Trip reference number: 102208
Snow-dusted Mountains, sparkling lakes, creaking glaciers and wildlife-filled forests form the centrepiece of western Canada's spectacular natural world. At its heart is the Rockies – one of the world's great mountain ranges – which separate the cities of Vancouver in British Columbia and Calgary in Alberta. It's all the spectacular backdrop for an incredible fly-drive that brings you from one city to the other via Vancouver Island, Whistler and through the heart of the Banff and Jasper national parks.
Days 1-2: Vancouver
After making the most of your included airport lounge access, depart the UK on a day flight to Vancouver where an included transfer will bring you to your chosen city-centre hotel. Then, enjoy two free days to explore at your own pace. Soaring high above the Douglas Firs with breathtaking views across the city and surrounding peaks, the Grouse Mountain sky ride is a real highlight, putting the beauty of your location into true perspective; combine this with the Capilano Suspension Bridge for a leisurely day exploring. Other must-see highlights include historical Gastown, the colourful markets of Granville Island, lively Chinatown and the oceanside greenery of sprawling Stanley Park.
Stay: Rosedale on Robson (Standard), Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre (Superior), Fairmont Waterfront (Deluxe)
Days 3-4: Victoria
Leave Vancouver behind as you collect your rental car and head south to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal. The 90-minute crossing to Vancouver Island gives time to enjoy the scenery as you cruise among the picturesque Gulf Islands. Victoria itself is truly charming, home to a treasure chest of turn-of-the century architecture, all leading down to a bustling waterfront. With two days here, you've got plenty of time to explore, so be sure to include a visit to Butchart Gardens, famed for its world-leading floral displays.
Stay: Doubletree by Hilton Victoria (Standard), Inn at Laurel Point (Superior), The Fairmont Empress (Superior)
Days 5-6: Tofino (Pacific Rim National Park)
The rugged west coast of Vancouver Island beckons today, with a scenc drive to the Pacific Rim National Park. Along the way, you'll have time to explore Duncan – the ‘City of Totems' – visit the artist community at Chemainus and marvel at the views of the Cascade Mountains' Sawtooth Range as you head over Sutton Pass. Then, after your arrival into Tofino, you'll join a whale-watching tour by Zodiac this afternoon, cruising through Clayoquot Sound in search of orcas, gray whales, sea lions, porpoises, puffins and bald eagles.
Stay: Water's Edge Shoreside Suites (Standard) or Black Rock Oceanfront Resort (Superior) / (Deluxe)
Day 7: Parksville
Return to the east coast today, pausing for photos at Cathedral Grove and to see the Mars-Water Bombers at Sproat Lake. These four-engine seaplanes are the world’s two largest water bombers, designed specifically to extinguish forest fires.
Stay: Bayside Ocenfront Resort (Standard), Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Resort & Spa (Superior & Deluxe)
Days 8-9: Whistler
Board the ferry back to the mainland to join the scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway, calling into Shannon Falls and Stawamus Chief Rock on your way to Whistler. Nestled between the Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, this year-round resort is best known for its skiing, with metres-deep powder and mile after mile of freshly groomed pistes making it one of the world's best-loved winter playgrounds. In summer activities are just as enticing, with everything from hiking and mountain biking to white-water rafting and golf making the most of the celebrated surroundings. One of the best ways to experience the full drama of the region is with a trip on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola and Peak Chair, taking you high above the tree line for sweeping mountain views.
Stay: Aava Whistler Hotel (Standard), Hilton Whistler Village Suites (Superior), Fairmont Chateau Whistler (Deluxe)
Days 10-11: Wells Gray Provincial Park
Continue north via the upper elevations of the Duffey Lake Road. Take in wonderful views of Joffre Glacier and snow-capped Mount Currie as you head for Lillooet, known as the land of the Goldrush Trail, and ‘Mile Zero’ of the old Caribou Wagon Road. A visit to historic Hat Creek Ranch takes you back to the days of the Gold Rush.
Stay: Clearwater Lodge (Standard) or Alpine Meadows Resort (Superior) / (Deluxe)
Days 12-13: Jasper
From the scenic Yellowhead Highway through steep gorges and the crashing falls of the North Thompson River, today is a day of spectacular views. And, if the weather is on your side, you might just catch a glimpse of Mount Robson's summit, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. Then, crossing the provincial line, you'll arrive into Alberta and the pretty town of Jasper. Having started life as a tent city, serving the construction of the railway, today this quaint mountain village is a popular spot on the Rockies' well-trodden tourist trail. It's also the jumping-off point for trips into its eponymous national park, with the deep turquoise of Maligne Lake – one of the most photographed in the world – among a catalogue of highlights. A 90-minute cruise is a perfect way to take in the scenery.
Stay: Standard hotel or Sawridge Inn (Superior) or Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge (Superior)
Days 14-15: Banff
As you head south to Banff, your route takes you along the Icefields Parkway, the backbone of the Rockies and a seemingly endless procession of mountains, glaciers and emerald lakes. At the Columbia Icefields, take an Ice Explorer trip out onto the glacier before heading on to Lake Louise and Banff. You'll have a full day here to explore, perhaps taking a ride on the Banff Gondola for panoramic valley views before a dip in the mineral pools of the Upper Hot Springs.
Stay: Elk+Avenue Hotel (Standard), Banff Caribou Lodge (Superior) or Fairmont Banff Springs (Deluxe)
Days 16-17: ...
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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