Gardens and Wildlife of Western Canada
Spectacular scenery and a warm, friendly welcome await us in British Columbia on our tour that begins in Vancouver, a city which owes its vibrancy and cosmopolitan flavour to the diverse cultural background of its inhabitants. Set amidst majestic mountains and surrounded by blue Pacific waters, Vancouver’s gentle climate keeps the city green year-round and makes it the perfect backdrop for many outstanding gardens. We will be privileged to visit some of the finest gardens in Vancouver and Victoria.
Among the highlights in Vancouver are the Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, the spectacular Van Dusen Botanical Garden and the UBC Botanical Garden. A short passage across the Strait of Georgia takes us to Vancouver Island and our hotel in the ‘Garden City’ of Victoria, whose streets are colourfully decorated from spring until autumn by more than 900 hanging baskets. Here we visit a succession of wonderful gardens, such as the Hatley Estate with its majestic native trees. The highlight for many will be the sublime Butchart Gardens, 55 acres of blossom, fragrance and colour which will live long in the memory. We continue our exploration of Victoria with visits to the seaside Milner Garden and Woodland as well as the Tofino Botanical Gardens.
A break from our garden visits there is an opportunity to enjoy an optional whale watching trip from Victoria where we have the chance to glimpse of orca, grey, humpback and minke whales if we are lucky. Other sightings may include sea lions, seals, porpoise and many species of marine birds. From the resort of Tofino, we embark on a bear watching boat tour along the calm coastal waters, where we have the chance to see the Vancouver Island Black Bear as they amble down to the waters edge to forage for Rock Crab and other tasty seafood treats.
We also venture out of the city to explore the dramatic Capilano Suspension Bridge which spans 140 metres across the Capilano River at a height of 70 metres.
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£4,295 (including offers)
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Day 1 -
Enjoy access to the airport Executive lounge before we fly from London to Vancouver, where we transfer to our hotel.
Day 2 -
After breakfast we take a tour around one of the most beautiful cities in the world. With the dramatic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains to the north and east and the unfurling Pacific Ocean to the west, Vancouver is a modern metropolis surrounded by nature on all sides. During our tour we explore Stanley Park with its famous Totem Poles, English Bay, Canada Place, historic Gastown, Chinatown and Vancouver Lookout at Harbour Centre, which has spectacular views across Metro Vancouver. We ascend the building in a glass lift to the observation deck 167 metres above sea level for panoramic views
This afternoon we visit Van Dusen Botanical Gardens, named after the local lumberman and philanthropist Whitford Julian Van Dusen. The garden is a collaboration between the City of Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation and the Vancouver Botanical organisation. They have successfully worked together for over 40 years and their shared vision has made the Garden internationally renowned. The garden features one of the most extensive arrays of ornamental plants in Canada spread over 55 acres. The development of the gardens started in 1971 but the gardens were not officially opened to the public until 31 August 1975. The land has been transformed into an exquisite botanical garden. A series of stone pathways crisscross the gardens and wooden bridges ramble through various ecological zones. There are over 7,500 different kinds of plants assembled from six continents. Careful planning went into developing specific areas of the garden to illustrate various botanical relationships as they relate to their geographical origins, as shown in the Sino Himalayan Garden or the Mediterranean Garden.
We also visit the first authentic full-sized classical Chinese garden built outside China, that of Dr Sun Yat-Sen. The garden honours the memory of Dr Sun Yat-Sen, revered by his compatriots all over the world as Kuo Fu, the Father of modern China, who visited Vancouver several times prior to his death in 1925. The garden is a five million dollar "architectural space" shaped by artisans brought to Vancouver from China and is constructed in an authentic Ming Dynasty-style, the first of its type built since the late fifteenth century. Traditional materials from Suzhou, the Garden City of the People's Republic, were used in the construction, the aim of the garden being to capture and bring together in a small space all the elements of the natural landscape (mountains, rivers, lakes, trees, valleys and hills) and to create a harmony of contrasts, of dark and light, solid and empty, hard and soft, straight and undulating, yin and yang. The relationship of these four elements reflects the Taoist belief in yin and yang - opposites that must be in balance to create harmony.
Day 3 -
This morning we explore the UBC Botanical Garden, the oldest university botanical gardens in Canada. The gardens showcase British Columbia’s native flowers and trees as well as a collection of plants from every corner of the globe. Highlights not to be missed include the Nitobe Memorial Garden which is one of the most authentic Japanese gardens in North America.
Later, we head northwards to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park which seamlessly blends history, culture and nature. The Capilano Suspension Bridge spans 450 feet of towering evergreens and scented cedar trees 110 feet above the forest floor. After spending some time exploring the park we return to our hotel.
Day 4 -
A long but rewarding awaits. We start with a ferry journey to Vancouver Island and upon arrival, we head to the world famous Butchart Gardens one of the world's premier floral show gardens. Originally created to beautify a worked-out quarry, the property now extends to 55 acres of breathtaking gardens, divided into four sections. The Sunken Garden was built on what was once a limestone quarry with pathways winding downwards to a lake which features a magnificent fountain. Further along one comes across The Rose Garden, which contains many varieties of the Hybrid Tea Rose. Along a long concrete walk you will find old-fashioned English perennial borders covered by very English-looking rose arches. Especially noteworthy is the Japanese Garden with its winding pools and a cascading stream, a lacquered bridge, Japanese stone lanterns, small summerhouses, and a teahouse in the centre of a pool. Dispersed throughout the Japanese Garden are willows, Japanese azaleas, bamboos, dwarf rhododendrons and lace leaf maples - a truly delightful garden. In contrast to the Japanese Garden, The Italian Garden features a pond fed by a mermaid and fish fountain, bordered by flowerbeds and enclosed by Lawson cypress.
We later enjoy some sightseeing, travelling through the unhurried streets of Victoria, highlights include the Inner Harbour, which is sprinkled with pleasure craft, the impressive Parliament buildings, Beacon Hill Park, the Empress Hotel and Thunderbird Park – a forest of ornate totem poles.
Day 5 -
Our day begins with an optional whale watching cruise tour. We head out onto the coastal waters in search of orca, grey, humpback and minke whales. During our voyage we may also see sea lions, seals and porpoises.
This afternoon, we take a scenic route to the historic Hatley Estate, one of Canada’s largest and most diverse National Historic Sites, noted for its heritage planting and majestic native trees. At the centre is a magnificent castle built in 1908 by former British Columbia Premier and coal baron, James Dunsmuir. With a full afternoon here, we will have time to stroll through the Japanese, Italian and Rose Gardens.
|Hotel||Chateau Victoria Hotel and Suites|
Day 6 -
We venture to Ucluelet, enjoying the scenery as we traverse Vancouver Island to its Pacific coast. We have a visit to the Milner Gardens and Woodland, a seaside garden set in Qualicum beach on the eastern coast of Vancouver Island. Covering an impressive 28 hectares of unspoiled natural beauty perched on an oceanfront bluff with views across the Strait of Georgia.
|Hotel||Chateau Victoria Hotel and Suites|
Day 7 -
After breakfast we head out onto the calm shallow waters on the coastline in search of the Vancouver Island black bears, which at this time of the year venture to the shoreline in search of rock crab and other seafood treats. British Columbia is home to around one-quarter of all black bears in Canada, so this trip offers a fantastic opportunity to spot some.
Later, we visit the Tofino Botanical Gardens. The site is spread over 12 hectares of gardens, forests and shorelines and it explores the relationship between culture and nature. There is a network of paths and boardwalks which take you through cultivated gardens, a sculpture park and old growth temperate rainforest. Sprinkled in amongst this, some clearings have been transformed into pocket gardens which display plants that thrive in temperate rainforest around the world including specimens from Chile and Japan. Other pocket gardens celebrate the groups that have called Clayoquot Sound their home particularly the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations, early Japanese fishing families and of course the hippies.
|Hotel||Black Rock Oceanfront Resort|
Day 8 -
We say goodbye to Tofino this morning as we travel across Vancouver Island, passing through Parksville to Nanaimo where we board the ferry to Horseshoe Bay. Upon arrival we head into Vancouver for a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
|Hotel||Black Rock Oceanfront Resort|
|Meals included||Breakfast, Dinner|
Day 9 -
Explore at your own leisure this morning before we transfer to Vancouver airport for our return overnight flight to London
Day 10 -
We arrive in London.
Tour dates & prices
Included in your cost:
- Meals - as per the itinerary
- London pre-flight Executive lounge access
- Comfortable coach travel throughout
- All visits as outlined in the itinerary
- Services of a professional tour manager & local guides
|Tour Departure||Tour ID||Departure date||Return Date||Guided by||Price||Deposit||Single supplement||Offer||Availability|
|15 September 2023||BGWC230915||15 September 2023 (Friday)||24 September 2023 (Sunday)||Colin Crosbie||£4,495
|Book your trip|
|13 September 2024||BGWC240913||13 September 2024 (Friday)||22 September 2024 (Sunday)||£4,695
|Book your trip|