For those who love magnificent views, beautiful scenery and rich wildlife, a trip through the Canadian Rockies is a must! After living in Vancouver and working as a guide in the area and recently returned for a shorter assignment, I was reminded once again of all the fantastic Canada has to offer.
If you are going to Canada, I recommend combining Vancouver with nature in the Canadian Rockies. Vancouver has not only been named the world’s most livable city several times, but also has plenty to offer a tourist. Beautifully surrounded by sea and mountains, with a mild climate and nature close by, Vancouver provides a very pleasant atmosphere. As Canada’s third largest city with approximately 2.5 million inhabitants, of which a large proportion of Asians, Vancouver offers a myriad of different restaurants from all over the world.
Granville St, with all its bars and nightclubs, should satisfy those who want to party and for the shopping soak there is not only Robson St but also several large shopping complexes that are easy to get to by local train. Walk down to Stanley Park and take a look at the totem poles or ‘story poles’ as the indigenous people call them, take one of the horse drawn cabs around the park or visit the aquarium where there was a newly born little white whale kid that you can look at.
Take a small boat from the center out to Granville Island where you will find a super market and a number of nice restaurants. Try a local brewed beer or why not taste a Ceasar, Canada’s ‘national drink’. This drink is very similar to a bloody Mary but instead of tomato juice you use clamato juice, blend of ‘clam’ and tomato juice. Sounds may not sound so good, but I promise you will quickly become addicted.
Vancouver is worth a visit all year round but the winters are usually windy and it rains a lot so if you are not looking for skiing in eg. Whistler so I recommend a visit in early summer when Canadian rockies are the most beautiful and wildlife most active. For example, under May it is not uncommon to see 3-4 black bears in one day! If you are not looking to see bears, you can wait until August when the lakes get a vibrant green color from the glaciers that have melted.
When it’s time to leave Vancouver, I recommend renting a car to explore the rocky mountains in. From Vancouver, I recommend driving first to Whistler, the ski resort that many Swedes know. Here you can still ski long into June and there are a lot of other outdoor activities to choose from such as canoeing, hiking, dogsledding, rock climbing etc. From Whistler you drive east and a good place to stop is Sun Peaks, another ski resort which also has summer activities.
From here you drive north until you enter Jasper National Park. This is where the ‘rockies’ really start and the scenery up here is absolutely amazing. From Jasper you drive on to Lake Louise and finally Banff and then from there to Calgary for further travel in Canada or back activemyhome.
Along this entire stretch there is a myriad of beautiful mountains and lakes and you can spend a few nights here and there. Accommodation during the trip can vary from motel to luxury five star Fairmonts, depending on your budget.
Backpacking on a small budget is not the easiest in Canada, but another option if you really want to see and experience Canada properly is to apply for a working / holiday visa that is valid for one year. The difference with this visa compared to e.g. Australia is that it is not entirely obvious that you get it. Don’t forget preparing your Canada visa.
Hopefully the above information can help you to get to know the country before actually going there.