Your full itinerary to the Yukon

A lot of people have asked me, “how was your trip to the Yukon?” I find that question extremely hard to answer because it is almost impossible to put into words how my trip to the Yukon was. “Magical”, “breathtaking”, “supernatural”. Those were a few of the words I could use to try and describe it.

The next question is always, “what was your favourite part?” That question is equally as hard to answer. From the dancing colours of the northern lights to learning all about the First Nations culture, every day, hour, minute, and moment was spectacular.

One thing I can tell you for sure though is that the Yukon stole my heart and in my opinion it should be the number one spot on your bucket list because, as mentioned, it is truly magical. Thinking about planning a trip of your own? Well I wanted to share some of the top things to see, do, and experience to make sure the trip is one you won’t be able to put into words either.

 

Where to stay

Northern Lights Resort and Spa

This is a stunning family run resort just outside of Whitehorse. The resort has four alpine chalets and three aurora glass chalets and we were able to experience both of the accommodations.

The alpine chalets were adorable and a perfect spot for couples to cozy up to one another. They are basically log cabins in the wilderness with a large living room and a fireplace to relax beside while trying to spot the northern lights right outside your north facing window.  What I loved is that the chalets were built from Yukon grown timber and really create a romantic and quaint atmosphere.

The aurora glass chalets had a completely different feel to them. A more modern design with the north facing side of the room offering floor to ceiling glass. This proves the perfect setup to hopefully catch the beautiful  lights dancing across the sky. Even though we didn’t see them this night, we did fall asleep the the view of a million stars shining bright.

 

Mt. Logan Lodge

This is the ultimate family run lodge right on the edge of Kluane National Park in Haines Junction. In fact you can see the incredible mountains right outside your door. I love how creative this family is. On site they have a yurt, and even a bus that used to be a guest room. I also love that you wake up to the smell of fresh coffee and homemade breakfast. In fact, The family cooks all your meals for you.

The other part I loved about this lodge is how passionate the owners are about the area. David and Roxanne are both from big cities, but the moment they stepped foot in Haines Junction, they knew this was where they wanted to be. They wanted to share their love of the spot with their guests.

In the past, the park hasn’t been visited much in the winter so they decided to make it a year round destination by offering guests snowmobiling, ice fishing, and even ice climbing to name a few activities.

What to do

There is honestly so much to see, do, and explore in the Yukon and while I just scratched the surface (and will definitely have to go back sometime soon to discover more) here were a few of my must does:

 

A northern lights adventure

This one is pretty obvious, as I am sure many people travel to the Yukon just to catch a glimpse of this natural wonder. Believe me seeing the lights is worth the trip alone.  I joined Arctic Range Adventure for this bucket list activity. They drive you about 20 minutes outside of Whitehorse to complete darkness. The moment we arrived you could already see the hint of green colouring the night sky. We were able to stay in yurts to keep warm, but I will never forget the rush of emotions when our guide told us to get outside with our cameras. Greens, yellows, and pinks dancing across the sky. It was so beautiful it brought me to tears.

If the northern lights is on your to do list try and book a trip between October and May when the skies are dark enough to see the activity. Also make sure to give yourself time. We were there a whole week and we only saw the lights one night.

A flight over Kluane National Park

The only thing I really knew about Kluane before the trip is that it is home to Mt. Logan, the highest peak in Canada. What I didn’t know is it is actually home to 17 of Canada’s 20 highest peaks. We joined Rocking Star to take a flight above the stunning park. It is also home to beautiful glaciers, rivers, and in the summer time numerous grizzles. Seeing it from the sky with Rocking Star Adventures was breathtaking.

Dogsledding like the pros

The reason that I went to the Yukon in the first place was to experience the Yukon Quest, the world’s toughest dog mushing race from Yukon to Alaska, and so it was natural to give mushing a try for myself. Dog sledding has long been a way of life in the Yukon. I joined the team at Muktuk Adventures to test my skills. The dogs were absolutely beautiful and so sweet. We traveled along the Takhini River, the same route as the pros and took in the stunning wilderness.

A history lesson in Carcross

I had a chance to take a day trip to this small town with Who What Where Tours. Carcross has  a population of only about 300 people and is home to world’s smallest desert.  It is surrounded by beautiful mountains, lakes, and forrest.

We had a chance to visit the Carcross Learning Centre and see some of the amazing  First Nations art and even sit down for a traditional meal. After lunch the cultural learning continued.  We had a chance to meet with Keith Wolfe Smarche, the towns head cover. He showed us his carving shed and some of his amazing work in town. What I loved about meeting Keith was his story. He got into carving because he realized the town had lost all of its vibrant colours during the gold rush and wanted to bring it back for future generations. Hearing his story and seeing his vibrant art was an unforgettable experience.

A visit to Long Ago Peoples Place

One of the things that makes the Yukon so unique is the culture. There are actually 14 different First Nations  and so it was very important for me to really learn about the traditions and heritage. Long Ago People’s Place is located in Champagne and brings you back through time using recreations of traditional Southern Tutchone structures and tools. We had a chance to see how trap lines work and learn about other tools used for different First Nations activities.

Learning about traditions at Shakat Tun Wilderness Camp

Have you ever wondered just how the First Nations people live off of the land in the dead of winter when it is -40c outside? Well we had a chance to find out from James Allen, former chief of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations. He taught us how to ice fish, gave us a tour of his family’s traplines, and invited us to his beautiful camp for a traditional lunch. It was the perfect  mix of education and fun and trust me you cannot beat the views along the way.

Learn to make cocktails from the pros

One of my favourite stops of the whole trip was to Well Bread Culinary Centre. Here, we met with Chef Cat and Jennifer Tyldesley from Free Pour Jenny.  We learnt how to make some delicious appetizers and cocktails using local ingredients and home made bitters. We even got a care package to be able to make some of the amazing drinks back in the comfort of our home. The best part is, it is hard to mess up a cocktail especially with these unique bitters so it is a good time guaranteed.

Taste some of the local craft beers 

We had the chance to visit not one but two unique breweries in the Yukon. First was Yukon Brewing where the motto is “beer worth freezing for” and they aren’t joking. The seasonal craft beers truly represent Whitehorse and the history here. Each beer has its own spunky taste.

The next stop was Winterlong Brewery. This brewery only opened about 5 years ago.Marko and Meghan Marjanovic had been homebrewing for 10 years, and finally decided to take the risk and start a brewery. The beers are bold in flavour and really stand out in the crowd of craft beers.

Where to eat

Wayfarer Oyster House

I loved this spot from the moment we walked in the door. The deco was so unique including an oyster chandelier, where if you guess how many oyster make up the piece you win a free shot. They also had some vinyl spinning.  Aside from decorations, the food was amazing. The menu was filled local seafood and sourced meats as well as homemade pasta and smoked fish. It was hard to chose just one plate.

Giorgio’s Cuccina

This is the perfect date night spot. Dim lit with an extensive wine list and authentic Italian food. Start with the baked goat cheese and then fill up on one of their amazing pizzas or pasta plates.

Big Bear Donair

Looking for something quick and delicious? This is the new go to spot and for good reason. The food is creative and tasty. The restaurant prides itself on collecting as much as possible from local business and retailers. And where else can you try a shawarma poutine?

Baked Cafe

I need coffee first thing in the morning to start my day and this was the absolute perfect little coffee shop. I loved how light and cozy this spot is and on all of the walls are little treasures from local jewellery and artists. The coffee and food is also amazing.

As I mentioned I just had a chance to scratch the surface of the beautiful Yukon. There is so much more to do and see in this amazing place and I cannot wait to return to the north and explore even more. I hope you will be able to experience the magic of the Yukon for yourself, because I wasn’t joking when I said I honestly cannot even put into words the beauty of this place.

Happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Traveling Solo is a Must

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Early this year I had the opportunity to write an article for DailyHive about my personal experience of traveling to Thailand all on my own.  As I continue to share travel tips, I feel that this is an important one to pass along because this was honestly one of the most life changing experiences.

So why did I decide to pack my bags and travel half way across the world all by myself? Well in all honesty it was a last minute decision. After making a career as one of the youngest national news anchors in Canada, my station shut down and less than 24 hours alter I was dumped. So I did what any logical single and recently unemployed girl would do, I booked a solo trip to Thailand.

I regretted the decision the moment the ticket was booked. Nerves took  over and I called my dad in tears. He reassured me that everything was going to be ok and that this would be the trip of a life time.

I regretted the decision again after 20 hours on an airplane when I arrived in this foreign land with no luggage (Thankfully 7-Eleven’s carry every thing you could ever need or want).

As soon as I woke up the next morning to the beauty of the mountains and the white sand beaches, the regret washed away with the tide and I was ready for whatever adventure was waiting for me.

My ten-day trip included stops in Phuket, Phi Phi and Krabi. I visited the incredibly beautiful Ao Phang Ngo (aka James Bond Island). I partied at a ladyboy cabaret show. I fed wild monkeys. I swam with sharks. I visited the beach from the movie the Beach (even more beautiful in person). I overcame my fears and rode an elephant. I danced my butt off at a full moon party. I prayed for the first time at the Big Buddha. I ate my weight in Thai food.

But the most important thing I did was find myself again.

Travelling by myself was truly the best thing I ever did. And here are five reasons I think everyone should travel by themselves at some point in their life.

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You are the master of your itinerary10455655_10205702136488630_2935447828426095752_n

Sure, traveling with a group can be a blast, but it can also be a pain because you all have to agree on what to do and when. Traveling solo you can do whatever you want whenever you want no permission or compromise needed. I am a morning person, so I could wake up at the crack of dawn and see the sunrise, and I didn’t have to party until 3 am because of peer pressure. You truly get to do you.

You have chance to connect with yourself10953900_10205724079357188_7011318694399846369_n

Maybe this is the trip to the big Buddha talking, but traveling on your own allows you plenty of you time. During that time you can dig deep and figure out what makes you really happy and what you want out of life. There are no distractions.  It is an amazing opportunity to connect with the most important person, you.

You become more independent

I found myself constantly singing that really catchy tune from Kelly Clarkson, you know “Ms. Independent” because that is how I felt.  You have to make your own decisions, you have to solve your own problems, you have to learn how to use a real map, you know, that’s made from paper and you can’t update with every new destination (yes, they still exist and are hella useful when data is like $100/GB). You only have one person to rely on and that person is yourself.11070515_10205717261626749_5157240473514403247_n

You feel more satisfied at the end of the trip

It seems that whenever you travel with a group no matter how close you are there is always some drama, some fights. When you are on your own it is just peace and quiet. The only thing you have to worry about is if your margarita is near the bottom.

You make a ton of new friends

Traveling on your own can be scary. Will you be lonely and miserable the whole time? Only if you want to be. You have the choice to connect with other people, get tips from the locals or learn from like-minded travellers. You may even find a travel buddy for your next adventure!

I know, traveling on your own can seem pretty scary, so I also have a few tips for planing that solo vacation.

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 Tips for traveling on your own: 

  • Plan ahead of time. I felt pretty safe on this trip because I had my hotels and transportation booked ahead of time instead of worrying last minute and putting myself in a potential unsafe environment
  • Always carry good identification on you
  • Don’t draw attention to yourself with flashy clothes or jewellery, don’t make yourself a target
  • leave a copy of your itinerary and contact info with a friend so someone knows where you are at all times
  • keep to open and public places especially at night time 984297_10205709531953512_2372907246794993417_n

So what are you waiting for? Grab your passport and go explore the world. It is your oyster after all.