National Geographic Traveller (UK)

The wild is calling in British Columbia

Heading into the wild comes naturally in the vast Canadian province of British Columbia, with its big open spaces, fresh, clean air and ability to offer transforma­tive travel from the outside in



Home to hundreds of rivers, lakes, ords, hot springs and over 15,000 miles of coastline, you’re never far from a water-based adventure in Canada’s westernmos­t province. Head out into Howe Sound on a paddleboar­d and listen to the soothing sounds of your oar slicing through the water as you tune in to the nature that surrounds you in British Columbia. Pods of orcas, sometimes 50-strong, may be just some of the wildlife you see. Few experience­s underline the majesty of Mother Nature more than a plume of spray erupting beside your boat, followed by a dorsal fin, tail fluke, or if you’re lucky, a full breach — a beautiful, 10-ton beast leaping from the water. The UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Clayoquot Sound, on Vancouver Island’s western coast, is home to more than 300 marine species, from whales to seals, otters and puffins. Further south, in the city of Victoria, is Ogden Point, an underwater playground ideal for scuba diving and snorkellin­g among giant king crabs, octopus and shoals of herring. Being fully immersed in this underwater world gives the body space to reconnect with its surroundin­gs and the mind room to calm amid the gentle sounds.


British Columbia’s temperate rainforest is one of the world’s rarest ecosystems. As you walk past ancient Douglas-firs, consider the comforting thought that, here, nature truly flourishes. This is a province leading the way when it comes to sustainabi­lity, so follow the locals’ lead and explore by foot or on an electric bike, stay in ecolodges or join educationa­l hiking trips. BC’s pristine natural habitat is a haven for wildlife: black bears and grizzlies wade through icy rivers for spawning salmon; bald eagles scan the forest floor for marmots; and black-tailed deer shelter under the shade of giant hemlocks. Experience the deepest, wildest corners of BC’s forests on a multi-day West Coast Trail hike. Or for a slower pace, local guides lead forest bathing experience­s in places like the Sunshine Coast. Stretching out on soft green moss below the canopy, you’ll feel a calm wash over you as you learn to take in the environmen­t through all your senses. Close your eyes, inhale the spruce-scented air, and appreciate the gentle rush of rivers making their way to the ocean.


Watching the sun rise over a glacial lake or snowy peaks. Trekking ancient, forested trails on horseback. There are few places that compare to British Columbia when it comes to high-altitude adventure. Near Vancouver, paraglidin­g, rock climbing and helicopter flights are on the menu: choose between gliding 2,000ft above the deer and grizzlies of Pemberton Valley; scaling a 2,300ft granite monolith in Squamish; or flying past glaciers and turquoise fjords in a helicopter in the Tantalus Mountain Range. Further east, summer in the Canadian Rockies — a chain of 2,283 snow-capped peaks that spreads across the pine forests and turquoise lakes of BC’s Kootenay Rockies and into Alberta — means making the most of more than 2,000 miles of hiking, biking and horse-riding trails. Feel the magnetism of the wild and let your feet guide you to new summits and viewpoints. As you listen to birdsong bursting from nearby cedars or the calls of eagles overhead, the stresses and strains of modern life melt away and the feeling will stay with you even long after you’ve left. Vancouver Internatio­nal Airport is the obvious arrival point from the UK, and Air Canada and British Airways fly there direct from Heathrow. Prices start from around £467 return. Connect with nature before you travel — book time with British Columbia’s great wilderness.

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FROM LEFT: Howe Sound; Kermode (spirit) bear in the Great Bear Rainforest
Canadian Rockies mountain range FROM LEFT: Howe Sound; Kermode (spirit) bear in the Great Bear Rainforest
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