As our inbox starts filling up with 2020 bookings and itinerary ideas, take a moment to consider visiting Carmanah Walbran Provincial park, especially if you are choosing to book a FarOut Wilderness Overland vehicle rental for your Vancouver Island tour. 

What is Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park?

Hard fought for in the 1990’s by a group of dedicated activists to protect the ancient forest growth, Carmanah was established as a provincial park in 1994.

It is home to ancient trees, epic cedars, giant sitka spruce and rugged unkempt wilderness. The routine flooding during the fall and winter months results in the boardwalks being upturned and relocated, a park maintenance nightmare. But this hard to manage forest is just what makes it so special, it is the wild west coast at its damp, overgrown, independent, gorgeous best. 

Why visit?

  1. It is stunning, the tranquility of the forest allows you to truly re-connect with nature, breath in the damp rainforest air as you marvel at giants.
  2. It isnt very busy – because it is slightly more difficult to get to, there are not the bustling crowds as with other areas.
  3. Its wild – they have tried to install a boardwalk, and handrails etc, but the forest wants to remain wild and flash floods have thrown the boardwalks aside and the fallen trees re-diverted paths. It allows you to experience what this island must have been like 100s of years ago.
  4. Its an adventure – from the moment you leave the tarmac, to be moment you set you wheels back on solid road its an adventure from start to finish, as you wind up steep rocky roads and peer across the forest to Nitinat lake, or descending into the valley and the trees get bigger and closer together, it is such an epic adventure.

Remember: If you are going to visit, follow the Leave No Trace camping rules.

CarmanahIs it difficult to get to?

To get there, it is recommended that you use a 4×4 vehicle. Whichever direction you choose, you will drive a few hours on logging roads to get there with the last section being quite rough. 

The beauty of booking through FarOut Wilderness, is that your Overland vehicle rental is covered to drive off-road. Our GPS 2 way messengers is perfect for staying in touch with loved ones of the FarOut Wilderness office as there is no cell service. 

Budget around 4 hours drive from Victoria. 

Getting there.

You can either take the highway 14 through sooke to port renfrew and then following the logging roads around to Carmanah walbran Provincial Park – if you aren’t booking with us, but would like up to date driving directions/conditions, please don’t hesitate to drop us an email. 

The second option is to take the Highway 1 north towards Duncan and turn off towards Cowichan Lake, you then pass through Youbou before leaving the tarmac behind and following the signs for Nitnat Lake. 

 

Hiking ideas.

Main entrance (via Nitnat Lake)

There are 2x relatively easy hikes to do in Carmanah – unfortunately neither are loops so you would reach your focal point and turn around.

Both hikes begin at the same point and descend into the valley – this is roughly a 700-1km walk downhill – remember this as you will end your hikes with a 700m-1km hike uphill at the end. 

After passing the Coastal Giant you will reach a fork and you can do either of these walks relatively easily with a small amount of log walking in involved. Both are about 1 hr. 

Left takes you to the 3 sisters – part of one of the sisters came down in the winter and is still an impressive sight laying on the forest floor. The path has flooded in areas and thrown the boardwalks up, as well as some parts of the path have washed away and you might need to scramble over logs to get across, this is entirely at your own risk to do so. 

You can continue on from here, but past the 3 sisters, the paths are not maintained.

 

Right takes you towards Heaven Tree and Stolhmans Grove this is slightly more overgrown than the 3 sisters but the path is in better shaped in parts, once you reach Heaven Tree and grove, the path get less maintained and you probably need to turn around. 

Camping Options

  • You can either camp at the entrance lot where there are 1 or 2 vehicle camping spots, tent pads and fire rings can be found within walking distance. 
  • During the summer months you can camp on the exposed gravel bars inside the valley floor. 
  • You can hike into one of the backcountry camping spots
  • Nitinat Lake – you can camp at nitinat lake campground which is roughly 45mins-1hr drive from the park. 

How difficult is Carmanah walbran?

Without sugarcoating it, it isn’t the easiest place to visit, as mentioned you need to drive off paved roads, you need to be prepared for rain, the weather can be unpredictable at the best of times. You need to be comfortable hiking in areas without visible sign posts. You need a satellite or GPS messenger service as there is no cell service in case of emergency. 

Renting one of our Overland vehicles on Vancouver Island, you have access to:

  • Detailed knowledge and routes for Carmanah Walbran Provincial park
  • Unlimited Mileage
  • Insured for off-road driving
  • GPS messenger system
  • Full equipped with all the camping gear you need.

But even with all that, we don’t recommend someone head in there without backcountry experience. 

For more information, contact one of our knowledgeable team members. 

7 Day South Vancouver Island Overland Tour – FarOut Wilderness

A nice short whistle stop tour of some of the more remote southern highlights the island has to offer. Note: The pick up from this tour starts in Victoria or at the Swartz bay ferry terminal – but everything is flexible – we can also organize transfers and ferry transport from Vancouver/Vancouver airport/Victoria airport/Nanaimo ferry terminal – just drop us an email and we will sort the rest.

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Inspired by our recent trip to North Vancouver Island (where we had over 10 bear sightings) and by many guests asking – what about bears? We thought we would help answer some questions. 

Whilst on our recent trip, we had bears in camp, bears on our hikes and bears whilst we were driving. Without too much encouragement, they will leave you alone, especially in more wilderness areas where they have not become accustomed to raiding tents for food, or being fed by tourists. But it’s important to camp responsible and not to leave out bear attractants. 

How can I avoid bears whilst camping?

Everyone wants to see bears, they are awesome, nobody wants a bear ransacking their tent though. Here are a few tips to help reduce the conflict between bears and campers. 

Food and food storage

Food is by far the biggest attractant for a bear.

Never store food in your tent – the vehicle comes with storage boxes and pull out drawers. Provided you have shut and locked the back of the vehicle, there should be no reason for food to be left out unattended. 

Provided food is locked away, a bear may walk around, but wont stay too long once they realise there is no food. 

If you are camping away from the vehicle, tie food into a bag and string up from a tree.

Coolers

If you think a cooler is enough to out-smart a bear, think again. 

They are clever creatures and will quickly work out how to open a cooler box and get at your food. Coolers shouldn’t be left unattended. Coolers with beers and cans in still count, they can open a can of beer by a curious bear. 

Pets

Whilst this is slightly hypocritical coming from someone that takes their dogs to all corners of the world. Pets are wildlife attractants, bears and other wildlife will come sniffing around because of the new and weird smells of your pets. Unleashed pets may cause a bear to investigate more thoroughly a campsite that it would have left alone. 

If you do bring your pets, keep them leashed. Trust from someone who has had bear and dog encounters, they are easier to handle if you have an already leased dog. 

Wash bags

As mentioned before, bears are curious animals and a tube of toothpaste or deodorant is as much of an attractant as food. Keep them locked in the vehicle. 

Garbage

Make sure that you have all garbage packed away. Do not leave trasharoos and other garbage devices on the back of vehicles unattended.

All garbage must be locked away in your vehicle or put into bear proof, locked garbage bins provided by the campsite.

Top bear attractants:

  1. All human food
  2. Pet food and livestock feed
  3. Garbage
  4. Cooking pots and utensils
  5. Cooking oils
  6. Fuel for stoves and lanterns
  7. Unopened canned beverages
  8. Cosmetics, insect repellents, lotions, toothpaste
  9. Bird seed and hummingbird feeders

What if you see a bear?

The most important thing to remember if you do encounter a bear is, don’t run!

If you run, you may very well trigger the bear’s predatory instincts and if it wants to catch you, it will. Stop and calmly assess the situation.

  • If the bear is not aware of you, quietly and calmly leave the area. Do not approach more closely for a picture or for any other reason.
  • If the bear is aware of you, identify yourself as a human. Talk to the bear in a calm voice and put your arms out to the side and move them slowly up and down. Avoid direct eye contact but watch it to see what it does next. The bear may run away immediately or it may look at you and then resume doing whatever it was doing, or it may approach you.
  • If the bear runs away, walk away in a direction different than the bear ran. Leave the area to avoid another encounter.
  • If the bear looks at you and then seems to ignore you, or continues looking, but does not retreat or approach, back away while you continue talking to the bear. Do not turn your back on the bear until you cannot see it and it cannot see you anymore.
  • If the bear approaches you, stop, stand your ground. Remain calm and observe the bear for clues to its mood or intentions.
    1. A defensive bear feels you are a threat.  Continue to talk to the bear and act in a non-threatening manner. When the bear stops approaching, continue backing up. If the bear approaches or charges you, stop again and wait for the bear back up a bit before you back up again.
    2. A curious or predatory bear does not make any noise, will point its ears forward and have its attention focused solely on you in a calm, non-agitated manner. If you have tried to back up and the bear continues to follow you in a slow deliberate manner and shows none of the signs of defensive aggression, you may want to try a new approach. Act aggressively, make yourself look as big as possible, make direct eye contact with the bear, yell at the bear, pick up a big stick.

Exciting news in the FarOut Wilderness family – For those sunchasers, you can now pick up a FarOut Wilderness Overland Vehicle in Phoenix, Arizona and explore the warmer climate of the Southern states of the US during our winter season special. 

Our first guests have booked onto our 2019 Arizona location offering Overland vehicle rentals in phoenix as of October 2019 and FarOut Wilderness will be offering 2x services throughout the winter. 

Why is FarOut Wilderness in Arizona – Each winter in British columbia, we are going to feature a different area where you can chase the sun and pick up a FarOut Wilderness Vehicle and customized tour. For the 2019 winter season, explore the rugged desert wilderness of Arizona or wind your way between Vancouver and Phoenix and experience the ultimate west coast road trip. 

For the short sun chaser:

Pick up your 4×4 overland vehicle rental in phoenix, arizona and spend 5 days exploring this gorgeous area. 

  • Tonto and coconino national forests: Home to huge expanses of red rock, cactus desert and vast pine forests. 
  • Sedona: A desert town near Flagstaff that’s surrounded by red-rock buttes, steep canyon walls and pine forests. It’s noted for its mild climate and vibrant arts community. 
  • Palatki Heritage Site: A site in a red sandstone canyon, home to ancient cliff dwellings with pictographs.
  • Grand canyon: A must visit on anyone’s list- this mile deep geological wonder offers so much more than just ticking it off a bucket list, with hikes, mule rides and rafting. 
  • Las vegas: Why not throw the vehicle in a parking lot for the night and make a night on the strip, I don’t think we need to give you too much detail about what you can get up to in VEGASSS!!
  • Death valley: If you do head over to Las Vegas, then continue on and see Death Valley National Park, this ecological wonder known for its Titus Canyon and Ghost town, also has Badwater Basin’s salt flats, North America’s lowest point and much more. 

There is so much more to see and do – get in touch to let us book an adventure of a lifetime. 

For the budding Overlander:

One way trips between Vancouver and Phoenix. Take 10-14 days and wind your way through Arizona, Los Angeles through San Francisco up through Oregon and Washington before finishing up the the stunning British Columbia to hand your vehicle back in Vancouver. 

 

Sample trip:

Day 1

Collect your adventure vehicle from a FarOut Wilderness rep, load up on supplies and hit the road. 

Drive to Joshua Tree National Park – with its signature ‘joshua trees’ this stunning park draws campers and hikers the world over. 

(Approx 4Hrs driving)

Day 2: 

Spend the morning hiking or simply relax before heading to Los Angeles – there are so many options for this city, so get in touch for some ideas and tips. 

Day 3:

Explore everything this city has to offer whether you want to do the tourist movie star tour and see the Hollywood sign or explore some of LA’s history, this incredible city has something for everyone. 

Day 4: 

Time to leave LA behind and head north to Yosemite National park – an Iconic park that has huge redwoods, thrilling rapids and stunning hiking, I know right – what more could you ask for. 

Day 5: 

Drive further north and choose from either Plumas National Forest, Tahoe National Forest, Lassen National Forest or Eldorado

alternatively-

Head west to San Francisco. 

Day 6: 

Hit the road again towards Crater Lake National Park – this striking geological feature is america’s deepest lake and offers stretch your legs and cycle along the rim of this gorgeous lake. 

Day 7:

Hit Mt Hood National Forest for a host of different outdoor recreational activities.

Day 8:

Come south around portland and cruise up the Hwy 101 to soak up the beauty of the Oregon coast. You have a choice of a number of different stops along the way.

Day 9: 

Head towards Mt Rainier and stand up awe at this giant beauty, either overnight here or continue to Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest a 4 million acre wilderness. 

Day 10: 

Time to say goodbye to the US and head to Vancouver and hand your adventure rig back to a FarOut Wilderness rep.

For more detailed itinerary please contact our team.

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Vancouver Island has a host of great mountain biking opportunities for the novice and thrill seeker alike. We have been scoping out a few great areas for you to hit.

 

Day Trips: Based in an around Victoria – these are easy day trips to get your fill on 2 wheels. Fancy making a weekend of it – rent one of our overland vehicles and head further afield.

Mt Work: An easy day trip for any Victoria base with some easy(fish) blue runs through black to some seriously difficult double diamond runs. Take care and enjoy.

Kinsol Trestle/Koksilah River: Park at the Kinsol Trestle car park and cycle the logging road (old Port Renfrew road) to Burnt Bridge – go across the bridge and cycle along the access road – don’t take the first right trail down, take the second. It is sign posted Kinsol Trestle Trail/Valley Trail. The first part is a bit rough and requires some skill, but then it eases up a bit with some nice fun flowy turns. 

Duncan

Mt Tzouhalem – A good mix of challenging blues and thrilling black runs. A good number of different runs to keep you busy for a good few hours. 

Maple Mtn: A small area with a few blue and black runs.

Cobble Hill: An even selection of green, blue and black runs. 

Weekend Excursions: Got the mountain bike gear but need a ride? Rent one of our Overland Vehicles and collect the keys and go – everything you need is included in the vehicle. Need to rent everything? No problem, we can rent bikes, racks and gear for you and have it all prepared for your arrival.

Book Now!To book your Overland Vehicle Rental now.

Nanaimo

Mt Benson: Majority black runs and access trails.

Westwood ridge and lake: Mainly blue runs.

Abyss Ridge/Spruston/Pipeline trails: A large selection of mainly blue runs.

Blackjack ridge/Doumont trails: A large selection for all abilities, a few greens, lots of blue runs and black runs and one or two double black trails thrown in.

For ideas on places to stay – check out our 4 Day – Mountain Bike tour.

https://faroutwilderness.com/your-adventures/4-day-long-weekend-mountain-bike-special/

 

Campbell river

Snowden Forest: A steady mix of all levels of riding.

Radar Hill: A combination of access trails, greens but mainly blue runs – with 3 or 4 black runs to keep the more competent happy – an ideal place for beginner to intermediate biker.

The pump house: A small area with a couple of blue and black runs.

Quinsam River Trails: A blue run that runs the length of the Quinsam River, its an unsanctioned trail so take care in parts where erosion may have occurred and ride at your own risk.

Beaver Lodge Forest Lands: Beginners haven, almost all green to get you up and running :).

Woods Creek: A small riding area that has a couple of blue trails and a few greens.

Need a few ideas? Check out our 8 Day tour.

https://faroutwilderness.com/your-adventures/8-day-mountain-bike-extreme/

Disclaimer: These are merely suggestions and you undertake these at your own risk, always make sure you properly plan and prepare before embarking on such excursions.

Try using Trailforks:

https://www.trailforks.com/trails/map/?activitytype=1&z=10.0&lat=48.83851&lon=-123.61336