Victoria, British Columbia , 5/3/2022, National Geographic Venture
National Geographic Venture
This morning, we arrived in Victoria, the beautiful capital city of British Columbia. We had a variety of options to choose from to see different aspects of this lovely city: a historic walking tour, a walk to some ‘secret gardens,’ a cycling excursion around the city, and a cultural canoe tour.
Photographers: Tara Kaestner, Nathan Kelley, and Berit Solstad
Berit grew up on the rocky shores of Marblehead, Massachusetts. In the tidal cove behind her family’s home she found horseshoe crabs, eels, and feeding frenzies of fishes and birds. Low tides exposed clam flats, crabs, mussels, and snails. She explor...
We spent our final day in the San Juan Islands, a beautiful archipelago wedged between Washington State and the south end of Vancouver Island. We began the day by docking in Friday Harbor to clear U.S. Customs before exploring the small town that has become famous across the world for its iconic whale watching. Over the last couple of decades, the resident southern orca whales that have come to define this place have shrunk in numbers due to a variety of factors, including overfishing, climate change, and depleted salmon habitats. Hard-working people at the Whale Research Center and the nearby whale museum are working hard to educate the public and enact laws to protect salmon habitats and provide more space for the orcas among the boat traffic and people that love them so much. Many of us took the opportunity to visit the whale museum near the dock, where the life histories and family trees of these amazing animals have been meticulously documented for decades. In the afternoon, we cruised a short distance north to Jones Island, a marine state park with a maze of trails and campsites framed by a gorgeous forest of cedar, fir, and madrone trees. To cap off our two-week excursion through the Inside Passage, we sailed through the last of the San Juan Islands while an epic sunset bid us farewell.
Another sunny day and calm seas greeted us as we secured the ship to the dock on the outskirts of downtown Victoria. We were offered a plethora of ways to spend the day in the British Columbia capital. We enjoyed everything from casual walks to canoe trips to food tours, which were just as delicious as they sound. Several guests opted to explore Victoria’s impressive city parks, which feature a combination of native and ornamental trees that were often framed by local birdlife and even a few bold peacocks. Perhaps the highlight of the day was the chance to view the artwork of esteemed Victorian artist Robert Bateman. Specializing in landscape and wildlife work, many of the pieces served as the perfect capstone to a memorable journey that is rapidly coming to an end. Tonight, we cast off and sail for the San Juan Islands of Washington State. We’ll spend our final day enjoying the iconic Friday Harbor and the other picturesque islands that sit in the glorious rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains.
There was a distinct difference from where we’ve been over the past week to where we were today. Gone are the western hemlocks and Sitka spruce, enter the Pacific madrone and Douglas fir. Even the geology has changed from glacial erratics and towering granite cliffs to the scoops and waves of Chuckanut sandstone. The moss went from soft and spongy to the touch to crunchy. We’ve clearly entered a more arid part of the Pacific Northwest. We cruised through Porlier Pass and around Trincomali Channel, where we saw plentiful seals, harbor porpoises, and gulls. Once we anchored and disembarked, our guests appreciated the chance to finally walk without muck boots and rain gear. Since Wallace Island has no bear activity, guests were able to explore on their own if they so desired. A few guests braved a much warmer swim in the tranquil waters before we returned to National Geographic Quest for a calm evening of searching for wildlife in Active Pass and the Strait of Georgia.