Take the ultimate self-drive road trip through western Canada where coastal rainforest and the glittering Pacific coastline abounds with brown bears, wolves, whales and bald eagles.
This tailor made wildlife trip starts from Calgary on the prairies of Alberta Province and, following a highly scenic route, winds its way right through the heart of the celebrated Rocky Mountains before descending to the forested British Columbia coast - with a huge choice of activities en route. On crossing to Vancouver Island, you drive through the ancient forests of Pacific Rim National Park to the remote coastal town of Tofino, famed for its whale watching. Finally make your way back to the mainland to end in the lively - and lovely - city of Vancouver.
Fly to Calgary, collect hire car & drive to Banff
Fly from London to Calgary, arriving later the same day. After collecting your hire car and completing any formalities, depart Calgary and travel west through the foothills of the Rockies to the resort town of Banff (journey time approximately two hours). It is a leisurely and scenic route to Banff, part of a vast protected area and a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site.
The following day, explore the wonders of world-famous Banff, visit the hot springs or drive up Buffalo Street to Surprise Corner for spectacular views of the Fairmont Banff Springs.
Accommodation: Buffalo Mountain Lodge, 2-nights
Drive to Colden; vsit Northern Lights Wolf Centre
It's about a two hour journey from Banff to Golden, so you'll have plenty of time to stop and explore along the way. We recommend stopping at Johnston Canyon to see the waterfalls, and Lake Louise, a beautiful place to wander and explore. After departing Lake Louise you will enter Yoho National Park and continue on Highway 1 until you reach Golden.
Perhaps make a visit to Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre which promotes wolf and bear conservation throughout the natural environment, and offers interpretive talks about wolves and their role in a healthy ecosystem. The grey wolves live in an enclosure, and interpretive talks take place right at the fence.
Accommodation: Prestige Inn, 1-night
Drive Icefields Parkway to Jasper
Today return to Alberta and continue on to Jasper via the Icefield Parkway, the most spectacular trip in the Canadian Rockies. The highway follows the spine of the Canadian Rockies, passing beneath jagged snow and ice capped peaks, with sparkling lakes and literally a hundred glaciers visible throughout the course of the day.
You should arrive into Jasper in the late afternoon. Fascinating in beauty and history, Jasper is set amid some of the most rugged peaks in the Rockies. You may wish to take a tram ride up Whistler's Mountain, soak in the pools at Miette Hot Springs or perhaps visit Maligne Lake, one of the most photographed lakes in the world.
Accommodation: Bear Hill Lodge, 2-nights
Drive to Clearwater
Today's journey follows the Yellowhead Pass though the Rockies and Mount Robson, the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies, with an elevation of 3,931 metres. Its summit is covered year round by snow and is capped by the Robson Glacier.
Accommodation: Alpine Meadows Resort, 1-night
Drive to Whistler
Today you will start by travelling southwest towards Kamloops, before reaching the gold rush town of Cache Creek, often referred to as the Arizona of Canada because of its desert like ecology, with sagebrush, prickly pear and even rattlesnakes. Before arriving in Whistler, you can enjoy breathtaking views of Joffee Glacier and snow capped Mount Currie that rises to a height of 2,596 metres.r
Set against a backdrop of stunning mountains, Whistler has magnificent vistas on all sides, and offers a plethora of activities
Accommodation: Aava Whistler Hotel, 2-nights
Drive & ferry to Tofino on Vancouver Island; whale watching in Pacific Rim National Park
A full day's drive takes you along the scenic Sea to Sky Highway to Horseshoe Bay where you take the ferry to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, and then head to Tofino.
Vancouver Island is a great destination for wildlife enthusiasts because of its healthy black bear population and whale-watching opportunities. Tofino and Pacific Rim National Park are the main places to visit. Here you can walk along wild beaches and through dense forests where black bears are common. Boat trips provide excellent opportunities to see impressive numbers of grey whales that spend the summer in the plankton-rich channels offshore.
Included during your stay is a whale watching tour. This tour takes you through the pristine waters of Clayoquot Sound to view beautiful scenery and wildlife. Depending on the time of year, you could encounter grey whales, humpback whales, sea lions, sea birds and resident bald eagles.
There are many hiking trails in Pacific Rim National Park; or perhaps take a stroll along one of the many beaches, or perhaps wander through a collection of eclectic shops in Tofino. Alternatively, you could take an optional Coastal Bear Watch tour, which features black bears and explores the fjord inlets of Clayoquot Sound. While the bears forage in the intertidal zone, you can unobtrusively observe and photograph their behaviour.
Accommodation: Best Western Tin Wis, 3-nights
Drive & ferry to Vancouver
Today make your way back to the east coast of Vancouver Island to connect with a ferry from Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay and onto Vancouver.
Accommodation: The Listel Hotel, 1-night
A free day before returning your hire car to the airport and departing on an overnight flight back to the UK.