- Our trip begins with a direct flight to Calgary where we will be met by our tour leaders, Lee and Lindsay. From there we will transfer a short distance to a comfortable hotel, where we have time to relax and freshen up before enjoying our first evening meal together.
- Accommodation: Hotel in Calgary, 1-night on full board basis
- After a leisurely breakfast we explore one of the excellent provincial parks to be found around Calgary, enjoying a picnic lunch in the field before continuing our journey west through the flower-filled montane meadows of the Bow Valley to Canmore.
- Scanning the numerous shallows pools located on the outskirts of Calgary, we are likely to see a variety of waterbirds, raptors and passerines. Duck species including wood duck, goldeneye, shoveler and green-winged teal should be present, alongside spotted sandpiper, killdeer and common loon. There is a good chance of Swainson’s and red-tailed hawks, as well as bald eagle and osprey while the surrounding scrub and tracks of forest are likely to hold black-capped chickadee, gray catbird, golden and ruby-crowned kinglet.
- Accommodation: Hotel in Canmore, 2-nights on full board basis
- Today is spent exploring Canada’s oldest national park - first protected in 1885. Our day’s itinerary in Banff National Park has been deliberately left flexible to make the most of the recent wildlife sightings. Activities may include an easy half-day walk along one of the picturesque trails around beautiful montane lakes, marshes and aspen forests, which are home to moose, bighorn sheep, Columbia ground squirrels, mule deer, coyote, and numerous nesting and migrant birds. Weather dependent, we may spend the day exploring higher elevations visiting the subalpine and alpine zones to search the scree for newly emerged alpine wildflowers and butterflies whilst taking in the spectacular views over Banff and watching out for foraging bears along the ski slopes.
- This morning we leave Canmore and make our way to Jasper, travelling along two of Canada’s most scenic highways: the Bow Valley Parkway and Icefields Parkway.
- The Bow Valley Parkway leads from Banff to Lake Louise, providing excellent views of Castle Mountain, as well as great opportunities for seeing wildlife. We make regular stops to admire the breathtaking scenery and scan for wildlife.
- Continuing our journey north, we drive the Icefields Parkway, named after the Columbia Icefield, the largest alpine icefield in the Rockies, which forms the dramatic backdrop to this scenic drive. Again, we allow plenty of time for stops at points of interest along the journey to enjoy the scenery of this stunning landscape and photograph a variety of birds, mammals and wildflowers.
- Accommodation: Lodge in Jasper, 3-nights on full board basis
- Located just outside Jasper, beside the Athabasca River, our rustic lodge offers great opportunities to see a variety of wildlife including elk, numerous boreal birds and maybe even bears, which often pass through the hotel grounds.
- Jasper National Park is the largest of the national parks in the Canadian Rockies, covering an area of 10,878 square kilometres. Established in 1907, it is home to numerous mammal species, including: bighorn sheep, moose, grizzly and black bears, caribou, mule deer, beaver, mountain goat, lynx, cougar, wolf, hoary marmot and pika. It’s also a great place to look for birds such as white-winged crossbill and boreal chickadee as well as various species of woodpecker and owl.
- During our stay we intend to visit all three of Jasper’s ecologically unique biomes - montane, subalpine and alpine - to see the wide variety of flora and fauna. Our days are a mixture of short walks and half day excursions that provide ample opportunity for quality wildlife viewing and photography. Weather and wildlife permitting, we may undertake one or two longer day walks to known wildlife hotspots away from the busier trails.
- This morning we retrace our route south on the Icefields Parkway, before heading west into British Columbia to the small town of Field, nestled in the heart of Yoho National Park.
- On our journey south, we allow time to take regular stops to watch for wildlife and may also include a short walk. Depending on our arrival time into Field, there may be an opportunity to visit a wildlife viewing point this evening before dinner.
- Accommodation: Lodge in Field, 3-nights on full board basis
- During our two full days based in Field we explore Yoho National Park and, as we are also within striking distance of the western edge of Banff National Park, we may take the opportunity to re-visit depending on wildlife sightings.
- Yoho, the Cree word for ‘awe’ or ‘wonder’, is particularly appropriate for the spectacular scenery of this national park. As the mountains here catch much of the precipitation that falls, the lush boreal forest and subalpine slopes are home to species such as mountain goat, hoary marmot, pika, moose and beaver. We spend our days exploring a variety of trails that run through the montane, subalpine and alpine zones, providing opportunities to see mammals including American marten, American porcupine, and least chipmunk as well as some luxuriant displays of displays of orchids and other wildflowers.
- Heading back east, we cross the British Columbia-Alberta border to our next lodge located deep in Kananaskis Country. Our day will be spent driving along the beautiful Bow Valley and on our drive we allow plenty of time to continue our search for Canadian wildlife in Yoho and/or Banff National Parks.
- Accommodation: Lodge in Kananaskis, 3-nights on full board basis
- Our last two full days in Canada are spent exploring Kananaskis Country, a system of provincial parks which extends southeast of Banff National Park. Encompassing the front range mountains and foothills of the Canadian Rockies, the parks in Kananaskis Country are spectacular in both their beauty and wildlife.
- The habitats of the parks provide homes to big populations of large ungulates, such as moose, mule deer, white-tailed deer and bighorn sheep, which in turn attract carnivores like wolf, bear, coyote, and even the occasional wolverine or cougar. The high alpine and subalpine habitats are home to good populations of American pika, spectacular flora, plus many colourful butterflies and specialist mountain birds, many of which can be seen from the deck of our comfortable lodge.
- This morning there many be time for some final wildlife viewing before we leave Kananaskis Country and drive to Calgary, alternatively we may stop at a few choice birdwatching locations en route to look for prairie bird species before reaching the airport for our overnight flight back to the UK.
Day 14 Arrive UK
All prices are per person and include:
- Services of the naturalist leader
- All meals
- Guided activities
- Entrance fees & permits
- 2nd leader only for groups of eight or more
The hotels used are typical North American mid-range hotels and lodges, with facilities to match.
All meals are included. Breakfast and dinner are generally at the hotel. Lunch is usually a picnic or packed lunch prepared by the hotel, in a suitable location.
Many boreal birds are on show, such as:
- Clark’s nutcracker
- White-winged crossbill
- Northern pygmy owl
- Black-backed woodpecker
During this tour there are multiple opportunities to see a variety of large mammals.
- Black bear
- Brown (grizzly) bear
- Bighorn sheep
We will spend some time looking for freshly emerged butterflies as they flit between colourful patches of flora.
- Alberta fritillary
- Dingy Arctic fritillary
- Mountain fritillary
- Magdalena alpine
Reptiles and amphibians
Around the water margins we can find several amphibian species.
Spectacular wildflowers include dazzling meadows filled with the flowers of red and yellow paintbrush, anemones, shooting star and pasqueflowers, as well as boreal forests filled with dense patches of glacier lily, twin flowers, wintergreens and numerous species of orchid - including yellow lady’s-slipper, sparrow’s egg lady’s-slipper, calypso and round-leaved.
- Red and yellow paintbrush
- Shooting star
- Yellow lady’s-slipper orchid
- Sparrow’s egg lady’s-slipper orchid
With their lofty snow-covered summits, perpetual glaciers, turquoise lakes, dense forests and some of the freshest air you’re likely ever to breathe, the Canadian Rockies are nothing if not impressive. These magnificent mountains, which reach almost 4,000 metres to form the Continental Divide, offer scenic splendour aplenty.
The photographic opportunities on this trip are excellent, with the imposing natural scenery of the Rocky Mountains, rich birdlife and numerous mammals.
We spend quite a lot of time outdoors on foot, but do not walk any great distances. Some forest trails can be steep in parts and rough underfoot, but we take these slowly. Although we reach 2,069 metres on the Icefields Parkway and 2,281 metres on our ride up Sulphur Mountain on the Banff gondola, we do not walk much at these elevations.
Price includes return scheduled direct flights London – Calgary – London.
Minibus driven by tour leader, or small coach with driver.
On this tour we reach a maximum elevation of 2,281 metres above sea level, at the upper station of the Banff gondola.
Late June is midsummer, with temperatures in the range of 15-35⁰Celsius, but typically averaging 20-28⁰ Celsius. Like most major mountain ranges, the Rockies are famed for variable weather conditions which can change abruptly, with higher elevations having much lower temperatures than those in the low-lying valleys with temperatures dropping below freezing with high levels of precipitation possible at any time of the year.