We had a wonderful holiday, starting in Calgary. We spent the first week on a hiking tour with a specialist company. We then hired a car and spent two days in Lake Louise, then drove to Jasper where we left the car and spent one night taking an evening wildlife tour. The next day we boarded the Rocky Mountaineer and travelled in a domed coach for two days. We spent the night between in Kamloops and finished at Vancouver. After two days in Vancouver we went by coach to Victoria on Vancouver Island. From there we took a coach and ferry to Alert Bay on Cormorant Island just off the North east coast of Vancouver Island. The next two days we went on bear watching and whale watching tours. After a free day on the island we returned to Vancouver for one night before flying home.
As will be clear from the photographs we had fantastic weather for the whole trip. One photo is missing - that is it was not taken - and it is a photograph of the cougar that crossed the road in front of the taxi on our way to Port Hardy airport. He or she was a powerful and large looking cat. We were certainly glad to be inside the taxi!
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From Calgary to BanffWe stopped at a lookout point above Calgary and there were a cedar waxwings just below us!
Bourgeau Lake and Harvey's PassThe next day we did our first full day hike. We first visited Bourgeau Lake.
Lake Louise and Moraine LakeThe next day we did a half-day walk up to a viewpoint, for Lake Louise on Fairview Mountain, and then up to the Saddleback pass from where there were excellent views of Mount Temple.
Emerald LakeWhile the rest of the group went white water rafting we did a full day walk, with our guide Tessa, from Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park. The walk went over Burgess and Yoho passes. The weather deteriorated during the day to the extent that we had snow while lunching on Burgess Pass.
From Banff to JasperThe weather was still recovering from the previous day when we travelled along the Icefields Parkway to Banff. We had better weather for the same route a few days later. We had a fairly short walk up to Parker's Ridge to view Saskatchewan glacier that is the source of the North Saskatchewan River.
Maligne Lake and Maligne CanyonFrom Jasper we attempted to take a walk near Maligne Lake. we were unable to do the original walk as it was closed due to Grizzly Bear activity so we settled for the Mary Schäffer Trail. We came across a deer and the lake views were excellent.
Wilcox PassWe now returned to Calgary, going along the Icefoelds Parkway. This time we stopped for a walk going up to Wilcox Pass. The views were stunning. We could see several of the glaciers coming down from the Columbian Icefield.
From Calgary to Lake Louise, Lake Agnes and Little BeehiveWe left our hiking group and headed back to Lake Louise. Castle mountain was looking good.
Iceline trailThe next day we followed the advice of our tour guide Tessa and walked the Iceline Trail in Yoho National Park, coming down by Lake Celèste. This was simply stunning.
Icefields Parkway and Five lakesThe weather for the Icefields Parkway was significantly better than for our first visit.
Jasper WildlifeThat evening in Jasper, we went on a wildlife tour. The elks were superb and David was at last able to capture a picture of a pica.
From the Rocky MountaineerFrom Jasper we travelled over the next two days to Vancouver on the 'Rocky Mountaineer', stopping at Kamloops overnight. We travelled in a domed coach and the views from the train were superb.
VancouverWe visited Vancouver twice, once on the way to Alert Bay and once on our last day before leaving for home.
Butchart Gardens and VictoriaWe travelled to Victoria by coach, stopping at the renowned Butchart Gardens on the way. We used a water taxi to reach the Spinnakers pub where we had dinner.
The bear watchWe stayed in Alert Bay on Cormorant Island, a small island off the north coast of Vancouver Island. From here we first went on a bear watching trip. This involved a two hour boat trip across to Knight Inlet, where we transferred to a specially designed flat bottomed boat in which we went up a river to where there was a good chance of seeing bears. This sometimes involved our guides wading in the water and pushing the boat by hand so as to avoid unnecessary noise. We saw just the one bear, a grizzly known as Leonora. However we had an excellent view of her as she left the river and headed into the bushes.
The whale watchThe day after the bear watch we went on a whale watch. We had a superb trip.
OrcasWe first spent some time viewing Orcas. There were 3 pods around in Johnstone Strait, the I15, A23 and A25 pods. The large fins belong to the male Orcas and the very small ones to baby Orcas. Orcas stay with their mother's for life, the males only temporarily leaving to beed with females from another pod.
Sea lionsWhile heading for where humpbacks were rumoured to be about we saw three sealions.
HumpbacksWe saw three humpbacks, 'Freckles', 'Corporal' and 'Inukshuk'.
BirdsWhile watching for whales we also saw some birds!