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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My G Adventures experience

The view from Victoria Falls

As many of you might have read by now, I went on my recent (and incredible) Africa adventure with a Canadian tour company called G Adventures. While I have shared a lot about the trip overall, I haven’t really talked about the experience with G Adventures and why I decided to travel with them in the first place.

I have actually done group tours in the past. I travelled to Europe with Contiki, Greece with the Yacht Week, and even some more local Canadian Tours. However, for a place that is so special and close to my heart I wanted to make sure I went with a group that would make sure I a special experience.

How I discovered G Adventures 

Like many of you, I have heard the stats, South Africa isn’t necessarily the safest place in the world to travel. Between the crime rates and the fact that I didn’t want to have to drive through the Kruger and run in to lions on my own, were the main factors I wanted to do a group tour in the first place.

After hours and hours of researching “South African Safari Group Tours” (trust me there are endless options) I landed on G Adventures. I had heard of them before, particularly because they were Canadian. But I didn’t actually know too much about their trips.

Endless options 

The first thing that struck me was the variety that they offered. We knew we wanted to travel to South Africa, we didn’t know we would have so many options. We could chose either just a tour of the Kruger, Kruger and Cape Town, Kruger and Zimbabwe, or all three options. We had discussed going to see Victoria Falls so being able to book our dream trip with one tour company was a huge plus for us.

Discovering local communities

The second thing that stood out for me was the opportunity to explore the local culture. So many of the trips I have done with tour groups in the past have either revolved round amazing parties or visiting tourist attractions. Both are amazing don’t get me wrong, but the thing I love most about travel is getting to learn about the different cultures and having a more local experience.

On the tour we chose, there was an opportunity to have dinner with a homestead in Zimbabwe. Flatter welcomed us in to her home, fed us local homemade cuisine from her garden, and told us stories about life in their small town. It was amazing to hear authentic stories from a local and be able to share a traditional meal. 

The belief in responsible tourism

The third part that I loved about traveling with G Adventures is their commitment to responsible tourism. G Adventures believes that we can save the planet through travel. 

Recently they launched the new Ripple Score. The Ripple Score calculates how much money is spent in each designation of the tour and then calculates what percentage goes back to local businesses or services. The more the money stays local, the better the ripple effect. G Adventures actually averages a 92% meaning that the majority of the money spent stays in local communities and helps them strive. 

They also focus on other areas of responsible tourism by donating to wildlife and child care programs as well as their Planettera Foundation. 

When we were on our tour we had someone from the Wild Cat Foundation coming in and give us a talk about the diminishing number of cheetahs in the wild. We had a chance to learn all about these beautiful animals and find out how they are working with G Adventures to make sure we can continue to see cheetahs in their natural habitat. It was truly inspiring. 

Traveling with a local guide makes a difference

The fourth and final reason I loved traveling with G Adventures was the local aspect. On tours I have done in the past, the guides are extremely knowledgable, but none have actually been from the country I was visiting. When we were in South Africa, our guide was local from the area. When we took the flight to Zimbabwe, we met another guide who was from the town of Victoria Falls. 

I loved traveling with local guides because they really knew the area, made me feel safe, and could answer most of the questions I had. They were also able to share stories of growing up in the country and teach us what life is like in that town. It really made the experience unforgettable. 

Traveling with G Adventures was a truly memorable and amazing experience. I was able to create once in a life time memories, make new friends, and learn about the culture and lifestyle of the places I was visiting from the locals. I cannot wait to book my next adventure with the team. 

In the meantime happy exploring my friends, 

xo 
Mia 

Mia goes M.I.A. Vlog: South Africa Safari

I have shared some of my South Africa  experience with on the blog. One of the highlights of my two week adventure with G Adventures was several safaris. We had a chance to visit both the Kruger and a private game reserve called Karongwe Portfolio.

I wanted to share the video with you of some of the amazing animals we saw along the way

 

Why you need to visit Phoenix’s growing craft brewery scene

With the warmer weather finally here, I am sure that patio beers are on your mind. When I visited Phoenix, Arizona I was surprised to find out that their craft brewery scene was as hot as the weather.  In fact, at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival in Denver (basically the oscars of beer) four Phoenix breweries took home awards.

In the last year or so, the city has seen a run of craft beer bars, new breweries, and new local brews popping up all over the area. The total craft breweries in Phoenix surpasses 50, and so I just had to check some of them out for myself.

I joined forces with Arizona Brewery Tours. I really loved working with AZ brewery tours because they offer private brewery tours that fit your particular taste buds and beer preferences.

Stop #1: Helton Brewing Company

Our first stop of the night lead us to Helton Brewing Company, a cozy newly renovated brewery located in an old tire warehouse. The spot includes a beautiful outdoor beer garden, games, live music, and of course an endless drink menu. I loved that the fact the owner of the brewery created most of the furniture inside by hand and really cares about the product he produces. My personal favourite drink was the IPA, a perfect balance between citrus, floral, and fruit. Enjoy it with their delicious shrimp watermelon salad.

Stop #2: Mother Brunch

Next up was Mother Brunch. A fun family run brewery with a chalk list filled with their hand crafted beers. Julie and her husband William are serious beer nerds, and that shows clearly in their delicious drinks. What I really loved about this spot was the combination of delicious drinks and comfort food. The contemporary pub food has a unique twist. You must try the jalapeño infused mac and cheese. You will be licking your plate clean.

Stop #3: North Mountain Brewery

The last stop on the trip was North Mountain Brewery. This place is like a real life Cheers, the set where everyone knows your name. NMB celebrates the history and art of the Arizona desert culture. The decoration of this cozy microbrewery celebrates the history of brewing, and how the creation of beer has brought societies together. The goal here was to create a community feel, and they hit the nail on the head.

I was blown away by the quality of the breweries in Phoenix. Each one had its own personality and speciality that made each one unique. I wish I had more time to explore and discover the amazing breweries spread throughout the town.

Why Phoenix is the best spot for your next girls trip

I had always known the beauty of Arizona. From the stunning landscapes, the depths of the grand canyon, the colours of Horseshoe Bend, but I had always thought of Phoenix as a place where my parents would go for spa days and tee-off times. I was wrong. On a recent trip with some friends to Phoenix, I realized there is so much more to this city. Mixed in-between the desert sands and mountain range, is a bustling nightlife, craft breweries, and adventure that this is the perfect spot for your next girls weekend.

Sure, usually my ladies weekends are a trip away to Vegas or New Orleans. Yet in 48 hours with two close friends, we discovered all that Phoenix has to offer with the help of Visit Phoenix.

The stay

There are so many adorable boutique hotels in the heart of Phoenix, but during this trip we decided to stay a little outside of the hustle. We decided to check into Civana, located in the adorable town of Carefree and trust me the name says it all. This brand new wellness resort is a place of total R&R.

From the moment you walk inside the doors, you know this is a special place. Friendly staff, beautiful mountain views, and a stunning salt water pool surrounded by natural vegetation. It was truly beautiful.

The resort  believes in healing through movement. Civana offers complimentary daily programs including yoga, juice making classes, and local hiking, which I sure took full advantage of. It really has unique activities to fit whatever journey you are hoping for.

There are also plenty of other amenities on site that ensure a relaxing and rejuvenating stay. From their world class spa, to farm to table fine class dining this is spot is the perfect combination of luxury and wellness.

You can find out more about this beautiful resort on their website; https://www.civanacarefree.com/

 

What to do

trying to fit everything Phoenix has to offer into 48 hours was a whirlwind, but we honestly got to see and discover so many unique activities. Here are so of my top things to do with your girlfriends in Phoenix.

1) Enjoy some local brews

What I didn’t know about Phoenix is that it has over 50 craft breweries. We joined forced with Arizona Brewery Tours to discover some of the best spots in town to grab a cold one. What I loved about AZ Brew Tours, is they can organize private tours that fit your beer preferences, and they also provide a party bus from stop to stop.

The three stops we visited during the trip included the rustic “Beer Garage” at Helton Brewery, the open kitchen at Mother Brunch, and the funky North Mountain Brewery. I will have more on the specific breweries in an upcoming blog, but in the meantime you can find out more about Arizona Brewery Tours here;

2) Take a cactus selfie at the Gardens

Sure, Phoenix is filled with wonderful hiking trails, but where can you find and learn about all of the plants in one spot? the Desert Botanical Garden. They really create a world class experience through their exhibits, giving each guest the chance to discover and learn about the desert life. Have a chance to meet one of the gardeners and ask questions about the flowers and vegetation, get up close and personal with some flutter friends at the butterfly sanctuary, and take in the local art. This place is definitely a must see.

3) Tea time with a twist

Visit the Camby hotel for a modern twist on Tea Time, in what we like to call a Tipsy Tea Party. Sip on classic teas like English Breakfast or Earl Grey infused with spirt and sparkling wine. The teas were delicious and refreshing. The drinks are also served with some favourite tea time snacks and a surprise sweet treats to finish off the night. It is the perfect afternoon treat for you and your girlfriends.

4) Take to the Skies

Ever wanted to know what it feels like to fly? What Phoenix looks like from a birds point of view? For as long as I can remember a hot air balloon ride had been on top of my bucket list, and I had heard Phoenix was the perfect place to make that dream come true. We woke up bright and early and joined Hot Air Expeditions for an high flying adventure. The views of the desert, mountains, and lakes was spectacular. We landed our balloon in the middle of the desert and had breakfast, complete with mimosas to cap off an incredible day.

5) Relax and unwind at the spa

Alright, there are plenty of adventures in Phoenix, but it is important to find some time to relax and unwind also. Phoenix has some of the best spas in the world, why not take full advantage. We stayed local and got a spa service at Civana. I enjoyed an amazing double exfoliating facial. It was the perfect way to finish the trip.

I learned something new about Phoenix on this trip. That beyond the beautiful exterior landscapes, there is a whole city filled with life waiting to be explored. For outdoor lovers to cocktail connoisseurs, there is something for everyone I will definitely be planning plenty of girls trips here in the future.

Happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia

Here are a few more snaps from Phoenix