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Beaches and Glaciers on Vancouver Island

Vancouver / Victoria

Vancouver Island, off Canada's western coast, offers incredible choices of day hikes. Among the rewards awaiting hikers are ancient rainforests, wildflower meadows, blue alpine lakes, glaciers and cascading waterfalls. During this guided camping vacation trails range from easy walks on the beach to demanding full-day alpine treks. You have the benefit of hiking with an expert who knows the terrain in all kinds of weather and trail conditions and has information on the local history, flora and fauna.

Day 1 Vancouver / Juan de Fuca Marine Trail

This morning you meet your guide as arranged at a hotel in downtown Vancouver. You board the mini bus for the drive to the ferry terminal and the 90 minute crossing to Vancouver Island. Lunch is by the picturesque Inner Harbour in Victoria and now it is only a short drive to your first campground under giant cedar trees by the beach. The 47km (29 mile)shoreline park along the the south western edge of Vancouver Island is designed as a wilderness hiking trail. and is an extension of the famous Westcoast Trail but not quite as remote and rugged. The isolated beaches can be accessed by several trailheads and make it possible to choose from easy, moderate or or strenuous day hikes. After consulting the tide table the guide decides which part of the beach to hike; suggested for this afternoon is an excursion to hidden pools and waterfalls. Dinner by the campfire and hopefully a spectacular ocean sunset. Hiking time 3-4 hours.You can of course join in Victoria instead of Vancouver.

Day 2 Juan de Fuca Marine Trail

Botanical Beach has one of the most unique and richest tidal areas along Canada's west coast. There are pools with purple and orange starfish, urchins, sea anemones and cucumbers, shoreline trails with fantastic geological formations of shale and quartz. So many impressions, so many photo opportunities during today's outing of up to 20 km (12.5 mi). Hiking time 4 to 7 hours.

Day 3 Parksville

A short climb from the beach ends at a rock shelf with fascinating views down into a secret inlet. Behind a rock arch leading to caves where seals congregate to socialise and give birth. This magical place  was discovered only a few years ago, and has to be approached with care and respect. Depending on the tide chart there are further parts of the beach and reef shelves to explore, always with views of the Olympia Mountains and Juan de Fuca Strait. Late afternoon you move to the eastern shore of Vancouver Island. The new campground (showers) features majestic old growth forest of Douglas Firs and a wide sandy beach near the city of Parksville. Hiking time 2-4 hours.

Day 4 Parksville/Strathcona Park

Some of the best wilderness hiking on Vancouver Island is among the glaciated peaks of the Central island. Strathcona Park was created in 1911 for those who seek adventure in remote alpine surroundings. You can reach the Forbidden Plateau via several routes. A 15 km loop trail near Mt. Washington starts at the 1100 m (3665ft) level and offers panoramic views over southern BC. Hiking time 5 hours.

Day 5 Tofino/Vargas Island

For your next adventure you explore the quiet inlet waters and ancient coastal rainforest of Clayquot Sound in 2 person ocean kayaks. No previous kayaking experience is necessary.Starting in Tofino early afternoon you make your way to the shores of Meares Island for a break to go on a short hike under the giant cedars while the guide introduces you to the natural and cultural history of the island. Then you paddle across an inlet and past a Native village and by late afternoon arrive at your overnight camp on Vargas Island. A zodiac delivers your equipment and camping gear and takes the kayak guide back to Tofino. Your tour guide stays with your group to set up the overnight camp on one of the beautiful wild beaches.

Day 6 Tofino/Ucluelet

The kayak guide returns this morning to paddle with you a different route past Stubbs island back to Tofino. Planned for this afternoon is a side trip to Pacific Rim National Park for hiking. Boutiques and small stores in the charming villages of Tofino and Ucluelet offer crafts and souvenirs made by local artists. You can also join optional bear and whale watching excursions. Campground in Uclulet (showers).

Day 7 Vancouver

On the return trip you pass through Cathedral Grove with some over 800 year old cedars and Douglas Fir trees- one of them is 9m (30 ft) in diameter. You walk on a network of short rainforest wilderness trails which weave amongst moss and fern blanketed fallen trees.