Canada v Africa: Which is best for wildlife encounters?
CANADA is now rivalling Africa with its iconic wildlife destinations, with its animal encounters.
Destination Canada GSA managing director Donna Campbell said, "Increasingly, Aussie travellers are choosing Canada to tick of their bucket-list dreams, including getting up close with awe-inspiring fauna in their natural habitat.
"The stunning vistas of the Canadian Rockies, the vast, mountainous wilderness of places like Yukon Territory and Northwest Territories, and the Arctic Tundra of Manitoba, are as mind-blowing as the wildlife that live there."
The number of Australians exploring Canada is increasing each year. They are enjoying playing 'wildlife bingo' with Canada's Big Five; just which 'five' creatures is a matter of observations and can include moose, bear, elk, wolf, whale, bison, caribou, and bighorn sheep, to name a few.
"Our Big Five are frequently encountered during road or boat trips through Canada's west, but Canada's diverse forest habitats mean you're bound to witness unique fauna right across the country, from enormous bison and quirky mountain goats, to our smaller critters, such as beavers, porcupines and countless bird species," Donna said.
Canada's arctic animals, most easily viewed in the central province of Manitoba, include the polar bear, arctic fox, beluga whale, and the mystical narwhal.
Bird watchers can see bald eagles in British Columbia, while Witless Bay Ecological Reserve in Newfoundland and Labrador is home to more than 500,000 Atlantic puffins, with their distinctive black and white plumage, and bright orange beaks.
"Whether travelling solo, in a group, or with family, many Aussies are taking advantage of the numerous wildlife packages that are available through local tour operators, taking the stress out of planning their holiday," Donna said.
"Outfitters like Adventure World offer polar bear tours that allow you to come face-to-face with these humbling beasts from the comfort of Polar Rover vehicles, while Intrepid and Canada and Alaska Specialist Holidays provide tours of the Rockies and self-drive itineraries, including world-class whale watching and wildlife spotting."
Other heart-stopping Canadian wildlife experiences include witnessing the thundering caribou migration, locking eyes with the elusive Spirit Bear, snorkelling with friendly beluga whales, and watching the rivers run red during the salmon run, as thousands of fish swim upstream, attracting eagles and other predators along the way.
"Canada's wildlife experiences offer so much more than just animal encounters," Donna said. "Travellers have the chance to immerse themselves in pristine wilderness, learn about the first-nations people who live there still, and get to know the friendly locals, who often become lifelong friends."
Air Canada offers daily direct flights to Vancouver from Sydney and Brisbane. It also offers year-round direct flights from Melbourne to Vancouver.
For more Canada travel information, go to www.keepexploring.com.au