Magic of the Canadian West
With a vast land area of almost 10 million square kilometres and a population of just over 30 million people, Canada has a lot of wide open spaces with huge tracts of uninhabited countryside. There is a great variety of different landform, ranging from the intensively farmed plains of the south to the evocatively named “Barren Grounds” of the north, which are characterised by permafrost and freezing tundra. The Yukon stretches from British Columbia in the south to beyond the Arctic Circle. To the northwest it is bordered by Alaska. The region and the state gets its name from the Yukon River, a 3000-km (1800 mile) artery that rises in BC's Coast Mountains and flows through the heart of the Yukon and Alaska to the Bering Sea. At the westernmost tip of the Yukon are located the country's highest mountains. Together with the neighbouring Wrangell National Park in Alaska, the Kluane National Park protects the St Elias Mountains, including Mount Logan (5950m) - Canada's highest point – and Mount McKinley (6193m) in Alaska, the highest point in North America. Below them, and covering half the park, is a huge basin of mile-deep glaciers and ice fields, the world's largest non-polar ice. The Canadian Rockies extend for 2000 km (1200 miles) south from the Yukon through Alberta and British Columbia. One of the most accessible parts of the range is located at the western edge of the state of Alberta, some 250 km (155 miles) west of Edmonton and closer still to the town of Calgary. Here, there are 2 adjoining national parks; Banff National Park and Jasper National Park, which together enclose more than 17,000 sq km (6,560 sq miles) of beautiful mountain scenery. Despite its ease of access, this is still a wilderness area. Endless forests, extensive tundra, powerful glaciers, and cascading rivers are overlooked by peaks almost 4000m (13,000ft) tall. The Athabasca River, which has its source in the Jasper National Park, flows for more than 1500 km (almost 1000 miles) across Canada.
The time in Alberta is GMT -7 hours
The weather in the Canadian Rocky Mountains is ever-changing and always unpredictable. Summer days are long, but the summer season is short. July is the warmest month with a mean daily maximum temperature of 22°C / 72°F. We can expect to encounter temperatures during the day ranging from 18°C / 64°F to 27°C / 80°F. Naturally, at the highest elevations, the daytime temperatures will be lower than this. At night, the temperatures will typically drop to around 10°C / 50°F or even a few degrees lower. Although the weather is relatively stable at this time of year, we can expect some rainfall.
The unit of currency in Canada is the Canadian dollar. For up to date exchange rates visit: www.xe.com.Canadian dollars can be easily obtained outside the country. The best and fastest way to obtain cash in-country is from ATMs using a credit or debit card. If you are carrying your travel money in travellers cheques you should use US or Canadian dollar denominations. Cheques can be cashed at Thomas Cook and other exchange bureaux or at major banks. Credit cards can be used to purchase most goods and services and at major restaurants.
Citizens of the US, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, and nationals of countries within the EU do not need a visa.
Passengers intending to fly via the USA, please note the following:
Under the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA), all travellers, including children, from the 27 countries under the US visa waiver programme (VWP) will have to fill out an electronic travel authorization form online at www.esta.cbp.dhs.gov prior to boarding any US-bound aircraft or ship. You can also use this site to check whether your country is part of the visa waiver scheme.
You will be required to answer questions about criminal records, communicable diseases, past history of visa revocation or deportation, and basic biographical data such as name, birth date and passport information. Changes in address and itinerary can be made online after the ESTA form has been first submitted.
You will not be allowed to board any US bound aircraft if you have not completed the online ESTA form.
If you have a criminal record (including criminal driving offences), you will be required to obtain a visa in advance of entering or transiting the USA.
You should attend your own doctor and dentist for a check-up. Your doctor will have access to the most up to date information on the required vaccinations for the country you are visiting. For the USA and Canada, in general, you do not require any vaccinations other than standard travel jabs (Polio, Tetanus, and Hepatitus A etc). A very good online resource is the NHS travel website at www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk
Additional Sources of Information
Lonely Planet – Canada.
The Rough Guide to Canada.
Moon Handbooks. Canadian Rockies.
Canadian Rockies Handbook.Andrew Hempstead.
The Canadian Rockies. Douglas Leighton.
The Canadian Rockies Trail Guide. Patton and Robinson.
Canadian Whitewater – Central Rockies.
Alberta & British Colombia. 1:1,600,000 scale. ITMB Publishing.
Jasper and Maligne Lake (Topographic Map). Gem Trek Publishing.
Southwest Alberta Southeast B.C. (Explorer's Map). Gem Trek Publishing.
Lonely Planet - www.lonelyplanet.com
Rough Guides - www.roughguides.com