Katie's Journey Through the Clouds Excursion

Staff member: Katie // Trip date: Jul 2017

Rocky Mountaineer is synonymous with luxury travel and experiences that transport their guests on a wonder-filled journey through Western Canada.

 

I arrived in Vancouver on a chilly Spring morning in late April with two days up my sleeve before my weeklong Rocky Mountaineer adventure was to commence. I used this free time to explore the city which in Springtime comes alive; lush greenery and floral bouquets line the streets. With the ocean lapping at the city on one side, and mountains on the other, there’s so much to see and do before beginning your Rocky Mountaineer experience.

 

The night before my departure, I met some fellow guests from the travel industry at a pre-departure event at the Sheraton Wall Centre where we were got to know one another and excitedly chatted about what we hoped to see throughout the upcoming week.

 

The following morning our Rocky Mountaineer adventure truly kicked off. An early start had us all convening in the foyer of the opulent Four Seasons Hotel where we met our coach transfer to the station. Our excitement was at fever pitch as we all milled about enjoying the jazz pianist, but before we knew it we’d received a traditional sendoff from a bagpiper, then a rousing “All Aboard” heralded our time to board the train awaiting us.

 

With eyes full of wonder and cheeks bursting with excitement, we boarded the train and found our SilverLeaf seats and began our departure from Vancouver. It wasn’t long before the amazing culinary staff presented us with breakfast. The food is sumptuous and never-ending, nothing short of what you would expect from decorated Michelin star chefs.

 

Your culinary experience is matched by what can only be described as magnificent scenery; from deep, dusty canyons, to the white-water rapids of the Fraser River, of which Hell’s Gate is a highlight. The journey from Vancouver to Kamloops will provide many opportunities for glimpses at wildlife. Osprey, Bald Eagles and Bighorn sheep will feature prominently.

 

My second day on board the train was spent enjoying all that GoldLeaf service has to offer. From the upper level of the two-tier carriage, our anticipation grew as the scenery slowly changed to reveal the looming peaks of the Rocky Mountains. The sedate pace of the train, often referred to as “Kodak speed,” provides the perfect opportunity to capture those moments that you’ll fondly look back on for a lifetime, from the stunning beauty of Pyramid Falls to the imposing snow-capped Mt. Robson.

 

Springtime provides the best opportunities to see bears in the wild as they have just emerged from hibernation and they are low on the mountains, foraging for food. We were lucky to hear our hosts loudly yell “train left” and “train right” for sightings of 6 black bears including a mother and her cubs sitting close to the tracks - a memory I’ll never forget.

 

It was getting late into the evening when we arrived into Jasper, and though we remained excited for what to yet to come, we were all still disappointed this part of trip was over.

 

After a late night enjoying all that the small town of Jasper has to offer, we were up early raring to go for the next day’s adventures travelling along one of the world’s most scenic highways: the Icefields Parkway.

 

This winding road between Jasper and Lake Louise showcases the very best that Mother Nature has to offer. From the glacier-fed Athabasca Falls, to the incredible, awe-inspiring Columbia Icefield this day-long drive will be the highlight of your itinerary.

 

The Columbia Icefield is about mid-point on the drive and as we approached the vast blanket of white, ours jaws collectively dropped. It is the largest ice field in the Rocky Mountains and offers the opportunity to travel onto Athabasca Glacier via an Ice Explorer vehicle. Your Brewster guide will take you to the departure point of these trucks and will await your return.

 

The environment here is ever-changing, as is the weather, so be prepared for bright, glaring sun one moment and then a snowy white out the next.

Following our time on the glacier we were taken back to our coach and across the road to the Icefields Parkway Discovery Centre for a hot buffet lunch.

 

We arrived in the hamlet of Lake Louise by late afternoon and were taken to the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, the famed hotel by the lake.

The lake was still frozen (and remained so until early June) and though walking on it wasn’t advised as it was getting quite slushy, it was impossible to resist the urge to walk out a short way.

 

We enjoyed a lovely, relaxing night at this renowned property before heading off to Banff the next morning. Along the way, our guide imparted his knowledge of the area whilst taking us from Alberta briefly back to British Columbia to the still-frozen Emerald Lake, and the small town of Field.

 

Banff is a quaint town hugged by mountains on all sides. On arrival into town, we were greeted by deer relaxing in the front yards of the towns’ occupants.

The town is a tourist mecca throughout the year offering a wide range of activities, eateries, shopping and accommodations.

 

The following day was our last of this incredible itinerary.  We set out to visit the Banff Gondola first. This is an attraction not to missed! You’ll be transported to the top of Sulphur Mountain where you will be treated to encompassing views of the town and the Rockies. I recommend the walk to the weather station for the best views. From here, our driver from Brewster took us to Surprise Corner, the best spot for photos of the iconic Fairmont Banff Springs or “the Castle in the Rockies” as it’s affectionally known.

 

From here, we made our way to Kananaskis Country located at the foothills of the Rockies for a scenic helicopter flight over the mountain system we’d spent the past week in awe of.

 

A short drive on the Trans-Canada highway and we arrived in Calgary. This city is a confluence of cosmopolitan and western culture, home to the world-famous Calgary Stampede, and a gateway to the remainder of the incredible country that is Canada.

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