CANADA FAMILY ADVENTURE HOLIDAY
Turf & Surf
Start your journey in the Canadian Rockies; a breathtaking stunning landscape that will literally leave you lost for words. Revel in stunning mountain vistas, jewel coloured alpine lakes, snow-capped peaks and glaciers that flow down from towering heights. By evening, relax in mineral hot springs. Spend contented days in the Okanagan Valley picking fruit and enjoying water sports on the spectacularly beautiful Okanagan Lake (with maybe a cheeky wine tasting thrown in).
Take the ferry across to Vancouver Island where you can spot whales, orcas and bears, surf off windswept beaches, hike through thick rainforest and kayak across impossibly clear waters. In the evenings, sample local seafood from award winning restaurants.
Embrace the great outdoors on this trip; jump in wholeheartedly and have one of the most amazing experiences of your life!
- Flights: Flights from UK regional airports to Calgary (YYC), return from Vancouver (YVR)
- Transport: Car hire from airport pick-up to airport drop-off
- Accommodation: 15 nights in apartments, hotels & lodges
- Meals: Breakfasts where stated
- Trip Pack: Key family-friendly information about the country you are visiting with recommended activity links, places to eat and fun facts.
- Hike through Banff’s alpine meadows filled with wildflowers and surrounded by glacier carved mountains
- Drive the famous Icefields Parkway and get up close to the Athabasca Glacier
- Visit canyons and azure lakes in Jasper National Park
- Relax in the Okanagan Valley surrounded by vineyards, orchards and cycle paths
- Explore the stunning Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island
- Spend time in Vancouver and explore the delights of Granville Island, Stanley Park, Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain
- Add on as much adventure as you want, from zip lining to mountain biking, gondolas to horseback riding, white water rafting to canoeing and whale-watching to grizzly tracking
- When can we go? May to October
- What type of tour is it? Self-drive
- Who is it suitable for? For active families that enjoy hiking & the great outdoors, adrenaline sports and wildlife (especially whales & bears!).
- What is the minimum age? We would recommend a minimum age of 8 years due to the physical nature of this trip. This trip covers a lot of ground, as Canada is a huge country. Please be prepared for some long days of driving. Please check the recommended activities as the minimum ages will differ for these.
We publish ‘guideline prices’ for both the high and low season to give a reasonable estimate of what you might expect to pay per person based on a family of four (two adults, two children). To get an accurate price based on your estimated departure date and party size please contact us directly.
Guide Price: Apr & Oct - £1,384pp
Guide Price: May to Sept - £2,064pp
Canada Adventure Holiday - Trip itinerary
Arrive on your flight from the UK to Calgary and check in to your nearby accommodation. Alberta’s largest city, Calgary is the product of oil culture and the gateway to the Rockies. Depending on your arrival time, visit Chinatown and Prince’s Island Park. Just outside the city is the 1988 Winter Olympics Park, where Eddie the Eagle and the Jamaican Bobsled Team became famous. Still a winter sports mecca it contains one of the world’s longest zip-wires.
Fun Facts: The Calgary Stampede is called The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. It is an annual 10 day event each July with rodeo competitions, chuck wagon races, a midway carnival & live music. The 2017 event runs between 7th to 16th July.
Less than an hour’s drive from Calgary, the serrated ridges of the Canadian Rockies started to take shape. A further 30 minutes on, Banff’s wide streets are home to art galleries, museums and a great selection of eateries. Opt to ride the gondola to the 7,500ft summit of Sulphur Mountain where the peaks appear to float untethered above valleys full of cloud.
Take the short drive to Lake Minnewanka; a perfect place for a picnic. Relax by the water or hike the 3km round trip by the shores of the lake. After your day’s activities, head to the nearby hot springs to soak your weary limbs in the hot mineral water. Make sure you check out the Banff Summer Events guide to see if any shows are happening in the evening.
Fun Facts: The area around Banff was settled at the end of the 19th century, having been “discovered” in 1883 by three workers building the Canadian Pacific Railroad who immediately recognized the commercial potential of its mineral hot springs.
Optional Activities: Sulphur Mountain gondola, hot springs, museums.
You have the option of spending the morning relaxing or hiking. Just outside Banff is Canada’s repeatedly ranked no. 1 hike – the Sunshine Meadow’s Trail. You can ride the gondola and chairlift then choose from a variety of trails to suit your level. In summer the meadows are a blanket of red Indian paintbrush and yellow alpine buttercups. Alpine bliss!
After lunch take the Bow Valley Parkway towards Lake Louise. Along the way, the Johnson Canyon hike is perfect for kids. Hike through a narrow limestone chasm past two thundering waterfalls. Afterwards take a late afternoon visit to Moraine Lake. This crystal clear vivid turquoise lake is hemmed in by ten lofty mountain peaks and a hanging valley of larches. One look from the rock pile on the lake’s edge, and the scene from the back of Canada’s old $20 bill will be emblazoned into your memory forever. This is one of the most photographed spots in Canada and the sense of peace and other-worldliness here is immense. You have the option of hiring kayaks from the docks and enjoying the view from a different perspective. Try not to fall in as this glacial lake rarely gets above 3 degrees.
Spend the next two nights in a characterful wooden lodge in the Lake Louise area. The next morning wake up early for your visit to Lake Louise. You can also rent a canoe here from the lakeside boathouse (yep, the water is still as cold!). We recommended skipping breakfast and taking a breakfast brunch at Chateau Lake Louise or taking the gondola up to the mountain top for panoramic views with full English served along the way. The Wildlife Interpretive Centre is also located here and is a great place to learn about the life of the local grizzly population.
Take some well-deserved free time this afternoon or go for an optional white-water rafting trip on the Kicking Horse River. Experience the “The Alarm Clock” rapid (sure to wake you up!) and the “Hopi Hole” whist negotiating the six adrenaline-pumping series of rapids. Soooo much better than the Xbox!
Fun Facts: Geologists say the shimmering hues of the Canadian Rockies lakes are caused by sunlight refracting against glittering silt-sized rock flour constantly deposited at the lake bed by thundering waterfalls.
Optional Activities: Hiking, kayaking, Lake Louise gondola, white-water rafting.
The Icefields Parkway cuts through the heart of the Rockies and runs for 143 miles from Banff to Jasper. It’s the most staggeringly scenic road you’ll ever experience; every winding curve filling the windshield with a succession of astonishing vistas - glittering glaciers hanging from lofty peaks, sweeping pine forests, sheer rock walls and mountain summits lost in cloud. Wildlife such as elk, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goats and the occasional bear or wolf are also often spotted from the highway. Remember to look out for a ‘bear jam’!
Take the whole day to drive the route and stop at the many postcard-worthy sights, such as Bow Lake, Crowfoot Mountain, Mistaya Canyon, Sunwapta Falls, Athabasca Falls and Athabasca Glacier. Take in the mesmerising views of Lake Peyto (named after “Wild Bill” Peyto); a surreal shade of glacial turquoise that defies belief. For families with older children we recommend the Parker Ridge Trail which is a 3-4-hour round hike up a steep, well maintained path. At the top you are rewarded with breath-taking panoramic views of glaciers, azure lakes, meandering rivers and mountain peaks.
At the Athabasca Glacier a sheet of snow and ice appears to drop from the high ridge all the way down to the road. You can opt to take the massive all-terrain Ice Explorer directly on to a 10,000 year-old sheet of ice. Alternatively park nearby and take a stroll to the glacier edge. Arrive in Jasper at the end of a memorable day which will be your base for the next three nights. Stay in a cosy lodge by the lake.
Fun facts: The huge tyres on the ‘Athabasca Glacier’ trucks cost around £2,500 each to replace.
Optional Activities: Athabasca Glacier Sno-truck.
Jasper lies along the Athabasca River within sight of four mountain ranges. It was first built as a Canadian Pacific Railway town and is more laidback than Banff, and its surroundings even wilder. Home to many locally owned businesses - the lone McDonalds closed after being shunned by the locals. Take the highly recommend drive out to Maligne Canyon with its waterfalls, deep canyons, fossils, six bridges and springs bubbling up through limestone boulders. Nearby Maligne Lake has to be one of the world's most exquisite beauty-spots. You can take an optional cruise on the lake to Spirit Island. An evening visit to the Miette Hot Springs is the perfect way to relax at the end of the day.
After a great night’s sleep lulled by the gentle waves of the lake, you have a variety of options for the following day. You have another chance to take on the mighty river rapids on a drenching, freezing and utterly exhilarating aquatic bucking bronco down the Athabasca River. No need for a wake-up coffee this morning! Or if you’d prefer a more sedate affair you could go on a gentle horse riding trek in the Athabasca River Valley with horses of various ages, sizes, colours and personalities to choose from.
Fun Facts: The Rockies has some wonderful microbreweries. The Banff brewery receives rave reviews and in Canmore the Grizzly Paw is another winner. Jasper has its own fine establishment opposite the railway station and if venturing west, Revelstoke's brewery is also recommended.
Optional Activities: Lake cruise, hot springs, white-water rafting, horse-riding, Jasper Skytram.
This morning, you get to experience the Icefields Parkway in the opposite direction. Today is a long day of travelling so we would suggest setting off early and breaking up the journey with a stop in Yoho NP. Often overlooked in favour of Banff or Jasper National Parks, Yoho National Park (meaning a Cree exclamation of awe) is an absolute gem. The Emerald Lake Trail is a flat 5km trail with beautiful views and the chance to canoe or have a picnic. The lake is as vivid as its name suggests. Another option is Takakkaw Falls, an easy 10 minute walk from the road. One of Canada’s highest waterfalls comes complete with a fabulous roar!
After another couple of hours of driving you will arrive in Revelstoke – a fabulous winter sports destination but equally as active in summer with alpine mountain biking trails, rafting on the Illecillewaet (try pronouncing that one!) and stand up paddle boarding on Lake Revelstoke. There is also free nightly live music in Grizzly Plaza. The wonderfully restored town centre has friendly locals and some decent restaurants. Kids will love the Pipe Mountain Coaster at Revelstoke Mountain Resort or the Giant Cedars Boardwalk Trail.
Fun Facts: From Emerald Lake, you can see Mount Burgess, where, in 1909, a palaeontologist discovered the earliest fossils in recorded history.
Optional Activities: Stand up paddle boarding, white-water rafting, pipe roller coaster.
Spend the morning in Revelstoke making the most of the activities on offer. It’s a 2.5 hour journey into the Okanagan Valley; dotted with ranches, wineries and fruit farms and sweeping views down to the 135km-long Okanagan Lake. These next couple of days are all about relaxing. Partake in the farm-to-plate experiences on estates such as Covert Farms or the cookery school at La Stella; take a family friendly vineyard tour (can this possibly be true?); watch a ‘Shakespeare Kelowna’ outdoor summer play; opt to rent bicycles and cycle the route along the old Kettle Valley Railway or one of the many horse-back riding tour that provide glorious views across the valley.
Lake Okanagan provides endless opportunities for water sports fun. The Witbit water parks provide inflatable fun at its finest. Then there is wakeboarding, fly boarding, parasailing, kite boarding, sailing…..you get the picture. A short drive to the south is the desert town of Ooysos where you will find the fabulous Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre with indoor and outdoor exhibits. Train lovers will also enjoy the Osoyoos Desert Model Railroad.
This picturesque part of the world seems to be particularly rich in critters, including black widow spiders (eek!), wild deer and bears. These last are a particular hazard for winery owners as they can eat their own weight in grapes in a day. Who can blame them!
Stay near the lake in an apartment with a private pool.
Fun Facts: The Okanagan Lake is reputed to have its own equivalent of the Loch Ness monster, the Ogopogo.
Optional Activities: Vineyard tour, cycling, treetop adventure park, waterparks, First Nations Cultural Centre.
We recommend spending the majority of the day in the Okanagan Valley before a late afternoon drive across to Vancouver and Horseshoe Bay (around 4.5 hours). A good stop for dinner is the town of Hope at the southern end of the Fraser Canyon. Stay overnight in Horseshoe Bay near the ferry terminal.
Free of pretentions and all about the land, Vancouver Island is a natural haven. See a humpback whale lunging through a school of bait fish, a grizzly bear chasing salmon in a shallow river, or a pod of orca’s surfacing in unison. These are once in a lifetime experiences that are all possible over the next few days.
Take a scenic early morning ferry crossing to Nanaimo. You then have a 2.5 hour journey to Pacific Rim National Park on the west coast of the island but we recommend making multiple stops along the way. Be prepared for yet another ‘epic’ drive! Make your first stop at Coombs Old Country Market which has the irresistible combination of delicious ice-cream and goats living on the roof. Then onto Cathedral Grove to see some of the tallest, mightiest Douglas fir trees on earth and the fishing town of Port Alberni for lunch. Finally stop at Kennedy Lake against the backdrop of towering mountains. Meander through the beaches of the Pacific Rim NP before arriving in Tofino for a well-earned latte. This will be your base for the next 3 nights.
Fun Facts: Canada’s tallest tree, a Sitka Spruce, is located in the Carmanah Valley on the southwestern side of Vancouver Island.
There’s something magical about this stretch of Vancouver Island’s west coast. For one thing, it’s stunningly beautiful, with majestic rainforests, picturesque inlets and crashing waves. But there is also a serenity that makes you feel truly privileged to be here. Home to the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Marine Biosphere Reserve and the pristine Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, it truly is a special place.
Tofino, blessed with open water, islands, mountains, cedar-shake buildings and surfer shops, is a gentrified fishing village that has long welcomed draft dodgers, new-style hippies, university students and tourists. You have the choice of simply relaxing with the family or taking the opportunity to tick off some sublime wildlife feats - whales, orcas & bears (oh my!).
The rainforest islands in Clayoquot Sound are the perfect place to spot black bears. When the tide rolls out they lumbar down to the shore in search of crabs and clams, sometimes with cubs in tow.
Out in the open water spot resident grey whales diving to the ocean floor, humpback whales breaching and lunge feeding, and the occasional pod of playful orcas. Throw in sea lions, harbour seals, sea otters and bald eagles and you have a pretty epic tour!
For families with older children (age 12+) we would highly recommend a kayaking trip to the Broken Group Island with its rugged beauty and rich mix of wildlife. Stop on deserted beaches for a picnic and head back shore with sore arms and contented hearts.
In terms of hikes, they doesn’t come much more family friendly than the Wild Pacific Trail. The Lighthouse Loop (30-45 mins) is perfect for younger kids with spectacular ocean views, giant trees and access to wild beaches. This is also a fantastic spot to watch a storm rolling in. Hit the local beaches to learn to surf, go rock pooling or beach combing. The kids will be in coastal heaven!
Every month brings different festivals to this part of the world –music, art, oysters, surfing and whale celebrations to name a few. Relax and enjoyed the unique atmosphere.
Fun Facts: Unknown to the world before 1959, when a road was punched across the width of Vancouver Island; Long beach in Tofino became an end-of-world refuge for hippies and surfers until it became a national park in 1970. Much of that laid-back vibe remains today.
Optional Activities: Whale-watching, bear watching, kayaking.
It’s an early morning start back over to the mainland & the cosmopolitan city of Vancouver. Vancouver sits with Sydney, Cape Town and Rio as ocean city’s you would most like to live in. It is celebrated for its natural beauty; perched on a peninsula on Canada’s Pacific North West coast and hugged by mountains, beaches and forest.
Vancouverites are infectiously outdoorsy and it’s easy to join in the healthy West Coast lifestyle. Bike on the seawall of the 1,000-acre Stanley park with stunning views of mountains and water; traverse the Capilano suspension bridge over a forested canyon; hop on the little Aquabus ferry from Yaletown or Sunset Beach to Granville Island, home to food markets, craft brewers, theatres and art galleries.
Spend the rest of day exploring and getting your city fix. Maybe some last minute gift shopping. Stay overnight in a city centre apartment. Depending on the time of your flight home you should hopefully have a few more hours to explore this vibrant city the following day. Recommendations include Vancouver Aquarium, Science World at Telus World of Science and Kitsilano Beach and Pool.
Head to the airport for your flight home with a bag full of stories to tell around the dinner table.
Fun Facts: Greenpeace, one of the world’s oldest and most successful environment groups was established in Vancouver.
Optional Activities: Suspension Bridge, cycling.
Wandering Tribe has travelled to all of the destinations that we feature and we like nothing better than talking about them. If you would like further information about these tours or a tailor-made quote then please contact us on 07392 742333. Alternatively you can fill in the contact form and we will endeavour to get back to you as soon as possible.