20 photos to inspire you to visit Canada

A medley of landscapes frequently lauded as some of the world’s most beautiful sights can be found in Western Canada. Using the below images we attempt to brainwash you in to planning your next holiday to this relatively unexplored destination found on earth promising nature in abundance, wild experiences and unparalleled beauty.

Your 20 photos to inspire you to visit Canada begins now:

Rafting in Clearwater River, Wells Grey Provincial Park

Meal time
Tofino
Medicine Lake
Jasper town
Peyto lake
Lake Louise
Yoho National Park
Helmcken Falls, BC
Takakkaw Falls, Yoho National Park

Morraine Lake
Peyto Lake
Lake Louise
Stanley Park, Vancouver
Lake Louise
Cameron Lake, BC
Hiking trail in Jasper National Park
Cheers to empty Canadian highways!
Good looking food

To road trip through the Canadian Rockies in 15 days:

http://grabyourglobe.com/road-trippin-thr…ckies-in-15-days/

 

Road trippin’ through the Canadian Rockies in 15 days

WE DID IT! All it took was an expensive ticket to Vancouver city, a sleek SUV, backseat filled with snacks, camera in tow and most importantly our rush of adventure. Driving in Canada was an unbelievable experience with its open roads, motorways flanked with snow-capped mountains or pine trees and a few surreal moments like the time we got really lucky to have spotted a bear casually hunting for berries by the road.

This road trip is not scary (Read: Iceland) but requires a dedication to drive long hours only because you cannot road trip in Canada without stopping every few kilometres to take in the beautiful scenery that surrounds you. From sea to summit, we have mapped out the perfect itinerary for your next vacation and epic doesn’t begin to describe what you’re in for.

Day 1 – Fly in to Vancouver city

This is when we tell you how much in love with this city we really are. Have you ever wanted to live in a city that boasts mountain views from all corners, a stone’s throw distance from major national parks and teaming with cultures from all over the world? That city is Vancouver. If time permits, spend a few days exploring the city and all the activities it has to offer.

Stay: The Buchan Hotel (minutes from downtown Vancouver)

Day 2 – Day 4: Drive to Tofino (283 km – 5.5 hours)

Known for testing the unknown, we decided to make a quick weekend stop in Tofino located in Vancouver Island and what a payoff it was! Firstly, you get to drive your car in to a massive ferry that transports you across to Vancouver Island from where you continue driving a few hours until you reach the seaside town of Tofino. From here, you get to see Pacific Rim National Park and numerous bear and whale sightings via local tours and not to mention glowing sunsets from Tofino’s beach. FYI bears happen to chill on the beaches too so stay alert!

 Tour Company used: Adventure Tofino Wildlife Tours

Tofino has a variety of accommodations ranging from expensive to thrifty but we chose to stay at the cutest BnB owed by a local who spoiled us each morning with freshly baked muffins and other homemade goodness.

Stay: Storm Bay BnB by Jeanette & John

Day 4 – Drive back to Vancouver city (283 km – 5.5 hours)

Drive back to Vancouver city but not before making a few noteworthy stops. These can also be done in parts enroute to Tofino.

Tofino must-do stops include:

  • Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Parks (Upper & Lower)
  • Cathedra Grove – MacMillan Provincial Park
  • Giant Cedar Trail
  • Ucuelet (before entering Tofino)

Back in Vancouver, spend the late evening walking the famous “downtown” of Vancouver or strolling Stanley Park before heading to dinner.

Stay: Windsor Guesthouse

Day 5 – Drive to Clearwater & Wells Gray Provincial Park (482 km – 5 hours)

Get a head start no later than 7 AM in order to have a leisurely drive to Clearwater and Wells Gray Provincial Park. Upon arriving in Clearwater, grab a few beers, snacks and head straight to Dutch Lake. Here you can spend hours on the boardwalk sipping on a beer and taking the occasional dip in the lake to cool off or rent a kayak and explore the lake on your own.

Day 6 – In Clearwater

Time for some real adventure! The mighty and majestic Clearwater River stretches far through Wells Gray Provincial Park’s protected and undisturbed wilderness. This pristine river offers some of the best whitewater in all of British Columbia and that is exactly what we spent our morning doing – battling rapids and extremely cold cold waters.

For rafting: Liquid Lifestyles

The second half of the day was not devoid of water views as we made our way to Helmcken Falls, Spahat Creek Falls, Maul Falls followed by a lazy evening by Clearwater Lake.

Stay: Stoneshire Guesthouse (minutes’ walk to Dutch Lake)

Day 7 – Day 9 – Drive to Valemount for Jasper National Park. Overnight in Valemount (200 km – 2 hours)

You’ve probably seen it on Instagram or read about Jasper but nothing compares to what you witness in person. Just when we thought landscapes could not get any better, we began the second half of our road trip through more pine trees, dramatic mountain vistas and lakes.

Now is when you decide where exactly you want to stay when visiting Jasper National Park. The park houses a town – Jasper that offers adorable but expensive accommodation and if not booked months in advance (we’re talking 5 months in advance in the summer) you may not find suitable and reasonably priced accommodation here. As a result, we were left with virtually no budget friendly accommodations and chose the next best option and that was to stay in Valemount (100 km – 1 hour from Jasper National Park). Why Valemount? Valemount has good reasonably priced accommodations, gas stations and a few restaurants and supermarkets for basic needs.

Begin early from Clearwater, so you can make pit stops along the way to take photos of the scenery or a longer halt at Mount Robson for a quick photo opportunity.

P.S – Valemount sits in British Columbia while Jasper in Alberta that share different time zones! Ensure you change your watch each time you drive back & forth – you gain an hour, you lose one 🙂 

Enter Alberta and Jasper National Park! From here onward the next few days transported us to a whole new world that seemed too picture perfect to be true with its sharp jagged mountains, turquoise lakes and dense forest trails.

Things to do in Jasper:

  • Hikes – With all those mountains comes innumerable hiking trails one leading to a view more beautiful than the last. While summer may be the busiest time of year for parks in Canada, it is almost impossible to run in to massive crowds for all you have to do is walk a few metres following a trail and you’ve lost all your fellow hikers. This is when you realize just how massive Canada and it’s parks really are and how lucky you are to be there in that moment.
  • Skytram to Whistlers summit: It is easy to take a CAD 45 gondola ride up to Whistler’s summit from where you walk a short path to take in the view.
  • Cruising along Maligne Lake is one of the most popular activities you can indulge in when in jasper. The cruise is a little over an hour and stops at Spirit Island to take photos.
  • Sunwapta Falls & Canyon – short hike to the falls
  • Medicine Lake – For a peaceful picnic by a massive lake
  • Quick stops at the 3 lakes – Pyramid, Patricia & Edith Lakes.

The town of Jasper deserves a special mention for it sits in the midst of Canada’s extraordinary wilderness unpretentious and pretty. Restaurants are plenty; locals are forever smiling and looking to give you suggestions or weather updates. We highly recommend spending your nights in Jasper for a quintessential rocky mountain experience.

In case you’re wondering when you’ll reach the much coveted Icefields Parkway for that unbelievable drive; you’re already there! The Icefields Parkway is a 230 kilometre mountain road running through Banff and Jasper National Park. This scenic road, rated as one of the top drives in the world by Condé Nast Traveller traverses the rugged landscape of the Canadian Rockies. If you’ve made it this far, you’re really in for something very special. The entire drive takes no more than 3 hours NOT counting the incessant stopping to take photos of your surroundings.

There are numerous view-point pullouts, hiking and walking opportunities, waterfalls, lakes and attractions to see along the Icefields Parkway.

  • Herbert & Hector Lakes
  • Bow Lake
  • Peyto Lake
  • Waterfowl Lake & Chephren Lake
  • Cirrus Mountain View Point
  • Athabasca Glacier
  • Sunwapta Falls
  • Athabasca Falls

Stay: Valley Mountain Ranch – Valemount (Yes, it was a real ranch with animals!)

Day 9 – Day 12 – Continue driving to Banff National Park. Stay in Canmore (180 km – 2 hours)

You will spend the next 3 days exploring the scenic spots in and around Banff National Park. Take your time to soak in the various spots along the Icefields Parkway as you make your way to Banff. All the above attractions along the parkway can be split between your days exploring Jasper & Banff.

Alberta boats several turquoise lakes and one such underrated lake is Peyto Lake. At 2,068 meters, Bow Pass is the highest pass in Banff National Park and the watershed between the river systems of the North and South Saskatchewan River. A short branch road leads to the magnificent Peyto Lake glistening in turquoise and fed by many of the surrounding glaciers.

The moment you’ve been waiting for is finally here – The jewel of Banff National Park is Lake Louise with its shimmering turquoise blue green water and surrounding snow capped mountains rising up to 3000 meters high. It’s difficult to tear yourself away from the shores of the lake but you can also take one of the many trails (some running along the waters edge) up in to forest opening up to breathtaking views of the lake from above. The most popular of them is the trail leading up to Lake Agnes, which lies in a picturesque location between the two round hills known as the Beehives. The strenuous climb to the top of one of the Beehives is rewarded by a superb view over the entire area. In summer, the Lake Agnes Teahouse supplies food and drinks to weary hikers (such as ourselves).

While Lake Louise did not disappoint, it was Morraine Lake that stole the show and our hearts. An extremely cold and bleak morning was the chosen day to explore this lake. Hours of waiting in our car for the rain to stop and several playlists later the sun appeared and brightened the day. Pictured on the reverse of the old Canadian twenty dollar bill, Moraine Lake in the Valley of the Ten Peaks surrounded by peaks more than 3,000 meters high, and the Wenkchemna Glacier was one of the most beautiful sights I have personally ever witnessed. The most scenic walk involves a short climb up the Rockpile Trail to the best view of the lake which involved us monkeying around in the cold trying to not break any bones. WORTH IT!

At the end of each day we made our way back to our apartment in Canmore, a sleepy ski town in the rocky mountains.

Stay: Cozy Penthouse Suite – Mountain View (Air BnB)

Day 12 – Day 15 – Drive to Yoho National Park. Overnight in Golden ( 85 km 1 hour)

In case you feel that you can’t do justice to the above sights, you can always drive back to either of the aforementioned lakes as they’re no more than an hour’s drive from your next halt in Golden.

The next park on our agenda was Yoho National Park and one that is often skipped by most road trippers. Extremely underrated, we enjoyed this park a lot more than we expected. Located along the western slopes of the Canadian Rockies, in the province of British Columbia lies Yoho the smallest of the contiguous parks of Banff, Jasper and Kootenay. The most notable highlights of Yoho are Takkakaw Falls, one of Canada’s highest free falling waterfalls, the Natural Bridge over the Kicking Horse River, Emerald Lake and Lake O’Hara.

With Golden as our base we spent the last few days exploring the above mentioned sights and simply breathing the crisp, fresh Canadian air.

Stay: Kicking Horse Lodge, Golden (Air BnB)

Day 15 – Drive to Calgary Airport & say goodbye (225 km 2.5 hours).

 Car rental: Avis Canada

 

When: Summer months – June, July, August & September

How: Fly to Vancouver or Calgary and end with the same

What: Natural beauty in its wildest form.

 

Advisory: While the summer months are undoubtedly the best time to visit weather wise, the 3 major disruptions include:

  • Higher prices everywhere due to it being peak season
  • Lack of economical accommodations due to it being high season
  • Forest fires. Forest fires are no joke and can entirely disrupt your travel schedule. We were caught in the middle of forest fires towards the end of our trip and had to make last minute adjustments to our itinerary due to the smoky air.

Nee more inspiration? We have it covered.

Check out our – “20 photos to inspire you to visit Canada”.

 

On the animal trail in Borneo

Chasing crocodiles, hanging with bats and monkeying around with orangutans, living out our very own animal song

Baby proboscis monkeys look exactly like human babies – in fact, they even cling miserably to their protective mothers the same way irritable kids do when faced with a barrage of strangers; in the dead of the night, it’s the red-glow of crocodile eyes that give away their stealthy presence; orangutans, classified as one of the most intelligent primates, appear smarter than most politicians (re: a certain orange-skinned world leader) and if you venture into a cave full of “one million cockroaches” – make sure your gag reflex is super controllable (and you take your guide literally). Animal world, indeed.

Into the wild

The giant island of Borneo, shared by Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei is home to one of the oldest rainforests in the world – making it ideal for seeking out our animal friends in their natural habitat, and human-created conservation/ rehabilitation centres. It accounts for just 1 per cent of the world’s land mass, but accounts for 6 per cent of the globe’s bio-diversity ! After three days of exploring the underwater world in Mabul, an island off the coast of Sabah, we ventured back to the mainland of Malaysian-Borneo – we began by exploring orangutan and Bornean sun bear country, spent three days on the Kinabatangan river and finished up by paying a visit to the long-nosed proboscis monkey.

Bear with us, as we Monkey around

Sepilok Jungle Resort

We began our animal song, with a short flight from Tawau  to Semporna. Here, we sought refuge at Sepilok Jungle Resort. The rooms are small and basic, with barely functioning air conditioning, while the food is average – the resort’s USP however is its spectacular and animal-friendly landscape (think bridges over water, and lots of greenery) and proximity to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabiliation Centre and the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation centre (both within walking distance).

Orangutan song

The best time to head down to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabiliation Centre is a little before feeding time (10 am and 3pm), so you have the chance to saunter around and see the orangutans in peace – as once the feeding frenzy begins, so does the crowd’s need to get click happy. More than 43km of protected land along the edge of Kabili Sepilok Forest Reserve is home for creatures that have been orphaned or confiscated, leading to debates whether it really is the best environment for these wild animals. Detractors wonder why the government isn’t focused more on protecting the rainforests, but we strongly believe any step towards protection is a step in the right direction – and currently, the space is home to over 60 orangutans who have been rescued from inhumane conditions.

At the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre

Bear necessities
The next stop on our wildlife tour was the neigbouring Bornean Sun Bear Conservation centre (9am-3:30pm) – home to the world’s smallest bear. The bears at the centre are orphaned and/or ex-captive bears, brought into their natural environment in the Sepilok-Kabili Forest Reserve. Currently, about 43 bears reside at the centre and we’d be lying if we said we didn’t feel the urge to cuddle the large-dog resembling bears, after gazing into their watery eyes. It was hard to say goodbye to the animals, but we did – as a 3hour long bus ride took us to Kinabatangan, which is abundant in fauna.

Monkeying around at the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre

Like a river flows… so do we

And after a 2min boat ride, we made it to eco-lodge Bilit Adventure Resort, our home on the banks of the Sabah’s longest river Kinabatangan. We were welcomed by log cabins on stilts, the sudden arrival of rain clouds and the as precipitous disappearance, the defeaning silence of nature, the twitter of unnamed birds and the hissing of unknown predators.

Our jungle home

Cruisin’ along

Our mornings and evenings were spent on the river cruise spotting a barrage of wildlife in their natural habitat – think Proboscis monkeys, hornbills, kingfishers, Malaysian flycatchers and lots more. It was the intrigue, and attraction of spying the crocodile that sent us on an awe-inspiring night cruise – the night was dark, and full of stars – as before the moon rose, we were treated to a sky full of stars, a blanket of twinkling lights which was soon cloaked by darkness. It was in this quietude, and under sparse torchlight and the expert guidance and bravado of Moose, our local guide who himself had an uncle, carried away by a crocodile on the river, that led us to spying two baby crocodiles slinking away as quickly, as they appeared. Those glowing red eyes are not a sight we’re likely to forget soon.

The next night, we ventured around the property on foot. With Blair Witch-like jungle vibes to keep us scared, and the thrill of trudging along led by torchlight to keep us going we were rewarded by sightings of moon rats, minuscule (and speedy) jungle cats and a barrage of birds. Afternoons were spent basking in the sun with cans of Snow Beer, views of the endless river – while we returned to our cosy quarters (ac-ed and comfortable) sweaty and satisfied, each night. It was with a very heavy heart that we said goodbye to Mother nature, and the peace that no-network brings.

Caving in

The cockroach and bat infested Gomantong Caves

But our wild adventure hadn’t ended yet, and on our way to the airport for the next leg of our trip, we drove to the Gomantong Caves. The hill is the largest limestone outcrop in the Lower Kinabatangan area, set in a Sabah Forestry Department forest reserve, the caves and the surrounding areas are a protected area for wildlife, especially orangutans – and we were lucky enough to spy one hanging around as we made our way out. Inside, the stench of a million cockroaches awaits as the cave system is home to massive populations of cockroaches and bats. Walls covered in cockroaches, floors strewn with the insects scurrying about, and a glance at the ceiling revealed colonies of bats, in all their glory. The Gomantong Caves are also well-known for their valuable edible swiftlet nests, which are harvested for bird’s nest soup. Half our party abandoned us on this adventure, as the sight, and smell of the creatures proved too much to handle.

Monkey see, monkey do
But then, we were on the sunshine trail again as we made our way to the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary – nestled in the centre of the mangrove forest along the coastal land near Samawang Village at Labuk Bay, Sandakan. Here, we witnessed families of proboscis monkeys, leaping from one tree to another and feeding. We have to confess, we spent 30 minutes mesmerised, watching as a minuscule monkey was schooled on life (and leaping) by the elders of the group. And thinking, they did it better than most humans.

The proboscis monkeys at feeding time

Vacations always teach us something – sometimes it’s the fact that we need to slow down and relax. Often, it is to disassociate with what’s troubling us. This one, reminded us quite powerfully to be aware of the world we’re living in – that the concrete world of ours is simply creating a wall, shutting us out from the real world – where nature is fighting to survive. And animals, are not that different from us – we’d all like to survive, and leave legacies for generations to witness. Because a world without trees, fresh air, the silence of nature and survival of essential species – is literally no world at all. And are we really ready to lose our world?

 

 

Serai Serenity – Give it to me, I’m worth it

There’s nothing more exhilarating than driving 5 hours away from an overly populated city and in to the green arms of Mother Nature. The air is crisp yet slightly smokey from nearby village woodfires, the trees spindly with silvery white trunks yet losing much of their greenness due to the onset of the dry season and birds flying low guiding you to your haven . This space looks raw yet inviting and as you drive on the makeshift rocky road you reach a gem in the middle of the jungle – The Serai Bandipur.