A primer on overlanding: a backcountry experience on Vancouver Island

Road trips consistently come up in conversations around planning a Vancouver Island vacation. Whether a traveller is looking to rent a car or van and experience our highways for the first time, or Island residents pack up to make a cross Island adventure, road trips are one of the best ways of seeing different communities and meeting new folks. For those who seek a little bit of quiet time in the backcountry, or like a rugged road, an Overlanding rental company can cater to you. We sat down with Maxwell Webster, a former owner of an Overlanding business, to learn more about Overlanding, what it is, and how to overland on Vancouver Island.

What is Overlanding exactly?

Overlanding describes self-reliant adventure travel to remote destinations where the journey is the primary goal. Overlanding providers aim to cater to both those who have never tried Overlanding and those who are veterans of this type of travel. They offer trip planning services, a detailed orientation to all of the gear, and manuals in the vehicle, which help build skills along the journey such as environmental awareness, 4-wheel driving techniques, and what to do when encountering wildlife.

What is it that lends Vancouver Island so well to a road trip?

First of all, for those new to BC, simply taking the ferry either to Victoria or Nanaimo is a great introduction to the beautiful island. Once on “The Rock” there are so many different routes to avoid seeing the same thing twice. With a good mix between front and backcountry camping there is something for everyone. Customers often find themselves enjoying the towns just as much as the adventure locations due to the friendly island hospitality!

What’s the longest trip one of your guests has booked on the Island? How much is there to explore?

We’ve had customers focus solely on the island for up to two weeks. Especially when including some of the southern and northern Gulf Islands in the itinerary really means you could even go for longer than two weeks. From the southwest coast near Port Renfrew up the Pacific Marine Route and north to Port Alberni to Tofino there are many options for backroad adventures. With the ferry service once again connecting the north of the island to the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast we are now sending more and more customers up to the north of Vancouver Island which we are really excited about as there is so much to see near Campbell River all the way up to Cape Scott!

What are your five top locations on Vancouver Island?

It’s tough to visit Vancouver Island and not see Tofino. But there are so many other amazing places such as the southwest coast and Lake Cowichan, Sproat Lake, the endless backcountry options near Campbell River, and up north near Telegraph Cove.

All photos courtesy of Hastings Overland & Victor Aerden.