Magic of the Canadian West

Two week tour between the Canadian Rockies and Vancouver Island




From 0 Land only

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Holiday Overview


  • Stunning day walks from our base at Lake Louise
  • Visit Calgary, Whistler, Jasper, Squamish, Victoria & Vancouver
  • Hike to Trophy Mountain Meadows and visit Helmcken Falls
  • Tour the Snowy peaks, high meadows & coastal forests of Canada

Travelling across western Canada, from Calgary to Vancouver, this 2-week adventure holiday takes us on a tour of the most famous locations in the Canadian Rockies. With private transport and mostly hostel and cabin accommodation, we include a scenic walk of up to 6 hours duration on several days. Firstly, from a base beside beautiful Lake Louise, our walks take us to Sentinel Pass (2611m) and on the Iceline Trail. Heading north-west towards Jasper, we stop off to make the short ascent to Parker Ridge for truly spectacular views across the amazing Columbia Icefield. Crossing into British Columbia, we walk up to flower-strewn Trophy Mountain Meadows and to the dramatic 140-metre Helmcken Falls, before spending a pleasant evening in the laid-back ski station of Whistler. Then, after a visit to Squamish, we cross the Strait of Georgia to Vancouver Island and complete this magical holiday with an excellent coastal hike on the Juan de Fuca Trail.

Is this holiday for you?

This holiday is a ‘discovery tour' of the Canadian West, which aims to see as much as possible of the region's highlights. Consequently there are a couple of days when we will be driving for 6 - 7 hours, although these drives will be broken with invisits and rewarding short walks at various places of interest en route. There is no element of serious trekking in the holiday but it should be noted that there are several days where we will be hiking up to six hours. All the hikes are moderately paced but will involve a reasonable amount of ascent and descent on some days. It is possible to opt out of any of these hikes if a free day is preferred. In order to create a high value holiday, the accommodation used on this tour will be a mix of hotels, hostels and campground cabins.

Brief Itinerary

View in full
  • Meet at the group hotel in Vancouver.
  • Ferry to Vancouver Island and drive to Victoria.
  • Hike the Juan de Fuca trail from Botanical Beach to Parkinson Creek.
  • Free time in Victoria. Return to Vancouver.
  • Drive via Squamish to Whistler.
  • Visit Helmcken Falls and drive to Clearwater.
  • Day walk in the Trophy Mountain Meadows.
  • Drive via Valemont to Jasper.
  • Maligne Lake and Bald Hills (2300m).
  • Drive the Icefields Parkway to Lake Lousie.
  • The Iceline Trail
  • Larch Valley and Sentinal Pass (2611m).
  • Walk the Big Beehive (2270m) Trail. Drive to Calgary.
  • Departure day.
The LAND ONLY dates and prices are for the itinerary joining in Canada. Please refer to 'Joining Arrangements and Transfers' in the trip notes for further details. Note that the first departure of this holiday (MCR.1) joins in Calgary and ends in Vancouver, while the second departure (MCR.2) joins in Vancouver and ends in Calgary.

BOOK WITH KE CONFIDENCE - No surcharge guarantee*

* Against Land Only services.

Map & Itinerary

The Route

  • point
  • airport
  • transfer

Holiday Itinerary

  • Meet at the group hotel in Vancouver.

    Meet at the group hotel in Vancouver. Airport shuttles are available. Meals are not included on this day, there are several dining options close to the hotel. KE Land Only package services begin with the overnight stay at the group hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

  • Ferry to Vancouver Island and drive to Victoria.

    At 7.30 we meet our guide and have a trip briefing over breakfast at the hotel. We make an early start today and drive for 20 minutes to Horseshoe Bay where we catch the ferry for the 1 hour and 40 minutes crossing of the Strait of Georgia to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. The ferry journey is quite scenic as we leave the harbour, flanked by mountains and pass Point Atkinson Lighthouse and Lions Gate Bridge. We have good views of downtown Vancouver before heading out to open water for the 55km crossing to Vancouver Island. Arriving at Departure Bay, Nanaimo, we then drive 110km (1½ hours) to Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia at the southern tip of the island. The city which was named after Queen Victoria is one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest, with the original British settlement being founded in 1841. Victoria has retained a large number of its historic buildings, most noticeably the British Columbia Parliament Buildings and the Empress Hotel, which opened in 1908. It is also known for its splendid gardens and its waterfront area.After checking in to the International Youth Hostel, we have a walking orientation tour of the city and the rest of the day is free to explore and enjoy Victoria's many charms. Travel time: 3hrs inc ferry.

    • Accommodation Gite / Hostel

    • Meals bl

  • Hike the Juan de Fuca trail from Botanical Beach to Parkinson Creek.

    We have a day of spectacular hiking and wildlife viewing through beautiful mature forest as we walk a 10km section of the 47 kilometre Juan de Fuca trail from Botanical Beach to Parkinson Creek. Botanical Beach, so named because it was the site of a marine biology research station operated by the University of Minnesota from 1900 to 1906, is the northernmost end of the Juan de Fuca trail. From here we head south through shoreline vegetation and mixed woodland of cedar and hemlock on a generally flat trail which can be muddy in places with several boardwalk sections during the first 4 km. Crossing Tom Baird Creek we have terrific views out to sea and can sometimes spot sea lions basking on the rocks. We pass Providence Cove, once an important seasonal village for the Pacheenaht Indians, where there is access to a pebble beach and Payzant Creek where we can see a waterfall. After approximately 10 km we reach Parkinson’s Creek, where we meet our vehicles and drive out along a forestry road and back to Victoria. Drive time: 4hrs

    • Accommodation Gite / Hostel

    • Meals bld

  • Free time in Victoria. Return to Vancouver.

    We have the morning free for further exploration of Victoria. Leaving Victoria we drive for 25km to Swartz Bay at the northern tip of the Saanich peninsula. Here we catch a ferry for the 45km crossing of the Juan de Fuca Strait to Tsawwassen, Vancouver city's main ferry terminal. The scenery on this crossing is even more jaw-dropping than our ferry from Horseshoe Bay. The boat sails close to the rocky tree lined shore of numerous islands and islets before completing the crossing to Tsawwassen after approximately 1½ hours sailing. After checking into our hotel the rest of the evening is at leisure. Travel time: 3 hrs inc ferry.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals b

  • Drive via Squamish to Whistler.

    After breakfast we drive for approximately 1 hour to Squamish located at the north end of Howe Sound on the Pacific coast. The granite dome of 'Stawamus Chief' towers above the town and is the most well known and most recognizable of the peaks around Squamish. The 'chief' has three distinct summits of glacier-polished rock each offering various difficulty of hiking trails and we will ascend the easiest ‘First’ peak. We pass the 330-metre Shannon Falls and begin a steady climb up a well worn trail including sections of wooden steps to a junction between the peaks where we turn left towards the South or 'First' Peak and finish with a scramble on rock protected with chains. From the top we have a superb view over Squamish and Howe Sound. We descend back to the town where we take lunch before getting back on the bus and driving for another hour until we reach Whistler. . Flanked by the mountains of the Garibaldi Range and the Pacific Ranges. Famed for its natural beauty from the early 20th century, Whistler was originally a Summer Resort destination until the 1960s when its popularity as a ski resort began to wax and in 2010 it was designated Host Mountain Resort of the 2010 Winter Olympics. The town of Whistler (known as Whistler village) is very attractive with a pedestrian-only centre and lots of cafes and shops. Arriving here we check into our hostel accommodation and the rest of the evening is free to enjoy the town's amenities. Drive time: 1 – 2 hrs.

    • Accommodation Gite / Hostel

    • Meals bl

  • Visit Helmcken Falls and drive to Clearwater.

    In the morning we drive 425km to Helmcken Falls on the Murtle River in Wells Gray Provincial Park. With a vertical continuous drop of 141 metres, this is the fourth highest waterfall in Canada. Afterwards we head to Clearwater where we will stay for the next two nights.

    • Accommodation Bungalow

    • Meals bd

  • Day walk in the Trophy Mountain Meadows.

    We have a 1 hour drive to the trail head in Wells Gray Provincial Park, where we start our hike to Trophy Mountain Meadows. The Trophy Mountains rise to a height of 2575 metres and consist of nine peaks. Their northern slopes are steep and glaciated while their southern slopes are gentle and dotted with alpine lakes and flower meadows. The Trophy Mountain meadows are one of the most easily accessible sub-alpine meadows in British Colombia and our hike today is a round trip of around 5 - 6 hours with approximately 900 metres ascent and descent. After our hike, we drive back to the cabins at Clearwater. Drive time: 2hrs.

    • Accommodation Bungalow

    • Ascent 900m

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 900m

    • Time 5 hours

  • Drive via Valemont to Jasper.

    Today we drive 320 km on the Yellowhead Highway through Valemont, the home of Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies at the watershed of the Fraser and Columbia basins. En route we stop in Mount Robson Provincial Park to make an easy walk of around 1½ hours to Overlander Falls. Afterwards, we head on to Jasper where we check into the International hostal. Drive time: 4 hrs.

    • Accommodation Gite / Hostel

    • Meals bld

  • Maligne Lake and Bald Hills (2300m).

    After breakfast we drive 47km (approximately 1 hour) to Maligne Lake a Canadian icon and one of the most photographed locations in the world. The lake has a beautiful colour and an almost perfect balance of surrounding snow-covered peaks and forested lake shore with a tiny tree-covered island. This is the view most people associate with the Canadian Rockies. The famous Skyline Trail begins here and goes all the way to Jasper. Our own hike today to Bald Hills is less ambitious but no less rewarding. We start the hike along an old forest fire road. Reaching 2170m elevation at the point where a fire lookout used to be stationed, we have a magnificent view of Maligne Lake and a panorama of high peaks including the triangular Samson Peak (3077m), Leah Peak (2810 m), the red Opal Peak (2740) and close by, the northernmost of the Bald Hills (2300m). We continue on a small path heading southward to the foot of this small, rounded mountain; the final ascent is short but steep. The view south is extensive over tundra meadows, which are a riot of blossom in late July and early August. This is the home of the caribou and we are quite likely to see some of these North American reindeer from our vantage; it is a good idea to bring binoculars. This hike will take around 5 - 6 hours for the return trip and involves approximately 550 metres of ascent and descent. If you wish, instead of hiking today, you can take a boat trip to Spirit Island on Lake Maligne (at an additional cost). We return to Jasper for the evening. Drive time: 2 hrs.

    • Accommodation Gite / Hostel

    • Meals bld

  • Drive the Icefields Parkway to Lake Lousie.

    A day full of spectacular scenery as we drive on the Icefields Parkway, which cuts a swathe through a vast wilderness of pristine mountain lakes, ancient glaciers and broad sweeping valleys to reach the town of Jasper. We will break the journey with a short (2 hour) hike, either up to Parker Ridge or on a section of the Willcox Pass trail for views of the Columbia Icefields and Athabasca Mountain and Glacier. Arrivng at Lake Louise we check into our hostel accommodation. Drive time: 6 – 7 hrs / 240km.

    • Accommodation Gite / Hostel

    • Meals bld

  • The Iceline Trail

    Our first hike from our Lake Louise base is the 'Iceline Trail'. We begin this morning with an hour's drive through highly scenic countryside into the heart of Yoho National Park. The trail head for today's hike is at the foot of Takakkaw Falls, which drop 380 vertical metres. We hike along the Yoho river to Laughing Falls and then climb to reach the 'Iceline' trail, which follows a contour between glacier, and treeline before dropping to Little Yoho Valley and the Stanley Mitchel hut. We continue to Whiskey Jack and return to Takakkaw Falls where we meet our vehicle and drive back to Lake Louise. Drive time: 2hrs.

    • Accommodation Gite / Hostel

    • Ascent 725m

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 725m

    • Time 6 hours

  • Larch Valley and Sentinal Pass (2611m).

    We have a short (15km) drive to reach the the trailhead for today's hike at Moraine Lake. From here we climb on a zig-zag trail up through a forest of spruce and pine with the blue-green waters of the lake glimpsed below through the trees. At the top of the trail we enter Larch Valley so-called for the abundance of larches here. There are simply spectacular views of the 'Valley of the Ten Peaks' as we continue our hike through Larch Valley to a pretty mountain tarn known as the Minnestimma Lakes. From here a good switch back trail makes somewhat easier work of the scree and turf slope leading to Sentinel Pass (2611m). From leaving the Minnestimma Lakes our walk to the top of the pass should take around 1hr. From here we can look down the other side of the pass into Paradise Valley and across to Mount Aberdeen and the nearby Pinnacle Mountain and Mount Temple (3543m). Having had our fill of the spectacular views, we return to Moraine Lake and drive back to our hostel in Lake Louise.

    • Accommodation Gite / Hostel

    • Ascent 730m

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 730m

    • Time 4 hours

  • Walk the Big Beehive (2270m) Trail. Drive to Calgary.

    Our last hike will be the Big Beehive trail. The hike begins at 1731m elevation, below the famous resort hotel of Chateau Lake Louise. We start by walking along the shoreline before climbing steadily through thick pine forest to Mirror Lake (2027m) with the Big Beehive behind. From here we climb beside a waterfall to reach Lake Agnes (2134m), which sits in a hanging valley, hidden from below. This lake is named after Lady Susan Agnes MacDonald, the wife of Canada’s first Prime Minister and there is a tea house here that offers a welcome refreshment stop. Beyond the tea house, the trail is quieter and we follow it around the north side of the lake before climbing on a zig-zag path up to a col between the Devil's Thumb (2458m) and the Big Beehive (2270m). We make a final climb of the Beehive's rocky spine to the viewpoint shelter at the top where we are treated to views over the Bow Valley and down to Lake Louise. From the tea house to the top of the Big Beehive is around 1½ km with approximately 150m of ascent and will take around 40 minutes. Anyone who does not wish to make this additional effort can chose to relax on the tea house balcony and admire the view. We then retrace our steps to Chateau Lake Louise. We then board our tour bus for a 2-hour drive to Calgary where we check into our hotel. There are several dining options near to the hotel. Drive time: 2 hrs.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Departure day.

    KE Land Only package services end after breakfast. Airport shuttles can be arranged by the hotel.

    • Meals b

Holiday Information

  • Professional English-speaking driver/guide
  • All accommodation as described in the trip notes
  • Meals as detailed in the Meal Plan
  • All land transport required by the itinerary
  • Entrance fees for parks and other sites which are part of the itinerary

  • Visas (if applicable)
  • Travel insurance
  • Airport transfers
  • Airport taxes (if applicable)
  • Tips to local staff
  • Some meals as detailed in the Meal Plan
  • Optional activities
  • Miscellaneous personal spending

For each holiday there is a minimum number of participants required to enable it to go ahead. Once the minimum number is reached, the trip status will change from 'Available' to 'Guaranteed to run'. You can check the trip status for each departure in ‘Dates and Prices’ table. Other than in exceptional circumstances, we will not cancel a trip once it has achieved this guaranteed to run status and so you are free to proceed with your international flight booking and other travel arrangements.

The group will rendezvous at the first night's hotel. Note that airport transfers are not provided. For MCR/01 the first night's hotel is in Calgary. There is an airport shuttle which departs approximately every 45 minutes and will drop you at the hotel. The cost of this shuttle is approximately $18. Alternatively, a taxi will cost around $40. If you wish to be met at the airport by a KE representative this can be arranged at extra cost. For MCR/02, the first night's hotel is close to Vancouver Airport and provides a free airport shuttle. Full joining instructions along with hotel contact details and an emergency telephone number, are provided with your booking confirmation.

The altitudes attained on this holiday are not extreme and the maximum altitude is little more than the equivalent of a pressurised cabin on an international flight. You may ‘feel’ the altitude the first time you trek above 2000 metres but all that is required is a slower pace to compensate. You should pay particular attention to your hydration levels while trekking above 2000 metres.

During the holiday the group will have one night in a hotel in downtown Calgary and one night in a hotel nearby Vancouver Airport. Accommodation here is in double or twin en-suite rooms. If you are travelling by yourself you will be paired with another single traveller to share hotel rooms. If you would like to request a single room for these two nights these are available at supplementary cost. Outside of these two cities we stay in a mix of hostels, lodges and small hotels. Accommodation here may be in twin rooms or dormitories with 4 - 8 beds and shared facilities. Some of the dormitories are mixed male and female.

View the gallery below for images of the style of accommodation used

For the majority of the holiday meals will be prepared in the hostel or lodge by the local guide using locally purchased ingredients. Group members are invited to participate with the meal preparations and usually this is a fun and sociable event. Occasionally, while on the road or occasionally when in towns, we may take our meals in restaurants. There are also several days where you are free to choose your own dining option. At these times there will be a wide variety of choice from fast food outlets to restaurants with a choice of cuisines.

All breakfasts; 10 lunches and 9 dinners are included in the holiday price. There are three evenings during the holiday, in Whistler, Victoria and Vancouver, as well as the evening of arrival, where clients have a free choice of where to eat. Similarly there are two days (in Victoria and Vancouver on the ferry) where the group will have free time over lunch and can opt to eat where they like. Clients will pay directly for these meals, a total of 4 dinners and 2 lunches. We would suggest you budget between $15 and $25 for each of these meals depending on the type of restaurant you choose.

We recommend you allow £200 - £300 for your personal expenses, including the above-mentioned non-included meals, bar bills etc. If you are intending to buy expensive souvenirs, you should budget accordingly (credit cards can be useful in this respect). Your money can be carried in the form of cash (Canadian Dollars) or it is possible to withdraw your money from ATMs using your debit and credit card. There are ATMs in all towns.

There is no strict weight limit on this holiday other than that imposed by your airline. We do ask you to restrict your luggage to one main bag and a small daypack. Your main bag will be transported in the support vehicle or attached cargo trailer. We recognise that for some of our holidays and for some of our travellers, the KE Trek Bag (see below) may not provide the best solution when packing for your trip. A bag with fitted wheels or a holdall with more than one compartment and more than one access zip can, in some circumstances, be more appropriate. We have no problem if you choose to use an alternative bag.

KE Trek Bag / Free Gift

All KE clients will receive a FREE KE trek bag.  These have been specially made to stand up to the rigours of adventure travel.  Your KE bag will be posted to you when your trip is guaranteed to run or on receipt of your booking if the trip is already guaranteed.  If you have travelled with us before and already have a KE trek bag you can select an alternative free gift in the booking process.

Canada eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization)

Current to 14 March 2016

A passport (with at least 6 months remaining validity) is required.

Citizens of the US, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, and nationals of countries within the EU do not need a visa for visits to Canada up to 90 days.

From 15 March 2016

As of March 2016 all citizens (except for USA citizens) travelling to or transiting in Canada require at eTA – Electronic Travel Authorization. From 1 August 2015 travellers will be able to apply online for the eTA if travelling after 15 Mar 16. The eTA is valid for 5 years.

Applying for an eTa is an easy online process that will take just a few minutes. It costs $7 Canadian Dollars, and you require your passport that you will travel on, a credit card and an email address.

Passengers intending to travel via the USA, please note the following:

Your passport must have a machine readable bar code if you are transiting through the US. You must complete an online application form to travel to, or transit through the USA.

Under the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA), all travellers, including children, from the 27 countries under the US visa waiver programme will have to fill out an electronic travel authorization form online ( 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 without completing 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.

We do keep our information up to date but be advised visa requirements are subject to change. It is recommended that you contact the relevant embassy or commission in the case of recent alterations.

NOTE: If you are travelling to both Canada and the USA you will require both an eTA for Canada and an ESTA for the USA.

The following checklist should help you with your packing. As a general rule, you should try to keep the weight of your equipment to a minimum. Please restrict your luggage to one main bag (your KE trek bag) and one small daypack.

You must bring the following items:

  • Hiking boots
  • Trainers / sneakers for travelling etc
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Trekking trousers / pants
  • Lightweight waterproof overtrousers / rainpants
  • Baselayer shirt(s)
  • T-shirts and/or casual shirts
  • Fleece jacket or warm jumper
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Sunhat
  • Warm hat
  • Eyewear - Sunglasses
  • Gloves
  • Daypack c. 30 litres
  • Headtorch / headlamp
  • Sun protection (including total bloc for lips, nose etc.)
  • Water bottle
  • Washbag and toiletries
  • Antibacterial handwash
  • Small Towel
  • Small padlock (to lock your KE trek bag)
  • Basic First Aid Kit including: Antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, diarrhoea treatment (Imodium), painkillers, insect repellent, plasters (band-aids), and blister treatment.
  • Insect repellant

The following items are optional:

  • Sleeping bag liner
  • Shorts
  • Travel clothes
  • Spare laces
  • Trekking poles (recommended)
  • Pocket-knife (always pack sharp objects in hold baggage)
  • Repair kit – (eg. needle, thread, duct tape)
  • Camera, media, spare batteries

We recommend you check if you require an adaptor for your electrical items at:

Know before you go

As a reputable tour operator, KE supports the British Foreign & Commonwealth Offices ‘Know before you go’ campaign to enable British citizens to prepare for their journeys overseas, and we recommend that all KE travellers take a look at the FCO Travel Advice for their chosen destination on the official FCO website: North Americans can also check out the U.S. Department of State website: for essential travel advice and tips.

KE treat the safety and security of all clients as the most important aspect of any trip we organise. We would not run any trip that we did not consider reasonably safe.  Should the FCO advise against travel for any reason, we will contact everyone booked to travel to discuss the situation.  We receive regular updates direct from the FCO and are in constant touch with our contacts on the ground.  If you have any questions about government travel advice, please call our office.

It makes a lot of sense to spend some time before coming on an active holiday, getting some additional exercise. The fitter you are, after all, the more enjoyable you will find the experience. We suggest that you adopt a weekly exercise regime. Regular hiking in hill country is the best preparation but running, cycling and swimming are also good for developing better stamina and general cardio-vascular fitness. Before departure, we suggest that you try to fit in a number of long walks in hilly country.

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. We can expect to encounter temperatures during the day ranging from 18°C. to 27°C. Naturally, at the highest elevations on our trip, the daytime temperatures will be lower than this. At night, the temperatures will typically drop to around 10°C or even a few degrees lower. Although the weather is relatively stable at this time of year, we can expect some rainfall and mountains produce their own weather. The Pacific Ocean and mountain ranges have a strong effect on the climate of British Columbia. The climate here is generally mild (mild enough for palm trees to grow) with most of the precipitation falling during the winter months. In July and August we can expect temperatures in the range of 13 - 22°C. The winter snows do not usually clear from the mountain passes and roads until well into June. Because of its maritime climate you do need to be prepared for cloudy days and rain at any time of the year.

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. Vancouver & British Columbia Traveller Guide. Thomas Cook British Columbia Handbook. Andrew Hempstead British Columbia - A Walking Guide. Janna Leigh Fleming. Cicerone

Banff and Jasper. Gem Trek Publishing

This map covers the majority of the terrain that we travel through in the Rockies section of the trip.

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