Guest Blog – Canada and the Rockies

Canada has been on my wish list since I first got into travel, and I can imagine it will be on many others’ too! British Colombia is one of the most well-known areas of Canada and for good reason – where else can you find a vibrant young city, the vast ocean, islands and mountains so close to each other? And not to forget an abundance of wildlife, such as Bald eagles, bears, moose, whales and sea lions.

If you mention ‘luxury trains in British Colombia’, most people will think of the Rocky Mountaineer. Since its beginnings in 1990 the train has become one of the main attractions of Canada, connecting British Colombia to Alberta, home of the stunning Canadian Rockies. With 65 packages based around their 4 routes, there is a perfect itinerary for everyone!

The basic package offers the SilverLeaf Service with comfortable seats and accommodation, plentiful food and drinks, and views from the single-level glass-domed coaches; for extra luxury, opt for the GoldLeaf Service, benefitting from a more extensive food and drinks selection, more comfortable seats on the upper level giving you panoramic views, and luxury accommodation in premium room categories, wherever you stop off for the night.

All the trains depart from Vancouver (or the route can be done in reverse), which is a good thing because you simply cannot visit western Canada without visiting this city. Nestled between Vancouver Island and magnificent mountains creating a stunning backdrop whichever way you look, Vancouver is a picturesque and cosmopolitan city with lots to offer, from entertainment, shops and Stanley Park, to the chic waterfront, sea plane marina and vibrant markets. Not to forget everything you can do and see just outside of Vancouver: Capilano Suspension Bridge, Grouse Mountain, Whistler, Victoria, and my favourite: whale and bear watching!

I took the Journey through the Clouds Explorer which travels from Vancouver to Jasper, stopping in Kamloops overnight. On the second day, when you enter the Rockies, the scenery is magnificent and you will not want to put your phone, camera or tablet away with all the beautiful lakes and rivers you pass along the way! After arriving into Jasper and spending an overnight stay at the lakeside Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, we continued by coach to Lake Louise, stopping at the Colombia Icefields to drive up onto the glacier. Highlights were the photo stops at glacier-fed lakes Peyto, Bow and Waterfowl, whose turquoise colours seemed unreal! If you upgrade to GoldLeaf, your accommodation at Lake Louise is the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise – the view at sunrise from your Lakeview Room is worth the upgrade alone. Continuing to the winter resort town of Banff with its cosy mountain lodges and quaint shops, you can explore Sulphur Mountain with the Banff gondola, Castle Mountain and the famous spiral tunnels (as well as a variety of ski areas if you choose to visit in the winter), before taking a helicopter ride towards Calgary, where you will catch your flight home or continue your adventure to another part of Canada.

You can also pick up car hire in Jasper, which will give you the flexibility to take your time to explore these areas or add in more stops along the way. Whatever you would like to do, and whichever of Canada’s amazing sights you would like to see, together with Thames Travel we at Western & Oriental can create a tailor-made itinerary to ensure an unforgettable holiday!

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