Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Snowshoeing - a fun activity for everyone!

I am frequently amazed when I hear people state that ‘there is nothing to do in the winter!’

Here in Canada we live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and are blessed with an abundance of land, trees, lakes and forests. We are also lucky enough to experience 4 (or at least 3) distinct seasons during the year.

Being originally from the UK, I often still experience that ‘novelty factor’ feeling, even after living here for over 10 years!

A snowy day often reminds me of my childhood, when I literally dreamt of snow and was incredibly grateful for even the tiniest flakes.

Of course living in Edmonton brings more than just tiny flakes and with it, an abundance of winter activities!

Snowshoeing is one of the most overlooked fun and easy activities available.

Even living in a city, it’s relatively easy to find decent places to snowshoe. Check out the River Valley trails, parks, golf courses and even fields. Or drive further afield and go to Elk Island National Park and view wildlife by snowshoe.

So, let’s look at the facts:

1. It is fun for people of all ages. In fact, I was discussing the attributes of snowshoeing recently with client who is 78 years old and still snowshoes on a regular basis!

2. It is cheap! You can pick up a decent pair of adult snowshoes for around $130 that will last you for years! Alternatively you can rent snowshoes for as little as $12 per day/ $56 per week! (See Mountain Equipment Co-op @ http://www.mec.ca/ ).

3. Snowshoeing is great exercise! You can burn approximately 400 calories per hour and the low impact sport is easy on your knees and is a relatively safe sport.

4. It is easy! Put one foot in front of the other. Move as fast or as slow as you wish and just get going!

5. It is a sociable activity! You can take friends, children or even your dog.

So what are you waiting for?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Don't let the cold get to you ... get out to the Edmonton Winter Light Festival and enjoy fun for all of the family!

Winter Light is a public festival (6 Jan-13 Mar) focused on the theme of light and bringing together fire, spectacle and spirit. The goal is to develop a bright and varied winter festival season for Edmontonians and visitors from near and far!

See below for just a few things to do at the 2010 Winter Light Festival:

1. Marvel at the spectacular ice sculptures on display at the Ice On Whyte event. Local and international carvers compete for the top prize.

2. Silver Skate Festival is held in the picturesque Hawrelak Park and is a unique blend of art, recreation and sport. Enjoy skate marathons, the Winter Triathlon and Night Works in the Park!

3. Take part in the remarkable Aboriginal Winter Camp. In tipis, tents and tupiqs, artists and heritage interpreters share their unique culture through fire-tending, storytelling, dance and music!

4. Take the kids to the Deep Freeze Festival – a celebration that includes the enchanted ice & snow garden, outdoor curling, skating, hayrides, and the Melt the Deep Freeze dance party!

5. Sit around a campfire, drink hot chocolate and join a night time walk through a magically lit forest at the Snow Daze winter camp!

6. Enjoy storytelling and music with the kids at the Hearts of Fire mid-winter feast!

7. Skating, sledding and magical lights on the lake are all part of free family fun during Big Winter. Enjoy the Big Whoop, Little Winter, Snowboot Soccer and Adventure Island!

8. Winter Light’s closing event at the Edmonton Ski Club brings together dazzling fire performances, spectacular freestyle, skiing, Zipfys on Kid Mountain and the ride of your life on the world’s largest Dragon Luge!

To book a Winter Light package contact Urban Insight Travel

For more information about Winter Light go to Winter Light 2010

Monday, August 24, 2009

Jasper - the ideal place for an all-girl (or all-guy) getaway

It's no secret that Jasper is one of my favourite places in Alberta and it was with great excitement that I, together with 2 girlfriends headed out to the mountains again during the August long weekend.

A weekend of fun, adventure and relaxation was the order of the day and being graced with one of the warmest weekend's of 2009 only added to our pleasure.

Renting a canoe or kayak was top of our list. Of course, well made plans quite often don't work out as expected! When a small row boat was offered as an alternative, 2 out of the 3 of us accepted with glee!

Saturday found us therefore, struggling vainly to steer the boat in the right direction for a good 45 minutes and whilst we were very proud once we accomplished this, we decided to overlook the fact that the boat was facing the wrong way! Fun! Fun!

This small detail aside, our trip across Maligne Lake was just as expected. Amazing! The lake was absolutely beautiful and changed from a lush green to grey as the occasional cloud drifted overhead. The mountain scenery was breathtaking, as one can only find in the Rocky Mountains and the company was top-notch!
Sunday found us hiking along a delightful forested trail to Dorothy, Christine and Virl Lakes. The view of the lakes were well worth the walk in 29 degree heat and a picnic lunch alongside Christine Lake was a great reward.

Jasper offers so many hidden delights that it would be difficult to tire of this destination. With numerous walking and adventure options, abundant wildlife (bear, snake and coyote were spotted during this trip), a relaxing townsite and of course, truly spectacular scenery ... why would you need to leave the country?!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Lake, trees, mountains, wildlife and a little hair-raising adventure thrown in for good measure!

It was with excited anticipation that I returned to Nordegg recently, a destination I frequently visit in all seasons, but with my last trip being back in February. This time I took with me a 'newbie' to both the area and my favourite accommodation, HI-Shunda Creek Hostel.
As with every other visit to the area, we undertook a decent length hike on the Saturday armed with all of the essentials; sunscreen, chocolate and cameras! The sun broke the clouds just in time for our departure and as I predicted; my companion Christina was wowed and charmed by the mountains, rivers and waterfalls that we came across.

Unfortunately, not paying attention to the trails and without compass or map, we proceeded to get a little lost after 3 hours of steady hiking and rather than turn back, we decided instead to continue on and bushwhack our way through.

It was some time later after a hair raising rapid river crossing (over a delicately balanced tree trunk), scaling a rugged mountain wall, collecting numerous scrapes and scratches and wondering around in haphazard circles that we decided (rather reluctantly) to call it quits!

Again we crossed the rapid river (much faster this time now we were experienced!) and headed back along the path we came!

The hike was great fun, the bushwhacking exhilarating and sinking into the hostel hot tub, with a cold beer at the end of the day was deeply gratifying!

Once again, this little-known area gained a new fan and continued to resume its place at the top of my list!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Miquelon Lake Provincial Park - a successful kids getaway!

Our trip this week, was closer to home. A quick 45 minute drive to the Miquelon Lake Provincial Park, south east of Edmonton.

With the Alberta summer finally setting in, the campsite was full by Friday morning! Luckily we had friends drive out and grab us a site first thing. Note to oneself: the campgrounds that are closer to the city fill up very quickly when the weather is forecast to be good. Make sure you book in advance!

Miquelon Lake Provincial Park campsite offers large gravel, tree-lined sites, a new washroom facility and a couple of 'outhouse' buildings. There is a general store and liquor store within walking distance.

Nearby there is an excellent area for the kids, with play park and beach and picnic tables. The water is typical Alberta lake water, but the kids don't seem to notice and happily splash around and make mud pies!

This is a good choice for a quick get away destination for city dwellers, that don't want to travel to far.

A few facts about Miquelon Lake Provincial Park:

  • The park is 1299 hectares in size
  • Is part of the Cookin Lake Moraine or 'Beaver Hills"
  • Is dominated by trembling aspen, balsam poplar and white spruce forests
  • More than 200 bird species visit the area annually
  • Has a 10-kilometre interconnecting trail system (with more trails planned for the near future)

For further information go to http://www.albertaparks.ca/

Monday, June 1, 2009

Family time in Jasper

This weekend we decided to take the kids on their first trip to one of our favourite places in Alberta, Jasper.

Our previous family trips have usually been camping or staying at hostels, so staying in a hotel was an experience in itself! Our 7 year old was so impressed that there was a TV in the room (!) and our 4 year old was delighted to be able to sit on the balcony and watch the elk that appeared in the grounds late afternoon.

We had a great family room at the Best Western Jasper Inn & Suites, with a loft bedroom, separate bedroom and kitchenette; definately a good family option.

Saturday brought sunny, windy weather and a great day for a river raft tour on the Athabasca River. This trip, aboard a 25 foot raft is fantastic for families! It's more than safe enough to take young children along, as the rapids that you encounter are relatively small and harmless; yet are still large enough to throw some water into the raft! (Ponchos are provided if required). Our 7 year old son was in fits of laughter through most of the trip!

On Sunday morning we took the Jasper Tramway 'flight' up Whistler's Mountain (named after the whistling marmots that roam the traverse).

The flight is fast and extremely safe and the views from the top of Whistler's Mountain are completely out of this world!

As an added plus, there is a restaurant on top of the mountain offering a reasonably priced menu with a fairly good selection. We opted for the 2 egg breakfast and it was prompt and tasty.

Our weekend ended with strolls around the Jasper townsite and ice cream! This family trip to Jasper was a definate success, with the raft trip being voted as the favourite!

To book a family package to Jasper contact Urban Insight at 1-888 756-2035 or customize your own trip at http://www.urbaninsight.ca/

Many thanks to Best Western Jasper Inn & Suites, Jasper Raft Tours and Jasper Tramway for their assistance.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Le Tour de l'Alberta

Departing from Morinville on 26 July, 700+ riders are expected to participate in one of four rides. Urban Insight will be assisting riders, family and guests with booking their travel arrangements.

Le Tour de l’Alberta was created in 1994 by the Edmonton Bicycle & Touring Club as a club ride for members to celebrate the Tour de France, the cycling and our strong French Heritage.
Now, open to anyone, this year’s tour proves to be bigger and better with the addition of a new 3km kids ride to promote family activity and the sport of cycling to young Canadians.

Departing from Morinville on 26 July, 700+ riders are expected to participate in one of the rides (choose from 20km, 50km, 100km, and 160km), which will be supported by friends and family from Alberta and neighbouring provinces.

Le Tour de l’Alberta is also delighted to appoint Urban Insight as their official Travel Partner for the 2009 ride. Urban Insight will be assisting riders, family and guests with booking their travel arrangements.

To join the ride or find out more information, check out http://www.tourdalberta.ca/
To book travel arrangements for the ride, contact Urban Insight http://www.urbaninsight.ca/ / 1-888 756-2035

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Discovering Drumheller

I just spent a wonderful May long weekend discovering the delights and sights of Drumheller and was pleasantly surprised with the destination.

Having only driven through the area before, I was aware of the stunning scenery nearby and the charming townsite tucked away in the Badlands. I was not though, aware of how much fun this place is!

We took the traditional May long option of camping and stayed at the busy River Grove campground which had a great location close to downtown and made the most of our 2 days and great weather in town.

With 5 children aged between 4-14 and 4 active adults, we didn't run out of things to keep us amused and our sightseeing included:

Atlas Coal Mine Museum (great tour for adults and kids)
The Hoodoos (see image)
The Rosedale Suspension Bridge
The World's Largest Dinosaur
The Royal Tyrrell Museum

There were plenty more sites that we wanted to take in, but unfortunately time got the better of us! (The Passion Play, Reptile World, Badlands Go-Kart Park, Last Chance Saloon in Wayne to name but a few!)

All in all, a great family destination for kids of all ages!

Contact Urban Insight for packages to Drumheller this summer!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Welcome to the official blog page for Urban Insight Travel!

We are an Alberta specialist inbound travel company and plan to spread the word about how truly spectacular this province really is.

Please check back on a regular basis and see more about our HOT DEALS and further information about Albertan activities, events, attractions and more!