NEW! 10 Days in Canada Vlog - Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper | Full Itinerary & Guide
Running along the spine of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, just 2 roads, spanning 300km, guided us through 12 days of the most awe inspiring nature, we’ve ever see. Situated in Western Canada, in the province of Alberta, our accommodation, spread our trip into 3 easy chapters. Banff, the commercial centre of Canadas first National Park. Lake Louise,
a stunning glacial lake that despite its fame, still meets the hype. And finally, Jasper, a relatively quiet mountain town that stole our heart. To pull the curtain back slightly, I’ve delayed editing this travel vlog for 9 months and the reason is simple. I found this trip to Canada to be such a beautiful and at times magical experience, I was and still am so overwhelmed by the seemingly impossible task of creating a vlog for you that would do THIS, justice. But we are going to try. With gondolas, lakes, bridges, canyons, tea houses, over sized chips, wildlife, log cabins, roads, hikes, icebergs, walkways, dining out, canoes, rafting, rainbows, waterfalls, mountains, hotels and of course, maple syrup. So please, sit back and relax, as this, is my ultimate love letter to Canada.
Much of our trip would be in Banff National Park and a popular entry point is the town of Banff itself. 90 minutes from Calgary, it’s undoubtedly the most populated spot on this trip and a great way to ease yourself into mountain life. Its main road, Banff Avenue is a perfect crystallisation of everything you can expect here: a plethora of food, shops, a museum, a bit of cannabis, reflections and of course mountains. Just 3 blocks away from Banff Avenue, this bed and breakfast would be ours over 4 nights. The charming neighbourhood it found itself in made it quickly feel like home and even with our initial steps outside, we immediately bumped into our first Canadian wildlife. Living in London, a rat is about as exciting as wildlife gets so this was a fun, unexpected opener.
On our personal list of Canadas MUST SEE animals, moose and bear are at the tippy top, and adding this deer encounter so easily, really did give us hope. But, we were still cautiously realistic that we might not hit the big three. And you’ll just have to wait and see, as to how wrong we were. With an added spring in our step then, we explored the local area on foot, always keeping an eye out to add to our list… By the late morning, we made our way to our first tourist attraction: The Banff Gondola… Soaring 2000 feet over 8 minutes, this cable car takes you to the summit of Sulphur Mountain, named after the hot springs on its lower slopes… Once at the top, this boardwalk straddles the ridge for a good kilometre, and really opens up the space… It’s easy to see why the Banff Gondola is so popular as it allows stunning views of 6 different peaks from one spot, and with relative ease. But it was also great to
have a clear view of the river walk we’d just taken and Banff town from up above. The visitor centre up here is an attraction in itself though. You can either treat yourself to some incredibly scenic dining, or as we did, head to the rooftop, admire the views and relax with a nice hot coffee. Walking around Banff, you’re frequently reminded of the sometimes delicate relationship between animals and people. When hiking around any kind of wilderness here,
it’s recommended you purchase a can of bear spray. Although attacks are incredibly rare, bear spray is a non lethal deterrent, but should act as a last resort, as there are better preventative ways to avoid harm to both you and the bear. The most likely reason a bear attack might take place is that you unknowingly startled the bear, turning a blind corner.
So, the good news from Parks Canada, is that singing might just save your life. And that was all this ex theatre student, needed to hear… Hello Mr Bear will be available on both Apple Music and Spotify by the end of the year… So with the end of our first full day coming to a close, we took a 30 minute walk via the Fenland Trail, over to Vermilion Lakes, somewhere I would really recommend. Although we were there a little early, it is a sunset hotspot for many, but despite this, I hope we can all agree that our shots still turned out ok. With our body clocks still clinging to UK time, we had an early night and rested for tomorrow, readying ourselves for boats, canyons and fondue. Staying in Banff, the question isn’t so much as for what to see, but what not to see. Although our destination, Lake Minnewanka, was a quick 20 minute drive,
along the way, it’s very easy to get distracted and that’s what happened with Cascade Ponds. This was also the first time we came across these. Parks Canada, the body that manages all National Parks here, has scattered more than 200 red chairs across the country, all of which make for a nice surprise when you later bump into them.
But then, you remember your actual destination, y’know, that 20 minute drive you had, only now you’re distracted by just a brief stop at Johnson Lake, followed by another brief stop at Two Jack Lake. So, just be aware that you’re 14km drive can take 2 hours, but, with zero regrets. Finally then, our 20 minute journey was compete. Whilst an unfortunate spelling for anyone who’s British, Lake Minnewanka is Banffs largest lake, measuring 21km. The name actually comes from the indigenous Stoney people, and translates to “lake of the spirits”.
Our excellent tour guide, carried us through the lakes history, which starts with the discovery of human tools dating back over 10,000 years. Along with the top notch guide and getting a different perspective from the water, we really enjoyed this cruise. What was really nice was that once in the centre of the lake, they turn off all engines, so you can take in one of Banffs’ most peaceful stops… (BABY CRYING) Although the baby next to us didn’t seem to agree. Nevertheless, we rounded out our time here with an easy hike towards Stewart Canyon, which offers stunning views of the Lake.
On the way back to Banff Town, we finally moved on from deer, with this brief Elk sighting, albeit from a distance. So, now on Day 3, our list was very much moving into 2nd gear. But, since we were in Canada, driving an automatic, I should say we were staying in Drive and then lightly pressing the accelerator, which doesn’t sound as good, but is more accurate. For food in Banff, there’s an overwhelming amount of choice, covering pretty much every type of cuisine you can think of. We of course had already sampled Poutine, a Canadian favourite that originated in Quebec; made up with French fries, topped with cheese curds and drenched in gravy, it literally begs to be eaten. One thing to note though, and this is coming from a Londoner, is that meals can get pretty pricey, especially if you aren’t looking at the menu in advance. For example,
this sticky Bison short rib came in at $55 Canadian dollars, with all appetisers in the 20s. Admittedly this was a really nice restaurant and personally speaking, we’re pretty happy with spoiling ourselves with food on holiday, but it’s just something to be aware of when visiting. For lunch today, we visited The Grizzly House, a super popular steak and fondue restaurant on Banff avenue. Although I’ve read some mixed reviews online, we really loved this place, myself especially, being such a sucker for any kind of cheese I can get my hands on. With garlic cloves buried deep within the fondue, and a pepper sprinkling giving it a gentle kick, this was excellent. Especially when we next ordered this hot rock for some sizzling beef.
Spreading the cuts over a dollop of garlic butter, and then mixed with a side salad, potato and these tasty dips, it all made for a delicate pairing. And obviously, long time viewers of the channel will know that of course we had sushi, yes it was surprisingly good value and yes it was all delivered on a Canadian Pacific Train, genius. As we reached the summit of Tunnel Mountain, our time in Banff Town was almost over. This town was a perfect introduction to Alberta, but we were eager for chapter 2.
Less than an hours drive, is Lake Louise, the historical crown jewel of Banff National Park and for me, the reason this entire area was put on my radar in the first place. Although a trip to Lake Louise is often included as part of a stay in Banff Town, I wanted to separate the two, for reasons that hopefully will become clear. So, for the next 3 nights, our accommodation here was a vastly different experience. Whether manufactured or not, we now felt one step closer to wilderness, and only a 20 minute walk to the famous Lake itself. Our room was part hotel, part lodge with a kitchenette that allowed us to mostly cook for ourselves. But mainly,
waking up with this balcony view, never got old. As with everything in this video, I’ve linked all the places we stayed and visited in the description below as well as this pop up, which support the channel at no cost to you, so thank you in advance. Perfectly framed by its surroundings, the scale and grandeur of Lake Louise is hard to capture on screen. With it being early June, we arrived just as the lake was thawing,
which largely removes the notable turquoise colour it’s famous for. So it was especially rewarding, that as we climbed in height, its true colour gradually revealed itself. This striking hue comes from erosion, and the rock silt that’s carried from its glacial source. The silt is so fine, it remains suspended at the surface, reflecting blue and green light. Lake Louise was named after the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria; Princess Louise Caroline Alberta. So, yes, not only was this lake named after her, but the province of Alberta itself. Walking to Lake Louise, the first thing you’ll see is the iconic Fairmont Hotel, originally built in the late 1800s. For a hotel this size to have such an exclusive front row to nature,
is almost unheard of and for some, staying here is a once in a lifetime experience. And with once in a lifetime prices too. Interestingly, this chateaux was built by a train company, that being Canadian Pacific Railway, shortly after they’d achieved Canadas goal of connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific. So not only did CPR lay the tracks for the journey, they would also become the destination. We would actually return here in a few days for lunch. The original plan was to enjoy an afternoon tea, but the queues were crazy, so I’d recommend booking online if that’s of interest. But the Lakeview Lounge was
still a welcome change of pace, offering stunning views of its unique surrounding. After taking in all of Lake Louise, we embarked on our next destination, that being the Lake Agnes Tea House. Whilst still a moderate hike, the combination of ice and an altitude of 7000 feet, made it our toughest hike yet and might’ve made us a little delirious. But it was all in the good name of tea.
This is going to be the greatest cup of tea I've ever had in my entire life! (SINGING) Tea house! Is just around the corner! The Tea House! The Lake Agnes Tea House, has been serving tired and sometimes very cold customers, since 1905. Being in such a remote location, it’s quite the daily achievement, just to keep it running as smoothly as they do. With once a year helicopter drops for dry goods and propane, and staff hiking up fresh ingredients the night before their shift. This was one of
my favourite hikes, not only with the hot tea, but combination of lake and panoramas, all feeling like a suitable prize. And as we discovered over the following days, this sense of reward would be something we’d continue to be spoilt with… This is an incredibly rare sighting of a white grizzly bear. So unique, that it makes headlines when spotted. We of course, didn’t realise this at the time, but we knew this was still something special. There are approximately 200 Grizzly bears that roam Banff and its neighbouring National Parks and the most famous even have their own nickname. This might be Nakoda and seeing her was an incredible moment. The road we were on was fortunately quiet but you shouldn’t ever
be causing tailbacks with animal sightings, so we didn’t have long to soak it all in. What was even more amazing, was that literally 2 hours later, we had another sighting, this time on foot. We’d made a brief stop at Field, a small, but notable town in Yoho National Park. Wanting to stretch our legs and explore this friendly place,
we stumbled upon this. We hadn’t actually noticed ourselves, but a couple of local residents pointed him out to us. This black bear had actually stopped them from being able to get back home so they were waiting for him to leave. And I thought we had it bad back in London, for being delayed with leaves on the line, but it was nice chatting to the locals. Before we left our second home, we still had one more lake to visit.
And it just so happened to become my favourite… Along with Lake Louise, Moraine Lake is an icon of the Rocky Mountains, even making its way onto the 20 dollar bill… It was this very moment, sitting by Moraine Lake, that Canada truly won me over. Quite simply, it is one of the most peaceful, serene and majestic places we’ve ever been and we both just breathed in the atmosphere, for a good hour. Tomorrow, we’d be headed to Jasper, an even larger, and less busy National Park. Since we’d already done so much and seen so many breathtaking sites, we were seeking more relaxation, even though, we were still missing our top animal sighting. In hind site though, it is funny that we had no idea that we were about to triple our numbers. The drive from Lake Louise to Jasper is seen by many as a destination in itself. Upon leaving
Lake Louise, you turn into Highway 93 or The Icefields Parkway. What follows is 230km of some of the best road trip scenery you could ask for, complete with beautiful views, sing alongs with Alanis Morissette and of course, numerous stops to park up your car and stretch your legs. The most notable stop along the way is the Columbia Icefields Discovery Center, where you can explore both the Athabasca Glacier and Icefield Walkway.
This suspended platform lifts you 900 feet above Sunwapta Valley, offering a unique insight into the life of Wile E Coyote. If enough of you give this video a like below and people want more, I’ll make a helpful travel guide featuring tips for this whole trip, so I’ll keep my full review of this excursion for then. But the highlight of the Athabasca glacier, are these impressive Ice Explorers, that are capable of travelling at an incredible angle, whilst keeping a solid grip on the ground below.
Unfortunately, this 10,000 year old glacier is melting and in the last 125 years, losing half of its volume. So, yes whilst this might symbolise an inescapable death for us all, the upside, it is drinkable and very fresh. So, with the glacier in our rear view mirror, and 200km complete, we made our last push towards Jasper… Touching more than 11,000 square kms of land, Jasper is Canadas largest Rocky Mountain National Park. Although just as beautiful as Banff, it’s visited by almost half as many people, which adds to its peaceful setting. Whilst still clearly geared for tourism, the main high street
feels much more local and calm, which at this point, was exactly what we wanted. To spoil ourselves, we saved our best accommodation for last. Jaspers history is synonymous with cabin life, dating back to the Métis families who lived here in the late 1800s. There are now numerous cabin resorts spread across the area, all offering varying degrees of mountain living… We knew our accommodation was comparatively remote, when a wandering bear passed our window. They were now coming to us… The end of our trip was a mixture of relaxation, food and wildlife. Our accommodation was the
gift that kept on giving, not only with its public jacuzzi but the wildlife it presented. A highlight was this enjoyable rafting trip down the Athabasca River. There are 6 different grades when defining how intensive any white water rafting is going to be. Grade 6 being the worst rapids you can think of and Grade 1 being an excitable bath time. This was grade 2, meaning suitable for me, but even that was enough to occasionally raise the adrenaline.
To celebrate, we finally found somewhere that served any combination of maple syrup, pancakes and bacon, something that was surprisingly hard to come by but well worth the wait. Whilst driving around, we really ramped things up, with our largest single group of animals yet. And then on our way back, we came across yet another bear, with this one probably being our best, longest sighting, as it was on a quiet side road. So it looked like we were
on a hot streak, and with only one day left, we crossed our fingers for more… We’d purposefully left Maligne Lake to the end. Not only is it one of Jaspers top designations but so too is its boat trip to Spirit Island. Unfortunately, due to the lake still being iced over, its opening kept being delayed and so, we kept delaying our visit. And that is how, on our very last day, the following events unfolded… First, we saw this black bear, followed by a second, then we just about saw a mother and her 2 cubs and then… This… I mentioned at the start of this video how overwhelmed I was at putting this trip together, since our time here still really holds a special place in our hearts. Hopefully if you’ve gotten this far, I’ve done both Canada and Alberta justice, or you’re just a masochist. These videos take an extremely long time to make, with a lot of energy put into them, so if you did enjoy, please share, subscribe, like and let me know your thoughts down below, as I’m always interested to hear and it helps promote the video to others.
Until the next one, thanks for watching, Suitcase Monkey.