Cattle drive
Horses at the ranch
Riding in Western Canada
Views over British Colombia
Riding next to Big Creek
The lodge
Big Creek  Lodge
Horse grazing next  to the lodge
The deck of the lodge
View from the deck
Inside the lodge
Double room
Trees in autumn

Experience Canada’s wild west at this remote, working ranch in British Columbia, Canada. Daily rides into the surrounding countryside take in the rivers, open meadows, dense forests and snow-covered mountains that make up this isolated region. Hearty breakfasts and dinners are provided at the lodge, a packed lunch is usually taken on riding days. Accommodation is in comfortable twin or double rooms which offer panoramic views of the surroundings. 

The beauty of this ranch lies in its location. Although only two hours drive from Williams Lake, the land surrounding the ranch is uninhabitated so guests can really get off the beaten path. The Chilcotin’s vast and beautiful landscape is only dotted by a few gravel roads making access limited and keeping the land almost untouched. Western Canada is a great place to visit all year round and the ranch's remote location offers a complete escape into the natural surroundings of the Canadian wilderness. For those who would like to see the cowboys in action, cattle drives are available on set dates in the spring and autumn.

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Day 1
Transfer to the ranch and meet your hosts. After a home-cooked dinner, settle in to your accommodation and meet your fellow riders for the week.

Day 2 
You will be matched to your horse who will be your mount for the week. The morning is spent in a short orientation, to make sure you understand each other and are ready to hit the trails together. That afternoon is spent on a shorter trail ride, solidifying your relationship with your new 4-legged friend, and getting used to the western style of riding if this is new to you.

Day 3 onwards
Each day you will hit the trails, and explore the local scenery. You can expect anything from creek crossings, forestry trails, beautiful lakes, open meadows and incredible views. The terrain can be pretty rough, but very varied, and your guides have a penchant for explorations so be ready to experience something new, the trails can accommodate a relaxing pace for the less experienced beginner or add some fun challenges for more experienced guests.

Some days the neighbours will call and invite you to help them with some cow work. Depending on the time of year this could involve sorting, branding, trailing pairs to summer pasture checking, relocating and fall gathering and weaning.

If conditions are right, a ride in Big Creek Park is also a possibility. Here you will get to experience the untouched Canadian wilderness. Wildlife is often spotted, the mountains views are spectacular and trails wind in and out of meadows and native forests.

Cattle drive dates are not confirmed yet due to the weather, but there should be a day drive around May 15th and June 8-10th. The big cattle drive is around 10th to 20th of June. Please speak to your travel consultant if you would like to take part in a cattle drive during your stay.

Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.

Horses & Riding

The ranch has 15 horses available for riding and guests will be paired with a suitable horse at the beginning of the week. Horses used are mainly Quarter horse crosses or Draft crosses; all are sure-footed with calm and relaxed temperaments. The ranch always try to maintain a good mix in the herd to be able to match different types of riders. While some of the horses are older with a lot of experience, others are just in their prime and there is also a handful of youngsters who will be just starting their ground training this summer.

All the horses get regular schooling in the arena to keep them as soft and willing as possible. In springtime this allows them to be brought back into work slowly and gently after their winter vacation. It also allows the summer staff to get to know there 4-legged team mates and all their characters, making your riding days as enjoyable as possible.

The first days riding allows guests to get to know their horse in the arena before heading out to the open trails. When riding out, the pace of the ride is tailored in the indivdual skillset of the rider although the mountainous trails mean that fast-paced riding is limited. Guests can take part in 6 full days of riding 4-6 hrs  from 10 am to 4pm although you are welcome to only ride in the morning or afternoon if preferred.


Rider requirements

Riders should be physically fit enough for 4-6 hours in the saddle. The ranch has a good mix of horses with some draft crosses so they can accommodate some heavier guests. Children must be at least 10 years old for arena riding and 12 years old for trail riding. Help to catch, groom, saddle and feed horses is an option, guests are welcome to participate in as much or as little as they wish and is all covered in the orientation you will receive on your first days riding.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 275 lb/125 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

Accommodation is in the main ranch house and features twin or double rooms all with en-suite bathroom with shower. All rooms include free WiFi and have access to the terrace or balcony. The bedrooms are basic but comfortable and have fantastic views of either the river and forest or the mountains. All guests are welcome to use the outdoor hot tub. The total capacity of the ranch is 18 so there is very much a home-from-home atmosphere.

Meals are taken in the communal dining area at 8.30am breakfast, 1.00pm lunch (for non-riders), 6.30pm dinner. Lunch for riders is a packed lunch eaten out on the trail. Meal timing is flexible upon prior notice and vegetarians can be accommodated with prior notice. Water, tea, coffee and soft drinks are provided. Guests are welcome to take along their own alcoholic drinks.


Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info


Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request. General information: All travellers are required to provide details online 72 hours prior to travel.

Visa-exempt foreign nationals who fly to or transit through Canada are expected to have an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). Exceptions include U.S. citizens and travellers with a valid Canadian visa.

To visit Canada, you will need to meet some basic requirements, such as:
• have a valid travel document, such as a passport,
• be in good health,
• have no criminal or immigration-related convictions,
• convince an immigration officer that you have ties—such as a job, home, financial assets or family—that will take you back to your home country,
• convince an immigration officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your visit, and
• have enough money for your stay. (The amount of money you will need can vary. It depends on things such as how long you will stay, and whether you will stay in a hotel, or with friends or relatives.)

Citizens of a few countries may also need a:
• medical exam and
• letter of invitation from someone who lives in Canada.

For further information please visit http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta.asp

The Canadian High Commission in the U.K is at Macdonald House, 1 Grosvenor Square, London W1K 4AB. Telephone: (020) 7258 6600. Email: ldn@dfait-maeci.gc.ca.

The British Consulate in Canada is at 80 Elgin Street, Ottawa, K1P 5K7. Telephone: + (1) (613) 237 1530. Email: generalenquiries@BritaininCanada.org.

Climate Summary

In this part of British Columbia the snow sticks around until late March/beginning of April and May can be up and down. Be prepared for possible showers and/or chilly evenings. Typically it's sunny throughout the main summer months (June, July and August until September) reaching temperatures up to 30°C. Trail rides will be customised for the different weather to make sure you stay comfortable and get the most out of your guest ranch vacation.

Climate Chart

Health

Giardiasis is present so do not drink water from streams. Tap water is safe to drink. Rabies is endemic in Canada, do not approach stray dogs. Lyme disease can be a risk in wooded regions; it is a rare tick borne disease. Check with your doctor for details but apart from general precautions against tick bites no prophylaxis is usually required.

For up to date information on specific health concerns please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website can be found at www.masta.org and the Deprtment of Health also gives medical advice on their web site at www.dh.gov.uk

Electricity

The voltage is 110-120V, 60Hz in Canada as in the USA and you will need a flat blade plug and possibly an adaptor depending on the appliance.

Film and Camera Equipment

There is no mobile phone reception at the ranch or on the trails. There is free Wifi available at the lodge. All rooms have electricity to charge cameras or batteries overnight.

Packing List

• Riding hat (a small selection is available at the ranch if you do not have a riding hat)
• Long trousers or jeans for riding
• Sweaters for cooler evenings
• Waterproof jacket
• Western hat
• Gloves for riding. Lighter in the summer, insulated other times of the year
• Boots with a heel for riding. There is a limited number of cowboy boots available to borrow at the lodge.
• Swimsuit
• Sunscreen
• Bug repellent. There are not many bugs, but the first few days after a rain there can be a few around.

Programmes

This is a 8 days/7 nights programme available year round and includes 6 day riding (5 riding days in 2020). Group size can be up to 15 people at once. Riding groups are split according to ability if necessary.

Departure Dates

2019/20: 15 May - 15 Oct any day arrival, winter dates available on request.

Pricing
Single supplement must be paid if booking alone.

Additional CAD $50 per night (2019)
see below for 2020 price

No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
20198d/7n6double pp1,265
20198d/7n6non-rider995
20208d/7n5double pp1,249
20208d/7n5non-rider945
20208d/7n5single supplement225
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20198d/7n6double pp1,469
20198d/7n6non-rider1,155
20208d/7n5double pp1,449
20208d/7n5non-rider1,095
20208d/7n5single supplement259
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
20198d/7n6double pp1,699
20198d/7n6non-rider1,339
20208d/7n5double pp1,679
20208d/7n5non-rider1,269
20208d/7n5single supplement305
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20198d/7n6double pp15,809
20198d/7n6non-rider12,439
20208d/7n5double pp15,609
20208d/7n5non-rider11,799
20208d/7n5single supplement2,809
Recommended Reading

The Penguin History of Canada - Kenneth McNaught. A basic but useful primer on the country's history.

Native Peoples and Cultures of Canada - Allan Macmillan. This provides a historical framework and raises contemporary issues regarding Canada's Native people.

City to City (also published as O Canada!: Travels in an Unknown Country - Jan Morris. This is a collection of essays written after she travelled in Canada from coast to coast.

For a taste of Canadian literature, read Margaret Atwood's Surfacing and Booker-winning The Blind Assassin, Alice Munro's The Moons Of Jupiter short story collection, Michael Ondaatje's In The Skin Of A Lion or Robertson Davies' Fifth Business .


Other Activities

There is a well-equipped games room, shelves full of books and a TV lounge with lots of western movies are available at all times. For those who enjoy their evenings outside, the deck has a beautiful creek view and games like bocce ball, horseshoes and archery, or try your hand with the lariats to rope the wooden cow. There is also a fully stocked campfire pit where guests can mingle, chat or enjoy a sing song. And don’t forget the stargazing on a clear night.

Wildlife

This 25,000 acre ranch is full of wildlife, and depending on the season, you might see bear, deer, moose, eagles, wolves, and countless species of birds – from the charming hummingbird to the impressive golden eagle.

Other Information

Non-riders can enjoy curling up out on the deck or in the hot tub with one of the many books available. Now and then a nice stroll, or a peaceful fishing trip along the creek is available. Try your hand at the horseshoe ring or throwing the lariat to catch our wild wooden cow. If you want to get a touch of the gold rush in the 1850’s, try your luck Gold Panning in the creek. You never know what the spring waters have washed up from the untouched mountains up stream. Avid photographers will have lots to point their cameras at whether just the scenery, our animals around the ranch or the occasional wildlife, from the inquisitive squirrel to the mighty moose. If you have the desire to go a bit further, explore the surroundings on one of the mountain bikes available to borrow.

Other Country Information

People migrating from Asia crossing the Bering Strait first settled the North American continent. They formed a number of tribes that can be distinguished by language: the Algonquian in the eastern sub-arctic and maritime areas spreading into the prairies and plains of the mid-west; the Iriquioian speaking tribes mostly in the St Lawrence Valley and around Lakes Ontario and Erie; the Salishan, Athabascan and other linguistic groups lived along the rivers and coastline of British Columbia. Small, isolated Inuit bands developed a unique culture in the harsh environment of the Arctic.

John Cabot, a Venetian working in the service of the English sailed to Newfoundland in 1497. This and later explorations formed the basis of the English claim to Canada. The Frenchman Jacques Cartier undertook a series of explorations, mainly along the route of the St Lawrence River during the 1530s and 1540s and he claimed the land for France.

It's the edginess between Canada's indigenous, French and British traditions that gives the nation its complex three-dimensional character. Add to this a constant infusion of US culture and a plethora of traditions brought by migrants, and you have a thriving multicultural society.

Canada is between 3.5 and 8 hours behind GMT depending on where you are in the country. They use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram.

The international dialling code is +1.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Williams Lake Airport (YWL)
Transfer:
2019: from Williams Lake available for C$130 round trip
2020: from Williams Lake available for C$160 round trip 1st person (any additional C$80 pp) payable on site
Flight Guide:
London to Vancouver (YVR) from £600 return then onto Williams Lake.
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