Author Archives: carolinehelbig

Don’t miss The Gargoyles on an Elfin Lakes hike

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The Gargoyles in Garibaldi Provincial Park, British Columbia

I’ve hiked to Elfin Lakes at least half a dozen times, but I’ve only recently done the gem of a little add-on hike to The Gargoyles. Elfin Lakes is a popular hike in Garibaldi Provincial Park, near Squamish, British Columbia. The 22 km (14 mile) return hike is a beauty on its own, but for just an extra 2.5 km (from Elfin Lakes) you get into some incredible glaciovolcanic landscapes. In non-scientific lingo, that means bizarre volcanic rock pillars, stark scree slopes, and turquoise-hued, glacially-carved lakes.  A few weeks ago, my friend Morag and I got to explore this otherworldly place called The Gargoyles. Continue reading

Categories: Activities, British Columbia, Hiking | Tags: , , , | 48 Comments

Hiking Brandywine Meadows and Mountain at Whistler’s Callaghan Valley

 

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Brandywine Meadows

I’m on a hiking roll, and just did another beauty—Brandywine Meadows and Mountain, at Whistler’s Callaghan Valley. This hike has an incredibly high reward-to-effort ratio, particularly if you have a sturdy 4-wheel drive vehicle. An easy walk brings you to a beautiful meadow surrounded by snow-dappled peaks. It’s crisscrossed with gurgling creeks and is currently ablaze in wildflowers—you’ll think you’ve landed on set in The Sound of Music. The trail beyond the meadow, to Brandywine Mountain, is more strenuous, but with so many gorgeous views it doesn’t feel onerous. And, if you don’t make it the whole way (we didn’t), it’s still an enormously satisfying hike. Continue reading

Categories: Activities, British Columbia, Canada, Hiking | Tags: , , , , | 14 Comments

Hiking Whistler’s Skywalk North Trail

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Skywalk North: Whistler, British Columbia

I’m so excited about a hike I did earlier this week that I’m taking a short break from my Sri Lanka series to tell you about Whistler’s Skywalk North (better known as one of the trails leading to Iceberg Lake). Despite the clouds and the voracious mosquitoes, Skywalk North was amazing and got me motivated to explore more trails of the Skywalk network. My hiking pals (Morag and Eva) and I love a hike with variety and this one gets top marks: The 23 km lollipop route (a loop with a short repeated section at the start and end) travels through cedar forests, alpine meadows, rocky slopes with dramatic views of the Coast Mountains, and a glacial basin with tumbling waterfalls and the turquoise-hued star attraction— Iceberg Lake. Continue reading

Categories: Activities, British Columbia, Canada, Hiking, Places | Tags: , , | 56 Comments

Tangalla Beach, Sri Lanka: Which direction should we walk today?

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Happiness at Tangalla Beach

We’re sitting under the canopy of a rickety, bamboo-thatched hut. It’s open on three sides, offering up views of the languid comings and goings along the beach. The floor is an extension of the golden sand that meets the azure sea. On the wall behind us is a massive poster of a chilled-out Bob Marley. There’s a rectangular cut-out in the wall next to Bob, with a view into the rustic kitchen, where  a couple of ladies are sharing laughs as one of them prepares Mike’s fruit juice. This place has become our favourite spot for a break during our long beach walks. Maybe it’s the combination of the beautiful beach, mellow vibe and no decision making except for which direction to walk that’s making me feel unusually content. A young man with a big smile brings Mike his juice, and me, my king coconut. Life is good here on Tangalla Beach. Continue reading

Categories: Sri Lanka | Tags: , , , | 21 Comments

Don’t let anyone tell you that Colombo is not worth a visit

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Galle Face Geen, Colombo

I enjoyed Colombo much more than I thought I would. I’d read many reviews that describe Sri Lanka’s capital city as not worth a visit, and plagued by traffic congestion, noise and pollution. Sure it has some of these issues, but not worth a visit—no way. We spent a couple of days there at the start of our trip and it turned out to be a fascinating introduction to the country. What I like most about Colombo is its vibrant and diverse public spaces. The city buzzes with energy, and nowhere is this better displayed than in Pettah’s market streets and at Galle Face Green—my two favourite experiences in Colombo (and among my top memories of our entire trip). Continue reading

Categories: Sri Lanka | Tags: , , , , , | 29 Comments

Happy days in Sri Lanka: Highlights of a 3 1/2 week trip

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Cave temples of Dambulla

Mike and I returned home from Sri Lanka just a week before the heinous Easter Sunday terrorist attacks. I’m still shocked and sad, and have had trouble figuring out what to do with this post. While vacationing in Sri Lanka may not be at the top of your list at the moment, I want to share with you the country we experienced—its stunning beauty, rich culture, friendly people, abundant wildlife and delicious food. Tourism is so vital to the Sri Lankan economy and the livelihoods of many people. I hope for peace and stability so visitors will return to this gorgeous country. Over the next months I’ll be writing detailed reports about our trip; for now, here are the highlights of the happy days we spent in Sri Lanka. Continue reading

Categories: Sri Lanka | Tags: , , , | 45 Comments

What’s it like diving with sharks? Fulidhoo Island, Maldives

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Grey reef shark. Courtesy: Natasha Leisi

In my last post, I introduced Fulidhoo Island in the Indian Ocean nation of the Maldives. One of my readers, Len (lenjourneys.com), asked me what it feels like to be in the water with sharks. I love this simple, direct question. Thinking about it though, the answer is rather complex. In this post, I’ll share my feelings about diving with sharks (coming from someone who doesn’t do this often) and introduce you to the underwater world around Fulidhoo Island.   Continue reading

Categories: Maldives, Scuba Diving/Snorkelling | Tags: , , , , | 48 Comments

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