Sightseeing:In Vancouver, Victoria, and Duncan; whale watching in Victoria, Tofino, and Telegraph Cove; bear watching in Tofino; and Butchart Gardens.
Scenic Highlights:Stanley Park, Strait of Georgia, Gulf Islands, Vancouver Island, Pacific Coast, Pacific Rim National Park, Clayoquot ound, Cathedral Grove, Campbell River, Telegraph Cove, and Johnstone Strait.
Local Guide for sightseeing in Duncan; services of a professional Tour Director.
Welcome to Vancouver. Enjoy time at leisure to relax or to do some independent exploring. Your Tour Director is on hand this evening to answer any questions.
Day 2Vancouver–Ferry Crossing–Victoria
Considered Canada’s most beautiful city, Vancouver enjoys a magnificent location sandwiched between Burrard Inlet and towering, snowcapped mountains. Included sightseeing of Vancouver focuses on Chinatown, Gastown, the beautiful beaches, harbor, and STANLEY PARK. Afterward, set sail across the Strait of Georgia past the rugged coastline and tranquil beaches of the Gulf Islands to Vancouver Island. Afternoon sightseeing in Victoria includes the world-famous BUTCHART GARDENS, Bastion Square, and Thunderbird Park.
Victoria is a walkable seaside town of fragrant gardens, waterfront paths, engaging museums, and beautifully restored 19th-century architecture. The Inner Harbour—Victoria’s social and cultural center—buzzes with visiting yachts, horse-drawn carriage rides, and street entertainers. Today you will embark on a WHALE-WATCHING CRUISE into the Pacific aboard an open Zodiac powerboat or covered ocean cruiser—your choice—for some fantastic wildlife viewing. Keep your camera handy as you seek out orca, minke, and grey whales, as well as seals and porpoises. It’s an amazing way to view these magnificent animals in the wild! The rest of the day is free to independently discover more of this splendid city. Perhaps a visit to the Empress Hotel for traditional Afternoon Tea, or shopping along Government Street would be of interest?
A day of panoramic beauty and wildlife as you venture across Vancouver Island to the Pacific Coast, winding through ancient rainforests and provincial parks. We’ll stop in Duncan, nicknamed the “City of Totems.” The ancient art of totem carving has been handed down through generations as a way of preserving the history of local First Nations, as well as honoring tribal rituals and sacred spirits. Your guided walking tour of Duncan will introduce you to the local First Nation heritage and art of totem carving. You will also be entertained by the many legends and myths that accompany each of the 37 poles. Next up: spectacular Pacific Rim National Park, the only national park on Vancouver Island, providing protection for substantial rainforests and an amazing marine environment on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The full force of the mighty Pacific Ocean mercilessly pounds the constantly changing shores of this rugged coastline. This afternoon is free to explore the shops and galleries of Tofino, a pretty fishing town at the entrance to Clayoquot Sound. Why not take a beachside stroll before enjoying a supper of fresh local salmon or Dungeness crab?
Gray whales, humpback whales, and black bears highlight the day. Each year, more than 22,000 whales migrate along Vancouver Island’s west coast, and today you take part in a thrilling WHALE-WATCHING expedition. Your search for the Pacific grey whale, sea lions, and puffins takes you through both protected and open coast marine waters, and will, hopefully, be rewarded with an unforgettable close encounter. To complete the experience—BEAR WATCHING. You will drift, paddle, or motor quietly along fjord inlets, with stops in sheltered bays to look for black bears. Watch closely; you may see them turn over large boulders in their search for crabs, clams, and beach barnacles. Your knowledgeable guide shares information about black bears and other inlet wildlife, including seals, eagles, porpoise, and heron. Be sure to have your camera ready! Back on dry land, you’re free to explore the rugged coastline along the network of hiking trails or to walk the shoreline of Long Beach in search of shells and driftwood.
Day 6Tofino–Campbell River
This morning, the spectacular winding road takes you back to the eastern coast of Vancouver Island. Visit CATHEDRAL GROVE, home to incredible old-growth trees. The biggest in the grove is 800 years old and measures 250 feet in height and 29 feet in circumference. Take a leisurely stroll and admire the ancient trees here that are rare everywhere else in the world. Next up: a unique stop at the Old Country Market in Coombs before continuing to the quaint town of Campbell River, also known as the “Salmon Capital of the World,” for an adventurous 3-night stay. This evening is free, and we suggest a stroll down Discovery Pier for a chance to see salmon, eagles, or even whales. Enjoy the views of Discovery Passage, Quadra Island, and the rugged Coast Mountain range of mainland British Columbia. Overnight in Campbell River at the world-famous Painter’s Lodge.
Day 7Campbell River–Excursion To Telegraph Cove
Voted by travel writers as one of the 10 best towns in Canada to visit, Telegraph Cove is tucked away on the eastern coast of northern Vancouver Island in one of the last virtually untouched areas of North America. This tiny sawmill and cannery community was important to the development of the North Island, and has a rich and colorful history. You will embark on an exciting SEA ADVENTURE in what is regarded as the “Whale Watching Capital” of British Columbia. Cruise the calm, protected waters of Johnstone Strait and the Blackfish Archipelago. Your trained Naturalist on board will identify and discuss the local marine mammals, sea birds, and wildlife. Watch for black bears, river otters, mink, raccoons, and deer, as well as bald eagles, harlequin ducks, and great blue herons. The birds will delight you with their antics—eagles, herons, and gulls tease fishermen and profit from their day’s catch.
Day 8Campbell River
Enjoy a whole day at leisure to take in the breathtaking scenery and pursuits of the region around Campbell River. There is the chance to rent a bike, play golf, or journey to nearby Quadra Island—a short ferry ride across Discovery Passage from downtown Campbell River. Disembark to an idyllic island playground of beaches, lakes, and parks intermingled with luxury lodges, native culture, artisans’ studios, and other interesting places that are friendly and welcoming. For a truly unique experience, don snorkel and fins to swim with the salmon returning upriver to spawn (July-October only). Continue the search for grizzly bears by joining today’s optional excursion (September-mid/late-October only). The tour starts with a 2-hour boat ride to Bute Inlet on the mainland, your grizzly bear destination. This evening, round off your day by strolling along Campbell River’s scenic waterfront and relaxing in one of its charming restaurants or pubs.
Day 9Campbell River–Ferry Crossing–Vancouver
This morning we make our way to Nanaimo to board our ferry back to the mainland, sailing through picturesque Horseshoe Bay. Back in Vancouver you’ll have the rest of the day to get further acquainted with this incredible city.
The trip ends today with guests departing on individual schedules. Transfers to Vancouver International Airport are included. You can extend your vacation in Vancouver with extra nights and a variety of exciting optional activities.
Transportation:Ferry crossing to/from Vancouver Island; private, deluxe air-conditioned motorcoach while touring.
This Cosmos travel package does not include meals. Most of our hotels offer anything from coffee to a full breakfast, so you can start the day the way you like best. At most lunch stops, your Tour Director will have information on local restaurants. Dinnertime is your chance to sample local cuisine. Sometimes your Tour Director will offer an optional dinner outing.