We started our adventure in Calgary, a thriving modern city surrounded by neighbourhoods connected by the most extensive urban path and bikeway in North America. I loved our visit to Heritage Park, a fascinating historical village that really brings the past to life. We also explored the Calgary food scene with Alberta Food Tours which took us to Kensington, one of Calgary’s local neighbourhoods.
Leaving Calgary for Banff National Park and the Rockies, around 90 minutes away, we took a tour on a vintage-style open top bus, complete with hot chocolate and stunning views. A ride in an authentic wagon along the Bow River to a cowboy cookout with Banff Trail Riders was a real treat.
The iconic Lake Louise is every bit as stunning as the pictures. Fed by glaciers the lake is an almost unreal shade of blue. Just up the road from Lake Louise is Moraine Lake. Clients will need to pre-book a shuttle to get here, but my top tip is to organise a guided tour in advance for them. Entry is included with the tour, plus your clients will learn about the area from their expert guide.
Into the wild
Finally, on to Jasper, a small town in one of Canada’s largest National Parks. I felt like I was in the real ‘outback’. In the autumn, when I visited, we saw wildlife as we walked down the street! Elk are easily visible and further out of town we saw bears foraging for food before their winter hibernation, and a moose family.
From Jasper clients can either drive to Edmonton and fly back to Calgary for the trip home or head back the way they came, enjoying the breathtaking scenery all over again. We were lucky enough to catch the VIA Rail train from Jasper into Vancouver. This overnight trip through the Rockies allows for sights you cannot see by road, whilst enjoying the hospitality of VIA Rail. A real highlight of the trip was the road from Lake Louise to Jasper along the Icefields Parkway – mile upon mile of easy driving through breathtaking scenery. Stop at the awe-inspiring Columbia Icefield, the Athabasca Falls to see the sheer volume of water flowing, and the pretty Sunwapta Falls.
Another highlight was our tour with Mahikan Trails. Our Indigenous guide gave us a real insight into how to use plants and flora as medicines. Surrounded by the natural beauty of Banff, I got a real sense of place.
Our trip in late September took place just as the weather was cooling off, but ahead of the snow – it’s a great time to visit to beat the crowds.
Tour operators who can tailor-made tours to Alberta include Audley Travel, Canadian Affair, First Class Holidays, North America Travel Service, Premier Holidays and Prestige Travel. Clients can fly directly to Calgary from London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Edinburgh.