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Not long ago, I blogged about 10 places you should add to your trip list, citing the Canadian Rockies as one of those places. I had uploaded some photos from my most recent trip to Canada in the summer time, but felt I really wanted to share with you the beauty of the Rockies in the winter time. Fortunately, I actually am able to share these photos with you because it was on this particular trip that I bought my first ever digital camera, the Canon S50. All the way back in 2004. It set me back about $1000 and was state-of-the-art at the time, boasting a whopping FIVE megapixels and the option of manual settings. I was proud as punch to own this new toy, though looking back, I really didn’t know what to do with it!
Luckily for me, it didn’t matter that I didn’t have the best camera, nor that I didn’t know much about photography at the time. Whilst I now look back and cringe at many of the old photos I used to take, these Canada photos have managed to stand the test of time a little better. Which is just testament to how stunning the scenery is in that part of the world – you just can’t take a bad shot!
I don’t remember what company we booked our tour through, but if I could, I would absolutely recommend it. Basically, it was an independent tour where all the planning and thinking had already been done for us. We received a booklet of vouchers, and each day, we just had to tear off the next voucher and hand it to the bus driver, taxi driver, hotel or tour operator to proceed with the next leg of our journey. Genius! And so easy for the newbie traveller that I was at the time.
Our journey began at the main bus station in Vancouver, where we boarded the first of a series of Greyhound buses. Our first stop – Kelowna, where we caught our first glimpses of snow. And boy, were we excited! We spent the evening just walking around town, appreciating our tranquil surroundings, before stopping into A&W for dinner. I wasn’t much of a foodie either in those days.
We were delighted to finally arrive at our destination for the next few nights, the delightful Alpine town of Banff.
The next day, we had a scheduled day tour of Banff. The best thing about travelling in the low season, apart from all that snow? You get it ALL to yourself! Our driver and guide for the day pulled up in a mini van and told us we could see and do anything we wanted to because we were the only ones on this tour. Talk about luxury! Not having done any research, we just asked her to show us her favourite sights in Banff. Naturally, our first stop was the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.
The next day, we organised a visit to Johnston Canyon. This is where the photos do not do justice to our experience. Johnston Canyon is completely frozen over during the winter time, giving a unique opportunity to go ice-walking. I was a bit worried at the start that the ice would not support our weight and would crack, but before long, I was relaxed enough to enjoy my surroundings. Ice cleats were provided for the walk, as well as a much needed hot chocolate pit stop halfway through.
The following day we received a private transfer to Lake Louise, where we stayed at the cute and rustic Deer Lodge. I have stayed here on both my visits to the Canadian Rockies now, and would still highly recommend it if you’d like to stay RIGHT NEXT DOOR to the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise without actually having to splurge on a room at the Fairmont. Not only is the location top notch, the rooms are comfortable, and the food in the restaurant is good too.
Lake Louise is every bit as stunning in the winter time as it is in summer, if not more so. And in winter, not only can you walk on the lake, vehicles can actually drive over too, the ice is that thick.
Every minute detail on this tour had been taken care of with only the guests’ comfort in mind. So much so that, although our hotel in Jasper was directly opposite the bus station where we were to catch our Greyhound bus back to Vancouver, we were even provided with a taxi voucher for that leg of the journey! It was somewhat embarrassing when the taxi driver literally drove us across the road that morning. We weren’t THAT lazy, honest – we never realised that that bus station was right there!
Well, I’ve really enjoyed digging through my archives to find these photos to share with you. I hope you enjoyed looking at them too. I love snow, so I’d love to hear – where else would you recommend for a winter visit?
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