That was Canada: Width, woods, wildlife – we love it!

In more than five months in Canada and Alaska we drove unbelievable 35,000 kilometres, got nearly 7,500 litres diesel, slept all in all four times on a campground, rotated our tyres three times, made two oil changes, bought one set of new injector nozzles, and had zero police controls. Canada is a beautiful country with magnificent nature and real friendly people, and we loved travelling through.

One of our favourite destinations was the Maritimes, the Atlantic Provinces in the north: Nova Scotia with Cape Breton Island comes up with different scenery behind every corner and still record less tourist masses than the west. The coasts are sometimes lovely and sometimes steep, sometimes steep and sometimes shallow, green, stony, or sandy. Newfoundland and Labrador score with rough, untouched nature, many moose, and the probably most hospitable people. Prince Edward Island seems to polarize more: Some people think it’s fantastic, our enthusiasm kept within limits, although the forest-free potato field scenery and the sand dunes in the north are a welcome change to the rest of Canada.

Québec’s deserted north is relatively inaccessible, but the ice-cold St. Lawrence River in the south creates a distinct landscape. And, not to forget, Québec City is Canada’s most beautiful town. The never-ending Ontario with many forests and lakes convinced us anyway with spectacles of nature – but not only – like Niagara Falls and the respectable but cosy capital Ottawa. We don’t consider the prairie provinces Manitoba and Saskatchewan as the highlight of our journey, but even here you can find some national parks worth to see. The lake district in the north shall be interesting, but we didn’t have enough time for that.

Alberta is, besides the Maritimes, another favourite. The range of different landscapes from flattest prairie over the badlands, lovely foothills up to the rugged Rocky Mountains (with its wonderful parks in Kananaskis Country, Banff and Jasper) is probably the largest. Calgary is a pretty town with “Alpen view”. There are sites of cultural interest everywhere, and the northern ranch and farmland are again another world. The north of the country became our very personal most-loved area. We couldn’t get enough of it. Yukon, North West Territories, northern British Columbia – and Alaska, knowing, that isn’t part of Canada – won our heart with their numberless mountain ranges, dramatic views, rivers, lakes and plateaus, deserted solitude, the wooded tundra and the treeless taiga (although we are actually warmth seeking lovers of the tropics). We loved each kilometre, from Watson Lake to Whitehorse, and from Dawson City to Inuvik (and from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay). Even when British Columbia is the declared favourite destination of most Germans, we do not completely share this opinion and think it’s a bit overrated. Its touristic infrastructure is very developed, with corresponding prices and the willingness to make a tidy sum on each corner. Still, central and southern BC has its absolutely beautiful sports like some smaller parks in the Rockies or the Okanagan Valley. Although –Vancouver is a city worth to bee seen, we would prefer Calgary or Whitehorse as a starting point for a Canada trip. But that’s only a personal opinion.

Generally you have to expect a lot of forest in Canada, what is naturally not always associated with the best views. Driving on gravel roads is simply a part of a Canada journey, as well as the not always predictable weather. Despite Canada is the country for outdoor activities, you should always have a “plan B” for rainy days up your sleeve. The very low crime rate and the Canadians’ friendliness, openness, and overwhelming hospitality are very welcome. You can clearly feel that humans feel better and are more relaxed when having more space for living. Happy Canada! We go to bat for the truckers whose driving behaviour is better than their reputation – as long as you behave accordingly thoughtful. In spite of more than 5,000 km gravel road we still have our original windshield, even without glass repair.

A solemn planning factor for travelling Canada is the high price level: It is an expensive destination. Maybe that altogether lower cost of living, caused by fewer taxes, a nearly complimentary health-care system for residents, far-reaching lower real-estate prices as well as energy and water costs, and cheaper cars, make living in the country quite comfortable. This has no effect on the average traveller and he is soaked. Whether entrance fees, eating out in a restaurant, accommodation costs, food, or alcoholic beverages: most of it is clearly above German price level. Fuel is a bit more inexpensive than at home, but not as inexpensive as some years ago. Thanks to the size of the country – Canada is after Russia the earth’s largest country – and the huge distances the slightly lower prices for gas or diesel qualify and easily become the most important factor of the travel budget, where it is simple to miscalculate. Generous planning is recommended!

The world isn’t perfect anywhere, not even in North America’s north. Pollution and other environmental sins especially in the denser populated southern belt partially interfere with pleasure of travelling. It starts with the man of common people who leaves his beer bottle in the nature, litters the forest, or drives a pick-up with a very poor mileage. Idling is a very widespread bad habit among private persons as well as truck drivers who tend to keep the engine running for the whole night – for whatever reason. Industrial plants like for example paper mills are equipped with inadequate filters in some places, what makes itself felt with poor visibility and a certain smell. Clear-cuts in the forests are sometimes shocking, and the food’s chemical’s content verges on bodily harm. You can draw your own conclusions about an astonishing high cancer and Parkinson rate.

Personally we didn’t have any negative experience; hence Canada was a marvellous destination during the past 25 weeks. We will miss the stop-slow-sign turning pretty blonds that regulate the traffic in construction areas. Because no roadwork’s’ traffic light can substitute those “lollipops”. Thanks to the unfinished Happy Valley-Goose Bay Road, to Dempster and Dalton Highway, because they cared for a little bit mud on the tyre. It was fun. Many thanks to the lovely people who contributed to successful outcome of our journey and left incomparable impressions to us. Our special thanks are meant for the following dear friends for their exceptional hospitality:

Ian and Claire
Vivian and Wally
Carmelita and John
Edgar and Darnell
Marron and Simon
Leslie and John
Pat and John
Mike and Mélie
Dan and Myra
Claude and Lynda
John and Lyndel
Archie and Torrie
Ursel and Udo
Rita and Ingo
Ludwig and Irene
Kerri and Simon
Carolyn and Craig
Branca and Anton
Dave and wife

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