Best of Canada's West
Enjoy the very best that Western Canada has to offer on this exciting and varied 21 day self drive itinerary. From the vibrant and beautiful city of Vancouver, you'll spend some time on rugged Vancouver Island on the lookout for whales and bears before experiencing true wilderness of British Columbia's remote interior. You'll then drive through the heart of the Canadian Rockies from Jasper to the secluded Yoho National Park, and finally finishing your Canadian adventure in the bustling alpine town of Banff.
Enjoy time in vibrant Vancouver, as well as British Columbia's quaint provincial capital Victoria on Vancouver Island.
Watch black bears forage for food on the water’s edge in British Columbia
Spot orca (killer whales) off the coast of Vancouver Island on a whale watching tour
This exciting trip to Canada includes international flights, excursions, accommodation, breakfasts and some lunches and dinners.
From the first conversation until you arrive home from your holiday, you’ll be looked after by one of our Travel Designers who has travelled extensively in the region and will give advice from their personal experience on how to make the most out of your trip. All of our trips are entirely bespoke and we will continually refine your itinerary until it’s perfect.
City + Activity & Adventure
Today you will make your way to your UK departure airport and join your scheduled flight to Vancouver. On arrival, make your own way from the airport to your downtown accommodation via taxi or the efficient public transport system.
The remainder of the day is yours to settle into your boutique hotel and begin exploring this vibrant and incredibly beautiful city. Take a stroll along Vancouver’s Coal Harbour this evening for a lovely view of the coastal mountains on the north shore.
This morning you will be joining a guided cycling tour around the famous Stanley Park. A fantastic introduction to the city and Canada's rugged west coast, you will ride through the park's network of trails and along the seawall. Your professional guide will be on hand to explain all of the point of interests and regale you with fascinating stories from Vancouver’s 125-year history.
This afternoon you will embark on a thrilling simulated flight over Canada, a perfect introduction to this vast country. At FlyOver Canada, you’ll sit suspended surrounded by a huge spherical screen while you take a sensory journey that will have you seeing, feeling and smelling the Canadian adventures that lie ahead of you.
Things to do
City + Wildlife
This morning you will board your small seaplane bound for the city of Victoria on Vancouver Island. The journey is incredibly scenic, providing a bird’s eye view of Vancouver, the Strait of Georgia and the coastal mountains below. On arrival in British Columbia’s quaint Provincial Capital, make your way to your accommodation.
This afternoon has you getting familiar with Canada’s culinary highlights on a walking tour of Victoria. You’ll make six restaurant stops on the route from Fisherman’s Wharf to Government Street, so make sure you arrive hungry! There’ll be the opportunity to try classic Canadian dishes like candied salmon, poutine, Nanaimo bars and deliciously sweet maple syrup.
Today you will be boarding your small zodiac speedboat or larger hard hulled boat, your preference, in search of orca. You will spend the morning in Canadian and USA coastal waters with your expert guide as you learn about these magnificent animals. Although not guaranteed, sightings of resident orca pods in spring and summer are very common.
Things to do
Tour + Wildlife
Collect your hire car from downtown Victoria this morning. We’ll always book the most inclusive package possible, so you’ll have a GPS and all necessary insurances included. Set off from Victoria, and today you’ll make your way to the beach town of Tofino on Vancouver Island’s west coast.
There are a number of small towns along this beautiful drive that are worth stopping in at; Duncan the ‘City of Totems’, and Coombs Market which you’ll recognise by the goats which frequent their grass roof.
Settle in on arrival in Tofino, and relax into the laid back beach town way of life.
It’s an early start this morning for your exciting black bear watching excursion into the Clayoquot Sound. You’ll head out into the sheltered waters on a zodiac boat, searching for black bears at low tide as they search for breakfast in the inter-tidal zone.
This afternoon is yours to continue to explore Tofino at your leisure. You may wish to explore the beautiful rugged beaches or take a hike through the old growth rainforests.
City + Activity & Adventure
Spend a second full day in relaxed Tofino. You might like to visit one of the art galleries in town, sample some delicious local delicacies in one of the many fantastic restaurants, hike the stunning Lone Cone trail if you’re feeling energetic, or perhaps take a surfing lesson.
Depart Tofino and make your way back to Vancouver Island’s east coast, where you’ll join a 1 hour 40 minute scheduled ferry journey back to British Columbia’s mainland. Arriving at Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal, just north of Vancouver, drive the famous Sea-to-Sky highway northbound to Whistler. Be sure to make plenty of pit stops along the way to admire the increasingly impressive views.
After a long drive yesterday, enjoy a first day at leisure, getting to know Whistler Village. The centre of town is pedestrianised, with a great selection of shops and restaurants. If you fancy being a little more active, hire bikes and explore the twisting trails running through the village area.
Your tickets for the Peak2Peak Gondola are included today, so head up at a time of your leisure and enjoy the incredible views, and perhaps one of the walking trails at the top of Whistler or Blackcomb Mountain.
You’ll be turning the adrenaline dial up a notch today as you join a fantastic zip-lining excursion on a series of zip-lines between the two mountains that make up Whistler Blackcomb Resort. Spend the remainder of this evening enjoying Whistler’s lively town, but be sure to get a good night’s rest, as tomorrow will be the longest drive of your trip.
Wells Gray Provincial Park
Departing from Whistler in good time this morning, head northeast along Highway 99. The drive is stunning, with plenty of opportunity to pull over for scenic photo stops. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife along the way too.
You’ll arrive in the small town of Clearwater this evening. We recommend enjoying a local dinner at the fantastic Hop’N’Hog, offering delicious BBQ-style dining and a variety of ales brewed onsite.
Welcome to the wilderness of interior British Columbia! The small town of Clearwater is often overlooked as a stopover point, however it has so much more to offer. As a gateway to the lesser visited Wells Gray Provincial Park, it’s definitely worth spending a few nights here.
To get to know the area better, today you’ll join a fantastic guided hike within the provincial park. You’ll likely visit one of the park's very tall waterfalls, and your local naturalist guide will provide an insightful commentary on the local flora, fauna, and history of the area.
Enjoy a relaxing night at your accommodation before continuing onwards to the Rocky Mountains tomorrow.
Departing Clearwater, your adventure continues as you cross the provincial border into Alberta and catch your first glimpse of the mighty Canadian Rockies today. You’ll pass Mount Robson Provincial Park on your way to Jasper; worth a stop for its lovely hiking trails and for a photo of its namesake, which is the tallest peak in the Rockies.
Settle into Jasper when you arrive this evening, it’s a small but hearty town with a surprisingly good selection of restaurants.
Today you'll be visiting one of the Rockies’ most iconic vistas. A short drive out of Jasper town you’ll find Maligne Canyon, driving along the canyon you’ll pass by Medicine Lake, then stop at Maligne Lake. From here you’ll join a 90-minute lake cruise, taking you to the beautiful Spirit Island.
After exploring a little more this afternoon, you’ll join a second tour, this time an evening wildlife viewing excursion. You’ll be joined by fantastic local guides in search of the National Park’s four-legged inhabitants. If you’re lucky, you might see mountain goats, elk, moose, grizzly or black bears, or even wolves!
After all of yesterday’s excitement, you’ll have today at leisure to explore the national park under your own steam.
If it’s a clear day, take the Jasper SkyTram to the top of Whistler’s Mountain for incredible views. If you’d like to head into the mountains for a hike, there are many trail options to suit all fitness levels. Call in at the Visitors’ Centre at the beginning of the day, and the friendly Park Rangers will be happy to recommend a trail based your requirements.
Tour + Wildlife
Most of today will be spent driving through the heart of the Rocky Mountains as you make your way south along the Icefields Parkway, regularly cited as one of the most beautiful drives in the world.
There are a number of well sign-posted scenic viewpoints along the way, so to be sure to set off early, take your time, and plan for the drive south to take most of the day. Although the drive itself would only take about four hours, you won’t be in the car for much more than an hour or so at a time.
You’ll spend the next two nights in Yoho National Park, neighbouring the busier and better known Banff National Park. Yoho offers some truly stunning Rocky Mountain views, and is also a more secluded experience than Banff.
Spend a full day at leisure in Yoho National Park today. You might like to visit a few key locations: Emerald Lake, where you could hire canoes for a different perspective on the landscape, Takakkaw Falls which tower down from the mountains or head to the Spiral Tunnels viewpoint which looks out over Kicking Horse Pass and marvel at the feat of modern engineering created by the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Today your drive to neighbouring Banff National Park is relatively short, at about tour hours’ duration.
Be sure to call in at stunning Lake Louise, where there are a number of fantastic hiking trails, as well as two quaint alpine teahouses set above the lake. Nearby Moraine Lake is also worth a visit, its setting within the Valley of Ten Peaks is truly incredible.
Continue your drive into the bustling town of Banff, where the rest of the day is yours to settle into the last stop on your itinerary.
Tour + Wildlife
Days 19 & 20
You will have the next two days at leisure in the Banff region, and there is lots to take in.
If it's a clear day, start by taking a ride up the Banff Gondola. The views over the town and surrounding mountains are wonderful, there is an interpretive centre at the top where you can learn more about the area, and a boardwalk that you can explore to take in different viewpoints. If you'd like, you can also take a dip in the Banff Hot Springs, which are located at the bottom of the gondola.
Additionally, there are a number of excellent hikes to enjoy in the area. You may also wish to enjoy some kayaking, horse riding or a bike ride. If the weather isn't on your side the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies provides an interesting education on the natural and human history of Banff.
It's your final day and time to say goodbye to Canada. You may have some time on your last day to explore the area, or do a little last-minute shopping in the town before it's time to head to Calgary Airport and board your overnight flight home.