What an amazing trip!
My long flight started from Perth via Sydney, Dallas (Qantas) and thru to Vancouver (American Airlines).
The city of Vancouver felt familiar, safe and different at the same time. Restaurants offer great food and so diverse. Visited Vancouver Lookout & Granville Island was a treat with its waterfront restaurants, entertainment and shopping.
Rocky Mountaineer- Vancouver to Kamloops (Silver Leaf) – Kamloops to Jasper (Gold Leaf)
Coach – Jasper, Columbia Icefield, Lake Louise, Banff thru to Calgary
We started our Rocky Mountaineer experience with a welcome event the night before our train journey. A short coach transfer from our Vancouver hotel to the RM station where we were greeted with food and drinks.
First part of my journey was travelling in Silver Leaf (Rocky Mountaineer) and I must say that it was an impressive single level coach with oversized dome windows which gave you a wide view of the ever-changing beautiful scenery. Seats were very generous in size (could only just reach the foot rest in front). Meals and drinks (seat service) were served by our hosts with a warm & friendly manner. Alcohol & non-alcoholic beverages were served. Gourmet snacks also provided. On board hosts also provided us with storytelling and information. When travelling in Silver Leaf Hotel accommodation is within walking distance and restaurants on the property.
The second day of my journey was travelling in Gold Leaf. The coach is two levels with the seating up top and the dining down below. This was accessed via a spiral staircase or lift if needed. Windows are fully domed which allow for panoramic views upstairs. Sitting up top with this elevation allows for extended views thru the tree line. In gold leaf, you are attended by three to four hosts. Needless to say, the Gourmet a la carte meals served in the private dining room (on the lower level) were wonderful. All drinks Alcoholic and non, gourmet snacks were included and storytelling by on board Hosts. An outdoor viewing platform at the rear of the Coach is exclusive to gold leaf. When travelling in Gold Leaf the style of hotels are pure luxury and in premium room categories.
(There are options to upgrade your Rail journey from Silver to Gold Leaf or you could upgrade the Accommodation portion only)
Highlights and attractions included:
-Columbia Icefield ride on an Ice Explorer on Athabasca Glacier
(nice surprise to find the seats had an inbuilt heating system)
-Banff Gondola (8min ride to Sulphur Mountain)
-Helicopter Tour (12min Arial of the glaciers, lakes and mountains) for someone that has a fear of heights I am surprised that I enjoyed the helicopter ride and found it to be more relaxing than the gondola ride.
A common question asked, “When is the best time to Travel?”
My journey was end of April early May (spring) and I must say that this time of the year nature shows its beauty thru lush waterfalls & snow. It was cold at times (thermals & a good quality jacket kept me quite warm) but if you are travelling by train, coach and staying in hotels thus it is quite comfortable. It did not rain once throughout my trip.
Autumn (Sept-Oct) would show its vibrant array of autumn colours and animals would be foraging for food before the coming winter season and you miss the peak season of tourists and pricing. (So, towards end of May or early September would be great value!)
A big thank you to Rocky Mountaineer for a wonderful experience!