Individual Testimonials by E-Mail:
September 23, 2016
Dear Ronda and Gary,
Just a note to thank you again for a most enjoyable day on Friday. The wine tour and the vineyards you chose for our day of tasting was excellent, but the whole day was so much more with the commentary of the areas history and background we were passing through. Coming across the black bears in the corn field was a bonus! Nice touch! ; )
You have a wonderful rapport with your guests and I plan to be part of another one of your tours in the future.
July 24, 2014.
Gary and Ronda,
I wanted to send a thank you for our tour. It was more educational than I anticipated and we certainly learned a lot. The kids were pointing out things that they had learned on your tour while we were at Capilano Park!
All the best
Janice and Stephen
May 7, 2014.
Hullo folks, thank you for providing us with a bird guide for the first couple of days on your Island, in retrospect, it would have been wise to book him for a few more days. However, with the benefit of hindsight,things would always be easy.
It was a bit of a shock to meet someone so young, but boy, does he have a gift!
We have used bird guides in Poland Norway ,Turkey,Spain,Morocco Madeira and he is without doubt the most gifted.
On occasions over the last two days, what he has demonstrated has been incredible and for a boy so young, it’s all the more remarkable, and he is humble, which is unusual for a talented kid.
The boy has a great future. Any visiting birder would be foolhardy not to use him, he definitely has a gift for identifying and finding birds.
Not to mention a ten hour day on Sunday, despite us saying he should finish by 16.00
He is remarkable.
Waine Foster, Sue Edwards.
April 4, 2014.
Gary and Ronda provided a very wonderful well paced tour. They are knowledgeable friendly warm people who take every step to make sure that a good time is had by all. Providing extras like the water, the rain boots, the umbrellas and even at the end Gary providing us with a spotting scope to get great views of the Brant geese flitting amongst the gulls that would otherwise not have been seen. Thanks for a wonderful tour I would recommend you to anyone.
Karen Toronto Ontario
Hi, I am Jim, I love Kentucky, and traveling in and around Kentucky! I also love the entire country, and all of the beautiful and strange places here and there! This blog covers the overlooked, forgotten, and underrated places, people, and moments in history in America, with a focus on Kentucky! It will cover great tourists stops, books about people and history, and include photos and postcard scans.
The Pacific Ocean from Vancouver Island- the most distance ever between me and Kentucky.
Monday, February 24, 2014
Pacific Rainforest Adventure Tours
I mentioned before that we talked to Gary from Pacific Rainforest Adventure Tours earlier in the week. We reserved our spots for their all day tour across Vancouver Island.
Gary and his wife Ronda picked us up promptly at 7 in front of our room. A couple of locals joined us on the trip. Hazel was already in the van. She has lived everywhere- Florida, Pennsylvania, and England. Peter joined our group too. He had a great eye, and pointed out several things we may have missed otherwise on our tour, including birds and deer. Hazel and Peter both had an appreciation for Vancouver Island and it’s natural resources.
Ronda narrated the entire trip which was very impressive. She covered history, geography, and local politics. All was fascinating.
Ronda covered the treatment of the people of the First Nations. Just like in the US, the people who were on the land first were treated harshly. There were reservations and missionary schools that diluted the culture.
We went through the Port Alberni area, and Ucluelet, making several stops to see plants, animals and artwork.
Some towns have attractive welcoming statues with their arms stretched outward in a welcoming stand. I really thought this was nice. I saw similar statues at the Vancouver airport, and I think these are great. We also saw various totem poles that tell stories.
Eagles were everywhere on Vancouver Island. Gary pointed out a treeline area where he counted 14! Before my visit to BC, I had had seen a few, but never more than one at once.
During our day we went on several hikes. On the Wild Pacific Trail we got a great view of the ocean and of all of the green growth beside it. There is something very pleasant about walking among lots of trees and looking out at endless water.
Check out our photos of the ocean, with those perfect grey clouds above them. Luckily, I brought my video camera with me on this trip.
After a few hours, but what seemed like a full days worth of exploring already, we were ready for lunch!
We all went to the Matterson House in Ucluelet. In addition to being in a cozy old historic home, the place had great food. Check out the photos. EVERYTHING was big and fresh. We had a great salad, club and cod burger here.
AND, as I set with everyone at lunch, I realized how casual and fun this group was. Gary and Ronda asked us about what we would like to see on this trip. They asked about if we would like to spend more time at one park than another. We tried to defer the questions to the locals on the tour, but they cheerfully argued that we were the ones visiting.
Plus, Hazel goes on this local tour often. Her and Peter both know the area, AND they still enjoy taking Ronda and Gary’s tour! These guys live in the area, and still enjoy exploring.
After that we made our way to The Pacific Rim National Park area to watch more waves. I thought it was odd that their visitor center was closed for the season. Still, the beach area that we went to was very accessible and pleasant.
Similarly to the views on the Wild Pacific Trail, just looking at the ocean meeting the sky was unreal. I think the most shocking thing about this was the fact that there weren’t more people around watching.
We went by some other beaches in the area, and we did see a few people surfing, even though it was very cold. They did have their wet suits on, but the temps still seemed unbearable to me for playing in the water.
The trip was very enjoyable in Gary’s roomy tour van. He and Ronda have done this tour a lot, and they were very prepared for everything. Beverages were readily available. Coats, and rain jackets were offered as needed (and we did need them with the frequent weather changes during the day!). Also, when we had time to look for shells on the beach, Gary had bags!
After visiting several beaches, trails, and other roadside we finished our day on the west side of the island visiting shops in Tofino. Peter insisted that we visit the gallery of Roy Henry Vickers in Tofino.
We visited briefly and we were impressed. We were, however, on a bit of a time limit, so we were unable to casually look the way I would have liked. Anyway, check out Roy’s site at:
We did pick up some nice jewelry at the jewelry shop Rubio:
AND we got a discount on some nice items (since we were on Gary and Ronda’s tour) at Himwitsa
I should also mention that we stopped by the post office in town, and I talked to possibly the two funniest postal workers ever (I wish I could remember their names). One of them could do stand up.
Before we completely left the Tofino area, Gary drove us to Chocolate Tofino. Do you like chocolate? Seriously do you like chocolate? Well, this is the place. We had small cups of their famous hot chocolate. It was thick and rich and I wish I never had it…. but man do I want another! It was delicious but I felt so guilty drinking it. Oh, and we bought some of their candy bars which are just as good.
And, on the way back to the east side of the island (which seems to be about a 2 hour drive) Ronda continued to tell us about local wildlife.
Gary drove us by two airplanes used to put out forest fires. The planes are extremely rare. He told us that one of the five made actually crashed in to a nearby mountain.
At the end of our adventure I had that feeling I always get after a great day- I didn’t want it to end. However, nearly 12 hours had passed since Gary and Ronda picked us up. We said goodbye to Peter and Hazel. I told Peter maybe we could all get together and do the trip again someday… and maybe we will. I hope to return to the area again, and I would love to repeat this trip with the same company.
We absolutely felt that we got a bargain touring with Pacific Rainforest Adventure Tours. These guys helped us squeeze in about 2 extra days worth of seeing the Island. I mean that- I think it would have taken us 3 days on our own to see all that they showed us in one.
Plus, they had access to some areas that most tourists don’t. And, the drive from the Parksville area to the Tofino area is accessible by one road that is very curvy. Having a local who knows the road was a major bonus. It would have taken me at least twice as long to navigate this road.
Check out Gary and Ronda’s website. These are fun folks who really enjoy what they are doing, and they are very generous. On our tour, we missed getting a few shots with our cameras. Gary and Ronda emailed us over a dozen photos that we asked for.
This was easily one of the all time best tours we have done, and it was a great value for what we paid.
March 24, 2013,
Hi Gary and Christopher:
I just wanted to thank you again for a wonderful Bird outing on March
24th. I wanted to give you a token of my appreciation, which was in my
pocket, but forgot so will donate it to a Wildlife Rescue group here
on the Sunshine Coast. Hope to join you again one day.
Marcai, Sechelt, BC
August 29, 2012,
Dear Gary, Ronda and Chris,
Thank You – Very enjoyable day that united us with some great local information – we now look forward to learning more about our specific area and sharing with our family. Amazing!
Aug 2, 2012
I thoroughly enjoyed the trip yesterday with you and your wife. It was very informative and I never would have seen so much of the
island without your guidance. It gives me more insight into the environment and more of an appreciation for nature and our earthly resources.
If possible if you could send me any photos that you took during the trip, including a couple of myself, I would appreciate it. Even though
I have a digital camera, I missed a few pictures as well as I don’t have the UBS drive to download the pictures I took.
The rain forest trip has been the highlight of my visit to Vancouver Island.
Thanks so much.
Carolyn Mendoza, California, USA
Pacific Brant Festival (Parksville Qualicum) and tour with Pacific Rainforest Adventure Tours
April 2, 2012
I’ve lived on Vancouver Island almost all my life, first on the West Coast, and then in Victoria. In the late 1980s my parents retired to Oceanside (Parksville – Qualicum Beach). We’ve spent many hours on beaches and in the forest exploring. One popular event we’ve enjoyed in the past is the Pacific Brant Wildlife Festival.
This year, wanting to surprise my husband (an avid bird watcher and photographer) for his birthday, I remembered the festival. It had been years since my last visit. Searching the website for more information, I found a Brant viewing tour (Brantastic Observations Nature Tour) offered by Gary and Ronda Murdock of Pacific Rainforest Adventure Tours and field ornithologist Guy Monty.
I made reservations with Gary and Ronda, and at the Travelodge in Parksville (always a family favourite). Our weekend away was set.
Saturday March 31st dawned cool and cloudy. After a quick and uneventful trip up island, we arrived at the community and conference centre in Parksville for our pickup.
Gary, Ronda and Guy donate all the proceeds of the tours (a very reasonable $25 for 4 hours) to the Brant Festival.
Powerful spotting scopes are provided. Most participants also came with their own binoculars.
Destinations depend on daily brant viewing. We headed first to Rathtrevor Park, and the beach. This was the location of the biggest flocks we saw that day. The tide was out, but not completely, allowing us good visibility. We learned about the brant, the importance of herring to the coastal eco-system, the impact of humans on the brant, brant banding, flight patterns, migration, how to profile a brant for health, wintering grounds, age, mating, natural enemies, preening, flushing, species of brant, breeding and more.
What a pleasure to spend time with people who are so knowledgeable that every story has a wealth of information to ponder.
After Rathtrevor, we travelled to the main beaches at Parksville and Qualicum, and finished off with a trip to the estuary of the Little Qualicum River, and the French Creek marina.
We’ll be back for more tours with Gary and Ronda based on this experience!
The Brant Wildlife Festival has been a mainstay in Oceanside since the early 1990s, and has gone through several structural changes. In my opinion, it’s important to support efforts to educate and interest people in the natural environment. Often, living on Vancouver Island, surrounded by its incredible natural beauty, we can come to take it for granted, and be unaware of the impact of seemingly simple activities like taking a walk on the beach with our dog.
If you have a chance to travel to Oceanside during late March – early April, why not make the Brant Festival a destination? There are free tours and bird watching activities organized, including a Big Day Bird Count.
The Brant Wildlife Festival takes place in the Parksville – Qualicum Beach Wildlife Management Area.
The abundance and diversity of natural resources found in this WMA are outstanding on a global scale. The many estuaries, beaches, and foreshore gravel bars provide critical staging grounds for the internationally important Pacific Brant Sea Goose. These habitats are equally significant to over sixty other waterbird species; over 100,000 waterbirds come to feed in the productive foreshore waters. The estuaries and foreshore zones provide vital rearing habitat to all Pacific salmon species and Steelhead and coastal Cutthroat Trout. Millions of Herring spawn each spring on the abundant Eel Grass and algal beds found within the WMA foreshore. This in turn attracts several marine mammals such as California Sea Lion, Harbour Seal, Northern Sea Lion, and Harbour Porpoise.
It’s only a two hour drive from Victoria, to an area I thought I knew well, yet I learned a great deal.
After our tour, we were on the hunt for a good hamburger, and stopped at Bugsy’s Bar and Grill on Guy Monty’s recommendation. They did not disappoint! Home-made hummus, island craft beer on tap, and two stellar hamburgers. It’s one more location to add to the list.
The Travelodge has been one of our go-to hotels in Oceanside whenever we’ve needed a place to stay. They offer a special rate for the Brant Festival, and have a complete deluxe continental breakfast bar (cereal, fruit, waffles, bagels, toast, yogurt) which definitely makes them an affordable option for families.
It was a wonderful weekend. Thanks to the citizens and businesses of Oceanside for making it a fantastic birthday.
Janis, Victoria, B.C.
Thank you so very much for the pictures of the trip and others. You and the day we spent with you were the highlights of our visit to Vancouver. You ran a first class trip and we really enjoyed the time we spent with you. We will be back and we will look you up again!
Yvonne wants the bobby pins she left in your back seat…please send them down ASAP! ha
IF you ever get to this area of the country, please let us know and come and stay a day with us….we will show you around our part of the world.
Tony – Nov. 18, 2009 Alabama, USA
Gary and Ronda,
Thank you for a wonderful tour today. Carol and I agree that it was one of the best we have had the opportunity to take. If friends come this way, we will recommend your tours to them.
Also, when you have the opportunity, please send us the “bear picture.”
Thanks again for a wonderful day.
Loren and Carol Geistfeld, Ohio, USA, September 30, 2009
Dear Ronda and Gary,
Hi from Germany – Freiburg – Black Forest.
Today I finally sent an Email to our travel agent womwan in Freiburg/Basel and recommended your service. She is taylouring individual travelling plans for German and Swiss tourists and I hope that some benefit will come out for you. We really enyoued the day with you on Vancouver Island (30.0f August 2008)
All the best
Heidrun and Oser Igra
Dr. Heidrun Igra
Ronda & Gary,Thank you once again for the enjoyable day and for all the knowledge you shared with us! Fred commented to me that it was the best guided tour he had been on. We have many memories to enjoy now. Our print by Roy Henry Vickers is on our dining room wall. Interestingly, I have two other prints by First Nation artists; one I purchased from an estate sale and the other was a gift. When I took a second look at the artists today, both artists are from Vancouver Island! One is by Darlene Gait and the other is by Joe Wilson who was born and raised at Koksilah. Our journey home was long but uneventful. We did have to take a detour off of I-5 at Tacoma and returned to I-5 at the beginning of the road block. Luckily there is a good restaurant there serving homemade food so we set a goal to be there by eight in the evening to enjoy a meal and we accomplished that! The ferry ride through the San Juan Islands was beautiful and we didn’t experience any rain until we were on our detour following a log truck around the curves. We look forward to joining you both on another one of your tours next year.
Blessed and Happy Holidays with your families,
Della & Fred, California USA, December 2007
Neil and I are now back from a memorable trip to Canada and Hawaii. One of our lasting impressions of a truly wonderful day, (Thursday 13 Sept, 2007) was when you collected us from Nanaimo, to journey through central Vancouver Island, over to the West Coast and Tofino. For us the combination of such stunning scenery, together with the opportunity to share your intimate knowledge of the history, geography, fauna and flora of area, made it something quite magical. You took a personal interest and very good care of us. Thank you – and we hope that one day we might return to Vancouver Island and tackle a more extended Rainforest Nature Tour. Once again, our thanks for a lovely day. We enjoyed meeting you.
Regards and best wishes
Carol Henderson, New Zealand, September 2007.
Gary and Ronda, Just a note to thank you both for a marvelous trip up Island to see the Whales and Orcas plus the other creatures. It was a great trip, good company and great food. I also want to share some photos of the trip and especially notice the error on the reader board about the Johnson strait. Cold water at 45 Celsius?? (Photo No, 83) Wonder how many people have read that and did not notice the mistake. I have more pictures of the area, but you travel it so much you know it all by now. Thanks again and enjoy the photos. Lets keep in touch, if you ever get to Seattle there will be a bedroom for you.
Ron Cline Sept. 2007.
Dear Ronda and Gary, Having been back home from Vancouver Island two weeks now and having settled back in, I am beginning to put together my album of photos and memories from our fabulous two-week stay on your beautiful Island. I was lucky enough to spend two days of it on Pacific Rainforest Adventure Tours with you and my brother and sister-in- law, Carol and Dennis. Just wanted to say again how much we enjoyed our visits to the Pacific Coast and to Telegraph Cove with you. We enjoyed hearing everything you had to tell us and your friendly manner. The rides were enjoyable and you chose excellent restaurants. We also appreciated the special touches you added to each tour. Since Carol and Den have the quarter share at Pacific Shores, I hope to return someday with them. I will look forward, therefore, to possibly touring with you again. Also, I was wondering if Gary had any special shots of wildlife from our Telegraph Cove visit of Sept. 6th which you could share. Thanks again for the special experiences in B.C.
Jo Ann Peterson Sept. 2007.
Hi Gary & Ronda, Just wanted to let you guys know what a wonderful time we had on our tour with you on May 11th. The drive up was very scenic and your knowledge of the history and culture of Vancouver Island made the trip all that more enjoyable. Lunch and snacks were very tasty as well. That was the first time Lorraine and I had seen a grizzly bear. We’ve gained a lot of respect for an animal that large…that’s for sure! We hope to look you up again on a future trip to the island and we’ll definitely recommend your tours to all of our friends. Oh and our pictures came out fantastic too!
Bob & Lorraine Mickells Parker,CO, USA May 2007.
Just wanted to take a moment and tell you again how very much we enjoyed your fantastic tour. We have been on tours from Italy to the Panama Canal and none has been better than yours ! Don’t change a thing, it is perfect ! We have told everyone that we were not on vacation, we were on an adventure ! Thank You.
William and Donna McKenzie, California, December, 2006.
Hi Gary& Ronda We are back home in the UK. We enjoyed your company on the tours it was very nice to meet you again and hope to again in the future. Thanks again you helped to make our stay in your country a very enjoyable experience
Mike & Carole, England, February, 2006
Hi Gary and Ronda, We are back home now. We had a wonderful vacation and the highlight was the tour to the West Coast and learning about the area and environment. The pictures are wonderful and we really appreciate your sending them. The info on the planes as an added bonus.
Fred and Susan Brown, Scottsdale, AZ March 2006
I wish to express my deep appreciation for the sheer pleasure and delight your exceedingly efficient tour provided for my friend and myself. Your parting gifts as we decended your motor vehicle was very touching indeed. Your love of nature emanated throughout the entire tour. The beauty and magnificence of the rain-kist day touched my soul. Again, many thanks,
Grace Kerrigon-Vibert, Ontario, April, 2005
Hi Ronda and Gary, Garth and I just wanted to let you know that we are now back home and back into the swing of things again. We wanted to say “Thank You” once again for the wonderful day trip last week (Dec. 1) we had such a great time and were glad that we didn’t try to do it on our own. Can you please email us some of the pictures that Gary took and anything else that you mentioned you have that would be interesting. Keep up the great work. You two do a wonderful job and Ronda you are so knowledgeable about the culture of the whole island….it was very interesting. I could listen to you for days. We look forward to hearing from you. Season’s Greetings!
Gail & Garth Donhauser, December 2005
We want to thank you again for the most enjoyable tour of Bamfield and the surrounding areas. I took some great photos and this is one of them. May send a few more if you agree. I will recommend this outing to the Boeing Employees Travel Club. Thanks.
Ron and Jeannette Cline, Washington, August, 2003
Last Sunday I joined a group tour of the Carmanah Valley Ancient Rainforest with Pacific Rainforest Adventure tours. It was a fabulous trip and I highly recommend it. Gary and Ronda are a first-class operation. The trip was well-organized and every detail was taken care of with a personal touch. Ronda’s explanation of the island’s natural history, First Nations’ history, and more recent logging issues was detailed and thorough during the trip to and from the forest. During the drive, we enjoyed muffins, juice, and bottled water. A nice touch. Gary shared with us his broad knowledge during the hike through the forest, stopping at intervals to keep the group together and to point out different trees, ferns, and other plant life. The lunch they provided was abundant and delicious and was spread out on a table with tablecloth at the edge of the forest before our hike. After the hike, yet another feast was spread out for us–wild-caught smoked salmon, fresh fruit, and hot drinks. What a treat. Ronda and Gary were clearly proud of the forest and did an amazing job of sharing their enthusiasm for Vancouver Island. Cheers!
Maria Ruth, California, Feb., 2003.
Thanks very much for the tour. Your commentary was very interesting & informative. You’ve given me a good appreciation for the priceless values in my own neighborhood.
Del Harrison, Texas, November, 2003
We just wanted to tell you again how much we enjoyed our adventure tour with you. We were part of your group on Wednesday, June 25. We saw eight bears that day and we lost count of the bald eagles we saw. We thoroughly enjoyed our day and we consider it the top highlight of our 10 day trip to Vancouver Island. I’d like to email you a few photos of our adventure trip. Perhaps you could use them in your photo album, which describes the adventure to other prospective clients. Send me your email address and I’ll email them to you. Thanks again, and God bless.
Dan and Lenora Viveros, California, July, 2003