Canada – East to West : 30 days
Depart London Heathrow on your flight to Montreal. On arrival you will be met and transferred to the Hotel Le Germain for two nights.
Montreal has grown from a small French colony in the 17th Century into a thriving metropolis which is the second largest French speaking city in the world. The city is renowned for its fine restaurants, excellent shopping, lively nightlife, rich culture and history. The underground city, a 29 kilometre network of shops, restaurants, hotels and theatres all linked by the metro system and walkways, makes it easy to enjoy Montreal even on a cold winter day. Attractions of interest include Vieux Montreal, the Basilique de Notre Dame and the Chapelle de Notre Dame de Bonsecours.
Pick up your rental car from downtown Montreal. Drive to Quebec City (approx 155 miles, 2 ½ hours).
Today you will trace the St. Lawrence River as you head north to Quebec. The slower route 138 takes you off the main highways in order to experience rural Quebec and the remaining farms from the seigneurial regime. Along the way pass through Trois Rivieres, one of the first European settlements dating back to 1634 and the point from which French explorers embarked on their North American discovery.
Two nights Manoir Victoria.
Ranked among the world’s most beautiful cities, the walled part of the city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is something uniquely European about this definitely modern North American city, laden with history, ancient and contemporary art and culture, set in a majority French-speaking environment. Experience the old world charm of Vieux Quebec and its cobblestone streets, artisan shops, Parisian cafes, landscaped parks and numerous monuments.
Drive to Mont Tremblant (approx 225 miles, 4 hours). Overnight le Westin Resort.
Mont Tremblant is located in the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec, and many outdoor activities are available. Parc National du Mont-Tremblant has six great rivers and 400 lakes and streams, and is a rich amalgam of Québec’s natural and historic heritages. This wilderness is vast and is home to 40 mammal species, including the wolf. There is also the Via ferrata du Diable, an intermediate activity between hiking and climbing that will let you discover the park’s mountains in a way you could otherwise only dream about.
Today drive to the picturesque village of Montebello, and visit the Parc Omega en route. Opportunities to see Canadian wildlife in their natural habitat abound in this park. Continue to Ottawa (total journey from Mont Tremblant approx 100 miles), Canada’s charming capital city.
Two nights Delta Ottawa hotel.
In the heart of Ottawa, rising dramatically from a bluff overlooking the Ottawa River, are the Parliament Buildings. These house the National Assembly and serve as the symbol of the capital, and are the focal point of a city that has become a fascinating blend of English and French, historic and modern, ceremonial and casual. Many of the city’s attractions are within sight of Parliament Hill. A short distance from downtown are the Ottawa Locks of the Rideau Canal. Another must see, is the Canadian Museum of Civilization, located directly across the Ottawa River from Parliament Hill showing the rich culture and history that is Canada.
Travel south to the city of Kingston, and perhaps stop en route at Gananoque to join an hour cruise of the 1000 islands. Affectionately known as ‘limestone’, Kingston is a city noted for its handsome 19th century limestone architecture. Once the capital of Canada (1841 to 1843), Kingston is located at the point where Lake Ontario flows into the St. Lawrence River, and at the southern end of the Rideau Canal. Take the time to visit Fort Henry National Historic Site near Kingston. The flash of scarlet uniforms, the beating of the drums and the sudden crack of musket fire echoing off the limestone battlements send visitors reeling back in time. A living museum of military life, Fort Henry was built between 1832 and 1834 to repel an American invasion
that never came. Continue to Niagara (total journey from Ottawa approx 320 miles). Travel via Toronto and along the shores of Lake Ontario, and through the orchards and vineyards of the Niagara Peninsula, arriving at Niagara-on-the-Lake – the first capital of Upper Canada and one of the best-preserved 19th Century towns in North America. Continue along the Niagara Parkway heading towards Niagara Falls, one of the world’s natural wonders. Here you will experience the amazing thundering of the falls.
Overnight Hilton Hotel.
The Canadian ‘Horseshoe’ Niagara Falls are 180 feet high and 2,500 feet wide, and the water over the Falls comes from four of the five Great Lakes. The ‘Horseshoe’ Falls began flowing over 12,000 years ago, following the end of the last ice age and resulting glacial retreat, and was originally located seven miles downstream from its current location. Over the thousands of years, the Falls created the Niagara Gorge by water erosion, moving upstream at over 4 feet per year and located today, at the city of Niagara Falls – a city which now receives over 20 million visitors each year. Niagara Region is famous for attractions such as the “Maid of the Mist” boat cruise, the Skylon Tower, ‘Journey Behind The Falls’, ‘Marineland’ and ‘Aviary’ as well as historic Fort Erie or Fort George, ‘Whitewater Jet Boat’ Cruise, and Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens. Niagara-on-the-Lake is postcard perfect with many of its historic buildings as it was when it was briefly, (Upper) Canada’s first British, colonial capital. Also, there are interesting, upscale and quaint shops on the pretty, little town’s main street.
In the late afternoon drive to Toronto. Return your rental car. Make your way to the Fairmont Royal York Hotel for overnight.
With its distinctive skyline, punctuated by the exclamation mark of the CN Tower, Toronto sits on the shores of picturesque Lake Ontario. The largest and one of the liveliest cities in Canada, the colonial influence can still be seen in the administrative buildings of Old York Town and the Edwardian and Victorian buildings that survive in some of the city districts.
In the evening collect your prebooked tickets at Toronto Union Station and depart at 22.00 on the Via Rail service to Edmonton. Private double bedroom in Sleeping Tourer Class.
Formerly known as Silver & Blue class, in Sleeper Touring class you have your own private 2-berth bedroom with comfortable beds. All meals in the elegant Sleeper Touring class restaurant car are included, and you can use the famous ‘Park’ observation-lounge car at the rear of the train. The ‘Park’ car, 18 of which were built and all named after Canadian parks, features a classic north American ‘vista dome’ upstairs, the bullet lounge at the rear (complimentary tea and coffee always available) and the mural lounge downstairs underneath the dome.
By day the bedroom is a private room for two with armchairs, a large picture window, small closet, call button, hand basin, razor outlet and private WC. At night, the bedroom converts to upper and lower beds. Shower facilities are available in each sleeping car just a few steps away.
Days 11 and 12
Relax and enjoy the scenery as you cross Canada. Stops are made at Winnipeg and Saskatoon.
On arrival at Edmonton Station pick up your rental car.
Days 14 – 17
Own arrangements with friends.
Drive to Jasper, and return your rental car. Two nights Whistlers Inn.
Pick up from the hotel for your Maligne Valley sightseeing excursion and boat cruise (5 hours).This introduction to Jasper begins with a short tour of the town before heading across the Athabasca River to Maligne Lake. A stop at Maligne Canyon offers staggering views of the river thundering through a series of magnificent waterfalls in a gorge 10,000 years in the making. Farther up the valley, stop to solve the mystery of “disappearing” Medicine Lake. Continue to Maligne Lake, and once there you can enjoy an interpretative boat cruise bound for Spirit Island, another of Canada’s iconic images, or a nice guided walk along the shoreline.
Afternoon at leisure.
Located in the middle of Jasper National Park in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, Jasper’s friendly mountain hospitality, peaceful low-key atmosphere and the promise of adventure will make any visit unforgettable. The Rocky Mountains surround Jasper and sights not to be missed include the nearby Columbia Icefields, Mount Edith Cavell, Athabasca Falls and Angel Glacier, Maligne Canyon and Lake, and Pyramid and Patricia Lakes.
You will be picked up from your hotel for your sightseeing journey to Banff along one of the most scenic drives in North America – the Icefields Parkway. This is home for Black and Grizzly bears, elk, moose, mountain goats and sheep, so keep your cameras ready! Visit the Columbia Icefield, a series of glaciers 325 square kilometres in area. A ride on the Ice Explorer Ride (Snocoach) onto the surface of the Athabasca Glacier is included.
Facing the Columbia Icefield Visitors Centre lies the Athabasca Glacier – a tongue of ice 6 kms long and one km wide descending almost to road level. You will travel in a specially designed Brewster Snocoach to the middle of the glacier, on a 5 km round trip journey. Your driver/guide will explain how glaciers are formed and point out interesting geological features as you travel in safety and comfort. At the icefall below the glacier headwall, you will have the option of stepping out onto ice formed from snow falling as long as 400 years ago.
You will be dropped off at your hotel in the late afternoon. 3 nights at The Fox Hotel and Suites.
Pick up from the hotel for your 4 hour ‘Best of Banff’ tour. First you will visit breathtaking Bow Falls then journey up Tunnel Mountain Drive for outstanding views of the historic Banff Springs Hotel and the surrounding town site. Next, take a short stroll to the Hoodoos, an incredible sandstone formation which also boasts great view of the Bow Valley. The journey continues to Lake Minnewanka, the largest lake in the Canadian Rockies. This scenic drive offers exceptional views and picture stops of many glacial lakes, and hopefully moose, elk, deer and bear. The final stop is at Sulphur Mountain where you will have the opportunity to experience an incredible bird’s eye view of the Bow valley from the Banff Gondola (optional).
Afternoon at leisure.
Banff National Park was Canada’s first national park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Canadian Rockies. The park is a year-round protected wilderness area offering rugged alpine beauty and first-class amenities. In summer, walk along nature trails, hike into the backcountry or climb peaks made famous by earlier tourist-explorers, or you can golf, camp, tour glaciers, river raft, cycle or fish. Year round pursuits include visiting National Historical Sites, enjoying the Banff Centre for the Arts, touring museums, riding sightseeing gondolas, and bathing at the Banff Upper Hot Springs.
Take a taxi (payable locally) to the railway station. Embark on the Rocky Mountaineer. Complimentary sparkling wine and orange juice will be served on departure. This classic rail vacation is a spectacular two-day, all-daylight journey onboard the Rocky Mountaineer in Gold Leaf Service and includes hot gourmet breakfasts and lunches in the dining room. On arrival in Kamloops you will be transferred to your overnight accommodation by coach. Whilst relaxing on board during this epic journey, you will witness some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.
Depart Kamloops and arrive in Vancouver in the late afternoon. Four nights Fairmont Vancouver hotel.
Days 25 – 27
Vancouver enjoys a spectacular setting on the Pacific Ocean against the backdrop of the Coast Mountains. Highlights to see include the downtown core and historical Gastown with its cobblestone streets and hidden passageways, and Chinatown.
Pick up from the Fairmont Hotel for your sightseeing excursion to Victoria.
This fully escorted tour includes priority ferry boarding, 90 minute ferry ride through the Gulf Islands and admission to the world renowned Butchart Gardens. On your Victoria City Tour you will see the University of Victoria, Royal Victoria Yacht Club, Beacon Hill Park and Uplands and Oak Bay scenic residential areas. You will have ample free time to enjoy the Inner Harbour and perhaps visit the Royal B.C. Museum (payable locally).
Overnight Fairmont Empress Hotel, located on the Inner Harbour.
Depart Victoria bus depot with Pacific Coachlines for your journey back to Vancouver (approx 3 hours 45 minutes). Buses depart Victoria every two hours. Overnight with friends.
Make your way to the airport in time to check in for your overnight flight to London.