We are creatures of habit, particularly when it comes to vacations. Sure, routine is good, but spending the same week each year on a Mexican beach, or visiting family, or hunkering down at a favourite campground are so last year. Why not try something that introduces you to a whole new adventure, whether it’s a canoe trip, a stay at a dude ranch or a fishing trip that will test your reach (and perhaps your patience!); and whitewater rafting that will give you just enough of an adrenaline rush, but leave you grinning for days.
These four vacation ideas can be for the family, or a couple — or a few friends. Get to know this province: the Interior is home to numerous ranches; the Bowron Lakes canoe circuit tests your water skills and camping perceptions; Ucluelet and Campbell River have just been voted as two of the top seven Canadian fishing destinations by FishingBooker.com; and whitewater rafting is something that everyone should do at least one in their lives. We say bring it on.
1. Hop on, dude
They used to be called dude ranches, but now they are known as working ranches — some even with spas. BCAdventure.com has a list of them all so you can browse what you’re looking for specifically.
We checked out the Echo Valley Ranch and Spa because inside your correspondent lurks a princess who likes to have the option for massages and facials.
Echo Valley is routinely ranked among the Top 25 Canadian Boutique Hotels and the season typically runs from April through October and is suited to adults and children in July and August; in other months children must be 13 and over.
There’s yoga, communal meals that spark conversation and tall tales of riding, a swimming pool and all the fresh air you can handle. That’s the easy part. Riding a horse is not like riding a bike, but you will be guided on your ride with capable staff.
There are many packages to choose from, including summer long weekend deals for two nights that start at about $835 per person. This includes meals, yoga and use of the pool and sauna, among other amenities. You can also choose from off-road cycling, fishing and swimming.
2. Canoe trip
If you’re comfortable with canoeing or kayaking, it’s time to bump it up a notch with a renowned wilderness trip at Bowron Lake Provincial Park. You can choose from either a longer trip tat will take anywhere from six to 10 days, or the west-side circuit that can be completed in two to four days.
You need to reserve your spot for the circuit in the season that is open from May 15 to Sept. 30. Canoe rentals are available if you don’t have your own, and there are several options. The park website has all the information you need, from what to pack and tips about bear safety, to camping and canoeing information. There are several resources that can inform you about items and routines you may not even consider, such as using canoe carts, whether you can use soap to bathe, and how to pack your vessel. An increase in the number of users with sea kayaks has been noted, and you can find out the specifics and recommendations about this as well.
3. Fishing trip
Take it from someone who never thought she’d get into fishing, this type of trip can get you out of your routine. If you’ve ever tried to haul up a halibut — which is kind of like trying to use your line to lift the hood of a car from the ocean —you’ll know of the adrenaline rush. It’s something that everyone should try at least once.
There’s no shortage of places test your talents, but the latest ranking of Ucluelet and Campbell River among the top seven spots in Canada by FishingBooker.com may entice you. In Ucluelet, the Chinook salmon are big — weighing over 30 pounds or more. The baitfish that spawn in the area draw fish to what is locally referred to as the salmon highway. There are numerous bays and more shallow waters that are home to halibut, ling cod and red snapper. Check out ucluelet.ca for info and to book charters with the local companies. Campbell River, long a sport-fishing destination, is known as the salmon capital of the world. Here, too those big Chinook are known as Tyee, the Nuu-chah-nulth word meaning the chief.” Since 1924, the Tyee Club of B.C. has run a competition for anglers who, if they catch a big Chinook of 30 pounds or more, are awarded membership in the club. Find out more and register at tyeeclub.org.
Campbell River Travel describes this unique local fishing beautifully on its website: “Tyee fishing here is different. Anglers fish quietly in small, classic row boats. No motors are allowed in the Tyee pool … The angler must stay focused on the action of the lure as it is felt in the hand as much as being seen by the beating of the rod tip. With the slightest change in the beat, the hook must be set, fast and hard.”
4. River rafting
Hold on for the ride of your life: over rafting is an incredible adventure that will leave you wanting more, when you stop grinning from the thrill of it. HelloBC has an entire list of B.C. river rafting companies — everywhere from Squamish to the Interior, the Kootenays, the north and on the Tatshenshini River.
Your correspondent had a memorable and knuckle-whitening trip at Kumsheen Rafting on the Thompson River in Lytton a few years back. The Fandrich family runs this sweet resort — complete with fine dining and a swimming pool and teepees in which to stay. Proprietor Bernie Fandrich is a pioneer of whitewater rafting in B.C. and this operation is a jewel. River rafting is the cool activity for grads, families, adventure seekers and anyone who wants to break out of their comfort zone that involves too much Netflix and an unfulfilled longing for the great outdoors.
Just do it, we say.
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