Banff National Park is one of the highlights of any visit to Western Canada, with its magnificent mountains, lakes and forests. Banff was Canada's first national park and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Banff town can easily be explored on foot and with plenty of optional activities there's more than enough to fill your time. Check out the iconic Banff Springs Hotel where tourism in the Canadian Rockies first began, visit some of the many souvenir shops in town or take a short trail to the tumbling Bow Falls.
You could also walk along Tunnel Mountain trail for a view of Banff and the Bow Valley. Take the gondola up to Sulphur Mountain for rewarding panoramic views of the Rockies, or simply relax in the heated, natural pools of the Banff Hot Springs. Optional activities: Aerial gondola/tramway CAD$49-64 Hot Springs CA$9 Stay: Brewster Mountain Lodge (or similar).
We drive through the Canadian wilderness towards Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, an area that's off the beaten path. Tweedsmuir Provincial Park was named after the 15th Governor General of Canada, Baron Tweedsmuir, who travelled extensively throughout the area by float plane and horseback. The park has varied landscapes on offer, and you can expect to come face to face with rugged mountains, deep lush valleys and spectacular ocean fjords. Our overnight location for the next two nights is close to the shores of Anahim Lake, a popular lake for fly fishing that supports an eclectic mix of wildlife.
There's an optional canoeing excursion on the lake which we recommend followed with a relaxing evening unwinding by the fireplace! This area has very basic facilities but is extremely beautiful and off the tourist trail. Please note: due to the remote nature of this property, some cabins will be more basic than others, often with shared bathroom facilities with a capacity of two to four people maximum. On rare occasions, you may have to use the bathrooms in the main lodge. Optional Activities: , Canoeing (Anahim Lake/Tweedsmuir) CAD$12 per hour Stay: Eagle Nest Resort Cabins (or similar) - multi share.
Bella Coola is located at the point where the Bella Coola River joins with the saltwater of the Pacific Ocean. Here, amongst the lush valley bottoms and snow-capped peaks, some of the largest Grizzly bear in the world reside and this little community is gaining a reputation as one of the best places to spot them in British Columbia. The best time of year to view Grizzly bear is from the middle of August to the end of September as this is when they descend from the mountains to catch salmon in the rivers and eat berries.
In season, it's possible to join an optional excursion in search of Grizzly bear. Outside of bear season there's a selection of excellent hikes on offer and plenty of optional activities, such as fishing and wildlife viewing. Optional activities: , Grizzly bear watching (mid Aug - end of Sept) CAD$195 , Wildlife Rafting tour CAD$100 Stay: Bella Coola Mountain Lodge (or similar).
An absolute delight for wildlife lovers, the Inside Passage offers one of the most amazing ferry journeys in the whole of North America, with everything from frozen fjords to forest-covered hillsides flanking your route. The journey involves taking a 10-hour direct ferry and the scenery is simply spectacular: towering, forest-clad peaks surround the deep fjords and those with a keen eye can often spot Bald eagles and bears.
The Inside Passage also supports one of the world's richest marine environments and it may be possible to see Grey whales, Orcas, Pacific White Sided and occasionally Humpback whales. The remoteness of the Inside Passage is its most stunning feature; this area is largely inaccessible by road and the tiny communities that spread along it rely on boats for transportation. We spend tonight in Vancouver Island's most northerly town, Port Hardy. Stay: North Shore Inn (or similar).
In the morning we board a ferry across the Salish Sea, admiring the small islands and breathtaking panorama of the city of Vancouver as it comes into view. This cosmopolitan and diverse metropolis is a real contrast to the rest of British Columbia, but always proves to be a highlight.
Enjoy a scenic drive through Stanley Park, a 400-hectare green wonderland with authentic totem poles erected in the 1920s; and stop by Prospect Point, a scenic lookout where you can gaze out at spectacular views of Lions Gate Bridge, North Vancouver and West Vancouver. This holiday ends at our gateway hotel in Vancouver at approximately 17:00 hrs. We can book your post-tour accommodation if required. If you are planning to fly tonight, please do not book a flight that departs before 21:00 hrs.