For Vancouver Islanders, one of the greatest enjoyments can be showing visitors around the place we’re lucky enough to call home.
For Leif Bogwald, that’s a full-time job. And he loves it.
Bogwald, who was born and raised in Ladysmith, is the face behind Vancouver Island Expeditions, a new tourism company that aims to connect tourists (and often locals) with the best of the West Coast.
“A lot of people come to Vancouver Island and only see Butchart Gardens and Cathedral Grove and while those are great places I just don’t think it’s a true representation of our culture here on Vancouver Island,” he said. “There are just some things here that are so very Vancouver Island.”
Bogwald explains Vancouver Island Expeditions offers everything from local food and wine tours to half and full-day adventures like hiking, caving and kayaking. Some are pre-planned packages, while others can be custom-designed to fit personal interests.
“I’ve traveled a lot around the world and the more I traveled the more I realized how much Vancouver Island has to offer,” he said, noting the idea to start his own company came after a particularly inspirational trip abroad.
“In 2010 we (my wife and I) went to Belize and did a five-day tour through a company that’s similar to what I’m doing now,” he said. “It incorporated things like kayaking but instead of just going from point A to point B it was more about learning about the ecosystem around you and underneath you; when you went for a hike we learned about the culture and then of course there was amazing food.”
During that tour, Bogwald thought “Wow someone should do this on Vancouver Island.”
He said “Belize is obviously a lot warmer but we have very similar things — we have caving, hiking, kayaking, awesome food — we have a rich culture here.”
So after a few years of entertaining the idea, Bogwald decided to go all in.
He left an 11 year career at an accounting firm and became a professional travel curator — and he hasn’t looked back since.
“It just felt right,” he said of the decision to leave what he described as a “stable, secure job.”
For homework, Bogwald now travels around Vancouver Island sampling different fragments of Island culture from small scale organic farms to deep, dark caves in Horne Lake.
One of his favourite places to take visitors, he admits is a quaint tea farm in the Cowichan Valley.
“It’s in this old farm house that’s been converted into a tea shop,” Bogwald explained enthusiastically. “The owner really makes the experience, he’s like an encyclopedia of tea and his partner makes beautiful, handcrafted pottery.”
Additionally, he loves Ampersand Distilling Company, Little Qualicum Cheeseworks and Horne Lake Caves.
Upcoming spring tours include A Taste Of The Cowichan Valley, Tofino West Coast Day Trip and Ancient Civilizations and West Coast Wilderness.
Bogwald has a 12-person tour bus and will accommodate trips from a half-day to six-days-plus.
He’s passionate about Vancouver Island’s natural beauty and wants to share the gift of travel with tourists and locals alike.
For more information visit www.vancouverislandexpeditions.com or contact 250-739-9659.