Those on the group flights arrive into Vancouver the day before. The tour departs from the Vancouver hotel at 07.30am - please ensure that you have checked out, eaten breakfast and are in the hotel reception to meet the group and your leader approximately 15 minutes prior to this time. After leaving Vancouver, we travel northeast past the city of Kamloops to our large campground at Paul Lake Provincial Park in the heart of British Columbia. Take a stroll along the water's edge or refresh yourself with a swim in the mountain water.
Day 2 - 3
Continuing by road we make our way to Golden and Yoho National Park. 'Yoho' is a native word that means 'awe'. Overshadowed by the neighbouring parks of Banff and Jasper, Yoho National Park is the hidden gem of the Canada national parks system. It is a photographer's dream with several hiking opportunities that take us amongst Yoho's pristine alpine landscape that includes mountains, lakes and waterfalls. In our free time here we can experience the raging Kicking Horse River first-hand with an optional exhilarating half-day white water rafting excursion, or choose to canoe and hike at magnificent Emerald Lake. An excellent alternative option is walking the challenging trails overlooking Takakkaw Falls.
Day 4 - 5
Located in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park was established in 1885 and is Canada's oldest national park. Its mountainous terrain encompasses coniferous forests, alpine meadows, icefields and glaciers. It is the veritable outdoor enthusiast's paradise with opportunities for canoeing on Bow River, mountain biking or a ride up the gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain to take in the 360 degree views of the surrounding landscape. Another exciting optional activity is to view all this scenic grandeur from a helicopter. Outstanding hikes are available and, with the abundant wildlife, there is always a good chance of seeing bears from a safe distance. There is nothing better after a hard day of fun then a soak in the Sulphur Mountain Hot Springs. Banff also offers a fun family night out in town.
With its snow-capped peaks, ancient pine forests and aquamarine waters, Lake Louise is 'the gem of the Canadian Rockies'. Lake Louise has always been a popular tourist destination, so it is no surprise that it is the most photographed destination in the Canadian Rockies! There are also many walking trails to enjoy. We can wander around the lake and be mesmerised by the turquoise waters, and also hike to a teahouse to be rewarded by the chance to eat the best chocolate cake in Canada!
The Icefields Parkway, cutting through the heart of the Rockies, is surely one of the world's ultimate scenic drives, travelling for 230 miles past hanging glaciers, sheer rock walls and broad sweeping valleys. We have a chance to traverse a portion of the imposing Athabasca Glacier on a guided glacier hike before being amazed by Peyto Lake's turquoise hues. We end our day by continuing to Jasper National Park and setting up camp for a two-night stay.
Jasper National Park is the largest national park in Canada, covering an area of 18,878 square kilometres (4200 square miles). It is much less developed than other areas of western Canada and offers a true wilderness feel. There are several options on offer in Jasper. We can start by taking the cable car to Whistler Mountain for a bird's eye view of this splendid park. There are also opportunities for mountain biking or hiking amidst glorious lakeside scenery, or visit Mount Edith Cavell for tremendous views of Angel Glacier, and various other hiking options.
We make our way from Alberta back to British Columbia. Travelling on the scenic Yellowhead Highway we continue to the edge of Wells Gray Provincial Park - the fourth largest in British Columbia, covering the highest regions of the Cariboo Mountains. If you ever wanted to try dining on a bison burger, this is the place for it! Another option is to hop onto a horse for an optional afternoon ride or taking a walk to check out the impressive Helmcken Falls, named after a guy who never saw the falls himself! Tonight we get to spend the night in a local hotel.
On the edge of the Canadian wilderness lies the cosmopolitan city of Vancouver. With a metropolitan population of over 2.3 million, this is one of the most attractive cities in the world, surrounded by water on many sides. Native American culture is very much alive here as evidenced by totem poles in the famous Stanley Park. We enjoy a short orientation tour of the city that takes in the popular Gastown area as well as Stanley Park, where we view the totem poles and pay homage to the indigenous heritage of this region. For Land Only travellers, your tour ends here at approximately 17:00hrs. If you are not on the group flights and are planning to depart this evening, please do not book a flight that departs before approximately 21:00hrs as we can not guarantee that you will make your flight in time. For those on the group flights, your overnight flight departs this evening, arriving into London the following day.