Hiking and Whale Watching on Vancouver Island

Cowichan River
My real adventure started last week on Vancouver Island. I took the ferry over to Victoria where I stayed with my friend Leanna and her family for a few days. After picking up my rental car I stocked up on food and camping gear and headed north towards Campbell River. The highlights of this multi-day journey included:
  • Camping and hiking in Cowichan River Provincial Park
  • Eating Nanaimo bars (apparently a famous Canadian dessert) in Nanaimo
  • Kayaking on Comox Lake
  • Hiking the Forbidden Plateau trail up to Cruikshank Canyon
  • Whale watching at Telegraph Cove
Feeding birds on Forbidden Plateau trail
Forbidden Plateau
Cruikshank Canyon Lookout

I was actually planning to hike Cruikshank Canyon solo. However, at the Cruikshank Canyon Lookout I ran into Pete from Australia (who is traveling the world also) and Murray from Campbell River and we ended up hiking out together. Murray was super helpful with his expertise on things to do on Vancouver Island, especially in the greater Campbell River area. He recommended a day trip up to Telegraph Cove to go whale watching (rather than booking a tour with a company based in Campbell River) and he was SO right!

Early Monday morning, before sunrise even, Pete and I started driving up the 200 km towards Telegraph Cove so we'd be there by 8.30 to check in for our whale watching cruise. It turned out to be an incredible morning. Beautiful sunshine, blue skies with white clouds, quiet seas and plenty of whales! We saw three pods ("families") of orcas, a dozen hump back whales feeding, breaching and doing all kinds of fun stuff, a large group of sea lions, salmon practicing their jumps before heading up river to spawn, a bald eagle, and plenty of sea fowl. It was simply stunning! Even the captain of our boat (who has been doing these tours for 18 years) got excited about this amazing morning! 

male orca
orca in action
birds feeding on fish
hump back whale feeding on sardines
hump back whale diving
sea lions
on our boat

Last but not least, three valuable lessons learned:

1. If you happen to be using a coin operated shower make sure to have a second coin ready before you start shampooing your hair or even better before you start showering. ;)

2. Remember that tent fixing kit you bought a while ago thinking that you always brought with you but never used? Keep bringing it with you - you never know when (or how for that matter, it's still a mystery to me) a pole might break or a hole might appear.

3. A smile doesn't cost you a thing and it will open many doors. It's the best start for any kind of conversation!


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