Epic 2013 schooner tours reveal the Americas’ remotest coasts according to Earth’s natural rhythms

April lilies bloom along the forest floor, Gulf Islands, BC. Photo (c) Kevin J Smith

Jan. 25 , 2013, Victoria, BC – British Columbia-based Maple Leaf Adventures’ 2013 journeys by schooner or yacht showcase the remotest coastal rainforests, fjords, islands and cultures of Alaska and BC, as well as the flora and fauna of South America. More than just a cruise, each trip is an enriching, multi-day adventure with expert guides and interpretation including: natural and cultural history; photography tips; wild food foraging excursions; taking part in local and nautical customs; hands-on helming of the ship; and friendships and camaraderie from full days exploring the wilderness together.

Exploring the Great Bear Rainforest in spring brings spectacular scenery, migrating wildlife, and peaceful cruising. Photo (c) Kevin J Smith

Many may not realize that Maple Leaf Adventures designed its 2013 tours to take advantage of the Earth’s own natural rhythms. Starting with spring, this enables guests on Maple Leaf’s marine expeditions to fulfill their dreams of soft adventure travel with a small footprint, at times when the wildlife and scenery take their breath away.

“Sure, summer’s warm weather means those tours fill early. But my favourite time – and the most interesting wildlife time – is spring and fall on this coast. Natural events then create more intense wildlife viewing opportunities,” says Captain Kevin Smith, president of Maple Leaf Adventures. “That’s why we schedule trips then. In April, wildflowers are out and spring plankton blooms entice marine mammals, fish, and huge numbers of birds. We know this secret, so we have this world to ourselves. It’s cooler, yes, but you’re never cold with the right clothing on. And at the end of a trip ashore, we return to the warm, dry SV Maple Leaf and a gourmet meal.”

Viewing seabirds and marine mammals at colonies on the BC coast, early April 2012. Photo (c) Kevin J Smith

Aboard the SV Maple Leaf, originally built in 1904 as a luxury racing yacht, small groups of no more than eight guests are accompanied by an expert crew, prominent naturalist and chef. Prices begin at $2,040 Cdn per person. The journeys range in length from six to 11 days, include all shore exclusions, food and drink, accommodation and use of gear on board as well as assistance in booking travel to and from departure points.

The crew of the SV Maple Leaf make an extra effort to introduce guests to coastal influencers like resident First Nations and local scientists. Guests even have the chance to learn how to sail the 109-year-old vessel. For more information on Maple Leaf Adventures’ 2013 offerings, inquire here, or visit www.MapleLeafAdventures.com or call +1-250-386-7245.

Glorious! A guest takes the helm of SV Maple Leaf under sail in April. Photo (c) Kevin J Smith

Highlighted trips for 2013 include:

Spring British Columbia Gulf Islands Cruise

The Gulf Islands are an archipelago in the protected Salish Sea between Vancouver Island and BC’s mainland, and is one of the world’s best small-boat cruising destinations. This group of hundreds of semi-Mediterranean islands has drawn people for millennia, with its green and gold slopes, blue ocean and ring of snow-capped peaks. Here guests will discover the uniqueness of each island -from National Parks and wildlife colonies to quaint artisanal and food movement hubs. Maple Leaf Adventures kicks off its season each year with a Gulf Islands Spring Flings, when wildflowers are in full bloom: Trip One, April 2 – 7; Trip Two, April 8 – 13; and Trip Three, April 14 – 19 at $2,040 Cdn per person. For more information: www.mapleleafadventures.com/sailing-cruises/gulf-islands-bc.php

Early April anchorage in the Gulf Islands. Peace, beauty... and all to ourselves.

Vancouver Island Inside Passage & Great Bear Rainforest

This epic journey up the wild British Columbia coast shows people islands, villages, and protected waterways in a way a car or ferry never could. Travelling north with spring’s migrating birds and whales, you’ll explore from the wildflower-covered islets of the dry south, to the mountain-sided channels of the Great Bear Rainforest in the north. Frequent shore trips offer an opportunity to explore the land, view wildlife, and meet the intrepid Island dwellers and diverse First Nations people who make their homes along the passage’s coastlines. This trip departs April 20 – 27 and is $2,995 Cdn per person. For more information: www.mapleleafadventures.com/sailing-cruises/vancouver-island-tours.php.

Soaking up spring's beauty, April 2012. Photo (c) Kevin J Smith

Great Bear Rainforest Spring Explorer (April 28 – May 3)

Named one of National Geographic Traveler’s 20 “Best of the World” destinations for 2013, the Great Bear Rainforest is a wild 6M hectares on the mountainous coast of British Columbia. This spring schooner tour through the fjords and island passages of the Great Bear Rainforest provides privileged access as spring returns to the area, bringing migrating birds and whales as well as the first awakened bears to the shores. As guests explore the Great Bear with Maple Leaf’s naturalist, they will see why people have described these forests of ethereal green light as, “living cathedrals.” This six day, five night journey is $2,630 Cdn per person. Or, combine this trip with the Vancouver Island Inside Passage trip for an epic coastal supervoyage. Summer and fall trips to the Great Bear Rainforest are also offered. For more information: www.mapleleafadventures.com/sailing-cruises/great-bear-rainforest-sample-itinerary.php#Spring.

Great Bear Rainforest Photography Tour Into the Kitlope (May 5 – 11, 2013)

Under the mentoring of photographers Dean J. Tatooles and Tim Vollmer, guests will photograph the fjords, rainforests, meadows and ocean of the most spectacular part of the Great Bear Rainforest, the Gardner Canal, and its valleys including the Kitlope. Photographs taken on trips here with Maple Leaf Adventures were partly responsible for the successful calls for conservation of this spectacular area in the 1990s. This seven day, six night adventure is $3,180 Cdn per person. For more information: www.mapleleafadventures.com/sailing-cruises/greatbear-kitlope-photo-tour.php.

Inside Passage Whales & Wild Isles in Summer (July 30 – Aug. 7)

Explore the islands, channels and beaches of the wild BC coast, sometimes called the Inside Passage, on this summertime supervoyage. With the ship’s expert naturalist, expect to view whales, dolphins, other marine mammals, seabirds and intertidal life. Both rainforest inlets and wild west coast beaches are on the agenda, as the SV Maple Leaf cruises from north to south at summer’s height. The trip covers five oceanographic regions and is $4,750 Cdn per person. For more information: www.mapleleafadventures.com/sailing-cruises/inside-passage-whale-watching.php.

Other Maple Leaf Adventures offered throughout their season (April – November) include:

Haida Gwaii Schooner Tour (May 14 – 22, May 22 – 30, May 31 – June 8, June 8 – 16, June  17 – 25, June 25 – July 3)

Haida Gwaii (the Queen Charlotte Islands) is the place to witness the potency and power of Pacific Northwest First Nations culture. See firsthand the preservation and evolution of Haida traditions in modern day communities, and the ancient art and artifacts at SGang Gwaay Llanagaay (Ninstints), a UN World Heritage Site. Also, explore the marine wildlife that abounds in this, the “Canadian Galapagos”. Trips run from mid-May to early July and are $4,750 Cdn per person. Details: http://www.mapleleafadventures.com/sailing-cruises/queen-charlotte-islands-haida-gwaii.php

Alaska Adventure (July 7 – 17, July 19 – 29)

Experience Alaska’s wild inside passage with exclusive access to restricted brown bear viewing areas including Pack Creek, as well as calving glaciers, whales and other marine mammals. Explore rainforests, remote Alaskan anchorages and historic towns by foot and/or kayak. Trips are $5,875 Cdn per person. Details: http://www.mapleleafadventures.com/sailing-cruises/alaska-cruise.php

Whales & Totems of the Great Bear Rainforest (Aug 12 – 17, Aug 18 – 22, Oct 3 – 8, Oct 9 – 14)

Orcas galore! This sailing adventure explores the islands and mainland inlets favoured by the northern resident killer whales. In addition to orca watching, expect to see humpback whales, dolphins, and thousands of seabirds. This trip also includes visits to some Kwakwala sites including Alert Bay’s U’mista cultural centre. Trips are $2880 Cdn per person. Details: http://www.mapleleafadventures.com/sailing-cruises/whale-watching-cruise.php

Galapagos Island Cruise (May 2 – 12, Oct. 24 – Nov. 3)

Maple Leaf Adventures extends their love of amazing wildlife to South America with two Galapagos Island cruises. Both are 11 day, 10 night expeditions where park naturalists and resident guides offer insider access to the region’s iconic wildlife including tortoises, boobies, albatross and frigate birds-by a 90’, luxury high-speed yacht. Guests are also encouraged to contrast the islands’ natural wonders with a bonus tour of historic Quito. Trips start at $4300 US per person. Details: http://www.mapleleafadventures.com/sailing-cruises/galapagos-cruise-tour.php

About Maple Leaf Adventures

Selected for Canada’s “Signature Experiences Collection” by the Canadian Tourism Commission, Maple Leaf Adventures has provided conservation travel experiences aboard a classic sailing ship since 1986. With a reputation as one of Canada’s top sustainable tour operators, its multi-day excursions give guests one-of-a-kind experiences in some of the most beautiful and rare places in the world, often in areas that were once under threat of destruction or in dire need of protection. In 2012, Maple Leaf was awarded the Parks Canada Sustainable Tourism Award, for promoting the appreciation of Canada’s natural, cultural and aesthetic heritage, while also protecting them. As a long time practitioner of ecotourism, Maple Leaf Adventures pioneered travel in BC’s Great Bear Rainforest and northwestern Vancouver Island and has made significant contributions to conservation. National Geographic Adventure has rated Maple Leaf Adventures one of the “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth”. For more information, visit www.MapleLeafAdventures.com.

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Sample Tweet: Explore BC, Alaska and the Galapagos in 2013 with @mapleleafadvent http://bit.ly/V9S4Yu #Travel #Adventure

Note to editors: High resolution images available upon request

Media Contacts:

Maureen Gordon, Maple Leaf Adventures: 250 386-7245, 250-881-6143 (cell) or maureen@MapleLeafAdventures.com

Deirdre Campbell, Tartan Group: 250-592-3838, 250-882-9199 (cell) or deirdre@tartangroup.ca