• Namrata Jain

The Okanagan Valley

During the summer of 2019, after having spent most of the months on beaches and local hikes, we decided to travel eastwards for a change in landscape. It was a 3 day getaway trip to the Okanagan Valley.

The drive from Vancouver to Kelowna, our first destination, was about 4.5 hours. We stopped for a quick visit to the beautiful Bridal Veil falls right past the city of Chilliwack. Just a short walk away from the parking lot, these falls get their name from their layered, lacy, white flow. There is a well-maintained picnic area around the falls which was perfect for our take-out lunch.

Kelowna is another 3 hours away from Bridal Veil Provincial Park. On the way there, we were greeted by a giant thunderstorm, which quickly gave way to clear skies and left behind this gorgeous double rainbow. Quite an exciting start to the trip!

Our accommodation in the city was a campsite and after pitching our tent, we went to Gyro Beach and saw a colourful sunset across the mighty Okanagan Lake.

The next place on our list was Osoyoos. I had never heard of it until I started planning this trip and it amazed me to realize that we have a literal desert in BC! The semi-arid lands of the South Okanagan valley are a must-see. It is right up the US border so a couple of hours of a drive from Kelowna, but the landscape is something out of a Breaking Bad episode.

A must-visit place in Osoyoos is the Nk'Mip Desert Centre, where you get access to a conservation facility right into the desert. A lot of information about the local flora and fauna is displayed as part of a self-guided tour and we even saw (and recognized) a Western rattlesnake in the wild. Inside the facility, there are also some very interesting interactive displays that feature local creatures and ecology. You can also find a tonne of information on this native land's history.

Of course, Okanagan is the most famous for its vineyards, and no way we were going to miss those. On the way back up north, we hit multiple small towns and local vineyards. Oliver, BC is just the most adorable small town with its open landscape and views of mountains at a distance. It prides itself as the wine capital of Canada (and rightly so).

Penticton, Summerland and Peachland are a few other charming sleepy towns between Kelowna and Osoyoos, cozying up to the Okanagan Lake. The bright, clear skies and crisp weather made this drive quite exquisite.

On the way to the Burrowing Own Estate vineyards, we came across this abandoned ranch with an rickety structure that seemed like it used to be a horse stable. I couldn't find it on the map unfortunately, but it was a really nice spot for pictures.

On to the last leg of the journey, we were back at Kelowna to visit the most endearing place ever, the Kangaroo Creek Farm. Here we made friends with kangaroos, wallabies, capybaras, wallaroos, exotic parrots, emus, and peacocks. Nihar and I agree that this was the most exciting part of the trip (vineyards are a close second). We got to pet and feed happy little albino kangaroos skipping away. The farm, as per their FAQs, is a privately owned not-for-profit area and they treat their animals with the utmost care and love. We spent 4 hours at this farm and still did not want to turn back.

The rest of the trip was spent hopping from vineyard to vineyard, enjoying the scenic landscape and the beautifully maintained vast fields of budding grapevines. A few wineries worth mentioning here are Quails Gate, Cedar Creek, Mission Hills, and the Burrowing Owl Estate Winery. These places are all overlooking the mountains and plantations and deserve a visit just for their splendid decor.

Overall, we totally fell in love with everything Okanagan had to offer. There is so much more left to explore (Vernon and around, for example), so there may be a second part to this post. Hope this made you want to visit Okanagan soon (or reminisce your own trip if you have been there before).

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