Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

Summer is nearly here, bringing with it ample sunshine and plenty of reasons to plan an outdoor travel adventure. Why not try British Columbia?

One Word: Whitewater
Should a snapshot of the wild wave variety suit your fancy, ready your 100-watt smile and suit up for a wondrously wet whitewater rafting excursion.  Where to start?  Kumsheen Rafting Resort, outside of Lytton in the Thompson Okanagan region, defines family fun: guests can paddle under their own steam or simply roll with it during power rafting excursions on daily outings or multi-day family camps.  With over 35 years at the helm on the legendary Thompson and Fraser rivers, Kumsheen knows a thing or two about taming the waves.  Add to this, they house some cool digs for bunking down for the night: quaint cabin tents, teepees and resort lodging blend seamlessly with beach volleyball courts, a salt water swimming pool and crackling campfires.  More picture-perfect whitewater adventure awaits on the Kicking Horse River in the Kootenay Rockies region; gather the family and let the love flow, with Alpine Rafting steering the way.  Situated near Golden, enthusiasts can choose from a host of rafting excursions, complete with glacial waters, dramatic drops and plenty of thrills.  Eager to combine a river run with a little land and air exploration?  The Whitewater Discovery Package offers it all with an afternoon on the Kicking Horse River, a grizzly bear refuge tour, a gondola ride complete with sky lunch and one night’s accommodation.  www.kumsheen.com; www.alpinerafting.com

Break out the Bikes for a BC-brand of Cool
Come summer at Whistler Blackcomb, it’s little wonder why bikes are boss.  As the official Alpine Skiing Venue for the 2010 Winter Games, Whistler Mountain ranks as the number one lift-accessed downhill bike park in the world, thanks to its blend of gentle banked cruisers, steep rock faces and drops for expert riders.  Ready for camp?  Here, you’ll find sessions geared for the Whistler Mountain Bike Park: Bike Park 101 is ideal for first-timers who want to sample the park’s terrain with a guide, while Summer Gravity Camps promise coaching by top-notch athletes, including World Cup and National Downhill Champions, and Dirt Series Mountain Bike Camps feature both women-only outings along with four legendary co-ed weekends.  Far from the Whistler Mountain Bike Park, one can take to the singletrack in BC’s Kootenay Rockies – where rides are sacred.  With over 12 years on the trails, Sacred Rides, based near Fernie in southeastern BC, showcases a network of seemingly endless trails and challenging topography.  Named by National Geographic Magazine as “#1 Mountain Bike Tour Company on Earth,” excursions with Sacred Rides range from two to 13 days; multi-day treks can include whitewater splashes, horseback riding, and heli-biking, along with backcountry lodging and tasty menus.  Indeed, you’re sure to be in good hands; noted as BC’s first adventure operator to offer singletrack mountain bike holidays, Sacred Rides is wholly dedicated to responsible riding (portions of tour revenue filter to local development and sustainability projects within their communities). www.whistlerblackcomb.com; www.sacredrides.com

British Columbia Means Big Water Adventure
In British Columbia, an ocean of kayaking adventures awaits, with more than a few shores perfect for launch.  Synonymous with adventure, the Broken Group Islands, situated off the west coast of Vancouver Island, is simply a kayaker’s dream; here you’ll find an archipelago of more than a hundred islands and islets in Barkley Sound.  From April through October, Majestic Ocean Kayaking mans the paddles during half-day, full-day and multi-day glides through quiet coves and sheltered bays; hands-on instruction mingles with the promise of eagle, sea lion and even whale sightings.  With a base in Ucluelet, just south of the Broken Group Islands, Majestic Ocean Kayaking supplies gourmet lunch on a sandy shore, treks into an old growth forest and cosy beach-front camp accommodations ideal for multi-day excursions.  In the province’s Haida Gwaii, or Queen Charlotte Islands, July marks the beginning of ocean kayak adventures which blend wilderness terrain, a distinctive ecosystem and a storied First Nations heritage.  Set amid the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site in Northern BC, Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures promises eight to 15-day sea kayak expeditions, all within an area hailed as Canada’s Galapagos (this archipelago is a hotbed for uniquely evolved flora and fauna).  And with opportunities to visit remote Haida villages and cultural sites sheltering the remains of long houses and a handful of still-standing mortuary and memorial poles, you’re assured adventure, complete with a deeply defined sense of wonder.  Time to test the waters.  www.oceankayaking.com; www.kingfisher.ca

BC Offers Family Fun Outside of the Box
Should you have aspirations to suspend reality, or simply leave things open to interpretation, gather the family for a bit of fun far from the beaten path.  On Vancouver Island, it’s all about WildPlay Nanaimo.  Here’s the breakdown: the attraction’s Tree Course, an elevated tree-to-tree obstacle course within a Douglas fir setting, proves a lofty playground, some 10 to 50 feet off the ground (think: zip lines, suspended bridges, scramble nets and swinging logs).  “Three-two-one-bungee!” might just be your mantra when you take the big jump in bungee territory, a.k.a. WildPlay’s 140-foot bridge, or perhaps when you settle into your paragliding harness at the King Swing.  The latter, not for the timid, literally launches riders into the atmosphere, like a slingshot, at speeds of up to 140 kilometres per hour.  Still feel your legs?  Catch your breath and fly across the Nanaimo River on the Canyon Zip, a high-flying zipline that passes under the bungee bridge.  For a change in temperature, heat it up in the Thompson Okanagan; here one can discover a microclimate that’s more than a little out of the ordinary.  Kelowna, the region’s largest city, boasts over 2,000 hours of sunshine per year, and falls within the northernmost tip of the Sonora Desert – as a result, cacti, rattlesnakes and even black widow spiders share digs with some pretty fascinating extinct volcanoes and rock formations.  Indeed, nearby Layer Cake Mountain, with its distinctive “layered” exterior, is a favourite for those seeking a unique glimpse of the landscape.  Need a little adventure with your cake?  Let the folks at Monashee Adventure Tours lead the way: a half day out-of-doors excursion to Layer Cake includes a leisurely hike to the mountain, nourishment and liquids, transportation, plus an in-depth look at the scenery and its resident critters, courtesy of your guide.  www.wildplayparks.com; www.monasheeadventuretours.com

All Trails Lead to BC
Favor an outing that is sure of foot?  Lace up, break out the BC map and… you get the idea.  First stop: the Sunshine Coast.  Point your hiking boots north of Vancouver, and you’ll find the coast’s namesake trail, which spans 180 kilometres (120 miles) from the ferry terminal in Saltery Bay up the coast to Sarah Point at the entrance to Desolation Sound.  Wonder how long it would take to make the journey?  Plan for 10 stride-filled days.  The Sunshine Coast Trail, nestled in the Vancouver, Coast & Mountains region, proves a breathtaking gem which houses plenty of perks: with two dozen access points, section hiking allows for a myriad of terrain including old growth groves, temperate rainforest valleys, and secluded stretches of beaches.  For those eager to hike the length of the trail, evenings can be spent at campsites situated along ocean shores, creeks or on mountain ridges.  For a bit of elevation, on the other side of the province there’s another excursion aimed to keep your head in the clouds.  Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH) has revolutionized higher altitude excursions with an array of heli-hiking trips for every skill level.  In July, ready for three or four-day Short Escapes into the Kootenay Rockies and Thompson Okanagan regions; Family Trips, also slated for July, in the Kootenay Rockies, pledge views of mysterious ancient forests, million-year-old rock formations and emerald glacial lakes.  There’s even some fun for the gal pals with Bodacious in the Bugaboos, August 26 – 29 and Bodacious in the Bugaboos – Let’s Get Vertical!, August 29 – September 1, each offering mountain-top hikes, energizing yoga, muscle-melting massages and more than your share of laughs with the ladies. Just don’t forget the sunscreen.  www.sunshinecoastcanada.com; www.canadianmountainholidays.com

2 thoughts on “Outdoor Travel Adventures in British Columbia

  1. BC is a great holiday for the family. We went there is 2005, going on biking tours and went white water rafting a few times. The environment is beautiful and the people are very friendly.

  2. If you’re headed to the Sunshine Coast, check out the north tip of the peninsula, the village of Egmont. There is an amazing hike to the Skookumchuck Rapids, fastest salt water rapids in North America, and some great kayaking nearby.

    I recommend a stay at West Coast Wilderness Lodge (www.wcwl.com) — they have a really nice place.

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