Hidden Paradise in Our Own Backyard – Kiwi in Campbell River
By: Avi Prasad, @adventureravi
Not all adventures require you to go across the world, and Campbell River just happens to be one of those magical places. To be honest, it’s a pretty good secret that Vancouver Island has kept hidden for a long time, but things are about to change. Thanks to Destination Campbell River, I recently had the privilege of experiencing some of the hidden gems the region has to offer.
If you’re looking to visit somewhere off the grid, that’s flaring with its own culture and unique people, look no further.
Day one we cracked right into it – fishing. We jumped ship with Tall Tale Fishing Charters and Coastal Wilderness Adventures; both hearty men of the sea, with great knowledge of the area. As we left the docks, I immediately spotted wild orcas breaching – as if it was choreographed, a stunning site from afar. The captains took us to some of their favourite spots to drop prawn traps before we began our real hunt for wild salmon. As we trolled, our captain, Curtis explained some amazing history of the land around us. Before he could finish, the line started screaming out, I grabbed it and began reeling my first Canadian wild salmon. It was a battle, but she was a delicious beauty. At the end of the day, we finished up at the local Riptide Pub, where they cooked our catch and served it in a delicious meal that everyone devoured. Easy to say, it was one of the best pieces of fish I’ve ever eaten.
Once we arrived back on shore, we popped over to the Maritime Heritage Centre to brush up our historic knowledge. The staff brimmed with facts with stories that brought history back to life, and I would say this is a great stop for families. A great café we stopped at before dinner was Foggdukkers – a beautiful rustic café with an outdoor fire pit. If that doesn’t scream awesome I don’t know what does.
Elk Falls was another hidden gem, but unlike most waterfalls this was practically in the backyard of the town. A short walk through a well sculpted forest lead us to this staggering waterfall, and not only that, there’s a beautiful suspension bridge which gives any visitor stunning views. Next time I’m going to pack lunch; this place makes for a great picnic spot.
After a charged day at the Falls, we settled at the Haig-Brown Heritage House where we learnt about a local legend – Roderick Haig-Brown. A man who had a deep affiliation with the river, conservation and writing. A charming house that matched the beauty of its owner and location.
Due to weather we had to change plans, and we had free time. Thanks to some good ol’ local advice we headed out to Myra Falls, an hour outside of Campbell River in Strathcona Provincial Park. The route there was stunning and made for a great drive. The Falls themselves were freezing, but the colour of the water was astounding. The two boys from Alaska jumped in – silly idea if you ask me – but one now I regret not joining. Another great hidden spot for a picnic adventure.
Hiking around Mount Washington Alpine Resort was a great nordic experience. A beautiful peaceful walk through the snow provided us a great relaxing experience of the region – I can’t imagine how beautiful it would be once the snow was all gone!
The biggest cultural highlight for me was going to the Henderson Carving Shed. We had the privilege of talking to master carvers who created beautiful traditional First Nations art. The team gave us an in-depth story of their people and art of carving. Personally, a very humbling experience.
The final day of our epic adventure was one which we had all waited for. A brisk cool morning, we wrangled up at the dock where we met our awesome guide Bill from Big Animal Encounters. As we ventured out, I saw over a dozen sea lions on the shores and bobbing around the water. It was incredible seeing that many animals up close; we searched for orcas but this time around, the odds were not in our favour. It was beautiful being back out on the water.
The grand finale of our week: we had already explored Campbell River on land and on sea, but with the help of 49 North Helicopters, we could wrap up our experience by exploring the region from the air. Our pilots Bastian and Dirk lead us deep over the mountains; what a surreal experience, feeling the engine roar and us gliding through the air with ease. For me, this was an absolute highlight – I was on cloud nine. We landed on a remote peak, on fresh powder but it was easy with two very skilled pilots. Close your eyes and imagine standing on top of a mountain top, 360 degrees of pure mountain ranges, beautiful ocean, and not a single sound. That feeling of standing where no one else has stood. If you want an unforgettable experience and some stunning photos with great piloting, look no further.
In the end, the trip was awesome. I got to see a beautiful landscape that I can’t wait to explore in the summer. Thanks again to the crew for allowing me this great opportunity!