1030

This equestrian adventure allows horseback riders to experience Canada’s wild-west at this remote, working ranch in British Columbia, Canada. Daily horseback riding into the surrounding countryside takes in the rivers, open meadows, dense forests and the 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 horseback 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 uninhabited, 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.

(Winter season dates on request)

Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.

Review received from LH of BINGLEY on 22/10/2023

Ride Summary
Fabulous! Really well organised, fantastic accommodation, great horses and riding - very welcoming
What was your overall impression of the holiday
Overall impression
Unicorn Trails sales staff

Riding tour leader

Additional Comments
Horses and Tack

Additional Comments
Meals

Accommodation

Miscellaneous

Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
Was there anything you should have known and were not told? NO
Please give more details to explain your response:
What could we do to improve this ride?
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
8
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
Hard to rate this as each trail ride was different and was tailored by the wranglers to suit the riders on any particular day
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
NO
Any other comments:
Unicorn comments: Thank you for your feedback. Glad you had a great time! :)

Day 1
Transfer to the ranch and meet the hosts. After a home-cooked dinner, and settling into the accommodation before meeting the fellow riders.

Day 2 
After matching the horses to the riders, the morning is spent in a short orientation to make sure everyone understands each other and are ready to hit the trail. The afternoon is spent on a shorter trail ride, solidifying the relationship between horse and rider. Riding is western style.

Day 3 onwards
Each day's trails will explore the local scenery and riders can expect anything from creek crossings, forestry trails, beautiful lakes, open meadows and incredible views. The terrain can be rough, but varied, and the 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.

The horses also need time to rest so on one day during your stay there is an excursion without your four-legged friends. Visit some of the fantastic natural highlights of the area, like the Nemaiah Valley and watching for wild horses! There are more than 1000 wild horses living in the valley. Take a hike at Chilko Lake, one of the highest lakes in the area with a magnificent view of the deep blue water and surrounding mountains.

If conditions are right, a ride in Big Creek Park is also a possibility. Here, riders 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 have yet to be confirmed but there is normally a day drive between mid-May and mid-June, with the big cattle drive leaving around a week later, 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 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 day's 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 individual skill-set of the rider although the mountainous trails mean that fast-paced riding is limited. Guests can take part in 5 full days of riding 3.5 - 4 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 3.5 - 5 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 day riding.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 209 lb/95 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, or a panoramic window. 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.



Free facilities include mountain bikes, billiards, darts. air rifle stands, ping-pong table, large trampoline and fishing equipment are all available. ATV and Kayak rental is available at an extra charge.



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.The ranch sells alcoholic drinks.


Vegetarian or other dietary requirements within reason can be accommodated with advance notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests before booking.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip.

NB: Be sure to check the COVID status of the country you plan to visit including entry procedures and requirements while travelling.

Dependent on your country, Passport and Visa requirements can change from regularly depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country.

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.)

Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate should you need a visa.

In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/canada

In the US: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Canada.html

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

COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.

Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

The cost of medical treatment can be very expensive in Canada. For emergency health care you can go to a hospital’s emergency room or to a large number of walk-in clinics where an appointment is not required beforehand.

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.

Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in Canada and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.

Electricity

In Canada the supply voltage is 120V. If the appliance or its power supply are not dual voltage rated, the single voltage appliance will have to be used alongside a voltage transformer or converter to allow the appliance to work safely and properly (unless the appliance operates at 120V).

Mobile, WiFi and charging

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 (with belt for attaching bear spray)
• 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. Group size can be up to 15 people at once. Riding groups are split according to ability if necessary.

Departure Dates

2024: 11 May - 14 Oct arrivals on Saturday or Wednesday

Pricing
Single supplement must be paid if booking alone.
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
20248d/7n5double pp1,485
20248d/7n5non-rider1,125
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20248d/7n5double pp1,735
20248d/7n5non-rider1,315
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
20248d/7n5double pp1,949
20248d/7n5non-rider1,479
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20248d/7n5double pp19,405
20248d/7n5non-rider14,689
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:
2024: from Williams Lake available for CAD$240 round trip 1st person (any additional CAD$160 pp) payable on site. Transfers are only available on Saturdays or Wednesdays. Car rental is also an option. (subject to change)
Flight Guide:
London to Vancouver (YVR) from £420 return then onto Williams Lake.
Vancouver to Williams Lake from £250 return
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