The Wild West
Discover the fascinating landscapes and cultures that will take you through the backroads and off-the-beaten track to uncover the scenic treasures of Canada’s west coast and western interior. From the urban splendour of Vancouver, the trail leads to the picturesque tranquility of British Columbia’s and Alberta’s national parks. You will experience firsthand the brilliant turquoise lakes and the rugged beauty of the Rocky Mountains. Returning to the Pacific Coast via Whistler your adventure either comes to an end with a return to Vancouver, or you continue on to visit Victoria with its maritime heritage and colonial demeanour. A wealth of activities are available throughout your trip from the thrill of rafting and canoeing to hiking and horseback riding.
- Jasper & Banff National Parks
- Penticton & BC's wine region
- Vancouver Island
Arrive Vancouver International Airport, transfer independently to your downtown hotel. The rest of the day is yours to create your own urban adventure amid the stores, parks, restaurants, theatres and other attractions of downtown Vancouver.
Leaving Vancouver behind you will drive out to the vast ranch lands of British Columbia’s interior. You will follow the Gold Rush Trail, alongside the mighty Fraser River. At Hell’s Gate or Boston Bar you may decide to briefly explore the imposing Fraser Canyon by airtram, or visit Lytton, one of the villages made famous by the Gold Rush. Passing through Merritt, you continue on to Kamloops - one of the main hubs of central British Columbia.
Clearwater / Wells Gray Provincial Park
Your journey to the breathtaking vistas of Wells Gray Provincial Park leads you along the scenic Yellowhead Highway through the water and lava-shaped valley of the North Thompson River. You won’t want to miss a visit to Clearwater’s Yellowhead Museum for a taste of frontier life, or a stop at Spahats Creek Park where the volcanic origins of the area are still in evidence. The area offers hiking, fishing and river rafting experiences to enjoy.
Jasper National Park
Today, you will leave the peaceful delights of Wells Gray to head for the unforgettable splendour of the Rocky Mountains. En route to Jasper you will drive by the panoramic views of Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies.
Banff National Park
Start your day with a ride on the Jasper Skytram, giving you a bird’s eye view of the town and the surrounding parklands. Afterwards, depart along the Icefields Parkway, meandering through a landscape of peaks and glaciers, before pausing to admire the picturesque alpine waters of Peyto Lake and Moraine Lake. The sparkling, turquoise colours and the impressive glacier of Lake Louise are next on your not-to-be-missed list. The Trans-Canada Highway leads you to Banff, a year-round resort region that will treat you to spectacular wilderness scenery, outdoor sporting activities and modern accommodation facilities. Visit the Cave and Basin and Bow Falls, and take a thrilling gondola ride to the summit of Sulphur Mountain. Other activities offered in the park for your pleasure include river rafting, biking, horseback riding and hiking.
Radium Hot Springs / Invermere
Today you will drive through Kootenay National Park, a landscape dominated by lofty peaks, glaciers, deep valleys and crystal-blue lakes. A visit to the park’s hot springs or the Radium Hot Springs Resort which offers numerous activities and sights. Wildflowers decorate the alpine meadows, while grizzly bears, moose and mountain goats roam the park. Invermere is a summer paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Enjoy a myriad of activities, such as hiking, fishing, bird watching, boating and windsurfing on Lake Windermere. You can also visit Invermere’s museum housing pioneer artifacts and local archives.
From fresh water to fresh air, today, you will advance through the Kootenays. Respected by backpackers as a wilderness oasis of towering mountains, fresh air and abundant wildlife, this remote area is a traveller’s dream… no crowds and no pollution. The area has been shaped by gold-seekers, a heritage celebrated in historic Fort Steele. You will enjoy the vistas of the Purcell and Selkirk mountain ranges as you take the world’s longest free ferry ride across Kootenay Lake to Balfour. Your afternoon is free to explore Nelson, the reputed heritage capital of Western Canada.
The scenic adventure continues outbound from Nelson, parallel to the American border, across Bonanza Pass and Gold Canyon. Boasting towering mountains, gentle valleys and sparkling lakes, this area is a haven for hikers and canoeists. Visit Grand Forks on the Kettle River reliving the period of Russian settlement or enjoying some excellent fishing. Penticton boasts over 15 wide, sandy public beaches to relax and lounge on. If a day at the waterfront is not to your liking, perhaps a tasting tour at one of the 80 local wineries will provide a day of delectable indulgence!
En route to the sub-alpine meadows in Manning Provincial Park, you will drop into Oliver Park, the only true desert in Canada. Alternately, you will enjoy a hike through pristine Cathedral Provincial Park. Afterwards, you can explore Manning Provincial Park, known for its meadows and diverse vegetation. The day’s highlight comes after an extensive hike along the trail network — a picture-perfect view of Three Brothers Mountain and Thunder Lake.
Today the road leads northward along a route less travelled, boasting some of the most stunning scenery of the province interrupted only by small communities that thrive on the forestry and eco-tourism industries. Perhaps stop for a short time in the mountain village of Lilooet for a taste of small town western life. Turning westward, continue on to Whistler where one of the great destinations of the Canadian west awaits!
"138 miles with ferry"
You will drive past the sweeping seascapes, rugged cliffs, broad beaches and serene inlets of the breathtaking Sunshine Coast this morning before boarding for the first of several BC Ferries rides. Powell River is set against the backdrop of the Coast Mountains and offers great opportunities for outdoor activities including sea-kayaking, sailing, hiking and mountain biking. The coastal waters boast a rich variety of marine wildlife.
"54 miles with ferry"
This morning starts with a refreshing BC Ferries cruise across the Strait of Georgia to Vancouver Island. Look closely and you may even encounter some orcas. From the ferry, you will drive north through Comox Valley and up to Campbell River, a salmon-fishing paradise. Campbell River is recognized as a hub for outdoor adventure, close to Strathcona Provincial Park and home to such attractions as the Discovery Fishing Pier and the Discovery Passage Aquarium.
Tofino / Ucluelet
"168 miles with ferry"
Today a panorama of scenic beauty is about to unfold before you. You will cross Vancouver Island to the Pacific Coast through ancient rainforests and provincial parks. You’re venturing into true wildlife territory here, and you might even glimpse bears, deer, wolves and cougars. Even if you don’t see them, you can be sure they’re watching you. The Pacific Rim National Park is a marvel of ecological and geographical diversity, as you will see as you pass through dense rainforests, steep ravines and windswept beaches. Explore the rugged coastline along the network of hiking trails or walk the shoreline of Long Beach in search of shells and driftwood.
This morning the spectacular winding road takes you back to the east coast of the island with visits to Horne Lake Caves or Cathedral Grove. The Island has many hidden gems including native rock carvings at Sproat Lake and the picturesque falls at Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park. Passing through Nanaimo, you continue along the scenic Malahat Drive where you may decide to visit the murals of Chemainus or, the Forest Museum. Alternately, you may wish to visit the Quw’utsun’ Cultural and Conference Centre in Duncan, scenically situated on six acres of landscaped pasture land. Representatives of the museum recall the Great Deeds – an oral history and legends of the Quw’utsun’ people. The day’s journey ends in Victoria, where the city’s beautiful gardens and architecture celebrate its maritime heritage and colonial charm.
A final day on the island reveals the serene beauty of the Saanich Peninsula with its quiet beaches, meandering lanes and colonial-style architecture. Visit Butchart Gardens, located in a former stone quarry and renowned for its horticultural diversity, before enjoying a mini-cruise onboard BC Ferries back to Vancouver.
- 20 nights’ accommodation and room tax
- International flights from London (please ask if regional airports are required)
- Ferries as detailed
- Fully insured compact car hire (larger vehicles are available)
- A detailed and comprehensive travel pack with driving instructions and maps
Daily departures from May to September.