Lotus Land Tours Blog

Conference Activities

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We are reaching the last bit of conference season. Vancouver is a huge convention and conference city with tons of venues including Canada Place and various big hotels.  This was a big summer with many meetings of engineers, pharmasists, artists, businesses, teachers, doctors, dentists, financials… the list goes on.  It is nice to step back from ‘the profession’ and get out a little. Whether it is to have some private time or to get to know your peers that is not in a symposium or dinner setting, there are many things in Vancouver to share. Come out and share more than your newest peer reviewed paper, or research or technique.  In fact let us take you out. Contact us to book a tour. See some more ideas below.

Alaska Cruise Ship Canada Place

Canada Place- Vancouver’s Convention Hub and Cruise Ship Docks

Our tours can pick-up you or you and your group from the Conference Centres, Docks, or Hotels, wherever is the most convenient to make it easy to make the most out of your down time. There are several tours easily accessible in and around downtown Vancouver. They range in length from a few hours to a full day. We would relish the chance to show off this lovely city and to let you explore around it.  Vancouver is a convention and meeting hub and its not just for its world class facilities.  Think beaches, rainforest, mountains, wildlife including orca and humpbacks and bald eagles, boating, kayaking. Lotus Land Tours offers all of these opportunities. We hope to see you soon.

 

Sunset Spectacular

Sunset’s in Vancouver have been absolutely unreal lately. They look like paintings! Nowhere else can these colours be found in nature. Read on for the best sunset viewing spots both high and low.

These fall sunsets are leaving both locals and visitors alike completely entranced. check out some stunning sunsets in Vancouver before the rainy season hits! If you’re looking to spend an evening watching the stunning purples, pinks, and yellows transform the sky, here’s a small sampler for where to watch the sunset in Vancouver.

sunset

Sunset overlooking English Bay and downtown Vancouver from Burnaby Mountain

First get high. Get up a mountain. Sunsets always look a little more spectacular when you’re closer to the sky. If you want to get a better view of the sunset from higher up, head up to a local mountain to catch the last rays of sun. Cypress Mountain has a great lookout point halfway up to the ski hill that’s usually full of other sunset-worshipers during the golden hour. It’s a great option if you have a car. Burnaby mountain above as a clear area at the top with a restaurant, picnic tables and lots of grass looking west. Otherwise, if you’re relying on transit, the view from atop Grouse Mountain is unparalleled. Plus you can eat nachos while watching the sun set. Bonus! No car no problem. There is another prime spot in easy range of transit and the downtown core.

English Bay Sunset

The Inukshuk at Englsih aby against a fiery sunset.

How could you not make a list about sunsets in Vancouver without including Sunset Beach in English Bay? Not only is Sunset Beach a great place for fireworks in the summer, but it’s also a great place to catch a sunset any season. Grab a blanket, a log (or a piece of grass), and settle down to people watch until its magic hour. Otherwise, if you don’t like the cold, the Boathouse overlooking the beach is a fantastic place for a romantic sunset date (with a significant other or with friends!)

Salmon of the West Coast

All about SALMON! Salmon are a key species of the West Coast. Unfortauntely they are in trouble. Read on to find out about the 5 species and what is happening this salmon season. It is not a good situation. Find out what can and is being done to help by investigating sustainable seafood options and salmon restoration!

Salmon are not created equal. In British Columbia there are five distinct species. They all share a similar outward appearance, but offer a marked distinction in flesh colour. Chinook migrate upstream from spring through fall as far as 1,500 kilometres (932 miles) inland. Chinook fry may go to sea soon after hatching, or after one to two years in fresh water. Adult Coho usually return to fresh water between late summer and early fall. Most choose streams close to the ocean, although some will journey as far as 1,500 kilometres (932 miles) inland. Young Coho fry are different than the other salmon species as they stay in their spawning stream for a full year after they emerge from the gravel. Pink salmon fry migrate to the sea as soon as they emerge from the gravel and live almost their entire two years in ocean feeding areas. Adults leave the ocean in the late summer and early fall and usually spawn in streams, not fed by lakes, that are a short distance from the sea. Sockeye spawn in streams with lakes in their watershed and stay in those lakes for one to three years before migrating to sea. They move rapidly out of the estuaries and thousands of miles into the Gulf of Alaska and North Pacific Ocean where they feed. They return to their spawning stream when they are three to even six years old.

Salmon in British Columbia

Chinook Salmon struggle upstream to spawn.

But our salmon are all in big trouble. Changing climate, warm salmon streams, over fishing, fish farms introducing diseases, parasites and removing wild juveniles. Recreational fishing for salmon — including Chinook and possibly Chum when they arrive later in the year — is closing. This is taking place so that sockeye aren’t inadvertently caught while other salmon species are being fished. There has been a limited aboriginal ceremonial and food fishery this year, about 100,000 fish of the one-million-plus salmon First Nations could take in a normal year. This year, in the four-year sockeye cycle, is normally a low year for sockeye, but the 2016 forecast of 2.27 million was lower than the average of 3.9 million over the past half century. As fish returned this year, the numbers got worse. For Chinook salmon, the expected numbers were 2.2 million for this year. They are only around 70,000. In the early part of the run only 70 Chinooks were counted going up the Fraser river to spawn over a 10 week period. Not good. Many salmon festivals have been cancelled because of this storage. Lotus Land would like to encourage all our guests to look for sustainable seafood choices on this coast and at home in the hopes that one day all these stocks will recover.

With information from Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

salmon British Columbia

Guide and owner Peter Loppe shows off part of the kayaking tour’s sustainable caught BBQ salmon luncheon.

 

September Whale Watching

Whale Watching: the best way to observe these intelligent amazing orca and humpbacks. Book a whale watching tour for an unforgettable experience.

Whale watching in September is in full swing and many companies are seeing whales almost every single day! Stay tuned for videos! If British Columbia is famous for one thing only, it is its wildlife.  None has received more media attention and acclimation than Killer Whales, or Orcas as most locals call them.  The most famous of the many types and pods of orcas are the Southern Residents.  They were listed as critically endangered in 2005 and remain so. There are 3 clans: J pod, K pod and L pod. For a total of 82 in September if 2016. During the Spring, Summer, and Fall, the southern residents tend to travel around the inland waterways of Puget Sound, The Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Salish Sea. They don’t go North of Seymour Narrows as that is the range of the Northern Residents Orca, a different eco-type unrelated to the Southern eco-type. The Southern Residents only eat Chinook Salmon which are in decline and also threatened. This is one of the reasons their numbers remain low. No salmon, no orca. Earlier on in our seasons most of the whale watching sightings consisted of the marine mammal eating Bigg’s Orca. The below photos were taken on our whale watching tours.

whale watching

What lies beneath our coastal waters?

To see these animals in their natural habitat, safely and with minimal disturbance, Lotus Land can arrange tours with one of the many reputable whale watching companies in the Vancouver area that will suit your families requirements and convenience. Ask which tours guarantee their sightings. Some companies offer a free trip if no whales are spotted. There are strict regulations regarding boats when there are whales in the area and the fines are steep so it is best not to venture out on your own.  June, July and August are the best times weather wise though they can have been seen since early April. September is currently being full of Southern Resident sightings or you may see Bigg’s orca which eat only marine mammals. Boats go out rain or shine it is only rough sea conditions that keep vessels at dock. On a covered boat there is no risk of splash or getting wet. You may also see sea lions, harbour porpoises, harbour seals, humpbacks, minke whales and grey whales and lots of other wildlife. Plus the scenic beauty in which these animals roam.

west coast whale watching

Whale watching or are the whales watching you?

Souvenirs

Don’t forget a Souvenir of your stay with us! Authentic First Nations art work, clothing and jewelery are found no where else but at their origins.

Souvenirs are a must for any vacation. However, there is a difference between ‘made in China’ and ‘made by the artist you just chatted with’. There are wonderful boutique shops on Water Street in Gastown. Here you can roam the many stores to find Canadian and Vancouver souvenirs, clothing, and locally made one of a kind crafts. If you are lucky, some of the local galleries may have an artist at work during your visit! One of my favorites is the wonderful masks made by the Haida, Tshimshian, Tlingit, Kwagiutl, Nootka and Coast Salish First Nations. Look for Authentic Indigenous, an initiative of Aboriginal Tourism B.C. The authentication system isn’t based on an artist’s degree of ancestry but on the authenticity of each artist’s indigenous practice. Don’t fool yourself into buying knockoffs made outside of Canada or are cheap replicas.Don’t fool yourself into buying knockoffs made outside of Canada or are cheap replicas. An excellent gallery is Lattimer Gallery on West 2nd near Granville Island that have signed up for Authentic Indigenous.

Authentic West Coast Souvenir

Look for the Authentic Indigenous tag or sticker for art, textiles and cliothing made by and produced byWest Coast native artists

There are native art galleries scattered all over Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Granville Island has moth native art galleries and other art forms such as glass blowing, pottery and more. Many of the smaller boutique galleries are run by the artist or by a collective with monies spent staying in the community and not going to 4th party ownership or producers. There is tons to choose from. Not only paintings, carvings and sculptures but shawls, hand beaded moccasins, instruments, jewelery, t-shirts and many beautiful objects d’art. It is good to explore a bit and find the one that speaks to you the most. Prices can range form just a couple dollars to really burning a hole in the credit card. Essentially, there is something for all pocket books. Ask Lotus Land for some recommendations for a good place for real Canadian treats and souvenirs.

authentic west coast salish art and souvenirs

A plethora of beautiful art at Fanny Bay Trading in Comox Valley

 

Sea to Sky Hike up Stawamus Chief with views of Howe Sound

Hike the Sea to Sky: a Stunning Hike with views of Howe Sound and the surrounding mountains and waterfalls

I was just in Howe Sound yesterday and I was again struck by its beauty. There is an emerald green algae bloom affecting the area around Vancouver and the Sound which is making the waters absolutely lovely. Water is still safe to swim in. A bird’s eye view of the Sound is provided to you by Lotus Land. We offer a guided hike from sea to sky. This day trip takes you along the sea and into the mountains. The day starts with a pick-up from your hotel and a drive along one of the top ten most beautiful highways in the world. Drop off is at the trail head where you and your guide will hike to the top of Stawamus Chief. A monolith towering 700 metres above the Sound.

Sea to Sky Hike

The top of the world. Sea to Sky at Stawamus Chief

You will likely work up a bit of an appetite. Good thing a picnic lunch awaits you at the top. Savor west coast delicious like candied local wild salmon, cheeses, and fresh fruit fondue. Food always tastes better with a view. We recommend that to participate on this hike you be fairly fit. We also would like you to wear good hiking or walking shoes, an extra layer and prepare for the weather. Hat, sunscreen, rain jacket, sunglasses or other appropriate hiking accessories. It is possible to see eagles, turkey vultures, grouse, and smaller woodland critters on this hike. On the one hour drive form Vancouver keep an eye on the water as killer whales and humpbacks are sometimes spotted in the waters of Howe Sound. Note that gratuities are at your descretion on all our tours. Book now as with this great weather the tour has been popular.

A sea to sky visitor

A least chipmunk is one of the tiniest creatures you may see on your hike up Stawamus.

Downtown Attractions

Vancouver Attractions an easy walk from downtown or see more with one of our city tours!

Attractions in Vancouver are plentiful and varied. Vancouver’s core area is mix of neighbourhoods. The contrast between bustling, busy Chinatown and the mellow pedestrian tree lined avenues of the West End are two opposite ends of a wide spectrum. Lotus Land provides a customizable Vancouver attractions tour which can include anything from Stanley Park, Gastown, China Town. Coal Harbour, the beaches and Capilano. This tour includes hotel or curise dock pick up and drop off in our air-conditioned vehicles. The sparkling iconic globe Science World is a family favorite. It is located at the picturesque East End of False Creek and is easily accessible by foot, car or transit. The kids can interactively learn about….well….everything! Parents will pick up some new facts too. Temporary exhibits and Imax shows are always changing so there is something new all the time.

City Tour attractions

Story poles at Stanley Park. An option to explore on our City Tour.

If you want to get a perspective of all downtown Vancouver is and ass to offer, take a different way of seeing it. Surrounded by water, a comfortable and exciting way to get a whale’s eye view of the city is to take a harbour tour. You can even head out of the city to very scenic Horseshoe Bay to have an eco-tour. Seeing bald eagles, harbour seals and humpback whales and killer whales are occasionally seen as well. The eco-tours are available three times daily. If you want to explore under your own power there are several locations where Lotus Land offers kayaking and canoeing options. These include English Bay and Deep Cove. English Bay kayaking gives one the city perspective and Deep Cove gives a more back to nature experience and includes lunch. All these options include hotel pick-up and drop off. Book this or any tour using our contact form.

English Bay looking at downtown attractions

All the Downtown Attractions from a kayak tour

Whale Season So Far

Whale Season Recap. An Incredibly successful summer for cetaceans!

Whale watching season on the West Coast is in full swing. Many companies are reporting higher than average sightings. Most companies are posting a 90-93% success rate. In the Vancouver area, orca have been seen frequently. Around Victoria there have been lots of humpbacks. Either species can be seen on any day. The tours go out rain or shine. It is only high winds that may keep the boats at dock. There have even been several days where orca and humpbacks have been sighted really close to Vancouver,. In addition to these lovely animals, other creatures are often spotted. Bald Eagles and other avian species are popular with the bird watchers. Other marine mammals sighted are harbour and Dall’s porpoises, harbour seals and even the very occasional minke whale or pacific white sided dolphin. Not only animals but depending on where the whale sightings are coming from that day, there is gorgeous scenery of the San Juan Islands, Southern Gulf Islands, or Howe Sound. Or maybe the whales are in the expanse of the Strait of Georgia. We never know! Everyday is different.

Whale Watching out of Vancouver

Who know what lies beneath the waves.

If you want to come out to have a chance at seeing what nature has in store for you, we recommend booking early as possible. It has been a very busy whale watching season with record numbers of tourists and cruise ship passengers coming through Vancouver. We also recommend booking early because of there is a wind delay, you may be more flexible and can book later when the weather is better. Speakikng of weather remember to dress for it. We always recommend the following: hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, lunch, camera, extra layers or a rain coat should the weather forecast call for it and most importantly keen eyesight. Often it is guests who spot the whales first. Many companies provide complimentary bottled water. Below is pictured the Jing-Yu, a brand new purpose built whale watching boat. One of the few vessels on the West Coast specially designed for whale watching.

One of the few purpose built whale watching vessels on tis coast.

Jing-Yu means whale in Chinese Mandarin.

 

White Water Rafting

Whitewater Rafting – Splash down fun! It’s hot so cool down.

Feel the spray on your face as you paddle madly through seething water. Shoot through  canyons, dodge the rocks and swerve around the next bend in the river. Few experiences get the adrenaline pumping like whitewater rafting in British Columbia.Whistler is one of the best places in Canada to do this exciting yet very safe sport. Raft Class 2-4 rapids. These classes of rapids require no previous experience or skill. The white water rafting trips run from 2-3 hours and you will float by old-growth rainforests, snowy glaciers and mountain peaks. Wildlife is often seen including North America’s largest raptor: the Bald Eagle. Turkey vultures, Belted Kingfishers and deer are often spotted as well.

Lots of spray white water rafting

Why they call it white water rafting! Look at the grins!

The trip combines the bouncy fun of the rapids and scenery that will leave you breathless. Although the ability to swim is an asset it’s not essential on the these tours. The BC rafting guides will go over all the safety info and will teach you everything you need to know about rafting with us. We take people rafting of most shapes and sizes and of all fitness levels. Minimum age required is 12 years, as well as a minimum weight of 90 lbs per person.Do note that only water-proof cameras should be brought on board. Go Pros are the handiest brand. The trip includes a hotel-pick up from Vancouver or Whistler. This is a day trip of about nine hours with an incredibly scenic drive along the Sea to Sky highway to start and finish the day. Book soon. A minimum of two participants is required for this trip.

White Water Rafting

Wet rafters after the adrenaline surge

Fireworks Celebration

Fireworks in the sky and firey weather! Celebration of Light and Shorefest on now!

Fireworks: The Celebration of Light, three nights of explosive colour by three different countries is on now. The last night is tomorrow Saturday July 30th. English Bay waters will reflect the fireworks display. The United States of America finales the competition with the production being done by Disney. It promises to be amazing. Hard acts to follow as the Netherlands and Australia put on wonderful shows. The show starts at 10:00pm rain or shine. 350,000 people will coat the beaches and water to gaze on the sky. Weather promises to be hot and perfect. Be aware of street closures in the West End and to allow for extra travel time on transit. There will be extra buses and Skytrain services after the fireworks to help clear out the crowds.

Fireworks in English Bay

Celebration of Light Fireworks

The display is synched to music. The radio station frequency 104.3 Shore FM does the simulcast. There is also an app to download to help you listen. Sometimes due to the intensity of the fireworks the music can be lost in interference. There are lots of food trucks to feed hungry families. There is also ShoreFest. A music festival set up at Sunset Beach which is next door to English Bay Beach. Come down early to the Sunset Beach stage for live music all afternoon. Then move on over to English Bay to catch feature performers on the stage in The Keg Lounge. This stage plays to the beach with rock and roll starting at 7:30pm.Remember beach etiquette: no smoking or open liquor and clean up after yourselves! Sunscreen is recommended. The UV index is high and we want no lobsters on the West Coast. Happy fireworks everyone!

Shorefest part of the Celebration of Light

Shorefest 2016

 

 

Thanks for the 5 star reviews on Trip Advisor

Thanks for the 5 star Reviews!

Wow! We want to take this post to thank all of those who took the time to review the tour they took with Lotus Land Tours. We recently received a Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor. Only operators which manage reviews of 4 stars and up are eligible for this award. Lotus Land currently has a wopping 5 star average! Looking back to the reviews, our most talked about trip on Trip Advisor is the Kayak Tour which takes you up beautiful Indian Arm. It really means lot to get your feedback. In this way we can continue to provide excellent experiences. If we can improve in anyway let us know through Trip Advisor reviews. These reviews are also a great way to share photographs and see pictures that people took before your tour. No matter what you did with us whether its the ever popular kayak trip or a whale watching safari, or a trip to Victoria, we love your tales. The kayak trip seems to come up over and over again in our reviews. Let me tell you more about it.

Trip Advisor mentions Peter a lot

Peter, who is repeatedly mentioned as a great guide, shows off some delicious snacks on a kayak tour.

If you are thinking about booking a tour and would like to browse through what guests thought of their experience with us, the Trip Advisor link can be found here. Most of the reviews discuss the Kayak Tour which takes you up beautiful Indian Arm. We consistently hear the words: wonderful, excellent, delicious, relaxed, when guests talk about this tour. It is a great day trip get away and so close to downtown Vancouver. It is a short car drive to Deep Cove where the kayaks depart from. A three course BBQ salmon lunch is provided. There is opportunity not only to paddle about the cliffs, islands and waterfalls, but the break is a great time for a walk, nap or swim or just curl up on the beach with a book or soak it all up. We are very proud of this trip and it is consistently a favourite. Book now and we hope to see you soon.

VancouverKayakTours05

Guests that review us mention delicious salmon many times!