Meet up with your fellow travellers, Tour Manager and Driver in gorgeous Vancouver. With beaches, forests and mountains, this town is all about location and fusing big-city living with an outdoor lifestyle. Today we wind our way along the spectacular cliff-top Sea to Sky highway and arrive in Whistler, one of the most popular ski resorts in North America and home to the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Today, you've got time to get into some alpine activities and experience Whistlers' high-energy action. Choose to have a go with the paddle and get out on the water in a canoe excursion along the River of Golden Dreams. With lots of trails to choose from, Whistler is a hiker's heaven. For those wanting vistas of the spectacular surrounds but not wanting to work up a sweat, choose a gondola or chairlift ride to the top for amazing views. Otherwise, kick back and take in the natural surroundings back at the hotel or walk around the quaint village of Whistler.
Leaving the mountains behind, we make our way to the desert and to Canada's impressive interior. Passing the picture-perfect Seton Lake, we'll make a stop in Lillooet, a former gold rush town. We travel on to our next night stop, Kamloops, sitting at the confluence of 2 rivers. Once a former meeting point for traders, it continues to serve as a stop over point for travelers and still has touches of the Wild West.
Sticking to the famous Yellowhead Highway, we stop off at the highest peak of the Rockies, Mt Robson. Get your blood pumping in a thrilling white-water rafting optional on the Fraser River. Then pull into small-town Jasper and kick back in the Rockies' largest national park - our home for the next two nights.
We drive through the wild beauty of Jasper National Park to Maligne Lake, known for its stunning scenery and vivid colors. There's a chance to take in the snow capped mountains from the water and visit iconic Spirit Island on an optional cruise. Later, your Tour Manager will take you for an easy-going hike through the Maligne Canyon, an impressive limestone gorge - the result of years of raging waters. Use your free time to make the most of lesser-known Jasper Park. With 1000kms of trails, from hour loops to day hikes, it's easy to get off the beaten track and into nature.
Get ready for some sublime scenery as we stick to the Columbia Icefield Parkway, a route that fur traders and native peoples once used during the 19th century. With waterfalls, lakes, meadows, glaciers, towering mountains, and the largest ice-field south of Alaska, this is one fantastic drive. Jump on board the Ice Explorer, a snow coach on tracks, and roll onto the Athabasca Glacier, where you can get out and explore the icy slopes. Drink straight from the glacier and taste some of the purest water on earth. We continue on to famous Lake Louise. Its striking turquoise color and incredible mountain back drop create a breathtaking scene. Back on the coach, we roll on to legendary Banff, the unofficial capital of the Rockies.
With loads of activities available in Banff, you can choose your own adventure. There's the option to get above the Rockies in an unforgettably spectacular helicopter ride or to head up Sulphur mountain by gondola for a slice of remote high country and the chance to see some summit wildlife. Other ideas for your day include checking out Banff's landmark Banff Springs Hotel. With over 800 rooms, this massive Gothic structure is fun to explore. Otherwise, head downtown for some shopping, where you can pick up cowboy hats, well-known brands and outdoor sporting equipment. Tonight, give our horseback ride optional a go, where you'll ride into the back country and enjoy a traditional cook-out dinner under the open sky.
We travel to the slick city of Calgary, home to what's known as the greatest show on earth: the Stampede. It's all about Alberta's pioneer past and ranching tradition at this massive cowboy carnival. This mind-blowing festival is surely going to be an unforgettable experience, get ready for a whole lot of action over the next two days. From bull-riding to calf-roping, steer-wrestling to cow-tackling, our amazing seats have you up close to these electrifying events at the Rodeo. Once we arrive in Calgary, you will have an opportunity to shop along Stephen Avenue and a premier pedestrian mall in downtown. While shopping make sure get your cowboy/cowgirl kit, you'll find cowboy hats, shirts and boots to dress the part for the Stampede. This evening we will venture into Stampede Park to catch the Chuckwagon races and round out the evening with an epic grandstand show and prepare for the world's most unique entertainment doubleheader. First you get to watch the crazy GMC Rangeland Derby which has been described as NASCAR for cowboys, featuring four wagons, nine heats, and excitement that is measured on the Richter Scale. When the last wagon thunders across the finish line, prepare yourself for The Grandstand Show. You'll witness a variety of spectacular performances that includes comedy, elaborate song and dance numbers, acrobatics and the spectacular fireworks finale, TransAlta Lights Up The Night. The stage alone is an engineering marvel. The night will be among the most memorable of your life….and this is only the first night!
With a day at Stampede Park, you'll experience one of the world's biggest rodeos and get a look into cattle country lifestyle. Today it's all about the rodeo but if you think that's means men riding on bulls all day your wrong! You'll see people hitting the dust in more ways than one. The action includes ladies barrel racing, bareback, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc, bull riding and the lifesaving clowns who will be out there entertaining throughout the day. Make the most of your time here and discover Canada's country core. With square dancing, mock gun fights, country bands, bars, restaurants and livestock, there is loads to see. Or why not head to the Teepee village, where the five nations peoples are represented and learn about indigenous peoples' traditions.
This morning we say goodbye the wild west and the Rockies before cutting across three national parks in a spectacular drive. Things get wilder and a whole lot more rugged in Yoho National Park, where the ice blue Kicking Horse River winds through a valley of waterfalls and meadows. Be impressed by Glacier National Park, home to over 400 glaciers and stop off at Rogers Pass - a place of awesome surroundings. We'll also see Mt Revelstoke National Park's towering peaks and surging river. Then it's a complete change of scene as we travel into British Columbia's wine country, Okanagan Valley, with its vines and terraced hills, to Vernon for our overnight stop.
Journey through the stunning Okanagan Valley, Canada's wine country, before returning to laid-back Vancouver, with its friendly locals, sandy beaches and Pacific rim position. You'll enjoy a taste of it all with the group when your Tour Manager points out historic Gastown, Vancouver's founding district, the city's own Chinatown - home to the largest minority group in Vancouver and the landmark Lion's Gate Bridge. In Stanley Park, see the colourful Totem Poles of Canada's First Nations People and learn about traditional culture as your Tour Manager tells you the stories behind them. For a bit of urban culture, head down town and grab a coffee at one of the many cafes. Continue on to the Gastown area for a bit of shopping, where you can find souvenirs to take back home, including Native American crafts and jewelery. Tonight, head out on the town with your friends and experience more of Vancouver's nightlife. Hit the back streets of Gastown or the alleys of Yale Town for some live music. Otherwise, if you know what you're after, ask your Tour Manager for tips.
Feel the young vibe of this city while exploring its hip shops & cafes. Later, enjoy a dinner cruise around the harbor & head out for a night on the town!
Your Canadian adventure ends this morning and it's time to say farewell to your new friends. For those who are keen for some more action, there's the option of a trip to Grouse Mountain or Butchart Gardens.