DREAMSCAPES Fall 2017
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GREAT CANADIAN ADVENTURES
 
(2017 - Spring/Summer Issue)

Writer: SARAH STAPLES



Canada is celebrating 150 years as a nation in 2017 and tour operators, hotels and governments are teeing up exceptional journeys and experiences that aim a spotlight on this milestone anniversary.

There’s simply no better moment to get to know Canada in depth, travel experts say. “The time is right for qualities like friendliness and empathy, nature and culture to take centre stage in the world and the perception is that Canada has them all,” explains Antonio del Rosal, a veteran former executive of the Adventure Travel Trade Association, who now runs a Mexico-based consultancy Experiencias Genuinas helping destinations market their “adventurous” side.

“Make a point of going somewhere you’ve always wanted to go,” adds Henry Gold, founder of TDA Global Cycling, which organizes lengthy bike trips around the world for serious cyclists. Starting in June, Gold’s Toronto-based tour company will host its first cross-Canada ride. “It’s Canada’s moment if ever there was one,” he says.

With this advice, here’s a guide to more great Canadian adventures this summer and fall:

DISCOVER A NATIONAL PARK

For starters, take a tour that delves into the bounty of the land. Merit Travel’s “Highlights of Newfoundland & the Maritimes” visits Gros Morne National Park, while out west, Geckos Adventures’ “Best of Canada” and Exodus Travels’ “Canadian Family Discovery” are camping trips taking in parks such as Banff, Yoho and Jasper.

The 24,000-kilometre Great Trail, a Canada-wide network of hiking, biking, water and road segments billed as the world’s longest trail system, provides another popular setting for tours this year. TDA Global Cycling’s “Oh, Canada! Cycling Tour” picks up the Great Trail during its three-month, 8,800-kilometre ride from Haida Gwaii to St. John’s. (Riders can also book shorter trip segments starting from various Canadian locations.)

TAKE A LONG WALK

Walking and backpacking vacations are available from Butterfield & Robinson, Bike-Hike Adventures and Great Canadian Trails.

You can also fly into inaccessible locations for the more unique experience of hiking in dramatic solitude where few have gone before. Try Tauck’s “Bugaboos Adventure,” featuring a guided helicopter-assisted hiking tour of the Purcell Mountains. Or consider Backroads’ “Canadian Rockies Family Breakaway Heli-Hiking Tour,” which uses Bobbie Burns Lodge as a base camp from which to discover Mount Nimbus and the Conrad Glacier.

GO NORTH

A trip to Canada’s far north should be on everyone’s bucket list. Book with AdventureSmith Explorations or Natural Habitat Adventures, two established operators that arrange tours to the “polar bear capital of the world,” Churchill, Manitoba, on Hudson Bay, where the animals gather for their fall hunt. Or stay at Frontiers North’s quirky Tundra Buggy Lodge. It’s a caravan-style hookup of all-weather vehicles (sleeping, dining and lounging cars) parked right on the tundra, close to the bears. It’s also far enough from town to guarantee unhindered views of the northern lights.

Foodies can explore remote northern regions by air this June. “Flight Across the Top of Canada,” co-produced by Edible Canada and Finisterra Travel, has chartered a Boeing 737 to fly guests to Whitehorse, Yellowknife, Rankin Inlet, Iqaluit and St. John’s for hiking, fishing and “epic meals” by top Canadian chefs like Rob Gentile of Bar Buca in Toronto and Derek Dammann of Montréal’s Maison Publique.

And mountain-bikers can opt for H+I Adventures’ weeklong “Wild Yukon Canada” trip riding mountain trails and old mining paths near Whitehorse, Yukon.

TAKE TO THE WATER

This June and July, Adventure Canada cruises “The Mighty St. Lawrence” to the Gaspé Peninsula, Magdalen Islands, Cape Breton and Saint-Pierre. It’s one of National Geographic Traveller’s 50 Tours of a Lifetime.

One Ocean Expeditions’ 10-night “Canada’s East Coast: Fins & Fiddles” cruises the Atlantic provinces by an ice-rated expedition ship, taking in national parks like Gros Morne and tiny Sable Island.

As a shorter getaway, Fjord en Kayak offers two-night sea-kayaking excursions within the impressive fjords of eastern Québec, bookable on demand this summer.

Or spare no expense and let award-winning Gray & Co. create a bespoke land-and-sea itinerary (for upwards of US$1,500 per person, per day) exploring British Columbia’s Gulf Islands by float plane, boat taxi and ferry, and staying at elegant little finds like Poet’s Cove Resort and Hastings House Hotel.

DISCOVER WHERE YOU LIVE

Tourism board websites are a useful source of Canada 150-themed events taking place locally. Surf Toronto’s seetorontonow.com, for instance, for information about the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s Canadian film ticket giveaway or the city’s plans to host the 2017 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) in July and the Invictus Games for military veterans in September.

There are dozens of federally-sponsored Canadian Signature Experiences as well, ranging from tours to festivals, listed at caen-keepexploring.canada.travel. One must-see event is Rendez-vous Naval 2017, a regatta of tall ships dropping anchor in dozens of port communities this summer, and reuniting the full fleet in Québec City, July 18–23.

Hotels are getting into the spirit of celebration, too. The Drake Hotel in Toronto is hosting Sunday Nights in Canada, a prix-fixe dinner series. The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto’s 1867 Package offers a Simcoe Suite with panoramic views and a daily $600 credit to use at the hotel’s spa or TOCA restaurant. And Vancouver’s The Loden has a Canada 150 package with tickets to the nature film FlyOver Canada.

Another way to gain fresh perspective on familiar surroundings is to book a daytrip or tour in your home town.

In Ottawa, retired National Newspaper Award-winning photographer Chris Mikula, now a bike guide with Escape Bicycle Tours, can show you how to perfect your shots of national monuments on a photographic tour of Canada’s capital.

Or in Desbiens, Lac Saint-Jean, follow a walking trail past waterfalls and an old hydroelectric station to Parc de la Caverne “Trou de la Fée” (Fairies’ Hole Cavern), then take a three-hour guided tour of Québec’s only natural bat cave.

Lesser-known tourist experiences like these await discovery in the unlikeliest of places—and this is the year to go find them.

“Always keep exploring where you live,” sums up TDA Global Cycling’s Henry Gold. “Where you end up is almost immaterial; it’s about the people you’ll meet and all the little stories you’ll find everywhere.”

TRAVEL PLANNER

For more information on these and other Canadian events and tours offered by tour operators and organizers, visit:

Adventure Canada: adventurecanada.com

AdventureSmith Explorations: adventuresmithexplorations.com

Backroads: backroads.com

Butterfield & Robinson: butterfield.com

Canadian Signature Experiences: caen-keepexploring.canada.travel

Edible Canada: ediblecanada.com

Escape Bicycle Tours: escapebicycletours.ca

Exodus Travels: exodustravels.com/ca

Finisterra Travel: finisterra.ca

Frontiers North Adventures: frontiersnorth.com

Fjord en Kayak: fjordenkayak.ca/en

Geckos Adventures: geckosadventures.com

Gray & Co.: grayandco.ca

H+I Adventures: mountainbikeworldwide.com/bike-tours/yukon-canada

Merit Travel: merit.ca

Natural Habitat Adventures: nathab.com

One Ocean Expeditions: oneoceanexpeditions.com

Parc de la Caverne “Trou de la Fée”: cavernetroudelafee.ca

Ritz-Carlton Toronto: ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/canada/toronto

Tauck: tauck.com

TDA Global Cycling: tdaglobalcycling.com

The Drake Hotel: thedrakehotel.ca

The Great Trail: thegreattrail.ca

Tourism Toronto: SeeTorontoNow.com

World Expeditions Travel Group: worldexpeditions.com

 
 
 
 
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