Dreaming of getting away this year? For nature lovers and adventure seekers wanting to squeeze in a 2019 international holiday, Canada in autumn is ideal.
Not only will you benefit from the perks of off-season travel, but September to December is also one of the best times to visit Canada. Here’s why:
Sustainable tourism is the buzzword of 2019, and travelling off-peak is a conscious choice you can make to visit responsibly. Not only will you get the benefit of fewer crowds and, often, discounted rates and cheaper flights, but you’ll get a more authentic glimpse of the destination.
Autumn in Canada boasts much warmer climate than the winter months. And there’s none of the pesky heat and humidity you’d endure in summer. Autumn is definitely cooler. However, for South Africans used to our Southern Hemisphere winters, be prepared! Snow can start falling in November, and the temperatures, while decidedly cool for the locals, can be icy for South Africans.
Pack accordingly and embrace the possibility of a snowy winter wonderland. It’s a novelty we don’t often get to experience. September is also one of Vancouver’s rainiest seasons, so pack a raincoat and enjoy the crowd-free sightseeing in this famous city.
Ideal Road-Tripping Weather
Autumn, particularly in September and October, is a good time to drive the Canadian countryside. The Icefields Parkway is a 230 km road winding through the Banff and Jasper National Parks and connects Lake Louise with the town of Jasper.
It’s not as busy as the summer months when every Canadian family will be loaded into their RVs to explore the parks. Snowfall can start from mid-October and from November onwards. Be warned that the road’s facilities (petrol station, restaurant, etc.) usually close then due to the heavy snowfall.
September is also one of the best times for wildlife sightings. Expect to see deer, bighorn sheep, elk, and, if you’re lucky, perhaps you’ll spot a Grizzly, Black Bear, coyote or wolf.
If you want to ride a glacier (and we think you should), the giant Ice Explorer across the Athabasca Glacier operates up until end October. Climb onboard a six-wheeled, all-terrain vehicle for a drive across the glacier, one of the most accessible in the world.
“If you’re uneasy about winter driving conditions in Canada (expect snow and icy sections even in October) join a guided holiday,” recommends Teresa Richardson, Managing Director of The Travel Corporation (TTC) in South Africa.
“Canada can be expensive for South African travellers, too. A guided holiday includes all the essentials, so you don’t have to fork out dollars for petrol, or attempt to drive on the other side of the road. It is the most hassle-free and cost-effective option.”
Costsaver is one of TTC’s best-selling products in the South African market. “The product gives travellers the most value for their rands, especially in countries such as Canada,” says Richardson.
The Canadian school year begins in September, so expect shorter lines at many popular attractions, including the iconic Niagara Falls. The surrounding gorge is also covered with trees in all their autumn colours, making for stunning photos.
The Niagara Falls Boat tour still runs up until the end of November.
The Festive Cities
In Victoria, make a stop at the Butchart Gardens – don’t miss the Japanese Gardens with the autumnal maple trees.
Although much of Vancouver’s trees are evergreen, you can find autumn foliage in the VanDusen Botanical Garden and Stanley Park. The Vancouver International Film Festival hits the shores in September and October.
Restaurants and Canada’s many craft breweries have seasonal menus. In the autumn dishes and drinks are all infused with the heartwarming flavours of autumn, such as pumpkin spice, apples, chai, nutmeg and cinnamon.
Whichever city you’re in, grab a pumpkin-spiced latte (you’ll find pumpkin-spiced everything in Canada) at the nation’s favourite coffee shop, Tim Horton’s. Then, head outdoors to soak up the scenery.
Other fun, not-to-be-missed experiences are the local corn mazes, hayrides, apple picking, farmers markets and more.