Ready to take a hike? Youve come to the right place. Canada is home to some of the finest trails in North America. This tour will have you tackling paths that coil around mountains and snake through inland rainforests, plus enjoying views of massive glaciers and snow-covered peaks in the Canadian Rockies. Combine active adventures with spotting wildlife, munching maple-flavoured everything (cookies, donuts, bacon you name it) and stargazing with your new friends. This 12-day adventure is the perfect introduction to Canadas beautiful west coast.
Day 1 Vancouver
O Canada! Home of ice hockey and Drake, and source of your soon-to-be fondest travel memories. It all begins in Vancouver. Make sure youre at the hotel for 6 pm so that you can attend the welcome meeting, where you can greet your tour guide and fellow travellers. If you arrive with time to spare maybe pick up a donut and a ‘double-double’ (thats coffee with two cream and two sugars) from Tim Hortons.
Day 2 Kelowna
You’ve got a long drive ahead today (approximately 7 hours) but youll also get your first glimpses of Canadas incredible scenery along the way. Head past some incredible forests, parks and vineyard-covered hills in the Okanagan Valley. You’ll want to make sure your camera or phone is charged for this drive. Arrive in Kelowna in time for dinner and settle into camp. Situated on Okanagan Lake, Kelowna is equal parts relaxed country and bustling urban city.
Day 3 Golden
Rise and shine for your first real taste of Canadas great outdoors. Visit Mt Revelstoke National Park, home of the worlds only inland temperate rainforests. Whats that mean? Evergreen woodland with ancient trees and moss-covered ground, just like the forests in fairy tales. The park is home to a small herd of woodland caribous plus grizzly bears and moose, along with a population of banana slugs. Get your fill of bush and beasties and then travel over Rogers Pass to Glacier National Park. Stop at the visitor centre and take in the panoramic views from lookouts along the way. Continue to Golden, where youll spend the night. Todays drive covers about 360 kilometres (225 miles) and takes about 5.5 hours.
Day 4 Yoho National Park/Banff National Park
Drive through the stunning mountainous landscape of Yoho National Park. There are a couple of ways to explore the terrain. If youd like to break in your boots your leader can point you in the direction of the best trails to tackle. Another option (not for the faint of heart) is to battle the wild waters of the aptly-named Kicking Horse River on a guided rafting tour. Please note, this is an optional activity booked through an outside company that will incur an extra cost. Floored by the scenery? You could always lie back on the riverbank and watch the world float by. Later, reconvene with the group and head to Takkakaw Falls, stop for a photo op and then continue to Banff National Park. The drive today covers 130 kilometres (80 miles), and youll spend the night near Banff so you can get stuck into the park tomorrow.
Day 5 Banff National Park
Today’s your chance to explore Banff at your own pace, as there are no formal activities planned. Established in 1885, Banff is the oldest national park in the country, and contains over 1600 kilometres (995 miles) of hiking trails. Chat to your leader about the optional activities on offer today, which depending on your enthusiasm and budget can range from shopping on Banff Avenue or Bear Street to unwinding in Banff Hot Springs steamy waters or renting a bike to explore the Vermillion Lakes. Dont forget that some of the best walking in the country can be done in Banff, so ask your leader about whats right for you.
Day 6 Lake Louise / Banff National Park
Today youll visit two of the west coasts most picturesque glacier-fed lakes. First is lovely Lake Louise. Nestled between two blue mountains, the lake is beautiful no matter the season. Next up is Moraine Lake where depending on the time of year the water ranges from clear to aquamarine. Located in a rocky valley and rimmed by verdant spruce trees, Moraine Lake is sure to knock you off your feet. Spend time exploring both lakes and their surrounding areas, then return to camp.
Day 7 Jasper National Park
Ready for even more spectacular scenery? Todays drive takes us along the famous Icefields Parkway past the Rocky Mountains. Well stop at a few lookouts, lakes and waterfalls along the way, so there will be plenty of opportunities to take the perfect photo. Stop at Athabasca Glacier for a chilly stroll before continuing to Jasper National Park. Todays drive is just under 300 kilometres (186 miles), which will ideally mean about 4 hours on the road. Because we travel with a small group in a private vehicle, we can make detours and stop along the way according to the groups interests. Driving times are also affected by weather and other conditions, so make sure to pack a good book or download some podcasts just in case.
Day 8 Jasper National Park
Today is as clear as the air in the Canadian Rockies. Choose how youd like to pass the time in one of the most photographed places in Canada. Your leader will be taking whoever is willing to Lake Maligne (optional but free), where you can hike and explore on arrival. If you like, you can pay extra for an optional cruise on the lake and check out the famous Spirit Island. If youd prefer to strike out on your own, you may wish to stay behind and head out on one of the many trails in the area. Jasper National Park is famous for its wildlife such as elk, moose, deer, bears and mountain lions, and if youre lucky youll spot some of these wild animals. Just remember to admire them from afar.
Day 9 Wells Gray Provincial Park
Another long day of travel ahead, though broken up with some stops to sightsee. Travel under the watchful eye of Mt Robson (3954 m/12,970 ft), the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. Arrive in Wells Gray Provincial Park after around 2 hours. As always, driving time will depend on how many stops are made, and will cover 125 kilometres (77 miles). Mt Robson is the tallest peak in the Canadian Rockies. Continue through the beautiful Cariboo Mountains to Wells Gray Provincial Park (around 4 hours). In the afternoon, theres time for a hike or optional canoe ride in the park.
Day 10 Whistler
Whistler awaits as the perfect place to stretch your legs after a day on the road (about 9 hours). Named after the unusual call of the equally unusual hoary marmots, which live in the area, Whistler is a mecca for lovers of all things outdoors. While there wont be much time to explore today, you might want to gather a group and hit Whistler Village. You can find awesome restaurants and bars in the pedestrian-only village. Just remember that getting up early tomorrow is a good idea if you want to make the most of your time here, and plan your cocktails accordingly.
Day 11 Whistler
Enjoy a free day checking out the best Whistler has to offer. There are plenty of optional activities available, so chat to your leader to decide what youd prefer. During the warmer months, hiking is a great (and inexpensive) way to get the lay of the land, just keep in mind that the rugged terrain can make for challenging trails. Zip-lining tours are an amazing opportunity to get an aerial view of Fitzsimmons Creek and, if youre lucky, see some bears along the way. There are also some great cycle networks in Whistler, so you have the option of paying for bike hire and riding to one of the nearby lakes. Dont forget to spend some time exploring Whistler Village, a charming pedestrian-only town with plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants.
Day 12 Vancouver
Famous for its coast-meets-mountains setting, Vancouver is the largest city in western Canada. After a short drive (around 2 hours), arrive back in the city and set out on a quick orientation tour with your leader. After the walk, bid farewell to your leader and your fellow travellers, as your tour has come to an end.