Welcome to Canada! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader. If you're going to be late, please inform hotel reception. If you arrive early into Vancouver, visit its historic Gastown, Chinatown or the popular Stanley Park. The city's coastal setting is beautiful, bordering an ocean harbour to the north and a river to the south. The majestic Rockies, often snow capped, provide the eastern horizon.
This morning drive to the ferry terminal, where you'll board a ferry to Victoria on Vancouver Island. The total journey should take around three-and-a-half hours. Vancouver Island is the largest island off North America's west coast, and has the mildest climate in Canada. It offers a multitude of outdoor activities including hikes, whale-watching tours, bear-spotting tours and short coastal cruises. There's even the option to go salmon fishing (seasonal) and enjoy barbecues on the beach. Victoria is the capital of British Columbia. With its landscaped gardens and preserved historical buildings, it is one of the most British-influenced cities in North America, but with a recent injection of hip bars, shops, restaurants and young residents, the city is evolving into something more cosmopolitan.
Today the group will explore the world famous Butchart Gardens. Wander through this wonderland of themed gardens, exotic plants, streams and ponds. Ross Fountain, the Sunken Garden, the Rose Garden and the Japanese Garden are sure to create a lasting impression. The rest of the afternoon is free for you to explore Victoria. Perhaps rent a kayak at the harbour, indulge in a spot of whale watching or check out the excellent Royal BC Museum to learn about the natural and human history of the area. In the evening, kick back with the young locals in a funky bar or restaurant in town.
Today take the three-and-a-half hour ferry back to Vancouver, before driving the short distance to Whistler. Perhaps stop in for a late lunch of traditional First Nations food at the Squamish Lil'Wat Cultural Centre. Whistler Village is a bustling hub of ski shops and award-winning restaurants, surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery. Enjoy free time to wander the streets. In the evening, you may like to sample one of the town's lively bars.
Today your guide will give you an included ticket to ride the PEAK 2 PEAK gondola. As you ride the longest and highest lift in the world, enjoy unparalleled views of towering volcanic peaks and surrounding forest. When you disembark at the top, check out the nearby scenic walking trails, mountaintop restaurants and indoor interpretive displays. Your day is free to spend up the mountain or back down in the Village. Perhaps hire a bike and ride along the Valley Trail to Lost Lake, or go bear or wildflower spotting.
Drive to Sun Peaks (approximately 4–5 hours). Sun Peaks is a peak in itself rather than being part of a mountain range as such, so the views from the top are incredible. Explore the mountain by bike or on foot. In the evening, head out by canoe to an outpost where a four-course feast consisting of salad, bannock, soup, salmon, ribs and cookies will be prepared for you. This is a taste of how the old fur traders used to travel and what they ate along the way.
Drive to Jasper today. The largest of Canada's Rocky Mountain parks, Jasper is famous for its wildlife, such as elk, moose, deer, coyotes, grizzly bears and mountain lions, as well as smaller mammals and birds. Here you have the option of hiking up Whistler Mountain, mountain biking in the Valley of Five Lakes or taking a cruise on Maligne Lake. If you are looking to take it easier, you can ride the Jasper Tramway.
Today is a free day in Jasper. If you didn't do it yesterday, a ride on the Jasper SkyTram is highly recommended, as it provides stunning views over the township and surrounding mountains. On a clear day it's possible to catch a glimpse of Mount Robson, Canada's highest mountain. Alternatively, hire a bike and ride out to Medicine Lake or Maligne Canyon, or take a boat cruise on the beautiful Maligne Lake to Spirit Island.
Today is a long day, with many scenic stops and visits along the way (in total, up to 12 hours). In the morning, travel towards Banff, stopping off at the Columbia Icefields Centre, Athabasca Falls and Sunwapta Falls. Head into Banff National Park in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Its valleys and mountain chains were formed 75 million years ago, making it the oldest national park in Canada. The group will stop by the cliffs of the Weeping Wall and the Crowfoot Glacier on the way to the evening's accommodation.
Today pay a visit to Lake Louise with the group. Take a walk around the turquoise lake or check out the interior of the luxury mountain resort, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Later, don an old-fashioned swimsuit and soak in the hot mineral waters of the local hot springs. If there is extra time today, you may like to take part in one the many adventure activities available within the park. With its coniferous forests, alpine meadows, icefields and glaciers, the park is an outdoor enthusiast's paradise. There are opportunities for canoeing, mountain biking, hiking or riding the gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain.
Today drive to Calgary, completing your crossing of the Rockies. Home to the famous Calgary Stampede, the city is growing at a rapid rate, largely thanks to oil and mining. While it may not be the most picturesque of cities, Calgary boasts a budding dining and nightlife scene. Enjoy free time to chill out in Prince's Island Park, head up the Calgary Tower for great views or learn a new sport at Canada Olympic Park. In the evening perhaps head for dinner at one of the city's great restaurants.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.