Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge: The west at its wildest, showiest self

The Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge on Vancouver Island is an experience like nothing else, as Siobhan Reid found out.

Growing up near Canada’s Rocky Mountains, I thought I’d seen the best of the west. Then I went to the Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge, an off-the-grid glamping retreat on Vancouver Island in the province of British Columbia, for a few days, where even I — a ride-or-die Albertan — had to admit that I had overlooked one of my country’s top outdoor playgrounds.

I spent the 45-minute seaplane ride from Vancouver to Clayoquot with my nose pressed up against the window, marvelling at the snaking glacial fjords and old-growth cedar and spruce forests that make up the area — a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

When I finally arrived, I let out a big exhale, breathing in the salt-laced air and feeling my cares melt away like the fog that dissipated over the sound each afternoon.

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The next few days saw me dabbling in excursions ranging from canoeing and heli-hiking to riding, trailing behind expert guides who pointed out local flora and fauna and told us about the area’s rich indigenous culture and heritage.

Horsing around is part of the fun at Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge.

At night, hotel guests would gather at the rooftop lounge to sip sundowners and scan the glassy waters of Bedwell River for signs of whales and sea otters. It was the west at its wildest, showiest self.

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How to go there

The Ultimate Travel Company can organise 16-night tours of western Canada, taking in the Rockies and Vancouver Island, from £18,000 per person, including three nights in a Rainforest Deluxe tent at Clayoquot and return flights. The price also includes guided activities at the Wilderness Reserve, including kayaking, riding, mountain biking, wildlife viewing (whales, eagles, bears), archery, rappelling, rock climbing, stand-up paddle boarding, yoga classes, freshwater fishing and fly-casting, meditation and trail running— see

The locals will often give a friendly wave.