The Canadian Explorer

Combined Itinerary: Jasper, Vancouver, & Vancouver Island

  • Banff & Jasper National Park
  • The Rocky Mountaineer Train
  • Vancouver
  • Vancouver Island

Dates

August 10-24, 2022

Highlights

  • Drive the spectacular Icefields Parkway - one of National Geographic’s “Drives of a Lifetime"
  • Jasper National Park - Canada’s largest national park in the Rockies, and the second largest Dark Sky Preserve in the world
  • A two-day rail journey of a lifetime on the iconic Rocky Mountaineer train
  • The vibrant city streets and green spaces of Vancouver
  • Vancouver Island: whale watching, wineries and gardens, old growth forests, and the elegant charms of Victoria
  • The natural beauty of Galiano Island, part of the Canada's Gulf Islands

Trip Description

This iconic Canadian trip combines the itineraries for Jasper to Vancouver, By Scenic Rail and Exploring Vancouver Island – a 15-day highlight reel of some of the most gorgeous scenery in Western North America.

Escape the summer heat north of the border with us as we explore some of Canada’s greatest natural wonders and cities. We will spend our first night in Calgary, which will serve as our gateway to Banff and Jasper National Parks. Then, spend 3 nights in the park, where we’ll have ample time to explore the trails, glaciers, lakes, waterfalls, and the stunning night sky. A highlight of the trip will surely be on board the Rocky Mountaineer train, for a 2-day, 1-night scenic rail ride through the Canadian Rockies, eventually arriving in Vancouver, where we will spend three nights.

We will then ferry across the picturesque Strait of Georgia to Vancouver Island, where we’ll spend three nights. Of course, we will visit the world-famous Butchart Gardens; Victoria, the lovely capital of British Columbia. We will then ferry to Galiano Island, where we’ll spend two nights in a wonderful inn. Our final night will be spent near the Vancouver airport to make for an easy flight home.

 

Kamloops

Kamloops, BC, Canada

Jasper National Park

Jasper National Park, Jasper, AB, Canada

Vancouver

Vancouver, BC, Canada

Victoria

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Galiano Island

Galiano Island, BC, Canada

Itinerary

Day 1 – 2

Begin our drive into the magnificent Canadian Rockies via the Trans-Canada Highway, which stretches nearly 5,000 miles from the Pacific to the Atlantic.  Keep your camera at the ready – we’ll have a day of impossibly beautiful scenery ahead, beginning with Banff National Park. Banff was Canada’s first national park, established in 1885 when a natural hot spring was discovered, and its popularity has only continued to skyrocket in the 21st century.  Our route will take us up the Bow River Valley deeper into the park, where we’ll encounter a true jewel of Banff: Lake Louise – an alpine lake named for a daughter of Queen Victoria, and famous for its turquoise waters.

Then, embark on the spectacular Icefields Parkway, one of National Geographic’s “Drives of a Lifetime.” Our route will be dotted with glacier-fed lakes, waterfalls, snowy peaks – including some of the highest in the Canadian Rockies – and over a hundred visible glaciers!  Watch for wildlife like bighorn sheep, elk and mountain goats. You’ll also get to walk on one of the largest non-polar icefields in the world: the Athabasca Glacier. The Icefields Parkway will bring us to our base for the next three nights:  the township of Jasper, located in the heart of Jasper National Park.  This national park is nearly twice the size of Banff, and sees a fraction of the visitors, thanks to its more remote location.

Day 3

This morning, ride the Jasper Sky Tram to the top of Whistlers Peak – not to be confused with the destination ski resort called Whistler in British Columbia!  Whistlers Peak originally earned its name from the whistling sound made by the native marmots here, so we’ll see if we can spot any, as we soak in the breathtaking panoramic views of Jasper National Park and the Canadian Rockies.  Enjoy opportunities to hike to the summit, talk with rangers about surrounding peaks and wildlife, or sip a coffee and relax with the view. This afternoon, enjoy a group hike that leads us through beautiful alpine meadows, or rest and relax in downtown Jasper. Overnight, Jasper.

Day 4

This morning, visit the crystal-clear waters of Maligne Lake – the second largest glacially-fed lake in the world.  Enjoy a guided boat cruise that will glide across the lake past jagged peaks, and dock at the isolated Spirit Island – an unforgettable morning. Or, if you prefer to paddle, we can gladly arrange for you to explore Maligne Lake by canoe instead.  Later today, we’ll see Maligne Canyon – a beautiful slot canyon of limestone rock that has been carved by the Maligne River for millennia.  Explore this intriguing landmark via a series of bridges, with views of churning waterfalls, ancient fossils, and rock formations.  Later, enjoy free time to peruse the galleries and shops of Jasper Township. Tomorrow, we’ll begin our journey further west!  Overnight, Jasper.

Day 5 – 6

Board the Rocky Mountaineer Train for a luxurious two-day, one-night scenic ride to Vancouver. Travel in the premium GoldLeaf service level, with stunning views from the glass-domed coach and dining car.  We’ll make our west through the mountains, passing jaw-dropping views on the way – many, like the cascading Pyramid Falls, can only be seen by rail. We’ll also spot Mount Robson – at nearly 13,000 feet, it’s the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. Breakfast, lunch and complimentary beverage service will be included on the train, so sit back, relax, and take in the gorgeous scenery with commentary from the train conductor. We’ll spend the night in the city of Kamloops, which means “meeting of the waters” – located at the confluence of the North and South Thompson rivers, it was once a key trading post.  On the second leg of our journey by rail, we’ll pass through intriguing desert-like landscapes, coastal rainforest, and finally the scenic Fraser River Valley, before arriving in Vancouver. We’ll check into our centrally located hotel, and rest and relax after our travels.

Photo Credit: Vancouver Tourism – Rocky Mountaineer Train

Day 7 – 9:

Explore the streets of downtown Vancouver today with a guided walking tour to orient us to this eclectic, outdoors-oriented Pacific city.  Later, head to an area that was once an industrial center for the city in early 1900s, today it’s a foodie paradise and cultural hub!   In the afternoon, those who wish can visit the fantastic Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, acclaimed for its collection of First Nations art and artifacts, both historic and contemporary.

We’ll also visit Stanley Park, which offers a sprawling woodland setting just outside downtown. Here, you’ll find waterfront views, walking paths, and towering totem poles, which honor the traditions of local Indigenous people. We’ll then immerse ourselves in the coastal rainforest at Capilano Bridge Park, where we can walk through the cedar forests, cross the iconic Capilano Suspension Bridge, and discover local history, ecology, and First Nations culture through interpretive centers and demonstrations – from traditional weaving and beadwork, to ranger-led programs that highlight the raptors that hunt in these forests.

On the following morning, if you’re returning to the United States today, we’ll help coordinate your transfer to the airport. Otherwise, our adventure continues on Day 9 – to Vancouver Island!

Day 9

Depart Vancouver today, as we take the ferry to Vancouver Island.

Vancouver Island is the exposed top of an ancient mountain range, submerged in the Pacific Ocean. It stretches over 280 miles in length, and as the largest island off the West Coast of North America, it offers an amazingly diverse geography, from rugged wilderness, to maritime cities. Our exploration while here will include lush coastal rainforests, charming seaside villages, the sophisticated capital of Victoria, and finally, the Gulf Islands. After arriving in the coastal city of Nanaimo, we’ll travel south along the eastern coast, then make our way into the island’s peaceful interior. Soak in the rustic lakeside ambiance, and relax!

Day 10

We’ll continue to take the scenic route across the island, and discover this less-visited side of Vancouver Island. We’ll pass towering old growth forest, remnants of old logging towns, and finally, we’ll come to the mighty Pacific Ocean. After lunch in the quiet seaside village of Port Renfrew, it’s time for a whale-watching excursion with a local naturalist, as we look for orcas, humpback whales, sea lions, otters, eagles, and more! Later, we’ll arrive in Victoria – British Columbia’s beautiful capital, and our home for the next two nights. Our lodging will be in an elegant and cozy historic bed and breakfast, ideally situated for exploring the city. Overnight, Victoria.

Day 11

Explore Victoria today – the crown jewel of British Columbia, named for the queen herself! Enjoy a walking tour this morning with a local guide as a proper introduction to this vibrant and historic city. Then, you’re free to meander through its charming streets, parks, and museums on your own, or with your Explore Up Close guides – from the green oasis of Beacon Hill Park, where we’ll find ocean views and the world’s largest free-standing totem pole, to elaborate Victorian architecture like Craigdarroch Castle, built by a Scottish industrial baron. Overnight, Victoria.

Day 12

Visit the famed Butchart Gardens today, which blossomed out of a former limestone quarry in the early 20th century, thanks to the vision of Jennie Butchart. With 26 greenhouses and over 900 plant varieties, this impressive and iconic botanical site is the perfect place to soak in the sunshine, and enjoy a leisurely lunch. Later today, we’ll take the ferry to Galiano Island – one of the Gulf Islands of British Columbia, and sister islands to the San Juan Islands of Washington State. Our island home for two nights will be the lovely Woodstone Manor, a boutique country inn ensconced by nine acres of woodlands. Enjoy gourmet meals on site, conversation with our welcoming hosts, and relax with your evening cocktail on the stone patio. Overnight, Galiano Island.

Day 13

Galiano Island is a place of exceptional beauty, and we’ll find ourselves in awe of its quiet coastline and tranquil lifestyle as we explore it fully today. Optional activities include guided sea kayaking in the pristine inlets, hiking with views over the Gulf Islands, browsing the markets and art galleries that pepper the island, and relaxing at our lovely inn. Overnight, Galiano Island.

Day 14 – 15

Today, we’ll travel by ferry back to the mainland, and explore the historic fishing village of Stevenson, located south of Vancouver, at the mouth of Canada’s mighty Fraser River. This evening, enjoy one last group dinner together this evening. We’ll spend the night near the Vancouver airport, before our flight home tomorrow.

What's Included

  • Ground & water transportation, including train ticket for the Rocky Mountaineer Journey Through the Clouds 2-Day Rail Route (GoldLeaf Level)
  • Accommodation for fourteen (14) nights
  • Breakfast, 8 lunches and 8 dinners
  • All activities / admissions per the itinerary
  • Guide and concierge service throughout the trip

Trip Price

$11,890 / person (double occupancy; single supplement, $1,910)

What's Not Included

Price does not include airfare, alcohol, other meals, or trip insurance.

. . . well-planned, from interesting and fun excursions planned each day to comfortable lodging and transportation. Our trip leaders, Chumley and Khal, were impressive with their knowledge of each area we explored and gracious in their planning of every aspect of our respective trips.
I highly recommend Explore Up Close. Not only did we enjoy some beautiful cities and landscapes, we learned so much history. They are memory makers!
If you want first-class service within a small group of traveling companions that you can really get to know, then definitely consider Explore Up Close.

Trip insurance safeguards your travel investment, your belongings, and most importantly, you. Trip insurance is required for our international trips, in the event you have to cancel or leave a trip for any reason. Please note, all trip participants should wait for confirmation from Explore Up Close that the trip has the minimum sign-up required to be a “go” before purchasing travel insurance or airline tickets. Please confirm with Explore Up Close before making any additional travel arrangements.

Once you have received confirmation from Explore Up Close, we recommend contacting a travel insurance provider directly to request a quote and compare pricing and features. You can find other providers that may fit your needs at www.insuremytrip.com, or we can gladly connect you with our travel agent.

Please note, all trip participants should wait for confirmation from Explore Up Close that the trip has the minimum sign-up required to be a “go” before purchasing airline tickets.

Explore Up Close will provide a recommended flight itinerary for your consideration, which is intended as a helpful suggestion. We encourage travelers to choose airfare depending on their personal preferences, as some travelers may prefer to travel independently and meet at our destination, or may wish to extend their travels at the beginning or end of the trip. Our travel agent is available to assist you with booking flights and trip insurance.

Again, please confirm with Explore Up Close before purchasing your airline tickets or making additional travel arrangements!

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