Rocky Mountaineer

Tracey Blackman on 07 December 2013
When I worked for Thomas Cook I was lucky enough to go on a fully escorted tour through the Rockies on the beautiful Rocky Mountaineer. I went in the month of June, a lovely time of the year to go. There were around 42 passengers and there were six of us who were from Thomas Cook.

I was picked up by Hallmark Cars which was a lovely start to my adventure. I was taken to the airport, checked in and then shown to the VIP lounge which if you haven't yet done is a must. We flew with Air Canada who were very good. We arrived on time and our cases were whisked off to our first stop; Aspen Lodge Hotel in Banff in a great location.

On day two our driver took us around the area and we saw the famous hot springs in Banff and the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Wow - what a lovely hotel! We also we saw the Bow Falls; our guide was really knowledgeable about the surrounding area which is exactly what you want, he also had a good sense of humour too.

We then visited Mountain Vistas Lakes and Cannons. The highlight for me today was that I saw three black bears which were on the railway line as they find food. We also saw Elk; the driver saw them first and then stopped for us to get a photo. We then drove into Yaho National Park and saw Moraine Lake. It was like someone had dipped paint in the water and mixed to give a green emerald colour.

My next stop was my favourite as we saw three waterfalls surrounded by tall pine trees which was stunning. We were able to get next to the waterfall and the energy was incredible, it makes you realise how diverse the landscape is here.

We then went from Banff to Jasper. The scenery is breath-taking. We spotted white fluffy mountain goats and we stopped at the Mountain Park Lodge Hotel which is a nice hotel in a good location for the station. We were taken to the Columbian ice fields and went on a snow coach ice explorer and were able to walk on the glacier which was a fantastic memorable experience.

We were up bright and early the next day and the sun was shining. We were picked up in an old school bus and taken to Athabasca River where we all had to wear ponchos and life jackets and got in rubber dinghies. The water was crystal clear and it was really good fun going down the mini rapids. I had to pinch myself sometimes as I couldn't believe that I was really seeing all this amazing scenery.

On our sixth day we went from Jasper to Kamloops Train Red Leaf. I was so excited today as the train was fantastic. There was good food and plenty of it. We had tea, coffee and soft drinks and as we went past a waterfall or a lake the train would slow down to let you take photos. The sound of the train was so lovely and every so often she would sound her horn.

We also went from Kamloops to Vancouver Gold where we were escorted on the train and taken to our seats; big wide seats that can recline and also swivel round so you won’t miss anything. If you are a party of four you can all sit together - I personally think the extra money is well worth it. You are up very high and the roof and sides are glass, so as you go along you can see everything. Also there is a first and second sitting for breakfast and lunch. We were taken downstairs into a separate part of the train and it felt like you were in a lovely restaurant with white linen table cloths, silver cutlery and lovely food. We had scrambled eggs and caviar and the scenery was changing all the time.

The viewing carriage was much bigger so you could stay outside as the train was going along and get some amazing shots. I saw loads of eagles, red deer and birds I didn't recognise. Again, if the driver saw something he would slow down.

While there I also experienced a city tour of Vancouver, the Victoria North Island Butchart gardens where we saw black squirrel and lots of last minute shopping at loads of shopping malls. The Rocky Mountaineer is amazing, breath taking, memorable and nature at its best. Wow!