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Oh, Canada: land of bustling metropolitan cities and stunning natural landscapes, friendly people and beautiful animals. It’s one of the most diverse large countries you can travel around. Below, HostelBookers choose four photos that sum up why you should be planning your next trip right now…
1. The Northern Lights, Churchill, Manitoba
Emerald green ribbons of light flash across the night sky during the winter months in Canada’s northernmost regions. Because of its lack of light pollution Churchill, Manitoba, has been cited as one of the world’s top three places to catch the Aurora Borealis’s dazzling display – and if you visit from January through to March, you’ve got a good chance of seeing the lights yourself. Specially-built Aurora Domes mean you don’t even have to brave the elements to catch the show: simply drive three miles out of town to the old rocket range the domes are built on, climb in to your personal bubble and let the heaters keep you warm as you nestle down to watch the night sky. This isn’t the only reason to visit Churchill: you can go on daytime tours to see beluga whales and polar bears too.
2. View from the CN Tower, Toronto
Whizz up 342 m in a glass elevator to the CN Tower’s outdoor observation terrace, and see what the views are like from the western hemisphere’s tallest building (hint: good). There’s also a glass floor section at this level, showing the toy town-like city directly below, which you should definitely walk across if you dare, and a revolving restaurant for fancy sunset dinners and cocktails. Once you’re back on terra firma, there’s plenty else to do in Ontario’s diverse capital city: go to the beaches on Lake Ontario, catch a Toronto Maple Leafs game at the Air Canada Centre or walk and eat your way through Chinatown, Koreatown, Little India and Little Italy.
3. Grizzly Family at Glendale Cove, British Columbia
Want to get up close and personal with a mama grizzly? Book a bear viewing tour at Knight Inlet Lodge in Glendale Cove, British Columbia around autumn time and you may be able to see up to 50 bears within 10kms of the lodge. September and October is the prime season for bears, who head to Campbell River to hunt returning salmon – watch them do their thing in their natural habitat from the safety of your guided tour. If you want to see more of Canada’s beautiful and diverse wildlife in this area, you can also go on an orca-watching tour to the Johnstone Strait (starting at the lodge) or a peaceful rainforest walk through the Kwalate valley.
4. Surfing in Tofino, Vancouver Island
Surf’s up! Catch the perfect wave from Tolfino, Vancouver Island, Canada’s unofficial surf capital. Over summer, the waters heave with surfer dudes and dudettes, and the town’s hotels, bars and cafes are packed out all season long. Rent equipment from one of the shore-side dedicated stores, book in some lessons if you need to (there are plenty of surf schools set up round here, head to the Tourist Information Centre on the Pacific Rim Highway for updated info on where to go) and most importantly, stay safe! Surf conditions are changeable and the water is cold, so make sure you keep an eye on the local water and weather conditions. Away from the breaks, there’s plenty to do around Tolfino. Take a day trip to the natural hot springs of the Maquinna Marine Provincial Park, or go on a whale watching cruise between February to April around Clayoquot Sound and Barkley Sound to see feeding grey whales, humpbacks and orcas.