Before getting into this blog post, I’d like to say thank you to everyone who joined Em and I on this epic adventure of Canada & the Rockies. I’ve made friendships and memories that will last for a lifetime.
To read about our first five days on Contiki’s Canada & The Rockies tour click here.
On this part of the tour, we travel from Banff to Vancouver and stop off in Vernon along the way.
By now, the whole group had got to know one-another and as Charlotte, our group tour guide had promised at the start – we had become our own little Contiki family.
After a really busy couple of days in Jasper, we left at 08:00AM for Banff National Park. This was another long drive, but we stopped at several landmarks along the way. First, were the beautiful Athabasca Falls.
We then continued to the Columbia Icefields Athabasca Glacier – one of the largest non-polar ice fields in the world.
This was one of the inclusions included in the price of the tour and it was a particular highlight for me. We boarded a huge Ice Explorer bus in order to get down to the Glacier.
Once on the Glacier, we had our own free time. Some of the lads decided to get a topless photoshoot and the girls soon joined in. Em was one of them. She said to me, “I’m only here once, I’m doing it!”
We had hoped to taste fresh water from the Glacier, but unfortunately we couldn’t as because it was completely frozen over.
After grabbing lunch, we then stopped off for about an hour at one of Canada’s most famous lakes – Lake Louise. This looks absolutely stunning in the summer, but unfortunately, because of the time of year, the lake was frozen over. Nonetheless, it was still very, very picturesque.
Five hours later, we arrived in Banff. In the evening, we had an amble around the town and then eat at the Elk and Oarsman with Annabelle, Ashleigh, Chelsea, Courtney and Mel. I tried an Elk burger, which was one of the best pieces of meat I’ve tried.
We hadn’t stopped for the last six days, so as we had a free day in Banff, I made the decision to have more of a chilled day.
In the morning, Em and I got the bus into Banff to have a wander around and tried a Beavertails. The only way I can describe this is as a Canadian desert chain that specialises in pancake like doughnuts. I had a sugar and cinnamon one and Emily had an apple crumple one.
Later on in the afternoon, Em went off with some of the group to go on a horse riding experience which included a steak meal afterwards. This was one of the Free Time Add-On experiences, which she had to pay extra for.
It was the first time since being away that we had been apart, so it was nice for us to have some downtime away from each other. She came back buzzing about the horse riding (and not so much about the steak).
In the evening, Charlotte – had organised a karaoke night at a nearby hostel. (The lads dragged me up to join in with a few songs)!
Feeling hungover (not for the first time on the tour) we left Banff to head for Vernon seven hours away. This was the last time we would be in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
Before leaving Banff, we took the gondola (or cable car) up to the top of a mountain. This was another of the Free Time Add-Ons, which the majority of the group opted to do. The views from the top were spectacular and on a clear day like we had you can see up to seven mountain tops away.
We were back on the road again at 08:00AM the next day, as we made our way from Vernon to Vancouver around another five hours away. By now, we’d clocked up 1377 miles and travelled in total for over 26 hours. In comparison, Lands End to John O Groats in the U.K. is 839 miles and takes just over 14 hours.
Along the way, we had our fair share of bear sightings.
This was our last day on the tour and it was also a free-day. There were three add-on activities that most people had opted to do today.
We had a lie-in and then met with Jake and Rakita in the hotel lobby for 10:00AM. We then made our way to the bus stop where Bree, Kirstie, Caleb and Stephanie were already waiting and then got the free-bus together to the Capilano Suspension Bridge.
This in the nicest way possible was rather underwhelming in my opinion and not worth $58 p/p. Don’t get me wrong, the bridge itself and treetop walk was very pretty, but it was a ‘tourist trap’!
We then made our way to Canada Place in Vancouver on the free bus where the majority of us had paid $25 p/p to do the Canada Flyover 4D experience. This was pretty cool, but I wouldn’t rush back to do it again – unlike our tour guide who said she had done it five times!
In the evening, the whole of the group paid to go on a River Cruise. This was the start of what was to be one last big piss up. We got lots of pictures on the boat, drank lots of cocktails and later went to a club not far from our hotel. It was the perfect way to end an unforgettable tour.
Nursing massive hangovers, everyone said their goodbyes to one-another in the hotel lobby before we all went our own separate ways. For some, it was back home to the day job, but for a lot of other members of the group (like us) they were continuing their travelling adventure.
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Thanks for stopping by, until the next time…