Joining an orca watching tour in Victoria harbour on the southern tip of Vancouver Island is much easier than up island but the experience may be far less rewarding. With luck you may see a few orcas but chances are you'll only encounter seals and sea lions or a few small pods of porpoises or the occasional minke or Gray whale. With a company like Seacoast Expeditions from May 15 to September 15 it is possible to participate in a Guaranteed Killer Whale Sighting program. For an extra $5 participants who are available for more than one day are alerted when contact with orcas has been made. They must then scramble down to the dock to meet their tour boat and are then whisked off to sea. Chances are you'll then see a transient or two but not large feeding pods as on the north island tours.

If seeing orcas is your main objective, go north. If however you look on the tours out of Victoria as just an adventure and seeing orcas as a bonus then these tours are great value for the money [See below.] You'll be screaming over the ocean on small, open but very sea-worthy seven metre zodiacs with just 11 other passengers. In two or three hours you'll see excellent examples of west coast scenery, spot seals, sea lions and proud bald eagles. Dolphins and porpoises are likely to be encountered, minke and Gray whales are a possibility and orcas, well, they're a bonus.

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Nodding Onion

Nodding Onion

Packing fresh veggies along on the trail may be impractical due to weight or time considerations. Widely-available nodding onion imparts a welcomed taste of green to almost any dish except granola perhaps. Both white bulb and green stalk can be used like green onions or chives. Rubbing the crushed bulbs on exposed skin is said to keep mosquitoes, black flies and maybe even your traveling companions away. Nodding onion is commonly available throughout the province though toxic death camas looks deceptively similar to nodding onion to the uninitiated. To verify, crush a bit of the plant. Only the edible species gives off an unmistakable onion smell.

Illustration by Manami Kimura