The Daily Telegraph
CHILCOTIN, British Columbia Canada
If you enjoy getting away from the crowd then try the Chilcotin Plateau in central British Columbia where the pace of life slows down and traditional values of hospitality and neighborliness still exist. Make a tour from Vancouver for the cosmopolitan contrast via Victoria for a view of how England used be 30 years ago. Drive up Vancouver Island staying at Port Hardy overnight then catch the B.C. Ferry to Bella Coola, which takes 13 hours.
At Bella Coola, stay at the Valley Inn, which has excellent and very modern accommodation, and visit some of the logging roads that take you up into the wilderness and absolute peace and quiet. From Bella Coola the Highway 20 winds up a steep gravel hill (18%) and on to the Chilcotin Plateau. This road is 260 miles long and ends at Williams Lake so a break midway is not only advisable but also necessary. Staying at the Clearwater Lake Lodge and Resort is an experience that will not be easily forgotten. The main house is a huge log building with six bedrooms all with their own facilities and beautifully decorated, closer to the lake are further log cabins more suited to family groups and also parking for RVs. With a warm welcome from the owners Gisela and Bernward Kalbhenn you are shown to your rooms overlooking the lake. The food is all prepared by Gisela and because of the remote location they offer half or full board cooked from local produce. Bernward also keeps a good cellar of Canadian, American and European wines.
What makes this place so different is that you are staying in a hotel but feel that you are living with a family. Gisela and Bernward emigrated from Germany and keep a German table and a continental style of eating. Her home-cooked food is served at a huge 16-seater table so that guests can exchange travel stories and experiences so the meals often last 3 hours.
What is there to do in this area, take a floatplane with a bush pilot and fly over inaccessible glaciers and the Hunlen Falls. Follow local logging trails which go for miles into the mountains or visit Lake Tatlayoko which is as beautiful as Lake Louise but without any tourist. From the lodge you can borrow a canoe and fish all day in the day and there are numerous walking trails to chose from.
From Clearwater Lake you must drive to Williams Lake and from there you return to Vancouver perhaps via Whistler, with additional stops this makes an excellent and very relaxing two-week trip.
With the exchange rate into Canadian Dollars so very favourable at present, staying in this part of British Columbia is not only inexpensive but very relaxing. Do hire a 4X4 vehicle so that you can enjoy the experience of traveling into the mountains and make sure that you keep your tank filled. The local people are so friendly and they still leave doors open and cars unlocked and as the plateau is so under populated everyone knows each other along this 260 mile highway.
Clearwater Lake Lodge and Resort, Kleena Kleene V0L 1M0 Canada, 001-250-476-1150