Best of the West
SELF DRIVE TOURING
BANFF | JASPER | WELLS GRAY PROVINCIAL PARK | WHISTLER | PARKSVILLE | VICTORIA | VANCOUVER
Discover the natural beauty of the Canadian Rockies and British Columbia; visit the mountain resorts of Jasper and Whistler; explore the cosmopolitan city of Vancouver and the ever-so-British Victoria.
- Amazing mountain scenery in the Rockies
- Visit scenic Wells Gray Park
- Whistler, a year round resort
- Vancouver Island, home to great rainforests
- Victoria, elegant with stunning gardens
Best of the West
Day 1 : Calgary - Banff (75 miles)
Arrive at Calgary Airport, collect your car and take the short drive to Banff.
Day 2 : Banff Exploring
Nestled high in the Canadian Rockies, Banff is a town that makes you feel at home and exhilarated with wonder all at the same time. This is a town that truly celebrates its heritage, lives and breathes mountain culture and never takes its backyard for granted. In all directions you’re surrounded by strikingly beautiful and rugged mountains that seem to burst straight out of the ground. You might even see a herd of deer wandering down the main street. Perhaps go out and discover the many sights and highlights of the town, or the picturesque scenery of nearby Bow River. If you’re feeling more adventurous, maybe you’ll take a heli-flightseeing tour for awe-inspiring aerial views of the Canadian Rockies. Check out the Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Banff Gondola (admission included) where you will see a panoramic view of the Bow Valley, and then take a dip in the hot mineral pools at the Upper Hot Springs.
Day 3 : Banff - Jasper (185 miles)
Take the short drive from Banff to Lake Louise. Choose the Bow Valley Parkway, beside the Bow River with an option for you to take a stop at Johnston Canyon and walk along the paved footway to either the lower or upper waterfalls before continuing to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. From Lake Louise your scenic drive takes you through the spine of the Canadian Rockies along the Icefield Parkway. Stop at the Columbia Icefield for an Ice Explorer ride onto the glacier (included 01 May - 19 Oct). Leaving the Athabasca Glacier, your camera should be ready to capture the majesty of the Athabasca Falls prior to your arrival into Jasper.
Day 4 : Jasper
The day is free for your to explore this charming mountain village close to many terrific scenic highlights. This pleasant alpine village is nestled amidst some of Canada’s most stunning scenery. The “Gem of the Canadian Rockies” is surrounded by snow-capped mountains, thundering waterfalls, glaciers, lakes and rivers running in deep canyons, a region where wildlife abounds. Perhaps take a gondola ride to Jasper’s alpine tundra for stunning views of six mountain ranges, or maybe a gentle raft ride down the Athabasca River; then stroll around the village and relax with a coffee. Jasper National Park was established in 1907 and is the largest national park in the Rockies. With over 4,000 acres of alpine forests, white-water rivers, hot springs, soaring mountain peaks and tranquil river valleys there’s little chance you’ll see it all! Perhaps you’ll visit the limestone gorge of Maligne Canyon or volcanic Medicine Lake, named by tribal elders who believed its waters had healing powers. Admire the breath-taking beauty of glacially fed Maligne Lake and perhaps cruise to Spirit Island (not included)
Day 5 : Jasper - Wells Gray Park (195 miles)
Your drive today takes you to Wells Gray Provincial Park along the scenic Yellowhead Highway with breathtaking vistas of the steep-walled gorges and crashing falls of the North Thompson River. Overnight in Clearwater.
Day 6 : Clearwater - Whistler (265 miles)
Begin the day travelling via 100 Mile House to the gold rush town of Cache Creek, where you stop to visit the historic Hat Creek Ranch (included), which literally takes you back to the days of the gold rush. Continue south to Lillooet, known as the land of the Gold Rush and along the Duffey Lake Road to Whistler.
Day 7 : Whistler
Whistler is a world-class mountain resort and hive of activity for outdoor enthusiasts throughout the year. Think of Whistler and you may think of skiing and snowboarding, but this pretty alpine village has gained a reputation for attracting summer visitors because of its quaint village, excellent cuisine and friendly cafés. Today is at leisure to immerse yourself in the electrifying alpine ambience of this well-known resort, a hotspot for skiers, hikers and nature-lovers, set in the lofty surrounds of the Coast Mountains. Enjoy some of Whistlers activities, from golf on one of the 4 championship designer golf courses, water activities on any of the 5 lakes or rivers, to mountain top dining or just relax and enjoy some of the fine café’s and restaurants of the village. The Peak2Peak gondola ride is included to the top of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains (operates 27 May - 17 Sep; 18 Sep - 09 Oct weekends only).
Day 8 : Whistler - Parksville (70 miles + ferry)
Depart Whistler along the scenic Sea to Sky Highway. Discover scenic ocean vistas, soaring mountains and dramatic waterfalls on your way to Horseshoe Bay, before boarding the ferry to Vancouver Island. This scenic cruise takes you through fjord like waters with mountains blanketed with virgin forests and glaciated peaks.
Day 9 : Parksville - Victoria (95 miles)
Travel along the East Coast of Vancouver Island and head south to Victoria. Stop at the artist community of Chemainus, where you can admire the 39 giant murals which adorn the exterior walls throughout the town, browse the quirky antique shops and enjoy lunch. Continue to Duncan on Cowichan Bay, home to 80 totem poles dotted around the town which give it its “City of Totems” nickname. Don’t miss the B.C. Forest Discovery Centre before leaving for Victoria.
Day 10 : Victoria and Butchart Gardens
Today is free to explore Victoria, with its turn of the century architecture, British traditions such as high tea and shops full of woollens and china. Admission is included to the Butchart Gardens, one of the world’s premier floral show gardens established by the Butchart family in 1904. Here, you will have ample time to stroll through the wonderful estate and view the truly enchanting gardens with its 50 acre display of magnificent colour. Spend time wandering through the lovely Sunken Garden and relax in the beautiful settings of the Japanese Garden and the Italian Garden amongst 900 different varieties of flowers with a botanist on hand and to find out more about your favourite flora.
Day 11 : Victoria - Vancouver (45 miles + ferry)
Leaving Victoria drive north to Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal for a 90 minute ferry cruise (cost included) through the Gulf Islands as you cross the Strait of Georgia to Tsawwassen, then continue to Vancouver.
Day 12 : Vancouver
Visit two of Vancouver's best tourist attractions today. At the Capilano Suspension Bridge, spend time exploring temperate rainforest and learn all about salmon at the fish Hatchery. Then continue to Grouse Mountain where you’ll take the Skyride to the Peak of Vancouver with breath-taking views over the Lower Mainland and Coast Mountain Range.
Day 13 : Vancouver - Free Day
A free day to explore Vancouver, voted the world’s third most liveable city and most liveable in Canada; a young, friendly city with countless natural charms in close proximity. Shop on chic Robson Street or explore the funky Granville Island with its market and artists enclave; visit the city’s vast array of museums; walk or cycle around the 1000-acre Stanley Park or visit quaint and atmospheric Gastown. Discover the surrounding peaks of the Coastal Mountains or go whale watching on the Pacific Ocean. Dining is a delight and a dilemma, there’s so many restaurants and cuisines to choose from; the nightlife so varied you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Day 14 : Vancouver
Your tour ends with the check out of your hotel and the return your car to the airport rental office. Or perhaps you’ll decide to stay a while longer and take a cruise to Alaska.
Optional Alaska Cruise
Why not turn your holiday into the ultimate Canadian experience by adding a cruise through the incredible scenery of the Inside Passage to Alaska’s pristine wilderness. See lush rainforests rolling to the water’s edge, glaciers melting into cascading waterfalls; immense moving sheets of ice making their way to the sea and crashing into the icy waters and wildlife the likes of which you’ll struggle to see anywhere else in the world. Experience all this from the comfort of a luxury cruise liner or more intimate expedition ship, with impeccable service and delicious cuisine served by an attentive crew. Please see pages 112-127 for our selection of Alaska cruises.
This tour is also available in reverse.