Part 16 (21 May - 26 June) Canada


After 1 year of driving across Asia we were looking forward to a change of scenery and, well, some solitude! In Vancouver we checked in to our AirBnB of very friendly Taiwanese hosts and discovered that Vancouver has a large Chinese population similar to what we have seen in a lot of Asian countries we've visited. Our hosts were lovely and gave us a room with a wall-to-wall poster of Amsterdam, making us feel right at home. Funny fact was that they bought it at IKEA never knowing this was Amsterdam. 




The ship carrying our car would arrive the next day, and at customs we were informed that the car would only be released to us if it would succesfully pass a soil exam (dirt check). This exam would cost 280 euro and if our car would fail, it would not be accepted into Canada. In that case it would need to be shipped to another country, because Canadian ports don’t have cleaning and quarantine facilities... This was trickier than we thought! We soon found out that some people shipping their car from Germany had been rejected and were forced by Canadian customs to ship their car back to where it came from. For us this could mean back to Indonesia. So we kept our fingers crossed and hoped that all our cleaning efforts in Indonesia would pay off!

After 2 stressful days of waiting we received the great news that our had car passed the exam with flying colours and we could come and pick it up. Clearing customs was a breeze and after almost 5 weeks without our car we were reunited and our Canada adventure could begin!

First stop: Vancouver Island


We took the ferry to the south of Vancouver Island and noticed right away how easy it was to drive in Canada. Wide, quiet roads without potholes, with functioning traffic lights and clear rules for speed and overtaking. Our first day of driving and we already loved Canada! 

Our Canadian dream consisted of: beautiful nature, cooler weather than sticky hot Asia, not-so-sweet bread, easy bush camping and some solitude. And Jeroen wanted to fish for some dinner.

Vancouver Island provided all this within the first week we were there. We found great camp spots at the most beautiful blue lakes surrounded by snow capped mountains, where Jeroen was able to catch some fish which we prepared in our first self-made campfire on this trip. It was great weather, 20 to 24 degrees Celsius with lots of sunshine. There were Black Bears and Grizzlies on and next to the road, and at a beach campsite we were treated to the lovely sight of 2 Grey Whales playing just off the coast. We even spotted a Cougar! This is extremely rare, locals who have lived on Vancouver Island all their lives told us they had never seen one and that we had been very lucky!  

Incredibly, the wildlife we saw in 1 week on Vancouver Island was more than we observed in the whole of our trip so far! The animal we really wanted to see was the killer whale or Orca, it was on the top of our wildlife-watching-bucket list. We were told that these don't come close to the shore and therefore you need to book a tour to spot them from a boat. But even then this was still considered to be a lucky shot as they only visited these waters 3 to 4 times a month. 

A tour operator told us they had spotted killer whales that same morning and that the chances of spotting them again was very high that day, so if two more people wanted to come along they would take the 4 of us that same afternoon. We waited it out and again we were lucky, two cool Dutchies showed up to join us on the trip. Keeping our fingers crossed that our lucky streak would continue we hopped in the boat, looking like Michelin dolls with our red life suits on, and headed in the direction where the Orcas were spotted that morning.

After half an hour the boat came to a stop and our guide told us that he couldn`t find them, we had to wait for one of the other boats to radio them in and give the location. Just as we were about to give up and head back, one of the other boats spotted them and with high speed we raced to their spot.

And there they were! A pod of 5 Orcas,  2 grown male, 2 female and 1 baby. Absolutely stunning to see these wild animals up close and personal, a dream came true! With 8 minute dives, they all came up at the same time for 45 second swims at the surface. Beautiful! 

All happy and exited we returned to the car where a German couple had stopped their bikes to check us out. They told us they owned exactly the same car, even in the same colour and that they had made almost the same trip as we did. We were invited to their home to trade stories, and unbelievably, on their driveway we found an almost identical copy of our car! We joined them for dinner, took a shower, did a laundry and slept at their driveway in our car. Everything an Overlander could wish for. We had a great German BBQ meal with bratwurst and ‘saur kraut’, and couldn't stop exchanging stories of our travels. The similarities between Marcus and Jeroen and Verena and Nicolette were really funny. Marcus and Jeroen both being overly cautious on where to camp and Verena and Nicolette making a big deal out of parking “levelled” for example, it made us feel a bit less strange as a couple :). We had a great time with them and had to say goodbye too soon, but that is also part of being an Overlander, the road calls and the journey must continue.




At one point we were driving toward a campsite which was very secluded, we had to reach it by following a logging road. Arriving at the campsite we found a big sign: Campsite closed due to aggressive bears in the area. Right, let`s move on.

5 minutes later we got our second flat tire on this trip... uh oh...

Needless to say, Jeroen was a bit nervous changing the tire, so with Nicolette on the lookout for bears, Jeroen was able to change the tire with Formula 1 team speed.

From Tofino we made our way to the north of Vancouver Island but soon discovered that our original plan to take the famous Inland Cruise-Ferry to the Canadian north was extremely expensive. So flexible as we must be on our travels, we changed our plans and after almost 2 weeks of exploring Vancouver Island we took the regular Vancouver ferry back to the main land. While waiting to board the ferry there was a knock on our window. A gentleman introduced himself and told us he and his wife made the same journey as we did 15 years ago, they now lived in West (North) Vancouver and invited us to their house. As a week had passed since we had a shower, laundry and shared great fellow Overlander stories, we happily accepted his invitation and were welcomed to their beautiful villa.


Again we had a great time. It is hard to explain but fellow Overlanders tend to have an instant connection because they understand the challenges involved in this kind of travel so well.

Going north from Vancouver we took the scenic road up to the ski resort village of Whistler and found out straight away that we much prefer the less touristic logging roads instead of the main tarmac roads. These gravel roads go straight through the rugged mountains and green meadows of British Columbia where there is less traffic and the chances of spotting wildlife are much higher. It is also easier to find a nice quiet camp spot along the logging roads as the big rental RV’s cannot use them (their insurance doesn’t cover that, yay :)

Canada is overflowing with RV’s both rented and privately owned, we were amazed to see so many and decided to avoid the main touristic routes as much as possible.

Many camp spots were free to use and even provided a table, fire pit, well-maintained toilet and sometimes even chopped wood ready for you to burn: this country is bush camp heaven! Canadians clean up after themselves and follow the “leave no trace” policy to the letter. We loved it and we were doing great on our budget at the same time. Every 3 to 4 days we would do some grocery shopping and get a shower somewhere to freshen up.

We reached the 2 most touristic and well known national parks in Canada: Jasper and Banff, connected by the “most scenic road of Canada”: Icefields Parkway. Yes it was a very nice road... for RV’s. Smooth tarmac surrounded by snow capped mountains, waterfalls and blue lakes on the route. But to be honest, we preferred the rougher, less touristic back country logging roads. In the parks we found many tourist elbowing their way to a selfie spot and needless to say, little wildlife besides deer and elk accustomed to people. We decided it was time for us to move on. 

Driving away from the tourist madness we came across a bush camp spot at a totally secluded lake at the edge of British Columbia. Within an hour we got company from a local hunter who had battery problems with his Quad and was afraid he would have to walk home. We were able to help him out and were treated to funny local hunting stories about moose who got upset and bears chasing his quad. When he left and peace returned to the lake, we were visited by a moose mom with 2 babies, an incredible sight! Check out our Canada video for these adorable images.



We left British Columbia and entered Alberta, the scenery changing the instant we crossed the state border. British Columbia is very rocky, with lots of tall trees, blue lakes and waterfalls. Alberta on the other hand resembles Flevoland in the Netherlands. It is flat, very flat, with lots of grassy fields and lots of farming lands. The difference couldn’t be bigger.

But as we drove along, the earth suddenly seemed to open up in front of us to reveal Dinosaur provincial park and the Royal Tyrell palaeontology (dino) museum in Drumheller. This was the most awesome Dinosaur exposition we had ever seen. We were blown away by their multitude of perfect dinosaur skeletons and their research facility. Check out the pictures!

Waterton Lakes National Park


In the south of Alberta, just before the USA border we visited our last Canadian National park called Waterton Lakes. This park has some really cool trails and we decided to stay two days to walk two of these famous trails. The guidebooks didn’t exaggerate. The trails were pretty tough, the first one very steep up with an amazing view when reaching the top and the other 17km through forest, mountain trails, meadows, slippery glaciers and finishing at a completely iced over glacier lake. This was an amazing trail! When we almost reached the top, there was an older lady who came up to Nicolette. She had just passed by Jeroen and asked Nicolette if he was her “fellow”. Nicolette told her he is and the lady sighed and said: “Ohhh he smells so good! And that after such a tough hike, he is amazing!”  Nicolette didn’t have the courage to tell her that we didn’t have a shower for a week...



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