The Adventure Guru: exploring the wilds of British Columbia

9 April 2018• Written by Matthew Robertson

As a child, Matthew Robertson would run away from school in order to explore the forests and find peace in nature. After many years spent travelling the world, he founded Momentum Adventure, a boutique bespoke travel company creating unique experiences for others, from the Arctic to Antarctica and everywhere in between, sharing his extensive knowledge of the globe.

In the third of a series of Adventure Guru guides, Robertson explains why British Columbia holds such a special place in his heart and why its the perfect spot for lovers of the outdoors.

Vancouver is flanked by the mountains and the sea

I was first drawn to Vancouver by the tales my late father used to tell me. I would sit transfixed as he brought to life a place so epic in scale my imagination could barely comprehend what it might hold. When I arrived on my first visit, nearly a decade ago, I was struck by how modern the city looked. I'm not sure what I was expecting, maybe a saloon with cowboys and tumbleweed. However, I was instantly assured by a local that within 30 minutes in any direction, you will find yourself either in the sea or wild forests.

I was kindly offered a place to stay by a friend in West Vancouver. The cab ride over to my home for the night was a feast for the senses. Heading west out of the rambling metropolis, past the tree-lined streets of downtown, past Stanley Park and through towering forests. Before I knew it, I was rolling through coffee shops, health food stores, hybrid taxis and not a sign of rubbish anywhere.

My bed for the night was positioned perfectly in a cluster of pine trees, overlooking the bay. As soon as I open the car door my old friend instantly pointed across the bay where pod of Orca gliding effortlessly. Enthusiastically he then pointed to a massive Cedar tree and no more than 30ft away, there sat a magnificent Bald Eagle. I was utterly mesmerised and I could already see why my father found British Columbia so captivating.

Bears were just some of the wildlife encountered

After a fantastic waffle for breakfast my next port of call was West Van ferry terminal for a four-hour tranquil ride to Vancouver Island. From the deck, I could see seals playing and sunning themselves on small rocky islands, not batting an eye as our enormous ferry glided past.

Vancouver Island is a sleepy eclectic mix of First Nation culture and clusters of small towns, scattered amongst the endless forests. My destination was a remote fishing lodge in an idyllic location overlooking the Gold River, a world-class spot for fly fishing for steelhead. As I pulled up, I was again greeted by Kent (the operator) whose first words to me were “we have a mountain lion in the area, we also have lots of very inquisitive black bears, but nothing to worry about, they are just looking for food”.

I was shown my rustic and well-appointed cabin, where I immediately made a coffee and went out to the porch to take in the view. No sooner had I sat down than a black bear walked past, no more than 15ft away – it just stopped and looked up me like an old friend. Then he waddled down to the river to grab a spot of lunch from the river.

The next few days I immersed myself in the island way of life. A stroll would turn into a mini adventure with waterfalls raging, Jurassic Park-esque forests, birds singing and bears plodding along with their new cubs feasting on berries.

The stunning landscapes of British Colombia

The final leg of my journey took me to a remote family owned and run hideaway, reached by a 30 minute float plane to a remote deep water fjord. Flanked by spectacular mountains was perfectly placed in unique isolation. The wild ingredients are at their best in springtime and we would forage in the forests and along the shorelines, collecting our own coastal feast with our guides and chefs.

The days just disappeared, seamlessly blending into an incredible collection of wilderness experiences. Morning walks in the lush forests with trees the size of buildings, eating local fresh food from the forest, kayaking and paddle boarding with orca, bear and eagle watching – it was like living in a wildlife documentary.

My father had painted a picture of a wilderness paradise and that was exactly what I found in BC. A place of profound beauty and where the world stands still.

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