The secret machine t-shirt nowhere again

Undiscovered and secret: Where Canada is really wild and lonely

Ottawa (dpa / tmn) - The famous national parks in the Canadian Rocky Mountains were partially totally overloaded even before Corona. After the pandemic, the search for less visited destinations is likely to intensify.

Nature experiences away from the crowds are already in great demand wherever vacation is possible. Eight travel tips for Canada without the hype and off the beaten path:

1. The paradise behind the mountains

If you land in Calgary in the province of Alberta, you usually drive straight through to the iconic Banff National Park. The direction is correct, but the Rockies are much more original 20 minutes before Banff.

In Canmore, I first take the steep Three Sisters Drive uphill. Halfway up the asphalt turns into a bumpy gravel road, which is now called the Smith-Dorrien-Trail. At the top, the path squeezes through a gloomy gorge, then the curtain is raised: In front of me is the deep blue Spray Lake, flanked by three-thousanders, the steep slopes of which are tattooed with meltwater channels and avalanches. No car to be seen, no gondola, not a soul. This sight has made me pull over every time until now.

The chances of spotting moose, bears and wolves are as good as in Banff National Park next door. As part of the Spray Valley Provincial Park, the valley is part of a wildlife corridor where animals move back and forth between the provincial parks in the south and Banff.

2. Dream street (almost) without traffic

See the Icefields Parkway and die: Highway 93 from Lake Louise through the Rockies to Jasper is one of the world's dream roads. If you want to avoid the motorhome columns, you only need to turn halfway at the Saskatchewan River Crossing.

From there, Highway 11 curves east through the steep Front Range of the Rockies. The road, also known as the David Thompson Highway, easily keeps up with the Icefields Parkway in terms of panorama. The absence of crowds at the viewpoints is terrific - and the attention of the few boarding houses along the way is touching. At the “Aurum Lodge” high above Abraham Lake, I was given bear spray and handwritten sketches before going on my hikes. With crosses for the owners' favorite spots and dashed lines for particularly beautiful sections of the path.

3. Looking for the distance

In the Badlands I always feel like an explorer. I never really know beforehand what it will look like where I want to go, there are so few meaningful pictures from the southeast corner of Alberta.

The famous Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller has not changed this with its dinosaur finds. The badlands have remained what they always have been: 90,000 square kilometers of empty, gently undulating endlessness with river beds called coulées, three or four unexcited towns and dozen nests in nowhere that are chronically threatened in their existence.

In addition to the starry night sky and the always visible curvature of the earth on the horizon, there are other highlights. There are, for example, the Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park just before Montana, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site because of its rock art, and the Dry Island Buffalo Jump provincial park, which opens up like a huge hole in front of the hood. There are also ghost towns like Orion, Empress, Rowley and Manyberries. And the locals. The people here have been through a lot of hardship and are humble, devoted and hospitable.

4. Québec's rough route

A local once told me that anyone who wants to live here has to be strong. Physically, because you have to touch it, and mentally, because the winters are damn long and then there is nothing to do but do it yourself and Netflix. From Montréal to the Gaspé Peninsula it is - by Canadian standards - only eight hours by car. But once there it feels like the end of the world.

The peninsula is as big as Belgium, but not even 130,000 people live here, all of them in tiny settlements with a gas station and a kiosk called Dépanneur on the coast.

The mountainous interior is so impassable that the two-lane Route 132 can only curve around it. But she does it with flying colors: Hundreds of meters high cliffs on the right and left breakwater with the Atlantic behind, she fights her way past small bays to Percé. The pretty resort town on the eastern tip of the Gaspé Peninsula is known for whale watching and the Percé Rock, a monolith the size of an ocean liner. For me, Route 132 is the best alternative to the famous Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia.

5. Seven square kilometers to see

On this island, visitors criss-cross over treeless, green mats and see the blue sea everywhere: the panoramic view of the Île d'Entrée (Entry Island) is beguiling. The island forms the seventh of the Magdalene Islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which are otherwise connected with sand dunes, and is the only one a bit out of the way.

Almost 100 descendants of Scottish-Irish fishermen are waiting here, a small ferry takes them to Cap-aux-Meules, the main island of the archipelago, for shopping. If you see the red and gray cliffs with the green hills on Entry Island from a distance, you want to go straight away. The highest point, the Big Hill, measures 174 meters, can be reached by trail and puts the entire archipelago at your feet.

6. Down to the Pacific over "the hill"

The fact that no more cars have fallen into the abyss borders on a miracle. We are talking about «The Hill». This is what the locals call the section of Highway 20 from Anahim Lake to Bella Coola on the Pacific in the province of British Columbia.

The name is an understatement. The rough terrain has made the road lean towards the single-lane gravel road, with rock faces on the right and a deep precipice on the left. One prays: Just no timber truck in oncoming traffic. In the first 6.4 kilometers alone, the road climbs 1,219 meters in altitude. Altogether, 1828 meters of altitude are overcome from the valley floor to the Heckman Summit, 21 kilometers away. Up to 18 percent inclines push the driver into the seat and let him apply the brakes vigorously downhill.

The adrenaline rush is richly rewarded. I always feel the Bella Coola Valley with its lush rainforests and 2000 meter high rock faces like a piece of Yosemite. Just without tourists.

7. Overwhelming prairie

Endless sky, the view sweeps over a sea of ​​grass that gently ripples in the wind. Nowhere a tree or shrub to hold onto. This can only be done on the line of the horizon, ten kilometers away or even 20 - impossible to estimate precisely. In the Grasslands National Park conversations fall silent in the face of this vast emptiness.

The national park in the south of the province of Saskatchewan protects one of the last pieces of pristine prairie in North America. There are hardly any signposted hiking trails. "Expect isolation, loose ground, orientation problems and rough terrain," warns the park administration. And “buffalo wallows” that are easy to stumble into. The oval hollows are reminiscent of the buffalo that once passed here and wallowed in the mud for personal hygiene.

There are no campsites inside the park. You can camp wherever you want, as long as you camp out of sight of any ranger slopes and don't make a fire. This is also not a problem at all: at night the canopy of stars reaches down to earth.

8. A village on two islands

It probably started with a settler building his house on one of the two islands, but then decided to change the island. Today the community of Change Islands in Newfoundland has almost 300 inhabitants and includes both islands, connected by a bridge. Many of the old homes and boathouses on stilts are still standing.

The journey to Change is long. Two flights are necessary from Europe, an overnight stay, a car journey of several hours and finally a little hop on the car ferry. Only then are you there. Seagulls screech, every now and then the crash of the surf comes over.

Even the neighbors on Fogo Island think Change Islands are small. The dealings are all the more personal. During my visit, the nice woman in the visitor center invited spontaneously for a coffee with apple pie. The owner of the "Seven Oakes Island Inn" cooked for me herself. And Netta LeDrew told me how she saved the Newfoundland ponies from extinction. Your Change Islands Pony Sanctuary is home to a dozen of the shaggy horses that used to pull the nets out of the ocean and the firewood out of the forests.

When I returned to the mainland three days later, I had hiked the most beautiful coastal trails on the islands and met or at least greeted a tenth of the population by name.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210329-99-12958 / 3

Banff National Park (Parks Canada)

Banff National Park (Travel Alberta)

Spray Valley Provincial Park (Alberta Parks)

Spray Valley Provincial Park (Travel Alberta)

Icefields Parkway (Travel Alberta)

Canadian Badlands (Travel Alberta)

Royal Tyrrell Museum

Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park (Alberta Parks)

Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park (Travel Alberta)

Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park (Alberta Parks)

Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provinical Park (Travel Alberta)

Île d'Entrée (Tourisme Îles de la Madeleine)

Bella Coola Valley

Grasslands National Park (Parks Canada)

Change Islands

Travel and safety advice for Canada


Getting there: Usually there are direct flights to Canada from several German cities, but the flight offer is currently thinned out.

Corona situation: Canada is a corona risk area, there is a travel warning. There is an entry ban for tourists.