Canadian Rockies to Vancouver Island mini bus tourA mini bus adventure tour from Calgary with Banff and Jasper in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, through Whistler to Victoria on Vancouver Island. Camping, hiking, sightseeing, fun activities and a spectacular overnight kayak excursion to a remote island.
Tour H, Rocky Mountains - Ocean Islands, 22 daysA three week camping and adventure tour through western Canada from Calgary to Vancouver Island with the famous Icefields Parkway of the Rocky Mountain National Parks between Banff and Jasper. You travel with a small group in a 15-seat bus through the varied landscapes of Alberta and British Columbia with tiny settlements and modern cities and a wealth of land and ocean animals. Included are at least a dozen very rewarding moderate hikes, a choice of fun activities and a kayak trip with primitive camping on a the beach.
What's Included:All transfers, transportation in 15-seater mini bus, 3 nights hotel (twin), other nights in tents (2 pers./tent), all camping meals, welcome gift, camping equipment (except sleeping bag), hard-foam mattress, admission to the National Parks, admission Miette Hot Springs in Jasper, camping fees, two days with ocean kayak, ferries as mentioned, services of a guide.
Not included:Personal equipment, sleeping bag and Thermarest mattress, meals in the hotels day 1, days 14 and 21, lunch in Victoria.
ExtrasMountain bike rental about: $50.00 - 60.00
Whitewater rafting about: $175.00
90 minute jet boat safari about: $125.00
Whale watching about: $125.00
Demands:Adventure tour with easy to moderate mountain hikes with light day pack, always accompanied by the guide. Campgrounds are reached by the bus, you never have to carry your luggage very far.
Tour DetailsDay 1: CALGARY, ALBERTA, CANADA
Arrive in Calgary, transfer from the airport to the hotel and pre-trip information with the guide in the hotel.
Day 2: BANFF NATIONAL PARK
You board the bus for a drive through foothills and ranch county into the eastern range of the Rocky Mountains . On the campground (showers) in the forests of Banff National Park you pitch your tent for the next two days. After lunch it is time for the first hike, a round trip of 8 km (5 mi) starting in the forest of spruce, pine and Douglas fir, climbing 550 m (1800 ft) to the site of an abandoned cabin, a lookout over the green Bow River valley with towering mountain ranges in the background. Dinner on the campground by the fire. Hiking time 3 – 4 hours.
Day 3: BANFF NATIONAL PARK
On a full day hike you explore passes above the tree line and alpine meadows. For example, a 6 km gentle climb through a wide-open valley, a riot of wildflowers in the early season, culminating in a steep ascent into a pass at 2330 m (7644 ft) with nothing blocking the view of the surrounding landscape. All the way to the pass it is a round trip of 18.4 km (11.4 mi) with 655 m (2150 ft) gain. After the hike you might want to relax in the warm sulphur pool or along the busy streets of Banff with its many stores and visitors from around the world. Hiking time 5 – 7 hours
Day 4: YOHO NATIONAL PARK
You would not want to miss the picture postcard scenery surrounding Lake Louise. The guide suggests the 3.5 km (2 mi) path with 400 m gain (1325 ft) to the historic tea house by an alpine lake. Here a network of easy to demanding trails is tempting you to go further and higher. For example the 15 km (9.3 mi) circuit into the Plain of Six Glaciers or a 2.5 km (1.6 mi) climb with 515 m (1705 ft) gain to a summit with exceptional views of nearby peaks and distant landscapes. Camp for today and tomorrow (showers) is in Yoho National Park on the western side of the Rockies. Emerald Lake, the Natural Bridge, Takakkaw Falls, Spiral Tunnel are among the attractions of Yoho Park. Hiking time 3 – 5 hours.
Day 5: YOHO NATIONAL PARK
There is an opportunity for a great white-water rafting trip on the wild Kicking Horse River. It involves a side trip to Golden in B.C., headquarters for many outdoor adventures. Alternative is a day of exploring the Iceline Trail, a network of loops and trails around lakes and past glaciers high above the tree line, up to 22 km (13.6 mi) with 585 m (1920 ft) gain. Hiking time 6 hours.
Day 6: JASPER NATIONAL PARK
Frequent stops and short excursions along the Icefields Parkway on your way into the heart of the Rockies. Famous names like Peyto Lake and Bow Summit. At the Columbia Icefields huge glaciers spawn rivers, which eventually reach three different oceans. Trails here start at tree line and are especially rewarding thanks to their magnificent views. One of your guide’s favourite hikes is the 8 km (5 mi) hike with 335 m (1155 ft) gain into a pass at 2375 m (7980 ft). Mighty Athabasca Falls count among the attractions of this park. Camp for the next two days is near the little holiday town of Jasper (showers). Hiking time 2 hours.
Day 7: JASPER NATIONAL PARK
So many possibilities, swimming and a picnic at Pyramid Lake, mountain biking, trail rides, canoeing and more. Or take advantage of the trail system near Maligne Lake, for example a 8 km (5 mile) loop hike with 460 m gain (1532 ft) into the hills above tree line at 2150 m (7160 ft) elevation and possibly all the way to a 2790 m (9290 ft) peak overlooking this picturesque lake. Hiking time 2 – 6 hours.
Day 8: JASPER NATIONAL PARK
Todays highlight is the peak experience of Sulphur Skyline in the eastern ranges of the Rocky Mountains. A side trip into a remote valley ends at the parking lot of warm outdoor pool of a natural hot spring. From here you climb 4 km (2.5 mi) with 700 m (2296 ft) gain to the 2070 m (6791 ft) summit and then along the ridge with panorama views. The reward, on the way back, is the warm, relaxing water of the Miette Hot Springs (included). Hiking time 3 - 4 hrs.
Day 9: WELLS GRAY PARK, BRITISH COLUMBIA
At Mount Robson, highest peak of the Canadian Rockies with 3954 m (12964 ft), You hike the 4.5 km (2.8 mi) trail under huge cedars and hemlock trees to Kinney Lake. Leaving the western ranges Rockies behind you cross the Columbia Ranges and reach Wells Gray Provincial Park in the Cariboo Mountains. On the way you have the opportunity to go on an optional 1-hour jeep safari or a jet boat safari to see black bears, grizzlies and other wildlife from close up at the river’s edge. A beautiful lakeside campground (showers) for tonight and tomorrow where you can rent a boat and fishing gear and try to catch your dinner.
Day 10: WELLS GRAY PARK
Relax by the lake or join the guide on a side trip into Wells Gray Park, famous for its spectacular water falls. Today’s easy hike actually takes you behind one of the falls. You also can go on a trail ride western style or rent a canoe on Clearwater Lake. Hiking time 2 hours.
Day 11: CACHE CREEK
Following the North Thompson River you are soon in the warm and dry interior plateau of British Columbia with Kamloops the only larger town. Time to browse and to shop for supplies and groceries. Your campground (showers) is by the historic Hat Creek Ranch, once an important “road house”, a place to rest and stock up supplies during the gold rush of 150 years ago. If you don’t feel like pitching you tent today you can chose to sleep in a tipi, or a hut or even in a covered wagon (optional $45.00 to $85.00).
Day 12: WHISTLER / SQUAMISH
The Gold Rush Trail cuts through the land of the Salish First Nations. It came into existence during the 1850 Frazer River gold rush and linked the coast with the northern interior before the automobile. You visit the small historic town of Lillooet which celebrates those wild gold rush years. Now you make your way down the western slopes of the steep and rugged Coast Mountains to Whistler, the popular summer and winter resort town at the edge of Garibaldi Park. On the menu are the attractions of the town and an easy hike under ancient trees to a lake surrounded by mountain giants. You pitch you tent for the next two nights in a park with four clear lakes for swimming and a choice of hiking trails. Not far away is the sleepy town of Squamish, much like Whistler from years ago when it was the hideout for hippies and artists. Hiking time 1 to 2 hours.
Day 13: WHISTLER / SQUAMISH
Mount Garibaldi Park with 2678 m (8786 ft) is the highest peak of the park which contains a multitude of plant and animal species and 90 km (56 mi) of hiking trails from easy walks to extreme trekking. Black Tusk, in the heart of the park, offers amazing natural spectacles like Panorama Ridge, Helm Glacier, or the Sphinx. A day hike takes you to the shore of a Lake with trails for further exploring. Hiking time 4 – 6 hours.
Day 14: VANCOUVER
South along the scenic Sea to Sky Highway with towering rock faces that plunge to the sea and rivers cascading in bubbly plumes off sheer cliffs. The intense blue colours of Howe Sound clash with brilliant white glacier ice and jagged black peaks against an azure sky. It winds through mountain communities that started as logging, mining, ranching and farming outposts and ends just north of Vancouver. Short city tour of downtown with Canada Place, Chinatown, Gastown, a walk on busy Robson Street and then the downtown hotel for tonight.
Day 15: SOOKE
For your island adventure you board a ferry for the 90 minute crossing to Vancouver Island. In VICTORIA a stroll by the busy and picturesque Inner Harbour, lunch on own, and now it is off to your campground (showers) under giant cedar trees on the southern end of the island. Here you have a choice of easy to demanding hikes or pick nicks by the beach. Suggested for the first outing is a short drive to a small preserve. For thousands of years the crashing waters of the Sooke River have carved deep pools and caves out of the rock. Nothing, not even the river runs anything close to straight. So many amazing vantage points and so many unbelievable swimming spots. Here is also the trail head for a somewhat demanding hike (13 km with 420 m gain, 8 mi, 1378 ft) to two remote mountain lakes. Hiking time up to 4 hours
Day 16: SOOKE
The attraction of another park in the area is the variety of trails and loops through forests and along coast lines. For example, on todays 12 km kike you walk high above the weather blasted rocky cliffs, small bays and deep fjords and every few minutes another startlingly desolate ocean vantage point with views of Juan de Fuca Strait and the Olympic Peninsula. You have good chances to see whales. Sea lions and eagles. Then the trail winds up into the forested hills and back to the starting point. Dinner by the campfire and hopefully another spectacular sunset. Hiking time 3 – 4 hours
Day 17: PARKSVILLE
A stop and descend to Botanical Beach, the most unique and richest tidal area for plant and animal life along Canada’s west coast. The shore is guarded by fantastic geological formations of shale and quartz. Now you board the mini bus for the trip to the eastern coast of Vancouver Island. Lunch break is by a beautiful lake. The campground (showers) for today and tomorrow features majestic old growth forest of Douglas firs and a wide sandy beach near the city of Parksville. Hiking time 2 to 4 hours.
Day 18: PARKSVILLE / STRATHCONA PARK
Some of the best wilderness hiking on Vancouver Island is among the glaciated peaks of the Central Island. Strathcona Park was created in 1911 for those who seek adventure in remote alpine surroundings. You can reach the “Forbidden Plateau” via several routes. A 15 km (9.3 mi) loop trail near starts already at the 1100 m (3665 ft) level and offers panoramic views over southern British Columbia. Hiking time 5 hours.
Day 19: TOFINO / VARGAS ISLAND
For your next adventure you explore the quiet inlet waters and ancient coastal rainforest of Clayoquot Sound in 2-person ocean kayaks. No previous kayaking experience is necessary. Route planning is chosen with both the novice and advanced paddlers in mind and with 1 kayak guide for every 6 participants. Starting in Tofino early afternoon you make your way to the shores of Meares Island for a break to go on a short hike under the giant cedars while the guide introduces you to the natural and cultural history of the island. Then you paddle across an inlet and past a Native village and by late afternoon arrive at your overnight camp on Vargas Island. A zodiac delivers your equipment and camping gear and takes the kayak guide back to Tofino. Your tour guide stays with your group to set up the overnight camp on one of the beautiful wild beaches. (Instead of paddling you can take the zodiac to get to the island).
Day 20: TOFINO / UCLUELET
The kayak guide returns this morning to paddle with you a different route past Stubbs Island back to Tofino. Planned for the afternoon is a side trip to Pacific Rim National Park where you walk mysterious trails with boardwalks and stairs in a fairy tale forest of ferns, lichens, mosses and thousand year old trees. There is more: boutiques and small stores in the charming villages of Ucluelet and Tofino offer crafts and souvenirs made by local artists. You also can join optional whale and bear watching excursions and even surfing lessons. Campground in Ucluelet (showers). Hiking time 1.5 to 4 hours.
Day 21: VANCOUVER:
On the return trip you pass through Cathedral Grove with giant cedars and Douglas fir trees, some over 800 year old and up to 9 meters (29.5 ft) in diameter. You walk on a network of short rainforest wilderness trails which weave among moss and fern blanketed fallen trees. Now the ferry to the mainland and arrival at the Vancouver airport hotel late afternoon.
Day 22: Transfer to the airport with the hotel owned shuttle bus.
Day 1: Acclaim Hotels Calgary Airport
Day 14: Coast Coal Harbour Hotel, Vancouver downtown
Day 22: Sandman Hotel Vancouver Airport