Day - 1
Location: Edmonton - Welcome to beautiful Edmonton, Canada. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. If you arrive early, perhaps visit the biggest mall in North America: West Edmonton Mall, or instead, learn about Canadian living history at Fort Edmonton Park, visit the nearby Ukrainian Cultural Village, and explore the small theatres and diners of the University District.
Day - 2
Location: Slave Lake - This morning, visit the Telus World of Science in Edmonton where you can explore a variety of exhibits and experiences, including the new Indigenous Traditional Room. Here, you may have the opportunity to meet with a local elder and hear their stories and teachings, as well as ask questions and learn about Indigenous Ways of Knowing. Then, drive through spectacular wilderness to the town of Slave Lake. After dinner you will head out in search of a view of the spellbinding northern lights (clouds permitting). Enjoy a bonfire under the darkness of the night sky and cook some s’mores while you’re waiting.
Day - 3
Location: Slave Lake - We'll kick off the day with a lesson on winter survival skills at the local Boreal Centre for Bird Conservation. Learn how to light a fire, build a quick shelter and properly use snowshoes before setting out on a short snowshoe hike. Your afternoon is free to explore the town, and if the lake is properly frozen you may even try your luck at ice fishing. After dinner, head back again to look for the unpredictable northern lights in your second dedicated night of sky gazing. The lights occur when several factors, including local cloud levels, solar flares on the sun or solar wind, converge to produce magical hues dancing in the winter night sky.
Day - 4
Location: Jasper - Drive to Jasper National Park, arriving at your hotel in the late afternoon. Once settled in, go searching for wildlife such as moose, elk, deer, bears and coyotes. In the evening, perhaps take yourself out for dinner in Jasper, as there are a variety of restaurants to choose from. Ask your local leader for suggestions on where to go.
Day - 5
Location: Jasper - Experience the caves, icicles and frozen waterfalls of Maligne Canyon on an ice walk in the morning. The canyon’s name refers to its ethereal beauty in winter, where waterfalls freeze over and icicles cascade like teeth in the mouths of the park’s many caves. A local guide will safely escort you through this maze of natural ice sculptures (tread-enhancing cleats will be provided) while you learn about Jasper’s karst topography and the mystery of disappearing Medicine Lake. Included today is lunch at Jasper Brewing Co: Canada’s first National Park Brewery. The rest of the afternoon is free. Try one of Jasper’s short walking trails, admiring the scenic mountain ranges that greet you in every direction.
Day - 6
Location: Lake Louise - Prepare yourself for an unforgettable drive as you set out on the Icefields Parkway. The world-renowned roadway between Jasper and Banff stretches 232 kilometres (144 miles) through a landscape of jagged mountaintops and past 100 ancient glaciers. At its heart is the Columbia Icefield, the largest ice field in the Rocky Mountains. The massive Athabasca Glacier, measuring 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) long and 1 kilometre (.62 mile) wide flows within walking distance of the roadway, so take a hike to its toe (the current lowest endpoint of a glacier). Tonight, arrive at Lake Louise to relax and ready yourself for another active day tomorrow.
Day - 7
Location: Lake Louise - Lake Louise is an iconic snapshot of Canada, and today you’ll experience one of its many beautiful moods. There are many options on how to spend the day, including an optional horse-drawn sleigh ride past the glacial lake. You’ll be able to take a snowshoe hike along one of the lake’s many trails, or perhaps pop on a pair of skates and practice some figure eights (or ice stumbles) while gliding across the surface of the lake. Included today is lunch at The Station Restaurant – a heritage railway station which serves hearty Canadian favourites. If you’re looking to continue to put your feet up, the Fairmont Chateau does a beautiful afternoon tea. For those lucky enough to be in Lake Louise during its annual Ice Magic Festival in January, be sure to take a look at the precision and delicate skill on display in the various ice sculptures by the lake.
Day - 8
Location: Banff - Drive to nearby Banff, Canada’s most famous mountain resort town. While located inside a national park, Banff offers plenty of shops, restaurants and bars to distract you from the surrounding natural beauty. Gain a sense of Canadian Rockies culture at the Whyte Museum, where over 200 years of artwork tells the story of the rugged men and women who settled in Banff. Sub-zero temperatures turn Banff’s waterfalls into glittering ice sculptures, and today you will visit Johnston Canyon ice walk to see this all on display. Hike along steel catwalks built into the canyon walls and wander among massive pillars of ice. With all this adventuring, you must be hungry, and so it’s a perfect time for a Beavertail tasting experience. Beavertails are a deep-fried sweet dough made with whole wheat flour and pulled by hand to resemble the long flat tail of a beaver. Order a classic cinnamon and sugar or go a little bit wild with some whipped cream and decadent Nutella – you’ll be licking your lips for hours!
Day - 9
Location: Banff National Park - Enjoy a free morning in Banff before an included snowshoe hike with your group at Sunshine Village Ski Resort, about 20 minutes out of town. To start, head above the tree line, and then put on your snowshoes and trek across the white powder with a professional guide. Your backcountry hike will be made extra sweet with a stop for hot cocoa and cookies on top of the (Sunshine Village) world.
Day - 10
Location: Banff/Canmore - In the morning, take a short drive to Canmore, which is within the Kananaskis Country park system, and embark on an included ice walk at the Grotto Canyon, using special hiking crampons to grip the smooth frozen creek beds. Alternatively, you could book yourself a dogsledding adventure with a trusted provider, where you’ll meet and greet the dogs on your team before being pulled along the frosty trails by these canines. Return to Banff for the night – a group dinner in town may be on the cards.
Day - 11
Location: Calgary - Enjoy breakfast at the lodge before a drive to Calgary. Your trip will end at Calgary International Airport, the arrival time depends on each group however If you decide to fly out this day, please don't book a flight before 3pm. Drop off in Calgary city can be arranged, please discuss this with your Trip Leader. There are no activities and accommodation planned for the day. If you have the rest of the day here, why not visit the giant pandas at the Calgary Zoo, check out the urban neighbourhood of East Village, or walk across Peace Bridge and explore Prince Island’s Park on the Bow River.