“Rocky Mountain High” - Canada

May 18-25, 2017

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“No scene on earth can give you an equal impression of inspiring solitude, untamed nature and rugged grandeur of the Ten Peaks at Lake Louise” Explorer, Walter Cox Ever been somewhere you wish you could stay forever? The national parks of the Canadian Rockies in British Columbia is the place and I can’t wait to lead this one, particularly since the iconic Fairmont Resort has been on my bucket list for decades! You’ll feel at one with nature in one of the world’s most scenic destinations with endless snow-capped mountains, turquoise lakes and crystal glaciers. The famed vistas between Jasper and Banff glacier trails are simply breathtaking with living technicolor for your best postcard-like photos ever. You’ll be blown away by the vast open landscapes dotted with elk, wolves, coyote, eagles, grizzlies and more. Always keep your camera ready for moose spotting and the carpets of wildflowers in May.

Overview

We’ve made this adventure playground filled with fun! You’ll love the Columbia Icefield, the Glacier Skywalk and gondolas rides. Soak in fabulous hot springs, explore trails on horseback or easy hiking, boat cruises, canoeing, kayaking or rafting. Here are the finest outdoor activities as you can commune with nature.

A highlight is our majestic 5-Star Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise resort built in 1890, crowned with frosted mountains and Victoria glacier in Alberta (we negotiated an unheard of price for AFS). Enjoy the Spa, 6 restaurants, pools, lawn games, helicopters, river floats, fishing and 40 mountain adventure activities with GoPros.

#BeyondBelief!  Edmonton, Jasper, Banff, Calgary, and the best sights in between. Come take a walk on the wild side for our AFS Rockin in the Rockies. Come be struck with legendary awe and wonder!

Lonely Planet names Bamff #1 destination for 2017!  http://usat.ly/2eN2aPl

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Our Glorious Itinerary

May 18 - Fly to Edmonton

You can easily arrange your own air from your hometown into Edmonton and out of Calgary by using many search engines. Air Canada has good rates now - 10 months out we’ll present Group Air, you may want to wait as we might find a really good rate.

Since the land trip starts May 19 in Edmonton, you may want to go a day early there to explore wonderful Edmonton. If you go early, a good hotel is the Delta Edmonton South Hotel in downtown near the fabulous mall (easy taxi ride) or airport hotel with free shuttle.

Welcome to Edmonton, Alberta!

Alberta’s capital city is always celebrating something in the Spring. From art & culture to food & wine. Explore the museums, historical sights, the fun farmers market in the old Strathcona filled with delicious products from local vendors, funky restaurants and great shops. Even locals love the Segway adventure tours. People come here to spend a day or longer in West Edmonton Mall which is the largest entertainment and shopping complex in all of North America, (roller coaster, water parks, etc) the size of a small city. It’s a youthful crowd with the University of Alberta here and provides a delightful night life with outdoor concerts and more.


May 19 – Edmonton – Jasper, Alberta

Land trip starts at 11:00 AM sharp. Pick-up transfers will be provided at the airport or at a centrally located hotel in downtown.
We depart Edmonton through rolling foothills with snowcapped peaks of the Rocky Mountains in the background as we begin to feel the awe of the Rockies. Jasper is a laid-back alpine community considered the springboard to outdoor adventures with spectacular hiking trails, abundant wildlife and sightseeing year round. You’ll find delicious restaurants, alpine pubs and interesting shopping, all with a view not-to-be-beat. Nature’s show does not end at sundown –Jasper is the second largest Dark-Sky Preserve in the world, with no visible artificial lights, allowing you to see a sky filled with stars.

Part of UNESCO’s world heritage site, Jasper is a wildlife-rich version of the other Rocky Mountains parks with its rugged backcountry, breathtaking river canyons and delicate ecosystems teeming with bears, elk, moose and caribou. This town scores high marks for its river rafting, bike trails, hiking, pioneering history and easy-to-view wildlife.

Get to know your fellow AFS travelers over a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. Check out the fun pub venues like Dog Bar, O’Shea’s, Jasper Brewing Company & more.

Overnight: Chateau Jasper     D


May 20 – Maligne Canyon – Maligne

After breakfast, we depart on a full-day sightseeing tour of Jasper.  First we explore Maligne Canyon (pronounced MALEEN). This area is beautiful with waterfalls, fossils, potholes, underground stream outlets, the nests of ravens and rare black swifts, unexpectedly lush plant life and the startling effects of frost action - these are just some of the wonders of Maligne Canyon. Swirling, churning water has worn the canyon, only two meters across at some points, to a depth of more than 150 feet.

Onto Maligne Lake, the largest lake in the Canadian Rockies and one of the most photographed scenes in Canada to embark on a narrated boat cruise. The majestic Maligne Lake is the second-largest glacier-fed lake in the world. While its crystal-blue waters can be cold for swimming, there are plenty of other activities to do in the Maligne Valley like fishing, kayaking and boat tours to Spirit Islands.

We return to the town of Jasper in the mid-afternoon you can ride the sky tram up an aerial tramway for astonishing views of three rivers. In the evening it’s a perfect time to go for a luxurious soak in the Miette Hot Springs right inside the Jasper National Park at the wild Fiddle Valley. Featuring the hottest springs from the Rockies at 129F and cooled to 100F. Among Jaspers top 10 attractions and prefect place to relax after a day of sightseeing. (Transfers provided, entrance fee around $4).

Overnight: Chateau Jasper    B


May 21 – Icefield Parkway, Ice Explorer and Glacier Skywalk

After breakfast we travel south along the Icefield Parkway to experience a wealth of breathtaking scenery. The 3-hour journey is rated in the World’s Top Ten Drives by Nat Geo.  This drive of a lifetime offers the opportunity to see diverse wildlife, stops at majestic viewpoints and view interpretive displays. You’ll learn so much at the information center and enjoy the cafes & shops.The vast Columbia Ice Field, which feeds 8 glaciers, is a remnant of the Ice Age and largest in Canada. Crystal blue-green lakes, fresh mountain streams, deep forests and snow-capped mountain peaks are the order of the day. 

Columbia Icefield - We will get up close and personal with thousands-of-years-old glaciers. Climb aboard the massive, all-terrain Ice Explorer, for an adventure atop this ancient ice block. Your experienced driver-guide will explain about glaciers, icefields and their impact on our environment. Walk on the 1,000-foot deep Athabasca glacier. Explore this moving mass as you step out onto ice that is deep enough to bury the Eiffel tower. You can fill your water bottle with fresh glacier water and you can inhale the fresh mountain air in a breathtaking mountain setting.

A highlight of the day is the engineering wonder, Glacier Sky Walk, on a glass-floored observation platform over the Sunwapta Valley. Step into a world where glaciers rest above and birds soar below. Photograph waterfalls, wildlife and more on an exciting cliff-edge walkway that leads to a platform where glass is all that separates you from a 918-foot drop! If you are not into heights, you can still view from a look out point nearby.

We continue on our journey into the town of Banff - surrounded by the dramatically rugged peaks of the Canadian Rockies and has everything you could wish for. You’ll discover a diverse collection of designer boutiques, souvenir shops, museums, spas, nightclubs, bars and cafes and restaurants with a diverse dining scene that features some of the top chefs and restaurants in Canada.

Check into our hotel – the Inn of Banff. A perfect location to explore this gorgeous mountain retreat. Take a dip in the roof top hot pool, dine in one of three restaurants, explore a hiking trail nearby.
    
Overnight: Inn of Banff    B


May 22 – Banff Springs Hotel, Tunnel Mountain & Bow Falls

This morning we tour the region around Banff.

Along the spine of the North American continent, the Rocky Mountains rise high into the clouds and blue glaciers cling to their slopes. Green forested valleys provide a vital food source for grizzly bears and other species. This is the Lake Louise and Icefields area of Banff National Park, a landscape of wonder which has been dubbed the “hiking capital of Canada”.

Tunnel Mountain – this easy hike trail has been around since the early days of Banff National Park. The trail is well maintained with panoramic views from the top of the town site and the Bow Valley. You may opt to climb to the summit (about 35 minutes) for great Kodak moments. Descend down a series of well-graded switchbacks. We continue past the landmark Banff Spring Hotel onto view Bow Falls. These cascading falls are a popular stop and provide easy walking trails for pedestrians along the Bow River.

Lunch at a local restaurant. 

Afternoon is at leisure.  Take this opportunity to visit the Banff Upper Hot Springs. Soak in the beauty of nature in the most civilized manner, with plenty of modern amenities, a lovely historic bath house and hot outdoor pools with incredible back drop of alpine scenery. Even locals come to “take the cure” in these restorative waters. The springs discovered in 1884 are popular today for locals and visitors alike.

Overnight: Banff, Inn of Banff     B, L


May 23 – Lake Louise

This morning we will ride the Banff Gondola atop Sulphur Mountain for thrilling views of 6 different mountain ranges. Our fully glassed gondola is the most fun way to get spectacular photos of the ranges. You are 6,000 feet high and you can hike down if you choose.

Later we depart Banff and tour around Lake Louise, probably Canada’s most photographed lake. With the Victoria Glacier in the background, this emerald-colored lake leaves a lingering impression. The beauty of the lake can also be admired from inside our hotel resort, which stands atop a giant glacial moraine.  We also make a stop at beautiful Moraine Lake. Located in the incredible Valley of the 10 Peaks.

Check into our Castle in the Rockies! Surrounded by soaring mountain peaks, the majestic Victoria Glacier and a glistening emerald lake, the iconic 5-star Fairmont is recognized globally for progressive environmental stewardship and responsible tourism. Originally built as a base for outdoor enthusiasts over 100 years ago, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is a year-round luxury mountain resort offering many guided mountain tours, canoes, kayaks, horseback riding, fishing, river rafting and more. Relax in the luxury Spa, have High Tea and enjoy exceptional dining experiences by world renowned chefs.

You can hike up to Mount Norquays, or take the open chairlift up to the Cliff house Bistro.

Overnight: - Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise    B


May 24 – Yoho National Park

Today we tour around Yoho National Park. Yoho represents the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains region, and is also a Cree expression of ‘awe and wonder’ of rock walls, spectacular waterfalls and soaring peaks. In the shadow of the Great Divide, it holds the secrets of ancient ocean life, the power of ice and water, and unique plant and animal communities that continue to evolve today. Highlights include Hoodoos, Natural Bridge, Emerald Lake, Lower spiral Tunnel Viewpoint and many more.  

Toast your fellow AFS travelers’ adieu at a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

Overnight: Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise        B, D


May 25 – Depart

Depart home  (There will be one group transfer provided for 4 hours dive to Calgary airport early morning for flights departing after 1030am.  Others on later flights may arrange provate transfer to share.)


Activity Level:

2. I have no trouble walking and if necessary, can walk for 3+ miles. Uneven surfaces are not a problem. I do not need a cane or walking device.

Pricing

A $400 deposit will secure your reservation.  Limited to 38 participants. Detailed Trip Tips later.

Land Cost:  $1795

Included: 6-night accommodation, 6 American breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners, private coach with driver guide, admission to Maligne Lake Cruise, Ice Explorer, Glacier Walk, Banff Gondola, and AFS GTL.

Not included:  Gratuities, Air.

Options

Name
Description
Price
Gratuities

This 'option' is a required additional charge for this trip.

It is protocol to tip your drivers, porters and local guides - we have the absolute best. $13 pp per day should suffice as minimum and will be added to your final bill. We will give this to your GTL to disperse accordingly throughout. It’s easier this way. Tips are for local guides, drivers, group meals (except breakfast) and hotel porters that bring bags from bus to lobby.
$70.00
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Please review AFS Terms and Conditions as well as Heading Abroad with AFS. Group air - Airlines may add surcharges to offset fuel inflation or taxes. The total ticket cost is not final until we receive your final payment and are ticketed. If doing own air, airport transfer may or may not be included depending on your air schedule. Do not buy air until we either group air is set or we advise - dates can change! Itineraries are prepared often a year in advance. Though not likely, AFS and our suppliers reserve the right to change or modify such to meet local conditions. Although rare, hotels can change – all hotel rooms are run of the house. Our prices are based on current taxation structures. In case any revision in taxes, sudden fluctuation in currency levels, change in Visa fees or increase in fuel charges, we will amend our prices and inform you accordingly. Land price is based on minimum number of trip participants.