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Moose Travel and Salty Bear

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Aimed at backpackers, both the Moose Travel Network (eastern office t 416 504 7514, t 1 888 816 6673, western office t 604 777 9905, t 1 888 244 6673, w moosenetwork.com) and Salty Bear Adventure Travel (Toronto t 1 866 377 3077, Halifax t 1 888 425 2327, w saltybear.ca), provide a completely different experience from regular buses. Their mini-coaches (seating 15–21 passengers) hit the major destinations on the travellers’ circuit in both western and eastern Canada (but not the centre) between May and mid-October; there are some additional winter packages, and also links with VIA Rail.

Moose’s jump-on, jump-off services stop three days a week in the major cities and interesting smaller towns, and you don’t need to book your own accommodation, since Moose ensures that a hostel dorm bed is available for every passenger at all major stopovers. There’s no time limit, so you can take as long as you like to complete a circuit, and you get picked up and dropped off at the door of your hostel. There’s also no age limit, although most travellers tend to be in the 19–34 age bracket; to match this, there’s an array of adventure activities offered as add-ons. Moose has a range of bus passes with their Big West Pass costing around $659 and their Big East Pass $674.

Salty Bear offers a similar tour-based service, primarily in the Maritimes, ranging from trips to Cape Breton from Halifax ($299) to the Island Hopper Pass (from $499), which covers Cape Breton and PEI.

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