. This helps the bear find its way back to wherever it came from.

Signs of bear activity Photo: danasibilsky.com

Signs of bear activity

I was stone cold in fear and to tell you anything different would be a complete lie! I couldn’t move. The thought that I could possibly be standing in or near a bear’s nest shut down all of my motor mechanics such as my ability to walk and open my fear-clenched fists into open palms.

In the distance, I could hear my husband calling me. “Dana!” I heard him say. I wanted to look at him, but the fear was overpowering me. I heard him shout in a louder, projecting voice. This time, my head jerked toward him as the guide and I let out a harsh “SHHHH!” toward him simultaneously. “Are you out of your mind?!” said the guide, “We are in the danger zone of a bear’s or group of bears’ territory! Keep quiet!” he instructed my husband. “We need to go. Now!” the guide said. We didn’t hesitate! The tour guide, my husband and myself double-timed it to the hotel as quickly, quietly and safely as we could.

Make lasting memories

Fast forward 2 years later. Isn’t it interesting that the worst moments in our lives at that particular time turn out to be the most memorable? The moments we believe are the downfall of our day, the ones we say we could do without at the moment they are happening are the very same moments that become the memories we wouldn’t change for anything. The moments we look back on months or years later and can’t help but to laugh and smile to ourselves. Being in a dangerous position having trespassed through bear territory was one of those moments.

Lasting memories in British Columbia Photo: danasibilsky.com

Lasting memories in British Columbia

If you haven’t visited the British Columbia side of Canada, what are you waiting for? It is, without a shadow of a doubt the most beautiful, refreshing and enlightening adventure you could ever take no matter if you’re alone or with those you love. Just a word of advice: Don’t go exploring without an experienced nature tour guide!

Author bio: Many thanks for this article to Dana Sibilsky, a stay-at-home mother of three prides and joys. When she isn’t giving her family their needed attention, she enjoys traveling and blogging her art on her sites.

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

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For more Canadian adventures:

Where to Watch Wildlife in British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver Island – A Nature Lover’s Paradise
How to Enjoy a Great Day in Victoria, BC

Photo credit: Dana Sibilsky

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

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

Places to visit in Bangalore if you only have one day

June 28, 2015 by  
Filed under India, World

If you’re visiting Bangalore (now known as Bengaluru), the chances are you’re just passing through on business or flying into the city before moving on. This was exactly my purpose when I visited Bangalore in January on my way to visit a charity project that I support – you can read about it here. Despite the snatched half day of sightseeing and shopping at the beginning and end of my trip, I found quite a few places to visit in Bangalore if you only have one day to spend there.

How to spend a day in Bangalore Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Hotels in Bangalore – Escape Hotel & Spa

For the first and last night of my stay in India I searched for a boutique style hotel that was moderately priced (it feels wrong to pay European prices in India), and everything pointed to Escape Hotel & Spa in the Indira Nagar district. Without realising it I managed to choose one of the most trendy neighbourhoods in Bengaluru with restaurants and bars that wouldn’t be out of place in any major European city. This is a popular area for expats to live and where the young and affluent of Bengalore come to play after a hard day at the call centre or office.

Escape Hotel where we stayed in Bengaluru / Bangalore, India Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Escape Hotel where we stayed in Bengaluru / Bangalore, India

My room on the 3rd floor of Escape Hotel was very spacious with stark modern decor of black, white and grey with a couple of red painted chairs for a spot of colour. Full marks for the oh-so-British set-up of a  kettle to make your morning cuppa and a safe that would actually fit my laptop.  My only complaint was the angular wooden base of the bed, which seems to be a feature of these designer hotels, but only served as a place to bang my shins.

Escape Hotel where we stayed in Bengaluru / Bangalore, India Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Escape Hotel where we stayed in Bengaluru / Bangalore, India

Since garden space is at a premium in the city, the roof terrace of the hotel was a welcome feature, with indoor and outdoor seating for drinks, and the Bricklane Grill restaurant overlooking the narrow rooftop swimming pool. The restaurant style is continental European, vaguely French with distressed painted white-wood furniture and pretty daisies on the table. The food was a mixture of European and Anglo-Indian and was well-cooked and pleasant although nothing extraordinary.

The relaxed atmosphere was only slightly marred by the thumping club music from the DJ that they have every Friday and Saturday evening until late. I’d certainly recommend Escape Hotel as a great place to stay in Bangalore if you’re looking for designer style at a resonable price. After a week in somewhat basic accommodation, I was thrilled to get back to it for a second night at the end of our time in India. For more ideas for hotels in Bangalore visit my hotel booking page where you can check for best prices and availability.

Vegetable stall in Indira Nagar, Bangalore Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Vegetable stall in Indira Nagar, Bangalore

A night stroll around Indira Nagar

After dinner we took a stroll down some of the side streets around the hotel with interesting kiosk shops selling streetf ood. At one we watched rice flour dosas being made and sold wrapped in newspaper with dipping sauces in small plastic bags. Another kiosk sold Chinese style dumplings with a chilli dipping sauce, so we determined to go back the next day for lunch.

Just one block back from the main road, the atmosphere became much more local and residential with people chatting on the balconies or hanging around by the roadside. Although we didn’t see any other western tourists, no-one looked at us curiously, since Bangalore is such a cosmopolitan city. The lack of tourists had another advantage in that there was not much hastle, hussle and begging in the areas we visited.

Some cool places to eat in Bangalore

Although a little research brought up plenty of trendy restaurants in Bangalore we decided to stay close to the hotel and had lunch at the Black Rabbit on the ground floor of the Escape Hotel. This was a younger version of the Bricklane Grill with great burgers, small plates and cocktails and a DJ installed in the evening. I enjoyed my papaya noodle salad and fresh pressed mango juice and we sat in the outdoor area which was enclosed from the street.

Lunch at Black Rabbit restaurant next to Escape Hotel, Bengaluru, India Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Lunch at Black Rabbit restaurant next to Escape Hotel, Bengaluru, India

In the evening we tried a pan-Asian restaurant called The Fatty Bao which was close to the hotel and on the floors above Monkey Bar. Initially we were shown to the 4th floor which was fully enclosed and air conditioned but we wanted to feel the warmth of the night air so asked to be seated on the 5th floor terrace which is partly open, so you can eat almost al fresco.

At the Fatty Bao they serve small plates of Asian fusion food amidst greenery, fairy lights and slightly kitch surroundings. My plate of pork belly pieces was meltingly slow-cooked but crispy on top and the mango and papaya salad was like a coleslaw with fruity dressing. Our deserts like the ginger and fig cake with a dot of garnish were OK but didn’t quite match up in deliciousness. We really enjoyed the ambiance and as usual the drinks bumped up the otherwise moderate bill to around 3500 rs (around £35) for two.

Lunch at Black Rabbit restaurant next to Escape Hotel, Bengaluru, India Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Lunch at Black Rabbit restaurant next to Escape Hotel, Bengaluru, India

Shopping around Indira Nagar

We had planned to spend the first morning looking around the city but got sidetracked with shopping in the neighbourhood of Indira Nagar around the hotel. Close by was the Soma shop (100 Feet Rd) which sold hand printed textiles and I went a bit mad on buying sarongs, tablecloths and napkins for all my family. By the time I’d finished, a year’s worth of birthday presents was taken care of.

We moved on to the FabIndia store (522 CMH Rd) which also sold many different Indian handicrafts – definitely the place to buy clothes and household goods. By the time got back to the hotel our morning was gone, so we had to save the sightseeing for the end of our trip.

Shopping for handprinted textiles at Soma, Indiranagar, Bengaluru Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Shopping for handprinted textiles at Soma, Indiranagar, Bengaluru

Tipu Sultan Palace in Bangalore

Because we’d spent most of our first morning shopping we were determined to get back to the sightseeing in Bangalore. The Tipu Sultan palace is small but interesting enough and from our hotel we took a tuk tuk which cost around 130 rupees (£1.30). While on the topic of tuk tuks it’s best to check with your hotel roughly how much a journey is likely to cost. There is a meter, but the driver will inevitably ignore you when you ask him to put it on, so it’s a good idea to check the going rate in advance. The Indians are outraged at being cheated a rupee more than they have to, but of course we soft Europeans would rather not have the haggle over a few rupees that might make quite a difference to the driver’s day.

Tipu Sultan Palace in Bengaluru, India Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Tipu Sultan Palace in Bengaluru, India

Once we arrived at the Tipu Sultan palace we paid 100 rupees (£1) to get in and little extra for a camera licence. There were a few information signs but we decided to use the guide who approached us inside (it’s a pay what you think it’s worth system). By the end of his very detailed tour, we knew practically every fact and every date in the history of the place.

Upstairs we wandered through the faded grandeur of rooms painted in Mughal patterns and had our photos taken on the two different balconies. One faced the gardens from which the sultan hear pleas from his advisors, and on the other side he would conduct private business. A few of the ground floor rooms are open and have been made into a museum with information in English about Tipu Sultan. It was only at the end when I saw the small model of the famous mechanical tiger eating a soldier, that I made the connection with the life-size one in the V and A in London which growls and groans in turn.

Tipu Sultan Palace in Bengaluru, India Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Tipu Sultan Palace in Bengaluru, India

Visiting the City Market in Bengaluru

We had been told that the City market was right opposite the Tipu Sultan Palace but ‘right opposite’ was clearly a relative term in India. We set off in what we hoped was the right direction and as clueless British tourists were immediately approached by a tuk tuk driver who offered to take us around and act as a guide. Although we really didn’t want any more guiding, in the end the driver’s persistence wore us down and we accepted. In this case it was a good thing since he took us directly to the market and walked us right through the main areas that we might not have found.

City Market (Krishnarajendra) in Bengaluru, India Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

City Market (Krishnarajendra) in Bengaluru, India

The market was big and bustling with cows wandering around grazing on rubbish and vegetable stalls on the outside. In the inner area was the flower market where rose heads were piled high in baskets of bright red, orange and yellow. The flower industry here is not about decorating your home but for garlands which are used on all special occasions to greet honoured guests.

During our week in India we’d got quite used to being garlanded at every place we visited. In the market men sat crossed legged threading the roses and marigolds to make thick ropes of flowers, then winding them with silver thread for a bit of extra glitter.

City Market (Krishnarajendra) in Bengaluru, India Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

City Market (Krishnarajendra) in Bengaluru, India

The market was a photographer’s dream and everyone was quite good humoured although we heard that the market gets very busy and crowded especially at weekends. If you are a lady with long hair I recommend buying a jasmine string for your hair so you can walk around in a cloud of delicious floral perfume. This will help to overcome the less appealing exterior of the market where cows were rooting around in the rubbish and men urinating on the piles of rotting vegetable.

City Market (Krishnarajendra) in Bengaluru, India Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

City Market (Krishnarajendra) in Bengaluru, India

The Botanic Garden in Bengaluru

Last stop was the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens which was around 20 minutes from the market by tuk tuk costing 10 rs (10p) to enter and 50 rs (50p) per camera licence. The large gardens are a good place to escape the noise and traffic of the city, although this being India everything was very dusty. We walked up the earth paths lined with different trees and botanical specimens to reach a floral clock which was ornamented by figures of the seven dwarfs and seemed to have a Snow White theme. By the clock was a man with a whistle who was not afraid to aim a short blast at anyone committing some misdemeanor, although what these might be we couldn’t tell.

Lalbagh Botanical Gardens in Bengaluru / Bangalore, India Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Lalbagh Botanical Gardens in Bengaluru / Bangalore, India

The gardens seemed a popular place for young couples to walk under the trees and groups of friends to sit and have a picnic. We were disappointed to find that many of the water features were empty of water which made them rather unattractive and the rose garden although pretty was fully enclosed. We had to peer at the roses from a distance, although I suspect that otherwise all the flowers might be picked for a home-made garland or flower ornament.

We skirted around the edge of the park and found the Victorian glasshouse which was a bit like those at Kew Gardens. The design was more of an open sided canopy and the glasshouse appeared to be more ornamental than anything else. Returning to the main entrance, since the park was now closing, we found our tuk tuk driver and returned to the hotel in nose to tail traffic and clouds of traffic fumes.

Lalbagh Botanical Gardens in Bengaluru / Bangalore, India

Lalbagh Botanical Gardens in Bengaluru / Bangalore, India

In this busy, vibrant city there are plenty of things to do in Bangalore for a day or two, if you’re there on business or passing through. It’s more of a place to hang out than to tick off the tourist sites, although there are places worth seeing while you’re there. If I went back I would try and connect with some of the locals to see beyond the traffic fumes and dust since there’s clearly a thriving entrepreneurial spirit going on here with all the trendy bars and restaurants and people with money to support them.

More stories about India

13 stories from my charity visit to India – going off the tourist trail
Flying Première class to India on Jet airways – is it worth it?
Meeting my Indian Sponsor Child

Planning a trip to India?

Thanks to Jet Airways for providing Heather’s flight to Bangalore/ Bengaluru. Jet Airways is the second largest airline in India, operating over 300 flights daily to 73 destinations worldwide and fly to Bengaluru via Mumbai and Dehli twice daily from London Heathrow. For more information: Jet Airways website | Twitter @jetairways | Facebook | Pinterest | YouTube | Flickr |

Need Airport Parking?

Heather used the Meet and Greet Parking Service booked through APH Parking and Hotels. APH is a multi-award winning company for airport parking & airport hotels, offering airport parking at a range of airports across the UK. APH also offer airport travel extras such as Meet and Greet parking, airport lounge booking and airport hotel stays so you can start enjoying a stress-free holiday before you even take off. Thanks to APH who provided Heather’s airport parking on a complimentary basis. For more information: APH website | APH Blog | Twitter @APHParking | Facebook | Google+ | YouTube |

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Read how to spend a day in Bangalore, India

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