Natural Wonders

Tour operators offer visitors packages that highlight the region's natural beauty

By: Richard J. Simpson

In 2003 several tour operators will offer a variety of packages showcasing the natural beauty of Western Canada. Following is a sampling of what will be available next year.

Celebrating its 103rd year in travel, Cartan Tours is offering two drive packages Surprising British Columbia and City Lights, Mountain Highlights & Ocean Delights.

Surprising British Columbia is an eight-day package that visits Whistler, Hills Ranch and Harrison Hot Springs. The package includes stays at the Delta Whistler Resort, Fairmont Vancouver Airport, Harrison Hot Springs Resort and The Hills Health and Guest Ranch. Hotel and car taxes are included.

The land-only package is offered daily from May 1 to Oct. 31, 2003. Seasonal prices range from $705 to $799 per person, double.

The eight-day City Lights, Mountain Highlights & Ocean Delights package visits Whistler, Vancouver Island’s West Coast and Victoria. The package provides accommodations at the Delta Whistler Resort, the Tin Wis Resort Lodge or the Long Beach Lodge on Vancouver Island, the Fairmont Empress in Victoria and Fairmont Vancouver Airport. The package also comes with prebooked ferry arrangements from Horseshoe Bay to Vancouver Island and Vancouver Island to the mainland (ferry costs are not included).

The tour departs daily from May 1 to Oct. 15, 2003. Land-only rates range from $895 to $1,029 per person, double.

Each package includes a full-size rental car with unlimited mileage, roundtrip transfers from Vancouver Airport and hotel and car taxes. Call 800-422-7826. Web site:

For travelers who want outdoor adventures there are two packages that offer such activities as kayaking, hiking, biking and camping on Vancouver Island.

Mountain Travel Sobek’s five-day Kayaking Vancouver Island features five days of sea kayaking, day hikes, meals, a whale-watching tour en route to camp, four nights of camping and two nights in bed and breakfasts.

The 2003 dates are July 12-18, Aug. 2-8 and Aug. 16-22, and Sept. 6-12. The land-only cost is $1,390 per person, double (4 to 8 members minimum).

The six-day Vancouver Island Multisport from Berkeley Calif.-based Backroads allows clients to sea kayak, bike and walk the West Coast of British Columbia. The package includes transportation, accommodations, all meals, a wildlife cruise and equipment rental.

Dates are July 6-11 and July 20-25, and Sept. 7-12 and Sept. 14-19. The land-only rate is $2,198 per person, double.

Call 800-462-2848. Web site: