• Sydney Australia - credit Jackie Appleton

Some ideas of places you can still visit this year.

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Vicki Tester

 

Costa Rica

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

December is a great time to visit Costa Rica. Here you will find one of South America’s largest cloud forests, Monteverde, with its evergreen canopies, exotic birds, butterflies and a host of other wildlife. There are numerous national parks and wildlife spotting opportunities, waterfalls, rain forests and volcanoes!

There really is so much to see and do here: visit Arenal Volcano, hike through the lava fields, go birdwatching, bathe in the hot springs, zip-lining and trekking through the rainforest.  This is an ideal place for a family holiday, and when you are feeling less adventurous you could spend time on the many beautiful beaches such as the golden sands of Manuel Antonio National Park.  Click here for your Costa Rica Adventure.

Picture Courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

 

Hawaii, USA

For some winter sun, Hawaii has it all. With its golden sands, turquoise waters and a tropical feel, you could have a very different Christmas this year, spent on the beach!

Take a trip out to see the whales and dolphins. Snorkelling is a popular activity here and a great place for this is the partially submerged volcanic creator off Maui’s southwest coast. Here there is a thriving coral reef with an array of marine life to spot.

On land you could hike Kauai’s forest trails to the hidden waterfalls, or go island hopping on a small plane for more adventure in the glorious winter sunshine.

Picture courtesy of Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau (IHVB) Kirk Lee Aeder

Picture courtesy of Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau (IHVB) Larry Marshall

 

 

Whistler, Canada

Picture courtesy of Destination BC – Blake Jorgenson

This very popular ski resort is definitely one for the ski lovers bucket list.  The snow is in abundance throughout the winter months, making the chalets look picturesque, with tree lined streets  and twinkling lights.

There are no end of activities to take part in such as, dog sledding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and hiking the trails up Blackcomb Mountain stopping off for a fondue dinner at the top.  Or on a Sunday night you can watch skiers and snowboarders pulling tricks with fire for a bit of live entertainment.

Picture courtesy of Destination BC – Blake Jorgenson

Picture courtesy of Destination BC – Blake Jorgenson

 

Vietnam

Picture courtesy of Angie Watson

Our winter is a popular time to visit South East Asia as there is very little rain and the days are sunny.  Stay at one of Vietnams beach resorts, surrounded by tropical rainforest and fishing boats hauled up on the beach, for a bit of relaxation.

See the water lilies and flower fields begin to bloom, which are then picked to decorate the temples and shrines.  Any cultural seeker would love Vietnam. It has a thousand-year-old civilisation and a fascinating history. Wander through the streets of the Hanoi Old Quarter or Hoi An Old Town to get a glimpse of the French architecture mixing with the ancient and modern temples. See one of our Vietnam bespoke itineraries.

Picture courtesy of Angie Watson

Picture courtesy of Angie Watson

Time to start thinking of your next summer holiday…

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Vicki Tester

 

USA and Canada

Everyone’s situation is different as to what they need to think about when booking a holiday. Do you have children at school, are you in a job that restricts you from taking time off when you like?

Early planning is a must to avoid disappointment in these situations. Booking early also means you can take advantage any early booking discounts, which can save significantly sums for your holiday.

We are here to assist you make those plans and to help take the stress out of organising your trip. Once booked you can simply sit back and look forward to a wonderful holiday!

We are experts in the USA and Canada priding ourselves on the fact we have stayed in and visited many of the places we send our clients, helping you to make the best choices. The USA and Canada are well worth booking early in high season and they both offer something for everyone, from big city glamour to small town charm but can have limited availability.

 

USA – first thoughts

For the USA ‘big city glamour’ try the city of Chicago in Midwestern USA, a metropolitan hub for dining, shopping and entertainment. The Magnificent Mile is one of Chicago’s most famous shopping districts, and you’ll find flagship stores — from high street favourites to high fashion stores — along the stretch of shops. Nearby, wander along State Street, where you can visit the original Marshall Field’s, now Macy’s. For boutique shopping, head to Chicago’s 77 neighbourhood, where you’ll find unique, one-of-a-kind items you simply won’t want to leave without.

Chicago is bursting at the seams with theatrical talent. Broadway in Chicago and many Tony Award winning companies bring in big names and blockbuster shows, while more than 200 storefront, experimental and neighbourhood theatres bring you pioneering contemporary performances. Chicago is also a city that loves to laugh —after all Chicago invented improvisation comedy. See where Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell performed at world-famous ‘The Second City’. If stand-up comedy is your thing, grab your tickets for The Laugh Factory or Zanies. It is also a hub for all kinds of music and well worth experiencing.

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For small town charm, we would recommend Jackson in Wyoming USA, sitting 15 miles from the Idaho border and approximately 12 miles from the entrance of Grand Teton National Park and 60 miles from the famous Yellowstone National Park. Offering you an adventure holiday exploring the wildlife and immersing in the local culture. You can explore on skis (in winter), mountain bikes, rafts, horse drawn stagecoaches. Add in exquisite cuisine, world-renowned art, and unique shopping to make a holiday to remember.

 

Picture courtesy of Yvonne Dann

Picture courtesy of Yvonne Dann

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Canada some places to consider

For ‘big city glamour’ consider a visit to the vibrant city of Vancouver, British Columbia with its skyline of glass buildings and the surrounding ocean and coastal mountains. Here you can swim from the beach and then go off to explore a mountain all in one day.  This is such a versatile city with so much to do. The city is the largest in British Columba, but manages to hold on to its rustic charm and natural beauty nonetheless. Visitors can enjoy bike riding, shopping, visiting a local museum or just relaxing in Stanley Park. Take the free shuttle service out to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. Originally built in 1889, Capilano Suspension Bridge stretches 450 feet (137m) across and 230 feet (70m) above Capilano River. Cliffwalk is the park’s newest attraction – a cantilevered walkway clinging to the granite cliff high above Capilano Canyon. Treetops Adventure, seven suspension bridges through the evergreens taking you up to 100 feet (30m) above the forest floor, offers a unique squirrel’s eye perspective of the forest. See the jaw-dropping majestic nature of British Columbia unfold as you ascend via aerial tram to the summit of Grouse Mountain. Rising 4,100 feet (1,250 metres) above Vancouver and just 15 minutes from the city’s downtown.

You can dine at a world class restaurant or join a Vancouver foodie tour which allows you to visit a wide variety of highly recommended restaurants trying varied cuisine and enjoying the nightlife. A visit to Granville Island is a must for true foodies looking to sample the best of this coastal city. This gastronomic-focused district offers everything from elegant waterfront restaurants to small ethnic eateries. The Granville Island Public Market is a must see, an indoor market featuring a fascinating assortment of food and produce, displaying handcrafted products and unique gifts.

 

Picture courtesy of Yvonne Dann

Picture courtesy of Yvonne Dann

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For small town charm in Canada, we suggest Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan – an attractive town with an underground network of bootlegging tunnels connecting buildings. The tunnels were created in 1908 for a steam system that never happened, but it is rumoured that Al Capone gambled and made deals in them. You can get around this historic town on trolley buses and guided tours, stopping to visit one of the many attractions and museums, or you can simply relax in one of the many spas around the town. Summer in Moose Jaw is always bustling with activities such as Sidewalk Days, Park Art, the Motif Multicultural Festival, Farmers’ Markets, events in Crescent Park and much more.

 

Picture courtesy of Tourism Saskatchewan Greg Huszar Photography

Picture courtesy of Tourism Saskatchewan Greg Huszar Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information and help with organising and booking your holiday please contact us.

Bear Watching Lodge – British Columbia

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Bear Watching at Great Bear Lodge

Picture courtesy of Great Bear Nature Tours.

 

One of our favourite places for bear watching is bringing a new floating lodge in to commission this year. Great Bear Tours are located on a beautiful salmon river in the Great Bear Rainforest in British Colombia, Canada and has featured on BBC programmes about bears and their environment.

The new lodge is a floating one and will have larger rooms with en suite facilities for their few, lucky clients. During the autumn when bear viewing – fishing for salmon – is at its height the lodge is host to just 16 clients. For the rest of the year the number of visitors are limited to 10 making this a very exclusive experience.

They have also 2 new bear viewing sites and to see how close you could be to these wonderful animals view some of their clips on their website www.greatbeartours.com.

Bear Watching at Great Bear Lodge

Picture courtesy of Great Bear Nature Tours.

 

Bear viewing, both grizzly and black, can go ahead during the spring and summer and the wilderness is home to many other animals, including wolves, deer and a host of birds.

This is “must” for lovers of bears but because numbers are limited it does need booking well in advance. If you are interested or want more information, then get in touch on Tel: 01323 446550 or  Email: info@experienceholidays.co.uk

 

Two Countries, Three Cities – Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver

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Vicki Tester

 

On this trip you will combine the fascinating cities of Seattle, Victoria and Vancouver over 11 nights.

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Two Countries, Three Cities

On this trip you will combine the fascinating cities of Seattle, Victoria and Vancouver over 11 nights.  There are plenty of options to add if time allows – self drive through the Canadian Rockies, add Washington State to include Mt Rainier and the Olympic Peninsular, or through Oregon reaching Crater Lake and the fantastic coast.

Day 1: Seattle

Day 4: Victoria

Day 7: Vancouver

Day 10: Seattle

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Description

In this itinerary you’ll explore three great cities, using a variety of transport methods as you travel between the USA and Canada, and between mainland and Islands. These three diverse cities, are all in fantastic oceanside locations, with great scenery and activities within easy reach.

 

Day 1 Seattle: Start with your flight to Seattle today. The city is a sophisticated blend of art, nature, technology and culture.  Take a stoll or food tour around Pike Place Market. Head up the Space Needle where the Observation Deck and restaurant offer a unique 360 degree view of mountains, Puget Sound and the City. Nearby, Chihuly Garden and Glass, showcases the career of glass artist Dale Chihuly with galleries, garden and the Glasshouse.

Visit historic Pioneer Square, shop at the Westgate centre and downtown area, and take Bill Speidels Underground Tour, strolling through the passages that once were the main roadways showcasing first-floor storefronts of old downtown Seattle prior to the Great Fire of 1889, and the subsequent rebuilding of Seattle on top

Three nights Seattle

Day 4 Victoria: Today take the Victoria Clipper passenger only ferry between Seattle and Victoria, British Columbia. It’s less than a three hour cruise through Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Canada and into Victoria’s Inner Harbour – the heart of the city. Arrive and pass through Canadian immigration at the ferry terminal.

Double-decker buses, horse-drawn carriages, formal gardens and tearooms show off Victoria’s apparent British history. Victoria’s Inner Harbour is at the very heart of the city, and with plenty of attractions within easy reach. Have afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel, head out on a whale watching cruise – Victoria and its surrounding waters are world renowned for the many species of whales and the wildlife tours offered. Stroll around the exhibits and collections in the Royal BC museum.  Enjoy a cycle tour of the city.

Around 30 minutes drive from the city you’ll find Butchart Gardens – a National Historic Site of Canada.

Three nights Victoria

Day 7 Vancouver: A thrilling 30 minute seaplane flight is your transport to the Canada’s mainland and the city of Vancouver, British Columbia. Coming into Vancouver Harbour Flight Centre, located on Canada Place, you are just a short distance from many attractions in the city.

Stroll through diverse neighbourhoods or relax on sandy beaches. Visit the aquarium, take a city tour, cycle or stroll around the seawall in Stanley Park as you follow marked trails.  Head up Vancouver’s Lookout for a birds eye view over the city. Take a mini-tugboat ferry across False Creek to Granville Island where the biggest attraction is the Public Market – perhaps take a walking tour.

Head over to the North Shore for more adventure – Grouse Mountain has plenty of outdoor adventure. Take the Skyride – an 8 minute ride from the Valley Station to the summit. Also on the North Shore, visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge, suspended above the river and amongst the trees. Also here are the Cliffwalk and Treetops Adventure.

Three nights Vancouver

Day 10 Seattle: End your journey here with a flight out of Vancouver International Airport, or alternatively continue your travels with a train journey between Vancouver and Seattle – bus is another option. You’ll pass through US Immigration and customs as you enter Seattle. Spend one final night in the city.

One night Seattle

Day 11 Fly Home: Say goodbye to Seattle as you make your way back to the airport for your overnight flight home.

Day 12 Arrive Home

Float planes at Vancouver – Credit CTC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Space Needle - Seattle

Picture courtesy of Port of Seattle

Floatplanes Vancouver

Credit Yvonne Dann

Totem Pole Victoria – Credit Yvonne Dann

Butchart Gardens Victoria – Credit Yvonne Dann

Butchart Gardens – Credit Yvonne Dann

Vancouver by air – Credit Yvonne Dann

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Little Gems

A little gem of Seattle is the famous Pike Place Market, and the perfect way to see it is on a walking tour. See behind-the-scenes and experience the sights, sounds, and flavors of this historic 100+ year old landmark.

Pike Place Market

Credit Helen Wibley

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Western Canada Fly Drive

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Think of Western Canada and the Rocky Mountains will probably spring to mind, but take a self drive tour between Calgary and Vancouver, in either direction, and you’ll soon realise that there is a lot more than simply the Rocky Mountains. Explore the Canadian Rockies on this tailor made itinerary.

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Western Canada Fly Drive

Think of Western Canada and the Rocky Mountains will probably spring to mind, but take a self drive tour between Calgary and Vancouver, in either direction, and you’ll soon realise that there is a lot more than simply the Rocky Mountains.  Western Canada has so much to offer, from its world class ski resorts for winter visitors to hiking, kayaking and other outdoor activities in the many National Parks.  The Parks offer numerous walking trails for both keen hikers and those preferring a casual stroll and a quick call in to the Visitor Centre will provide you with maps and ideas and possibly the opportunity to join Ranger lead programmes.

Day 1: Calgary
Day 2: Banff
Day 5: Jasper
Day 8: Wells Gray Park
Day 10: Whistler
Day 11: Vancouver
Day 14: Depart Vancouver

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Description

This is just one idea for exploring the Canadian Rockies states of Alberta and British Columbia. As with all our itineraries this can be adapted to your exact requirements and to fit your budget.

Day 1: Calgary
Arrive at Calgary Airport and take either the Airport Shuttle bus or taxi into the city.
One night Calgary

Day 2: Banff
Pick up your hire car this morning and head west along the Bow Valley Parkway to Banff. Explore Banff National Park. You are now in the heart of the Rockies and for spectacular views of Banff and the surrounding area, take a gondola ride up Sulphur Mountain. Also visit Bow Falls and Johnston Canyon. Take a day trip across the Great Divide for a visit to the spectacular (and often overlooked) Yoho National Park.
Three nights Banff

Day 5: Jasper
Head north to Jasper along one of the most scenic drives in North America; The Icefields Parkway. Stop en route at the Columbia Icefield for a ride in the huge Ice Explorer on to the Athabasca Glacier. Jasper National Park offers a wide choice of stunning sightseeing drives, visit Maligne Canyon, take a cruise on Lake Maligne, one of the most photographed lakes in the world or enjoy a rafting trip down the Athabasca River.
Three nights in Jasper

Day 8: Wells Gray Park
Leave Jasper and take the scenic Yellowhead Highway past mighty Mount Robson, the tallest peak in the Rockies. Follow the Thompson River to Wells Gray Provincial Park. A full day to explore this wonderful park where leaping salmon, bears and moose are often spotted. Visit Helmcken Falls; the drop is deeper drop than Niagara. Hire canoes or take a guided boat tour deep into the park.
Two nights Wells Gray Park

Day 10: Whistler
Drive to Whistler for an overnight stay. Whistler is a popular ski resort. The chair lifts are open year-round making this a popular summer destination for mountain bikers and hiker.
One night Whistler.

Day 11: Vancouver
Today take the scenic drive along the Cheekamus River by Mt Garibaldi and the logging town of Squamish and on to Vancouver. Before entering the city take a detour to Grouse Mountain and the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Cross the Lions Gate Bridge into the city through the famous Stanley Park. Drop your car at the downtown depot. You will have two full days to explore this vibrant and beautiful city. Take the all-day Trolley tour; a hop-on hop-off tour of the city covering all the major attractions, you can spend as much or as little time on this as you please! It’s a great way to see the city at your own pace. Take in some last minute shopping or a day trip across to Victoria; the Butchart Gardens are a must-see. Take a whale watching trip through the spectacular Gulf and San Juan Islands; during the season you are almost guaranteed a sighting of the resident Orca whales.
Three nights Vancouver

Day 14: Depart Vancouver

Credit Jackie Appleton

Credit Jackie Appleton

 

bighorn

Credit Helen Wibley

Whale

credit Helen Wibley

Contact us for more details

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Little Gems

Well Gray Provincial Park is a true gem.  Visit in the early part of the season and you will be rewarded by carpets of Alpine flowers as the winter snows melt and the fresh young shoots appear.  This can also be a good time to spot black bear as they emerge from their winter hibernation and feed on the juicy young growth.

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Bear Viewing in North America

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Bear watching can be an expensive addition to a holiday and for many it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. There are a large number of companies offering all sorts of bear-watching experiences. Whilst sightings are never guaranteed, to avoid disappointment it is important to pick the trip that will match both your expectations and your budget. Call us and we will help you make the right choice. Here is just a small selection of what we are able to offer

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Bear Viewing

Great Bear Lodge
Knight Inlet Lodge
Spirit Bear Lodge
Polar Bear with Frontiers North Adventures
Churchill Wild
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Bear Viewing in North America

Where the land is wild and the salmon plentiful, whether on the coast of British Columbia, Yellowstone or South eastern Alaska, bears will congregate. Bear viewing can range from spotting a bear at the side of the road to luxury wilderness adventure trips. Viewing bears without a guide is certainly possible, but guided bear-watching trips are the best way to ensure a safe, successful experience of viewing bears in their natural habitat.

Bear watching can be an expensive addition to a holiday and for many it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. There are a large number of companies offering all sorts of bear-watching experiences. Whilst sightings are never guaranteed, to avoid disappointment it is important to pick the trip that will match both your expectations and your budget. Call us and we will help you make the right choice. Here is just a small selection of what we are able to offer:-

Great Bear Lodge
The Great Bear Rainforest is home to a significant concentration on coastal grizzly bears and is arguably one of the best places in the world to observe grizzlies and other wildlife such as wolves, black bears, otters, pine martins, mink and bald eagles. Great Bear Lodge is nestled in a remote inlet in the heart of this Rainforest.
During the spring, grizzlies come down from the mountains to graze on the sedges and grasses of the river estuary. Bear viewing is from boats which float gently through the estuary. The estuary is bustling with other bird and animal life at this time of year. The return of thousands of salmon marks the beginning on the Fall season in mid August. The bear viewing at this time is from a series of viewing platforms along the river as the bears gorge on fish in preparation for hibernation …

Knight Inlet Lodge
In a wild and remote area of Pacific Northwest, set amidst the dramatic snow-capped peaks of Canada’s rugged coastline is Knight Inlet Lodge. The area is home to one of the largest concentration on grizzly bears in British Columbia. During the peak Fall season, when the salmon are returning to the river, it is not uncommon for there to be up to 50 bears within 10 kilometres of the lodge.
The grizzly bears are abundant in the fall but this is not the only season that grizzlies frequent the area around the lodge. Starting in April, both black and grizzly bears begin emerging from hibernation and head to the estuary to feed on the succulent new spring growth. This is a great time for watching grizzly bears as they go about their daily lives. Even in mid-summer, when many of the bears have moved into the surrounding timber clearings to feast on berries, several bears can usually be seen each day as they move in and around the estuary and along the logging roads…

Spirit Bear Lodge
In the small remote Kitasoo First Nation fishing Village of Klemtu, in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia is Spirit Bear Lodge. This area is home to the rare and beautiful Spirit (Kermode) Bear. In addition, an abundance of other wildlife can be viewed including grizzly and black bear, wolves, whales and dolphin. To optimise your chance of viewing the shy and elusive Spirit Bear, we would strongly suggest at least 4 nights in September or October.

Polar Bear with Frontiers North Adventures
Head to the Province of Manitoba and experience the thrill of Polar Bear viewing. Together with our friends at Frontiers North, we are proud to offer the adventure of a lifetime viewing these magnificent animals.
Find out more

Churchill Wild
For those who would prefer to view the polar bears at ground level then we are able to offer a unique alternative experience. Staying in remote and exclusive lodges, daily guided hikes into the Tundra are offered with the opportunity to view and photograph polar bears, caribou, and Arctic fox in a backdrop of stunning sea and landscapes – contact us for more details.

Hallo Bay in Alaska is home to the highest concentration of Alaska’s brown bears. The area is a rich source of food from berries and sweet grasses to fish and clams. In early summer the bears can be viewed feeding on grass and digging for clams – this is typically a good time for seeing cubs. In August and September the bears usually feed on salmon. The bear viewing is by foot accompanied by a knowledgeable guide. Day tours or longer overnight programs are offered with accommodation in simple tented cabins

If you have seen film footage or photographs of bears fishing at a waterfall then in all likelihood it was taken at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park, Alaska. The area is world renowned for its large population of brown bears due to salmon migration through Brooks River. Prime viewing is in July and September. We are able to offer packages to take in this amazing sight – a Mecca for wildlife photographers.

Black Bear are found all over the North American continent but most abundantly in British Columbia and on Vancouver Island. The heavily forested, dense bush and wooded mountains provide the ideal habitat. We work with a number of tour companies who offer day tours to watch for bears – one of our favourite is Remote Passages in Tofino. Your knowledgeable guide will take you into the fjord inlets and sheltered bays of Clayoquot Sound. Black bears come out of the rainforest to feed on crunchy crab, clams & barnacles on the coast.

This is just a small selection of the possibilities. Call us to discuss how we can include bear watching in your itinerary.

Bear viewing | Canada | USA | Alaska

Image credit ©2004-2014 Tom Rivest, Great Bear Nature Tours

 

Bear viewing | Canada | USA | Alaska

Credit Great Bear Lodge

 

Bear viewing | Canada | USA | Alaska

Credit Knight Inlet Lodge

            

      

Image credit ©2004-2014 Tom Rivest, Great Bear Nature Tours

Image credit ©2004-2014 Tom Rivest, Great Bear Nature Tours

 

Polar Bear viewing | Canada | USA | Alaska

Credit Frontiers North Adventures

 

 

 

 

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Little Gems

For an up-close and personal experience with these giants, we recommend Great Bear Lodge, located on the British Columbia coast.  A true immersion in a remote corner of this wonderful country with highly experienced and knowledgeable guides. 
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Wildfires in British Columbia, Canada

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Vicki Tester

 

You may have seen on the news that British Columbia, Western Canada has been experiencing a very active wildfire season. Fortunately this is not affecting any towns or travel routes apart from the road in to Maligne Lake.

These closures have meant that certain tours or excursions on and around the lake have been cancelled for the moment. The tour operators have already put in place alternative tours and all those booked on the cancelled tours have been contacted and alternative arrangements made.

The other consideration will be the quality of the air in different locations and if you have any concerns or just want information on this please go to www.bcairquality.ca for the most up to date information.

The disruption from wildfires changes constantly with wind changes, intensity of the wind and the fire fighters success in controlling them. The Canadians are very used to dealing with these situations and at keeping everyone informed. If you have any concerns about your bespoke, tailor made holiday to this region then please do contact us for the latest news that we have received.

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