The best eco-conscious escape to Victoria

Over the past few years I have really started to live my life in a more eco-conscious way. It started in my work life, as a reporter for the Weather Network we have been focused on being leaders in climate change content. As I did more and more stories on how this world is changing due to climate change, I started to realize this should also be a focus in my personal life.

With that in mind I understand travel isn’t the most environmentally friendly activity – planes use a ton of fossil fuels, boats create pollution and noise in the ocean – the list goes on. So to offset my footprint when I do travel, I try to focus on eco-tourism and support local companies that are doing their part to protect the plant.

Recently I had a chance to work alongside Destination B.C. to explore Victoria, with a focus on environmentally friendly activities and so I wanted to share with you how you can enjoy a weekend in Victoria and be eco-conscious at the same time.

Getting here

Like I mentioned, travel can be counter intuitive when it comes to the idea of sustainability, but thankfully there are a few travel companies in British Columbia that have focused on protecting the environment and taking steps towards reducing their emissions

BC Ferries

Victoria is about an hour and a half ferry ride from the Greater Vancouver area and you can feel good knowing that BC Ferries actually works with Fortis B.C. to adopt lower carbon fuels for boats.  Over the last few years have introduced several hybrid vessels.

Harbour Air Seaplanes

A short 35 minute flight from right downtown Vancouver to Victoria on Harbour Air isn’t just convenient but it is also environmentally smart. Harbour Air has been fully carbon neutral since 2007 and is also in the process of converting their fleet to electric planes. How cool is that!!

Where to stay

The Inn at Laurel Point

The Inn at Laurel Point has been focused on sustainability for over a decade now. In fact they became carbon neutral back in 2009 with the help of their unique architectural design. The hotel installed a marine cooling system, which pumps ocean water from the nearby harbour through 114 heat pumps for efficient and eco friendly temperature controls. Now trying to figure out the next step in their sustainability plan. Through their Project 2030 plan they are focusing on zero waste practices.

Eco cautious activities in Victoria

Eagle Wing Whale and Wildlife Watching Tours

This tour guarantees a whale spotting – and we were lucky to see a couple of humpbacks as well as eagles, seals, sea lions, and otters, but it is also an environmentally responsible company. Eagle Wing has won several awards for their commitment to sustainability and is the first whale watching company in Canada to be certified platinum with GreenStep Sustainable Tourism.They are 100% carbon neutral giving back to important projects across the province. On top of that, they have worked with several engineers to create fuel efficient and quiet boats – with engines that are designed for low noise and vibration so that they are protected the whales and their habitat as well.

Rent a canoe or kayak

Victoria is a beautiful city located right on the ocean and so exploring the water is a must. I was lucky enough to rent a kayak and travel out to a rock famous for being home to seals. We saw a bunch of adorable pups and the best part is this activity literally emits zero carbon. You can check out Victoria Kayak for rentals and information

Take a sky-high trip to the Malahat Skywalk

This was one of the coolest attractions I have ever done and I loved that it focused on environment and sustainable practices. You are literally walking through nature on a boardwalk that takes you through a coastal forest and then up to a 250m high lookout point with gorgeous 360 views of the ocean. The skywalk was built in partnership wit the Malahat Nation and its focus is to celebrate nature while also making a commitment towards environmental stewardship and sustainability. In fact one of their objectives is to replant native species and protect them from invasive plants.

Stop and smell the flowers at Butchart Garden

No trip to Victoria is complete without a stop at the Butchart Gardens. The beautiful flowers and plants are are a must see – but the botanical garden also has a list of environmental initiatives. They have been focusing on a recycling and compost program as well as non chemical weed control methods.

Grab a drink at a sustainable brewery

The Victoria based Phillips Beer is not just delicious craft beer, but it is also responsibly brewed. Some of their focuses include C02 recapture and water reduction. If you are more of a cider fan, well a Cider Farm & Ciderhouse  is a farm based cidery and sources their fruits from their more than 1,300 apple trees.

Eat Sustainably as well at Spinnackers Pub

Spinnakers Gastro Brew Pub  is not just one of Canada’s oldest brew pubs but it has also been doing farm to table for over 30 years. The pub has partnered with dozens of local farmers and focuses on serving local foods year round.

So there you have it, there are definitely ways to travel and explore while also taking care of the planet (and that way we will be able to explore it for much longer).

I hope this will be an inspiration to focus more on sustainable tourism this year,

Happy and safe travels my friends,

xo

Mia

 

 

 

 

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