Explore western Canada's awe inspiring natural highlights including the vast Athabasca Glacier and Falls near Lake Louise, spot Orca, Minke and Humpback whale off the coast of Victoria Island, visit a bear sanctuary, hike through the numerous national parks and canoe along Clearwater Lake in Wells Gray Provincial Park with an overnight camp. Jasper National Park - Drive along the Icefield Parkway, visit Banff and Glacier National Park Whistler - Try out a tree top adventure on a series of suspension bridges Wells Gray Park - Opportunity to try out an overnight canoe trip along Clearwater Lake
Arrive into Vancouver today. Known as the Jewel of North America and easily one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Canada, Vancouver's setting on the beaches of the Pacific Ocean surrounded by Mount Seymour, Cypress and Grouse Mountain will remind you that nature looms just round the corner. Due to the number of evening flights into Vancouver, your Tour Leader plans to do the welcome meeting on the morning on Day 2, and will leave a message in reception with details on timings and everything else that you'll need for the day. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive into Vancouver at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Vancouver International Airport (airport code: YVC), which is a 40 minute drive from the hotel. If your flight arrives earlier in the day, our hotel is centrally located in the downtown area on Granville Street, close to the waterfront. It's a perfect base to explore some of the city's highlights - the enormous rainforest in Stanley Park or the Granville Island public market and surrounding waterfront are both highly recommended.
This morning, we explore the city of Vancouver on foot including visiting Granville Island and its public market which is famous for its seafood and fruit, Chinatown, the Gastown area of the city and Stanley Park. We enjoy a picnic in one of Vancouver's parks that overlook the Bay and catch the afternoon ferry to Victoria on Vancouver Island where we camp on the outskirts of the city. Although the island stretches almost 500km from north to south, it only has a population of 500,000 and with its numerous provincial parks, it is easy to escape into the wilderness.
Vancouver Island is one of the best places in the world to spot marine wildlife, being situated on the main migration route of several species of whale including Orca, Humpback, Grey Whales and Minke. We board a catamaran for a whale watching excursion around the surrounding islands. It may also be possible to spot Osprey, Bald Eagle and other marine birds on our whale watching tour. Upon returning to shore we explore the capital of British Columbia province Victoria on foot, including sites such as the Inner Harbour, Bastion Square and the impressive Empress Hotel on the harbour front. We finish our guided tour at Thunderbird Park, home to numerous Totem Poles that were carved by First Nation citizens, the original inhabitants of modern day Canada. The rest of the day is left for optional visits including the Royal British Columbia Museum or Butcharts Gardens which is world renowned for its beauty.
We take the morning ferry back to the mainland and stop off at Capilano Suspension bridge for a treetop adventure 70 metres above the Capilano River. Manoeuvre from one Douglas fir tree to another on a series of elevated suspension bridges, some reaching as high as 30m above the forest floor which offers a unique perspective of the forest from above. We continue on to Whistler and arrive in time to enjoy an evening meal cooked by your Explore leader!
We visit the Squamish Lil'Wat Cultural Centre and learn about the indigenous people of the region as well as trying your hand at making your own traditional mini drum during a craft workshop. In the afternoon, we drive north east to a historic ranch originally built during the Gold Rush era at Hat Creek. There are over twenty original buildings dating back to the 1860's.
Continue towards Clearwater pausing en route at various places to soak up the wonderful views, notably Spahats Creek Falls. We reach our stop for the night, a ranch with rustic cabins and are treated to a cowboy style BBQ cooked by your local guide.
This morning head out onto Clearwater Lake for an overnight canoe and camping trip, to experience the great Canadian outdoors. After around three hours of easy canoeing on the lake, we find a camping spot and set up our tent by the lake for the evening. Full instruction is given and no previous experience required. There are great opportunities for wildlife spotting along the way.
This morning we canoe back to our starting point and then head northeast towards Mount Robson Provincial Park. We see Mount Robson itself which is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies (3954m). It is tall enough to create its own weather patterns and if we're lucky we'll be able to view this photogenic monolith from top to bottom. From here, we enjoy a walk along Fraser Canyon to Overlander Falls (1km round trip, 45 minutes' walk) and then drive in the afternoon on to Jasper, our final destination for today and the largest of Canada's Rocky Mountain Parks. Look out for black bears, elks and eagles on the drive, many of which can usually be spotted from the road. We set up camp for the next two nights in the National Park.
Maligne Canyon where we visit today has a reputation as being one of the most spectacular gorges in the Canadian Rockies with sheer limestone walls that plunge some 50 metres down into the waters of the Maligne River. We take a short walk along the canyon passing by a number of springs, waterfalls, bridges and beautiful forests with dramatic views of the area. We then drive on to visit Maligne Lake, the largest lake in the Rockies. After enjoying a picnic lunch near the lake, the afternoon then sees us hiking along the Bald Hill Trail (approximately 13km and 4-5 hours of walking). There are a number of routes that can be taken and the Explore Leader will choose which trail is best depending upon the fitness of the group - there are three Bald Hills summits which vary in the steepness of the trail with all providing great viewpoints that overlook the Evelyn Creek. There are also opportunities to explore the lake by canoe and cruise boat (optional), before enjoying the drive back to Jasper through the Maligne Valley.
Today's drive takes us along the celebrated Icefield Parkway to Golden. The road negotiates its way through a landscape of coniferous forests, towering mountain peaks, turquoise lakes and impressive glaciers. Possible scenic stops en route include Bow Lake and Athabasca Falls. Get on board the Ice Explorer, a vehicle designed especially for glacial travel, for an excursion on the surface of the Falls Glacier. We then drive in the afternoon to Golden with wildlife spotting as we go so be on the lookout for black bears, elks and eagles on the drive. Tonight we will be staying in Golden, a small town in the heart of the Columbia Valley.
This morning we head to the remarkable Kicking Horse Grizzly Bear Refuge, the world's largest enclosed grizzly bear habitat. It offers us a unique opportunity to watch a grizzly behaving exactly as it would in the wild. After a short hike to the reserve you'll have a chance to meet Boo, the refuge's very own orphan grizzly, and learn more about the life of these magnificent bears from one of the centre's resident naturalists. Next we head for Yoho National Park, to take a short walk up to Takkakaw Falls which is the second highest waterfall in Canada. You can either relax at our campsite or stretch your legs on nearby trails.
This morning, we drive to Banff National Park - a landscape of mountains, meadows and crystal clear lakes. On our way, we stop for a walk around the picture postcard Lake Louise and Moraine Lake - the walk will be based upon the groups abilities with routes from 6km and 2 ½ hours to 14km and 5 hours (all are easy to moderate walks). You also have the option of renting a canoe on Lake Louise. We then continue on to Banff and visit the Cave and Basin Historic Site which is a natural thermal mineral springs which the town is famous for - their discovery in 1883 led to Canada's National Park system . Relaxing in these geothermal waters will be a wonderful way to relax, or taking a gondola up the mountain for spectacular views.
This morning, we hike in Banff National Park which is rich in wildlife with over 60 species of mammals and some 280 species of birds being recorded here, including golden eagles, cougars and black bears. We then drive to Calgary and spend the afternoon exploring on foot. There is the option to climb Calgary Tower for a 360 degrees' panorama view over the city - all set against a backdrop of the Rockies.
Our trip ends this morning in Calgary. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Calgary at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at the hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to depart from Calgary International Airport (airport code: YYC), which is approximately a 20 minute drive away from the hotel.
11 Break Fast(s) 11 Lunch(es) 10 Dinner(s)
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