Pre-Tour Day 1: Arrive in Victoria, British Columbia (July 10)
Get settled into your hotel and enjoy the remainder of your day at leisure. Explore some of Victoria's most beautiful downtown sites, including Christ Church Cathedral—with its gothic stone architecture, magnificent stained-glass windows and Helmuth Wolff organ; Craigdarroch Castle—a stunning Victorian mansion; Bastion Square—site of the original Fort Victoria with stunning views of the local harbor; or the renowned Royal British Columbia and other museums that can be found in the area.
Overnight: Fairmont Empress
Pre-Tour Day 2: Victoria (July 11)
This morning, begin with a lighter breakfast as we'll be joining a local guide on a walking tour to explore downtown Victoria's highlights and tasting a variety of wonderful foods. As your guide reveals the history and quirks of beautiful Victoria, enjoy stops to sample local specialties such as chocolate, cheese, tea, and other treats. The remainder of the day is at leisure to further explore this charming city. Whether you prefer a relaxing day of sightseeing, carriage-riding, and English-style high tea, or a visit to Beacon Hill Park and a stroll through some of its 200 acres - Victoria has it all. You may even choose to end the day with a locally renowned haunted Victoria tour. The hotel concierge can help plan a day perfect you!
Overnight: Fairmont Empress (B)
Pre-Tour Day 3: Depart Victoria / Vancouver / Main Program Begins (July 12)
After breakfast, join your guide for a panoramic tour of Victoria through Chinatown and past the Parliament Buildings. Continue to a must-see national historic site of Canada - lovely Butchart Gardens. Enter and be enveloped by lush greens and colorful blooms. Blossoming for more than 100 years, 55 acres of gardens with 900 bedding plant varieties, 26 greenhouses, and 50 full-time gardeners create a wonderland of beauty everywhere you look.
Afterward, take a short 20-minute ride to the ferry terminal to cruise over to mainland Vancouver—a passage providing unlimited scenery with a likelihood of spotting various marine wildlife.
After arriving in Vancouver for the main program, join fellow travelers at the hotel for a lovely welcome dinner. (B)
Day 1: En Route from U.S. / Arrive in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (July 12)
After settling into your hotel, venture out to capture the sights and sounds of this bustling metropolis or perhaps indulge in the luxurious amenities at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. Known as the “Castle in the City,” the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver received a 2019 Forbes Travel Guide four-star rating and Trip Advisor's Certificate of Excellence.
This evening, meet fellow travel companions for a welcome dinner.
Overnight: Fairmont Hotel Vancouver (D)
Day 2: Vancouver (July 13)
Following breakfast, join your Orbridge Travel Director for a guided tour of Vancouver and Gastown, Vancouver's oldest neighborhood. Covering 12 city blocks, this stylish area blends hip with heritage. It's best known for beautiful Victorian-style architecture, where visitors of Water Street find cobblestones, vintage lamp posts, and a statue of the man who started it all, Gassy Jack Deighton. Stop to see the city's infamous attraction, the whistling Steam Clock, along with a mix of souvenir stores, boutiques, restaurants, clubs, and art galleries.
Then enjoy leisure time to explore Granville Island on your own. Art lovers will enjoy the island's dozens of galleries and studios highlighting work from local artists, plus the opportunity to witness the creation of jewelry, leather goods, and more. Shoppers can browse the Railspur District, featuring extensive collections of pottery and ceramics in addition to other handmade (and even delicious) goods. Outdoor enthusiasts can take joy in the forest, ocean, and city at the same time by walking the seawall, a path that extends for miles along Vancouver's waterfront. Birders have an opportunity to spot the island's many varieties of ducks, mergansers, geese, and cormorants. Architecture and history buffs will appreciate Granville Island's original buildings, preserved and repurposed to house boutiques, artisans, and vendors of today.
Overnight: Fairmont Hotel Vancouver (B)
Day 3: Vancouver / Rocky Mountaineer / Kamloops (July 14)
Board the Rocky Mountaineer to freshly baked scones and a welcome toast on your way to Kamloops through Fraser Canyon and the fertile Thompson Valley. Riding the rails through the Canadian Rockies is an adventure like no other, combining breathtaking natural beauty and delicious samplings of regional cuisine with insightful educational content. Your enthusiastic Canadian hosts will tell you stories and describe in detail all the places you pass by. This train and its world-class staff are beloved by Canadians, and you'll see people coming out to wave at you all along the route. They love the smiles and waves back!
Upon arrival, settle in to your hotel room in Kamloops for a restful night's sleep.
Overnight: Kamloops Lodging (B,L)
Day 4: Kamloops / Rocky Mountaineer / Banff, Alberta (July 15)
Gliding from the interior of British Columbia, embrace the dramatic changes in scenery from the outdoor viewing platform—a perfect spot to capture photographs of the enigmatic landscape and take in the fresh Rockies air. There will be no shortage of images worth capturing and remembering on this special trip.
Today’s highlights include Craigellachie—where the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway was driven, the climb over Rogers Pass, the Spiral Tunnels, Kicking Horse Canyon, and the glaciers and snow-capped peaks of the Canadian Rockies.
Keep a keen eye out for wildlife. Animals often spotted along the rail route include grizzly and black bears, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, elk, and eagles. Your engineers and onboard hosts are also on the lookout, and they will notify guests when any creatures are spotted.
Later, arrive at the acclaimed Rimrock Resort Hotel, ideally situated directly across from Banff Hot Springs. This evening, perhaps visit the nearby thermal waters for an authentic heritage experience, a treasured activity of both locals and visitors.
Overnight: The Rimrock Resort Hotel (B,L)
Day 5: Banff / Moraine Lake / Lake Louise / Yoho National Park (July 16)
Set in the rugged Valley of the Ten Peaks, Moraine Lake is surrounded by mountains, waterfalls, and rock piles, creating a scene so stunning it almost seems unreal. Take pleasure in this stop by taking photos, exploring nature, and admiring the intense blue-green hue of the water.
Next, take advantage of free time to walk around Lake Louise—a pristine setting world famous for its turquoise lake set amongst the Victoria Glacier and marvelous mountains that provides more photography opportunities.
Afterward, visit Yoho National Park. Named for a Cree expression meaning "awe and wonder," Yoho features magnificent natural wonders, such as majestic mountain ranges, waterfalls, the serene waters of Emerald Lake, and a natural Rock Bridge spanning the Kicking Horse River.
Overnight: The Rimrock Resort Hotel (B,L)
Day 6: Banff (July 17)
Today, soar to the top of Sulphur Mountain in a modern, fully enclosed four-passenger gondola cabin and bask in endless views of six magnificent mountain ranges, the Bow Valley, and the town of Banff. During free time at the top, visit the interactive interpretive center and the Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk, or grab a snack at one of the restaurants. From the observation decks at the summit complex, viscerally experience just why Banff is a part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Return to the base of the mountain by gondola and enjoy leisure time strolling Banff's charming Main Street to peruse the quaint shops and boutiques. Afterwards, enjoy a free afternoon to explore why this town of less than 8,000 people counts more than 4 million visitors a year and is a jewel in the Canadian Rockies.
This evening, join fellow travelers for a farewell dinner commemorating this memorable tour.
Overnight: The Rimrock Resort Hotel (B,D)
Day 7: Banff / Calgary / Depart for U.S. (July 18)
After breakfast, guests departing during the suggested time take the complimentary group transfer to Calgary International Airport for flights home. (B)
B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
(Itinerary subject to change.)
BOOK THIS TRIP
Contact Principia Lifelong Learning at 314.514.3153 to register for this trip.