on August 25, 2011
I have to say the highlight of my trip to Victoria was going whale-watching and seeing Orcas in the wild. I have been whale watching a few times in other parts of the world, but up until this trip I had never seen Orcas. So as soon as I knew I was going to be in Victoria I quickly started researching different whale-watching tours. Being conscious of how sensitive these mammals must be to lots of noisy boats and crazy tourists it was really important for me to find a tour operator that was responsible and took care of the environment. I didn't have to search long before I found Orca Spirit Adventures who are part of the Whale Watch Operators Association Northwest and dedicated to responsible tourism.The other thing that I was quite eager to find was a tour that didn't go out on one of the fast zodiac boats, because my Mum has back problems and we didn't want to start our trip with an injury. Orca Spirit offers both zodiac and what they call Orca class vessels, which have indoor accomodation, toilets and refreshments included. Well I was sold and quickly booked our time slot via the website. I didn't think that they were any more expensive than the other tour operators I looked at and was more than happy to pay CAD$95 (+ HST) each for a 3 hour tour. When I got my credit card statement this worked out at around £60 each and it was worth every single penny!After booking online I got a courtesy e-mail to check the details over, which I thought was good. Often when using online booking you just get an automated e-mail to confirm. After that I had no contact with them until the day we arrived at our accomodation, where they had left a message asking for us to get in touch with them. I rang them back and they asked if we would like to come on the earlier tour, because the weather was supposed to get worse as the afternoon went on and we might not be able to get out if we waited. Obviously we jumped at the chance and went on the earlier tour. Luckily for us our B&B was within walking distance of the Orca Spirit depot, but they do offer a pick up service from local hotels free of charge.We were given a full safety talk and allowed on board our boat and soon began edging out of the harbour. Once in open water the pilot let it rip and we were soon hammering our way to where they had spotted Orcas earlier. And we weren't disappointed...we saw Pod J with 27 Orcas in it, just swimming along minding their own business. Some were a bit more playful and came to see who we were, but the boat backed off whenever they came near because of safety guidelines that they must adhere to, for the whales not the boats. It didn't matter though because the whole experience was magical and I feel very priveledged to have been able to spend time with these magnificent animals in their own habitat. Our guides were very knowledgable and spent the whole time telling us about the whales and identifying particular ones for us.On the way back, after a hot chocolate to fight the cold, we also saw fur seals and the endangered Stellar sea lion, which was also amazing. The whole trip was great and words really cannot express the way it made me feel, all I can say is that as a whale watching company Orca Spirit Adventures was brilliant, responsible, educational and fun. I can't recommend them enough!
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