Day 18 - Whistler-Victoria

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Our destination today is Victoria. Victoria is a large city on Vancouver Island, a big island close to the mainland of Canada. Vancouver however isn't situated on this island but on the mainland. Vancouver Island is really an island, so we'll have to take the ferry to Victoria.

After our departure in Whistler we have a photo stop at the Tantalus Range Lookout. Then we drive on the Sea to Sky Highway to the Horseshoe Bay, where our ferry to Victoria will depart.

The ferry takes us in one and a half hour to Nanaimo, from which we drive on to an Indian Reserve of the Cowichan Natives, where we have a guided tour.

When we arrive to Victoria there's the possibility to go flying for 25 minutes over Victoria on a sailplane (an optional excursion). I decide to go flying, together with four of our travel companions. The rest of the tour group will wait and have a drink.

After our flight there's another optional excursion what everyone of our group decides to do: Whale Watching! On a three and a half hour boat trip we'll hopefully be lucky enough to see real Killer Whales, who are swimming near the Coast of Victoria. And we are lucky today! There are three groups of whales in total swimming in the neighbourhood of Victoria and today they are all swimming together. So we get to see the whole group passing our boat. It was great! One of the highlights of this holiday.

The whale watching was originally planned for tomorrow but because of the weather forecast our tour guide advised us to go today. And so we did. When we got back in the harbour it was almost dark but we had a beautiful sunset tonight. It was a long but great day.

Part of the Coast Mountains: The Tantalus Range TantalusRangeLookout1.JPG (58384 bytes)
TantalusRangeLookout2.JPG (49691 bytes) The Tantalus Range Lookout.

This is a farewell to the mountains because we will leave them today.

Just departed from the ferry terminal, wich you see here. FerryToVictoriaTerminal.JPG (75460 bytes)
FerryToVictoria.JPG (51627 bytes) On the ferry to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. It's a one and a half hour boat trip.

Between Nanaimo and Victoria we visit an Indian Reserve: Quw'utsun'. Here live the Cowichan natives.

Here we get a guided tour and have some time for ourselves.

QuwutsunTotem1.JPG (64980 bytes)
QuwutsunTotem2.JPG (73380 bytes) The Cowichan natives used to make and still make large totem poles. The one on the photo is normally placed in front of a house or wigwam. The hole in the totem pole is used as an entrance. And it should bring luck when going trough this hole.
One of the natives busy with a new totem pole. You can order a totem pole here and they make one for you. It will cost you several thousands of dollars but it will look nice in your garden. QuwutsunTotemCreation.JPG (85459 bytes)
v-VictoriaSailplane1.jpg (120081 bytes) In Victoria my friend and I decide to do the flight with the float plane, over Victoria.

Here we enter the plane.

(photo by Vincent Lecomte)

Here we go. It's strange but exciting to be in a plane and on the water at the same time.

(photo by Vincent Lecomte)

v-VictoriaSailplane2.jpg (87995 bytes)
VictoriaSailPlane2.JPG (67799 bytes) Here we sail to the 'water runway' where we will lift off.
I am lucky to be sitting next to the pilot, so I can check if he's doing the right things ;-) VictoriaSailPlane1.JPG (56977 bytes)
VictoriaSailPlane4.JPG (60161 bytes) Victoria from the air. You can just see a part of the large float.
As you can see, it's nice weather again. VictoriaSailPlane8.JPG (53847 bytes)
VictoriaSailPlane9.JPG (47363 bytes) This is during the landing of the float plane. It's nice to have experienced this at least once.
Almost back at the floatplane terminal. You can see our tour guide, accompanied by our wives, a little bit relieved that we have returned safely. VictoriaSailPlane10.JPG (76467 bytes)
WhaleWatchingBoat.JPG (51964 bytes)

The boat for the Whale watching trip, powered by two powerful jet engines. The boat can reach speeds of 60 km/h.

photo by Fiesta Cruises

Helped by sightings of other boats, radar and biologists the crew is able to track the group of whales. Here they are! WhaleWatching2.JPG (48128 bytes)
WhaleWatching3.JPG (44284 bytes) Here are two whales, very close to the boat. They don't let the boat disturb them.
The crew spots the group, sails a little further in the direction they are swimming and then the boat lies still, waiting for the whales swimming past the boat. WhaleWatching6.JPG (60610 bytes)
WhaleWatching5.JPG (51623 bytes) We have repeated this procedure for three times, so we all had time enough to see the whales and take pictures of them.
There are three groups of Killer Whales swimming around Vancouver Island. Sometimes the three groups are swimming together. And they are now, so the group counts more than 70 Killer Whales. WhaleWatching7.JPG (73308 bytes)
WhaleWatching8.JPG (51840 bytes) Then we return to Victoria. We all get some hot coffee or tea from the crew because it's cold on the water.

The boat speeds up and the waves we make reflect in the setting sun.

After the trip we can have a look in the boat's engine room. There are two engines with 2 X 1500 PK  jet engines. Not bad... WhaleWatchingBoatEngine.JPG (100598 bytes)
VictoriaParliamentHouse.JPG (56772 bytes) When we get back to Victoria, it's almost dark. The parliament house is nicely illuminated.

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