We have been avid campers our whole lives and together we have spent many a night around the camp fire with a cold beverage talking about how we couldn’t let children change our passion for the outdoors or hinder our ability to adventure. Then we had Phoebe… and we truly realised why a lot of parents fret about taking their precious little bundles out of the safety of home!

We had so many questions! How far should we travel, what should we take, how do we get Phoebe to sleep when its light until 10pm, and what if it rains?! Well, this blog is for those of you that have these very questions…!

How far should you travel?

On Vancouver Island everything, on a North American scale, is close – for you Brits, yes it may be more than an hour down the road but there is so much beautiful scenery to keep you entertained that you won’t get chance to ask “Are we there yet?!” In our experience, Phoebe is pretty happy doing anything up to 4 – 5 hours of travel (with a couple of stops for feeds and diaper changes). It’s great travelling together as one of us can be the in-house entertainer and, as she gets older, the snack provider whilst the other one drives and navigates. We have pushed the boundaries with longer journeys and have found that the key to success is not to be in a hurry and not to commit to anyone what time you will arrive.

What should you take?

The answer ISN’T everything… its NEARLY everything! We started with a packing list, and we were geeky enough to save it on the laptop so that we can now just hit print for every trip!

So, what to take, here are our top five:

  1. Travel Cot: Making a safe and comfortable place to sleep is priority number one. We tried to keep everything the same as home, from the cot sheet to the (battery operated!) noise machine – which has been great at blocking out the background noise of dinner and campfire chatter. When renting a vehicle from FarOut you can opt to add a travel cot to your rental and there is plenty of space in the tent annexe to place it so that your little one will be right there with you.
  2. High Chair: A great safe space for your little one. We have used a table-mounted high chair and a free-standing high chair whilst camping. The table-mounted chair has been fantastic as it folds down to nothing and can be attached to any picnic bench you find along the way. The free-standing high chair is more bulky but was a lifesaver on a recent trip to whistler where it rained for three days straight and their wasn’t a picnic bench in sight!
  3. Stroller: Yes, getting it to fit is always a pain BUT if you plan to visit any small towns or head out to lunch then it is worth its weight in gold as it is the perfect place for a long lunch-time nap, whilst you put your feet up and sip on a cold one!
  4. Baby Carrier: This is your freedom! Hikes become possible and the baby carrier is just the best snuggle spot after a feed!
  5. Groundsheet and play mat: Many places have pea-sized gravel as their base for campsites, great for drainage, terrible for crawling babies and toddlers who have learnt a pincer grip! Keeping your child on the groundsheet will be a challenge but at least you can create a space where they can have some floor time! Just don’t expect anything you take to come back clean…

How to cope with the light nights…

This one is easy, our rooftop tent and the accompanying annexe is a thick dark green material, it is effectively one large blackout curtain – so if you are taking our vehicle out you can make it dark any time of the day! We even managed a lie-in one morning! All of the fresh air and new experiences definitely help too!

What if it rains?

We recently had two solid days of rain in Whistler and we found that the combination of having the Gazebo (optional add-on), the awning over the camping kitchen and the annexe worked a treat. We changed our plans according to the weather and found some great little coffee hangouts for Phoebe’s day-time naps. They key to making sure our trip was enjoyable was having a VERY flexible plan and lots of warm and dry clothes as the dampness definitely left a chill.

Our top tips…

  1. Location, Location, Location: We love wilderness camping – but for our first few camping excursions we chose campsites that had a couple of amenities, just to make life easier for ourselves.
  2. Book! We love spontaneity but there is far too much to be thinking about, so book your campsites ahead of time so at least there is one less thing to worry about.
  3. Don’t be afraid to change the plan: If Phoebe has taught us anything, then its that Plan A is more of a dream-state with Plan D or E being more the reality! If its not working, then change it!

So, what are you waiting for? There are eight weeks left of summer and your next adventure awaits!

 

Fancy pushing the boundaries a bit and finding some remote locations?

Here are 9 of our favourite wilderness spots that you can get to with your vehicle. There are still many more amazing locations that can only be accessed by boat, kayak or foot.

 

1. Carmanah Walbrahn Provincial Park – An easy(ish) access from either side, although we prefer the west side, this protected area is home to some giant trees, wilderness trails and abundant wildlife. Check out our visit there (Insert) for pictures. There is space to camp either at the park entrance or backcountry camping is allowed in the summer months.

2. Cape Scott – The northern most protected area on Vancouver Island this is a rugged coastal wilderness famous for wolfs and other wildlife the rocky coast is punctuated by fine textured white sand beaches.

Note there are some road closures in this area at the moment.

June 3rd – June 7th 2019

June 10th – June 14th 2019

San Josef Main FSR

3. Telegraph Cove – You might have guessed it, named after the old telegraph system this was the northern terminus for the telegraph line. A 1 room telegraph shack that loggers, fisherman etc could use to stay in touch with the outside world. This is a great launch pad for excursions into the great bear rainforest or whale watching. Many of the old buildings still exist – built on struts in the water and connected with boardwalks although it has now modernised over the years.

4. West coast Trail – Technically the ends of this trail are vehicle accessible, but the vast majority of this 75km backpacking trail is not. Developed in 1907 to help facilitate the rescue of shipwreck survivors it is rated as one of the best hikes in the world. Only open from 1st may to 30 Sept and requires booking – if you have short time or not planned a trip, also consider doing the Juan De Fuca trail a bit further south on the Island

 

Main cave entrance – Upana Caves

 

5. Tahsis (For the Caver) – Tahsis was first settled by the first nations and remained largely unchanged until the 1900s when logging was first introduced. The first logging community was developed as a floating settlement to begin with – this area is still well known for its abundant wildlife. For the avid caver there are a number of great spots – from Coral caves to Weymer caves in Weymer Creek Provincial Park. If you are not an avid caver but want to check out and easy accessible site – we would recommend the Upana Caves located roughly 15 kms down the Gold river-Tahsis road, these caves are easy to get to and easy to explore around.

6. Coal Harbour – A marine hub this is worth a stop to look at the 6m Blue whale jawbone (the largest ever found)

Strathcona Park

7. Strathcona Park – The oldest park in BC, and by far the largest on Vancouver island, you have plenty of options to choose from here. Hiking, biking, relaxing are all on the menu. This park is famous for its numerous mountains, lakes, waterfalls and glaciers. You can do this the easy way or you can make it very difficult for yourself by hiking through it.

8. Hot Springs cove – technically shouldn’t be in this list as you need to take a boat from tofino but regardless, needs to be on here. You can do this as a day trip from tofino, but be warned that it gets busy in the peak seasons.

View of Woss Lake

9. Woss Provincial Park – You can drive to either the end nearest to the Hwy 19 and camp at Woss Lake Campground, but this won’t get you into the park, if you want to go inside the park, the best option is to drive to Tahsis and walk into the park from there – but you must note that this really is wilderness camping so make sure you do this safely.

Now heading back towards Nitnat Lake, the original plan was to go to tofino, but a reported heavy storm coming in succepered that plan and I had noticed a potential road leading down to the west coast trail so I thought I would do some more exploring back in that area.

Cathedral Grove (in the rain)

On the return journey, the dogs and I stopped off at Cathedral grove, located along the Hwy 4 between port alberni and the Hwy 19 Junction. This is another old growth protected area set in the Macmillan Provincial Park. The area has large amounts of sitka spruce, cedar and other beautiful trees and easily accessible for all abilities.

In Port Alberni again we refilled on gas and headed through port alberni and back to Nitnat, now remember it’s been raining pretty hard all day. Now, to make the drive harder it starts the hail, and it covered all those water filled potholes with a nice layer of hail slush.

The result? You cant see the potholes anymore – great fun 🙂

We eventually got to Nitnat and decided that we needed something dryer for the night and forked out for a night at Nitnat Motel. It was a wise choice as the thunder and lightning arrived soon after that. I think the dogs were most happy about this decision.

 

The next day is where the fun really begins as we try and find some new roads.

Again the importance of us doing these routes is so that we dont send you down some roads like these.

First stop – I wanted to try and connect the Rossandar Main road down to the west coast trail – I had to options and set off back towards Carmanah Park, but turned off right before. The road started out really good, but then started to narrow as there was a large amount of mature vegetation grown in on either side of the path, at a fork – I took the right road and the road narrowed to the point I decided to stop at a turning point to walk and see if it opened out again. (Obviously it was raining still), I’m glad I didn’t try and squeeze the car down here and damage the paint work, because this road leads to a dead end completely.

Mission number 1: FAILED.

Next mission Nitnat lake camp – located further down the lake than the other camp. But due to the storms of the past few days there were 3 or 4 large trees blown down blocking access.

Boardwalk at Carmanah Walbran Park

Mission 2: FAILED

Next was to try and go into the other side of Carmanah walbran to the former hummingbird research camp, the start of this road was great – but it soon became apparent that this too had not been used in a loong time, and it became slow going, I had to get out and move several types of debris from the road. Over a number of drainage ditches and around some very tight corners, eventually the road narrowed too much to get through without again significantly scratching the sides of the car, and I was forced to reverse 1km back to find a turning point. On the positive, it was a stunning view of the valley and a really pretty road. You could also camp at the section down this road as well where they have cut into the side of the mountain for turning large vehicles. 

Mission 3: FAILED

Next go into the other side of the Carmanah Walbran Park – again there was quite a bit of debris to move on the way, but we did manage to find it and get there.

Carmanah ‘The other entrance’

There is a small campsite located here and the area is maintain by the ‘Friends of carmanah walbran’ group. There is not car camping spots available really unless you camp on the side of the road. This is great to access a different part of this stunning area. There are a number of great little trails around here as well. Both sides offer very different perspectives of this beautiful Valley. 

 

Mission 4: ACCOMPLISHED

After our visit to Carmanah it was time to head back to home.

We now headed from here to port renfrew, along the way – keep a look out for Big Lonely Doug located once you reach the gordan road and running parralel to edinburgh main. Once reach Port refrew its paved road again and finally – THE SUN CAME OUT.

This is a fun, winding coast road that has stunning view of the ocean and just a great end to this little trip.

 

2019 FAROUT PRE-SEASON TRIP NUMBER ONE  – COMPLETED

 

Malawi to Botswana
Overland

Possibly one of my favourite road trips to date.

As always we were just in the right place at the right time, we got a call from one of the operators in the region to see if we could relocate one of their vehicles from Malawi to Botswana. We had just got back from a trip and catching up with work with FarOut Property, but this was too good to pass up so we jumped on it.

She was a gorgeous vehicle – A Toyota landcruiser – Absolutely in love with those beasts. Abbie got understandably concerned when I kept patting the dashboard and talking to her.

We decided to push all the way from Lilongwe to Lusaka in a day so as to have more time to play in the bush going through Zambia and Botswana. We stayed and caught up with old friends who had relocated there and hit the road again the next morning.

Next stop? Victoria Falls, we stayed at a campsite 10-15kms outside of livingstone in order to get away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist town.