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Gems of Southern Alberta

from £1199 excluding flights

  • 8 nights
  • May-Oct
Home Destinations Americas Canada Gems of Southern Alberta

Highlights

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Explore the hoodoos, mesas and gullies of the Canadian Badlands and search for fossils at UNESCO Dinosaur Provincial Park

Lake Minnewanka

Take in Banff’s specular views by gondola, boat, canoe or on horseback

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Experience rock art with a local Indigenous guide at Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park

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Travel back in time to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, the oldest of the Canadian prairies

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Enjoy off the beaten path hiking in the lesser explored Cypress Hill Provincial Park

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Discover the pristine natural beauty of Waterton Lakes National Park

Why this trip...

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Well-researched route

We've put our years of experience into creating this well-paced itinerary that includes the places we know you'll enjoy

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Activities included

This itinerary features a range of included activities

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Explore at leisure

With the route, transport and accommodation sorted, each day offers the freedom to explore

Overview

Delve deeper into Alberta’s rich history, authentic culture and spectacular varied landscapes on this off the beaten track itinerary. Journey beyond the traditional regional highlights of Jasper and Banff to discover the lesser known gems on offer in Southern Alberta.

Starting and ending in the cowboy city of Calgary, your journey will take you to the heart of the Canadian Rockies and beyond! The resort town of Banff offers a wealth of activities – you may wish to canoe the scenic Bow River, cruise across the turquoise-hued Lake Minnewanka, saddle up for a horse-ride or take the scenic gondola ride to the peak of Sulphur Mountain.

Heading east to Drumheller and the legendary Canadian Badlands, you’ll find yourself immersed in a surreal landscape of hoodoos, flat topped mountains and deep river gullies. This region is the ‘dinosaur capital of the world’! A visit to the renowned Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology is included, along with a stop at the remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site of Dinosaur Provincial Park. The journey continues east to Cypress Hill Provincial Park, which borders the neighbouring province of Saskatchewan. You’ll have two days here to explore its rolling hills and prairies filled with unique wildlife. Perhaps take part in some activities, before heading over to Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park to experience its red sandstone cliffs and the largest concentration of indigenous petroglyphs on the plains.

Heading south, there’s time to stop at Fort Whoop-Up, a recreation of the famous fort and outlaw frontier trading post from the days of Canada’s ‘Wild West’, before arriving in the lush green valleys of Waterton Lakes National Park. You’ll be based here for two days to fully discover the wonders of this beautiful region. Your journey finishes with one last adventure at another UNESO World Heritage Site, this time at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. Here you’ll have the opportunity to learn all about the lives, traditions and culture of the Blackfoot people, before venturing north back to Calgary.

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Itinerary

Arrive in the Stampede City of Calgary and take the short drive to Banff, a mountain resort town renowned for its stunning natural beauty and alpine wildlife

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Banff Township
Banff and Cascade Mountain

Today you can enjoy your choice of included excursion from the following options:

Banff Gondola – enjoy impressive views over Banff National Park with a gondola ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain.

Lake Minnewanka Cruise – take a scenic cruise across the turquoise-hued Lake Minnewanka to Devil’s Gap.

River Explorer Canoe Tour – pick up a paddle for a gentle exploration on the Bow River.

Bow River Horseback Adventure – saddle up for a guided journey through the celebrated landscape of Banff National Park (minimum age 8 years).

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Depart Banff and head east towards the fascinating landscapes of Drumheller. Shaped by mesas, gullies and sandstone hoodoos, this other-worldy backdrop draws palaeontologists from around the world in search of dinosaur fossils. Visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology (included) to walk amongst an impressive array of fossils and learn everything you ever wanted to know about dinosaurs.

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From Drumheller, venture further into the rugged Canadian Badlands and make your way to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Dinosaur Provincial Park. Interpretive displays allow you to see what an archaeological dig site really looks like, and you can also view the bones of a ‘duck-billed’ dinosaur still partially encased in the sediment that buried it. Afterwards, continue on to Cypress Hill Provincial Park, a hidden gem in Southern Alberta. Here, the green and flower filled-valleys are in stark contrast to the dramatic and barren landscapes of the Badlands.

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The day is yours to enjoy at Cypress Hill Provincial Park. There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy and abundant wildlife to spot here. Perhaps start the day off with an interpretive hike or visit the Dark Sky Planetarium experience, where you can learn to navigate the sky’s bright stars and constellations. In the afternoon, head over to the Interpretive Centre in Elkwater where you can rent a bike, canoe, paddleboard, kayak or pedal boat (activities and admissions not included).

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Today you will travel on the historic Red Coat Trail towards the stunning Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park. Guided by a National Historic Site interpreter you will experience the largest concentration of rock art on the plains. Relax by the bubbling Milk River and traverse the hoodoo trails, before visiting the Interpretive Centre for a behind the scenes guided exploration of this Archaeological Preserve. After a full day, continue onto Lethbridge where you will stay for the night.

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On your way out of Lethbridge you may wish to visit Fort Whoop-Up (not included), an old fort and outlaw trading post where visitors can discover exhibits about Canada’s first Mounties, whiskey and firearms traders and Blackfoot history and culture. After arriving in Waterton, take a leisurely stroll around the town’s shops or dine at one of its restaurants, before grabbing your camera and heading over to the beach for some impressive photographic opportunities. Perhaps join one of the many hiking trails that start from the town or sit back and relax at the Prince of Wales Hotel, an iconic National Historic Site that also offers a delectable afternoon tea alongside spectacular views.

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Spend a day discovering the wonders of this peaceful and beautiful prairie region. Hiking trails here take you past glittering glacial lakes, alpine forests and snow-capped mountains. You may have the option to cross the U.S. border (visa permitting) and travel into Montana’s Glacier National Park (the U.S. half of this International Peace Park) via the breath-taking Going to the Sun Road. You can also venture out to Red Rock Canyon where you can discover striking red and green bedrock dotted with waterfalls and surrounded by forest. Cross back over the border to the Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada for your second night stay here.

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On your final day you head north to experience the evocatively named Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump (included), a UNESCO World Heritage Site tells the story of how the native people of the North American plains hunted over 6000 years ago. A guide leads you through the exhibit and out to the cliff jump, sharing the history and lifestyle of the first people. Afterwards, a 2 hour drive north takes you back to Calgary, where your Southern Alberta adventure ends.

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Prices and Departures

Price from £1199 excluding flights

Airfares start from around £550 per person and are quoted separately to the holiday price. When enquiring, our Travel Specialists will provide the best fare possible from your preferred airline / airport.
Note: Airfares tend to be cheaper the earlier you book.

What's Included

  • Accommodation in rooms with private bathroom
  • Intermediate car hire including GPS, unlimited mileage, 2nd driver, loss damage waiver and third-party liability
  • Choice of excursion in Banff: Banff Gondola / Lake Minnewanka Cruise / River Explorer Canoe tour / Bow River Horseback Adventure
  • Admission to Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller
  • Admission to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretive Centre
  • 24 hour emergency assistance from our team during your holiday
  • No surcharge guarantee
  • Full financial protection

This itinerary starts from £1,199 per person, based on 2 adults. Price is based on rooms with private bathroom in standard hotels, with rental of an intermediate vehicle. Prices may vary depending on departure date and child ages. Please contact us for a detailed quote based on your preferred travel dates, vehicle category and style of accommodation, or to tailor this itinerary.

Tailor made trips

As independent destination specialists, we are able to tailor make holidays to suit you, be that customising the itineraries shown on this website or creating something bespoke.

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Travelling sustainably

We believe travel is about finding the right balance between minimising our impact on the environment and broadening minds through new experiences and cultural interaction.