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Your journey starts with a flight from London to Calgary. Upon arrival, you will pick up your hire car and make the two-hour drive to your hotel in the renowned resort town of Banff. You’ll find yourself surrounded by the stunning alpine scenery of Banff National Park, a pristine region filled with sparkling blue lakes, dense forest, glaciers and the soaring peaks of the Rocky Mountains – 25 of which rise over 3,000 metres.
The area caters perfectly towards the outdoor enthusiast. You can hike with expert local guides to Stanley Glacier, Larch Valley, Healy Pass, Ha Ling Summit and Plain of Six Glaciers; float quietly along the Bow River, observing beaver, elk and osprey; or go white water rafting through Horseshoe Canyon. You could also enjoy a cruise on the scenic Lake Minnewanka, or a guided bear viewing tour.
Stay: Three nights at The Rimrock Resort Hotel – room only
Today you are bound for Jasper along the Icefield Parkway – a route that takes you along the spine of the Canadian Rockies. You’ll stop along the way at Lake Louise, an astonishingly turquoise glacial lake, for a picturesque hike. You’ll also have the option to visit the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre for a glacier walk.
You’ll find even more opportunities for adventure amongst the soaring peaks and rugged pine forests of Jasper National Park, including fishing and paddling on serene lakes. You could also take a guided sightseeing tour up the Maligne Valley, a boat cruise to Spirit Island or a motorcycle and sidecar tour of the area.
Stay: Two nights at The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge – room only
Now it’s time to experience one of the world’s great, classic rail journeys. Dropping your car off at Jasper train station, you’ll board the Rocky Mountaineer for a spectacular journey to Vancouver. You’ll find yourself weaving through scenic valleys, rolling plateaus and snowy peaks, passing along the way dramatic sights like the Pyramid Falls and Mount Robson – the highest peak in the Rockies. You’ll stop for the night at Kamloops.
Stay: Overnight stay in Kamloops
You’ll re-board the Rocky Mountaineer and continue your journey to Vancouver, taking in the rushing waters of ‘Hell’s Gate’ in the Fraser Canyon en route. As well as sights and beautiful scenery, you will have a chance to spot some of Western Canada’s rarest wildlife from the train, including moose, elk, bighorn sheep, black bears, eagle and osprey.
Upon arrival in Vancouver, you will catch a local cab to your hotel. An energetic and modern city, Vancouver charms with its world-class architecture, shopping malls, galleries, museums, celebrated restaurants and endless cafes and bars. As well as a city tour, you can spend your time here visiting the bustling Granville Market, shopping on Robson Street or cycling around the vast Stanley Park.
Stay: Two nights at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia – room only
Today you’ll take a cab to the airport in time to board your flight to the coastal city of Campbell River. From here you’ll take a water taxi to Sonora Resort, a luxurious island retreat set against the untamed landscapes of British Columbia’s Discovery Islands. Those looking to head out and explore will have an array of activities to choose from, including guided salmon fishing, ocean kayaking and fantastic grizzly bear tours. More laidback pursuits include cooking classes and relaxing treatments at the spa.
Stay: Three nights at Sonora Resort – full board
After breakfast, you will be transferred back to Campbell River where you will collect your hire car, driving west to the small district of Tofino on Vancouver Island. Here, amidst the lakes, rainforests and fjord inlets of Clayoquot Sound, you’ll be able to go hiking and observe wild bears unobtrusively on guided zodiac excursions. A whale watching tour in the pristine waters will also introduce you to a plethora of marine life, including gray, killer and humpback whales, sea lions, seals and a myriad of seabirds.
Stay: Three nights at The Wickaninnish Inn – room only
Today you’ll take the ferry to Tsawwassen. From there you’ll drive to the airport, drop off your hire car and board your flight back to London.
It was a great experience and now I have dipped my toes in the Ultimate waters I shall be back for more.- JE, October