+ Why don't you use a professional photographer?
It's basically a question of integrity. The photos you see were all taken by Sean or our guides or clients while on trips. They have not been 'photoshopped' or touched up in any way. What you see in the photos is what you can see and photograph on one of our trips with a pretty basic point and shoot camera. We like things to be accurate and real, we do not believe in misrepresenting any of our trips (notwithstanding the fact that we tend to take more photos on sunny days).
+ What's included in the price?
All tours include pick up from your hotel in downtown Vancouver or Whistler, transportation, the services of your guide, all camping equipment, food/meals as listed in the relevant tour description, park permits and fees. There are no hidden extras, what you see is what you pay.
+ Do I need to buy loads of specialist outdoor equipment?
No, there's no need, please see our 'Preparation' page and the question below this one. It is our goal that you can come on one of our trips owning as little as a pair of hiking boots and some suitable outdoor clothing. You do not need to arrive in BC laden down with heavy and expensive camping equipment.
+ Can I rent gear from you?
Again, there's no need. We do not rent gear, we give it to you. We are not trying to 'nickle and dime' you, another West Coast Wonders difference. We provide tents, sleeping bags and mats and even backpacks should you really need them (though we prefer you buy your own for reasons of fit).
+ What is your guide ratio and what is your minimum and maximum group size?
Our maximum client to guide ratio is 5:1 and the minimum minimum ratio is 2:1 (except on private tours where this may differ). Maximum group size varies with each tour and the details are on the tour page though it is usually 8.
+ What will my guide do for me on the trip?
Apart from showing you the way your guide will cook your meals, help you with your equipment and pass on interpretive information and educational tips about backpacking, the natural environment and leave-no-trace hiking.
+ How much work do I have to do around camp?
Your guide will obviously be doing the majority of the chores that need doing. However, your help is always appreciated and will definitely speed things along. The more you muck in the quicker you will be on the trail and the more time for relaxation and rest stops you will have. At the very least you should be prepared to put up and take down your own tent and maybe put up tarps or dig a latrine. Washing up after your guides have prepared you a tasty and nutritious meal is always considered helpful.
+ Do I have to carry a share of the gear?
You will be expected to carry your own clothing and personal items. As far as possible your guide(s) will carry the communal equipment such as stoves, pots, pans, filtration systems and such like. You will however have to carry a tent or your share of a tent (approx. 1kg/2.2lbs to 1.5kg/3.3lbs), your sleeping bag (think 1-2kg or 2.2 - 4.4lbs), a sleeping mat (350g/12oz) and a share of the food.
+ Is it possible to hire a porter to carry my gear?
Yes, on most trips it is. Prices can be found on the Book Now page. Please note that you will still be required to carry a small amount of your own personal items. If you think about it there is no way porter can carry both all your gear and all his/hers at the same time. Having said that you should be left with not much more than a day pack.
+ Do you cater for solo travellers?
Single travellers are more than welcome. On our trips we charge no supplements for singles, a further West Coast Wonders advantage. You’ll get your own tent and some privacy at no extra charge.
+ Do you have any age limits for your trips?
We don't have anything official as we find that it is very much dependent on the individual(s) in question. Thus we have taken children as young as seven on day hikes and many people in their seventies on multi-day trips. If you have any questions about the suitability of a hike or trip please just ask.
+ How physically difficult are your tours?
We rate our tours according to three levels of difficulty - easy, moderate and strenuous.
Easy tours will be without overnight packs so they may be day hikes or overnight or multi-day trips from hut to hut. Elevation gain is usually minimal and the days will usually consist of relatively short distances (8-12km on a well prepared, generally level path).
Moderate tours may include longer sections (up to 10-16km) on easy to moderate trails with greater elevation gain and loss or shorter sections with more difficult trail conditions. In this case, although not lengthy and having no significant elevation gain and loss, they may have short steep sections and involve stepping/climbing over logs and walking on slippery roots, rocks, boulders or in boggy areas. These trails are not like going for a walk in your local park so please, be mentally prepared for this type of hiking even on a moderate tour.
Strenuous hiking may include still longer distances (up to 20km) generally over well prepared trails either with or without significant elevation gain and loss (if there is elevation gain it may be up to 1000m/3500'). Hiking might also involve shorter distances but trickier trail conditions as described above.
Please see our 'Preparation' page for information on the fitness levels needed for each individual tour.
+ How many people to a tent?
However many you would like. We have a variety of different sized tents from such high quality brands as The North Face and MEC and so we can accommodate whatever set up you prefer. If you want your whole family or group in one tent we can do that. If you’d like to split into 2 groups of 2 or a 2 and a 3 we can do that also. Likewise if you want to sleep on your own that’s no problem either, simply ask and we’ll arrange it.
+ What's the food like?
Excellent. On multi-day backpacking trips our choices are somewhat limited as weight and food preservation becomes more of a consideration but the food will still surprise you and will give you all the calories you will need for a hard day's hiking.
If you have any special eating requirements please note them on the booking form so that we can discuss them with you and accommodate them. We will happily cater for vegetarians and those with gluten or other intolerances.
Sample Menu -
Day One -
Breakfast: Eggs and bagels, peanut butter and jam, tea and coffee
Lunch: Smoked sausage, hummus, cheese and crackers
Dinner: Thai green curry with rice, chocolate fondue, tea and coffee
Day Two -
Breakfast: Oatmeal/porridge with fruit compote or nuts and honey, tea and coffee
Lunch: Tuna wraps with zesty salsa
Dinner: Pesto pasta with fresch grated parmesan, rice pudding with sultanas and cinnamon, tea and coffee
+ Are you a 'Green' Company?
Yes we are. We have been audited by Green Tourism Canada and have received our Silver Award. We donate money to many environmental pressure groups that aim to protect the BC wilderness and its magnificent forests. These include the Ancient Forest Alliance and the Wilderness Committee. We are also members of 1% for the Planet.
+ Will I see wildlife?
Very probably. Although we can never guarantee it, not seeing some form of wildlife or other at some point on our tours would be unusual. Bears are a very common sight in all three regions that we visit; the Sea-To-Sky Corridor, the Chilcotins and on Vancouver Island. If we’re really lucky we might also see wolves (especially common on the North Coast and Nootka trails) coyote, deer, elk or even cougar. Outside of the mega-fauna there will be a great many more smaller animals to marvel at such as the ubiquitous banana slug of the rainforest (which can grow to 25cm long!) or the multitudes of crabs, anemones and starfish you will see on a coastal adventure.
If guaranteed wildlife viewing is a 'must' for you then we would recommend a coastal hike since they provide greater opportunities and more chances of seeing animals than do trips in the mountains. This is not to say you won't see wildlife in the Sea to Sky region or the Chilcotins just that it probably won't be as certain or in the same numbers as on the coast. When observing wildlife your guide will explain the best way to do so in order that the animal(s) will not become stressed this will generally involve staying at a safe distance from any wildlife (safe meaning that the animal feels safe).
We rate each trip for its chances of seeing wildlife at the bottom of its tour description page. There are five levels. In descending order of probability these are: •Certain (maybe not strictly 100% but 99.0%) •Highly likely (i.e. it would be VERY unusual not to see this animal during a trip to this area) •Probable (it would be considered unusual not to see this animal) •Possible (chance of seeing this animal is about 50/50 to 30/70) •Less likely (although present in the area we would not have great expectations of seeing this animal, it would be a real bonus to see one)
+ Am I in danger of being mauled by a bear, a cougar or a wolf?
This is a common question but... well... it doesn't show a good understanding of hazard perception. The reality is that this would be an extremely unlikely scenario. All our guides are bear aware, carry bear spray and can soothe you with facts about the very low probability of something like this happening. In fact you're far more likely to bleed to death from the cumulative effect of mosquito bites, which brings us on to...
+ Will there be bugs?
In BC? In the rainforest? In spring and summer? Do bears poop in the woods?
+ Bears poop in the woods, what do we do?
Some backcountry campsites do have pit toilets but, if they don't, we'll be digging catholes and/or latrines. Please note we may be asking you to pack out your toilet paper, there are methods to do this with little fuss so don't worry about it too much.
+ What will the weather be like?
This is the West Coast and most of the areas our tours visit are covered in rainforest which gives some indication of what the weather can be like here on the ‘Wet Coast’. While high summer (July and August) are usually gloriously hot and dry there is always the possibility of rain, sometimes heavy, at any time in the summer. May and June can be positively damp. That’s not necessarily a problem though as the rainforest is best seen when it’s wet and waterfalls are at their most spectacular during the melt-water runoff between May and June. Indian summers are not at all unusual in September which is generally drier than May or June.
+ Why do your mountain tours not run in May, June or September?
The Coast Mountains have some of the highest recorded snowfalls in the world. It is not uncommon to see 3 to 4 feet of snowpack remain in the alpine until well into July. While there is no reason why you cannot still hike successfully in these conditions it does bring problems and we believe that this is not what our clients are looking for or wanting to experience, so we delay tours that go into the alpine until conditions are likely to be easier for travelling. Although September can be one of the nicest months of the year the chances of it being cooler on the mountains and perhaps even snowing increase as every day passes. Therefore we probably won't schedule any mountain trips after the first week of September.
+ Can I book a custom tour?
Absolutely. Just let us know what you would like to do and on what dates and we will draw up a custom itinerary for you. If it suits your needs and our availability, we’ll get it done for you. Please visit our 'Custom Vacation' pages for a form to complete.
+ How do I get to Whistler?
The easiest way is to get the Greyhound from Vancouver or, if you are at the airport the direct shuttle. Once in Whistler you do not need a car because it is a walkable village with excellent public transport. It also is also a cycling mecca and this is the mode of transport most people use during the summer. There is no need for a rental to get you there as it will just sit in the car park, relax and come by bus instead.