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Highway 99, British Columbia

Jewels of western Canada self-drive tour

16 days from £4,785pp

Highway 99, British Columbia
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Tour highlights

  • Spend two full days exploring cosmopolitan Vancouver, visiting Stanley Park, Chinatown and its many shops and museums.

  • Drive through some of North America’s most spectacular landscapes, passing snow-covered mountains and glittering lakes.

  • Immerse yourself in the great outdoors, whether on foot, mountain bike or kayak.

  • Admire the frothing waterfalls of Wells Gray Provincial Park.

  • Spot wildlife such as black and grizzly bears, moose, bald eagles, deer and elk.

Price includes:

  • Scheduled international flights
  • Fully insured vehicle hire
  • All accommodation
  • 24-hour support while you travel
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Itinerary idea in detail

Includes international flights from a choice of UK airports, including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

  • Today you begin your journey by boarding your international outbound flight to Vancouver. On arrival in Vancouver, make your way to your downtown hotel by taxi. The remainder of the day is free to relax after your flight or begin to explore the city. You could browse the shops on Robson Street or enjoy a meal in one of the many gourmet restaurants.

  • Spend a day at leisure in Vancouver. There's plenty to see in this cosmopolitan city. Some of our suggestions include: walking or cycling around Stanley Park, which has a collection of replica totem poles, an aquarium and views over English Bay and Vancouver Harbour; soaking up the atmosphere in Chinatown with its quirky shops and markets; or taking a guided walk around historic Gastown to learn more about the city's past.

  • Today, you're booked on the 'Mail Run' — a seaplane that departs from Vancouver and acts as a shuttle between the city and the Gulf Islands that dot the Strait of Georgia. You'll join locals on this scenic flight and take in fantastic views of downtown Vancouver and the Coast Mountains before touching down on Salt Spring Island. You'll have a few hours to explore this small, bohemian community's waterfront galleries, boutiques and cafés, before returning by seaplane to Vancouver.

  • Collect your hire car from downtown Vancouver this morning. Your car hire package includes insurance and an additional driver. On your way out of the city, you drive past Stanley Park and over the Lion's Gate Bridge before continuing along the scenic Sea to Sky Highway to the mountain village of Whistler, set at the foot of two mountains. You may wish to stop along the way at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park on the outskirts of Vancouver, which features peaceful canopy walks through the rainforest. The journey takes around two hours (excluding stops). After checking into your accommodation in Whistler, you can relax or head out to explore the town and its beautiful surroundings.

  • Spend a full day exploring Whistler. You may wish to take the cable car up to the summit of Whistler Mountain and then the Peak-to-Peak gondola over to Blackcomb Mountain — the views from here over the town and the surrounding mountains and lakes are incredible. Further activities in the area include kayaking, white-water rafting, hiking and mountain biking, all of which we can arrange for you. In the evening, enjoy dinner in one of Whistler's excellent restaurants.

  • Today, depart Whistler and drive for around seven hours (excluding stops) through the arid ranch lands of British Columbia's interior, passing the small towns of Pemberton and Lillooet and the mighty Fraser River. This is the Cariboo area and was once renowned for its gold. Today, it's best known for its ranches, deep canyons and beautifully rugged countryside scenery. Arriving in Clearwater, the nearest town to Wells Gray Provincial Park, you can check into your accommodation before relaxing after your long journey, taking in your idyllic surroundings.

  • Spend today exploring the striking Wells Gray Provincial Park, where craggy mountains rise above evergreen forests, lakes and steaming waterfalls. You can hike along some of the many trails, looking out for wildlife such as moose, black and grizzly bears, elk and deer. Many lead to the park's renowned waterfalls — the impressive Helmcken Falls is twice the height of Niagara Falls. Guided horse rides are also an option, as well as relaxing boat cruises and fishing on Clearwater Lake. The park is also well-known for its white-water rafting opportunities.

  • Travel east along the North Thompson River and into the Rockies — the drive will take around four and a half hours (excluding stops). En route, you may wish to stop at Blue River for a one-hour jet boat trip with a guide to spot some of the river's wildlife, which may include grizzly bears, moose and eagles. Reaching the Rockies, you pass the mighty Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies at 3,954 m (12,972 ft). Shortly afterwards you cross into the province of Alberta and arrive at your accommodation in the small town of Jasper.

  • Spend the day in Jasper National Park. You may wish to visit Maligne Lake and Canyon — a boat trip to Spirit Island presents one of the best views in the Rockies, taking in the distinctive blue lake fringed by mountains. There are many walking trails to follow; we can recommend a walk through alpine meadows near the base of Mount Edith Cavell, where you can admire the region's flora and views of Angel Glacier. You could also take a cable car up to the top of Whistlers Mountain for panoramic views over the surrounding mountains and lakes. This afternoon, head out on a small-group guided tour with a local Métis guide to look for the park's wildlife including black and grizzly bears, bobcats, elk, coyotes, moose and porcupines.

  • This morning take a two-and-a-half-hour guided float trip along the beautiful Athabasca River. The route follows that of fur traders who ventured here around 200 years ago, and your guide provides a commentary on the area's history and wildlife. You may encounter small rapids during the journey, and you can enjoy views of Jasper's mountains throughout the trip. The afternoon is free for you to further explore the park or take a stroll around the town, which is home to numerous spas, shops, cafés and restaurants.

  • Drive for four hours (excluding stops) south along the spectacular Icefields Parkway from Jasper to Moraine Lake. The route climbs from the low forested valley up to the treeline, passing all three life zones of the Rockies — the Montane, Sub-Alpine and Alpine. You may see ptarmigans, wolves, mountain goats and bighorn sheep, among other wildlife. There are many viewing points to stop at for photographs and walking trails leading off into the surrounding wilderness. It's worth taking the whole day to enjoy this journey. You'll break your journey at Saskatchewan River Crossing for your included 20-minute helicopter flight over the region's scenic mountain backdrop, allowing you to view three of the region's remote glaciers, plunging waterfalls and emerald alpine lakes in their spectacular glory.

  • Spend a day enjoying the glorious scenery around Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks, home to one of Canada's most revered vistas. Many walking trails offer hours of wildlife viewing and varied scenery to enjoy — one of the most popular is through Larch Valley but be sure to check bear activity in the area first. A shorter walk to the top of the Moraine Lake Rock Pile offers the classic view of turquoise waters and mountains. For a closer look at the waters, take a canoe out from the lodge, spotting wildlife along the way. Nearby, Lake Louise and Yoho National Park are also worth a visit with more alpine lakes, hikes and mountains.

  • Drive from Lake Louise to the town of Banff, about an hour away. We recommend following the scenic Bow Valley Parkway, where you can drive at a leisurely pace and pause for photographs. You may encounter wildlife such as bears and deer, which can sometimes block the road. Johnston Canyon offers the opportunity to stretch your legs and enjoy a picnic — a trail here leads to three waterfalls and seven cold water springs known as the Ink Pots. Arriving at your accommodation in Banff, you have the rest of the day to relax or explore the town, which has a number of shops and restaurants as well as a small museum telling you more about the area.

  • Spend today exploring Banff and the surrounding area. You may wish to visit the Cave and Basin National Historic Site, where Canada's National Park system began in 1885. Naturally occurring hot springs are found both in the cave and outside in an emerald basin, with a boardwalk leading to a vent hole. Elsewhere, you can take a gentle canoe trip down the Bow River, follow one of the many hiking or mountain biking trails, go white-water rafting or take the gondola to the summit of Sulphur Mountain.

  • This morning you depart Banff and drive the two hours to Calgary Airport. Watch as the mountainous landscape gives way to flat prairie lands dotted with ranches. You eventually reach the city and, after dropping off your car at the airport's car depot, board your onward flight.

  • Arrive home today to complete your journey.

Accommodation options

While the itinerary price reflects the suggested accommodation, Audley trips are 100% tailor-made, and a specialist can help you select the option best suited to your tastes and budget.

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The specialist who designs your trip to Canada will have explored the country many times and, in some cases, lived there. Their first-hand knowledge gives us the belief that no other travel company can match our expertise in helping you plan your trip.

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When to go

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Place Daily max temperature (°C) Monthly rainfall (mm)
Wells Gray Provincial Park

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