Join us as we travel to the spectacular Canadian Rockies to search for iconic wildlife such as moose, grizzly bear and black bear, as well as a variety of boreal birds and dazzling displays of wildflowers.
There are many things that make the Canadian Rockies a wonderful place to visit: spectacular glacial lakes, dramatic mountain peaks, thundering waterfalls, deep canyons and, of course, the fantastic diversity of wildlife. But it’s the remarkable combination of these highlights that give the Canadian Rockies their international acclaim and justify their designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
On this two-week trip we spend all our time in the heart of these beautiful mountains, exploring at least three of the main national parks (Banff, Jasper and Yoho) as well as numerous lesser known provincial parks. We visit a variety of montane, sub-alpine and alpine habitats, walking in montane meadows, adorned with colourful wildflowers, in search of herds of elk and flocks of bighorn sheep browsing amidst the stands of aspens.
This wildlife tour is specifically designed to include visits to a variety of areas, whilst allowing sufficient time to explore some of the best wildlife hotspots. Enjoy comfortable accommodation in the most beautiful areas, away from the crowds, allowing the finest opportunities to experience the wilderness and hopefully enjoy some unique wildlife encounters.
Day1: Fly to Calgary
Our trip begins with a direct flight to Calgary where we will be met by our tour leaders, Lee and Lindsay. From there we will transfer a short distance to a comfortable hotel, where we have time to relax and freshen up before enjoying our first evening meal together.
Accommodation: Hotel in Calgary, 1-night
Day2: Birdwatching around Calgary & on to Canmore
After a leisurely breakfast we explore one of the excellent provincial parks to be found around Calgary, enjoying a picnic lunch in the field before continuing our journey west through the flower-filled montane meadows of the Bow Valley to Canmore.
Scanning the numerous shallows pools located on the outskirts of Calgary, we are likely to see a variety of waterbirds, raptors and passerines. Duck species including wood duck, goldeneye, shoveler and green-winged teal should be present, alongside spotted sandpiper, killdeer and common loon.
There is a good chance of Swainson’s and red-tailed hawks, as well as bald eagle and osprey while the surrounding scrub and tracks of forest are likely to hold black-capped chickadee, gray catbird, golden and ruby-crowned kinglet.
Accommodation: Hotel in Canmore, 2-nights
Day3: Explore Banff National Park
Today is spent exploring Canada’s oldest national park - first protected in 1885. Our day’s itinerary in Banff National Park has been deliberately left flexible to make the most of the recent wildlife sightings. Activities may include an easy half-day walk along one of the picturesque trails around beautiful montane lakes, marshes and aspen forests, which are home to moose, bighorn sheep, Columbia ground squirrels, mule deer, coyote, and numerous nesting and migrant birds. Weather dependent, we may spend the day exploring higher elevations visiting the subalpine and alpine zones to search the scree for newly emerged alpine wildflowers and butterflies whilst taking in the spectacular views over Banff and watching out for foraging bears along the ski slopes.
Day4: Drive the Bow Valley Parkway & Icefields Parkway to Jasper
This morning we leave Canmore and make our way to Jasper, travelling along two of Canada’s most scenic highways: the Bow Valley Parkway and Icefields Parkway.
The Bow Valley Parkway leads from Banff to Lake Louise, providing excellent views of Castle Mountain, as well as great opportunities for seeing wildlife. We make regular stops to admire the breathtaking scenery and scan for wildlife.
Continuing our journey north, we drive the Icefields Parkway, named after the Columbia Icefield, the largest alpine icefield in the Rockies, which forms the dramatic backdrop to this scenic drive. Again, we allow plenty of time for stops at points of interest along the journey to enjoy the scenery of this stunning landscape and photograph a variety of birds, mammals and wildflowers.
Accommodation: Lodge in Jasper, 3-nights
Days5-6: Jasper National Park
Located just outside Jasper, beside the Athabasca River, our rustic lodge offers great opportunities to see a variety of wildlife including elk, numerous boreal birds and maybe even bears, which often pass through the hotel grounds.
During our stay we intend to visit all three of Jasper’s ecologically unique biomes - montane, subalpine and alpine - to see the wide variety of flora and fauna. Our days are a mixture of short walks and half day excursions that provide ample opportunity for quality wildlife viewing and photography. Weather and wildlife permitting, we may undertake one or two longer day walks to known wildlife hotspots away from the busier trails.
Day7: Drive to Yoho National Park
This morning we retrace our route south on the Icefields Parkway, before heading west into British Columbia to the small town of Field, nestled in the heart of Yoho National Park.
On our journey south, we allow time to take regular stops to watch for wildlife and may also include a short walk. Depending on our arrival time into Field, there may be an opportunity to visit a wildlife viewing point this evening before dinner.
Accommodation: Lodge in Field, 3-nights
Days8-9: Explore Yoho National Park
During our two full days based in Field we explore Yoho National Park and, as we are also within striking distance of the western edge of Banff National Park, we may take the opportunity to re-visit depending on wildlife sightings.
Day10: Drive to Kananaskis Country
Heading back east, we cross the British Columbia-Alberta border to our next lodge located deep in Kananaskis Country. Our day will be spent driving along the beautiful Bow Valley and on our drive we allow plenty of time to continue our search for Canadian wildlife in Yoho and/or Banff National Parks.
Accommodation: Lodge in Kananaskis, 3-nights
Days11-12: Kananaskis Country
Our last two full days in Canada are spent exploring Kananaskis Country, a system of provincial parks which extends southeast of Banff National Park. Encompassing the front range mountains and foothills of the Canadian Rockies, the parks in Kananaskis Country are spectacular in both their beauty and wildlife.
Day13: Drive to Calagary & depart
This morning there many be time for some final wildlife viewing before we leave Kananaskis Country and drive to Calgary, alternatively we may stop at a few choice birdwatching locations en route to look for prairie bird species before reaching the airport for our overnight flight back to the UK.
Day14: Arrive UK
You should note: Should the group size be less than eight, only one naturalist leader will accompany the trip.
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 14 daysfrom £6.495 pp
Duration and price excluding international flights: 13 daysfrom £5.995 pp
Group size: 12
Included in the price/package:
12 nights hotel accommodation
Entrance fees & permits
Services of the naturalist leader (two leaders for group sizes of 8 or more)
With over ten years experience of guiding a wide range of wildlife tours worldwide, Lee is also a professional ecologist, naturalist, photographer and writer.
He has spent eight seasons leading natural history cruises around Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, and consequently has a wealth of knowledge about the whales that frequent these waters. Lee has also worked as a bear guide in the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, and has a particular passion for the wildlife of Canada’s Pacific Coast.
Lindsay is a professional teacher, naturalist, marine biologist, and photographer. She has lived in British Columbia her entire life, where she has worked as a high school science teacher, multi-day hiking guide, and as a fish monitor for the department of Fisheries and Oceans.
She has been working as a professional naturalist and wildlife guide in the Pacific Northwest for more than 15 years where she has assimilated a wealth of knowledge about the wildlife and cultural heritage of the region. Lindsay is an experienced bear guide, has a particular passion for marine wildlife and the ecology of temperate rainforests, and a boundless enthusiasm for sharing her extensive knowledge and experience of this subject too.
Canada’s oldest national park, first protected in 1885, Banff National Park is also one of Canada’s most popular. With snow-capped peaks towering over glistening emerald lakes, including the ever photographic Lake Louise, the park is home to iconic wildlife including grizzly and black bears.
Ideal for viewing: brown bear, American black bear, caribou, Columbian ground squirrel, coyote
Excellent for: Bear watching, Birdwatching
The largest of the national parks in the Canadian Rockies, Jasper National Park offers a quieter alternative to its more famous neighbour, Banff. With numerous trails to explore within the park, Jasper offers the chance to search for numerous mammal species in a truly unique wilderness setting.
Ideal for viewing: brown bear, American black bear, moose, caribou, cougar
Excellent for: Bear watching, Birdwatching
Yoho – the Cree word for ‘awe’ or ‘wonder’ – is particularly appropriate for the spectacular scenery of this national park. The smallest of the Rocky Mountains national parks, what Yoho may lack in size, it more than makes up for with its wildlife, towering mountains, waterfalls and glacial lakes.
Where: British Colombia
Ideal for viewing: American beaver, North American porcupine, moose, hoary marmot, mountain goat
Extending southeast of Banff National Park, Kananaskis Country is a system of provincial parks creating a 4,000 square kilometre rural area. Encompassing the front range mountains and foothills of the Canadian Rockies, these parks are home to abundant wildlife and spectacular flora.
Ideal for viewing: white-tailed deer, moose, bighorn sheep, brown bear, pika
One of the main international gateways to the breathtaking Canadian Rockies, the city of Calgary has a young, vibrant feel alongside its cattle-ranching ‘Old West’ cowboy history of which it is fiercely proud and which is showcased in July during the world-famous Calgary Stampede.
Excellent for: Activity & adventure, City stopover, History & culture