Okanagan-Shuswap Regional Information
Here are some basic facts about Okanagan:
Okanagan is nestled in the interior of British Columbia, between the Coast Mountains to the west and the Selkirk & Rocky Mountains to the East. The contral Okanagan is deemed to be at the city of Kelowna, which is about halfway from the Shuswap Lake area and the US border. We are in Pacific standard time, three hours earlier than Toronto and New York, and 9 hours earlier than western Europe (by coincidence, these are almost the flying times).
The Okanagan has been named by the area's Salish natives, who's colorful
language accounts for many of the place names in the area. The lake was labelled as Ookanawgan by explorer and geographer David Thompson, and is believed to refer to the farthest point that salmon travelled.
The Okanagan & Shuswap area has a population of over 250,000 people, mostly clustered
in the larger cities (from south to north): Penticton, Kelown, Vernon, and
Salmon Arm. These communities also contain much of the areas shopping and
The major industries in Okanagan are fuit & agriculture (including the manufacture of wines, canned fruit, fruit products), tourism and hospitality services, and
The Okanagan Valley runs north and south between two high plateaus. The climate of the Okanagan Basin is atypical compared to the rest of the interior of the province. The area has warm summers (with hot days but cool nights) with an average maximum temperature of nearly 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit), and fairly low humidity. The winters are relatively mild compared to areas north and east of the Valley, with more cloud than in summertime and with dry fluffy snow. Thaws occur at Valley bottom on about one-half of the days in January. The southern Okanagan is the northern end of the Great Basin Desert and even grows bananas. The Central Okanagan has an annual average of 200 hours of bright sunshine per year, one of the highest in Canada.
An approximate guide to Celsius Temperatures is as follows:
The Okanagan gets 250 to 270 mm of rain (10-11 inches), and about 102 cm (40 inches) in the valley and up to 550 cm (228 inches) in the mountains.
In the spring (April through June) travellers should bring a rain jacket, sweater, shorts, light shirt. In the summer, be prepared for hot weather with shorts, skirts, light pants, sweater, rain coat, bathing suit. In the fall the weather is mixed, so bring a sweater, long sleeved shirts, pants, shorts, rain coat, fleece. In the winter be prepared for nice mild snowy winters, so bring warm clothes, sweaters, winter jackets, winter boots, hats, gloves
Some hotels include tips or gratuities with group programs to simplify bookkeeping. This will usually include gratuities for housekeeping, bell service and food service. In a hotel, bell service should be tipped about $1 per bag, and housekeeping $1 to $5 dollars a day (in proportion to your room rate). Visitors should know that the standard tip in restaurants is 10%-15% (on restaurant bills, an average tip will be 50% higher the GST & tax), with 20% (about double the GST & tax) for very outstanding service. This is especially important for visitors from countries where tipping on meals is not done: here the waitering staff depend on tips for a significant portion of their incomes. Tip taxis about 10%, and a dollar a bag they carry for you (not just unload), or at the very least round fares up to the nearest dollar.