We were inspired to see the Canadian Rockies after watching a video of the Rockies viewed from the Rocky Mountaineer train, and being fascinated by the falls and the lakes in scenic Jiuzhaigou in 2015.
We started planning a year ahead and made a lot of the arrangements ourselves, from booking the air tickets and getting visas, to booking the hotel rooms and arranging for tours covering the Rockies (from the beautiful coastal city of Vancouver to Calgary).
Paradise On Earth
It was a great experience for the four of us. We were mesmerised by the many beautiful creations of God. We personally experienced such places which make up “Paradise on Earth”.
Summer was coming to an end in Canada when we set off in August last year via Hong Kong, as it was the shortest route taking than 18 hours.
We had two free days before our local tour started. After checking into a downtown hotel, we walked quite a distance to Granville Island Market located along the seafront. At the food court there, we indulged in fried seafood and different blends of fruit juices.
The hop-on-hop-off bus has a stop just before the market. We walked all the way to the seafront, a distance away, until we reached Canada Place. It is huge and full of activities. We went on a simulated flight over the whole of Canada called “FlyOver Canada”.
We were buckled up in our seats in a chamber and then “flown out” into the open sea, between “icebergs” and then up to the top of the “mountains”. It was indeed an exciting and frightening experience as we felt like pulling up our legs which were touching the “icebergs” below.
We bought tickets for the next day, to explore the Capilano Suspension Bridge situated in a West Coast rainforest. Who knew there was rainforest in Vancouver!
It was about an hour’s ride by bus. In the forest, we were amazed to see 400- to 800-year-old trees, such as the Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir and Western Hemlock. Children were taken around by staff volunteers on the “Rainforest Explore” to identify these trees.
It was an interesting experience going on a tour without an assigned tour group or tour conductor. In this case, the coach driver relayed information about the places we passed by. We were given itineraries for our tours via e-mail. All the way, we had to be alert and attentive to remind ourselves about the pick-up times and locations.
On the first day of our Rockies journey, the coach arrived at our downtown pick-up point at 9am. All the way, the environment was pristine and the scenery beautiful. We went past cityscapes, pastoral farmland and lush valleys while travelling along the highway which follows the Fraser River.
From Hope To Hell’s Gate
After a brief stop at a small town called Hope, we continued north towards Hell’s Gate and the spectacular Fraser Canyon. The tram ride took us to the bottom of the deep canyon where we had salmon chowder and steak for lunch.
We walked around and went to the long bridge over the Fraser River where salmon make their home, sat on a huge chair to pose for pictures and discovered the history of the place from the signages on the fences.
Next, we headed to Thompson Valley Parklands to view the confluence of Fraser River and Thompson River from a high lookout point in a small township called Lytton in British Columbia. The road passed through the Shuswap Highland into the mountain region of Sun Peaks, a ski mountain village.
Forested Hills And Scenic Valleys
The next day, with only six of us in the coach, we continued our journey west. The landscape transitioned into forested hills and scenic valleys. It changed from wide open skies to the towering rugged peaks of the Rocky Mountains.
We stopped at the alpine town of Revelstoke where the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway was staked. It was raining so we had to forego a visit to the Giant Cedar Broadway in Mount Revel-stoke National Park.
One place we stayed at was the iconic Fairmont Chateau. We were mesmerised by the picturesque beauty of the lake in front of the hotel. This slice of paradise on Earth was simply irresistible to the shutterbug in me and I couldn’t stop taking pictures.
We went on all of the lake cruises as the surroundings are uniquely different, each lake district has its own beauty. These included the Columbia Icefield, Lake Minnewanka, Athabasca Falls, Butchart Garden and Inner Harbour of Victoria.