Welcome to Canada! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We’ll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader. If you’re going to be late, please inform hotel reception. If you can’t arrange a flight that will arrive in time, or if you simply wish to explore Vancouver independently, we can assist with securing extra accommodation for you at the time of booking. Vancouver’s coastal setting is beautiful, bordered by an ocean harbour to the north and a river to the south. The majestic Coastal Mountains, often snow-capped, provide the eastern horizon, making it a picturesque place to spend a few days before the tour begins. After your welcome meeting, perhaps wander around downtown Vancouver, seek out a cheap dumpling joint in Chinatown or a craft beer in the Gastown neighbourhood.
This morning drive to the ferry terminal, where you’ll board a ferry to Victoria BC on Vancouver Island. The total journey should take around three-and-a-half hours. Vancouver Island is the largest island off North America’s west coast, and has the mildest climate in Canada. With its landscaped gardens and preserved historical buildings, it is one of the most British-influenced cities in North America. This afternoon the group will explore the world famous Butchart Gardens. How gorgeous can a garden really be? Just you wait. This rainbow-coloured wonderland of themed gardens, exotic plants, streams and ponds sometimes resembles Willy Wonka’s factory without the oompa loompas. Ross Fountain, the Sunken Garden, the Rose Garden and the Japanese Garden are sure to create a lasting impression.
Today is free for you to explore Victoria. Perhaps rent a kayak at the harbour, indulge in a spot of whale watching or check out the excellent Royal BC Museum to learn about the natural and human history of the area. If you like, indulge in a spot of high tea at one of Victoria’s stately tearooms – a time-honoured tradition. In the evening, kick back with the young locals in a funky bar or restaurant in town.
Today take the scenic ferry back to Vancouver before driving the short distance to Whistler. Stop in for a visit at Whistler’s Living First Nations Cultural Centre – Squamish Lil’Wat, and perhaps grab a late lunch of traditional First Nations food. Whistler Village is a bustling hub of award-winning restaurants, surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery. Enjoy free time to wander the streets. In the evening, you may like to sample one of the town’s lively bars.
Today your guide will give you an included ticket to ride the PEAK 2 PEAK gondola. As you ride the longest and highest lift in the world, enjoy unparalleled views of towering volcanic peaks and surrounding forest. When you disembark at the top, check out the nearby scenic walking trails, mountaintop restaurants and indoor interpretive displays. Your day is free to spend up the mountain or back down in the Village. Perhaps hire a bike and ride along the Valley Trail to Lost Lake, or go bear or wildflower spotting. If you’re after something a little more cultured, perhaps hit the Audain Art Museum to see a selection of First Nations and British Columbian artwork.
Drive through the mountains to Sun Peaks (approximately 4–5 hours). Sun Peaks the town is set on one of many peaks along the mountain range and the views from the top are incredible. On arrival you may have time to explore the area by bike or on foot prior to your Fur Traders adventure. In the evening, head out by canoe to an outpost where a four-course feast consisting of salad, bannock, soup, salmon, ribs and cookies will be prepared for you. This is a taste of how the old fur traders used to travel and what they ate along the way.
Head to Jasper today, one of the most photographed places in Canada. Jasper is the largest of Canada’s Rocky Mountain parks, famous for its wildlife, such as elk, moose, deer, coyotes, grizzly bears and mountain lions, as well as smaller mammals and birds. During your time in Jasper you’ll have many options to explore including; hiking Whistler Mountain, mountain biking in the Valley of Five Lakes and riding the Jasper SkyTram the highest and longest aerial tramway in Canada. Elevating to 2,300 metres, the SkyTram provides spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains.
Today is a free day in Jasper. If you didn’t do it yesterday, a ride on the Jasper SkyTram is highly recommended, as it provides stunning views over the township and surrounding mountains. Alternatively, join the group on a visit to Maligne Lake for some hiking or take a cruise on the lakes vibrant blue waters to Spirit Island and enjoy the spectacular scenery.
Banff National Park
Buckle up for Banff. Today is a long day, with many scenic stops and visits along the way (in total, up to 12 hours). In the morning, travel towards Banff, stopping off at the Columbia Icefields Centre, Athabasca Falls and Sunwapta Falls. Head into Banff National Park in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Its valleys and mountain chains were formed 75 million years ago, making it the oldest national park in Canada. The group will stop by the cliffs of the Weeping Wall and the Crowfoot Glacier on the way to the evening’s accommodation.
Lake Louise / Banff National Park
Today pay a visit to Lake Louise with the group. Take a walk around the turquoise lake or check out the interior of the luxury mountain resort, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Later, don an old-fashioned swimsuit and soak in the hot mineral waters of the local hot springs. If there is extra time today, you may like to take part in one the many adventure activities available within the park. With its coniferous forests, alpine meadows, icefields and glaciers, the park is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. There are opportunities for canoeing, mountain biking, hiking or riding the gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain.
Today drive to Calgary, completing your crossing of the Rockies. Home to the famous Calgary Stampede, the city is growing at a rapid rate, largely thanks to oil and mining. While it may not be the most picturesque of cities, Calgary boasts a budding dining and nightlife scene. Enjoy free time to chill out in Prince’s Island Park, head up the Calgary Tower for great views or learn a new sport at Canada Olympic Park. In the evening perhaps head for dinner at one of the city’s great restaurants.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time, though please be sure to comply with any hotel check-out times.
Victoria - Butchart Gardens
Scenic Ferry to Vancouver Island
Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre Visit
Whistler - PEAK2PEAK Gondola
Sun Peaks - 4 Course Fur Trader's Feast & Voyageur Canoe experience
Jasper National Park - Entrance Fee
Visit to Maligne Lake
Banff Upper Hotsprings
Visit to Lake Louise