If you're looking for a fly-drive that takes you off the beaten track to parts of Canada that are sparsely populated, wonderfully scenic and abundant with wildlife - you've found it.
This BC adventure takes you through the historic gold mining towns of years gone by, into the vast and untouched grizzly bear wilderness of Northern British Columbia before you board the ferry for one of the most scenic coastal trips in North America - The Inside Passage to Vancouver Island.
You've plenty of time once in Vancouver Island to enjoy bracing strolls along it's wild beaches; discover its magnificent rainforests and experience its famed whale-watching trips.
Price per person includes:
Distance: 249 miles
Leave the cosmopolitan city of Vancouver behind and travel along scenic Highway 1 through tiny towns such as Boston Bar, and Cache Creek en route to your overnight stay in 70 Mile House. This is Gold Country with a rich gold mining history, abundant wildlife, lakes and rivers and fascinating historic towns.
Experience life in the days of the Gold Rush at historic Hat Creek Ranch. Here you can stroll along the same dirt road that the miners and their wagon trains travelled on in the 1860's as costumed interpreters dressed in period clothing, will take you on a guided tour of a bygone era.
70 Mile House is one of many towns established along the historic Cariboo Wagon Road route to the Cariboo goldfields. The town began as a mere roadhouse until some of the travellers passing through the junction decided to stay and put down roots.
Distance: 230 miles
Today you'll embark on the historic Cariboo Highway north from Cache Creek to Prince George in the shadow of the mighty Cariboo Mountains.
There's many wonderfully remote and peaceful stops along this route such as Lac La Hache, a small friendly community on the edge of the lake that spans over 15 miles. Around Williams Lake you'll view endless rolling ranch lands and giant cedar forests. Whilst, picture perfect Quesnel is located at the confluence of the Fraser and Quesnel Rivers in a serene valley surrounded by beautiful mountains and lush forests.
Make the day of your drive today and plan to arrive in Prince George early evening to catch a bite to eat and live music in Nancy O's, or enjoy a spot of nostalgia at the Park Drive-In Movie Theatre.
Distance: 232 miles
The mountain town of Smithers is home to the Witsuwit’en people and its red-bricked Main Street is graced by alpine-themed architecture and murals celebrating the Bulkley Valley landscape, and crowned by the monumental presence of Hudson Bay Mountain.
Smithers ticks all the boxes with seven incredible mountain ranges surrounding the town, numerous coffeehouses and bistros, newly established craft breweries and a lively music scene.
Half day helicopter tours into the mountains trips, plus jet boat tours along the Bulkley River are available from Smithers and can be booked in advance with Bon Voyage.
Distance: 126 miles
As you travel through the Bulkley Valley take in the spectacular Coastal Mountain views and rolling farmland. Visit Ksan Historical Village along the way in Hazelton for a taste of the lifestyle of the Ksan people before following the Skeena River for the rest of the drive. The river played a vital role as a trading route for the Indigenous peoples as well as pioneers and explorers who used sternwheelers on the waterways.
Take time to visit the Nisga'a Memorial Lava Bed Provincial Park, which at less than 300 years old is believed to be Canada’s most recent volcanic eruption and lava flow.Stop at the Nisga’a Heritage Museum to view Northwest Coast aboriginal art or take a self-driven tour of the Nass Valley to visit culturally significant sites such as hot springs, waterfalls and walkways through the lava beds.
Your overnight in Terrace will be at the quaint Yellow Cedar Lodge, a full-service B&B nestled in the woods overlooking the Skeena River. On the expansive deck of the lodge you can enjoy the vista whilst dining on local gourmet cuisine and fine BC wine. Great place to relax before the next part of your Northern BC adventure.
Distance: 90 miles
Prince Rupert is a traditional, mural-adorned coastal community on the northwest coast, surrounded by deep valleys, awesome mountain ranges and waterways. Whilst only a small town it is one of the main points to access Northern BC, it is also the shortest link between North America and Asia and a mid-point on the famed Inside Passage, a sheltered waterway running between Vancouver and Alaska.
The drive itself into the town is said to be one of the most scenic drives in the province. Based on the water, Prince Rupert offers many activities focused around the ocean such as whale watching with the chance to spot Orca, Minke and Humpback whales often found in the waters offshore.
To get an authentic Indigenous experience visit the Museum of Northern British Columbia, housed in a cedar longhouse or the North Pacific Cannery in nearby Port Edward which tells the story of the salmon canning industry which was once central to the local community. Before you leave visit, Cow Bay Shopping District, with its cute colourful buildings, tasty cafes and quaint craft shops.
On your second day visit the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, home to the highest concentration of bears in the province. It’s an early morning, but worth it to witness the bears foraging along the shoreline by boat. Bon Voyage can pre-book this incredible experience in advance for you which operates normally May to late August.
It's an early 7.30am start today for your scenic ferry journey along the Inside Passage one of the most spectacular routes along the Pacific Coast. We'll include cabin accommodation on board to allow you to rest comfortably during this 15 hour journey . Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife as there are frequent sightings of whales, sea lions and bald eagles against a backdrop of stunning fjord-like inlets.
The ferry arrives into Prince Rupert at 11.30pm after an incredible journey along BC's stunning coastline.
Distance: 146 miles
Continue your adventure along the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, North America’s largest island and roughly the size of Ireland. It offers a taster of the wider-province’s features – rain forest, mountains and spectacular waterfront towns.
Start on the northern tip of Vancouver Island and head south towards Campbell River. The journey will take you close to Telegraph Cove, a tiny waterfront setting famed for its wildlife watching tours. If there is time take the 20-minute each way diversion to explore the boardwalk settlement and keep your eyes peeled for a glimpse of otter and whales in the distance.In this area a popular activity is to kayak with the resident pod of ocras, which can be pre-book in advance through Bon Voyage.
Turn inland and wind through the northern interior of Vancouver Island, largely undiscovered and unspoilt before reaching Campbell River.
Known as the ‘salmon capital of the world’ be sure to try the local fish and chips or even have a go at fishing yourself from the 180-meter long Discover Pier, alternatively take a day trip to catch your own. As well as fishing day trips there are plenty of wildlife viewing day trips on offer., Bon Voyage would be delighted to suggest and pre-book these for you. Only a short drive outside of the town is Elk Falls Provincial Park, great to spend a couple of hours exploring the massive Douglas Fir Trees and watching the 25-metre falls from either the viewing platform or suspension bridge.
Distance: 169 miles
Journey through the heart of Vancouver Island to your coastal home for the next three nights, Tofino. Travel from the sheltered east coast to the rugged west. En route, explore the ethereal MacMillan Provincial Park home to Cathedral Grove, a rare collection of ancient Douglas fir trees some of which are around 800 years old and have grown to 250ft in height and 29ft in circumference. Once you reach the coast you will be in one of BC’s seven national parks, Pacific Rim National Park home to a spectacular coastline and temperate rainforest.
Tofino sits on a prime oceanfront peninsula, within the UNESCO Clayoqout Sound Biosphere Reserve, recognised for its incredibly diverse natural habitat and environmental culture. Take some time to explore the quaint town and surrounding area on foot. The Wild Pacific Trail in nearby Ucluelet runs for 9km along the undulating coastline, tracing edges of reefs where shipwrecks lay and whales pass by. Alternatively take the Rainforest Trail, a network of boardwalks allowing you to view the wilderness close-up, or wander the many beaches breathing in the fresh ocean air. Combers Beach is a hidden treasure and great for beachcombing or watching surfers catch the waves in one of the top surf spots in the world.
With the diverse ecosystem comes a whole host of wildlife excursions which Bon Voyage can pre-book for you. Take a boat trip to spot black bear foraging on Meares Island - tours run regularly from April through to October. Other wildlife frequently spotted on boat excursions from Tofino include orca, gray and humpback whales, sea lions, harbour seals and bald eagles, often turning a trip on the water into a wildlife adventure. Day trips also run by boat or seaplane to the nearby Hot Springs Cove, a collection of seven natural geothermal rock pools.
If you’re staying in town then be sure to visit the independent, authentic restaurants and cafes on offer and take a trip to Kwisitis Visitor Centre to hear stories of the coastal Indigenous peoples, see the giant marine murals or explore the longhouse replica.
Distance: 106 miles
Head back across the island to the east coast to spend the night in a relaxing beach resort hotel in the Parksville/Qualicum Beach area before boarding the ferry the following morning for the 2-hour scenic ride to Horseshoe Bay.
Just before your arrival into Parksville, stop at the small community of Coombs - its Old Country Market is a great stop for souvenirs, lunch and you might even spot one of the famous goats on the roof. If you fancy stretching your legs, take a wander on nearby Rathtrevor Beach or Qualicum Beach.
Some time for last minute sightseeing before your early evening flight back to the UK.
Want to extend your time in British Columbia? Perhaps, longer in Vancouver? Time on a ranch in the province's interior? Maybe a trip on the legendary Rocky Mountaineer? All Bon Voyage holidays can be tailor-made to your exact requirements.
Please call our friendly team of experts for further information on (0800) 316 3012.