Three life-changing encounters in Canada
Forget the old-fashioned travel bucket list. Post-pandemic international travelers want to step up a gear. Rather than ticking off tourist attractions in quick succession, Australian travelers seek meaningful experiences – and Canada has them in spades.
From watching a Northern Lights spectacle of epic proportions to encountering a grizzly bear feasting on salmon in the wild, Canada’s legendary adventures will change you everywhere, and always for the better.
Read on for three experiences that will leave a lasting mark on your heart.
Fantastic light travel
Immerse yourself in a quintessential winter postcard in Northwest Yukon. Breathe in the fresh scent of snow-capped boreal forests as you weave through the trees on a sled, pulled by a horny team of huskies.
Later, the dark winter sky becomes the perfect backdrop as you lift your gaze to admire the vibrant greens, purples and pinks of the enchanting Northern Lights as they kiss in a light show that rivals with a choreographed intergalactic laser battle.
There is more than one way to view this majestic light show. Take refuge in a prospector-style wall tent once used by gold diggers and trappers with Northern Tales Travel Service, keeping warm by the woodstove. Bundle up and step out for the big performance, as vibrant, colorful ribbons cascade across the sky.
You can also stay at a lodge surrounded by nature, like the Northern Lights Resort and Spa, where you can take in the views from your glass-enclosed chalet, or bathe in an outdoor hot tub as the light show stretches across the night sky.
Insider tip: The Northern Lights Center is well worth a visit. Located in Watson Lake, the center features a domed theater with a panoramic video and surround sound system that is as close to the real thing as possible. Learn about the myths and legends of the Northern Lights and the real science behind them.
Join Brian Johnston on a transformative Northern Lights tour of the Yukon wilderness here.
Fall in love with the most romantic city in the world
As you walk through the cobbled streets of Quebec, the charm is cast. It’s a city you experience with your heart rather than your head, and before you know it, you’re in love.
There is something about the old world charm of this ancient urban center, with its 400-year-old architecture, stunning historic churches, and creative, French-speaking people who make you wish you could stay forever.
Shop for antiques along the Petit Champlain district, one of the oldest neighborhoods in North America, and experience a sweet sensory explosion with local maple syrup treats and bespoke creations from resident chocolatiers.
Take a moment to marvel at the imposing mural in Place Royale, retracing 400 years of Quebec history. It is here on this small square that Samuel de Champlain founded the city in 1608.
Complete the fairytale with a stay at the world’s most photographed hotel, the Fairmont The Chateau Frontenac. This spectacular castle with its turrets and distinctive green roof, embodies the architectural styles of earlier periods, including the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
Despite its rich history, Quebec’s gastronomic scene is innovative on a global scale. Click here for a first-hand take on the city’s food scene and to meet authentic Quebecois characters who instantly feel like lifelong friends.
These guys are amazingly bright
Ask any Australian traveler what they love most about Canada’s vast wilderness, and many will get lyrical about that mesmerizing moment they saw a bear (or three) roaming free in the wild.
Witnessing these awe-inspiring beasts in their natural habitat is an unforgettable and humbling moment, with Australians keen to experience it for themselves now that international travel is back on the maps.
The Khutzeymateen / K’tzim-a-deen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary in British Columbia was the first area in Canada to be protected specifically for grizzly bears, and is one of the best places in the world to see these magnificent animals in their natural habitat.
Accessible only by boat and / or seaplane, the site is home to around 60 individual bears, best visited between May and September, when bears can be seen roaming the shore.
The Princess Royal’s Magical Island in the Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, is home to not only a healthy population of grizzly bears, but also the rare Kermode (Spirit) bear, a subspecies of black bear that l Only this part of the world is found carrying a recessive gene which gives them a naturally white coat.
In neighboring Alberta, take a serene ride above Banff National Park on the Lake Louise Gondola.
This spectacular bird’s-eye view provides the perfect vantage point for viewing the grizzly bears below, not to mention equally breathtaking views of Lake Louise and the Rocky Mountains. Other bear viewing opportunities await you at the top, as well as a wildlife interpretation center and guided hikes.
Read on to experience (vicariously) this special moment when a grizzly bears your mesmerized gaze, deep in the Canadian wilderness.
Main image credit: Jonathon Tucker