Comfortably Wild - Deep Nature in Comfort
All-inclusive 13-day ecological deep-nature adventure on Canada's wild west coast - 5 nights luxury camping & 7 nights in self-contained cottages - min 6 – max 10 participants
Dates upon request
The Wild, in Comfort
Enjoying the exceptional beauty and resonant voice of nature on Canada's wild west coast is an experience that has to be lived to be understood. The pleasures of camping under the stars are enhanced when you have a large tent with room to stand up in and comfortable mattresses and pillows on which to sleep. Food also takes on much greater meaning when you're involved in sourcing it, preparing it and cooking it.
Fresh, organic, wilderness foraged and catch & cook
The flavours of organic farm-to-table vegetables and fruits picked that day, wild plant foraging along the seashore, freshly caught wild salmon, crabs and shrimp are unforgettable gastronomic experiences that give new meaning to taste. We will enjoy the best of nature's pantry and discover the delights of wild edibles accompanying the campfire-cooked catch of the day.
This tour starts right in nature and so begins with 5 nights of camping on Salt Spring Island (you must make your own arrangements to be there, or we can help you make them), goes to Bamfield for 7 nights in unique, self-contained cottages and ends in Nanaimo where you can connect to either Victoria or Vancouver.
The focus here is entirely on the beauty of the wild and allows you the leisure and skills for developping a deeper connection with nature. Combining comfort with the adventures of wilderness living, the fresh sea air and physical activity will heighten your senses and allow you to discover the real tastes of nature's bounty.
Foraging, Fishing, Fun
Your time on this tour will be a busy and relaxed combination of pedagogical experiences related to sourcing food for our meals, whether that means heading out to sea to fish for salmon, setting crab or shrimp traps, gathering edible seaweeds, foraging in the woods for edible plants and berries, preparing and baking bread in Bamfield's hand built clay bread oven or simply strolling along the boardwalk, chatting with the locals or sun-tanning on the beach and swimming. There will also be time for sailing, hiking and studying the wild flora and fauna. But the flavours of all that we will eat, cooked in the open air over wood fires, will provide the most intimate and rewarding connection to nature and taste souvenirs that will be cherished forever.
Salt Spring Island
Salt Spring Island is the jewel of the Southern Gulf Islands and renowned as the organic capital of Canada. It is nestled up against the east side of Vancouver Island and is about half way between Nanaimo and Victoria, the capital city of BC. Our focus here is direct contact with food production and the experience of enjoying the intense flavours of farm-fresh produce that is sustainably grown. Local farmers, growers and gatherers are the backbone of the Salt Spring market. The rural island community relies on market farmers for a regular supply of the best-tasting, freshest organic produce and fish products. With 225 farms, the island is well established in agriculture and is well known for the local sheep farming.
Seeing whales, bears, wolves, eagles, osprey, seals and countless other wild animals is a highlight of this trip and we are careful to respect the species that we encounter.
Ruckles Park Campground
The Ruckles Park Campground, located at the southeastern point of the island, is one of the most beautiful spots on the island with 7 kilometres of shoreline, rocky headlands and tiny coves and bays. Ruckle Park provides hours or even days of enjoyable exploration. A mixture of forest, field and shore habitats makes it one of the most productive wildlife viewing areas on Salt Spring Island. We can watch sea lions and killer whales out in the sea, and mink and river otter cavorting along the shoreline. Tidal pools are filled with a brightly coloured world of crab, mussel, limpet, oyster, sculpin, starfish and more.
Farm and Vineyard Visits
Salt Spring Island has 4 vineyards producing a broad range of wines, 3 cheese-makers, several bakers and a total of more than 150 farms producing a bounty of seasonal vegetables and fruits. Our farm tours include the incredibly beautiful Stowel Lake Farm, surrounded by forest, pastures, and creeks and bordered by pristine Stowel Lake and the magical Foxglove Farm surrounded by protected woodlands and forests, located on one of the island's original homesteads.
The range of island produce includes tomatoes, herbs, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, asparagus, melons, greens, roots, and a wide range of annual Mediterranean vegetables.
Fishing on the open sea
Two wild salmon fishing outings in fishing boats, sailboats or canoes are included in the tour and will undoubtedly provide us with one of the greatest taste experiences of the trip - campfire cooked wild salmon.
Bamfield is a charming blend of wild frontier and civilised overtones that combine with a breath-taking setting to create one of nature's most perfect paradises. On the west side where we will be lodged, accessible only by boat, there are no shops other than the general store, which also functions as the social meeting place. This is one of the west coast's best salmon fishing resorts as well as being the home to the Marine Sciences Centre, Canada's premier coastal and marine facility for teaching and research.
Here we will confront the true meaning of natural, sustainable, ecological and fresh as we forage, fish and gather our own food from the sea, the beaches and the woods. Lodged in rustic wooden cabins, we will cook outdoors on barbecues or on the beach and discover the flavours of nature at their finest. Fresh west coast salmon grilled on an open fire, side stripe shrimp, Dungeness crab, wild berries, wild plants for salads and fresh baked bread or bannick from a wood-fired clay oven will provide unforgettable taste experiences that are the culinary apogee of the tour.
Originally from Victoria BC, Geoffrey grew up on Vancouver Island and has been exploring the wild since his youth. He created the 'Comfortably Wild' tour in response to a number of requests from people jealous of their kids going on the 'Finding the Wild' tour who wanted to experience something similar, but a little more comfortably. Geoffrey has operated all of the Youth Taste Awakening and Finding the Wild tours, has a rich knowledge of the local flora and fauna and has personally tested and visited all of the places we'll visit. His personal contacts along with the best local guides will assure that your experience is unique & personalised.
Alison Carr's passion for sustainable food systems and supporting local agrarians runs deep, and continues to grow as she works towards her degree from the University of British Columbia in Environmental Science and Sustainable Geography. Growing up on Vancouver Island, her summers have been spent camping and exploring at various outdoor camps, volunteering at elementary schools leading outdoor activities and spending plenty of time island hopping. Alison helped lead the Vancouver portion of the Taste Awakening Tour last summer, and is thrilled to be joining the 'Comforably Wild' tour this coming summer.