WESTERN CANADA – September 2014
This gallery and accompanying text is intended to give some sort of insight into our hectic holiday (11 stop-overs, 10 different ‘hotels’, journeys by car/boat/train/plane and a few special trips) as well as the wonderful scenery we enjoyed along the way. Canadian Wildlife, Whales and Birds have their own galleries.
Arriving late in Calgary we headed straight to the hotel and bed – only to wake up to several inches of snow and a blizzard to accompany us on our trip to Banff. But when the sun surfaced over the next two days we were treated to a wonderful winter landscape. Banff is a small town with a warm feeling about it. Trips to the top of Sulphur Mountain and to see Lake Minnewanka were the highlights [photos d.11-26].
Next, to Jasper - claimed the most scenic of routes, particularly along the Icefields Parkway – but the mist and low cloud restricted our views. However we stopped at Lake Louise (along with many others!) and Lake Moraine [photos e.11-49]. The sun was more evident in Jasper but it was still cold. A short trip back along the Icefields Parkway gave an indication of what we missed. We also visited the various lakes around Jasper - Maligne, Annette, Edith and the Maligne Canyon on one side of route 93 and Patricia and Pyramid on the other [photos f.11-25].
Jasper was our embarking station for the Rocky Mountaineer and this heralded two days of being pampered as we slowly wound our way through the dramatic scenery of the Rockies to British Columbia. Mount Robson, Pyramid falls, Yellowhead Pass and the North Thompson river - wonderful sights on the first day before an overnight stop at Kamloops [photos ff.11-38].
Early the following morning we continued our train journey to the Pacific coast - with forests, river canyons, the Cascade Mountains, lush fields in the Fraser valley and the rushing waters of Hell’s gate in the Fraser canyon. We entered Vancouver via the swing bridge and had a great view of the Alex Fraser cable supported bridge and the sky train system [photos g.11-53].
Next we headed to Tsawwassen for the ferry to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island and from there to Victoria. The sun was now shining and we had gone from -6 to 26 deg C. The capital of British Columbia, it is a quieter city, more sedate than Vancouver with an active harbour and characterful Fishermans’ Wharf [photos h.11-22].
The journey to Tofino was long – some 5 hours - and we stopped in Alberni for lunch before heading into the Pacific Rim National Park. We stayed about 5 miles outside Tofino on the beach and within the Park – which facilitated several walking opportunities. Tofino itself is a wonderful small town surrounded by sea and rainforests (cue rain). It is on Clayoquot Sound and we headed there on each of the next two days to kit ourselves out in buoyancy suits and head out in a zodiac to hunt for whales (day1, poor weather, no sightings) and black bears (day 2, better luck). [photos i.11-25]
Our next stop-over was Hidden Cove. Isolated but some wonderful views, as well as a black bear and cub. Telegraph Cove was just a small inlet with wooden buildings around the edges. It was like going back in time and was a base for our second whaling trip. [photos j.11-28]
It was then a short journey to Port Hardy to board the floatplane for Great Bear Lodge - except bad weather saw the trip aborted some 15 minutes into the one hour flight. Fortunately the Pilot boat took pity on us and we headed off for a 3+ hour boat trip [photos k.11-20]. Great Bear Lodge proved a marvellous place – a peaceful retreat in a rainforest. Wildlife a plenty with Grizzly Bears the star attraction but we also saw Great Blue Herons, Bald Eagles and many more [photos l.11-34].
Our penultimate leg of the grand journey was the return floatplane trip to Port Hardy [photos ll.11-22]. Finally, it was back to Vancouver and an enjoyable walk around the harbour/Gastown. A buzzing area, a nice lunch and a lovely warm day to finish on [photos m.11-30].
© David Rayner Photography