What it is like to see a grizzly up close and personal with Adventure Quest

One of the things I love most about BC is the natural beauty and endless wildlife. From the mountains to the ocean you can find whales, seals, elk, black bears, and grizzlies to name a few. While we have some neighbourhood black bears, I have always been a little afraid of grizzlies and never really wanted to get close to them.

That was until my dad (who happens to be a National Geographic photographer) told me about the Grizzly Bear Adventure with Adventure Quest Canada and Homalco Adventure and Wildlife Tours. He described it as a bucket list experience and so I definitely wanted to find out more.

I found out that not only do you get up close and (safely) personal with the bears, you also get to learn about these amazing animals in their natural habitat and learn about the first nation reserve that they live on, and to say the least it is a bucket list experience that I want to share more with you.

 

Getting here

The tour starts in Campbell River on Vancouver Island. I am not going to lie, it is a bit of a treck to get here from Vancouver. You can either fly or take a BC ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo and then drive about two hours. I decided to do the later because I always have a great experience with the ferry. It is a  comfortable journey and I can take my car with me so I don’t have to worry about transportation on the other side. Another bonus is they have great food on board, and you never know what you might see. I have spotted whales several times from the ferry deck.

Where to stay

Campbell River is a small town and I absolutely love exploring some of the local spots when visiting a quaint area. I decided to stay at one of the local spots, Painters Lodge. The beautiful lodge is located right on the ocean and I was lucky enough to have a room overlooking the water. The room had a large balcony so I could sit outside with my morning coffee and keep my eye peeled for orcas in the distance (staff told me it is pretty magical when they swim by). I also loved the downstairs restaurant. The food and drinks were delicious, the staff was so friendly, and there were beautiful ocean views. I loved the lodge because it had a very comfortable vibe.

The tour 

The tour started at Discovery Harbour Marina in Campbell River. The tour starts with a two hour boat ride from the Island to the mainland, Bute Inlet. Along the way we saw two humpbacks eating and another three sleeping. It was pretty neat since I have never seen whales sleeping before. We also spotted some stellar sea lions and seals out for a morning swimming.

 

Once we arrived at Bute Inlet and Hamalco First Nations land we met with our guides Tony and Koji from the Homalco First Nations. They greeted us with a traditional welcome and went over some safety tips. Then we were off on our adventure.

There were several different viewing towers that wrapped around two different rivers. The reason this is such a popular spot for the grizzlies is because of the annual salmon run and a lot of the bears are trying to eat as much salmon as possible before they go into hibernation in November.

It didn’t take long for us to spot our first bear. At the first tower we stopped at we came across a big male relaxing in the distance. I was already in awe of these amazing animals.

After driving around for a little longer we came across another fully grown female sleeping by a tree. She was honestly no more than 20 meters from us. She sniffed around (smell is their best sense) and once she realized we were no threat, she continued with her nap. It was amazing to see that the bears weren’t the killers a lot of people make them out to be, and while they are more aggressive than black bears, they will only really attack if they feel threatened.

At the next viewing tower we didn’t come across any bears but we did get to see the bears favourite lunch meal, salmon. Just below our viewing deck were about 10 giant salmon swimming upstream getting ready to spawn. I have honestly never seen such large fish in my life.

Our last stop of the day was the most spectacular. We weren’t in a tower but out in the open and the only thing separating us from the grizzlies was the river. First we saw a female bear eating a salmon. Moments later, she went back into the water and we had a chance to watch her fish for a salmon and take it back to the shore for lunch. You could hear the crunch sounds of the bear chowing down on the fish. It was incredible.

Moments later we noticed another bear heading over, closely followed by an adorable nine month old cub. I couldn’t believe how adorable the fluffy baby was and it was amazing to see how protective the mother was of her cub. She crossed the river to check us out and got really close before going back to her cub and trying to find food for the both of them. I still cannot believe the beauty of the bears and seeing them in their natural habitat was so special.

After two hours with the bears, it was time to head back to the boat and make our way back to Campbell River. Along the way we were lucky enough to be treated to a show from a lone male orca. He breached twice and was doing some flips along the water. I have never seen an orca act like that before.

Alas it was time for the tour to come to an end but I still cannot get over how lucky we were. From spotting humpbacks, to orcas, and then having a chance to get so close to he bears and learning more about them and their habitat was a really amazing and unforgettable experience. You can find out more about the tour and experience here.

I also wanted to share some more pictures with you. All of them were shot on my new Nikon Z.

Happy exploring my friends,

xo

Mia

 

 

Mia goes M.I.A: One Week in Thailand

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I did it on a whim. I had always dreamed of exploring Thailand, and so when I found myself with about 10 days off in between jobs, I decided this was my window. After already paying for the flight and hotels I was told by plenty of friends that I was absolutely insane. They told me there was no way I would be able to truly experience, explore, and enjoy such a short trip to such a beautiful place. It was at that point for the first time that I questioned my decision. Two 20-hour travel days left me with just eight days of actual vacation time. It was crazy!

However, after some major time spent planning the exact islands I wanted to see and exactly what I wanted to do, the impossible suddenly seemed slightly more possible. I knew that with such a short time frame I would have to pick either the east or the west side of the Thailand. Ever since I saw the movie ‘The Beach’ I had always wanted to explore Koh Phi Phi, so west side it was. Phi Phi, Phuket, and Krabi in eight days, I wasn’t as crazy as I thought.

Yes, the trip was short, yes I wish I could have seen more of this amazing country, but to be hones this was one of the greatest experiences of my life. By doing so, I also learned a valuable lesson; limited time should never be an excuse to follow your dreams and to explore the world. The truth is all of our time is limited, and who knows if I would ever have a ten-day window to see Thailand again.

Still questioning me? Well how about I help you plan your very own week long trip to Thailand.

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Phuket

 Day 1: I started my adventure in Phuket. I arrived in the afternoon and saw that our hotel offered Thai food cooking classes. Hungry after my long flight, I decided why not learn how to make my favourite dish, Pad Thai. Let’s just say I won’t be cooking for anyone anytime soon but it was extremely fun to learn the steps and see the professionals in action.

The day then turned into evening and I had heard about the amazing Cabaret shows. The shows have become famous among tourists because of the ladyboy acts, but the show was so much more. The dances truly depicted the Thai culture. The beautiful costumes and music really made you appreciate this foreign world.

I finished my fist day in Thailand exploring the lights of Bangla Road. Basically considered the Vegas of Thailand. The road was filled with clubs, bars, and shopping. Bright lights filled the street. I dipped into Coyote Bar to listen to some amazing live music.

Day 2:  I started the day bright and early with a trip to the Big Buddha, one of Phuket’s top attractions. This 45 meter- high marble clad statue is truly a piece of art. While there, everyone who visits also has an opportunity to be blessed by a monk.

Since I was leaving bright and early the next day for my next destination, I decided to have a quiet evening. I took a “Tuk Tuk” aka the taxi cabs of Thailand up to Baan Rim Pa Patong, one of the best rated restaurants in Thailand. The reason I wanted to eat here, was because it sat atop a hill where you could overlook the entire city. The food was spicy and delicious and the views were breathtaking.

Koh Phi Phi

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 Day 3: The ferry right from Phuket to Phi Phi is about 2-hours long. A little sleepy from the ferry ride, I decided instead of any excursions I would spend the rest of the day exploring the Island. I went shopping in the markets, got a fish foot massage  and laughed the entire time), and got some famous Thai rolled ice cream from a small local shop (in fact I ate the ice cream every single day I was on the island.)

Well rested during the day I spent the evening climbing the Andaman View point. The climb is pretty tough, but the views of the sea from the top, particularly at sunset is truly magical.

I then spent the rest of the night visiting a tree ho. The bar is actually up in a tree and overlooks the beach. I watched a fire show with a Singha beer.

Day 4: Today was the day I had been looking forward to since I decided to visit Thailand, a visit to Hat Maya. Ever seen the movie The Beach? Well I am talking about that exact beach. I grabbed a coconut drink and explored the beautiful trees, white sand beach, and turquoise water. The boat then took us to Shark Bay where we went snorkeling with some local black tip sharks.

Back at the hotel I prepared for one of the more famous Thai excursions, a full moon party. Dressed in florescent paint, I was off to Slinky’s Bar. Located right on the beach, I danced the night away and even tried my hand at fire limbo.

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Krabi

 Day 5: Day 5 started with a short 90-minute ferry ride from Phi Phi to Krabi. Once I arrived in Krabi I spent the day soaking up the adorable town of Ao Nang. I met with the amazing friendly locals, shopped the markets, and stopped for a drink at Cuckoo’s Nest.

Day 6: Today I woke up nice and early to tackle Tiger Cave Temple. No, there are no tigers here, this is actually one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in Krabi. It is a strenuous climb but the view from the top is stunning.

Once back from the tough climb, it was time to relax. I had heard about Rei Lay beach and decided to take a short boat ride over. I cannot recommend this spot enough. Rei Lay was the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. I spent the afternoon relaxing and even got a Thai massage right on the sand. The best part, a Thai massage will only cost you about $10.

Day 7: My last full day in Thailand. I had always wanted to ride an elephant, and after some research I found out that Phang Nga Elephant Park really treats their animals with respect. I decided to visit the park, and had the chance to meet my new fried Pancho. It was such a surreal experience to get a piggy-back ride from such an amazing creature.

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The rest of the day was spent heading back to Phuket to prepare for the long flight back to Canada.

My one week and a day trip to Thailand was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I had the chance to explore the beauty, the culture, the landscape, the food, and the breathtaking beaches of this amazing country.

Want to visit Thailand, or any country for that matter but don’t have a lot of time? It can be done, just plan ahead. Decide where you want to go, book the excursions ahead of time, have an open mind, and of course plan to come back. I sure hope I get to explore more of beautiful Thailand in the future, but I will never forget the eight days I spent in this beautiful country.

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Until the next time I go M.I.A happy traveling

xo

Mia

 

 

Mia goes M.I.A: Why you should visit Canada this Summer Part 1

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Because Canada is so large, it was hard to write just one blog on it, and so I have broken it down into two parts. Today I am going to share with you why you should visit Canada this summer, and tomorrow I will tell you where you should visit ( since this blog will convince you that you have to visit). Full disclosure I am also stealing (kindly using) a lot of my dad’s photography in this blog since he just knows how to capture the beauty of this country a lot better than me.

Why should you visit Canada this summer?

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With summer right around the corner, it is time to start planning those summer vacations and there is plenty of reason why Canada should be making your summer to do list. From the country’s natural beauty and outdoor activities, to cosmopolitan cities the Country has something for everyone. This year is actually the perfect year to make your way down to Canada because the country will be celebrating it’s 150th birthday meaning plenty of events and celebrations country wide.

Affordability

Especially right now the Canadian dollar is struggling making it a much more affordable destination spot than the US. Even Toronto which is considered the priciest Canadian city only sits at number 82 out of 100 most expensive cities. You won’t blow your budget on this trip.

The Natural Beauty

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To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday in style, all of the national parks are offering free entry. That means you can explore the countries natural wonders without dropping a penny. In fact did you know Canada has more coastlines than any other country. It is also full of mountain ranges, lakes, forests, arctic, and even small deserts. Canada’s diverse landscapes are full of surprise that are waiting to be discovered.

Cool Cities

Nature isn’t your thing? Don’t worry, Canada has some of the biggest cities in the world to visit and each one has plenty of cool and unique spots to check out. Like the business of New York? Take a trip to Toronto. A fan of french cuisine and culture? Make a stop in Montreal. Want to find out why Vancouver was named the best city to live in the world? Now is your chance. Each city has its own diverse cuisine, culture, and atmosphere perfect to discover this summer.

Celebration

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As I have already mentioned, Canada will be celebrating a big milestone this year, its 150th birthday. With the big birthday comes big celebrations nation-wide. Get ready for incredible firework displays, parties, and entertainment across the country this summer.

Canada is Safe

Canadians are considered some of the nicest people in the world ( I am not just saying that because I am Canadian it is a fact) and along with a really nice population, it is also considered very safe. Canada is considered one of the safest countries in the world, and police crime has been on the decline for more than two decades

Now that you know why you should visit Canada, the next question is where. With so much to offer it could be difficult to pin point the exact location to put on the list. So I am here to help with a few ideas of what each province has to offer, plus must check out parks since they are free and all, but like I mentioned, that is just going to have to wait until tomorrow.

Until then, happy exploring my friends,

xo

Mia