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Alberta, Canada

Alberta Dark Skies Discovery

11-day tailor-made self-drive from £1,605 pp incl. flights


Short description

Discover the very best of Alberta’s natural world, from dark-sky preserves to forests home to moose and bears.

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  • Join an astronomer as you explore the night skies above Jasper
  • Take an overnight train ride deep into the Rockies
  • Go in search of bears and ride the Lake Louise and Banff gondolas
  • Drive the Icefields Parkway
  • Take in the cultural and culinary delights of Vancouver

In Brief

  • 2 Nights Vancouver
  • 1 Night VIA Rail train
  • 3 Nights Jasper
  • 1 Night Lake Louise
  • 1 Night Banff
  • 1 Night Canmore


Recommended for:
Mountains | Natural world | Self-drive | Wildlife

Immerse yourself in the wilds of western Canada on this train-and-self-drive itinerary, which encompasses the very best of Alberta’s extraordinary natural world. It all begins, however, across the border in neighbouring British Columbia with a two-night stay in Vancouver, where you’ll have a full free day to take in the sights, from historic Gastown to the vast green of Stanley Park. Next, you’ll board an overnight train to Jasper in Alberta, where you’ll have the chance to explore one of the world’s most spectacular dark sky preserves, watching out for distant planets and constellations in the company of an expert astronomer. Then, it’s time to go in search of the region’s iconic wildlife, as ultra-scenic drives, optional glacier tours, guided hikes and gondola rides bring you between the natural delights of Lake Louise, Banff and Canmore, a region home to elk, wolves and brown bears and grizzlies.

Day by day itinerary

Day 1
Depart the UK

Enjoy a VIP start to your holiday with included airport lounge access before your day flight to Vancouver, British Columbia. On arrival, head for your boutique city-centre hotel and take some time to relax and recover from your flight before stepping out for your first taste of the city. Indeed, with a location right in the heart of Vancouver’s entertainment district, you’ll have some of the city’s best restaurants and bars less than a 10-minute stroll away.

Stay: Georgian Court Hotel, Vancouver (Superior)

Day 2

Wake feeling relaxed and refreshed as you look forward to a full day exploring Vancouver at your own pace. With so much to see and so, and to get the most out of your time in the city, it’s well worth discussing options with our specialists before you arrive. Popular stops include the neighbourhood villages of Gastown, with its boutiques and bohemian bars, and beachside Kitsilano. Then, there are such headline grabbing attractions as Stanley Park and, for unmissable views, the Vancouver Lookout. What’s more, with its world-spanning culinary influences, the dining scene here is one of the best and most diverse in North America.

Stay: Georgian Court Hotel, Vancouver (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 3
Vancouver to Jasper

Enjoy a morning at leisure, or take the chance to explore more of Vancouver, before heading to the station to board your overnight train to Jasper in the heart of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. Take the chance to stretch out in a cosy recliner chair (upgrades to cabins available). It's the absolutely the most comfortable way to take in the natural beauty of this wild region of Canada, from its old-growth forests of to the ice-capped peaks and glacial lakes of the Rockies.

Stay: VIA Rail Train

Meals: B D

Day 4

Having travelled through the night, you’ll arrive Jasper at around 11am. The largest National Park in the Canadian Rockies, this 11,000-square-kilometre wilderness is a designated Dark-Sky Preserve and part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Indeed, with light pollution at a minimum, on clear nights you can expect some of the finest skygazing in the northern hemisphere. And, From October onwards, there’s even a rare chance to spot the magical Northern Lights swirling overhead.

To help you make the most of your stay, we’ve included an astronomer-led trip on the Jasper SkyTram, including a roundtrip tram flight up Whistler Mountain and a three-course meal dinner at Treeline Restaurant for your first experience of the dark-skies.

Stay: The Crimson Jasper (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 5
Jasper Planetarium

After a free morning, head to the Jasper Dark Sky Planetarium and Telescope this afternoon, where you’ll join an astronomer who’ll take you on an interactive adventure around the lakes, mountaintops, and glaciers of the national park and introduce you to the planets, moons, stars, and galaxies above. You’ll even have the chance for a Q&A session with the planetarium’s astronomers and pick up some tips on how to photograph the night sky, including the aurora borealis. As this tour includes some time outdoors, you’ll need to dress in warm clothes.

Stay: The Crimson, Jasper (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 6
Discover Jasper and its wildlife

Jasper National Park is well noted for its natural beauty and historical significance. Today’s excursion sees you travel through Jasper and the surrounding area in a comfortable sightseeing vehicle, taking in the beautiful and ever-changing scenery from vast forests to soaring peaks and rushing rivers. You’ll also learn about local wildlife and how it contributes to the rich diversity of the national park. Have your camera at the ready as you keep eyes peeled for everything from caribou, deer and bighorn sheep to brown and grizzly bears.

Stay: The Crimson, Jasper

Meals: B

Day 7
Jasper to Lake Louise

Collect your hire car for the drive along the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93), one of the world’s top 10 scenic drives. Be sure to leave enough time to stop off along the way, taking in sweeping views of vast lakes and more than 100 glaciers along the route. Highlights include the Columbia Icefield Glacier Adventure, which you can take in on an Ice Explorer bus between March and October. With its giant rubber wheels, this bus can take you right up onto the Athabasca Glacier. Then, there are the dizzying views from the glass-floored Glacier SkyWalk, suspended some 280 metres over the Sunwapta Valley. Finally, check into your accommodation in iconic Lake Louise.

Stay: Lake Louise Inn (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 8
Lake Louise to Banff

Wake early and return to Lake Louise for a stroll around its mountain-framed shores. Then, it’s time for an included sightseeing tour in the Lake Louise Gondola, which soars to an elavation of 2,088 metres. Not only will you enjoy unmatched views of the lake and surrounding landscapes, but it’s also the spot for some of the best grizzly bear viewing in the Canadian Rockies, so cameras at the ready. Also, at the summit, you’ll have time to visit the Wildlife Interpretative Centre to learn about the mountain’s upper network of hiking trails and either explore on your own or join the 45-minute Trail of the Great Bear guided walk before driving to Banff.

After lunch at the Banff Gondola, an adventure-packed afternoon awaits as you explore the ridgetop boardwalk, 2,900 feet above the valley floor, visit the observation deck and visit the Cave and Basin National Historic Site. Even then, there’s still time for a soak in the Banff hot springs complete with views over the national park.

Stay: Buffalo Mountain Lodge (Superior)

Day 9

Spend an enjoyable morning exploring the authentic alpine town of Canmore, home to artisans and entrepreneurs as well as some superb dining and shopping. Alternatively, why not take in one of the many hiking trails around the town; the Grassi Lakes trail is our favourite for its easy terrain and wonderful views. You could then head on to the Yamnuska Wolf Sanctuary for an experiential tour that includes the chance to interact with the resident pack of wolves. Observe wolf behaviour first-hand and gain a better understanding of how these mysterious animals live in the wild.

Stay: Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge (Superior)

Meals: B

Days 10-11
Depart for UK

Drive to Calgary this morning and return your hire car at the airport in time for your overnight flight home.

Meals: B



Any element of this itinerary can be adjusted to suit your needs. Just contact us to find out more.

Accommodation rating: Superior

11-day tailor-made self-drive from £1,605 pp incl. flights


Low Season

from £1,605 pp. incl. flights

High Season

from £1,890 pp. incl. flights


  • Complimentary access to UK airport Executive departure lounge
  • Return flights from UK to Vancouver and returning from Calgary
  • 2 nights accommodation in Vancouver
  • Overnight VIA Rail train from Vancouver to Jasper with Economy Plus seating
  • 3 nights accommodation in Jasper
  • Jasper Sky tram with Treeline Restaurant Dinner
  • Dark Sky Planetarium & Telescope Experience
  • Discover Jasper's Wildlife tour
  • 1 night accommodation in Lake Louise
  • Sightseeing tour and Gondola at Lake Louise
  • 1 night accommodation in Banff
  • Banff Gondola
  • 1 night accommodation in Canmore
  • 5 days car hire in a Compact vehicle

Please note that the Jasper Dark Skies Festival takes place between 16 - 25 October 2020, during this period extra related events and entertainment take place in Jasper, however demands on accommodation are also high between these dates.

Terms & Conditions

Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin/double room; prices are subject to availability and possible change; normal booking conditions apply.

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