Like a lot of people I have a bucket list of places I want to visit. Very close to the top of my list are Canada - specifically British Columbia and Alberta and Alaska, and what better way to see them than to travel in style and combine the destinations.
An ideal itinerary would be to start in Calgary and drive to Jasper, take the wonderful Rocky Mountaineer to Vancouver and then an Alaskan cruise – what could be better?
Calgary, home of the Stampede, which takes place every July and features the Worlds largest rodeo is where I would start my tour. From Calgary journey to Banff nestled in the Rocky Mountains and then on to Lake Louise staying at the fabulous Fairmont Chateaux Lake Louise, next it’s on to Jasper taking in the Icefields on route. This trip would not be complete without experiencing a ride on the Ice Explorer onto the surface of the Athabasca Glacier.
In Jasper you board the famous Rocky Mountaineer for their “Journey through the Clouds” route (they offer 4 different routes) – taking in sights like the raging waters of Hell’s Gate, icy blue glaciers and the abundant wildlife. Rocky Mountaineer trains run between Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies, with a route continuing south to Seattle. Their trains only travel during the day so that passengers never miss a second of the breathtaking views. To truly indulge book the Gold Leaf service which offers bi-level, glass domed coaches offering 180° views of Canada’s iconic scenery upstairs, and the best in regional cuisine served in a dining room downstairs, as well as deluxe hotel accommodations overnight.
Arriving in Vancouver there is such a variety of hotels to choose from – the AAA Five Diamond-rated Shangri-La Hotel in the city’s tallest building or perhaps the historic Fairmont Hotel with its iconic copper roof or the contemporary Fairmont Pacific Rim. The Relais & Chateaux Wedgewood Hotel & Spa is a romantic choice, filled with plush furnishings and European grace. Named “Trendiest Hotel in Canada” by TripAdvisor the OPUS Hotel Vancouver combines lively modern design with laid-back chic and high-tech amenities. There is a hotel to suit most tastes.
Whilst staying in Vancouver why not take a trip to Victoria via seaplane and visit the magnificent Butchart Gardens. You're sure to see an amazing floral display whatever the time of year you visit, from the emerging green leaves and bulbs of spring to summertime's perfumed flowers and fall's brilliant red and gold colors. Not to be missed are the evening illuminations and fireworks in the summer months.
If you have the time, I would recommend an extra few days spent on Vancouver Island in Tofino. It is a year round destination where you can witness violent winter storms, enjoy the warmth of a summer day and explore the local wildlife. In the Summer months black bears can be seen, from May they leave their dens and head towards the ocean for food. From the comfort of a boat or zodiac you should be able to view or photograph them. Depending on the time of year you could also encounter grey whales, humpback whales, sea lions and bald eagles.
To round off this incredible trip an Alaskan cruise is perfect. This cruise is probably on a lot of peoples Bucket Lists, especially following the BBC’s documentary “Alaska Live” in July. One of the finest luxury cruise lines, Seabourn has just returned to Alaska after a 15 year absence. Sailing from Vancouver to Anchorage (Seward) it stops in many of the well known ports such as Juneau and Ketchikan, but also docks in smaller towns such as Sitka and the small island of Klemtu in Alaska’s Inside Passage and Alert Bay a small First Nation community in British Columbia. There are a variety of shore excursions available when on an Alaskan cruise, including floatplane trips, wildlife viewing - can you imagine seeing black bears making their way to streams brimming with salmon or humpback whales bubblenet fishing for herring or salmon before making their 3000 mile migration to Hawaii. Embrace your sense of adventure with dog sledging on a snow covered glacier or relax and unwind with a day of wild salmon fishing off the Sitka coast. Also offering Alaskan cruises are Regent Seven Seas, Holland America, Silversea and Princess to name but a few.
On this journey you really will see it all!