If you can ski proficiently, look into the numerous ski instructor courses that are available. These courses will put you through your paces emotionally and physically, even if you’re a proficient skier, but a steep learning curve is all part of the process – and you’ll end up with qualifications that’ll look great on your CV. The ski season in Canada tends to be from November to April, but this can vary, depending on where you are. British Columbia and Alberta have a more moderate climate and a longer ski season. Look for courses in Fergie, Banff or even the scarily-named ‘steep and deep’ Red Mountain. These courses aren’t for the faint-hearted, but if you love to ski, you couldn’t hope for a better adventure. Canada is famed for its thick, lush snowfall and challenging pistes, so if you’re after a proper adventure, head West.If you’re after a wetter (but not necessarily colder) thrill, make sure that you go white water rafting. The best locations are, as a rule, Banff, Jasper and Vancouver. The season runs from April to October, with the best water volumes in June and July. In terms of popularity, there are plenty of rafting locations to choose from; one of the most popular rivers is the Kicking Horse River, located in the Canadian Rockies of South Eastern British Columbia. This river boasts 14 sets of rapids, and has some wonderful scenery, including towering canyon walls. The middle and lower sections of the canyon comes highly recommended due to their turbulent waters, and most rafting companies will allow you to have a swim in safer sections of the water afterwards so you can relax after your trip. Trekking through the Rocky Mountains isn’t cheap – most tour operators will charge about $350-$400 for a four-day trip in the Canadian summer (August/September). Saying that, don’t let the price put you off – this area is a must-see. The Rocky Mountain National Park is comprised of 415 square miles of beautiful, unbeatable scenery that you’ll be hard-pushed to find anywhere else in the world. Here, you’ll find at least 60 mountains – the tallest of which is 14,259 feet. Names such as Cirrus, Chiefs Head, Isolation and Mummy give the Rockies the edge over sweet little Ben Nevis. However, that’s not all. The alpine flowers, lakes, forests and mountain wildlife is well-worth a look – just watch out for coyotes, which can be a pain at the best of times. If you’re a rambler by nature, this is an environment that will stun and enthral you from the minute you set off – don’t miss out. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that Canada’s a wilderness, suitable only for extreme sports. It has a selection of fantastic cities to immerse yourself in, with cutting-edge nightlife, cosmopolitan bars, restaurants, galleries, museums, and much more. If you can only pick one city to explore, get to grips with Vancouver. Great spots to explore at night include the Roxy at 932 Granville, Richard’s on Richards, and try your hardest to try to take in some jazz – there are plenty of hard-to-find bars that you can discover accidentally, and spend a whole night in. The Boathouse is a luxurious option for outdoors summertime dining, and La Casa Gelato is brilliant for, well, gelato. You can also watch Shakespeare on the beach (Google ‘Bard on the Beach’ and enjoy a dip in Canada’s longest salt-water pool, Swim Kitsilano Pool.
Canada has something for everyone wanting to make their gap year one of the highlights of their life.
Vicky Anscombe writes for Nonstop Ski & Snowboard, a family-run company with a passion for the mountains, snow and adventure. She would very much like to take a ski instructor course in Canada, but doesn’t have the balance, unfortunately.