So after we could finally pull ourselves away from Asia, we wanted to have a small travel break before emerging ourselves into South America which is a new continent for both of us. Having fallen in love with Canada 10 years ago when we both studied there, and after meeting a great Canadian couple who we promised to visit, the choice was quickly made. We headed over to Canada and made it our home for nearly 4 months. Canada was originally not on our list but Australia and Indonesia weren’t either and that is the fun of travelling, making changes and plans as you go. We did not plan on working on our trip either but we changed that by becoming a cherry picker for a month.
One of our biggest discovery in Canada was the Okanagan Valley which we have not heard much about previously. The Rockies or Vancouver Island is so well known as must sees, but the Canadian wine country is not and that is such a shame. We quickly fell in love with the stunning scenery, endless vineyards, fruit orchards and the relaxed feel. It’s a true summer destination and so we made Oliver our home for more than a month and loved every minute of it. We were so lucky to stay at our Canadian friends’ home and after being on the road for more than a year it was so nice to be part of a family. The family dinners, football games cheering, days out and not to forget getting to know all the secret spots only locals know. Ian and Lee opened up their home to us and we were touched at how we were taken up into their family after we met them in China for only a couple of days while hiking the Tiger Leaping Gorge trail and again in Lijiang when we stayed at the same guesthouse.
One of the many family and friends dinner
Our top 10 Okanagan Valley summer experiences were:
1. Being part of the fruit industry and picking cherries in the hot hot hot Oliver summer. Or pulling leaves at a vineyard.
2. Checking out the summer concerts at the Tinhorn Creek vineyard, we discovered Hey Ocean, a great Vancouver band, performing against an amazing backdrop accompanied by great wine.
3.Hiking up the iconic McIntyre Bluff in Oliver. The trailhead starts at the Covert farm parking lot. There is a sign set up with directions at the fruit shed or ask around, they are super friendly and will point out the way.
4. Managing 40 degrees days by dipping in one of the lakes in Oliver, Okanagan Falls or Osoyoos. The Okanagan Falls lake had the clearest water and a bridge to jump off of. Spot the little free library, a small wooden box with books you can exchange.
5. Choosing a couple of wineries and going for a wine tasting tour. NK’Mip in Osoyoos has great ice wine and it was interesting to see a Native Indian reserve vineyard. In Oliver, the vineyards with amazing views are Burrowing Owl and Tinhorn Creek. Bubbly ladies await you at the Silver Sage winery with their special spicy wine, white wine with a red hot chili pepper.
6. Not only fun in the winter but also in the summer, get yourself a 4 wheel drive and head up Mount Baldy, a popular ski resort 37 km from Oliver. On the road up, we saw lots of wild horses roaming around and once you are at the top and your shocks survived the road, you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of Oliver and its surroundings.
7. On Canada Day, start your day with the free pancake breakfast at the Oliver recreation center and end your day with the spectacular Osoyoos fireworks show.
8. Go floating down the Tuc el Nuit river, don’t forget to hang on to your bikini top…
9. Mid July to beginning of August is wildflower season and one of the best hikes with wildflower was the Heather Trail at Manning Provincial Park, 200 km from Oliver. We added the hike to the First Brother lookout and had a technicolor day.
10. As summer is ending and hockey season starts, go to a hockey game, get a seat down at the rink and cheer on as the guest team gets body checked by your team.
It was so hard to leave Oliver as we had lots of good old fashion summer fun in the sun here together with being part of our Oliver friends’ family in combination with the sheer beauty of the area. Having a home base for a month, which is longer than we had stayed anywhere up till then on our trip was such a great thing. For us, the Okanagan Valley is definitely one of our Canadian highlights.