Canada is a vast land that assaults the senses through heart-thumping snow tobogganing, jaw-dropping scenery, and lip-smacking culinary indulgence.
We chatted to five Flight Centre consultants who conquered Canada across three different seasons, with itineraries centred on Canada’s Western provinces of British Columbia and Alberta.
While they all had very different highlights, they were completely overwhelmed by the beauty of the landscape.
Canada in March (Winter)
For the snow enthusiast, try Canada in March like our Intrepid consultants Tamica Paulger and Gemma Moss did. During this time, you'll get to see a whole raft of winter wonderland attractions with the option of skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating.
Tamica and Gemma’s itinerary included Vancouver, Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff, Calgary. In all of Tamica’s eight years with Flight Centre, she confidently states that Canada was one of the best trips she has ever done.
"It's a great time to go in February and March as there are very few visitors, but the weather is good. There is still plenty of snow for skiers and snowboarders. At that time you will often be the only person around! You create your own tracks, make a snow angel and throw a cheeky snowball or two," says Tamica.
"It doesn’t have to be all go, go, go," she continues. "I was very fortunate to experience the Canadian Rockies Hot Springs, where I looked out on spectacular mountain scenery whilst soaking in hot mineral waters. Then I went back to a hearty fire-place, some cold white wine, and some great company. It doesn’t get much better than that!"
Gemma was a first-timer to Canada, and now says it is her absolute favourite destination.
“It is God’s country, where every second, every moment you get to look around at scenery that is too beautiful to believe. When we were there in March, we had the lovely experience of enjoying the majestic ice walks by ourselves," Gemma says.
"The trip had so many beautiful moments, but one that will stay with me forever is the morning I got up early and borrowed some ice skates from the hotel. I crunched through the early morning snow and then skated on Lake Louise completely by myself, with only the ice sculpture in the centre of the lake to keep me company.”
Canada in May (Spring)
Adam Colebrook's has been with Flight Centre for 10 years, but only recently visited Canada for the first time. Overwhelmed by the beauty of the Canadian landscape, Adam also found the city of Vancouver full of fantastic things to see and do.
“The great thing about Vancouver city is that there are so many of Canada’s major attractions on this side of the country within a 30-minute drive. Vancouver offers travellers heaps of opportunities for outdoor adventure and plenty of up-market facilities in a world-class city," Adam says.
“Vancouver has a temperate climate, being near the sea, but is also surrounded by snow-covered slopes, which are perfect for skiing and snowboarding nearly all year round."
"The locals say that Vancouver is one of the few places in the world where it's possible to ski in the morning and sail in the afternoon."
Adam’s highlight of the whole trip (and there were plenty to choose from!) was the world famous Capilano Suspension Bridge. Since its construction nearly 130 years ago, the Capilano Suspension Bridge has become something of a Vancouver landmark.
"You get to see and hear the amazing history, culture and nature from passionate 'Vancouverians' who are keen to also take visitors on the newest addition to this attraction – the Cliff Walk," Adam explains. "The cliff-side journey on a clear Perspex walkway does provide a jaw-dropping walking experience through rainforest high above the Capilano River."
Carrie Bishop, a four-year Flight Centre consultant, loved every minute of her time in Vancouver. For Carrie, FlyOver Canada lived up to its reputation as a heart stopping, all-ages, flight simulation ride like no other.
“You get to take off into a huge dome screen with the latest in projection and ride technology creating a true 4D flying experience, complete with wind, scents, and mist! It was so overwhelmingly beautiful, it brought tears to my eyes,” Carrie says.
Another big favourite for Carrie was the Vancouver Foodie Tour, which takes you to the nearby foodie nirvana, Granville Island. The tour offers food tasting and educational experiences, introducing food lovers to one-of-a-kind dishes that define Vancouver’s culinary scene.
With food featuring so strongly as part of the Vancouver experience, Carrie took it upon herself to find the best oyster in Vancouver. “It was a tough job, but after consuming close to my own body weight in the most magnificent oysters, I am pretty sure I found it," she says confidently.
"One piece of advice I would really push to anyone visiting Vancouver is to do your research because there is SO much to do. This includes looking into visitor passes available to see Vancouver, which makes going to the majority of the Vancouver attractions and sightseeing activities a real breeze."
Canada in September (Autumn)
Although Canada has been a permanent item on Cass Nieling’s travel wish-list during her many years at Flight Centre, this was her first time to the West Coast of Canada.
Cass went in late September to October and included Edmonton, Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff and Calgary in her itinerary. When she recalls that trip, Cass draws in a big breath and says:
“The landscape: everything you have ever heard or seen, those expectations are not just met – they are blown away. Photos do not do it justice.”
"One of the best things I did was see the Athabasca Glacier in a specially designed vehicle called the Ice Explorer. This glacier is one of the “toes” of the Columbia Icefield in the Canadian Rockies.
"People tell you about how the ice is blue in glaciers, but you have to go up close to really appreciate the size and colour of these amazing natural sculptures," Cass says.
“You don’t have to just focus on the skiing – there is so much that goes beyond adventure sports available for families and individuals of all ages. You could just spend two weeks soaking up the scenery, it is so divine.
"I got to see lots of animals in the wilderness, including squirrels galore plus a caribou that was quite comfortable hanging out near our bus. Very Northern Exposure.”
"One thing I would press upon people thinking about going to Canada, is to consider what you want to experience or a particular area you want to see, because it is not a 'one-week' place. It's just not the size, but also the things you see between places that make experiencing Canada about the journey – not just the destination."