Tours that take the strain out of enjoying the World’s flora and fauna! Tours under this banner will be based in one or two good quality hotels, and will have direct flights! And most importantly field trips will be kept to a maximum of six or so hours giving you plenty of time to relax before and after. Direct flights are available from some regional airports.
The Icefields Parkway is said to be the most scenic road on Earth, a high accolade indeed, and a claim with strong substance. Vast forests sweep up to limestone cliffs that soar to inaccessible peaks. It is no wonder that there are so many large mammals wandering this land. Bighorn Sheep and huge-antlered Elk are common and we’re very likely to see Moose and certainly Black Bear during our stay. Timber Wolves and Grizzly Bears are becoming easier to see in Banff and both were seen twice on last year’s tour.
The entire holiday is based in two very fine lodges. Engadine is situated in a remote corner of the Spray Valley Provincial Park whilst Storm Mountain Lodge lies on the Continental Divide between Kootenay and Banff National Parks, indeed, between British Columbia and Alberta. The forests and alpine meadows that start right outside our very comfortable cabins have an abundance of colourful Castillejas, Aquilegias, Dodecatheons and Dryas. As we eat the lodge’s sumptuous breakfasts we only have to look up to see the burnished gorgettes of Rufous Hummingbirds and perky little Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels. Pine Grosbeaks and a variety of warblers and chickadees visit the grounds and after dusk Northern Flying Squirrels can be located by listening for the muffled thuds as they land in the trees right outside your cabins! Fabulous groups of Calypso Orchid adorn mossy dells and among three species of Lady’s Slipper are abundant Sparrow’s-egg Ladies Slipper and the gorgeous Cypripedium montanum. Brilliant orange Western Wood Lilies illuminate forests where we’ll look for Martens, Clark’s Nutcrackers and Pileated Woodpeckers. The wild ginger Asarum caudatum blooms with Twayblades and Mitellas and four species of Coralroot Orchid. Primula mistassinica, Elephanthead and several Platanthera orchids flower along lush lakeshores where butterfly highlights will include Hydaspe Fritillary, Lorquin’s Admiral and Tiger Swallowtails. Bald Eagles, Common Loons, Harlequin Ducks and Ruffed Grouse are just some of the birdlife likely as we enjoy the antics of the incredibly cute and often very tame Columbian Ground Squirrels and small groups of Mule Deer. Higher up, in the land of Hoary Marmots, Ptarmigan and Mountain Goats, the alpine meadows are at their best. Gray-crowned Rosy Finches fly in as we watch freshly emerged Clodius Parnassian butterflies on the wing among a kaleidoscopic show of Cassiopes, Phyllodoces, Pulsatillas and Saxifrages.
Banff and Canmore, the two small towns nearest to our lodge are worth spending some time in, both are lively but quaint tourists centres with a host of shops and cafes and both are in fantastic settings, indeed the scenery throughout the tour is unparalleled with the fabulous turquoise Bow and Peyto Lakes the highlight, these scenic hotspots adorning so many adverts for Canada as well as appearing regular on just about every screen saver!
An exciting ‘pre-tour’ takes us to the sweeping forests, endless mountains and unspoilt rivers of Vancouver Island. Marine and land mammals can be seen more easily and in higher numbers than perhaps anywhere on the continent. We’ll see a bounty of nature’s magnificence including Steller’s Sea Lions, Dolphins, Porpoises, Bald Eagles and of course Orcas. Boat trips are well-known for their guaranteed wildlife shows with pods of Orcas frequently observed at close range, so too Black Bears, and we’ll also have the opportunity to photograph beautiful Sea Otters at play.
Dates and Prices
30th June - 9th July 2024 (10 days)
Optional Tour Extensions
Vancouver Island Pre-Tour
23rd June - 30th June 2024 (8 days)
* doesn't apply if you're willing to share and a room-mate can be arranged
Mammals, Birds, Flowers, Butterflies and Mountain Scenery.
The minimum is 4 and the maximum is 8.
All flights. All transport, meals and accommodation in Canada. Services of your leaders. Please note: drinks, tips, visas, and items of a personal nature including insurance, are not included.
Flower, bird and mammal checklists are available.
Half the tour is based in the lovely log cabins at the Storm Mountain Lodge situated where the national parks of Banff and Kootenay meet. The cabins are well-equipped and very comfortable, each with a log fire, and the lodge has a truly superb restaurant, so much so that locals will travel a hundred kilometres to dine out there! There is the additional attraction of the lodge being in a true wilderness with Black Bears regularly passing through the property, and even Grizzlies on occasion. Lynx show their presence by tracks in the winter and in summer if you wait until just after dusk you might encounter the Northern Flying Squirrels in a tree right outside your cabin.
During the other half of the tour we’ll stay at wonderful Mount Engadine Lodge. Overlooking ‘moose-meadows’ and surrounded by majestic mountains and forest, this remote lodge is the only building of any sort between Canmore and the Kananaskis Lakes – a sixty kilometre stretch of road. The comfortable rooms all have large windows to enjoy the views and the wildlife. Moose, Black Bears, Grizzly Bears, White-tailed Deer and even Wolves are seen either from the lodge itself (there’s a natural salt lick below the main verandah) or along the road either side of the lodge. Meals are superb, the late afternoon charcuterie board a highlight! All rooms/cabins on this tour have en suite WCs/showers.
The first night on the Vancouver Island ‘pre-tour’ takes us to the Qualicum Beach Inn. The inn has large airy rooms and a most unusual circular restaurant with great views out over the bay. After a night here we’ve three nights in the wonderful Blackrock Oceanfront Resort in Ucluelet, a truly lovely hotel that combines contemporary comfort and quality service with an amazing natural setting. As its name suggest this hotel has wonderful sea views and the hotel design, with lots of space and natural light really seems to bring the environment right into the heart of the hotel. We follow this with two nights at the Moonwater Lodge in Malahat. This lodge claims to have one of the best views in Canada and as Canada has many of the best views in the World… The lodge has been designed so that all the rooms can enjoy the same marvellous panorama in superb comfort and each has a balcony too. The restaurant features fresh caught local fish and hormone-free and organic local produce.
No more than three or four miles a day, and usually on good trails, though occasionally part of a walk may be steep for a short time. Always at a slow pace, ideally suited to photographers.
Direct return flights to Calgary (or to Vancouver return from Calgary if you are doing the Pre-tour) from London Heathrow*, London Gatwick or Manchester*. Indirect routes from other regional UK Airports* are available.
*These routes may incur a supplement.
Please contact us for prices and availability of upgrades to premium economy.
Very variable. Often sunny and warm but sometimes cool and rainy, and the rain can sometimes be prolonged, especially on the west coast.
Contact us to check if there is availability for the number of places you require. Click on the ‘Book this Tour’ button on this page to be taken to the online booking form or contact us and we will send one to you which you can complete and send back to us. You will receive confirmation of your place, and then a detailed information pack will be dispatched to you about twelve weeks before departure. This will contain up-to-date health information.