Just like 2020, 2021 has been all about sticking close to home. It’s strange: I don’t even miss international travel that much, even though I haven’t left Manitoba since January of 2020. Part of the reason I’m more than happy to stay close to home is that I’ve been on a quest to see as much of Manitoba as possible, and I’ve been continuously blown away by just how much there is to do in this prairie province I call home. Missing from my previous travels? A proper visit to the neighbouring cities of Morden and Winkler.
As a Manitoban, one of my greatest travel dreams has always been to see beluga whales in Churchill. While Churchill is often considered a polar bear destination – it’s often referred to as the “polar bear capital of the world” – I was always drawn to the idea of seeing belugas in the wild. And finally, earlier this month, my dream finally came true.
When I was invited to visit Swan Valley, a region about five hours northwest of Winnipeg, I had no idea what to expect. I had vaguely heard of the town of Swan River, but beyond that I couldn’t tell you a thing.
But after spending a few days exploring Swan Valley, I can tell you this: it’s one of my favourite places in Manitoba, hands down.
Perfect for a socially-distanced trip, one that includes a lot of natural beauty, I’m so excited to share some of what I got up to while I was in Swan Valley. Nestled between the Porcupine Mountains and Duck Mountains, the valley is perfect for hiking, fishing, camping, and swimming in summer, while ideal for downhill skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and ice fishing in winter. It’s a bit of a nature enthusiast’s dream playground, really, and I could have happily spent another week or two exploring all that there was to do outdoors in Swan Valley.
Even without the chaos of 2020, this year was always going to be about sticking close to home for me. After five weeks in Europe last year, I realized those kinds of trips no longer really appealed; with my home, my dog, my family, and my friends all in Winnipeg, Canada, I knew I wanted to focus more on shorter, more local trips.
Not only that, I was starting to feel as though I had severely neglected my own home province for far too long. I left Manitoba at 18 and, despite travelling to over 100 countries, I had never really explored the prairie province where I grew up.
First up? Manitoba’s second largest city, Brandon.
Vikings, pickerel tacos, and beaches for days? There’s so much to do in and around Gimli! Read on for all of the best things to do in Gimli, Manitoba, the coolest little town you need to visit.
As I packed up my blanket, still flying high from the previous hour and a half of amazing music, I realised something: I hadn’t taken any photos of the performers. In fact, I thought, I hadn’t taken many photos at all over the past three days at Folk Fest. I had brought all of my camera equipment, made sure every battery was charged, every lens cleaned, and yet… I had barely thought to take my camera out of its bag.