Early morning wake up call, Vancouver Island is waiting. The sun is barely up in the sky and the road near we we have parked our mobile home – it’s just our car, but is home for the moment – is already busy. We drive fast toward the dock to get one of the few places available on the first ferry to Vancouver Island: it seem half of British Columbia is going to cross to the island this morning.
An hour and a half later we are in Swartz Bay, Victoria. It is not really Victoria, it’s actually still 30 minute drive to there, but still, we finally are on Vancouver Island!
We go immediately to the real Victoria’s harbour, the place we know is where the guided tour leave. The place that, in the end, really attracted us here in the south of the island – the most interesting part of it, naturally speaking, is the North.
Here is the place where every day of the year, many whale watching tours leave. Mostly they offer sight of orcas, or killer whale, since this is an area where many pods claimed their home.
We wander on the dock, amont the colourful hoses and the little maritime boutiques, selling home made accessories. But most of all, we get an idea about all the different whale watching tours leaving in the morning: not too many actually.
We are shocked, but we should have thought about that: the morning tour are already sold out and the one still available are only the afternoon ones, so we book with Eagle Wing Tour a 3 hours tour for 125$ each
Our planes are out in smoke: the idea was to do the whale watching in the morning and the slowly driving towards the north, but now everything has got to change, unless we want to give up on the whales, no way!
We are abliged to rewrite our plan – for once that we had one! – and enjoy a nice morning walking at the harbour and the driving north to driving north to Port Renfrew, the last inhabited outpost before the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, one of those visit that were part of our old plan and not of the new one anymore: a natural park along the ocean shore, with a typical dense fog and its never calm waters.
We do not arrive to Port Renfrew actually: we discover that the roads in Vancouver Island are narrow and windy, and the speed limits really low. So we have to turn our car around and go back, not to lose our whales and orcas.
Race Rocks Lighthouse, home to seals, sealion and seagulls
Finally we leave: we jump in the boat and run straight to the best places on the deck, ready to watch what we are waiting to watch. Just out of the harbour we get a sight of our first whale – that will also be the only one. It’s a humpback, she gets out of the water two or three times and then dive down with a last big breath, and we don’t see it anymore.
We then go to another part of the bay, to the Race Rocks lighthouse, a research center of the Pearson College, famous because it’s home to lots of seals, sealions, seagulls and other birds.
Then it’s finally time for the magic, we go searching for some killer whales. With great skills and experience, the captain leads us where he knows we will find them…and we do find them, here they are with their sprays.
All the orcas in the bay are catalogued, divided in their family groups, or pods, and the guide help us to identify them from their fins and white shapes around the eyes, all different from one another.
We wander in the bay for a while more, amazed at every spray and each little jump, even if it is just one in the distance. Sadly is not easy to find some jokester whales and orcas, maybe it will be the next time!
As soon as we get back on the land, still raptured by what we have seen. We run to our car and hit immediately the road, leaving towards Tofino, just some 300 km north, but it will be some really slow ones, even slower after the sunset for the fear of unwanted encounters – this morning we met a bear on the road to Port Renfrew, a bear on an island!
We cannot fully enjoy the landscape, the nice part of this road is the second part, after Port Alberni and we get there after the sunset, in the dark. But we already know tomorrow, on our way back, we will have a great time.
We arrive some 30 km from Tofino late at night. We find a nice parking lot which leads to a short hike, deserted, with an ominous sing which reads: “You are now in bear, cougar and wolves land, be careful”.
Taking our chances, we decide to set our bed in the trunk of our car in more or less one second, than we close the doors and close our eyes waiting for the first ray of sun in a few hours, ready for new adventures.
See you tomorrow!