Canadian Rockies to the Pacific Ocean - 3rd to 15th September 2014
This is a quality holiday designed for discerning travellers wanting to experience this outstandingly beautiful area of Western Canada. We walk amongst the awe-inspiring Rocky Mountains and along the Pacific Coast Trail, travel by luxury Rocky Mountaineer train to visit Vancouver and Vancouver Island, visit glorious Butchart Gardens, watch whales in their natural habitat and stay in excellent accommodation along the way. We have put together an itinerary that provides an ideal combination of travel, walking, cultural experience, sight seeing and wildlife.
- Rocky Mountaineer rail journey through the Rocky Mountains
- Guided walking in Banff, Lake Louise and on the Pacific Coast
- Riding the Icefields Parkway to Jasper
- Walking onto the surface of the Athabasca Glacier
- Being first to experience the Glacier Skywalk
- Whale watching off the Pacific Coast
- Visiting the Butchart Gardens
- Exploring the city of Vancouver
- Accommodation in 4 Star Hotels
- Dinners in local speciality restaurants
Western Canada, encompassing British Columbia, Alberta and the magnificent Rocky Mountains, is blessed with breathtaking landscapes. With towering peaks, stunning glacier-fed lakes, rugged coastline and cosmopolitan cities it's hard to believe that an area so beautiful once lay dormant to Western eyes, known only by the native peoples that dwelt in the valleys and on the coast below. It wasn't until the 1700's that Europeans arrived, thus beginning an exciting tradition of exploration in the mountain landscape.
We fly into Calgary and spend four nights at the 4 star Banff International Hotel. Here we have the opportunity to experience the very heart of the stunning Rocky Mountain scenery. Our programme includes exploring Banff itself and walking in nearby Sunshine Meadows, driving to Lake Louise for a day walk to the Plain of Six Glaciers, and travelling to Jasper National Park on the renowned Icefields Parkway including taking the Ice Explorer onto the Athabasca Glacier. We will be amongst the first to experience the unique and dramatic Glacier Skywalk which opened in 2014.
Leaving Banff we board the unique Rocky Mountaineer rail service for a two day trip through the Rockies to Vancouver. The train takes the original Canadian Pacific Railroad route which carves through deep valleys, runs alongside glacial lakes and wild rivers, giving the passengers breathtaking views. The Rocky Mountaineer offers exceptional comfort and viewing facilities with glass domed coaches and gourmet dining. All the travelling is in daylight, and the train stops overnight in Kamloops where hotel accommodation is provided.
The Rocky Mountaineer terminates in the heart of Vancouver where we stay for three nights at the 4 star Sands Hotel located at English Bay. We spend our first day in Vancouver enjoying a guided tour of the City including lunch at Grouse Mountain. The second day is free for you to explore the city as you wish, and we can help you to choose from the numerous activities available.
For the final stage of our trip, we take the ferry to Vancouver Island to spend three nights at the Royal Scot Hotel in Victoria. En-route from the ferry terminal to our hotel in Victoria we stop off to visit the world famous Butchart Gardens, which offer stunning floral displays. The following morning we start with a guided walk to China Beach on the Juan de Fuca Trail, and in the afternoon we head out into the Juan de Fuca Strait itself on a whale watching trip in search of gray, humpback, minke and orca whales which pass along the Pacific Coast. Our last day is a full day's guided walk along the Pacific Coast Trail in East Sooke Regional Park, and the next morning we set off to fly back to the UK from Vancouver International Airport.
Day 1 - Wednesday 3rd September - Flight from UK to Banff (in-flight meals)
We depart from London Heathrow flying British Airways at 17:35. On arrival in Calgary at 20:00 local time we have a private transfer to Banff International Hotel, arriving at approximately 23:00. We spend four nights at the Banff International Hotel in superior rooms. The hotel offers a large jacuzzi, steam room, sauna and exercise room. It is located in central Banff, close to shopping and restaurant facilities.
Day 2 - Thursday 4th September - Exploring Banff and Walking in Sunshine Meadows (BLD)
We begin by exploring our surroundings with a sightseeing tour of Banff followed by a three hour guided walk at Sunshine Meadows, including a stop for a picnic lunch. Sunshine Meadows is considered a premier walking destination in the Rockies and comprises open meadows and alpine lakes with great views of the surrounding peaks. Walking time: 3 hours; change in altitude: 180m; level of difficulty: Easy
In the evening we meet for a welcome reception in the Hotel followed by dinner in a nearby local restaurant.
Day 3 - Friday 5th September - Lake Louise and Walk to the Plain of the Six Glaciers (BLD)
Today we visit famous Lake Louise and take a 14 km (just over 8 miles) guided walk though the Plain of the Six Glaciers. This is one of the most scenic walks in the Rockies, offering impressive views of the mountains around Lake Louise - Mount Lefroy, Mount Victoria and the Victoria Glacier. A picnic lunch is included and we can stop for an optional snack at the Plain of the Six Glaciers teahouse. If anyone prefers a shorter walk there is the option to walk up to the beautiful Agnes Lake. Walking time: 4 - 6 hours; change in altitude: 390m; Level of difficulty: Easy
Dinner will again be at a local restaurant.
Day 4 - Saturday 6th September - Jasper National Park, Icefields and Athabasca Glacier (BLD)
Our trip today takes us onto the Icefields Parkway in Jasper National Park. The Parkway is one of the world's most spectacular mountain highways. We encounter unsurpassed mountain scenery paralleling the Great Divide, including the Columbia Icefield, Bow and Crowfoot Glaciers, Athabasca Falls and Peyto Lake. Grizzly and black bears, moose, caribou and other large wildlife roam in the vicinity of the Parkway.
A highlight will be our experience of the Glacier Skywalk which is a new facility, offering breathtaking views over the glacier. We also take a guided tour along the interpretive trail over Sunwapta Canyon. To conclude we board a unique, specially designed Ice Explorer vehicle for a guided tour onto the surface of the Athabasca Glacier. A picnic lunch is included.
Dinner in the Banff International Hotel.
Day 5 - Sunday 7th September - Banff to Kamloops on board the Rocky Mountaineer (BL)
This morning we leave our hotel to board the Rocky Mountaineer train for the start of our two day trip to Vancouver. The Rocky Mountaineer offers the most spectacular way to see and experience the Rockies providing glorious scenery of glacier-fed lakes, majestic mountains and ferocious rivers, all in daylight and all delightful.
We take advantage of Silver Leaf service level on the train which includes a single level glass domed coach with oversized windows, breakfast and lunch served at your seat (choice of entrees) with complimentary soft drinks, snacks and wine or beer at lunch. As an option, you can upgrade to Gold Leaf service level which includes two level glass-domed coach with full-length windows, exclusive dining room with gourmet hot meals and complimentary soft and alcoholic beverages and snacks.
The train stops overnight in Kamloops where hotel accommodation is included which is of de-luxe standard for the Gold leaf upgrade. Dinner is not included at this stop as the meals provided on the train can be substantial and many passengers prefer just a snack in the evening or take 'pub meals' which are available in Kamloops.
Overnight and optional dinner in Kamloops.
Day 6 - Monday 8th September - Kamloops to Vancouver on board the Rocky Mountaineer (BL)
Today sees the second part of our spectacular trip through the Rockies on the Rocky Mountaineer and includes breakfast and lunch on the train. On arrival in Vancouver we have a private transfer to the Sands Hotel where we stay for three nights. Located just steps from the beach at beautiful English Bay and world famous Stanley Park, and close to shopping and international restaurants, the Sands Hotel is an ideal base from which to explore Vancouver.
Again dinner is not included on arrival in Vancouver for the same reasons as above and also just in case the train is late arriving, which is not unknown!
Day 7 - Tuesday 9th September - Vancouver Sightseeing (BLD)
Our programme for the day focuses on a guided tour of Vancouver and a visit to Grouse Mountain (www.grousemountain.com) where lunch will be taken. The tour will take in Stanley Park, stops at Totem Poles and Gastown, and a drive through Chinatown and downtown, across Lions Gate Bridge to North Shore and on to Grouse before returning to the hotel.
Dinner is in a local restaurant close to the hotel.
Day 8 - Wednesday 10th September - Free Day in Vancouver (B)
This is a day of leisure for you to do what you wish. It might include visiting museums and galleries, further sightseeing, shopping or just relaxing at the hotel. There will be plenty of advice available if any is needed.
Dinner is not included as there are many good restaurants to choose from, but we will seek out a suitable local speciality establishment, and those interested are welcome to join us.
Day 9 - Thursday 11th September - Vancouver to Victoria and Butchart Gardens (BD)
Leaving our hotel we take the ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island. We are met on arrival and travel to The Butchart Gardens en route to Victoria. The Butchart Gardens (www.butchartgardens.com) are world-renowned and offer 55 acres of floral display. We will have time to explore the gardens in full and take optional lunch as required before travelling on to Victoria.
Our hotel in Victoria for three nights will be the Royal Scot which is located in downtown Victoria with easy access to the city's inner harbour and amenities and offers an indoor pool, whirlpool, sauna and exercise room together with a billiards room. Dinner will be taken in the hotel.
Day 10 - Friday 12th September - Walking on the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail and Whale Watching (BLD)
The day starts with a guided walk through lush rain forest to China Beach on the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail where there is over 4 kilometres of beach to explore. A picnic lunch will be provided. In the afternoon we will take a whale watching trip from Victoria. During our 3 hour sail on the Juan de Fuca Strait we will experience a rich marine biodiversity and observe various types of marine wildlife including sea lions, seals, porpoise, bald eagles, and whales such as gray, humpback, minke and both transient and resident orcas (killer whales). Walking time: 3 hours. Level of difficulty: Easy
Dinner will be taken at a local restaurant in Victoria.
Day 11 - Saturday 13th September - Walking the Coastal Trail in Sooke Park (BLD)
Today we walk the Coast Trail in East Sooke Regional Park, which is considered one of the premier day hikes in Canada; a west coast wilderness experience within easy reach of Victoria. The 10 kilometre trail is a varied and exciting walk. One moment you travel across a bluff of windswept pines, with the ocean crashing at your feet, and the next you enter a dark rainforest at the end of a ravine. Turn a corner, and you're back in sunlight, at the edge of the sea. The scenery along the winding Coast Trail is simply magnificent, with good views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. Bring your camera! A picnic lunch is included. Walking time: 4 - 6 hours. Level of difficulty: Moderate
Dinner will be taken at a local restaurant in Victoria.
Day 12 - Sunday 14th September - Victoria to Vancouver Airport and Flight to UK (B + In-flight Meals)
Following breakfast we depart the Royal Scot by private transfer for the ferry back to the mainland and on to Vancouver International Airport. We fly on BA 086 departing 17:45.
Day 13 - Monday 15th September - Flight to UK (In-flight Meals)
We arrive into Heathrow Airport at 11:00
B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner
Flights are with British Airways from Heathrow. Please note that the following flight details are the latest known and are subject to confirmation. All times are local. Calgary is seven hours behind UK time and Vancouver is eight hours behind.
|Outbound - Wednesday 3rd September 2014|
|Depart Heathrow T5
|Inbound - Sunday 14th September 2014|
Arrive Heathrow T5
11:00 (Monday 15 Sept.)