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Eric and I toured the southwest of Canada in august/september
of 2001. Our trip started in
Calgary. In the three weeks it took us to drive
our rental car to Vancouver,
we visited the Rocky Mountains parks of
Kootenay. We drove
westward close to the US
border, through the Kootenays
and the Okanagan. On
we visited the Pacific Rim Nat'l Park and
Victoria, and the last few days of our trip
were spent in the city of
For specific information on and
photographs of our destinations, click on the links
in the text above, or on the buttons to the right.
You'll find general info on our trip and on this
region of Canada (logistics etc.)
on this page:
Tourism in Canada
- do I need a travel organization?
- flight, rental car
- when to go, and for how long?
- where do I stay?
In the map, the blue line shows our route. Click here
for high-resolution maps of western
(Vancouver Island, Okanagan, 711 kb) and the
area (incl Kootenays, 528 kb). Other maps of local
regions are given on the corresponding pages - click
on one of the buttons to the right!
Tourism in Canada
Canada is a very easy-going country for
tourism. You really don't need to go with a
travel organization. All we booked was the flight
and the rental car, so we were completely free to
come and go as we pleased.
Everything's very well organized, and it's
easy to get information, as long as you speak
English or French (and you obviously do know
English or you wouldn't have gotten this far down
in the text). There are Visitors' Centers everywhere
that will help you find places to stay, and inform
you on the tourist attractions. Plus, most of the
guesthouse owners, restaurant waiters, bookstore
clerks, whomever, none of them will hesitate to
give you advice on anything you ask for.
The Visitors' Centers in the National Parks
are excellent. They know all about the
hiking trails, bear threats, or where to rent
mountain bikes, but they also provide great service
in helping you find a place to stay. My
advice is to go straight to the Visitors' Center
when you arrive at the central town in each of the
parks. They know what campgrounds are full, but
also whether the guesthouses have room. Once you
pick out a guesthouse, they'll call them for you,
to let the owners know you're coming. Wow!
We flew from Amsterdam to Calgary, and then back
from Vancouver. This didn't cost us extra: the plane
to Calgary was the one to Vancouver, we just got
off early on the way in.
Dropping off charges for the rental car were around $50.
The end of august and beginning of september
is a good time for visiting this part of Canada.
Mosquitoes were no problem, and the weather was mostly
dry (although a chance of rain was predicted
nearly every day). The temperature was fine for
hiking and camping.
Although we visited only a tiny corner of
Canada, three weeks was short. That does help
put the size of the country in perspective...
Specific information on where we stayed - if
relevant - is given on the pages referring
to the regions we visited.
Finding a good place to spend the night was never
a problem - however, the trick was getting there
on time, before it was full.
In the National Parks, we camped as much as
possible. These campgrounds were excellent.
Very good facilities, spacious, and we loved the
fire pits and the endless - free! - supply of
firewood (after you buy a $4 fire permit). But
if you want a spot at one of these campgrounds,
make sure you arrive early, and early means
The guesthouses in the nat'l parks are good,
but prices are close to $100 a night. The ones
we stayed at all had cooking facilities.
In the larger cities (Calgary, Vancouver, Victoria),
finding a motel was easy.
The Pacific Rim Nat'l Park campgrounds were full,
but we camped just outside the park, in a private
campground, which was fine.
In the Kootenays we had a little trouble finding
a guesthouse that wasn't full, in or around the
touristic town of Kaslo, but it was the Labor Day
A variety of information on Canada, but
mostly in Dutch:
the Netherlands to Spain|