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Vancouver Island, Whistler and/or Banff

London, England...
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Vancouver Island, Whistler and/or Banff

Hi all,

I'm planning a trip to BC in Aug/Sept 2014 (I know, a long way off, but I need time to save!). I was initially planning to do a trip going from Vancouver - Vancouver Island - Kaloomps - and finally up to Banff and Jasper. However, I only have 10-12 days and I'm on a budget. Moose Networks do the kind of trip I had wanted to do, but I get the feeling I might be better doing the first bit of trip and missing out the Kaloomps to Banff bit. I do want to do some hiking in the Rockies and see some amazing scenery so I was wondering if I can get that nearer to Vancouver or if the Banff/Jasper area is not to be missed!

Thanks

Vancouver, Canada
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1. Re: Vancouver Island, Whistler and/or Banff

Are you still looking at using Moose to get around? I think they can be a good way to go. Reasonably priced and a chance to meet like minded people if you are traveling alone.

With 10 to 12 days on a limited budget, I do think you need to pare down your ambitions somewhat. Both areas are world-class destinations, so I would advise that either you do a trip into the Rockies starting and ending from Calgary, OR you do the coast, including our coast mountains, and Vancouver Island as a round trip from Vancouver.

Vancouver, Canada
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2. Re: Vancouver Island, Whistler and/or Banff

Yes, you can get beautiful scenery in the Vancouver area as well. Maybe not as prestigious as the Canadian Rockies, but still very beautiful and a lot less crowds!

If you like hiking you may want to have a look at Garibaldi Provincial Park (about an hour to an hour and a half driving from Vancouver), this is a great place to do some hiking and camping in the mountains with pristine blue lakes. Most hikes are fairly long and probably best if you could stay overnight in a tent, especially if you wanted to do the Garibaldi Lake Trail (9km one way and about 3-4 hours hiking) or the Elfin Lakes Trail (11km one way and about 4-5 hours hiking). For easier trails you may have a look at Cheakamus Lake Trail (about 3km one way and about 45min-1 hour walking), at the end you will find yourself at a beautiful blue lake.

Vancouver's local mountains (Cypress, Grouse and Seymour) have some great hiking trails with beautiful scenery. Further in the valley you Golden Ears Provincial Park which offers beautiful trails and scenery as well.

Another great place is Joffre Lakes Provincial Park with 3 blue lakes. The Lower Joffre Lake can be reached within 5-10 min. from the parking lot. Middle and Upper Joffre Lakes takes another couple of hours to get to with a lot of climbing over boulders and such. It's a gorgeous hike of about 11km return which takes about good 5-6 hours (including a lunch and some stops for photos).

There are lots of great places with scenery on Vancouver Island as well. So you can easily enjoy your 10-12 days in the Vancouver area.

You can also follow Vancouverite67's advice and fly into Calgary and visit the Canadian Rockies for 10-12 days. I would choose either for Vancouver or the Canadian Rockies and don't try to combine the two.

Good luck!

Jasper, Canada
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3. Re: Vancouver Island, Whistler and/or Banff

First off, one little point about geography - although there are mountains all the way from Vancouver to Alberta, "the Rockies" is the furthest range from Vancouver, straddling the BC/Alberta border. If you have seen or read something about "hiking in the Rockies", chances are it's in one of the Canadian Rockies National Parks - Banff, Jasper, Kootenay or Yoho. The closest airport is Calgary (YYC), although lots of people like to do an itinerary from Vancouver through the Rockies to Calgary (or vice versa).

I, too, think you need to concentrate your itinerary a bit, especially if you wlll be relying on public transportation, or something like the Moose Network.

Perhaps AnninBC can comment on whether or not there is public transportation to any of those suggested parks/trailheads? Here in the Rockies, there is no shortage of trails either, but without a vehicle to get to the trailheads and little public transportation in place, it can be hard for budget travellers to do those things. (There are lots of nice trails accessible from both Banff and Jasper townsite, but they are not the subalpine meadows and glacial lakes, and alpine tundra hikes that are the "premier" hikes to do.) There is more in the way of public transportation available in Banff NP, which makes sense as they get double the number of visitors as Jasper NP - there is the town transit in Banff (Roam) and also bus service with Brewster and Greyhound to Lake Louise. Guided hikes with transport are usually pretty pricey.... but so is renting a car, especially if you are under 25.

Vancouver, Canada
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4. Re: Vancouver Island, Whistler and/or Banff

If you are not going to have a car (you refer to Moose) then you are not going to be able to get to out of town hikes. In fact you will not be able to get around Vancouver Island very flexibly without a car. There is the Island Link Bus and the Tofino Bus that has set routes. You could visit places along those routes, no problem. Because of that, you will need to plan in a bit more time in certain places, if only to be able to catch the next bus to the next place on your list.

So are you planning to rent a car? It would be helpful if you could elaborate on how you plan to get around.

With 10-12 days, you could get around Vancouver Island, by bus, to see the highlights. You might be interested to know that Wales will fit nicely into 2/3 of Vancouver Island. Vancouver Island has no transport infrastructure outside of what I have mentioned and public transit in a couple of cities/towns. It takes 7 hours to drive from one end of VI to the other and about 3 hours to drive from Parksville on the east side to Tofino on the west.

You could spend 3 nights in the Victoria area, 3 nights at Tofino and even 3 nights at the north end (Telegraph Cove, Port McNeill) for kayaking and/or grizzly bear tours ($$$$). You would very likely need one overnight on the way up to Telegraph Cove and one night from Telegraph Cove back to Vancouver, if that is where you need to go. You could not do the north end, and instead get to Whistler for a low fat, gluten free :-) version of the Rockies. It is a great place for people, who are not going to the Rockies, to get outdoor activities.

I think 10-12 nights is a bit much for the Rockies by themselves. You could spend 4 nights in Banff and 3 nights in the Rockies. It would be possible for you to take Moose across the province, Greyhound coach (15 hours) or VIA Rail (20 hours and more expensive) to Vancouver for 4 nights and fly out of the other end of your trip. There are lots of permutations that would create a good experience for you here.

Just a heads up that the first Monday of September is our national Labour Day long weekend (that includes the Monday). A very busy weekend here for travelling on the roads and the ferries.

LOL, all that to agree with V67!!

London, England...
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5. Re: Vancouver Island, Whistler and/or Banff

Thanks so much for all your advice and suggestions - really helpful.

My options for transportation are to either do the moose network Pacific pass (http://www.moosenetwork.com/content.php?id=5) which includes all the areas I want to go to over 14 days (I got my days wrong in my initial post and actually have 14-15 days, sorry!). OR, I hire a car (I will be 26) and do a smaller area in more detail.

It sounds like you're all agreed that a smaller area would be better, though I would still love to get over to Banff and Jasper. AnninBC - your suggestions for hiking routes are great, thank you. Though Moose would get me everywhere I need to go, the distances involved mean that I'd be on a bus the majority of the time and not getting out and about, so I'm now thinking hiring a car would be a better option.

Muftimixandmatch - thanks for the fact about Wales and VI - I'd definitely underestimated its size! The UK is so small....!

Thanks,

Amy

6. Re: Vancouver Island, Whistler and/or Banff

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