- Bear Viewing
- Hot springs
- Whale watching
- Botanical gardens
- Iconic Rocky Mountaineer train journey
- Log cabin
- Drive on a glacier by Ice Explorer vehicle
- Ride in a Harley Davidson sidecar
- Rocky Mountains
Day 1 Depart London Heathrow Airways on your flight to Vancouver. On arrival you will be met and transferred to the Westin Bayshore Hotel for 3 nights.
Day 2 Hop on Hop off sightseeing bus – tickets valid for two days.
Vancouver enjoys a spectacular setting located on the Pacific Ocean against the backdrop of the Coast Mountains. Highlights to see include the historical Gastown, Chinatown, Vancouver Art Gallery, and the Capilano Suspension Bridge.
Day 3 At leisure.
Day 4 Pick up your rental car. Drive to Horseshoe Bay and take BC Ferries to Nanaimo. From here head west to Tofino on the rugged west coast. Take time to stop at Cathedral Grove to enjoy the splendour of 800 year old fir and cedar trees.
Three nights Wickaninnish Inn. Located within the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, the ‘Wick’ sits on a small rocky headland looking out to the ocean and backed by pine forest.
Day 5 Half day Coastal Bear Watch excursion by Zodiac boat. This tour features black bears and explores the fjord inlets of Clayoquot Sound
Afternoon at leisure. Established in 1970, the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve comprises: the Broken Group Islands at the mouth of Alberni Inlet accessible only by boat; the West Coast Trail, a 73-kilometre wilderness hiking trail along the rugged and remote coast of Vancouver Island; and the popular Long Beach between the villages of Tofino to the north and Ucluelet to the south.
Day 6 Full day Hot Springs Explorer Tour.
This tour combines a hot springs and whale watching tour (weather conditions permitting). You will travel 32 km from Tofino to the north end of Clayoquot Sound where stops may include a sea cave, black bear viewing, an eagle’s nest and a seabird nesting island. You will then travel to a series of thermal rock pools. While on shore, take a 2 km hike on the rainforest boardwalk trail from dock to springs where the natural sulphur hot springs are located (about 50C/110 F). Afterwards, head out to sea in search of whales and other marine life before returning to the dock.
Day 7 Drive to Victoria and perhaps visit Chemainus and Duncan en route. At Chemainus you can admire the giant murals which adorn the exterior walls throughout the town. Duncan is known as the ‘City of Totems’, and a visit to the Quw’utsun Cultural Centre will give you an insight into the lives of the northwest coast people. Victoria is Western Canada’s oldest city with a historic downtown area with beautiful parks. Perhaps visit the Royal BC Museum.
Two nights Fairmont Empress Hotel, overlooking Victoria Inner Harbour.
Day 8 Morning Whale watching tour. The Juan de Fuca and Haro Straits are home to three Resident Orca (killer whale) pods. During the peak viewing months, the success rate for sighting Orcas is often near 100%. Other marine wildlife you may encounter include porpoises, sea lions, seals, otters and many marine birds.
Afternoon at leisure.
Day 9 In the morning visit The Butchart Gardens. This 50-acre botanical garden is famous for its rare and exotic plants and trees mixed with native flora in a series of formal gardens. In the afternoon take the ferry from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen. Drive to Vancouver and return your rental car. Overnight Fairmont Vancouver Hotel.
Day 10 Pick up from the hotel for your transfer to the Rocky Mountaineer train station.
This classic rail vacation is a spectacular two-day, all-daylight journey on board the Rocky Mountaineer in Gold Leaf Service to Banff. Overnight accommodation in Kamloops. While relaxing in your coach during this epic journey, you will witness some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.
Day 11 On arrival in Banff transfer to the Fox Hotel for overnight.
Day 12 Pick up your rental car and drive to Field. Perhaps visit Lake Louise en route, which has become symbolic of the quintessentially Canadian mountain scene. Located nearby, Moraine Lake, with its indigo blue waters surrounded by the Valley of the Ten Peaks, is another one of Canada’s most iconic lakes.
Overnight Cathedral Mountain Lodge. Deluxe cabin.
Day 13 Drive to Jasper along the Icefields Parkway. This is one of the world’s greatest mountain highways and this route is recommended for its spectacular scenery as well as for wildlife viewing. Continue on the Icefields Parkway to the Columbia Icefield located in Jasper National Park. Take in the icy slopes of the Athabasca Glacier on an Ice Explorer Ride – a massive vehicle specially designed for glacier travel. You may also like to experience the Glacier Skywalk. This is a 500 meter boardwalk and a glass floored observation platform extending 30 metres out over the Sunwapta Valley. Glacier Skywalk offers spectacular scenery.
Three nights Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.
Day 14 At leisure. 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.
Day 15 In the morning depart on the Tramway Shuttle to Jasper Tramway. This is the longest and highest aerial tramway in the Rockies. The ride up to the top of Whistlers Mountain is breathtaking. Your Tramway guide will provide a fully narrated tour during the seven minute ride to the top.
In the afternoon enjoy a Sidecar Tour on a legendary Harley Davidson. Driven by a professional rider, your tour will last one hour. You will be fitted into leathers to ride on a fresh and exhilarating mini adventure! Carrying 2 guests per sidecar motorcycle your personal guide/driver will stop for photo opportunities allowing for you to switch positions from the back of the bike to the sidecar.
At 17.30 you will be picked up from the hotel for an evening Wildlife Tour (3 hours).Embark on a tour of one of the most spectacular areas of Jasper National Park. Travel through the Maligne Valley in search of osprey, eagles, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, moose, elk, deer and bears. The area is rich in wildlife and scenery.
Day 16 Drive back down the Icefields Parkway to Banff. Three nights Fox Hotel and Suites.
Days 17 & 18 Days at leisure.
The town of Banff is at the centre of Banff National Park, Canada’s first national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Canadian Rockies. 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.
Day 19 Drive to Drumheller. Overnight bed and breakfast.
Day 20 Day at leisure to visit Dinosaur Provincial Park. In addition to its particularly beautiful scenery, Dinosaur Provincial Park – located at the heart of the province of Alberta’s Badlands – contains some of the most important fossil discoveries ever made from the ‘Age of Reptiles’, in particular about 35 species of dinosaur, dating back some 75 million years.
Later drive to Calgary (approx. 2 ½ hours), return your rental vehicle at the airport and check in for your overnight flight to London
Day 21 UK arrival.
Rock Mountaineer train photo credits: Rocky Mountaineer