Osoyoos: Canada's only desert
Prickly pear cactus.
I bet you'd never think that there'd be such a place in Canada where you'd naturally find home to all three. While normally you'd be right, Osoyoos, is the yet another exception to Canada's stereotypical images.
The town of Osoyoos is located on Lake Osoyoos, 400 km east of Vancouver in the southern Okanagan valley. Its ecosystem is one of the most fragile and endangered in North America, with plant and animal species that exist nowhere else in Canada.
The Desert Centre in Osoyoos is trying to preserve the last remaining 9% of this untouched desert. According to their website, "it is a little known fact that the northern boundary of the Great Basin Desert (which is one of the deserts within the Sonoron Ecozone) just barely stretches across the USA-Canada border into British Columbia. The locals refer to this area lovingly as the "pocket desert" - the only desert in Canada."
I was lucky enough to spend a few hours touring the desert during my brief vacation to the Osoyoos region in late August of 2004.
I have to admit though, it wasn't so much the desert that brought me to Osoyoos, but a bed & breakfast I had discovered quite by accident several years ago online. When my boyfriend was asking about accommodation within the Okanagan, I remembered the Observatory B&B, located in Osoyoos, atop Anarchist Mountain. You see, it actually has an observatory on top of the B&B. Guests here get an astronomy lesson and a chance to look at planets, stars and nebulas from the telescopes in the observatory. What more could a girl ask for?!
We were lucky enough to call the Observatory just as two people had cancelled. We reserved for two nights in the "Saturn Suite". This turned out to be our most favourite part of the trip.
However, it was staying at the Observatory B&B that brought me to Osoyoos and to the desert. I had been to the town twice before as a kid, but only for an hour; I never got to explore the region. During my 3 days in the area, I was able to visit local wineries, taste local cuisine, meet locals and stay in the home of the most sweetest couple you'll ever meet. I was able to tour the last remaining desert at the Desert Centre with an informative guide, who gave the group a better sense of appreciation for this tiny pocket of diminishing desert in Canada. I will certainly never forget it and I will surely be back.