No, not the wonderful 1960s film with Yul Brenner etcetera but Seven Magnificent Travel Experiences in Western Canada. Ranging from a boat to a ranch, the key words here are luxury, variety and unique. These seven very different operations got together a couple of years ago to promote themselves to the international market. The Seven (strange that some of Canada’s best artists are known as the group of Seven) wilderness experiences share many attributes. They are all family owned and run, they are all in spectacular and remote places and they all devote themselves to providing their guests with extraordinary experiences. They work just as well if you are a couple or if you are a large family multi-generational group. I have not talked much about food as they all serve locally sourced food expertly prepared and served and it seems pointless to describe each one. I hope you will soon be experiencing at least one of them for yourself.
Siwash Lake Wilderness Resort
Siwash Lake Wilderness Resort is set in the midst of British Columbia’s cattle country reasonably (in Canadian terms) close to Kamloops. It started operations with just 5 rooms in the beautiful log-built main ranch house but has since expanded to include a glorious suite above the tack room and two luxurious tents. Which ever room you choose you will be spoilt by the attentive staff, have wonderful views across the countryside or the lake. Your days will be spent either riding or exploring the countryside on foot or with a mountain bike. Obviously, being a ranch, the horse is a very important element of the holiday but non riders have plenty of options. Activities including kayaking on Siwash Lake, clay pigeon shooting, garden and foraging tours, yoga in the forest and spa treatments are all on the adventure menu.
To get a feel for Siwash Wilderness Resort, think of a country house party with every wish anticipated and catered for. Then add in spectacular countryside, horses and gourmet food and you are almost there.
Churchill Wild operate a series of lodges in the far north of Manitoba around Churchill on Hudson Bay. The main objective is to see polar bears both during August and in late October and November. Most polar bear watching adventures have you sitting in a tundra buggy. Churchill Wild is different.
Your adventure begins with a light aircraft flight from Churchill to the lodge which is in the middle of the tundra and you will be going out on foot to see the bears. This gives you an entirely different perspective and having done both, I can tell you that on foot is an extraordinary and wonderful experience. These kings of the Arctic are so enormous and majestic that to see them padding across the tundra is a truly humbling experience. Not only that but you are in a small group rather than being one of several large vehicles looking at the same animals. The lodges are not luxurious in the accepted sense of the word. The bedrooms are fairly small but they are comfortable, the public space is spacious and the food excellent. Jeanne Reimer who is one of the owners is a renowned chef with several cookbooks to her name and what the chefs produce in this remote environment is extraordinary.
Tweedsmuir Park Lodge
Tweedsmuir is in Northern BC near the hamlet of Bella Coola. Unless you would like to take a long road trip in which case you can drive in from the interior (perhaps stopping at Siwash on the way) or come up by ferry from Vancouver Island. Either way, the journey is beautiful but long. Most people take the flight up from Vancouver to Bella Coola from where the lodge will collect you. It is then just 30 minutes or so to Tweedsmuir. People come to the lodge for different reasons depending on the season. From late August to early October people mostly come to see the grizzly bears. At other times of the year, people come to fish, hike, explore the old growth forests, discover First Nations ancient stone carvings and much more. There is so much to do that Tweedsmuir is one of the places we recommend when guests are thinking about a multi-generational holiday.
Bella Coola Helisports
This one is linked in with Tweedsmuir Park Lodge but also uses two other lodges in the vicinity for its heli-ski programmes. Together they cover a mind-blowing 2.64 million acres of ski terrain. With this amount of terrain, as you might imagine, there is something for every level of skier or snowboarder.
One of the many advantages of Bella Coola Helisports is that they use the A star machines that carry just four or five skiers so there is little hanging around waiting for your helicopter to pick you up. Another major bonus is the amount and quality of snow that Bella Coola receives. The interior of British Columbia is known for its light, champagne powder but the snow around Bella Coola is in a class of its own.
Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort
Like all these resorts, Nimmo Bay is family owned and run. Indeed the current manager (the owner’s son) was born here. Nimmo Bay invented heli-fishing on the coast of British Columbia but today it is far more than a fishing lodge. As well as the exclusive fly-fishing, you can watch for bears, hike (with the assistance of a helicopter if you wish) kayak around the calm waters of the bay and generally relax and let the world go by. The waterfall in this
picture provides all the water for the resort which is as self sufficient as it can be. Access to this very remote spot is only by boat or plane which only adds to the feeling that you have stepped off the world for a few days.
A large proportion of the coast of British Columbia is inaccessible by land and so the obvious way to explore both the coast and its many islands is by boat. The Pacific Yellowfin was built by the US Army as a Junior Mine Planter in 1943, she was subsequently involved in the Bay of Pigs, turned into a houseboat and then in 2003 was refitted with the all the modern amenities the luxury traveller needs.
Sleeping just 12 guests, this is the ideal vessel for a family or group of friends to enjoy all kinds of outdoors adventures; fish, look for bears and whales, mountain bike, photograph the changing lights and scenery or just enjoy messing about in boats. You can do all of this and much more accompanied by fine wines and food and with the owner’s experience and knowledge of British Columbia to keep you entertained and informed.
I have been lucky enough to have sailed along much of BC’s coastline but I have not yet been on the Pacific Yellowfin. I have stayed at all the other lodges and would thoroughly recommend them; they are all unique in their way and well worth your time either individually or combined which Frontier Canada can arrange for you.
Sandra Potter is Founder of Frontier Travel.