About British Columbia
The interior of BC is every bit as spectacular as the Rocky Mountains to the East and the Pacific and Coast Mountains to the West. Don’t just drive through on the Trans-Canada (Hwy-1) or Hwy-3 – the real attractions lie in the two north-south routes. The Easternmost of these goes through the Kootenay region, an idyllic assortment of mountains and lakes and peaceful towns from the grand Glacier and Revelstoke national parks all the way south to the US border near the attractive old mining town (and skiing and biking haven) of Rossland. Roughly parallel to the west, the next major highway system travels along the arid Okanagan Valley: a Californian-like enclave of orchards, vineyards, warm lakes and resort towns, whose beaches and scorching summers draw hordes of holidaymakers from all over Canada and the western US. Kamloops is the Okanagan’s northern gateway. It’s also on the doorstep of the laidback Shuswap region (an area of lakes and rivers) and the magnificent Wells Gray Provincial Park, a remote collection of exceptional waterfalls and perfect canoeing lakes.
How To Reach
Book a Package Tour
The second most populous island of Canada and the largest Pacific Island, Vancouver island is quirky and colorful. The views of the ocean and islands are gorgeous, you might even see Killer whales (Orcas) on the way. Victoria, the Capital of British Colombia is situated on this island and is quite an interesting city itself. It is a nice, small city with gardens, restaurants, museums and parks, with a dash of England. Getting to the island on the ferry is quite a wonderful ride. Whale watching is a popular activity on Vancouver island and Victoria, Tofino, Ucluelet and Telegraph Cove make good bases. The island also has great hiking: the incredible seascapes of the unmissable Pacific Rim National Park, the mountainous vastness of Strathcona Provincial Park, and the popular West Coast Trail are all highlights.
Kettle Valley Rail Trail
A subsidiary of the Canadian Pacific Railway, the Kettle Valley Railway operated in the Thompson-Okanagan region of British Columbia, and provided a much needed rail link to the coast and Vancouver for the cities of Southern BC. The line initially opened in 1915, however portions of the railway were abandoned as early as 1961 due to washouts and a decline in traffic. All rail service stopped from Midway to Penticton, through the Okanagan and the famed Myra Canyon section of the line, in 1973, with the final segments of line falling into disuse in 1989. Today much of the railroad’s original route has been converted into a recreational trail, known as the Kettle Valley Rail Trail. With its relatively gentle grade, the line has become a hiker and cyclist haven. For some reason, prior to our visit, I was under the impression that the trail was 8km in length (16 km round trip) however after cycling for an hour or so we realized this portion of the Kettle Valley Railway stretches for 12km between the park’s East and West entrances, making for a 24 km round trip. Although quite a bit longer than we had bargained for, we were still able to finish the loop in two and a half hours of cycling – which includes more than a few interruptions to stop and take photos. I’d recommend that new visitors allow 3-4 hours to cycle the trail, and 6-7 to walk. However by no means do you have to complete the entire loop to have a great experience. Entering from the east, it’s possible to cover multiple trestles and the first of two tunnels in only a few kilometers, making it a good option for those under tight time constraints. Alternatively, using a shuttle service or a friend from the area, entering from one end and getting picked up at the other would eliminate the need to turn around and backtrack. As the trail incorporates the same path the old railway lines once laid on, the ride (or hike) only consists of a 4% grade in the steepest sections, and this makes for a very pleasant bike ride. It also means that the trail is perfect for people of any biking level – we saw everyone from kids to seniors making the ride.
First things first. A seaplane trip is something everyone should opt for. It seats just 5 passengers and a pilot which guarantees that everyone has amazing view throughout the journey. Taking off from Rose Bay and flying up along the Northern Beaches and coming back down over the opera house and Bridge is a unique experience.
Storm Crow Alehouse
Sci-fi geeks and board game lovers swarm this bar, where Han Solo is part of the décor and only sci-fi and fantasy movies are played on televisions. Pick a game\ or a book from their huge collection and sip on a locally-brewed beer—this place is your fantasy. stormcrowalehouse.com
Seattle is beautifully situated on the Puget Sound with Mt. Rainier overlooking the city from a short distance. Visit Pike Place Market or the Space Needle as these two iconic attractions will rarely disappoint. Land in one of America’s most beautiful cities surrounded by the Puget Sound and not-so-distant volcanoes. Meet your fellow group members and leaders at 6 pm for a pre-departure meeting followed by group meal. (Includes Pre-departure meeting)
We find that Coast has a decent wine list including a variety served by the glass. Jeremy assures us that fine wines are easily procured for the more discerning diner. Meantime, we regular diners plump for a sweet round and clean Californian White Zinfandel (RM39) and a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc with notes of lime and pepper, which proves a good choice with fish (RM40). In presentation, Chicken Terrine (from the set menu) echoes the underwater theme; a black sea anemone sits among coral tendrils. We delight in the fine moist texture, the chicken flavour full but subtle. It’s a memorable dish.Fettuccine Pasta bursts with the Mediterranean flavours of black olives, semi dried tomato, garden basil and Parmesan shavings. Capers give a zing to the dish, which is slippery and tasty and soon devoured by Jeremy (after we've had our fare spoonful). Pan fried sea bass is elegantly presented with the lemon beurre blanc served separately, by far my preference with fish. Cutting through the crispy skin reveals moist flakes with a good dense flavour. One of the best-cooked pieces of fish I’ve eaten in Malaysia, and the lemon sauce delicate and light. Delicious.
Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park
Upon arrival at Myra-Bellevue we had a decision to make, pull into the first park entrance (West) or deal with the dirt road for a few more kilometers to access the second entrance (East). We opted for the East entrance, only because I vaguely recalled a recommendation in my pre-trip research. This worked well as there are numerous wooden trestles immediately upon entering the trail from this end. The East parking lot is also quite large, making it the best bet for peak-season summer visitors. In the end either entrance will get you into the park, so it’s not something to really worry about too much. Don’t panic if you see the entrance signs and don’t know what to do, either option will get you to your goal. With numerous trestles, tunnels, and some incredible views of Kelowna and the surrounding hillside, the park is incredibly scenic and there is always something to grab your attention. For me, the dry, desert sections of the trail felt like I was pedaling through the Wild West, and the wooden trestles only elevated this sensation. In August 2003, lightning sparked a fire in the nearby mountainside. The fire grew rapidly in strength and size and engulfed many portions of the Kettle Valley Railway between Penticton and McCulloch Lake. When the fire was extinguished over a month later, 12 of the 18 trestles within Myra Canyon were lost, as well as countless homes in the area. The B.C provincial government announced that it would rebuild the damaged and destroyed trestles and bridges, a process that took the better part of a year and saw additional safety improvements undertaken as well. The trestles have since been completed and the trail is fully open to the public. Despite the reconstruction evidence of the fire is still visible, with many badly charred trees still standing, slowly being overtaken by new growth along the forest floor.