Friday, December 04, 2009

The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic - Nova Scotia

The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is the oldest and largest Maritime Museum in Canada. Having celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1998, the Museum has developed a unique history of its own. The idea of this maritime museum can be credited to a group of Royal Canadian Navy officers who envisaged a maritime museum where relics of Canada's naval past could be preserved. Starting with a small space at HMC Dockyard, the museum moved to quarters in the Halifax Citadel in 1952 and became the Maritime Museum of Canada in 1957. Floods & fires in the early 1960s caused temporary relocations to a variety of sites until 1965 when a home was found in a former bakery building at the Navy's Victualling Depot. The museum became the Marine History section of the Nova Scotia Museum in 1967. The exhibits remained on Citadel Hill while the offices, library and some of the collection moved to the new Nova Scotia Museum building on Summer Street in Halifax in 1970. Through the 1970s, a long search for a permanent home ensued. Finally, in 1982, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic was established on the site of the historic William Robertson & Son Ship Chandlery and A.M. Smith and Co. Properties on the Halifax Waterfront. It opened to the public on January 22, of that year. Since then, nearly two and a half million people have visited the Museum.

The Museum is a valuable historical, cultural and educational institution. It is the largest site in Nova Scotia that collects and interprets various elements of Nova Scotia's marine history. Visitors are introduced to the age of steamships, local small craft, the Royal Canadian and Merchant Navies, World War II convoys and The Battle of the Atlantic, the Halifax Explosion of 1917, and Nova Scotia's role in the aftermath of the Titanic disaster.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Yukon River

just heard from those lovely people at the Great River journey in the Yukon that they are reducing their prices - I am so pleased - it is such a fabulous trip but was outside the budget of most of us before.
Have a look at

Monday, September 28, 2009

The bears of Bute - an invitation from the Homalco people

Join us on board the "Chinook Spirit" for a trip through the waters surrounding the Discovery Islands. Our destination is Bute Inlet, home to Homalco First Nations people and the Bears of Bute.

Homalco Wildlife Tours invite you to share the experience of the magnificent creatures found along the shorelines of the narrow waterways and inlets between Campbell River and Bute Inlet.

Your day trip starts in Campbell River on board the comfortable 32-foot "Chinook Spirit". Leaving from the Discovery Harbour dock, the one and a half hour trip will take you past abandoned villages and mile high peaks. You will arrive at the mouth of the Orford River where lunch is supplied. You will then be transferred to one of the specially designed viewing platforms that provide a safe area to wait and watch for the Bears of Bute.

Departures are at 10:00am daily and return by 6:00pm . Lunch is included. Tours are limited to 11 passengers. Bring warm clothing and don't forget your camera and binoculars.
Bute Inlet is a long, deep fjord that cut into the coastal mountain range of British Columbia. The remote and pristine area of the British Columbia coastline is located 50 kilometers north across from Campbell River on Vancouver Island . Bute Inlet reaches 66 kilometers into the coastline where the Homathko and Southgate rivers feed waters running from the glaciers and ice fields high up in the mountains.

The Orford River is located halfway between the entrance to Bute Inlet and its headwaters. The glacier green waters of the Orford are feed from the Lillooet glacier and many lakes and creeks nestled in among the rocky peaks. The luscious green valley and estuary of the Orford River are perfect for attracting wildlife that roam along the shores of this coastal river.
At the Orford River site is the Taggares-Homalco salmon hatchery that operates year round. The hatchery produces Chinook, Chum and Coho salmon that enhance the natural stock. It has a capacity to incubate up to 4 million Coho eggs, 6 million Chum eggs and over 150, 000 Chinook eggs annually.

To get to the Orford River site, the Chinook Spirit departs Campbell River and travels for approximately 90 minutes cruising at up to 32 knots.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary

Covering an area of approximately 26,000 sq. miles, the Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary, straddling the boundary of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut in Canada's mainland Arctic, is the largest and most remote wildlife refuge on the North America continent - and possibly the world. As there is little surrounding development in this region, the unusual forest oasis located far out on the tundra truly represents one of the last great, unaltered ecosystems on our planet. For those few fortunate enough to have ever visited this extreme remote region, the experience is like stepping back to a time when grizzly, wolves and musk-ox ruled the earth.

During the intense studies carried out by the International Biological Program (IBP) in the 1960's, the Thelon Sanctuary was identified as a 'Biological Site of Universal Importance'. This was primarily due to the extreme biological diversity found in the unusual boreal forest oasis that for nearly 100 miles follows the meandering Thelon River valley located 200 + km north of the tree-line. Many other important sites throughout the North identified by the IBP later became UNESCO World Heritage Sites. However, accessible only with difficulty and high expense, the Thelon Sanctuary was all but a forgotten entity.

The Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary has always been a political enigma: control over this vast area has been passed from one government department to another - both federally and territorially - and subsequently there has never been a true management policy in effect - no department had the budget to police or even patrol such a vast, remote area. It remained closed to all development activity including native hunting since the 1920's; and was probably the only Sanctuary or Park in Canada that offered such full protection for wildlife. This anonymity of the Thelon Sanctuary was most probably its best protection during those times, as everyone seemingly left the Thelon alone.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Jasper River Rafting

For an adventure of a lifetime! Jasper's best rafting float trips take you down the Athabasca River for those in seek of a complete and fun filled Alberta wilderness adventure.

We invite you to travel with us on a river rafting adventure and share our love of whitewater, wilderness, and friendship. Our rafting trips are great for young and old alike looking for a more mild adventure.

Jasper offers first-class visitor attractions, activities, facilities and services within magnificently scenic wilderness surroundings of unparalleled beauty.

Jasper National Park is Canada's largest Rocky Mountain Park and one of North America's largest natural areas. Shimmering glaciers, abundant wildlife, crystal clear lakes, thundering waterfalls, deep canyons and evergreen forest surrounded by towering, rugged mountain peaks and pristine rivers - are what your eyes have been waiting to see.

Jasper is an internationally recognized four-season destination with so much to see and do to suit everyone's tastes. Whatever spectacular time of year you choose to visit - just be sure you plan to stay awhile.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Houseboating at it´s best - Shuswap Lake, British Columbia

Nestled amongst vast BC mountain valleys, the beautiful Shuswap Lake in the North Okanagan, accessed through Sicamous, British Columbia is the home for Waterway Houseboats. This magnificent lake, half way between Calgary and Vancouver is a recreation paradise. Countless kilometers of pristine shoreline on Shuswap Lake await your exploration. Sun drenched beaches, beautiful waterfalls and awesome fishing are yours to discover from the comfort of your home away from home. Swimming, hiking, water skiing, golfing, ATV riding and mountain biking are some of the activities available for those with the need for more vigorous action.

Before you even reach Sicamous, you’ll see something spectacular - the houseboats. No matter how many people your vacationing with, There are a variety of luxury houseboats to accommodate your needs. From the first class fittings and trim to our comfortable berths and spacious bathrooms, you’ll feel like you're a guest in a first class resort condominium. Some of them even have hot tubs on board!

Spring starts early on Shuswap Lake. You can get a jump on summer fun at Great pre summer rates. April to June 9th is a favourite time of year for many Houseboaters - not only for the fabulous fishing, but also for golfing, hiking, exploring and especially the famous Shuswap Lake Beach Parties that are always going on somewhere on this fabulous lake system. Meet new friends or relax with old friends in one of the hundreds of secluded coves or beaches.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Trophy Mountain Buffalo Ranch Wells Gray Park- British Columbia

We are just adding this property to our website. A welcome newcomer to the Wells Gray Park scene.

Trophy Mountain Buffalo Ranch is located 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Clearwater, British Columbia. The ranch is surrounded by beautiful Wells Gray Provincial Park. Within a 20 minute drive, you will find many things to do and see, such as; hiking, sightseeing, canoeing, fishing and whitewater rafting. Wells Gray Park is world famous for "Helmcken Falls". The falls are three times higher than Niagara Falls.

As you drive down the driveway, you will see a herd of bison on your left and horses on your right. You will also see a well treed campground. Overlooking the property is the log home Guest House. Enjoy a quiet country stay, where you can eat and watch the Buffalo Roam.

This unique home is built from hand-axed square logs. Built in the late 1920's, it originally resided in Blue River, north of Clearwater. In 1992 the home was taken apart log by log and brought to Clearwater where it was reassembled by Joe Fischer. Along with the Guest House, there is horseback riding, bison farming, campground and a fully licenced restaurant specializing in bison meat.

Enjoy a scenic horseback adventure to Moul Falls. The 3 hour trip takes you by a fabulous view of the Clearwater River and then down to Moul Creek. There you have break to stretch your legs and walk down to the falls. If you go all the way down to the bottom, make sure you take the short trail behind the falls. On the way home we may go faster or stay at a walking pace, depending of the abilities of the group.

You do not have to be an experienced rider to take the trip. As well as seasoned riders, we take people who are beginners and many first timers. Children must be of 10 years old and up to join our guided trips.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cruise North Expeditions

Nobody Gets Closer - News from Cruise North

Cruise North Expeditions and our exciting line-up of expeditions for 2009/10, including our first-ever tour of the Northwest Passage.

Cruise North is a very special company. Owned and operated by and for the Inuit of the region we visit, the company is an investment in protecting the past, and at the same time, preparing for the future. Our top priorities are cultural preservation, community investment and environmental commitment. With each expedition our guests help us to realize our goals.

Our expeditions highlight this region’s striking landscape and seemingly impossible contradictions of nature, where delicate wildflowers survive among rugged terrain and exotic animal life.

We travel to islands in Canada’s Arctic where polar bears, measuring up to 11 feet in length, patrol their favourite beaches, while thick-billed murres in the thousands fly overhead. We visit sites populated by the almost prehistoric-looking muskox, with their crown tusks and skirts of fur. White beluga whales, a walrus colony and all sorts of marine mammals are common sights aboard our expeditions.

We travel to virtually untouched archaeological sites dating back thousands of years, explore remote outposts and follow in the footsteps of early explorers in their search of new lands. On ship and ashore we are greeted by Inuit hosts and visit communities where residents still live traditional lives by harvesting from the land and speaking the Inuit language of Inuktitut.

While relaxing on deck, we glide alongside immense icebergs thousands of years old, and take in the scenery of rolling tundra and towering fiords.

This is the Cruise North experience. Join us for an unforgettable and authentic journey to catch the spirit of the North.

All Bookable through Frontier Canada -

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

One of my favourite hotels in Ontario

Arowhon Pines - Algonquin Park - Ontario

Arowhon Pines is a small, rustic 50-room summer resort located in the heart of Algonquin Park, a huge nature and wildlife preserve. Arowhon Pines is on the shores of Little Joe Lake from where you can enjoy the sights and sounds of the woods of the Canadian north. Perfect for a peaceful getaway, honeymoon or to celebrate an anniversary.

The tranquillity of Arowhon Pines' natural setting amidst lakes, rivers and forests filled with wildlife - myriad of birds, moose, deer, fox - seeps into your soul. They combine this spectacular peaceful location with a renowned kitchen, warm hospitality and attentive service - your assurance of this is the fact that 60 per cent of guests return year after year.

The rustic log cabins range in size from three, four, eight and twelve bedrooms. All bedrooms, furnished with antique pine furniture, have ensuite bathrooms with robes, electric heat and hair dryers. Each shared cabin has a spacious central lounge with comfortable chairs and couches around a wood burning fireplace. The one and two bedroom suites, each in their own building, have a lounge, fireplace and private deck.

In keeping with Arowhon's approach to a relaxed and peaceful holiday in the woods, there are no televisions or radios in the rooms. Outside telephones are centrally located. In the evenings guests watch a movie, drop by an impromptu bonfire, take a moonlight paddle or enjoy meeting others from around the world in the lounge.

Arrowhon Pines is a pretty three hour drive from Toronto and Ottawa - and is open from late May to Thanksgiving.

Aboriginal Journeys - Campbell River, British Columbia

Aboriginal Journeys is a family owned and operated First Nations wildlife viewing and adventure tour company located in Campbell River on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada within the traditional territory of the Laichwiltach (Native) peoples.

They offer awe-inspiring wildlife, marine life, and nature-viewing excursions through some of the most scenic areas found anywhere in the world. Enjoy Whale Watching, Grizzly Bear viewing, Black Bears, soaring Eagles, playful Dolphins, and other Marine Wildlife in their natural habitats.

View some of the world's strongest ocean currents with rapids, boils, and whirlpools. Our tours provide insight to our local First Nations (Native) history and culture.

Enjoy a comfortable journey aboard the tour boats — such as our 27-foot covered high-speed tour boat with onboard washroom. This vessel carries 12 passengers and is fully equipped with proper navigation and safety equipment. Even on a rainy day, you'll be warm and dry inside. We also have a 24-foot Zodiac tour boat that carries 12 passengers.

Your tours are guided by locally born residents, Garry Henkel and Daniel Billy, an elder from the We-Wai-Kai First Nation on Quadra Island. Garry is Daniel's son-in-law. Both are certified boating professionals. Garry has over 30 years experience and Daniel over 60 years experience working and travelling within our waters.

The Laichwiltach (Laichkwiltach / Lekwiltok / Ligwithdaxw) peoples are part of the Nation now commonly referred to as the Kwakwak'awakw (and Kwak'wala speaking people).

The Kwakwak'awakw Nation's territory extends from Cape Mudge to the mouth of Bute Inlet in the south to Smith Inlet in the north and around the northern part of Vancouver Island to Quatsino Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The Laichwiltach are the southernmost of the Kwak'wala speaking people.

Monday, August 17, 2009

On of the greatest sights in the world

The Icefields Parkway drive between Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper is pretty spectacular stuff! The undeniable highlight is the Columbia Icefield which is one of the largest accumulations of ice and snow south of the Arctic Circle, covering an area of nearly 325 square kilometres in the Western Canadian Province of Alberta.

The Athabasca Glacier is a tongue of ice 6 kms long and 1 km wide which drops almost to the road. Brewsters of Banff, offer tours up onto the icy slopes in the purpose built Ice Explorer, an all-terrain vehicle equipped with large, low pressure tires. The 5 km round trip travels up over the ice and the driver/guide explain how glaciers are formed and points out interesting geological features. Up at the icefall, below the glacier headwall, you can walk around on the ice, make snowballs from 400 years old snow, take pictures and cool your heels for a while.

The tours run from the Icefield Centre, a chalet-style stone building which houses 'The Glacier Gallery' an extensive interpretive centre on the National Park. There is also a dining room, cafeteria and snack bar, gift shop and from the third floor up - a hotel. The Chalet Hotel has 32 guest rooms - most have at least two queen beds and a loft. You can actually hear the glacier moving in the still of the night.

If you are traveling the Icefields Parkway - you can’t miss the Glacier. Leaving from Banff the Parkway follows the Bow, Mistaya and North Saskatchewan Rivers and after an essential diversion to see Lake Louise, you return to the Parkway and drive on by Bow Lake, Peyto and Crowfoot Glaciers, Mistaya Canyon and the Weeping Wall to the Glacier.

From Jasper, the route passes Athabasca Falls and the Sunwapta Canyon. It is breathtaking wilderness habitat for elk, bighorn sheep, moose, mountain goat and both grizzly and black bears. Allow a whole day for this drive of 230 km (143 miles) from Banff to Jasper and if you are on motor coach tour, the Icefield is usually a major sightseeing stop. There are also roundtrip motor coach day tours from Banff to the Icefields.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Vancouver Transit System - good news! Airport/downtown in 26 minutes

The new Canada Line opens on August 17, 2009 4 months ahead of schedule! Vancouver is the only Canadian city with a rapid transit link to the airport. It will take approximately 26 minutes for visitors to travel on the Sky Train between Vancouver International Airport and downtown, with three stops in downtown. Have a look at and more information is at The Vancouver Airporter bus will stop operations September 30.

The Canada Line will cost C$3.75 (£2.00) per person one-way for all journeys on the Sky Train. From January 1st 2010, Vancouver Transit Authority will charge a premium fare for Canada Line passengers going to and from the airport. The premium will be $2.50 (£1.40) over and above the regular transit fare and a premium ticket will be valid for 90 minutes; therefore, the total cost will be $6.25. (£3.50.

Still good value compared with the tube to Heathrow!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Osoyoos Desert - Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Tucked into the southernmost corner of British Columbia’s beautiful Okanagan Valley, this extraordinary habitat is home to one of North America’s most fragile and endangered ecosystems. The area hosts one of the largest concentrations of species at risk (over 100 rare plants and over 300 rare invertebrates) in Canada, and is of international importance. Our desert is actually part of the Great-Basin Desert.

The Osoyoos Desert Centre is a 67 acre nature interpretive facility where visitors can learn about desert ecology, habitat restoration and conservation of endangered ecosystems in the South Okanagan. Guests are invited to explore Canada’s desert by taking a guided or self-guided tour along a 1.5 km elevated wooden boardwalk. In addition, the Centre features an interpretive facility with hands-on exhibits and a native plant demonstration garden.

The Southern Okanagan Valley provides the hot dry summers and mild winters characteristic of the arid antelope-brush ecosystem. This region is home to a diverse array of uniquely adapted wildlife species such the Nuttall’s Cottontail, Great Basin Spadefoot Toad, Western Rattlesnake, Tiger Salamander and Wind Scorpion, to name a few.

The humming birds ‘hum’ and the rattlesnakes ‘rattle’ in the bright morning sun of Canada’s only desert. Simmering at the northern tip of the Sonora desert system which starts way down in Mexico, this dry, arid finger extends up through North America to the resort and vineyard country of the Southern Okanagan Valley where the long hot summers and dry mild winters maintain an eco system unique in Canada.

Don’t worry too much about the ‘rattlers’ though; they are shy and are seldom seen, and only then if you stray from the raised boardwalk! But you can watch the humming birds, darting, diving, then hovering at their honey feeders.

Early morning is for the birds – and you can join local birding experts very early each Wednesday morning to see and hear the desert’s avian species and experience the beauty of the desert at sunrise. Nesting Bluebirds feed their young and Meadowlarks swoop after food.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hiking in Banff National Park

White Mountain Adventures is a small, Banff based, active outdoor company, in operation since 1987. In addition to the Sunshine Meadows service, they also offer a variety of other unique services in the Rockies and across western Canada.

Join a professional naturalist/guides for a hike on top of the world! You'll have great opportunities to learn about the unique alpine ecosystem, about different plants and animals found in the alpine, and about the colorful history of the area. And best of all, you'll stretch your legs and see a lot more of one of nature's finest landscapes!

Walk among flower-speckled meadows and turquoise lakes. Hike up through golden larches and along the ridges above. Take in the views from a sun-baked summit!

Example: Mt. Assiniboine Provincial Park, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, is famous for its meadows and easy hiking peaks which lie below the Matterhorn-like summit that towers above.

This relaxed hiking tour is for those interested in experiencing four days of walking in this beautiful sub-alpine region along with the simplicity of life that comes with staying at the rustic Naisset Cabins.There are not many areas where it is possible to do this and yet avoid carrying the heavier backpack usually required to visit such a place.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Diamond Tooth Gerties - Dawson City - Yukon

A group of local citizens keen to promote tourism formed the Klondike Visitors' Association in the late 1950s. Recognizing that gambling was a major part of Dawson’s Gold Rush history, the association obtained a special gambling licence from the Canadian Government and in the early 1970s began running casino nights on the dry-docked S.S. Keno.

Today, Dawson City’s world famous non-profit gambling hall is named after bona fide dance hall queen Diamond Tooth Gertie. During the Gold Rush of 1898, in order to distinguish herself from numerous Klondike kings and queens, Gertie Lovejoy wedged a sparkling diamond between her two front teeth. Any discomfort this caused paid dividends. Instead of working the creeks for her riches, Diamond Tooth Gertie made her fortune by mining the lonely prospectors who readily opened their gold pokes in return for her affections. In Dawson City today, Gertrude Lovejoy’s moniker lives on at the town-run Diamond Tooth Gertie's Casino.

Replete with cancan dancers and a singing master of ceremonies named Gertie, Canada’s oldest gambling hall gives you a chance to re-live the heady days of Dawson’s Gold Rush era. With three nightly shows by Gertie and her Gertie Girls, Diamond Tooth Gertie's is today a fixture of fun-filled entertainment where patrons can enjoy a beverage while playing blackjack, roulette, Texas Hold'em poker and an array of glittering slot machines.

Dawson can be visited on several of our Yukon itineraries.

Klemtu in BC's Great Bear Rainforest - The White Spirit Bear

Put quite simply, this is one of the most amazing places in the world that I have ever been to. Accessed by float plane or ferry, a population of under 300 First Nations people, less than 5 kilometres of road and probably the most memorable of any of my bear watching trips.

Don't just take it from me - this is what the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation people say about themselves.

Sprit Bear Adventures - Great Bear Rainforest - British Columbia

Waterfront Accommodation in BC's Great Bear Rainforest and Famed Inside Passage
Visit the Great Bear Rainforest, the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world. Explore the natural habitat of the Spirit Bear and home of the world’s only Kitasoo Spirit Bear Conservancy. Unique tours in the ancestral lands and traditional territory of the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation.

Our newly constructed Spirit Bear Lodge in Klemtu is built in the spirit of our First Nations heritage with the comfort of our guests in mind.

Whether you are a guest on one of our unique wildlife viewing tours or cruising the Inside Passage aboard your vessel or sea kayak, the waterfront Spirit Bear Lodge is a welcoming and comfortable place to lay your head at night while visiting British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest

Architecturally, the exterior of the Spirit Bear Lodge pays homage to the traditional long houses built for thousands of years by West Coast First Nations. Inside, the atmosphere is modern and relaxing. After a day of Spirit bear viewing, share stories with fellow guests in “The Great Room”, an intimate central room with comfy couches, 20-foot high, ocean view windows, local Tsimshian Art and two 12-foot, solid cedar dining tables. Gaze out towards the grey blue waters of the Pacific Ocean and watch for passing Orcas, White-Sided Dolphins and Sea Lions. Listen to the silence as you revel in the natural wonders of the pristine and raw landscapes that surrounds you in this unique culturally authentic accommodation.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Lobstermen Tours - A Fun & Unique Lobster Fishing Adventure - Nova Scotia

If you are visiting Lunenburg on Nova Scotia's southern shore - and if you are a lover of lobster (as I am) I think this looks good fun. It is run by Lobstermen Tours in Lunenburg and this is what they say:

"Discover first hand, the salty history of charming Lunenburg, Nova Scotia (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) by experiencing the life of a Lobster Fisherman! This is an entertaining and educational experience and an absolute must if you’re visiting Nova Scotia this summer.

Our tour begins next to the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic with a brief look at the historic Lunenburg waterfront.

Then, off to the fishing grounds for the hauling of the lobster traps! Along the way you'll learn about lobsters and lobster fishing from the professional crew.

Our boat, the 'Chris L' is a real working lobster boat and is converted into a tour boat for the summer season. It is equipped with comfortable seating, washroom, and a canopy to protect you from nature’s unpredictable elements.

Throughout the tour you’ll benefit from lots of 'hands-on educational science'. We have an onboard marine biologist and a touch tank featuring lobsters, crabs, and other marine creatures.

Another highlight of your adventure will be watching seals and marine birds in their natural environment! Throughout the tour you will be treated to some of Nova scotia's most picturesque coastline."

Internation Selkirk Loop

This is a wonderful "off the beaten track" flydrive which Frontier Canada could put together - not on their site at the moment, but with a little encouragement from you could easily be created.

The Selkirk Mountains in northeast Washington, north Idaho and southeast British Columbia, a place of forested hillsides, sparkling waterfalls, snowcapped craggy peaks, and charming small towns. The nearest metropolitan area is Spokane, Washington, about one hour southwest of the Selkirk Loop. Within the Loop, the Selkirk Mountains are accessible from the Salmo Basin, Sullivan Lake, Priest Lake, Pack River, Roman Nose, Kootenay Pass and Kokanee Glacier recreation areas.

Nearly the entire Loop route follows rivers and lakeshores. The waterways historically were used for transportation, but today they are a source of year-round recreation, from fly fishing to ice fishing, boating, water skiing, windsurfing, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, diving and rafting.

Much of the land in the Loop corridor is National Forest, National Wildlife Refuge, Wildlife Management Area, or Provincial Park, so there are myriad opportunities for outdoor recreation - a vast uncrowded playground! Hundreds of miles of trails are available for all levels of hiking, biking, horseback riding, skiing and snowmobile touring. Rock climbing and geo-caching are popular for the more adventurous. These public lands are home to the largest diversity of wildlife in the lower 48 states. The wildlife Refuges and Management Areas are home to more than 50 mammal species and 265+ bird species. Moreover, Lake Pend Oreille and Kootenay Lake are two of the largest lakes in the west.

The Loop's scenery changes with each season. In spring, the bright greens of new foliage blend with the colors of early wildflowers, set against a backdrop of snow-covered mountaintops and rushing waterfalls. In summer, wildflowers are in full bloom, and the rivers and lakes teem with fish below warm blue skies. Fall brings changing colors, with brilliant golds and reds amid the dark green pine and spruce. Canadian geese by the thousands stop for respite on their journey south through the Pacific Flyway. In winter, a peaceful blanket of snow covers higher elevations of the Loop, with greenery remaining in the milder climates of the river valleys. Moose, deer and elk often are spotted as they browse for tender shoots beneath the snow. No wonder this route was voted “The West's Best Scenic Drive” by Sunset Magazine.

The most delightful aspect of the Loop's scenery is its variety, from narrow river canyons to broad fertile valleys and vibrant village scenes, from lowland meadows to breathtaking mountain vistas. Surprises await around every corner!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

CrossRiver Wilderness Centre and Kootenay Wilderness Tours

Although this is written by the owners of CrossRiver - I have stayed there and it is as they claim a special place;

"Welcome to the online mirror for the CrossRiver Wilderness Centre, our home in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. As we hope you will soon discover, this place is truly magical. It has evolved out of love and the landscape itself, and encompasses much more within its warm embrace than may at first be revealed to you. Out here, the patient, respectful, and adventurous heart entices opportunities for great memories and photographs while relaxing around the cabins or teepees, or on a beautiful hike or rafting trip. The wilderness also offers plenty of opportunity for learning, for healing, for direction, for connection, and even transformation, if you want. We speak from experience.

We have had many helpers along the way, who have all added their own gifts and talents to the fabric of our secluded retreat: from carpenters to painters, to cooks, to cleaners, to guides, to teachers, musicians, dancers, preachers, lawyers, doctors, engineers, accountants, storytellers, athletes, photographers, writers, and visionaries, to name a few. What I love most about their contribution, however, is the friendships we’ve been able to build along the way. We look forward to welcoming your own gifts, talents, and magic into the mosaic. This is a place where people can be real; let go of attachment, judgement, hierarchy, and façade, and stand in a respectful circle with all of creation simultaneously. You will see, if you want to.

Once people get here, they sometimes have a hard time leaving; kind of like leaving a family all over again. The divine appointment we are realizing while you are here, however, is one that we will cherish, give thanks for, and honor by always working to keep this place a vibrant, strong, organic, sustainable, and peaceful place for you to return to, or share with others. In the meantime, we invite you to sit still out on the land somewhere; connect with the trees, water, smells, sights, sounds, animals, and people around you in a meaningful way; delight in the adventure of totally new experiences and uncertainty; and allow your imaginations to be captured. You will not regret it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Canadian Rockies Rafting

I went with Canadian Rockies Rafting a couple of years ago on the Kananaskis River - loved it. The scenery, the wildlife, the sheer pleasure of being on the water as well as the professionalism of the Canadian Rockies Rafting team made for a memorable day.

This is what they have to say about themselves.

We love rivers. All kinds of rivers. And each section of river we run has its own personality, its own rhythm, and its own set of rewards. With three major river drainages and four distinctive trips, we're certain we can introduce you to a river you can learn to love.

At Canadian Rockies Rafting, the safety and enjoyment of our guests is paramount. We know our guests arrive with a unique set of needs, desires, and experiences. We work hard to ensure that we meet each and every one of your expectations. We want you to enjoy the rivers we run as much as we do.

Join us for an exciting whitewater paddle raft adventure on the Scenic Kananaskis River. Enjoy a beautiful mountain river located along the front ranges of the majestic Canadian Rocky mountains. The river tour is rated as Grade 2 to 3 and is an excellent experience for adventurous groups, families and friends. The Kananaskis River offers wonderful mountain scenery, excitement and natural history. This half day tour is very popular for people looking for an introduction to whitewater or river experience the whole family and group can enjoy.

We run the same stretches of river as other rafting companies but that is where the similarities end. We run all the rivers that are offered in the area. Our equipment is the finest on the river. We use 100% self bailing rafts that we ensure are built to our specifications for the rivers we run. Our staff members are friendly, experienced and willing to answer your questions and concerns. We offer opportunities to waterfight, cliff jumps, short hikes and body surfing that no other company offers. Our customer service level is second to none.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Authentic Cowichan First Nations Experience - Vancouver Island, BC

Quw'utsun' offers all guests an Authentic Cowichan First Nations Experience - Interpretive Guided Tours, West Coast themed Gift Shop and First Nations contemporary cuisine in the Riverwalk Cafe.

The Quw'utsun' Cultural and Conference Centre is located in the Cowichan Valley, 45 minutes from both Nanaimo and Victoria in the southeast corner of Vancouver Island.

"This (Cowichan) legacy was, and still is, an incredible connectedness to the warm land called Quw'utsun'. It is not the transitory character that typifies most recent North American culture, but a rare permanence of place that has endured for hundreds of generations." Daniel P. Marshall

Twenty years ago the Quw'utsun' People embarked on a project to raise the profile of Quw'utsun' knitters, carvers and jewelry makers, while displaying the Quw'utsun' culture and history to the world. In 1986 the Cowichan Tribes outbid twenty organizations and bought the Cultural Center buildings from Expo '86. The Cultural Centre opened its doors in 1990.

The Quw'utsun' Cultural and Conference Centre is a world-class destination, focusing on the economic development of the Cowichan People. The goal is to foster and promote pride in the culture and to offer a memorable experience to all visitors.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Recent comments from the Yukon

Tincup Wilderness Lodge, off the beaten track even by Yukon standards, offers the ultimate wilderness experience. The, fly in only, Lodge is perched on the doorstep of Kluane National Park in the heart of Western Yukon.

Guests at the Lodge have the opportunity to balance their outdoor recreation in a number of ways.

Tincup Lodge provides exceptional angling opportunities along the 24-mile shoreline of the lake as well as at surrounding lakes and rivers. The clean waters of the area abound with Arctic Grayling, Lake Trout, Inconnnu, Northern Pike and White Fish.

Guided day hikes range from nice, easy treks along rock and grave filled creek beds to more challenging hikes up any one of the 1500 to 2000 meter high mountains which completely surround Tincup Lake. Game trails also serve the hiker with easy access routes to the high alpine country where guests can wonder for hours and still be in constast site of the lodge below. In addition, the lodge provides its guests with the use of its cedar canoe, rowboat and one-person kayaks.

The main cedar log Lodge features a dining room, bar, and an outdoor hot tub on the large deck and has spectacular views of the lake and surrounding mountains. There is also a private lake front extra hot sauna.

Each of the cedar log cabin has a private shower, cozy woodstove and a covered veranda for admiring the breathtaking beauty of the wilderness. Each of the 5 cedar lodge cabins can accommodate 2 guests.

For guest wishing to learn more about the fine art of preparing tasty, wholesome dishes and desserts, Jose offers cooking demonstrations and instructions featuring cuisine reflective of the true nature of the North.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Trip report The Canadian Rockies and Alaska by Ferry

14th July 2009.

Dear Sandra

Ref: Canada & Alaska Holiday 31 May to 02 July 2009.

We have now returned from our most enjoyable holiday which was so well organised by Frontier Travel and more than exceeded our expectations. Congratulations on using your detailed knowledge of the two countries which contributed to our marvellous experience and enjoyment of our trip particularly as the weather was good except for two days. We thought you might like more information about our experiences.

Fairmont Palliser Hotel Calgary gave us a great start with superb accommodation, food and service.

Brookes Heritage Inn Drumheller had a comfortable clean room but not much else to commend it. Our visit to the Dinosaur National Park, Tyrrell Museum and Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump was well worth our visit despite the long drive because everything was so well signposted along the way.

Buffalo Mountain Lodge, Banff again excellent accommodation and food and places of interest were close by.

The drive along the Icefields Parkway was spectacular and we had ample time to visit Lake Louise & Moraine Lake on our way to Emerald Lake and the Lodge.
A truly spectacular location with superb views from our balcony room but The Lodge could do with a refurb and was not the same standard as the Buffalo and food average.

Coast Pyramid Lake Resort, Jasper a spectacular location but a car is essential until the day of departure if catching a train. We persuaded them to provide us with a first floor Suite which has great views of the lake and mountains and the restaurant was excellent.

The Skeena Train was excellent giving us time to relax and rest after our long drive with helpful and friendly staff. The Treasure Trove Casino & Hotel, Prince George was a long way out of town and recommend finding somewhere closer to the station.

Crest Hotel, Prince Rupert an excellent location with amenities close by with Bald Eagles in the trees by the hotel.
Grizzly Bear Tour, Khutzeymatee was fantastic and the local operator looked after us very well. We saw 7 Bears grazing on sedge grass and searching for clams etc by the waterside and visited the Ranger Station. No motion sickness problems!
The Indian Museum is a must visit and recommend the Guided Tour.
Our journey on the Ferry up the Inside Passage was excellent with a clean comfortable cabin, spectacular scenery and occasional Whale Spotting. Again no motion sickness problems!

The Goldbelt Hotel, Juneau was in a good location close to the town but had not a lot to commend it. Because of the numerous Cruse Ships the Town Centre was nothing more than an open air Shopping Mall and Restaurants were not that great. A lovely place for Breakfast is Paradise Cafe under the digital clock seen from the traffic lights entering Main St providing lovely home made Pastries etc.
We took the Bus Tour from the centre to Mildenhall Glacier with a most amusing driver.

Admiralty Island Tour by Sea Plane was again spectacular and Butch our Pilot was great and very friendly. Unfortunately after 5 hours on the island we did not see any Bears. Unless the Salmon are running I would not recommend this.

Westmark Hotel, Sitka a perfect location for visiting the island. We used the hourly hop on off circular bus to visit local attractions. Recommend the Russian Dancing Display at the Museum and the Indian Dancing at the Long House. We also went to The Fortress of the Bear which is at a former Paper Mill. There are two Bear Cubs housed in what was a large Pulp Vat about the size of a Cricket Pitch with a Pool to swim around. By flying out early morning and returning to Juneau later the following day we had ample time to see everything.

Gustavos and the Glacier Bay National Park.
Another amazing experience on a comfortable and large Catamaran with close up views of the carving Glaciers. People at the Goldbelt in Juneau flew over the night before staying at the Gustavos Glacier Bay Lodge which they enjoyed and was really nice and close by the boat jetty.

Ramada Hotel was comfortable, clean and provided a reasonable complimentary breakfast. The Staff was very friendly and the Complimentary Airport Shuttle was great.
We also enjoyed the City Tour on the Tram.

Denali National Park
The drive up by bus was very comfortable with some great scenery and the return journey by train was really nice with large comfortable seats.
The Tundra Wilderness Tour was spectacular with a very knowledgeable guide and we had a wonderful clear day with fabulous views of Mt. McKinley.
Plenty of wildlife sightings of Red Foxes, Moose, Caribou Herds, Goats and 2 bears with 2 cubs each.

The Marriot was in the perfect location and the weather was good so we hired bikes and cycled around Stanley Park.

Vancouver Island
We were so pleased that we chose to fly to Tofino because again the weather was perfect and gave us spectacular views from the air. The Wickaninnish Inn more than exceeded our expectations with excellent sea views from our room and superb weather during our stay.

So thank you once again for arranging our dream holiday

Edward & Glynis

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Whale Route - Quebec

From Tadoussac to Blanc-Sablon, Côte-Nord is really the Whale Route.
Most of the 13 species of whales found in the St. Lawrence are easily observable along this route, from the small harbour porpoise to the enormous blue whale, the largest mammal on the planet. This region is one of the five best places in the world in which to observe several species of whales each year. It is no coincidence that four internationally renowned research groups are based in this area.

Tadoussac Bay, a member of the Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club, is at the heart of the Saguenay-St.Lawrence Marine Park and is the home base of several companies offering sea excursions. While Tadoussac is the best known area for whale watching, several other sites in Côte-Nord, in both the Manicouagan and the Duplessis regions, offer exceptional observation conditions—even from the shore. Keep your eyes peeled from April to November, and remember that three species of seals and many species of marine birds will probably join in the show for your visual pleasure.

While exploring the Whale Route, be sure to stop at the new Garden of the Glaciers in Baie-Comeau. This attraction offers unique multisensory experiences that focus on phenomena associated with the last ice age, climate change and the migration of the first peoples. Located in a converted church, the Glacier Exploration Center features a multimedia show trail with spectacular projections and décors. Continue your adventure in the Maritime Adventure Park where you can observe how the surrounding landscape has been carved out by glaciers over 10,000 years ago. The park offers three interactive guided tours, including the Valley of the Seashells, a site that is unique in the world. Outdoor lovers will also want to visit the Adrenaline Zone, which offers a multitude of exciting activities. Finally, sea kayaking and hiking are also possible in the park.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Talls Ships in Nova Scotia

The international gathering of world-class Tall Ships is in Halifax, Nova Scotia from July 16 to August 1, 2009. Having hosted Tall Ships gatherings four times over two decades, Nova Scotia is no stranger to the visitors who come to see these grand ships in Halifax and ports across Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia provides the perfect setting for a Tall Ships event. The atmosphere, the tradition and the opportunity to follow the ships around the province is an experience that is offered to the visitors and people of the province during Tall Ships Nova Scotia 2009.

Ships will arrive in Halifax on Thursday, July 16 and following the magnificent Parade of Sail in Halifax on Monday, July 20, designated ships will head north to Cape Breton, making stops in Port Hawkesbury (July 22 - 23) , Louisbourg (July 22 - 23) and Sydney (July 25 - 26) while others will head to the mainland ports including Lunenburg (July 22 - 23) Pictou (July 28 - 29) and Pugwash (July 31 - August 1).

Imagine stepping aboard a majestic Tall Ship feeling the sway of the deck and seeing the view from the bow, this is the only way to experience a Tall Ship, short of sailing on one.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Wildlife Sightings in British Columbia

A group aboard the Island Roamer this week spotted 2 Sperm Whales in the open waters of the Queen Charlotte Islands! They were approximately 40 feet long. In the same day they also spotted 45 black-footed Albatross.It has been another amazing season for Humpback Whales, birds, bears and all the species in the Northern Galapagos (as the Queen Charlotte Islands of British Columbia are known)

The fictional Moby Dick was a sperm whale. The real one has the largest brain of any animal - indeed it is the largest of the tooth whales and very rare to see near a coastline. They do live in all the oceans except the polar but are not often seen in the waters of British Columbia.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Observatory & Eco Adventures in Southern Ontario

Just over 2 hours to the west of Niagara Falls is a much less busy place!

High in the trees on a 100' ridge overlooking Long Point Bay and Turkey Point Marsh experience breathtaking zip lines and swinging suspension bridges. Fly through the Carolinian forest over native plant and bird life.

Looking for a unique experience and something that is out of the ordinary? Experience breathtaking zip lines and swinging suspension bridges. Glide through the Carolinian forest over native plant, animal and bird life on a world class zip lines. The views of the bay and marsh from the zip lines and canopy tour are outstanding.

There is only one place along the shores of Lake Erie where you can enjoy 15,000 acres of protected forests and marshlands along with spectacular aerial views. High in the trees on a 100' ridge you can stand on the deck of the 45' astronomy observatory and gaze across this Great Lake to see the hills of Pennsylvania. The highly trained staff are dedicated to sharing the beautiful environment in a safe, eco-friendly way while educating you on the local flora, fauna and wildlife. This outdoor eco-adventure combines education with adrenaline-filled action, which is sure to leave you with an experience that will be hard to forget. From kayak trips to zip lines to an astronomy observatory, the goal of the folk at Turkey Point Marsh is provide you with a great adventure.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Fundy Trail Parkway - New Brunswick

The Fundy Trail opens up previously unreachable areas of the Bay of Fundy coastline. Skirting cliff tops above the world’s highest tides, the Fundy Trail winds its way along one of the last remaining coastal wilderness areas between Florida and Labrador.

From stunning ocean views above the caves of St. Martins to the deep pools and rapids of Big Salmon River, the Trail will delight you at every turn.

One of the easiest ways to see one of world’s most stunning coastlines is from the comfort of your vehicle. The paved, low-speed auto parkway winds past scenic lookouts along the 13-kilometre (8-mile) route to Cranberry Brook Lookout.

Spacious, complimentary on-site parking areas allow easy access to footpaths, picnic areas and rest stops. Step out of your vehicle into the only coastal wilderness remaining on the entire east coast of North America.

View the unspoiled beauty of the Fundy coast as you bike along the 13-km (8-mile) trail to Cranberry Brook Lookout. The hilly, multi-use trail runs parallel to the Parkway road; the trail surface is gravel dust.

You’ll find the biking trails perfect for bird watching and photography. You’ll also find water stations and outdoor toilet facilities at rest areas along the trail.

Pack your helmet and pick up a trail map at the Park entrance!

Whether you’re a day hiker or an avid back-packer, you’ll find the Fundy Trail Parkway satisfying terrain. From easy two-hour guided walks, to self-guided or interpretive multi-day wilderness hikes, from educational walks to special group bookings there’s something for everyone.

Lace up your sneakers or hiking boots. Grab your binoculars. Fundy is a well-known birding destination. And the view from 250 metres (820 feet) above the beach is spectacular!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Siwash Lake Guest Ranch

Siwash Lake Guest Ranch - British Columbia

Siwash Lake Guest Ranch in BC, Canada, is truly one of the world's premier luxury dude ranches and guest ranches, surrounded by 80,000 acres of pristine British Columbia wilderness. Wildlife thrives here among our natural grasslands, forests, lakes, and rivers. This remarkable, eco-friendly setting provides a refreshing oasis of wilderness solitude, filled with enriching moments for adventurous people who seek the finer things in life.

At Siwash Lake, come riding on a beautiful horse and explore the best of British Columbia’s open range on your own or with a personal riding guide. Our very special riding program ensures that horseback riding vacations at this dude ranch are extraordinary. They are highly sought after holidays that feature guided riding to your heart’s desire, for first-time beginners through to advanced riders, with the option of riding on your own as well. And besides horse riding, we offer world-class fly-fishing, guided eco adventures, other nature based wilderness activities and much, much more

Along with riding, cast for trout on sparkling waters, hike a canyon to nearby waterfalls, mountain bike the backcountry or paddle a canoe across shimmering Siwash Lake. Try our sustainable living workshop or a wilderness survival class, land stewardship project or wildlife tracking… Guests are immersed in the wilds, with nature all around. Our dude ranch offers the discerning family or couple a spectacular wilderness experience.

And later, indulge in fine cuisine and complete comfort at this unique guest ranch — savour ranch grown, organic food that rivals fine city dining and then sleep amidst the softest linens. Siwash is family operated and features a boutique wilderness lodge, akin to country estates of the “Old West”, and within its honey-hued log walls, you'll enjoy a soul-pleasing blend of the rustic and the refined.

Siwash Lake offers the best in dude ranch vacations tailored to individual needs — a guest ranch adventure with the luxury of outstanding personal service, attention to detail, and the most unique riding program in Canada — we're an authentic BC working ranch for all-inclusive horseback riding vacations and eco-adventure escapes.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

On the 1st of June, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Celebrity Cruises will be launching their NEW 2010 Europe & the Med and 2010/11 Worldwide Cruise brochures. Packed full of fantastic destinations and new itineraries, including cruises onboard Independence of the Seas which will be sailing from Southampton all year round from 2010.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Salmon Fishing in New Brunswick

New Brunswick has some of the best salmon waters on earth

The rivers of the province number among the top salmon fishing grounds in the world. The best salmon rivers in New Brunswick are, in statistical order, the Southwest Miramichi, the St. John, the Restigouche, the Northwest Miramichi and the Tobique. Specimens weighing in at 30-40 pounds can be caught with a fly-fishing rod. This is not guaranteed, but still not unheard. In the 50 salmon rivers in the province fishing is only permitted when accompanied by a local guide. Salmon fishing is therefore, as it is all over the world, an expensive activity.

As well as salmon, Artic char also appear in most waters. The landlocked Atlantic salmon in the southernmost part of the province (2 - 3 pounds in weight) and trout in the lakes (between 3 + 10 pounds in weight) are also highly prized as well as the perch and pickerels which are native to the south west.

In addition to salmon and trout fishing, saltwater fish are the most popular in New Brunswick. Especially in the Baie de Charleur, lucky anglers reel in magnificent giant tuna weighing in at some 1000 pounds every year.

Whistler Bike Park


"At Whistler Blackcomb we’re lucky enough to have six months for mountain biking season. As all trails are covered in snow, the anticipation builds when we can finally clear the trails and get the Bike Park open,” says Brian Finestone, Whistler Mountain Bike Park Manager. “The mud gates are about to open this Saturday and people are worked up into a frenzy with opening day anticipation. We’ve got lots of trails ready to go and are expecting a great start to what will no doubt be another fantastic season.”

The Bike Park is open daily from 10am-5pm until June 19 and then from 10am-8pm starting June 20 through the summer. Weekday access is via the Whistler Village Gondola with the Fitzsimmons Chairlift opening on weekends.

The Garbanzo Zone is scheduled to open June 27 in time for Whistler Blackcomb’s core summer operations. Riders can look forward to new trail sections on Blue Velvet and Freight Train, as well as the completely redeveloped No Joke trail in the Garbanzo Zone. The Bike Park also features redesigned Slopestyle, Giant Slalom and Dual Slalom courses.

First-timers can test drive the Whistler Mountain Bike Park with the Sampler ticket, which provides three lift rides. If the sampling turns into a full-blown addiction, riders can upgrade to a full day ticket with options to receive discounts on riding in the Bike Park for the rest of the season.

Full suspension bikes, helmets and body armour are available at Garbanzo Rentals in the Whistler Gondola building. Meanwhile, the Garbanzo Bike and Bean in Carleton Lodge offers rental and repair services, and features a retail section filled with top-end mountain bikes, clothing and equipment.

For those looking for some inspiration, the epic and adrenaline-fueled mountain bike movie, Redbull Rampage: The Evolution, premieres at the Garibaldi Lift Co. (GLC) Friday, May 15 at 9pm. The eye candy continues at the GLC on Saturday, May 16 with the premiere of the Goldstein Productions movie, On The Line starting at 9pm. The GLC is open daily throughout the summer at the base of the Bike Park, and is the perfect spot to enjoy a sunny post-Park patio session or an evening of live music, DJs and good times.

Whistler Mountain Bike Park, May 16-October 12, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Shangri La in Vancouver

Living the High Life: at 61 stories the Shangri-La Hotel is the tallest building in Vancouver and at $300 million, one of the most expensive developments in Canada. Complete with a spa, a restaurant managed by french chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, staff that number two to every one guest room ratio, and unique meeting space complete with state-of-the art technology, this hotel has all that you need to make your stay in Vancouver memorable.

It was amazing as I drove over the Lions Gate Bridge last week, you could see the hotel dwarfing all the other buildings -

ICE Currency advice.

I saw this today - interesting stuff. The Canadian dollar has not changed that much - probably because the price of oil is now so low that extracting oil from the sands is not so profitable.

Leading international currency expert, ICE (International Currency Exchange), has named Russia, Mexico and Brazil as its top spots for alternative holidays where UK travellers can get the most value for their Sterling compared to the previous six months.

With the strength of the US Dollar and Euro against the Pound, it is now the time to consider alternative holiday destinations. As the Pound has recently fallen an amazing 30% against the Dollar and a huge 12.5% against the Euro, ICE has looked at the value of Sterling across many currencies, comparing the exchange rate on 17th August 2008 to the current rate, in search of good news or, better still, a bargain.

Top 3 alternative destinations for Family Breaks

  1. Mexico - Exchange rate today 20.88 / rate 6 months ago 18.99
  2. Norway - Exchange rate today 9.96 / rate 6 months ago 10.10
  3. Canada - Exchange rate today 1.80 / rate 6 months ago 2.00

Andrew Hamilton, Head of Marketing at ICE, says: "Our research has shown that while Europe and North America are getting lot more expensive for UK travellers, there are some great alternative destinations well worth checking out this year to make the most of our stretched holiday budgets."

Family breaks in Mexico offer great value. The value of the Mexican Peso to the Pound has weakened by 9.1% in the last 6 months. With bustling cities, beautiful beaches, deserts, swamps and 26 world heritage sites, Mexico can offer something for the whole family.

Alternatively in Norway, Sterling has weakened against the Krona by only 1% since August 08. With return flights from the UK starting from £40 and the costs of transport, groceries, accommodation and admissions similar to the UK, equivalent travelling throughout beautiful Norway can be done on a budget.

Then for outdoors, adventure, theme parks, camping, shopping, golf, mountains, skiing, festivals, culture and history; Canada has it all for the family. While Sterling has fallen about 11% against the Looney (as the Canadian Dollar is known), it's not as spectacular as the fall against the US Dollar.

Inn on the Lake, Yukon

National Geographic Traveler is launching their “2009 Stay List: 150 hotels you will love” and have chosen Inn on the Lake on Marsh Lake just south of Whitehorse, to be featured this year. The 2009 Stay List celebrates 150 hotels in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean region, these hotels are among the best at blending location, inspired architecture, ambience and amenities, eco stewardship and an ethic of giving back to the community.

A well deserved listing I think. I stayed there with the children a few years ago - great food - we stayed in the cottage so had masses of space. I would love to go back and see the Northern Lights there.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ottawa - by Dave Ashmore

The temperatures were well below zero and there were tonnes of snow on the ground, but the welcome in Ottawa was very warm. From the Front Desk at the Lord Elgin to the staff at the Ice Hockey stadium everyone was friendly and happy to welcome visitors to their city. Ottawa maybe Canada’s capital, but might not be the first thought of people looking for a city break in Canada, it is however, definitely worth a visit and will, undoubtedly, exceed expectations.

The city has plenty of historic sites, not least the Rideau Canal, which runs through the heart of downtown and was a major artery of the development of the country itself. In the winter, the canal has a further attraction – it becomes a massive outdoor skating rink, with many people using it as a route to work. The small, but interesting, Bytown museum charts the development of the canal and the city and the larger and dynamic Museum of Civilisation, across the water in Gatineau, traces its people and the origins of the country as a whole. The city is home to many other museums too, perhaps most interesting of which is the magnificent Canadian War Museum, with its detailed historamas and extensive collection of weapons and tanks. Our visit to Ottawa also took in the Canada Aviation Museum and the Parliament Buildings. The tour of the latter is enjoyable and the view from the top of its Peace Tower stunning.

Further afield we visited a delightful restaurant, L’Oree du Bois, in Chelsea, Quebec, for a lovely dinner, which was made all the more appetizing following as it did an evening snowshoe trip with a First Nations guide and storyteller, Daniel Richer. We also spent an evening watching the Ottawa Senators play at Scotiabank Place – Ice Hockey at its best in a 20,000-seater indoor stadium. We also travelled to Sucrerie de la Montagne, in Rigaud; a traditional sugar shack and log-built restaurant with a larger than life owner Pierre Faucher and his equally friendly pet wolf.

The ultimate highlight of the trip, however, was the morning we spent dog-sledding. Hosted by Aventures Nordik we spent three hours with the dogs and out sledding in the woods. A truly memorable experience.