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Anyone "done" Canada?

(25 Posts)
Crikeyblimey Sun 30-Jun-13 14:03:20

Next year is our 10th wedding anniversary, ds goes to high school and dh is 50. We are planning a "big trip".

We have finally all agreed on Canada.

I fancy flying to Calgary, travelling to Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper then either driving in an RV or taking the Rocky Mountaineer train to Vancouver, spending some time on Vancouver Island and then fly home from there.

We have 3 weeks to do this in.

Am I being too ambitious? Would we be better travelling less and spending longer in fewer places?

We want to do an amount of hiking, some horse riding, whale watching, white water rafting and some sitting in cafes eating cake.

Any advice / experiences would be most welcome.


iseenodust Sun 30-Jun-13 14:17:31

Sooo jealous. That is a lot of travelling but where would you drop? We've done them all but not in one go. Vancouver Island is the same size as Holland ! It also has to my mind quite a different (in a good way) feel to it, far less commercialised/few non-Canadian tourists. About 2 hours north of Victoria dual carriageway pretty much runs out.

I think it comes down to whether you want to see it all, much from a window or really get a feel for the place. I really want to go back and do a huge RV trip. I think the answer is take a month.

How helpful am I ? grin

Crikeyblimey Sun 30-Jun-13 17:01:57

Thanks (I think!). We don't have a month unfortunately. When I mentioned Vancouver island, I sort of meant a few days in Victoria to recharge batteries before coming home.

Is a week and a half enough for Lake Louise and Jasper?

The train from Jasper to Vancouver is 2 days but I guess if we drive this it will at least double that time.

You say you've done all we want to do. Which did you enjoy most?


gandalfcat Sun 30-Jun-13 19:05:12

My ds and I love Canada. We first visited when he was 5yo and was first holiday after split from his dad, so was a little nervous, but it was fantastic. Since then have been back every other year, varying time of visit and route slightly - we are back again mid-August! (Can't wait!)

On first trip we flew into Calgary for a few days, then 2 day Rocky Mountaineer through to Vancouver - DS was a Thomas addict when 5yo so loved it, and the scenery was unbelievable! I've driven through Rockies a few times since, but easier to enjoy the scenery when not trying to drive! We then had a few days in Vancouver, which is one of my favourite cities in the world, with a really friendly vibe, that both ds and I find very chilling. We then went over to Victoria on Vancouver Island. Was good to see, and whale watching trip from there was wonderful, but found it a little like Enid Blyton Dorset, so haven't re-visited. If I had more time and money I would love to go to the wilder areas of Vancouver Island, maybe with the Grizzly Bears! After a few days in Victoria we went back to Vancouver, hired a car and drove out to Kelowna - great for us as we have friends living there, but actually a wonderful wine growing region, with great lakes (water skiing/jet-skis etc.) and scenic walking/riding. Finished by driving back to Vancouver and flight home - that was 3 week trip. Saw and did a lot, but no too manic for a newly single Mum and 5yo ds.

Have not spent much time in Jasper, but Lake Louise is spectacular. Wherever you go, it will be scenic, and the people will be lovely, if my experiences are anything to go by. Hope you love it.

gandalfcat Sun 30-Jun-13 19:07:34

meant to say, do ask if you have any specific questions - I might be able to help, and if not I have accumulated an impressive pile of guidebooks that might have helpful info!

prissyenglisharriviste Sun 30-Jun-13 19:12:01

It sounds great.

I live in Canmore and work in Banff, though, so I may be a tad biased. grin. We usually get up to Jasper in the summer for a few days, and have also done the Van/ island thing.

Easily doable, and a great timeline.

Have a great trip, and wave as you go by!

prissyenglisharriviste Sun 30-Jun-13 19:14:51

<I should add that you might not want to google canmore flooding 2013. It looks a bit of a mess, but CPR got the line back together in super quick time. All the mud and debris will be a long distant memory by next year ;-) >

You do need to add 'bear-watching' to your 'things to do' list though.

gandalfcat Sun 30-Jun-13 19:21:18

....and a float plane trip - even the 30 minute sight-seeing hop out of Vancouver water front is exciting!

smileyhappymummy Sun 30-Jun-13 19:25:41

Sounds like an amazing trip!
We spent 2 weeks going to Vancouver, Tofino (west coast of Vancouver island, absolutely amazing pacific beaches and rainforest and whale watching) and Victoria. Had an amazing time but it did feel a little rushed (we had 4 year old dd with us though which certainly added to the challenge of the trip!).
Vancouver island was probably the best bit. We also got a floatplane trip back from Victoria to the middle of Vancouver which was a brilliant experience - saw a pod of killer whales from the air.
Have a good time!

Crikeyblimey Sun 30-Jun-13 20:55:04

Thanks all.

This trip will be our last biggy for quite a while and maybe I'm trying to pack too much in??

We want to be relaxed and not feel to stuck to a timetable but at the same time want to see enough. Perhaps I should knock the Jasper bit on the head but then maybe not.

I'll have to look into distances a bit more.

My boys (ds and dh) will adore the wilderness bits but I'm looking forward to Vancouver Island. Hmmm much thinking to do.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 30-Jun-13 21:30:48

Were you aware that Calgary is still in a state of emergency until Wednesday of this week due to this city flooding?.

It may well take some months for this city to recover from the after effects of the flooding that hit it. Would suggest you keep informed by reading the newspapers that cover this city.

Crikeyblimey Sun 30-Jun-13 21:40:49

Thanks Atilla and I truly feel for the people of Calgary. Our trip isn't till next summer so I'm sure there is time for many things to change one way or another.

Bumply Sun 30-Jun-13 21:51:37

Three years back I did similar.
Flew to Calgary, hired RV and drove to Banff, somewhere near Lake Louise, did the tour up the glacier, stopped in Jaspar and drive to Vancouver with two stopovers I think. My sister lives on salt spring island between Vancouver and Vancouver island so that was our base for the rest of the three weeks, although we did one overnighter on Vancouver island.
I did all the driving my other sister did all the cooking.
If you get to the RV campsites early in the morning you can usually get a place without booking, so you don't have to timetable the stops in advance.
My boys loved it, keeping a keen eye out for bears. We did cable car trips to top of mountains, swimming in hot pools, kayaking on glacier lakes of an unreal blue you won't see anywhere else. White water rafting, moonlit kayaking over to islands made of shells, ferries between beatutiful islands, sunbathed on beaches that have shade from trees right down to the shore, ate marshmallows melted over BBQ in an RV camp in the middle of nowhere.
Best holiday ever.
3 weeks is fine if that's all you can manage.

Bumply Sun 30-Jun-13 21:59:15

My sister was telling me about the floods in Calgary. Reached the 10th rank of seats on the stadium. The zoo which is on an island where two rivers meet was swamped, but only the tropical fish died as they need electricity. The giraffe was apparently not happy having water up to its flanks, but the hippo could swim over its fence and had a much larger area for a while. The wildcats etc. had to be evacuated , but other animals were ok getting to high ground (which thankfully there was).
Very crazy weather.

prissyenglisharriviste Mon 01-Jul-13 07:19:39

Calgary is fine. Outlying areas far worse - Calgary just flooded, nothing got swept away!

Make sure you get here for the stampede wink and don't forget to order your t- shirt

Dd1 is in the stampede parade this year - she's beyond excited...

prissyenglisharriviste Mon 01-Jul-13 07:20:24

Bumply - they were going to lock the cats in the jail cells ;-)

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 01-Jul-13 09:22:35

Hi Crikeyblimey,

It was not widely reported so was wondering if you were aware of how bad things were with regards to Calgary itself. It has left the city with a lot of problems.

Hopefully things will be much better by the time you arrive there next summer. It will take several months for the clean up to be done however.

prissyenglisharriviste Mon 01-Jul-13 16:36:27

Same with med hat. Attila. But it's just flooding. Southern alberta well used to it.

The towns where houses have been destroyed by the force closer to the mountains are having to rebuild. Calgary is just mopping up, and redoing drywall, and replacing furniture. The infrastructure is mostly fine.

prissyenglisharriviste Mon 01-Jul-13 17:10:57

Oh, and Happy Canada Day!

We're off for pancake breakfast and the town parade - this year the parade will include way more local emergency services, and the contractors and some of the equipment they used to channel the course of the creek, save one of the bridges, and get the highways open again to reconnect us to Calgary. Yay!

lazydog Sun 14-Jul-13 07:33:49

"Perhaps I should knock the Jasper bit on the head but then maybe not."

Definitely not - you'd miss the best part of Canada! Not at all biased grin When in the summer were you thinking of coming...? A real draw to our area (I live near Mt.Robson, by the Fraser River) is the salmon spawning in August and watching them attempting to leap Rearguard Falls - truly amazing experience!!

lazydog Sun 14-Jul-13 07:40:32

Also, don't do the train from Jasper to Van - you'd not be able to stop in Mount Robson Park and we have the best day hikes and great white water rafting opportunities.

theoriginalandbestrookie Mon 15-Jul-13 22:43:17

We love Canada and particularly Banff and lake Louise, also Tofino on Vancouver Island is a wonderful place.

I'd head straight from Calgary to Banff/Lake Louise - sorry can't remember which one is closest, but one of them is only about an hours drive away. We managed to get cheapish rooms at the Fairmont Lake Louise and it was a wonderful place to stay.

Not sure about the Rocky Mountaineer train. Friends did it and they said that whilst they enjoyed it, it was mostly populated by the over 60s.

slavetocat Tue 23-Jul-13 23:37:17

If you don't mind driving long distances an RV would be the way to go. you can stop when you want to as there are so many things to see. Depending on how much time you have don't miss Jasper or anything between Calgary and Vancouver Island! Staying at campsites is very enjoyable and the sites nothing like those at home. Having a campfire is most Canadian! I Have travelled from Calgary to V.I many times since I moved here and have loved every journey. Have fun!

katharinehepburn Sun 28-Jul-13 15:41:27

We did a Canada trip when I was midteens. Think we had three weeks in total. Did something along the lines of:
Fly to Calgary, hire car, night in motel
To Banff for 3-4 nights
To Revelstoke for 3 nights
Overnight stop en route to Vancouver (?Kelowna)
Vancouver for 3-4 nights
Vancouver Island for about 3-4 nights (stayed Nanaimo I think, did Victoria as Butchart Gardens spectacular at night with fireworks, and to pacific Rim nat park)
Overnight en route to Jasper (?Kamloops)
Jasper for 3-4 nights
Calgary for 2 nights
Flight to Toronto for 2-3 nights so we could go to Victoria Falls

We were in motel type places rather than an RV - realise now what an amazing job my mum did to organise it in the days when the internet didn't exist! But don't remember ever feeling too rushed and if you have an RV you don't even need to pack the case again every few days! I remember so much about that trip and can't wait till my DDs old enough for something similar!

katharinehepburn Sun 28-Jul-13 15:42:09

Oh and we did get to some of the Calgary stampede IIRC!

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