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A remarkable journey across the Rockies, combining spectacular mountain scenery with the rugged rainforest found on Vancouver Island. Canada's jagged mountain peaks, magnificent national parks, glaciers and waterways are full of wildlife including bear, moose and whale.
Explore Tour Leader
2 nights comfortable chalet
10 nights comfortable hotel
2 nights comfortable lodge
Trip maximum 12
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive into Calgary. This dynamic city is a rich fusion of modern architecture and traditional heritage, where the pioneering history of the Canadian west is woven into everyday life.
Due to the number of evening flights into Calgary, 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 at any time. If you would like an airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Calgary International Airport (airport code: YYC), which is a 20 minute drive from the hostel.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, you may have time to explore the city and soak up the friendly ambience. Filled with museums, shops and cafes, the centre of the city is a great place to just wander and take in its majestic setting against the backdrop of the ever present mountains.
Ramada Plaza Calgary Downtown (or similar)
This morning we will take some time to explore the glittering city of Calgary. The centre of town is a great place to wander around, marvel at the impressive architecture and absorb the friendly atmosphere - all set against a backdrop of the Rockies that rear like a distant tidal wave. These rugged mountains, interspersed with moments of sublime serenity in the form of turquoise lakes and cascading falls, beg for further exploration and before lunch we waste no time and head west up into the hills. Our base for the next three nights is the small town of Canmore situated in the picturesque Bow Valley. Described as the gateway to the Rockies, it is the perfect place from which to make our forays in to the nearby Kananaskis country and Banff National Park. This afternoon we explore Kananaskis country and the valleys of this region on foot.
Quality Resort Chateau Canmore (or similar)
Over the next two days we will explore the splendour of nearby Banff National Park. We will follow well-marked trails to discover beautiful lakes, stunning vistas and perfumed pine forests. We highly recommend taking an optional excursion by aerial tram to the top of Sulphur Mountain - if the weather is clear, the views across the Rockies are simply breathtaking. You may also want to spend time in the town of Banff itself. A bustling and lively place, it is easy to get infused with the energy that surrounds you. Banff is also famous for its hot springs, in fact, it was the discovery of the hot springs in 1883 that lead to the building of the settlement in this location. Relaxing in these geothermal waters is a wonderful way to while away a few hours one afternoon. For the more active among us there are numerous optional trips, such as canoeing on the Bow River, that can be organised locally.
A note on walking: although this part of Canada is made for the outdoors, this trip isn't specifically a walking holiday. As such the Tour Leader will judge walks based on the entire group's fitness and capabilities, and these will be easy or moderate trails. If you want more challenging hikes and these are available on site, your tour leader will give you the information to do it by yourself. Some trails require a minimum number of hikers per group.
Today is left free to explore more of Banff National Park including making a visit to the picture postcard Lake Louise and Morraine Lake. Tom Wilson, the first white Canadian to see Lake Louise, when he was led there by a local native in 1882, wrote 'I never, in all my explorations of these five chains of mountains throughout western Canada, saw such a matchless scene…I felt puny in body, but glorified in spirit and soul.' Despite the increasing number of visitors to the lake it is still possible to experience the same feelings of awe that Tom Wilson had the first time he saw it.
We take the drive along one of the world's top scenic highways today. We leave Canmore, travelling along the Icefields Parkway which cuts its way through a mountain wilderness filled with rivers and stunning glacial lakes. Every kilometre of the Parkway is witness to spectacular scenery and we are likely to encounter wildlife along the road itself. We continue northwards and pass alongside the Columbia icefields where we will stop at the magnificent Athabasca Glacier - here you have the option of taking a guided glacier hike onto ancient glacial ice (your Tour Leader will ask you whether you'd like to book this at the start of your trip, in order to ensure availability).
We'll continue up the scenic highway, making more impressive stops on route. Our eagle-eyed tour leader will keep an eye out for bears while we travel. Jasper, in the shadow of Mount Edith Cavell, lies at the end of today's journey.
Beckers Chalet (or similar)
We will start the day with a short hike (approximately 4km) in Maligne Canyon, discovering stunning views over the powerful water that leaps and pummels its way through the narrow slot. We have the rest of the day ahead of us to explore the various highlights of the area around the town of Jasper. Keep your eyes peeled for the wildlife that roam freely here, wapiti, elk, moose and bear! Take a boat trip on the enormous Maligne Lake, or try white water rafting on the Athabasca River. Alternatively, you may want to take the Jasper Tramway to the high alpine terrain of Whistlers Mountain - named for the whistling sounds of the marmots that live there - or hike a bike and cycle on one of the many trails in the area.
This morning we head northwest along highway 16 through Mount Robson Provincial Park. We also see Mount Robson itself, 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 hike along Fraser Canyon to Overlander Falls (1km round trip, 45 minutes' walk) before leaving Mount Robson behind and continuing onto Clearwater. This afternoon we head the short distance to Spahats Creek from where we can take an easy walk to the 61m high Spahats Falls. These impressive falls cascade down through layers of pinky-red volcanic rock, and from the observation point we should also have a great view down the Clearwater Valley.
Quality Inn Clearwater (or similar)
This morning we head out to the nearby Wells Gray Provincial Park, home to Helmcken Falls, which at 127m is higher than Niagara Falls. There are unexpectedly spectacular views from all along the park entrance road and great opportunities for wildlife spotting. We are then free for the rest of the day. The park offers an array of outdoor activities, including hiking and canoeing on amazingly clear lakes (all optional). You can hire a canoe here and feel as if you really are paddling off into the wilderness, or walk to Moul Falls and venture behind the waterfall itself. The slower pace of life in these parts is infectious so you may also choose to return to our lodge and relax.
Today we journey south west to Whistler, pausing en route at various places to soak up the wonderful views. We will travel through the mountains of interior British Colombia, through different environments and climate that change the landscape, stopping at several viewpoints such as Seton or Kalamalka lake, where we can do some short walks. This evening in Whistler we can enjoy a meal in one of the many excellent restaurants and, for those that wish, follow it up with a night out on the town.
Aava Hotel (or similar)
Today we have a free day in Whistler to enjoy the variety of activities on offer here, including a cable car ride up one of the nearby peaks and hiking. There will also be the chance to walk on different trails around Whistler where we can walk on a trail either on the mountain or around its peaceful shores.
This morning we will follow route 99, more famously known as the Sea to Sky Highway, toward the Pacific coast of Vancouver. We will continue to Horseshoe Bay from where we will catch the early ferry across to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. 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. En route to Pacific Rim National Park we will stop in MacMillan Provincial Park where we will take a short walk to the famous Cathedral Grove, a striking group of huge Douglas Firs. Some of these incredible trees reach up to 70m in height, are 2m thick and are estimated to be up to 1000 years old. We then continue on to the Pacific Rim National Park which will undoubtedly be the highlight of our time on the island. The park stretches intermittently for 130km and the mountains, coastal rainforest, wild beaches and unkempt marine landscapes are as diverse as they are beautiful. We will overnight in Ucluelet near Tofino.
Canadian Princess Resort (or similar)
Today we are free to choose from a variety of different activities. The two most popular excursions are both out to sea. The more energetic may wish to take to kayaks and explore this wild coastline of hidden coves and rocky inlets. Alternatively, there is the chance to go whale watching from one of the coastal villages in the park. There is also the opportunity to go Black Bear watching today from a zodiac boat, or take an optional walk along one of the park's many trails. Our local guide will be on hand to organise these trips and accompany those wishing to choose one of the optional walks.
We head south today, away from the wilderness of the Pacific Rim National Park and towards the much gentler scenery of Victoria. On the way we will make stops to view the totem poles carved by the First Nations of the North West Coast. In 1884 the Federal Government outlawed 'pot latching' and this unique art form nearly died out. Fortunately, in recent times, there has been a revived interest in this proud tradition and the totems that can be found along this stretch of coast are strong reminders of the island's native people. This afternoon we have free to time to explore Victoria. We highly recommend visiting the Royal British Columbia Museum or alternatively sit at one of the pavement cafes watching the world pass by.
Huntingdon Manor Hotel (or similar)
Vancouver, known as the Jewel of North America and easily one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Canada, beckons us today in contrast to the wilderness we've been experiencing over the past days. However, this city's setting on the beaches of the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by Mount Seymour, Cypress and Grouse Mountain will remind you that nature looms nearby. During the afternoon, we provide a brief orientation tour, as well as the opportunity to discover Stanley Park (optional). This evening we recommend a visit to Gastown, an attractive area offering many restaurants and bars.
Century Plaza (or similar)
Our trip ends this morning in Vancouver. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Vancouver at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at the hotel. If you would like an airport transfer today, you'll need to depart from Vancouver International Airport (airport code: YVR), which is approximately a 40 minute drive away from the hotel.
May-Sep is the best time to visit, when the weather is usually warm, dry and pleasant. Temperatures can be a little cooler on the coast and in the mountains; rain can be expected at any time. Early in the season, there can be snow in some areas which may limit walking possibilities.
2 Pin Flat
Roman Catholic, Protestant
English and French
There are a number of exciting optional excursions you can do on your trip. These activities are booked and paid for direct with the supplier and do not form part of your Explore holiday contract. Banff - Gondola CAD$ 65; Hot Springs CAD$ 9.25; Canoeing on the Bow River CAD$ 50 (1hr) CAD$ 80 (2 hrs); Three Sisters Peaks Helicopter tour CAD$ 129 (15mins); Royal Canadian Helicopter tour CAD$ 259 (25mins); Mt. Assiniboine Helicopter tour CAD$ 314 (30mins) Lake Louise - Canoe rental CAD$135 per half hour, CAD$145 per hour Athabasca Glacier - Ice walk CAD$112 Jasper - Skytram CAN$ 69; Maligne boat tour CAD$ 72; Rafting trip CAD$ 69-102 (Athabasca River - class 2 rapids or Sunwapta River - class 3 rapids); Bike hire from CAD$55 (for 5 hrs including helmet) Wells Gray - Canoeing CAD$ 110 (including lunch) Whistler - Tree Trek - CAD$ 70; Rafting CAD$ 140 ($120 for under 16yr olds) (option of class 1 to 2; class 2&3; or class 3&4 rapids); Zip line CAD$ 170; Gondola CAD$ 69 Vancouver Island - Whale Watching (3 hours) CAD$ 130; Wildlife and hot spring (6 hours) CAD$ 230 + tax (food & drink not included); Sea Kayaking CAD$ 110 (4 hours); Bear Viewing CAD$130 All optional excursion costs are per person and subject to change at the discretion of the local supplier.
Include some long-sleeved shirts; warm clothing for chilly nights in the mountains is essential as is a good waterproof jacket. Also bring swimwear, sunglasses and a sun hat.
Lightweight walking boots with ankle support and sandals or trainers for relaxing. Some footwear that you don't mind getting wet is essential for whitewater rafting or canoeing.
Luggage is stored in the van or in a trailer attached to the back. With this in mind please keep bags as reasonably sized as possible and preferably soft rather than hard shell.
You will also need a day pack for walking and personal items as your main luggage cannot be accessed during the day.
Bring a water bottle, torch, sunblock and insect repellent. Binoculars might also be useful.
In Canada we generally steer clear of the larger hotel chains, although this is not always possible. We use a mixture of hotels and motels of 2-3 star standard, which provide a comfortable base for a night or two but on the whole do not boast additional facilities such as restaurants, pools etc. Meals are normally eaten out at local restaurants and diners. All of the hotels/motels we use on this tour have private bathrooms, with the exception of Jasper where we use twin or double shared cabins. Hotels/motels are normally located in centre of village or town, but in some exceptions we might be out of the centre - for example, in Victoria and Jasper.
Can you drink the water?
It is generally possible to drink the local tap water, therefore to reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles we recommend you bring a refillable water bottle with you. Your leader will advise you on refill points each day.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
When travelling to Canada, you will need the following: ETA - Citizens of the UK, New Zealand, Australia and passport holders from several EU countries can apply for an ETA here - http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta.asp - other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office. USA: If transiting via the US you will require either a visa or an ESTA (an evisa). Please read on for more information. Citizens of the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and passport holders from several EU countries can apply for an ESTA under certain conditions. This applies if you enter the country by sea or by air, and this must be done online via https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov, no later than 72 hours prior to travel. Travellers who have not registered before their trip are likely be refused boarding. You must have a biometric passport to apply for an ESTA. UK passports which are biometric feature a small gold symbol (camera) at the bottom of the front cover. If you have visited Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen since 2011 or are dual nationals of these countries, you cannot travel with an ESTA and instead you will need to apply for a visa from the nearest US Embassy or Consulate. If you are unable to provide a valid visa before boarding flights to the US, or entering via another method, you may not be permitted to travel. You should also be aware that if you have travelled to or have been in Cuba since the 12th of January 2021, you will not be eligible for an ESTA visa waiver and will need to apply for a US visa. You should consult the US State Department website to determine which you will need. Your ESTA application will ask for Point of Contact information. Please note that if you're only transiting through the USA then this is not required. If you're visiting or staying in the USA on an Explore trip, then our USA contact information will be listed on your final documentation which you will receive approximately 3-4 weeks before departure. Entry requirements for the USA can change regularly, therefore, please ensure you have the most up to date information before you travel by checking the US embassy website. Visa applications - http://london.usembassy.gov/niv/apply.html
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
An ability to swim is essential for your safe enjoyment of the water based activities on this trip. If you wish to participate in these activities then we insist that you are able to swim.
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against tetanus, typhoid, infectious hepatitis and polio. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.