Sunday, June 27, 2010

BatStar Adventure Tours

This past week I had a wonderful opportunity to join my boyfriend and his family on a sea kayaking adventure in Clayoquot Sound. It was a fully guided tour for 5 days and 4 nights of kayaking and camping in open ocean and on sandy beaches. 

Many of you have probably heard of Clayoquot Sound before, as it's been the center of many disputes between loggers and environmentalists and was covered quite heavily in the news .... at least here in B.C.  It started back in 1984 when 90% of Meares Island was slated to be logged. Blockades were set up in protest and the First Nations Nuu-chah-nulth won the right to impose a legal injunction on logging. In 1993 disputes arose again when 2/3's of the old growth forests in Clayoquot Sound were slated to be logged. One of the largest protests occurred resulting in over 850 arrests, with activists chaining themselves to trees. This remains the largest peaceful act of civil disobedience in Canadian History (too bad we can't say the same thing for G20). Since then there has been more cooperation between the forestry industry and environmentalists and there are several old growth areas in Clayoquot Sound that are protected, including 'The Big Tree Trail,' a popular tourist destination maintained by local First Nations. The beauty of the area is inspiring and one can easily see why so many fought to protect it. 

My boyfriends family has done several tours with BatStar Adventure Tours before and have become regulars because of the great experiences they've had. When I was asked to join them on a family vacation I was deeply honoured and quite excited for the trip. However, being a Celiac who's had a few bad experiences with guided tours before, I was also apprehensive at being away from any other source of food for 5 days. I was unsure as to how knowledgeable BatStar was with Celiac Disease and how to prepare food for Celiacs. They assured me that they have relatives with Celiac and had been able to accommodate many Celiacs before me, but when I saw the menu for the week I was left a little uneasy. There sure where a lot of gluten related things on the menu. 

The tour starts by arriving at the owners B&B in Port Alberni. The first night dinner is wherever you find it (I recommend Boston Pizza's gluten free pizza by the Walmart) and the morning is breakfast on the B&B. That is when I first started feeling more comfortable about how the week was going to pan out. They provided me with homemade gluten free muffins as an alternative to what everyone else was eating. I'm usually pretty leery about homemade baking, but I didn't have any reactions, so that put me at ease right away. Once we were in kayaks and heading towards our first lunch spot, the original menu had been to have buckwheat noodle salad. Now if the buckwheat noodles are 100% buckwheat, then they would be fine, but most aren't, so when I discovered that the salad had been switched to a mixed rice (white and wild), that eased my concerns even more. The rice salad was amazing and I really need to find out what was in it ... it was quite citrusy and refreshing. As the days went on, I discovered that the guides really knew what they were doing when it came to my food. I overheard them talking to each other "I just handled the wraps so you make Tiffany's food" and making sure everything was done separately to avoid cross-contamination. They also consulted me frequently on anything they were unsure of, letting me decided what I was willing to take risks on or not. On kayaking trips with only open outhouses and a limited amount of toilet paper, I don't take any chances. 

The trip wasn't without small mishaps, but that's when being prepared (see blog 2 postings ago) comes in handy. The guides were supposed have been given corn tortillas for my lunches, but they never made it into the kayaks, so it was lucky that I had brought some along just in case. Dinners were always fantastic and there were some alternatives for breakfast, but some breakfasts and snacks were lacking in the alternatives so a little gf bar alongside the fabulous fresh fruit salad every morning did the trick and some homemade trail mix from nuts-online filled the voids.  As a result of being prepared and the fantastic working knowledge of the guides on how to feed me, I was not hungry and grumpy the entire trip. 

Speaking of the trip, it was pretty interesting and fun experience. Kayaking for several days and being a beginner, it takes a bit of getting used to being damp all the time (once your clothes get wet, they stay wet), but the beaches we camped on were always well sheltered and wonderfully sandy on the toes. We got to see quite a bit of wildlife. I saw a crazy amount of whales and they came pretty darn close to our kayaks, but I never seemed to get my camera out fast enough for them. Seals, starfish, seabirds, were a plenty and we even saw some river otters too. 

The guides were great with local knowledge and were fantastic cooks (everything was made from scratch with fresh food and herbs) and were always on top of what was going on. They even had hot tea ready for us to sooth or stomachs on a slightly rough day for those of us who get a little motion sick. How they managed to find hot water in their kayaks after hours of paddling is beyond me. So, bring a small dry bag with some easy breakfasts (Gluten Freda's instant oatmeal and Glutino bars), small bag of corn tortillas and some snacky things (nuts, cookies,etc) with you for just in case moments and you will have a fantastic time with BatStar Adventure Tours.

My Nuts-Online Customized Trail Mix 

2 cups of Cashew pieces (or any mixture of preferred nuts)
1 cup of Dried Fruit Mix
1 cup of Pumpkin Seeds
1 cup of gluten free Chocolate or Carob Chips

Add all ingredients to a plastic resealable bag, shake to mix and enjoy!


  1. Great great and amazing place for trekking. Love this blog.

  2. I like the photos of the adventure tour you have shared. They really relate to a very memorable and a greatly enjoyed tour. I wish to have such kind of camerawork on my tour also.