When people ask me to describe our recent Canada tour experience, the first word that comes to mind is ‘mind-blowing’. But even then, how do you describe a landscape that’s so grand it impacts your every sense? Visually, Canada is beyond beautiful, but the intensity is amplified when you’re there, on the ground, absorbing the vastness of it all…
We want to take you on a visual tour of our recent journey through Western Canada – providing a small glimpse into what is, unquestionably, a landscape of natural wonder that will leave just about any traveller breathless.
This is Western Canada through our eyes…
Every hour on the hour billows of steam fill the air, drawing crowds to the heart of Vancouver’s historic Gastown. The oldest neighbourhood in British Columbia’s capital city, Gastown has been through many incarnations and today, is one of the major drawcards, its heritage buildings now housing trendy boutiques, bars, cafes and restaurants. We spent much of our first days in Vancouver here, enjoying our free time exploring the streets and lanes, sampling the coffee and window shopping.
It was time to join our fellow passengers and kick off the tour on one of the most iconic train journeys in the world, the Rocky Mountaineer. There was no more perfect setting to get to know each other, share the incredible experience of winding our way into the Canadian wilderness and ultimately the Canadian Rockies, and enjoy five star service.
The food aboard Rocky Mountaineer was just as beautiful as the views looking outward as we travelled on board for two days in a row, from dawn to dusk.
You will never forget an experience such as this, including the bond that is created between yourself and your fellow passengers, and of course, your amazing Canadian hosts, as you share the experience.
Upon arrival into Banff, our days were designed around the incredible wilderness that now enveloped us. West of the town, deep in the Canadian Rockies, lay three lakes formed in the Bow River valley.
Vermillion Lakes show off the natural beauty of Banff National Park, just outside of Banff town itself.
They say seeing a Moose at such close range is an incredibly rare experience. So it’s safe to say, luck was on our side.
Snow capped mountains, lush surrounds, a glacial fed river winding through it’s heart… One must appreciate the beauty of Banff from high above. A trip up the Banff Gondola gives you a panoramic view over the entire Bow Valley, town of Banff and Canadian Rockies.
But Banff is not just about the natural beauty, it is also about culture. From early explorers pioneering new trade routes, to wealthy and elite tourists who arrived when the Canadian Pacific Railway first started promoting Banff as an exotic Himalayan-like destination, people have been exploring the region on horseback for decades and the local cowboy culture is still strong. A visit to Banff Stables was the perfect introduction to this heritage, and we even picked up a few new skills…
Without doubt, Lake Louise is one of the most beautiful places on earth. We arrived in time to see the lake at it’s frozen best – and the views were mindblowing. Completely surrounded by towering Rocky Mountains, and with the majestic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise at it’s edge, these are images that will be forever imprinted in our mind.
The Columbia Icefield is the largest of it’s kind in the Rocky Mountains. On board a custom-built Ice Explorer vehicle, we embarked on an adventure onto the ice of the Athabasca Glacier itself.
Jasper National Park is such a peaceful part of the world. It is also one of the best places to spot prolific Canadian wildlife. On an evening discovery tour, we captured our first glimpse of a black bear, casually eating at the edge of the forest.
Onwards to Blue River, a stunning area of wilderness in British Columbia, we took our wildlife search onto the water hoping to spot bears and other native wildlife. Things were just as fascinating on the boat, chatting with our guide Deb – who is living out her dreams, running safari tours alongside her father, brother and children…
Of course, we were bound to find treasures like this, with the region boasting the only inland temperate rainforest in Canada.
High above Whistler on an eco friendly tree walk….
….we were taken right into the canopy of old-growth fir and cedar forest. Comfortable in knowing that not one tree had been moved, removed, or affected, we could explore until our hearts were content on the network of suspension bridges, boardwalks and suspended staircases that linked the forest together.
Our tour had come full circle and back in Vancouver, meeting Grouse Mountain’s resident Grizzly Bears, Coola and Grinder, was one of the most remarkable experiences we’ve had with nature. Rescued individually in the region back in 2001, the two grizzly bears are now at the heart of the alpine resorts wildlife refuge.
Looking out from Grouse Mountain onto the City of Vancouver and its surrounding beauty, this was the perfect day to finish a once in a lifetime adventure…
Is Canada on your bucket list? Tell us in the comments if you have been or what you would love to see if you went!