THE ADVENTURE ISSUE IN TRANSIT Tour Reykjavik with one of Iceland’s best chefs
PIN IT The rise of hotels built for cyclists & a new classic road trip in B.C.
FEATURES Take on Antarctica by bike — and two really fat wheels
COVET Go behind the scenes with photographer Callum Snape
IMAGINE A NEW WAY TO EXPERIENCE THE WORLD
ON SALE NOW An exclusive collection of 70 unique travel experiences. Discover a world of possibility through hands-on exploration, insider access to projects supported by National Geographic, and the freedom to roam, all within the structure and security of travelling in a small group. Call us at 1 800 281 5481 or contact your travel agent. gadventures.com/journeys
COURTESY ÍSLANDSSTOFA; BESPOKE INN; © MARATONA DLES DOLOMITES-ENEL; CALLUM SNAPE
CONTENTS VOLUME 1 ISSUE 3 COVET
GET YOUR MOTOR RUNNING
RVing gets a revamp with Airstream2Go.
NEWS & VIEWS
The founder of G Adventures on staying excited about travel. Plus, the PackPoint app is put to the test.
Spring travel inspiration, for the art lover, athlete, music fan and more.
TAKING ON THE WORLD
From the hills of Italy to the canyons of New Zealand, five writers share stories about conquering their fears.
THE SPOKE CLUB
Boutique hotels around the world are switching gears to draw cyclists, two wheels at a time.
Icelandic chef Thrainn Freyr Vigfússon offers an epic (and food-filled) guide to his city.
Landscape and adventure photography hotshot Callum Snape reveals what goes on behind the camera.
While other countries try to corner the luxe Aurora Borealis market, Canada’s Northern Lights tourism is growing.
Go behind the scenes as 30 cyclists prepare to ride fat bikes across Antarctica to the South Pole for the first time.
How scary is it to come face-to-face with moose, wolves and huskies in Northern Quebec?
Earn your stripes with Far and Wide Collective’s latest line.
Hit the water whenever the whim strikes with Level Six’s inflatable stand-up paddleboard.
IN EVERY ISSUE
4 Contributors/Masthead 5 Editor’s letter
For some adventure travel companies, the key to success is treating the environment as well as they treat their guests.
RUN FOR THE BORDER
Two tourism boards in Canada and the United States have joined forces to make planning a west-coast road trip an adventure of its own.
Training for a fat-tire ride in Antarctica. Read more at lacartemag.com.
Maryam Siddiqi DEPUTY EDITOR
Karen Cleveland COPY EDITOR
Liz Bruckner, Loren Christie, Barry Hertz, Colleen Nicholson, Matthew Pioro CREATIVE DIRECTOR
Geneviève Biloski GENERAL INQUIRIES
LOREN CHRISTIE Writer, Taking on the World, Page 24 A fervent traveller who has visited more than 65 countries, Loren Christie promotes the joys and pitfalls of travel to Canada AM’s viewers as the show’s travel expert.
MATTHEW PIORO Writer, Taking on the World, Page 24 Matthew Pioro is the editor of Canadian Cycling Magazine and has biked in Italy, Mallorca, Scotland and the Canary Islands, among other locales.
MOST EPIC TRAVEL ADVENTURE “A camping safari in Kenya. Sleeping in tents, listening to lions, hearing elephants … with my 18-year-old nephew in tow who had never been out of Canada.”
MOST EPIC TRAVEL ADVENTURE “It was by canoe — down the Kattawagami River to the bottom of James Bay. With four other trippers, I portaged around, lined and ran technical rapids over two weeks.”
FEDERICA MARABOLI Senior Editor, Animal Kingdom, Page 32 A Toronto-based writer and editor, Federica Maraboli enjoys the freedom and excitement of exploring a new destination. Her work has appeared in publications including Huffington Post and The Globe and Mail.
LIZ BRUCKNER Writer, Due South, Page 18 Liz Bruckner is a freelance writer, mom to three sweet boys and wife to a surfing-obsessed husband. She’s written for Chatelaine, Canadian Living, Reader’s Digest, and the Toronto Star.
editorial@ lacartemag.com ADVERTISING AND CUSTOM CONTENT OPPORTUNITIES
advertising@ lacartemag.com SALES PARTNERSHIPS
4 LA CARTE
MOST EPIC TRAVEL ADVENTURE “My trip to Kenya certainly ranks at the top. From landing in the bush with a single-prop plane to watching a lion make its kill, it’s an experience I’ll never forget.”
MOST EPIC TRAVEL ADVENTURE “Climbing Mt. Liamuiga, a dormant volcano on St. Kitts. The elevation is 3,792 feet, and it took two hours to ascend the beast. Having clouds drift past my face added to the otherworldly experience.”
Ready to ride Every trip is an adventure, as long as it takes you out of your routine, but some are more adventurous than others. On a journey last fall to Northern British Columbia, a few hours after this photo was taken, I found myself gripping the handles of a mountain bike as I stared down a steep (in my eyes, anyway) and winding course. I fell more than once and ended up walking much of the ride. I crossed the finish line with a few more bruises and scratches than I started with, but was mesmerized by experiencing B.C.’s vibrant nature from another point of view. I’m not sure if I’ll hop on a mountain bike again, but I do know there’s much more of the region that I want to see. On this trip I also met whiz-kid photographer Callum Snape, whose passion for adventure travel — and documenting it — has resulted in a lucrative photography career. He lets us in on the secret of how he got started on page 36 and gives us the behind-the-scene scoop on some of his favourite shots. If you’re in need of a little travel motivation, check out the experiences of five writers taking on Mother Nature around the world (page 24) and read about what it takes to join the first-ever fat bike ride to the South Pole (page 18). A thrilling trip, if ever there was one Whatever your adventure, and wherever the road leads, we hope you find some inspiration in the following pages. Let us know where you’re headed by sending an email to hello@ lacartemag.com. Editor Maryam Siddiqi explores Telkwa Pass in Northern B.C.
LA CARTE 5
Partner with La Carte on content, contesting opportunities, newsletter integrations and more. Contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how your brand can be part of the next issue.
TRANSIT IN SEASON
Get your motor running
There is no adventure more accessible than a road trip, perhaps because all you need to tackle it is a driver’s license and four wheels (technically, you don’t even need to know where you’re going). While lower gas prices have certainly helped contribute to a rise in road trips — specifically RVing — the revival of the Airstream has also been cause to buckle up and step on the gas pedal. “There’s a lot of romance involved with these vehicles,” says Dicky Riegel, founder and CEO of Airstream2GO, which provides customers with fully kitted-out Airstreams, plus tow vehicles (Chevy Tahoes or GMC Yukons) and three- to 14-day itineraries in California, Texas and Arizona (Eastern U.S. routes are in the works for launch this spring). Driving around with an Airstream “is authentic to the notion of American wanderlust and the great American road trip, and it brings back to life some of the memories that many of us have of childhood road trips with our families,” he says. So, who wants to go for a drive?
in TRANSIT NOTES from the ROAD
APP WE LOVE
Maryam Siddiqi tests PackPoint
Bruce Poon Tip is sweet on adventure travel
I go on autopilot when it comes to packing. Trip
By Alex Laws
after trip, I use the same suitcase, same packing
Bruce Poon Tip fell in love with travel at age 14 and by 22 had founded G.A.P. Adventures, now G adventures, from his Toronto apartment. Fast forward 25 years and G Adventures helps travellers discover more than 90 destinations around the world (some in partnership with global heavyweight National Geographic). His company also launched the Planaterra Foundation, which is working to establish 50 new social enterprise businesses that intersect with tourism over the next five years. If that wasn’t keeping him busy enough, in 2015, he wrote his second book, Do Big Small Things, which launches in the U.S., U.K. and Australia on April 5. La Carte caught up with Poon Tip at the beginning of the year to talk top destinations and the things he won’t leave home without (wine gums and music!).
cube, same toiletry bag.
Q Where’s your favourite place on Earth? A “I like remote places like the Galapagos
Q What’s your favourite souvenir? A “My favourite is a handmade desk from
dates and length of trip,
Islands, Antarctica and Mongolia. That wasn’t the case 10 to 15 years ago when I liked the hustle and bustle of the markets of Marrakech, but in my later years I’m intrigued by more remote places.”
the Silk Road in Northern Pakistan from a guy who was selling them on the side of the road. I asked if I could buy one and ship it to Canada. It cost $100 to buy and $150 to ship it. I paid in cash and a year later it hadn’t arrived and I said to myself, ‘Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained — he needed the money more than I did.’ Then, two years after my trip it arrived, meticulously packaged!”
or holiday, then the types
Q Any packing tips? A “After you pack, take half of it out
(business cards, or is that
to visit family in the Caribbean. It was the first time I flew on my own and really understood the freedom of it.” Q Where are you going next? A “I’m taking my kids, who are 14 and 12,
to Kenya and Tanzania. I’ve been to Africa a hundred times, but taking them will be a great experience.” Q After being in the business so long, how do you stay excited about travel? A “It’s hard to get excited about business
travel, but I like to rediscover my passion for what I do and for adventure. I went to the South Pole for the 100th anniversary of its discovery in 2011. That involved living on ice for days on end, which was a challenge for me. And I have kids now so seeing the world through their eyes gives me inspiration. It’s great seeing their excitement when they see a new place.” 8 LA CARTE
and you will still have too much.” Q Essential travel accessory? A “I’m a candy eater, so I travel with my
favourite brands — wine gums are things I can’t live without. Bandanas are so handy, too, to cover your head — I travel with them everywhere. The most essential thing I travel with, though, is music. The way we are able to travel now with our entire music libraries in our pockets, you couldn’t do that 10 years ago. Music creates a soundtrack to your trip — until recently it was cassettes and CDs, which led to some weird connections with music. I was in the Amazon when Nirvana’s Nevermind came out. It’s so un-Amazon but to this day it reminds me of the Amazon.”
have thought I was the last person who needed a packing app — until I tried PackPoint (free). Simply designed and simple to use, travellers enter their destination, and whether it’s business of activities they’ll be participating in — beach, photography, fancy dinner, even working. A detailed list is generated per activity, from the obvious (a laptop in the working section) to things often forgotten just me?). Every list also From top: Bruce Poon Tip; at the South Pole in 2011; Amazon jungle guide Delfin covers Poon Tip with mud as part of a soul-cleansing ceremony in 2010, and meeting with the Dalai Lama in 2013.
comes with Essentials and Toiletries sections, which specify even the number of socks to be packed. Hide items that don’t apply, and once you check that an item has been packed, it disappears from the list. Frequently take the same trips? You can save customized lists. PackPoint thinks of everything so you don’t have to. If only it could pack for you.
COURTESY G ADVENTURES
Q When did you fall in love with travel? A “When I was 14, my parents allowed me
Given this routine, I would
ANNE GUNNING IN JAIPUR BY NORMAN PARKINSON, 1956. © NORMAN PARKINSON LTD/COURTESY NORMAN PARKINSON ARCHIVE
in TRANSIT REASONS to TRAVEL
Have your camera ready before heading out on this season’s must-take trips By Alex Laws No. Stroll through the last 100 years of some of the world’s most iconic fashion at the National Portrait Gallery’s Vogue 100: A Century of 1 Style exhibit in London. Celebrating the 100th anniversary of British Vogue, which launched during World War 1, the show features more than 280 pieces from the Condé Nast archives, including work from some of the most prolific fashion photographers such as Cecil Beaton, David Bailey and Mario Testino. Vogue 100: A Century of Style runs until May 22. No. If you haven’t had your outdoor adven2 ture fix this winter, get it while you can at the luxurious Whiteface Lodge in upstate New York. Available until April, the Winter Games Experience package lets guests test their mettle on the same runs and tracks the area’s Olympians trained on — including bobsled medallist Steve Holcomb, and Erin Hamlin, the first American woman to win an Olympic luge medal. This package includes ice-climbing, bobsledding, tubing, speed skating and downhill skiing, all in the region that hosted the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Winter Games. No. Increasingly, runners are combining 3 their love of travel with their pas-
sion for exercise by competing in marathons abroad, where landscapes can up the stakes. The Big Five marathon, this year on June 20, positions itself as “the wildest of them all” — set among South Africa’s Big Five game reserves, participants will literally be running through areas where African game, including elephants, rhino, buffalo, lions and leopards congregate. (If that’s not motivation to make it across the finish line, we don’t know what it is.) No. It might be a country celebrated for its 4 castles, but this year is Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, which celebrates buildings of all kinds, as well as other design heritage. From March 26 to April 10,
the Edinburgh International Science Festival will examine the role technology and culture play in building communities, and in the early summer, 14 international cities will create popup design exhibits downtown. No. The Secret Solstice Festival returns to 5 Reykjavik for the third time. From June 17-19, revellers are invited to “party in the midnight sun,” and the festival features electronic, indie and folk music from Icelandic and international performers, including Radiohead and Axel Flóvent. Adventurous music lovers can indulge in The Glacier on June 18 and 19, where 100 people can dance inside a glacier for 24 hours. LA CARTE
TRANSIT the PERFECT DAY
RADIANT REYKJAVIK From hiking to Vikings — and the best spots to exercise your tastebuds — Icelandic chef Thrainn Freyr Vigfússon offers an epic guide to his city By Federica Maraboli
With its Viking history and eclectic architecture, Reykjavik has something for all tastes.
For Icelandic fine dining, Dill is the spot to be.
ith its remote location, geothermal springs, dramatic volcanic landscapes and Viking history, the Nordic island of Iceland is an adventure waiting to happen. In the country’s capital of Reykjavik, Thrainn Freyr Vigfússon is known for the innovative dishes he’s created at Lava Restaurant, the eatery at the city’s famous Blue Lagoon spa. The award-winning chef takes us on a tour of the perfect day in Reykjavik, where the nightlife is as enticing as the food. RISE AND SHINE “I usually like to wake up at around 6 or 7 a.m. and go to the gym, or for a run along the seaside path at Seltjarnarnes, but for guests I would suggest starting things a little more slowly by heading downtown to Sandholt Bakery for coffee and breakfast. It’s really nice — very cozy — and known for its delicious sourdough bread and various sweets.” TAKE A HIKE “If you’re feeling active by now, take a hike up Mount Esja. It’s a very popular spot with several hiking trails that are marked depending on level of difficulty. It takes about 45 minutes to get halfway up to the Steinn, or big rock, where you can get a spectacular view over the city. Most people stop here but you can keep going to the top — it’s a much steeper incline though!” RELAX AT THE POOL“Icelanders love going to thermal pools and we have many public pools located around the city. I like the thermal pool in Vesturbær, where artists and other locals alike are regular guests, forming a very unique pool culture. If you show up very early you can also find them doing the morning Muller’s exercise routine.” GET CULTURED “After a relaxing soak, it’s a good time to visit nearby sites like the must-see Harpa Concert Hall, a beautiful, new and modern glass venue designed by one of Iceland’s most recognized artists, Olafur Eliasson. Also, the famous church Hallgrímskirkja that sits on a hill right in the middle of Reykjavik. Its tower is almost 240 feet high and looks like a space ship. Out front, there is a statue of Icelander Leif Erikson, who discovered America before Christopher Columbus.” A TASTE OF ICELAND “For lunch, I recommend Matur og Drykkur, or Food and Drink, a mostly fish-based new bistro where you’ll find homemade, traditional Icelandic delicacies. I like to order
the salted cod’s head — it’s their signature dish.” GO WHALE WATCHING “If you’re feeling adventurous, there are several whale watching boat cruises out of the city harbour, though these can take a few hours. If you’re not a fan of being on the water, Whales of Iceland has a permanent museum exhibit — maybe the largest in the world — where you can see life-size whales up close.” COFFEE AND CONVERSATION
“For a mid-afternoon pickme- up, head to Svarta Kaffi, a coffee house with very friendly staff and good people-watching. Every- one here is always ready to talk about anything and the owner, a 60-year-old Croat who has been running the shop for 45 years, has the most amazing personality — he is the place.” TO MARKET, TO MARKET “If you’re in Reykjavik on the weekend, go to the Kolaportið Flea Market. Locals sell everything from vintage clothes, hand-knit woollen goods, used books and records to home-baked flat breads, fresh or dried fish and Icelandic candy.” KILLER COCKTAILS “I like to go to the Slippbarinn bar at Icelandair Hotel for good cocktails in a casual environment. It’s also very popular with the ladies for happy hour. I’m a vodka-drinking man — I enjoy Reykja vodka, and my favourite cocktail is the Moscow Mule — but you can also try Brennivin, our local spirit, also known as ‘black death.’” DINING DILEMMA “For dinner, it depends on whether you’re in the mood for upscale gourmet or a more casual environment. Downtown, Dill restaurant is very nice if you want to try Icelandic fine dining, but for something more casual and upbeat I often go to Kol, a stylish spot with good cocktails.” EVENING ADVENTURES “There are several bars within walking distance of each other around Bankastræti and Laugavegur streets downtown. Artist types and actors often go to Kaffi Barinn, an Icelandic bar that has a big selection of local beer. For live music, check out Danski Barinn [Danish pub] or Kex Hostel, a trendy hostel that hosts small concerts and events. For a late-night snack, don’t miss Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur hot-dog stand, the most famous hot dogs — and longest running ‘restaurant’ — in Iceland.”
Slippbarinn is ideal for casual cocktails — and “black death,” if you’re brave enough to try a shot.
The Harpa Concert Hall, designed by Olafur Eliasson, is a must-see.
PIN IT the SPRING guide
In this issue’s Pin It section, we’ve got the scoop on hotels designed specially for cyclists, a behind-the-scenes look at the booming Northern Lights tourism in Canada’s north, a dynamite new route for road trips on the west coast and three destinations doing their bit to preserve the environment. Keep reading to get the full stories.
PACK YOUR BAGS
SALMON’S ARM Okanagan, British Columbia
ICE FLOODS GEOLOGICAL TRAIL North Central Washington state
FRONTIERS NORTH ADVENTURE Winnipeg, Manitoba
West coast ROAD TRIPS
Northern Lights LOOKOUTS
EL MANGROOVE HOTEL Gulf of Papagayo, Costa Rica
BLACHFORD LAKE LODGE Yellowknife, Northwest Territories HOTEL FIVE Seattle, Washington
THE MARK HOTEL New York, New York LONDOLOZI GAME RESERVE Sabi Sands Reserve, South Africa BESPOKE INN Scottsdale, Arizona THE HEYWOOD HOTEL Austin, Texas
Hotel stays for CYCLISTS
ARCTIC RANGE ADVENTURE Whitehourse, Yukon
HOTEL CYCLE Onomichi, Japan
COURTESY NWT TOURISM
PIN IT PLAY
Aurora Borealis as seen from Blachford Lake Lodge in Yellowknife.
While other countries fight to corner the luxury Aurora Borealis market, Canada’s tourism is growing thanks to its multicultural offerings By Karen Cleveland
iven that 80 per cent of the Yukon is wilderness, it stands to reason that its capital, Whitehorse, is aptly dubbed the “Wilderness City.” But while, on the ground, moose outnumber people two to one, the wildest part of northern Canada may well be its skies, thanks to the famed Aurora Borealis. Whitehorse and Yellowknife, in neighbouring Northwest Territories, are lauded as two of the best places in the world to watch the Northern Lights. As
such, tens of thousands make the trip to the Northwest Territories solely for the purpose of seeing the spectacle — the 2013/2014 winter tourism season saw an increase of almost 40 per cent over the previous year. But how have these towns managed to attract as many tourists as they have citizens when Greenland, Norway and Finland seem to have cornered the Northern Lights luxury market? Cathie Bolstad, executive director of North-
west Territories Tourism, explains that the recent rise in numbers to Northern Canada is due to work behind the scenes. In 2010 Canada received approved destination status from China, and the Northwest Territories, in collaboration with Destination Canada, immediately began to invest to attract visitors to the area. The Northwest Territories government has also invested in growing these markets with trade missions and local tourism operators are investing marketing dollars in those countries. “From both Japan and China, there are more flights coming into Vancouver and Calgary than there were a few years ago and we have seen an increase in flights and flight sizes connecting these passengers into the Northwest Territories,” Bolstad says. She also points to the power of social media making the destination appear more accessible as visitors tweet and post their experiences. The most recent government data from the Northwest Territories show nearly 22,000 people travelled there to view the Aurora Borealis (winter 2013/2014). A tenth came from Canada, but more than half (14,520) came from Japan with China, Korea, the U.S. and Europe rounding out visitors’ origins. This surge in interest is encouraging operators to step up their offerings — and hire multilingual staff. “It can be challenging to provide the required language services, but our company committed years ago to provide a solid set of customer service, which includes guiding in English, French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Korean and Chinese,” says Felix Geithner, owner of Whitehorse’s Arctic Range Adventure, which offers several tours to see the Aurora Borealis. And if the lights are out or covered by clouds? Most operators have fine print that states a light show isn’t guaranteed (if they do guarantee it, think twice about using their services). Backup plans come in various worthy forms. Geithner explains: “We have an unbounded range of activities and sights for anyone who loves breathtaking landscapes and unforgettable experiences.” In other words, tourists may come for the Northern Lights, but they’ll be almost as dazzled by dog sledding, snowmobiling, stunning wildlife and hot springs. LA CARTE 13
PIN IT STAY
THE SPOKE CLUB H
eadlines in publications as varied as The Economist and The Daily Telegraph have declared cycling the new golf, and the stats bear things out: According to USA Cycling, the number of people taking out a licence — and we are not talking about Sunday cyclists here, but those passionate enough about the expensive pastime to take out a licence to participate in the organization’s 3,000 races and fun rides across America — increased 76 per cent between 2002 and 2013. Now, high-end boutique hotels are recognizing the allure of the hardcore cycling market. Take the Bespoke Inn in Scottsdale, Ariz., a four-room boutique hotel that features the city’s only “artisan, steel, boutique bicycle shop.” Opened three years ago by Kate Hennen and Rob Taynton, the property offers guests complimentary use of its fleet of high-end, hand-built British Pashley city bikes, perfect for zooming across the resort-filled Phoenix suburb or exploring downtown Scottsdale. 14 LA CARTE
“We were inspired when we were in France wood Hotel can accommodate cyclists of all and doing a bike tour, just the two of us, go- stripes, with four-gear city bikes, helmets, ing from hotel to hotel, and we found that a locks and a selection of maps to explore the ton of hotels in Europe are super bike-friend- cycling-friendly hipster enclave. ly,” says Hennen, who notes that the property But it’s a spot on the other side of the world also offers high-end customized road bikes that’s truly garnered attention. The Hotel Cyand its parking area includes a rash cle, part of the Onomichi U2 comJapan’s Hotel of bike racks. “Every year, the clienplex in Japan’s Hiroshima prefecture, Cycle allows tele base just gets better and larger. not only boasts a bike shop featuring guests to Right now, we have four couples the world’s leading bicycle manufaccheck in while on their bikes. here this week who are riding every turers, including Giant, it’s also loday, but we also have a lot of single cated at the start of the 70-kilometre riders that stay for days.” Shimanami Kaido cycle path, a lively The cycling-friendly trend is quickly spread- route that features a series of bridges connecting across North America. In Seattle, Hotel ing the mainland to the seven islands in the Five offers bicycles to guests as part of Kimp- Seto Inland Sea. ton Hotels’ “commitment to healthy travel.” The resort is also the only “cycle-through” In New York, The Mark Hotel on the Up- facility in Japan: You can do nearly everyper East Side offers posh Republic bikes made thing in the hotel while still on your bike, especially for the hotel (complete with mono- from checking in to buying drinks and grammed bells and the option of a gourmet snacks at the Yard Café. picnic basket with food by Jean-Georges With amenities like these, trading in 14 Vongerichten). And in Austin, Tex., The Hey- clubs for two wheels makes a lot of sense.
COURTESY ONOMICHI U2
Boutique hotels everywhere — from suburban Phoenix to the seaside in Japan — are hoping to attract cyclists to their properties, two wheels at a time By Barry Hertz
Extraordinary bike tours in some of the worldâ€™s most unique destinations
PIN IT PLAY
And cars, and camps. For adventure travel companies, environmentally friendly features are a way to attract guests — and a means of preserving their livelihoods
EL MANGROOVE HOTEL Gulf of Papagayo, Costa Rica
LONDOLOZI GAME RESERVE Sabi Sands Game Reserve, South Africa
FRONTIERS NORTH ADVENTURES Winnipeg, Canada
Eco-lodges featuring solar panels, biodigesters and onsite gardens abound in Costa Rica, but El Mangroove, located just west of Liberia, adds a dose of chic to its green. Here, trees cleared to build the property are recycled into furniture and mirror frames for the hotel. Trees branches from recycled trees are also made into coloured pencils, found in every room at the hotel and also sold at the on-site boutique. “Our social responsibility program reflects the hotel’s ethics in terms of sustainability and how we positively impact our community,” says Jose Monge, corporate director of operations at Enjoy Group, which owns El Mangroove. As a result, the property has been awarded the highest rank in the Certification for Sustainable Tourism program by the Costa Rican Tourism Board. — Karen Cleveland
Long drives are integral to partaking in a safari, but this Relais & Château property is working to minimize the environmental impact of its touring. Londolozi first premiered a zero-emissions game-drive vehicle in 2009, a prototype it worked on with Land Rover that required 28 batteries to run. The next prototype caught fire due to an electronic malfunction. But in the years since, the two organizations have refined the mechanics of the vehicle so that it now runs on an electric motor and lithium iron battery that can power it for just shy of 100 kilometres before recharging. (The average game drive is 20 to 30 km.) “Our intention is to change our entire fleet to electric vehicles as soon as the opportunity presents itself,” Rich Laburn, a member of Londolozi’s marketing team, says. — Maryam Siddiqi
Though it’s based in Manitoba’s capital city, this tour company does its work around the country. Its most popular adventure takes place in the province’s far north, on Churchill’s tundra, as guests look for wild polar bears. Since its big draw relies on a pristine natural environment, Frontiers North’s eco initiatives are intricate, intensive and wide ranging. Each year, the company sets up and breaks down its camp, the Tundra Buggy Lodge, with a goal of leaving zero footprint, for instance. The lodge has a grey water management system, and all waste water is shipped south to Churchill for disposal. Perhaps most impressively, Frontiers North launched Churchill’s first recycling program, working with partners to ship all recyclable materials to Winnipeg’s recycling facilities. The town has since taken over the program. — M.S.
16 LA CARTE
FROM LEFT: COURTESY EL MANGROOVE HOTEL; LONDOLOZI GAME RESERVE; FRONTIERS NORTH
In 2014, travel and tourism contributed just shy of 10 per cent to the world’s GDP, a total of US$7.6-trillion. It’s a contribution that has been growing steadily since 2009. With that growth comes more plane rides taken, more bed sheets washed, more souvenirs purchased, and generally, more wear and tear on our planet. Fortunately, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Responsible Tourism (CREST), tourists are acknowledging this and making travel choices that reflect an awareness of and appreciation for environmentally responsible travel. In CREST’s annual report, “one in five [21 per cent] consumers say they are prepared to pay more for a holiday with a company that has a better environmental and social record” — an increase from 14 per cent in 2014. We look at three organizations, from diverse parts of the world, to learn how they’re taking social responsibility for their role in the booming global travel business.
ALLEN JONES / TOTA
PIN IT PLAY
riving across the border between Canada and the United States is at best an administrative check in and, at worst, a lengthy traffic jam that ends with surly checkpoint staff who are just as irritated about the lineups as the travellers are. Either way though, there’s still a trek to a destination of note on either side of the national boundaries. Fortunately, the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association and the North Central Washington Economic Development District — two tourism boards along Highway 97, which stretches from Northern California through British Columbia to the Canada/Alaska border — have banded together to brand the stretch of road Route 97. Their shared goal: to provide travellers with a road trip, rather than signed highway. Route 97 passes by winelands in both Washington state and British Columbia, as well as canyons and parks, cycling trails and ski resorts. For those planning a trip, it all comes together via Route97.net, the official tourism site for the highway, where there’s not only an annotated road map, but listings of RV campsites and itineraries for 10 “Signature Experiences.” The Ice Age Flood Adventure, in central Washington, includes self-drives on the Ice Floods Geological Trail and passes canyons, plateaus and boulders the size of houses. North Okanagan, B.C.’s Salmon ‘n’ Wine Discovery is a day well spent in Salmon’s Arm, with a viewing of the Sockeye salmon run at Adams River in Roderick Hair Provincial
RUN for the
BORDER A collaboration between two tourism boards makes planning a west-coast road trip an adventure of its own By Maryam Siddiqi
From top: Vineyards in Penticton, Mount Robson, near Valemount, and beach life in Pentincton.
Park, wine tastings at nearby vineyards and dinner at Table 24, a three-diamond restaurant in town. “The signature series represents those ‘must see and do’ experiences,” says Howard Grieve, a media specialist with Thompson Okanagan Tourism. The five on the route in Canada are designated “Canadian Signature Experiences” by Destination Canada, while the stops in the U.S. were selected by the North Central Washington tourism organization. Another feature of note on the route is the installation of 2,000 charging stations for electric vehicles. “Market demand for environmental travel has created a niche market for electric car enthusiasts,” Grieve explains, adding that electric-car leader Tesla has given a boost to the highway by working on this infrastructure. “They realized that while they made great electric cars, there were not enough charging stations to provide confidence that drivers would not run out of electricity in the middle of nowhere,” Grieve says. As such, Route 97 has benefitted from Tesla’s anticipated need. But perhaps what’s most extraordinary about the project is the collaboration of tourism boards on both sides of the border, which according to Grieve, will be even stronger this year with the launch of new programs for travellers and a redesigned website. Spending time at the border, at least in B.C. and Washington, is about to get a whole lot more fun. LA CARTE 17
SET TO LEAD 30 RIDERS FROM THE LAST DEGREE OF LONGITUDE TO THE SOUTH POLE, TDA GLOBAL CYCLING IS THE FIRST EXPEDITION COMPANY TO ATTEMPT SUCH A FEAT. HERE’S HOW IT CAME TO BE BY LIZ BRUCKNER
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY TDA GLOBAL CYCLING
Left: Physical stamina is needed for pedalling, as well as pushing the bike through snow. Bottom: Guide Ben Shillington will lead the first-ever commercial group expedition on fat bikes in Antarctica.
ro guide and adventurer Ben Shillington has spent much of his life cycling across unexplored landscapes in places like the Himalayas, France and the Magnetic North Pole in Canada’s high Arctic. Over the past 15 years, he’s battled complete whiteouts with temperatures dipping below -40 C, has raced solo on skis in a 216-kilometre ultra-marathon in -50 C weather and has single-handedly led all the winter camping/expedition programs for Ontario’s Algonquin College Outdoor Adventure Guide Diploma program. But his next outdoor voyage is bound to be the most surreal: leading The Last Degree, Antarctica’s first-ever commercial group expedition on fat bikes. As of December 2016, Shillington and California-based TDA Global Cycling, a prestigious international cycling tour group, in partnership with Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE), will lead up to 30 participants on the inaugural cycling tour to the South Pole from the last degree of longitude, at Antarctica’s Union Glacier base camp. The trip, which will last 18 days and cost upwards of US$70,000 per traveller, will be a true adventure: In one of the world’s most remote and challenging environments, the entourage will traverse areas in conditions most would find intolerable. Frigid temperatures of -30 C or more await, as does limited visibility, harsh winds and sensory deprivation (read: a completely flat, white landscape void of trees, vegetation and water), where riders must be prepared to be self-sufficient while working with fellow cyclists to safely reach the South Pole as a group. The brainchild of Henry Gold, TDA Global Cycling’s president and founder, this Antarctic rideabout almost didn’t happen. “Our first talks started in March 2015, but the idea initially seemed too logistically difficult,”
‘OUR TALKS STARTED IN MARCH 2015, BUT THE IDEA INITIALLY SEEMED TOO DIFFICULT’
says Shanny Hill, TDA’s marketing manager. Though well versed at running very long and challenging global cycling tours, like 7Epics, which allows adventurers to experience seven of TDA’s most difficult trips around the world, Antarctica presented new complications. “The level of challenges in terms of extreme weather and specialized environment standards made it so we did not feel comfortable undertaking the expedition on our own,” Hill says. Enter ALE, which runs a base camp on Antarctica and operates several of its own ski events to the South Pole, as well as other sight-seeing activities, like Footsteps of Amundsen, where trekkers follow a path of discovery to conquer the steep, scenic Axel Heiberg Glacier and a maze of infamous crevasses known as the Devil’s Ballroom. “The advantage of this partnership is that they understand the delicate environment and know what sort of precautions to take, both in terms of safety and impact on the surroundings,” says Hill. Another ideal collaboration has been the inclusion of Specialized Bicycle Components, the brand behind the fat bikes that will propel cyclists, haul gear and make easy work of ploughing through the snow- and ice-covered tundra. According to Beth Welliver, adventure marketing manager for the California-based company and a participant in The Last Degree, the bulky oversized types work with the elements, making fatties the perfect mode of transport. “Typical mountain bikes have tire widths of between 2 to 2.3 inches. Because both the Fatboys [for male participants] and Hellgas [for female participants] have 4.6-inch tires, they are double the size of traditional tires, meaning they excel on soft and icy surfaces.” While Specialized will provide — and give — the expedi-
tion bikes to the Antarctic cyclists, each rider is responsible for transporting their necessities (including winter camping equipment, layers of synthetic and down clothing, speciality mitts and footwear, pogies to fit over handlebars and slide your hands into, synthetic or down sleeping bags and thermoses for hot and cold beverages) via frame bags, pouches and cages that attach directly to each bike. Participants will also be outfitted with one or more lightweight sleds to haul equipment such as tents, extra food and fuel, and are encouraged to make as much time as possible for training in preparation for the expedition. “Physically, cyclists will want to have strong legs and core to be able to efficiently deliver power to the pedals as they will, at times, be pushing through deep snow drifts and headwinds,” says Miles MacDonald, TDA’s operations manager. “Full-body strength and conditioning are optimal, as is endurance since they will need to be comfortable cycling or pushing their bikes at a consistent pace for hours.” To that end, cyclists underwent a six-day training event at Manitoba’s Lake Winnipeg in February. A chance for participants to gain an understanding of the extreme cold and physical challenges that lay ahead, their technical equipment, sub-zero clothing and specialty sleeping bags were given a dry run, as were their fat-bike cycling abilities. According to MacDonald, “In essence, the training camp was a way for us to work out the ‘bugs’ in the plan before the main event,” he says. As for the expedition itself, travellers will arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile, known as the access gate to the “end of the world.” The focus of early days will be on scoping equipment, orienting participants, ensuring gear meets environmental standards set by the ALE and going on group rides
to test bike safety and further train riders. Once benchmarks are met, riders will fly 4.5 hours to Antarctica’s Union Glacier base camp, where bikes and equipment will be prepared, a short test snow ride will follow and the group will sleep in their tents on the ice and snow. Riders will then cycle back to base camp, prep for the first day of the expedition and fly out to latitude 89-degrees south, where they’ll begin their seven-to-11 day ride. Assuming no delays, Day 16 will see the cyclists arrive at the Geographic South Pole for an evening celebration, fly back to base camp the following day for an official celebration with awards and completion certificates, and will be flown back to Punta Arenas on Day 18. A transfer to the hotel and reception to celebrate the inaugural expedition will mark the end of the trip. “One of the potential challenges of being part of a large group like this will be to get everyone to adhere to the ‘buyin’ concept,” says Shillington. “This means that no matter what your motivation for being involved, there are two key points that everyone needs to agree and commit to with no exceptions.” He says the first is that each person’s safety is of the highest importance and the second is how all participants agree to conduct themselves as individuals and team members to move toward the goal of finishing the expedition. “Once that foundation is laid, life gets a lot easier as we hit different challenges and obstacles because you can remind everyone about what we all agreed and ‘bought into.’” At the end of the day, getting people excited about being out of their comfort zone and helping them experience something they didn’t think they could do is what it’s all about, says Shillington. “The Last Degree will be an experience we will all never forget, and a constant reminder that anything is possible.”
Right: Fat bikes in action. Bottom: A training ride in winter conditions.
‘FULL-BODY STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING ARE OPTIMAL, AS IS ENDURANCE, AS THEY WILL NEED TO BE COMFORTABLE CYCLING OR PUSHING BIKES FOR HOURS’ 22
TAKING ON THE WORLD From the hills of Italy to the
canyons of New Zealand,
five writers share stories
about conquering their
fears â€” and Mother Nature
G EERIN T S A CO R IS T IE N CH RE BY L O
S in WALE
Loren Christie, with the Canada AM team, prepares to, quite literally, take the plunge in Wales.
PREVIOUS PAGE: © MARATONA DLES DOLOMITES-ENEL; LEFT: COURTESY KATIE JAMIESON; RIGHT: COURTESY KAREN CLEVELAND
ver heard of coasteering? I hadn’t until four years ago when Canada AM sent me to explore the United Kingdom as part of the run up to the 2012 London Olympics. The on-air gig required me to showcase unique destinations in the host country. After learning all about Scottish castles and Roman baths, I headed to Wales and was introduced to this popular Welsh coastal sport, which is a bizarre adrenaline-pumping combination of scrambling, climbing, traversing, cliff jumping and swimming. St David’s in Pembrokeshire, along the southwest coast of Wales, is ground zero of coasteering culture. Almost 30 years ago some local adventurers decided to forgo their kayaks and explore sections of the stunning and formidable coastline on their hands and knees; crawling up and down jagged cliffs and leaping into the ocean when there was no obvious alternative in their quest to move forward. The crew arrived to film our coasteering adventure in March. I am not sure what made me more anxious, the thought of climbing up slippery and seemingly treacherous rocks or jumping off said rocks into the frigid Atlantic Ocean. We hooked up with a local outfitter, TYF Adventure, where our guide Rob enthusiastically greeted us. He quickly outfitted me in a full-body wetsuit, some old running shoes to protect my feet and a secondhand bathing suit; a ridiculous looking hand-me-down from 1987 complete with triangle patterns and neon colours. Fashion, however, was the least of my concerns. When I asked Rob why they did not provide gloves for my hands, he said, “the neoprene might rip on the sharp rocks, we prefer you use your hands, as skin grows back.” Once outfitted Rob and I hiked down the cliffs to the top of a rock ledge and very carefully crawled our way to the water. Although not particularly high, the first jump was directly into a gap between two rocks. Rob’s advice to keep my arms in close to avoid smashing them on the rocks hidden underneath the waves made that first leap a shade below terrifying. The jump, thank goodness, was a success and after the first couple of plunges swirling around in natural whirlpools under towering cliffs, I did start to enjoy myself. I learned quickly that it’s important to conserve your energy. When in the water for example, do not fight to climb the rocks, let the waves push you up onto a dry ledge. The trick with coasteering, both figuratively and literally, is to go with flow.
G HIKIN RE BY K A
V N CLE
anuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica, about 130 kilometres from San José on the Pacific coast, spans just shy of 20 square kilometres. It’s not the country’s largest park, but it is famous — heralded as one of the most biodiverse parks on the planet. It is, in essence, a zoo without fences, and though guides are available, my friends and I chose to wander around on our own. I didn’t see many signs in Manuel Antonio park; there was nothing telling me not to stand on high stones for a better view or not to walk down closer to the river bank to witness the swirling water, no “Danger” or “Caution.” There were no snack stands or places to buy drinks, and no gift shops. There were no “scenic lookout” points, just 1,700 acres of land and 136,000 acres of ocean to explore, with more than 100 different species of mammals and nearly 200 species of birds — none of which are confined. You have to seek the animals out … until they come to you. After a few hours of hiking through the dense rainforest, temperatures rocketed, as they are wont to do in the midday Central American sun, so a swim was in order. We found a beach — one of the most beautiful ones I’ve ever seen — and it was ours alone. We ditched our backpacks and headed to the water. And then the white-faced monkeys appeared. As soon as we had swum out far enough into the ocean, they made a clean break for our backpacks, rifling through them like a well-organized crime unit (they came up empty-handed as we hadn’t packed any food). Post swim, we continued our hike. The trails were well-marked, but not staffed, and I made a careful habit of always looking up every few steps (for spiders or insects) and down every few steps (for snakes and lizards) to avoid walking into something that I wouldn’t want to meet too closely. And yet I nearly did: When a small pathway opened up to a clearing, about 30 feet away, a boa constrictor was curled around a basilisk lizard, mid-kill. We were witnessing something we weren’t really supposed to see, and it was something so wild. This zoo with no fences was a humming ecosphere of species, many of them endangered. And I was hooked. That hike changed me from wanting to go on vacations to wanting to explore.
Karen Cleveland silhouetted against the sparkling waters of Costa Rica’s Manuel Antonio National Park.
NG I T F A R LSON NICHO LLEEN BY CO
O in T HE YUK
Colleen Nicholson, front left, conquered the Yukon’s Tatshenshini River without flipping — despite her raftmates’ wishes.
LEFT: COURTESY TATSHENSHINI EXPEDITING; RIGHT: COURTESY AWOL CANYONING ADVENTURES; NEXT PAGE: © MARATONA DLES DOLOMITES-ENEL
TER E -WA WHIT
y wetsuit was layered over yoga pants, a one-piece bathing suit, a nylon longsleeved so-called “surfing” shirt from Old Navy and a pair of thick wool socks from a hardware store bought in downtown Whitehorse. They were all soaked. Trying to free myself from the wetsuit had become problematic in the same way that trying to remove the fruit from a banana without peeling it would be. But I can confidently say that the Class IV rapids of the Yukon’s Tatshenshini River were worth it. We entered the water at a quiet drop point about a two-and-a-half-hour drive outside of Whitehorse just past the Yukon/British Columbia border. The glacier-fed river requires a moderate degree of technical skill, but our guide easily kept us alive and well, calling out paddling instructions without appearing concerned that she was leading a boat full of mostly first-time rafters. Though fellow raft mates and apparent polar-bear-swim enthusiasts Desmin and Diana wished that we’d flipped our raft — the aunt and nephew duo all but groaned when we successfully unlodged ourselves from a tilted perch on a bolder without capsizing — our guide deftly threaded our construction-yellow-hued boat through rocks, holes and drops that would have sent us swimming if we hadn’t followed her “sweep!” commands and turned like a kite on a windy day. Comfortingly, we were surrounded at all times by support boats, so there was always the knowledge that they’d lend a hand if we needed help and would take incriminating photos either way. The Tatshenshini gracefully winds its way from B.C. into southwestern Yukon and the vistas are stunning. An eagle soared above us for part of our journey. There were long moments when the seven us of floated with only an occasional paddle splash or rubber squeak of wetsuit-on-raft interrupting our silent contemplation. And like the best moments of serenity, they were made all the more luxurious with the knowledge that terrifying whirlpools were right around the corner. (Now’s probably a good time to point out that Tatshenshini Expediting, our outfitter, boasts that they’ve had six-year-olds and nearly 90-year-olds happily paddle this stretch of the river.) I admit that this unseasonably chilly day was made profoundly more enjoyable by skipping along on the river like a cut fishing bopper. As environmentalist David Brower once said “Sometimes luck is with you and sometimes not, but the important thing is to take the dare. Those who climb mountains or raft rivers understand this.”
A RY BY M
NING O Y N I CA ID D IQ AM S A in NEW ZEAL
Despite a wet start, Maryam Siddiqi took on Piha’s Waitakere Ranges park with aplomb.
wasn’t supposed to be here — wearing a slightly too-big wetsuit and standing on top of a waterfall in Piha, a 40-minute drive west of Auckland — but my original plans for the day, sailing along the city’s bays, had been thwarted by the wind. And participating in an adventure sport of some kind is mandatory when visiting New Zealand, or at least it should be. So, canyoning near Piha in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park it was. Comprising 16,000 hectares, the park is home to lush rainforest and beautiful coastline, black-sand beaches and more than 250 kilometres of walking trails. I managed to take in a little bit of everything in one afternoon under the guidance of Cam Bowen, of AWOL Canyoning Adventures. Canyoning is, in essence, hiking, but with caving, wading, climbing, jumping, swimming and abseiling breaking up the walk. My travel mate and I had changed into our rented wetsuits at a roadside public bathroom and followed Bowen through the rainforest to our starting point at the top of a cliff beside that rushing waterfall. As he hooked up the ropes and our safety gear, he explained that six-year-olds can, without fear, abseil the rock we were about to descend, so we wouldn’t have a problem. My friend, a local who’d done this before, went down first with a smile on her face. I then got strapped in, and gamely leaned back, preparing for my first leap off the cliff. “I got this,” I thought as I launched myself off the rock face and, in theory, down alongside the waterfall. “I don’t got this,” I rapidly realized as I gasped to breathe and squirmed to avoid the rushing water splashing directly onto my face. After what seemed like far too long a descent, I finally made it to the shallow pool at the bottom. I sighed deeply then laughed. I had, for all intents and purposes, fallen down the waterfall. If that was the start, how would the afternoon end? It turns out, magically. Our walks turned into swims through invigoratingly cold water, and scrambling up rocks turned into wading through caves. At one point, standing on top of a cliff and facing a 10-metre jump into a dark pool of water, Bowen offered an alternate route down. I looked down and thought, “I can’t do this.” And then, “I can’t not do this.” I closed my eyes and I jumped. And I’d do it all over again. LA CARTE
ING CYCLHEW PIORO ATT BY M
Y in I TAL
his would be a great place to ride, if it weren’t for all of the cyclists,” I said to the other riders in my group. The road was full of cyclists, men and women in Lycra making their way up up the Campolongo pass, south of the northern Italian ski town of Corvara. It was the kind of road you have to go to Europe to find. Highway construction in North America is too good: It mows through the topography to keep cars going straight and fast. We were on a two-lane road that switched back and forth on itself. When you go up these switchbacks, they can provide a bit of relief as the grades are more gradual on the outside edges. On the way down, switchbacks reward the brave, those who come in wide, brake late, turn past the corner’s apex and exit wide for the most speed. Of course, I was joking about those other cyclists. We all knew there would be hundreds of us on the road. Like everyone in my group, riders were checking out some of the climbs they’d face in two days. The event, the Maratona dles Dolomites, is a race for those who want to race. On the first Sunday in July, 9,000 riders would leave La Villa, just north of Corvara for a 138-kilometre ride with 4,230 metres of elevation gain. The ride on closed roads is for those who want to challenge themselves on some of the passes that wind through the jagged Dolomite mountains in northeastern Italy. These roads often appear in the Giro d’Italia, Italy’s equivalent to the Tour de France. They are on most cyclists’ bucket lists. I was a bit envious of the riders in my group who lived two hours to the south. They spoke of mid-week trips up to the Dolomites where they’d have the roads to themselves without any other cyclists to dodge. We rode by fields, through coniferous forests and along alpine meadows. When we looked south from Sella pass, we could see the glacier on Marmolada, the highest peak in the Dolomites. The scenery felt very Sound of Music — the Austrian border is about 90 km away — but the mountains could also do menace. The Cinque Torri (Five Towers) is a group that is said to have inspired J.R.R. Tolkien as he worked on Lord of the Rings. On the day of the big ride, I rode as hard as I could. I knew I’d love the challenge of the climbs. The chance to take on descents that go on for kilometres would also be a treat. But during the focused pain of the ascents and the concentration of piloting a bike down mountain roads, I didn’t look around much. I’m glad I did so during that pre-ride with all those cyclists on the road.
Matthew Pioro’s intense and invigorating ride through the Dolomites was a bucket-list experience.
FEDERICA MARABOLI COMES FACE TO FACE WITH MOOSE, WOLVES AND HUSKIES IN NORTHERN QUEBEC AND LEARNS THAT A LITTLE EAR SCRATCHING GOES A LONG WAY
he air is fresh and crisp, the only sound is the crunch of snow underneath my feet. I hold my gaze steady, enthralled by the bull moose ambling towards me, now only a few steps away. He’s about seven-feet tall, with massive antlers, about the width of my outstretched arms. “He doesn’t like you,” says Dereck, my guide, who’s standing next to me. “How can you tell?” I ask. “See how his head is lowered and his rack is kind of swaying side to side? It could mean he sees you as competition or an opponent. Plus, when they look at you sideways, that’s not a good sign.” Sure enough, I was getting cut eye from a moose. “But don’t feel bad,” he says with a grin, “He doesn’t like anyone.” Luckily Azur, the first moose I’ve ever seen in the flesh, is standing behind a tall metal gate, his antlers now scratching and butting against the bars that keep him inside a large penned area on the grounds of the Ferme 5 Étoiles, a certified ecotourism adventure farm in the Sacré-Coeur-Saguenay region of northern Quebec. Moose are generally not aggressive animals, but they tend not to react well to humans invading their space and will quickly charge if they feel threatened. Azur has grown up on this farm, an abandoned calf that would not have survived on its own in the wild, so is at least used to human presence. I tentatively stick my hand through the gate to touch his antlers, the smooth bone punctuated by slight grooves where veins run during spring and summer months when they are covered with a velvety fur. It’s the extent of my interaction with the moose, but it’s the first of several memorable nature adventures over the next few days. Saguenay is a popular tourist region about 230 kilometres northwest of Quebec City, with a diverse ecosystem of fresh and salt waters, plains and mountains, lakes and rivers. Surrounded by spectacular mixed boreal forests — endless kilometres of black spruce, balsam firs and other conifers — it borders the Saguenay Fjord, one of the longest in the world, framed by dramatic cliffs and dotted with villages and national parks. It’s an area rich with history, from the First Nations and New France settlers, their early trades
© TQ/J.-F. HAMELIN; NEXT PAGE: ALL PHOTOS COURTESY FEDERICA MARABOLI EXCEPT CHILDREN WITH DEER © MARC LOISELLE / FERME 5 ÉTOILES
NALU, THE ALPHA OF THE WOLVES, IMMEDIATELY BOUNDS UP, PRESSES ME INTO THE FENCE AND LICKS MY FACE and fur-trading outposts, and is an important forestry and agriculture base. It’s also a nature lover’s paradise: Travellers come yearround to enjoy everything from hiking, cycling, kayaking, fishing and hunting to whale watching and dog sledding. The surrounding area is also ideal for moose spotting or hunting. Quebec has some of the highest numbers of the Canadian mascot, with the densest populations located in Matane Wildlife Reserve and the Pointe Taillon National Park. But at this time of year, late January, Azur is the only moose I see. During the winter months these animals stick together, receding into the forest for survival. While they can’t see very well, they have exceptional hearing, and with all the snowmobilers in the area, chances of spotting one are slim. The best time for sightings is during the late summer months, at dusk or dawn, when they wander to forage for food. After my visit to the moose pen, I meet with more welcoming residents of the property — arctic and gray wolves. The opportunity to interact with these often-feared animals is just one of the experiences at Ferme 5 étoiles. What, a generation ago, started off as a personal farm with a few barn animals owned by Claude Deschênes has evolved into a vacation destination with accommodations that include cabins, apartments and yurts, and a licensed animal refuge that’s home to Canadian wildlife including bison, lynx, foxes and even a cougar. It’s a story of happenstance; in the farm’s early days, travellers would knock on the Deschênes’ doors looking for a room. And because they had a farm, orphaned or injured animals would often be brought to their doorstep. Over the years, accommodations were added and today, daughter Stéphanie Deschênes, with husband Yanick Morin, carries on the farm. With the help of an on-site biologist and animal care technicians, the team learned how to care for and educate visitors about the wildlife housed onsite. Before meeting the wolves I get an introduction to their story, partly as education and 34
also to allay any fears of stepping into their pen. Wolves are genetically closer to dogs than coyotes, so their behaviour can depend on how they are trained and educated. You don’t want to befriend one in the wild, but Nalu, Luna and Jacob were raised here and are used to human interaction. Even so, I suit up in a thick snowmobiler’s jacket and pants before walking over to the enclosure. “Just make sure you keep your back against the fence,” warns Dereck, before we enter. “That way when she jumps on you, you won’t fall backwards. And push her off, she’ll expect that.” Standing at only 5-foot-1, I can be easily taken down by any large dog. Apprehensive, I slide my back along the fence while my mittened hands find holes in the chain link to support me as I step over uneven snow. Nalu, the alpha of the sisters, immediately bounds up and, throwing her paws on my shoulders, presses me into the fence and licks my face. Turning my head to the side to avoid being French kissed, I hug her before pushing her down, a little too timidly at first. Having none of that, she keeps bounding back until I push her off more assertively. It’s a workout, trying to keep my balance against a jumping 110-lb animal, but any initial fear I had quickly vanishes. She is a sweetheart, as smart and affectionate as a dog, and I soon discover that she loves belly rubs. This beautiful white arctic wolf, with what appears to be a permanent smile, is so happy that she pees herself. “She really likes you,” Dereck says. “She’s not often quite that playful.” I couldn’t help but feel chuffed. Take that, Azur. My animal encounters continued the next morning with my first foray into dogsledding, one of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean’s main draws during the winter months. I make my way to the kennel early to meet Florian, my instructor, and help harness the dogs. Their barking turns to a frenzy, a cacophony of about 30 mix-breed huskies jumping and pulling at their chains in hopes of being chosen to run today. After demonstrating how to place the harness correctly, Florian hands one to me and
It’s a wild wonderland at Ferme 5 étoiles with moose, deer, lynx and a cougar being cared for on the property.
directs me to pick a dog from the back rows. I feel guilty walking by the ones tethered at the front, all of them seemingly begging, “Pick me, pick me!” After a botched first attempt that ended up with an entangled dog in need of Florian’s assistance, I manage to harness several others and attach them to the sleds. A couple visiting from France, who came here specifically for this activity, joins us for the instruction: Hang on to the handle, keep your feet on the sled’s “skis,” make sure the lead is taut at all times, shift your weight on the turns and use your brakes — a lot. The brake is a metal lever between the two skis that digs into the ground. “You may need to stomp on it with both feet, especially downhill,” says Florian. “And if you fall off, the dogs will keep running, so yell out ‘Traineau!’ to alert me.” Falling off? Down hills? I thought this would be a pleasant introductory ride across flat plains. “Are you scared?” Florian asks me, with a chuckle. “You should be.” I manage a feeble laugh before uttering a silent profanity. Being pulled by dogs is at once exhilarating, humbling and terrifying. I am comforted by their intelligence and obedience, but amazed by their strength and stamina. Going downhill means also going uphill, and the dogs put me to shame as I trudge up steep snowy paths that remind me of my need for more aerobic activity. I have trouble around sharp bends and must throw my weight on the brakes downhill, fear sliding off the edge and at times navigate an obstacle course of low-hanging or fallen branches. But the reward is being led through serene canopied trails — if I stretch my arms out I can touch the snow-covered trees on either side — and along creeks, rock faces and open forest. I catch sight of a white rabbit hopping away from us and at one point snow starts falling gently, which adds to the sense of a winter wonderland. Three hours later, my hands, neck and shoulders stiff from gripping the handles for dear life, we return to base. I thank my four dogs for their hard work with plenty of ear scratches and belly rubs, and help feed them before making my way to back to eat my own lunch. All this activity has made me hungry, not to mention very sore — I wince taking off my jacket and snow pants. Luckily, I’ve booked a massage for the afternoon, the perfect warm, relaxing antidote to a wintry weekend getting to know Quebec’s wildlife. LA CARTE
COVET PHOTO ALBUM
INTO the WILD
What started as a way of telling family about his new life quickly became a prolific career for photographer Callum Snape. Here he talks about the current state of adventure photography and the process behind six of his favourite shots By Maryam Siddiqi You’ve likely seen Callum Snape’s work without realizing it. The adventure and travel photographer has shot for, among others, Travel Alberta and Intrepid Travel, Arc’teryx and Adidas. His calendar for 2016 already includes British Columbia, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Iceland, India, Turkey, Croatia and Italy. It’s quite the career for the Belgium-born, England-bred, Banff-living adventurer, who, after moving to Alberta in 2009 to be a snowboard instructor and snowshoe guide, only picked up a camera to take photos of his surroundings in his new home to show family and friends back in England. “I originally started out photographing landscapes from the locations I was hiking to in the mountains,” he says. His photos, which capture not only landscapes, but also Mother Nature’s personality, were quickly noticed by the likes of Canadian Geographic and tourism boards. Though he’s only 24 years old, he’s seen quite a bit change in the increasingly crowded field of adventure photography. “One of the positive things is that photographers are getting more creative. I find myself with more drive to create unique work to set myself apart, as I’m sure others do,” Snape says. But he has issues with the idea of people picking up a camera in search of internet fame. “To me, photography is much more than just taking a photo and posting it on social media,” he says. “It’s an art form, it’s the time and money invested, the professionalism and ability to deliver a high-quality service to clients. “Above all else, it’s about photographing for yourself and it seems like lots of ‘photographers’ these days are taking photos for likes on Instagram or Facebook. It’s an easy trap to fall into and it’s very clear to see from an outside perspective.” Here, Snape reveals what’s happening behind the scenes of some of his favourite photographs.
For more information about Callum Snape’s work and to purchase prints, visit callumsnapephoto.com.
MOUNT ASSINIBOINE SELF-PORTRAIT The Nublet lookout, Nub Peak, Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, B.C., as part of a four-day personal backcountry trip “All the conditions were perfect for sunset, and I wanted to capture the rush of adrenaline that was going through me. It’s my favourite photo that I’ve taken to date. In the 14 times I’ve made the 52-kilometre roundtrip or helicoptered out to the region, I finally had an image I was happy with. I managed to get another two portfolio images out of this trip; considering I only get around 12 to 15 of those every year, it was a huge accomplishment for me personally.”
KINNEY LAKE FOG Kinney Lake, Mount Robson Provincial Park, B.C. as part of a four-day guided photo trip “This photo was taken minutes after waking up in my tent. We’d hiked in to the campsite the night before. I wanted to capture the mood and emotion of the moment, its remoteness and the incredible reflection. It’s a moment that brings back shivers every time I see it.”
LAKE MINNEWANKA TREE Lake Minnewanka, Banff, Alta., on a personal morning photographing session “Despite running really late to photograph sunrise and only being able to take three frames before the colour disappeared, the most rewarding part came from the results of the 30-second exposure and the shape the clouds created. During a long exposure I know what I’m trying to capture, I just don’t know the extent of what the outcome is going to be. In this case, the cloud formed a love heart right at the top of the tree almost as if it was on fire. Some skill combined with a little luck for sure.”
YOSEMITE YOGA Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park, Calif., as part of a four-week personal road trip “I wanted to capture an inspiring solitary moment of awe. I needed a human element to really show the scale of the valley and summits, but wanted to photograph a moment that was relaxing and calm, to balance the rush of light. As much as I love this photo and the memories from that moment, it irritates me every time I see it. I wish I had taken just a few moments to communicate to my friend Christian Schaffer [pictured] to shuffle just a little more to the left so she was closer to the edge but still safe. My friends and I had all just woken up after a really rough night’s sleep camping nearby and none of us were in a good mood. We were all cold, hungry and miserable. Had we all been at the top of our game, I think it would have happened.”
NAMIBIA SUNSET Sossusvlei, Namibia, as part of a guided fly-safari with African Profile Safaris and Tourism Namibia “The most rewarding thing about shooting this scene was that I’d had a few really challenging photo days leading up to this and didn’t have a creative outlet. When this opportunity presented itself I released all this creativity building up inside me and it was a huge relief. Aside from that I was very grateful to videographer Josh Cowan for making the 20-minute climb up to the top of the rock pile here; it’s a lot more challenging than it looks.”
FROZEN NUMA FALLS Numa Falls, Kootenay National Park, B.C., on a personal day out photographing “I’d lived in Banff for six years prior to photographing this location and I’d never seen it before. It was a scene straight out of my imagination, almost too perfect to be true. When some friends and I discovered it, we agreed it needed a human element so my close friend Katie Goldie [pictured] was daring enough to take the climb down.”
COVET SHOP BRACELET, $45 This statement piece is handmade in Swaziland from recycled magazines. DIAMOND CLUTCH, $150 Handwoven in Peru with mercerized pima cotton, this is inspired by the chuspa, small bags that have been used in the Andes for centuries.
EARN YOUR STRIPES
Anyone who’s been to a Middle Eastern souk or African roadside market knows how much of an adventure souvenir hunting can be. Far and Wide Collective makes the experience possible without the need to step on a plane — and ensures its goods are authentic and fairly traded, and that the local artisans it works with have the resources they need to continue honing their crafts. This season, we’re solid supporters of these striped pieces. Click here to shop for these and other accessories and decor pieces from their current collection.
KHARAD RUG, $625 The Kharad weaving technique is verging on extinction in India. The black, white and grey hues in the yarn are the natural hair colours of the sheep.
STRIPED BASKET, $85 Made by a women’s cooperative in Kenya, this is handcrafted with natural sisal fibres. 44
THREE STRIPE PORCUPINE EARRINGS, $95 These danglers are made by Masaai women in Tanzania from recycled materials.
COURTESY LEVEL SIX
Blue crush It’s one thing to hit the open road, it’s another thing to hit the open waters, which if done via stand-up paddleboard (SUP), has the effect of being physically challenging as well as meditative. And of course, it’s another way to see what’s cruising beneath the surface without the need to suck on a snorkel or be SCUBA certified. While SUPs are increasingly available to rent in resort towns, there are still plenty of not-so-off-the-beaten-path locales that could use a SUP shop, whether it’s cottage country in Ontario or the rocky coastline of the Adriatic. Fortunately, some surfing geniuses realized there was a gap in the market and the inflatable standup paddleboard, or iSUP, was born. The boards, most of which are drop stitched for durability, deflate small enough to fit into a backpack, which means you can, conceiv-
ably, consider it carry-on luggage (just keep in mind your airline’s baggage weight restrictions). The Ten Six from Ottawa-based Level Six is designed for cruising on inland lakes and calm flat and white waters, as well as SUP yoga, and can be used by paddlers weighing up to 270 pounds. Primed for portability — and not only in backpack form — when fully inflated, the board has a carrying handle to make getting in and out of the water a simple task, and a bungee cord to keep water bottles, sunglasses and other gear secure on the deck. Measuring 10-and-a-half feet when inflated (thus its name), the board comes with a pump, stabilizer fin and repair kit. Forget pool noodles, this is our new favourite water toy. levelsix.com $1,145
LIKE WHAT YOU’RE SEEING? Don’t miss La Carte’s next issue in which we explore city living and urban innovation, including: • The United Kingdom’s unlikely cultural capitals • Los Angeles’s burgeoning arts scene (it’s giving New York a run for its money) • A guide to four must-visit cities in Eastern Europe
Published on Mar 17, 2016
Published on Mar 17, 2016
The Adventure Issue: From hiking to biking, road trips to rafting, these travel stories will get your adrenaline pumping.