WHAT WE LIKED: going back during the summer to this beautiful city where we lived for a few months. There are so many festivals and cultural activities during this time of year. You will have to make some choices (hard ones sometimes).
WHAT WE DISLIKED: first vanlife experience in a big city in North America. Hopefully we were able to park our vehicle in front of our friends house during our stay in the city.
WHAT WE ADVICE: riding a bike to visit the city especially in the summer time. The North American roads network is pretty straight so it will help you finding your bearings. If you are looking for a guided visit of the city without to have to pay a penny you can contact “Montreal Greeters” - a volunteer network of local guides.
NIAGARA FALLS ONTARIO
WHAT WE LIKED: they are not the most famous falls in the world for nothing. Being able to come that close from them and so easily is wonderful. Its horseshoe perfect shape is pretty impressive from above too.
WHAT WE DISLIKED: victim of its own success the area is surrounded by thousands of tourists 365 days a year. About the surroundings you can forget about the nature and birds singing. The city just right next to the falls is just a big lunapark where the buses are ready to unload their everyday tourists.
WHAT WE ADVICE: waking up early, very early. We arrived to the falls a bit before 6 in the morning and we had the chance to contemplate one of the most pictured site on earth only for ourselves.
ALGONQUIN PROVINCIAL PARK ONTARIO
WHAT WE LIKED: one guided canoe trip to discover one of the most beautiful park in Eastern Canada is an unforgettable experience. Being on the water during a misty morning and observing a moose eating from very close is something that will stick in our minds, believe us.
WHAT WE DISLIKED: mosquitoes. The number of these little creatures is insane. Even if we escaped from the black flies season we had so many mosquitoes bites all over our body.
WHAT WE ADVICE: highway 60 is crossing the South of the park. This highway is very busy and the access to the lake are full of campers/kayakers/hikers. For an authentic experience far from the crowd you will prefer the Western North of the park and might book a guided canoe trip (we only saw one other group of people in 4 days). We personally booked Voyageur Quest and we recommend them warmly.
> Canoe trip with Voyageur Quest
SLEEPING GIANT PROVINCIAL PARK ONTARIO
WHAT WE LIKED: because of its location far from Canadian metropolis this park is not really mainstream and therefore preserved from all the back and forth of selfie sticks. That doesn't mean the place is not worth it. On the contrary it’s a gorgeous area. If you have the courage and the legs to climb on the top of the sleeping giant (our longest hike in Canada) you won't regret it.
WHAT WE DISLIKED: the inconvenience of a little known place is that the government doesn't put as much money for the Park conservation. At first we were excited to see less signs than usual. After a lot of back and forth and two hours of looking for our way we were not that excited anymore.
WHAT WE ADVICE: bring a compass, a lot of water and start hiking early in the morning.
RIDING MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK MANITOBA
WHAT WE LIKED: in the heart of Manitoba province you will have the opportunity to observe the Lord of the prairies from the North of America. A herd of bisons is living in half freedom in the park (the enclosure is a few kilometers square). There are no barriers between you and these huge creatures. You enter in their territory with your car and hope to get out of there alive with your four wheels.
WHAT WE (ELISE) DISLIKED: what can be fascinating for one person can be scary for another one. An encounter with these big and impressive animals in the middle of nowhere, on a one way path (no u turn), with no service to call 911 in case of emergency can be stressful. And it’s even worse when two big males start to fight just next to your car to figure out who has the biggest horn, with the other bisons who are blocking the road. It can be tricky!
WHAT WE ADVICE: never step out of your vehicle even for a selfie with a bison. The laughing caw can be irritated when you are on its way.
WHAT WE LIKED: the treasure hunt we experimented to discover one of our favorite place in Canada. We read nothing about it in any of our guided books. We found this place by chance on the internet when we were looking for something else. These small rocky formations are called the Sandcastles and they stand on a private property but open to whoever founds the place. The landscape contrast is pretty impressive after that never ending path in the middle of the prairies.
WHAT WE DISLIKED: the lack of an ice-cream seller and the high number of cactuses around. We are kidding of course. It was perfect.
WHAT WE ADVICE: stop at the gas station at Beechy and ask for the map to reach the Sandcastles (if you look a bit on the internet you might find it but it's not as funny). For the potential campers we recommend you to hang up your tent pretty well because it can be very windy when the night falls.
WATERTON LAKES NATIONAL PARK ALBERTA
WHAT WE LIKED: the smallest park in the Rockies but nevertheless the least nice. This area where the prairies meet sharply the mountains is simply incredible et less touristy than its fellows more up North.
WHAT WE DISLIKED: the amount of forest fires in the area which made the visibility pretty bad.
WHAT WE ADVICE: go there at the end of the summer because the bears are coming down to the lakes to eat berries to have stocks for the winter. In two days we were able to observe twelve black bears from pretty close. If you like to hike we recommend the Crypt Lake trail. The view is just incredible up there. The hike is pretty steep but it’s considered as one of the most beautiful trail in the World by National Geography (bring a bear spray with you that you can buy over there).
BANFF NATIONAL PARK ALBERTA
WHAT WE LIKED: the snow that made the access to the area less easy. We were able to contemplate touristic places for ourselves only.
WHAT WE DISLIKED: the snow that prevented us to hike some trails that were closed for safety reasons. It also made things way more complicated for our vanlife.
WHAT WE ADVICE: avoid to go there during the summer time. You will be surrounded by tourists from all over the World. Prefer the fall season. You will enjoy the incredible colors over there.
JASPER NATIONAL PARK ALBERTA
WHAT WE LIKED: driving the 232 kilometers of the Icefield Parkway road with these incredible landscapes all along. It's definitely the most beautiful drive we had since we started our trip.
WHAT WE DISLIKED: our heater that decided to let us down when the temperatures were below zero degrees. Perfect timing...
WHAT WE ADVICE: don't follow the speed limits there. Drive way more slowly because you would never want to leave this place.
VANCOUVER ISLAND BRITISH COLUMBIA
WHAT WE LIKED: a bit bigger than Belgium the island is located in a rainy forest area. It's a dream spot for the outdoors lovers. We choose to do a kayak trip for a couple of days to observe orcas and whales.
WHAT WE DISLIKED: the word “moist”. It reminds us of Belgium weather (Vancouver Island is the place where it rains the most in North America).
WHAT WE ADVICE: bring waterproof clothes with you or never go to Canada. Especially not during the fall, the leaves are yellowish and it's ugly. This country is really not that great and the people there, let's not talk about it!
> Kayak trip with Grey Wolf Expedition
To have a better idea of our itinerary in Canada, check it out over HERE!