Jewels of western Canada self-drive tour - Canada
This is a customisable itinerary to provide you with a start point and suggestions for your travel plans. We’ll work closely with you and our travel partner to design your ideal trip, paying close attention to your interests, your travel style and your budget. Our partner’s specialists know the country inside out and can lead you to experiences you won’t find in a guidebook.
Day 1 Vancouver
Today you begin your journey by boarding your international outbound flight to Vancouver. On arrival in Vancouver, make your own way to your downtown hotel by taxi. The remainder of the day is free to relax after your flight or begin to explore the city. You could browse the shops on Robson Street or simply enjoy a meal in one of the many gourmet restaurants.
Day 2 Vancouver
Spend a day at leisure in Vancouver. There's plenty to see in this cosmopolitan city. Some of our suggestions include; walking or cycling around Stanley Park, which has a collection of replica totem poles, an aquarium and views over English Bay and Vancouver Harbour; soaking up the atmosphere in Chinatown with its quirky shops and markets; or taking a guided walk around historic Gastown to learn more about the city's past.
Day 3 Vancouver
Today you're booked on the 'Mail Run' — a seaplane that departs from Vancouver and acts as a shuttle between the city and the Gulf Islands that dot the Strait of Georgia. You'll join locals on this scenic flight and take in fantastic views of downtown Vancouver and the Coast Mountains, before touching down on Salt Spring Island. You'll have a few hours to explore the waterfront galleries, boutiques and cafés of this small, bohemian community, before returning by seaplane to Vancouver.
Day 4 Whistler
Collect your hire car from downtown Vancouver this morning. Your car hire package includes insurance and a GPS navigation system. On your way out of the city, you drive past Stanley Park and over the Lion's Gate Bridge before continuing along the scenic Sea to Sky Highway to the mountain village of Whistler, set at the foot of two mountains. You may wish to stop along the way at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park on the outskirts of Vancouver, which features peaceful canopy walks through rainforest. The journey takes around two hours (excluding stops). After checking into your accommodation in Whistler you can relax or head out to explore the town and its beautiful surroundings.
Day 5 Whistler
Spend a full day exploring Whistler. You may wish to take the cable car up to the summit of Whistler Mountain and then the Peak-to-Peak gondola over to Blackcomb Mountain — the views from here over the town and the surrounding mountains and lakes are incredible. Further activities in the area include kayaking, white-water rafting, hiking and mountain biking, all of which we can arrange for you. In the evening, enjoy dinner in one of Whistler's excellent restaurants.
Day 6 Wells Gray Provincial Park
Today you depart Whistler and drive for around seven hours (excluding stops) through the arid ranch lands of British Columbia's interior, passing the small towns of Pemberton and Lillooet, as well as the mighty Fraser River. This is the Cariboo area, and was once renowned for its gold. Today it's best known for its ranches, deep canyons and beautifully rugged countryside scenery. Arriving into Clearwater, the nearest town to Wells Gray Provincial Park, you can check into your accommodation before relaxing after your long journey, taking in your idyllic surroundings.
Day 7 Wells Gray Provincial Park
Spend today exploring the striking Wells Gray Provincial Park, where craggy mountains rise above evergreen forests, lakes and steaming waterfalls. You can hike along some of the many trails, looking out for wildlife such as moose, black and grizzly bears, elk and deer. Many lead to the park's renowned waterfalls — the impressive Helmcken Falls is twice the height of Niagara Falls. Guided horse rides are also an option, as well as relaxing boat cruises and fishing on Clearwater Lake. The park is also well-known for its white-water rafting opportunities.
Day 8 Jasper
Travel east along the North Thompson River and into the Rockies — the drive will take around four and a half hours (excluding stops). En route you may wish to stop at Blue River for a one-hour jet boat trip with a guide to spot some of the river's wildlife, which may include grizzly bears, moose and eagles. Reaching the Rockies, you pass the mighty Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies at 3,954 m (12,972 ft). Shortly afterwards you cross into the province of Alberta and arrive at your accommodation in the small town of Jasper.
Day 9 Jasper
Spend the day in Jasper National Park. You may wish to visit Maligne Lake and Canyon — a boat trip to Spirit Island presents one of the best views in the Rockies, taking in the distinctive blue lake fringed by mountains. There are many walking trails to follow; we can recommend a walk through alpine meadows near the base of Mount Edith Cavell, where you can admire the region's flora and views of Angel Glacier. You could also take a cable car up to the top of Whistlers Mountain for panoramic views over the surrounding mountains and lakes. Look out for the park's wildlife at all times, which includes black and grizzly bears, bobcats, elk, coyotes, moose and porcupines.
Day 10 Jasper
This morning take a two and a half hour guided float trip along the beautiful Athabasca River. The route follows that of fur traders who ventured here around 200 years ago, and your guide provides a commentary on the area's history and wildlife. You may encounter small rapids during the journey, and you can enjoy views of Jasper's mountains throughout the trip. The afternoon is free for you to further explore the park or take a stroll around the town, which is home to numerous spas, shops, cafés and restaurants.
Day 11 Lake Louise
Drive for four hours (excluding stops) south along the spectacular Icefields Parkway from Jasper to Lake Louise. The route climbs from the low forested valley up to the treeline, passing all three life zones of the Rockies — the Montane, Sub-Alpine and Alpine. You may see ptarmigans, wolves, mountain goats and bighorn sheep among other wildlife. There are lots of viewing points to stop at for photographs and walking trails leading off into the surrounding wilderness. It's worth taking the whole day to enjoy this journey. You'll break your journey at Saskatchewan River Crossing for your included 20-minute helicopter flight over the region's scenic mountain backdrop, allowing you to view three of the region's remote glaciers, plunging waterfalls and emerald alpine lakes in their spectacular glory.
Day 12 Lake Louise
Spend a day enjoying the glorious scenery around Lake Louise. Many walking trails offer hours of wildlife viewing and varied scenery to enjoy — one of the best leads you uphill toward Mirror Lake and Lake Agnes for some fantastic alpine views. Alternatively, take the gondola up to the top of Mount Whitehorn to gaze over mountains, lakes and forest. Nearby Moraine Lake is also well worth exploring; the view from the southern end of the lake takes in the Valley of the Ten Peaks — one of Canada's most revered vistas. In nearby Yoho National Park, you may wish to visit the Rockies' highest waterfall, Takakkaw Falls.
Day 13 Banff
Drive from Lake Louise to the town of Banff, about an hour away. We recommend following the scenic Bow Valley Parkway, where you can drive at a leisurely pace and pause for photographs. You may encounter wildlife such as bears and deer, which can sometimes block the road. Johnston Canyon offers the opportunity to stretch your legs and enjoy a picnic — a trail here leads to three waterfalls and seven cold water springs known as the Ink Pots. Arriving at your accommodation in Banff, you have the rest of the day to relax or explore the town, which has a number of shops and restaurants as well as a small museum telling you more about the area.
Day 14 Banff
Spend today exploring Banff and the surrounding area. You may wish to visit the Cave and Basin National Historic Site, where Canada's National Park system began in 1885. Naturally occurring hot springs are found both in the cave and outside in an emerald basin, with a boardwalk leading to a vent hole. Elsewhere, you can take a gentle canoe trip down the Bow River, follow one of the many hiking or mountain biking trails, go white-water rafting or take the gondola to the summit of Sulphur Mountain.
Day 15 International return flight
This morning you depart Banff and drive the two hours to Calgary Airport. Watch as the mountainous landscape gives way to flat prairie lands dotted with ranches. You eventually reach the city and, after dropping off your car at the airport's car depot, board your onward flight.
Day 16 International return flight
Arrive home today to complete your journey.
Holiday Name : Jewels of western Canada self-drive tour
Reference : Audley Travel