Totem Discovery

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Enquire Now nordic team doug kington bw

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8 Canada provinces visited

30 Grizzlies seen in the wild

11 Species of whale seen

canada british columbia native totem istk

Totem Discovery

from £2,509 excluding flights

  • 15 nights
  • Jun-Sep

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Highlights

In pictures
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Explore Vancouver Island plus Jasper, Banff and Whistler

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Watch for black bears, whales and seals from Quadra Island

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Marvel at the incredible landscapes of the Rocky Mountains

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Cruise Canada's Inside Passage from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert

canada aberta ice explorers on athabasca glacier astk

Explore the Athabasca Glacier on the Ice Explorer

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Enjoy a range of included excursions from horseriding to whale watching

Why this trip...

Aoraki Mt Cook National Park tailor made white

Tailor made

This itinerary can be tailor made to suit you and is intended to give you a guideline of what is possible in a given timeframe

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Explore at leisure

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

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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

Overview

This classic self drive holiday in western Canada combines the abundant wildlife of Vancouver Island, fascinating Aboriginal communities of coastal British Columbia and breathtaking beauty of the Canadian Rockies. Following a circular route from Vancouver, enjoy the independence of your own car with the ease of pre-booked accommodation.

Your journey commences with a relaxing scenic ferry crossing from Vancouver to Vancouver Island, the ideal way to start your holiday. From here a 2-night stay on Quadra Island provides the opportunity to see black bears in the wild, an experience to treasure. More wildlife is likely to be spotted as you cruise along the Inside Passage to Prince Rupert – orcas, grey whales and sea lions frequent these waters.

Back on the mainland, collect your rental car and make your way east to the magnificent Rockies, staying in the picturesque mountain resort towns of Jasper and Banff. Take your pick of included excursions to delve deeper into these iconic alpine landscapes. En route back to the west coast, explore Canada’s gold rush heritage and the ski resort of Whistler before ending your tour back in Vancouver.

Itinerary

The itinerary shown is an example of this self-drive holiday. We have many other hotels and route recommendations which can be tailored to your requirements. Please discuss with our Travel Specialists who can put together a bespoke itinerary for you.

Day 1 Vancouver - Victoria (68 km)

Depart Vancouver and make your way to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal for your scenic 90 minute journey across the beautiful Georgia Strait to Vancouver Island. On arrival continue to the charming harbour city of Victoria, where you can enjoy your choice of included excursion from the following options:

Butchart Gardens Admission - this National Historic Site of Canada is renowned for its stunning floral displays set over 55 acres of gardens.
Eat like a Canadian Food Tour - from local ingredients to historic dishes, this tour is a great introduction to Canadian culinary culture. Sip and savour local cuisine, explore the iconic Inner Harbour, and meet the chefs and owners that make Victoria such an exciting culinary hot spot.
Whale Watch Cruise - search for orcas on the Salish Sea on a 3.5 hour guided whale watching cruise, complete with hydrophones to bring the underwater world to life.

The rest of the day is free to explore Victoria at your leisure, with its turn of the century architecture and strong British traditions.

Depart Vancouver and make your way to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal for your scenic 90 minute journey across the beautiful Georgia Strait to Vancouver Island. On arrival continue to the charming harbour city of Victoria, where you can enjoy your choice of included excursion from the following options:

Butchart Gardens Admission - this National Historic Site of Canada is renowned for its stunning floral displays set over 55 acres of gardens.
Eat like a Canadian Food Tour - from local ingredients to historic dishes, this tour is a great introduction to Canadian culinary culture. Sip and savour local cuisine, explore the iconic Inner Harbour, and meet the chefs and owners that make Victoria such an exciting culinary hot spot.
Whale Watch Cruise - search for orcas on the Salish Sea on a 3.5 hour guided whale watching cruise, complete with hydrophones to bring the underwater world to life.

The rest of the day is free to explore Victoria at your leisure, with its turn of the century architecture and strong British traditions.

BC Ferry
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Day 2 Victoria - Quadra Island (269 km)

Travelling north on the Island Highway, pass through Duncan the "City of Totems". Further north is the artist community of Chemainus, where you can admire the giant murals which adorn the exterior walls throughout the town. By late afternoon arrive into Campbell River to board a BC Ferries (return ferry tolls included) for a short ride to Quadra Island. Your destination is April Point for a 2-night stay.

Travelling north on the Island Highway, pass through Duncan the "City of Totems". Further north is the artist community of Chemainus, where you can admire the giant murals which adorn the exterior walls throughout the town. By late afternoon arrive into Campbell River to board a BC Ferries (return ferry tolls included) for a short ride to Quadra Island. Your destination is April Point for a 2-night stay.

Day 3 Quadra Island - Eco Wilderness Tour

Enjoy a memorable zodiac cruise among the Discovery Islands and observe local wildlife in their natural habitat. Watch for Stellar sea lions, seals, minke whales and pacific white-sided dolphins. You’ll see bald eagles swoop from the tree tops and majestic herons fishing in the tidal pools. At low tide, there is an opportunity to see black bears.

Enjoy a memorable zodiac cruise among the Discovery Islands and observe local wildlife in their natural habitat. Watch for Stellar sea lions, seals, minke whales and pacific white-sided dolphins. You’ll see bald eagles swoop from the tree tops and majestic herons fishing in the tidal pools. At low tide, there is an opportunity to see black bears.

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Quadra Island
Bald eagle

Day 4 Quadra Island - Port Hardy (241 km)

In the morning take the ferry back to Vancouver Island and continue your journey north. Near Port McNeill you may wish to take an optional killer whale watching cruise into the waters of Johnson Strait. Your day ends in the fishing community of Port Hardy.

In the morning take the ferry back to Vancouver Island and continue your journey north. Near Port McNeill you may wish to take an optional killer whale watching cruise into the waters of Johnson Strait. Your day ends in the fishing community of Port Hardy.

Day 5 Port Hardy - Inside Passage cruise - Prince Rupert

Embark on a full day of cruising the sheltered waters of Canada's Inside Passage with BC Ferries. During the crossing (approximately 16 hours, or more depending on sea conditions), a wonderful array of snow capped mountains combined with rich forests provides a background for a series of dramatic fjords. Killer whales, grey whales, sea lions and playful porpoise often appear in these waters. Arrive in the seaport of Prince Rupert late evening.

Embark on a full day of cruising the sheltered waters of Canada's Inside Passage with BC Ferries. During the crossing (approximately 16 hours, or more depending on sea conditions), a wonderful array of snow capped mountains combined with rich forests provides a background for a series of dramatic fjords. Killer whales, grey whales, sea lions and playful porpoise often appear in these waters. Arrive in the seaport of Prince Rupert late evening.

Day 6 Prince Rupert - Smithers (364 km)

Follow the winding and narrow Yellowhead highway, hugging the Skeena River for most of the way. Pass through the mining town of Terrace and into Smithers. Located in the centre of the Bulkley Valley at the foot of the Hudson Bay Mountain, Smithers offers excellent opportunities for outdoor adventures.

Follow the winding and narrow Yellowhead highway, hugging the Skeena River for most of the way. Pass through the mining town of Terrace and into Smithers. Located in the centre of the Bulkley Valley at the foot of the Hudson Bay Mountain, Smithers offers excellent opportunities for outdoor adventures.

Day 7 Smithers - Prince George (372 km)

Depart Smithers, continuing along the Yellowhead highway. Passing through Houston, known as the Steelhead Capital and home to the world's biggest fly rod; over 18 metres (59 ft) in length! Next you will travel through Burns Lake - fishing village, Vanderhoof - nature lover's paradise, and into Prince George. Prince George is the largest service centre for the northern part of British Columbia, perfectly situated at the crossroads of two major highways and two railways.

Depart Smithers, continuing along the Yellowhead highway. Passing through Houston, known as the Steelhead Capital and home to the world's biggest fly rod; over 18 metres (59 ft) in length! Next you will travel through Burns Lake - fishing village, Vanderhoof - nature lover's paradise, and into Prince George. Prince George is the largest service centre for the northern part of British Columbia, perfectly situated at the crossroads of two major highways and two railways.

Day 8 Prince George - Jasper (376 km)

Enjoy another unforgettable day of scenic driving as you follow mountain passes and raging rivers winding your way to Jasper for a two-night stay.

Enjoy another unforgettable day of scenic driving as you follow mountain passes and raging rivers winding your way to Jasper for a two-night stay.

Black bear

Day 9 Jasper

Enjoy your choice of included excursion from the following options:

Maligne Lake Cruise - enjoy a scenic boat trip on one of Canada's most spectacular lakes, home to the much-photographed Spirit Island.
Jasper River Raft Float - take a gentle raft trip on the Athabasca River for a unique perspective of Jasper National Park.
Jasper Nature Walk - this guided walk offers spectacular views of jagged peaks, forests, meadows, marshes, streams, and stunning glacial lakes.

Enjoy your choice of included excursion from the following options:

Maligne Lake Cruise - enjoy a scenic boat trip on one of Canada's most spectacular lakes, home to the much-photographed Spirit Island.
Jasper River Raft Float - take a gentle raft trip on the Athabasca River for a unique perspective of Jasper National Park.
Jasper Nature Walk - this guided walk offers spectacular views of jagged peaks, forests, meadows, marshes, streams, and stunning glacial lakes.

Day 10 Jasper - Banff (265 km)

Set off on an incredibly scenic drive taking you through the spine of the Canadian Rockies. View a never-ending procession of mammoth mountains, jagged peaks, over 100 glaciers and pristine emerald colour lakes. Along the way see such sights as the Columbia Icefield and take an Ice Explorer ride out onto the glacier. Stop at the award-winning Glacier Skywalk to experience a glass-floored observation platform 280m over spectacular glacier-formed valleys and rushing waterfalls. Also watch for the Sarbach Glacier, Peyto Lake, Bow Lake, with the Bow Glacier providing the backdrop, and Crowfoot Glacier before your arrival into Lake Louise. From Lake Louise choose the Bow Valley Parkway, beside the Bow River with an option for you to take a stop at Johnston Canyon and walk along the paved footway to either the lower or upper waterfalls before continuing to Banff. Please note: Mountain lakes in this region will be frozen through to mid June.

Set off on an incredibly scenic drive taking you through the spine of the Canadian Rockies. View a never-ending procession of mammoth mountains, jagged peaks, over 100 glaciers and pristine emerald colour lakes. Along the way see such sights as the Columbia Icefield and take an Ice Explorer ride out onto the glacier. Stop at the award-winning Glacier Skywalk to experience a glass-floored observation platform 280m over spectacular glacier-formed valleys and rushing waterfalls. Also watch for the Sarbach Glacier, Peyto Lake, Bow Lake, with the Bow Glacier providing the backdrop, and Crowfoot Glacier before your arrival into Lake Louise. From Lake Louise choose the Bow Valley Parkway, beside the Bow River with an option for you to take a stop at Johnston Canyon and walk along the paved footway to either the lower or upper waterfalls before continuing to Banff. Please note: Mountain lakes in this region will be frozen through to mid June.

Wing mirror view of the Icefields Parkway
Athabasca Glacier, Columbia Icefields
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Day 11 Banff

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 horse ride along the shores of Bow River.

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 horse ride along the shores of Bow River.

Lake Minnewanka
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Views from Sulphur Mountain, Banff

Day 12 Banff - Sun Peaks Resort (496 km)

Leaving Banff National Park, travel to Yoho National Park where you cross the continental divide. Then travel on through Glacier National Park and 'Rogers Pass' with spectacular mountain vistas in every direction. Continue through the Monashee Mountain Range and past the breathtaking views of Shuswap Lake. Drive through Kamloops and start to travel north up to the ski resort town of Sun Peaks where you will spend the night.

Leaving Banff National Park, travel to Yoho National Park where you cross the continental divide. Then travel on through Glacier National Park and 'Rogers Pass' with spectacular mountain vistas in every direction. Continue through the Monashee Mountain Range and past the breathtaking views of Shuswap Lake. Drive through Kamloops and start to travel north up to the ski resort town of Sun Peaks where you will spend the night.

Day 13 Sun Peaks - Gold Bridge (327 km)

Begin the day traveling along Logan Lake route to the gold rush town of Cache Creek. Continue the journey south to Lillooet, known as the land of the Gold Rush Trail and was 'Mile Zero' of the Old Caribou Wagon Road during the Gold Rush Years. Now the area is home to the largest Canadian producers of the medicinal plant, Ginseng. Departing Lillooet travel for 2 hours along a well maintained gravel road to Tyax Lodge nestled on the shores on Tyaughton Lake.

Begin the day traveling along Logan Lake route to the gold rush town of Cache Creek. Continue the journey south to Lillooet, known as the land of the Gold Rush Trail and was 'Mile Zero' of the Old Caribou Wagon Road during the Gold Rush Years. Now the area is home to the largest Canadian producers of the medicinal plant, Ginseng. Departing Lillooet travel for 2 hours along a well maintained gravel road to Tyax Lodge nestled on the shores on Tyaughton Lake.

Day 14 Gold Bridge

Tyax Lodge offers a wide array of optional activities for all ages, including western horseback riding, floatplane adventures over the Chilcotin Wilderness, fishing, hiking lawn games (including bocce, croquet, horseshoes, volleyball and badminton), free usage of canoes, stand-up paddle boards, kayaks), a disc golf course and interpretive nature trails.

Tyax Lodge offers a wide array of optional activities for all ages, including western horseback riding, floatplane adventures over the Chilcotin Wilderness, fishing, hiking lawn games (including bocce, croquet, horseshoes, volleyball and badminton), free usage of canoes, stand-up paddle boards, kayaks), a disc golf course and interpretive nature trails.

Day 15 Gold Bridge - Whistler (150 km)

Departing Gold Bridge, travel back to Lillooet and onto the Duffey Lake Road to Whistler. On the upper elevations of the Duffey Lake Road enjoy breath-taking views of Joffee Glacier and snow capped Mount Currie that rises to a height of 2,596 meters (8,518 feet). Continue on through to the mountain village of Whistler for an overnight stay.

Departing Gold Bridge, travel back to Lillooet and onto the Duffey Lake Road to Whistler. On the upper elevations of the Duffey Lake Road enjoy breath-taking views of Joffee Glacier and snow capped Mount Currie that rises to a height of 2,596 meters (8,518 feet). Continue on through to the mountain village of Whistler for an overnight stay.

Whistler Village

Day 16 Whistler - Vancouver (122 km)

Depart Whistler at your own leisure along the scenic Sea to Sky Highway to Vancouver. Highlights along the way include the cascading Shannon Falls and the Stawamus Chief Rock where climbers from all over the globe migrate to climb the granite cliffs. Continue to Vancouver where your self-drive journey ends.

Depart Whistler at your own leisure along the scenic Sea to Sky Highway to Vancouver. Highlights along the way include the cascading Shannon Falls and the Stawamus Chief Rock where climbers from all over the globe migrate to climb the granite cliffs. Continue to Vancouver where your self-drive journey ends.

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Accommodation Options

With a wide choice of accommodation in Canada, we can mix and match different grades and styles to suit your personal preference - from motels and hotels to design properties and wilderness lodges in stunning locations.

Discuss your options with our Travel Specialists.

Excursions

Several excursions are included in cost of the holiday as well as a choice of excursion from those specified in Victoria, Jasper and Banff as per the itinerary. You may also choose to pre-book additional activities and excursions along your route.

Prices and Departures

Price from £2,509 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.

What's Included

  • Accommodation in rooms with private bathroom
  • Car rental throughout with GPS
  • Choice of excursion in Victoria, Jasper, Banff (see itinerary)
  • Wildlife Adventure Tour
  • Ice Explorer ride onto the Athabasca Glacier
  • Glacier Skywalk admission
  • Ferry crossings and tolls
  • 24 hour emergency assistance from our team during your holiday
  • No surcharge guarantee
  • Full financial protection

This itinerary starts from £2,509 per person, based on 2 sharing a room with private bathroom in standard hotels, and rental of an intermediate vehicle.

  • Prices may vary depending on departure date. Please contact us for a detailed quote based on your preferred travel dates, vehicle category and style of accommodation, or to tailor this itinerary.

Meet our expert

nordic team doug kington bw
One of our specialists
Meet Doug

8 Canada provinces visited

30 Grizzlies seen in the wild

11 Species of whale seen

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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.

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.

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