Canoeing and Kayaking
Canoes are a traditional form of transportation throughout western Canada. You can rent one at many of the more popular lakes, but if you bring your own you can slip into any body of water whenever you please, taking advantage of an unparalleled opportunity for admiring scenery and viewing wildlife from water level. One of the most popular backcountry canoe routes is in Bowron Lake Provincial Park (Central British Columbia), where a 117-kilometer (73-mile) circuit leads through a chain of lakes in the Cariboo Mountains. Paddle Canada (613/547-3196 or 888/252-6292, www.paddlingcanada.com) represents qualified guides and can recommend canoe routes.
Anywhere suitable for canoeing is also prime kayaking territory, although most keen kayakers look for white-water excitement. The best wilderness kayaking experiences are in the interior of British Columbia and the Canadian Rockies.
The British Columbia coastline is great for sea kayaking, and rentals are available in most coastal communities. The Southern Gulf Islands (Vancouver Island) are ideal for kayakers of all experience levels, while destinations such as Desolation Sound (vicinity of Vancouver), the Broken Group Islands (Vancouver Island), and the Queen Charlotte Islands (northern British Columbia) are the domain of experienced paddlers.
Most outfits offering kayak rentals also provide lessons and often tours. One such Vancouver operation is the Ecomarine Ocean Kayak Centre (604/689-7575, www.ecomarine.com). Tofino, on Vancouver Island’s west coast, is a popular base for sea kayakers. Here, Tofino Sea Kayaking Company (250/725-4222 or 800/863-4664, www.tofino-kayaking.com) rents kayaks and leads tours through local waterways.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition