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Western Explorer

15 days Self Drive Tours

Virgin Holidays' view

Mixing Canada’s natural coastal beauty with its rugged interior, this unforgettable road trip gives you the complete west Coast experience. You’ll wind through national parks, past emerald-green lakes and lush valleys as you make your way through Banff and Jasper, before staying at a traditional ranch. After a taste of mountain-living, you’ll spend your days sailing along the Sunshine Coast and visiting the rugged Vancouver Island. And your final stop in Vancouver, with its urban buzz and beautiful coastline, makes the perfect ending to your western adventure.

Itinerary

Day 1: Calgary

Fly to Calgary and on arrival pick up your hire car. Upon check in, you'll be handed your road book at reception, which you can familiarise yourself with at leisure. The remainder of the day is at your leisure to discover how this modern, chic city at the foothills of the Rockies has not forgotten its cowboy frontier heritage. Overnight in Calgary.

Day 2: Calgary – Banff

The road westward to Banff leaves the towers of glass and steel behind, replaced with the rolling grasslands of Kananaskis horse country on the way to the mountains. The journey through the valley offers beautiful vista after vista as you make your way to the Bow Valley and the iconic parkland town of Banff. Spend the next 2 nights in Banff.

Day 3: Banff National Park

The Rockies most famous town deserves its grand reputation! Nestled in protected lands of Banff National Park, magnificient elk casually walk the local pathways and parks to the delight of visitors. Shoppes and restaurants boast menus from around the world, while offerings of outdoor adventure are around every corner.

Day 4: Banff – Jasper

Today you drive to Jasper via the spectacular Icefields Parkway. We suggest a stop at Peyto Lake en route for a stretch and a short walk. Dozens of incredible photo opportunities of ancient forests and crisply outlines mountain peaks present themselves around every bend of the road. Abundant small roadside waterfalls and alpine meadows delight travellers along this route, considered one of the most scenic drives in the world. Overnight in Jasper.

Day 5: Jasper – 100 Mile House

Today, emabark on your journey westward over the provincial border into the wilds of the British Columbia interior en route to the Cariboo Region — an area famous for its bountiful precious mineral deposits. This rugged land drew prospectors and adventurers alike during the Gold Rush period, many who stayed on to found the small communities that flourish there today. Overnight in 100 Mile House.

Day 6: 100 Mile House – Kleena Kleene

Today you continue westward through the pristine wilderness of the British Columbia interior. Travelling along the Chilcotin - Bella Coola Highway, you arrive at the Terra Nostra Guest Ranch, just west of the clear waters of Tatla Lake, boasting some of the most stunning scenery in Canada. Set in the rugged wilderness of the Chilcotin plateau, the Terra Nostra offers stunning mountain views, adventurous horseback riding and hiking trails along a scenic lake. Spend the next 2 nights in Kleena Kleene. (L/D)

Day 7: Kleena Kleene

Today is yours to explore the trails and backwoods of the Terra Nostra Guest Ranch, set in the idyllic lands on the border of the majestic Coast Mountains. The ranch's rustic setting gives an impression of what mountain village life is like. All your exquisite meals are prepared in and served in a nicely appointed log cabin dining room. (B/L/D)

Day 8: Kleena Kleene - Hagensborg

Today after your breakfast, you depart Kleena Kleene and travel further north through the British Columbia mountain ranges before turning west and journeying into the southern arm of Tweedsmuir National Park. The largest protected park in the province, this area boasts a near untouched wilderness where visitors can observe the rugged landscape as it has been for hundreds of centuries. Leaving the park, you travel into the peaceful Bella Coola valley, home to the Nuxalt First Nations people and situated at the headwaters of the 100 kilometre inlet leading to the Pacific Ocean. Overnight in Hagensborg. (B)

Day 9: Hagensborg (Bella Coola area) – Port Hardy (cruise)

Enjoy a full day ocean cruise on board BC Ferries through a long and winding inlet waterway, carved into the mountainous landscape. This placid, meandering cruise comes to an end in Port Hardy. Overnight in Port Hardy.

Day 10: Port Hardy – Campbell River

Today you travel south along the eastern shore of Vancouver Island. After following the shores of Nimpkish Lake the road turns inland, giving you a roadside view of the rugged landscape of the island's interior. You arrive at Campbell River, known as a centre for some of the world's best sport fishing. Overnight in Campbell River.

Day 11: Campbell River - Victoria

Following the strait of Georgia separating the island from the British Columbia mainland, you continue along the coast past quaint villages of Parksville, Nanaimo and Chemainus. Proceeding along the scenic Malahat Drive, you arrive in beautiful colonial Victoria. Spend the next 2 nights in Victoria.

Day 12: Victoria

Today, explore this elegant capital city. We suggest a visit to Beacon Hill Park and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. You may decide to drop in for an afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel and experience a taste of British Charm.

Day 13: Victoria – Vancouver

Traverse the charming landscape of Victoria one last time before enjoying a mini-cruise on BC Ferries back to Vancouver, through the Strait of Georgia. Arriving in Vancouver, take advantage of the many fine eateries available in this cosmopolitan jewel on the Pacific. Spend the next 2 nights in Vancouver.

Day 14: Vancouver

You will have the entire day to tour Vancouver and the surrounding area. Some suggestions: MacMillan Planetarium, Chinatown, Gastown, Granville Island, Grouse Mountain and Stanley Park.

Day 15: Vancouver

Today is the end of your programme. Please make sure to depart your hotel and leave ample time to check in at Vancouver International Airport for your onward flight.

Meals: 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 2 dinners included at Terra Nostra Guest Ranch.

*Denotes local charge - optional trips and excursions suggested on the itinerary can be added at the time of booking.

Please note: this is a set tour itinerary, if you have booked any pre/post or optional tour arrangements, please refer to your separate vouchers and final documents.

Dates & prices

The table below shows our escorted tour departure dates.

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Prices are described as Guide prices on this website and may be higher or lower due to availability and date of departure.

Prices are for departure dates listed, ex-UK and are per adult based on two adults travelling and sharing a standard room and with return economy flights where stated. Single room and flight prices are available at a supplement.

Please note some tours are subject to minimum numbers, please call our travel experts or visit your local retail store for full details as well as our latest prices.

Tour information

Please click here to download a pdf of the itinerary and additional tour notes

Pre/Post Tour information

If you would like to extend your trip or make the tour part of a longer holiday, we can easily add on a pre or post night stays for you. Our Sales Team will work with you to arrange the best connecting flights and book any additional hotel stays. Simply tell us what you’d like and we can arrange it.

Time difference

GMT -8 hours Western Canada

Tour inclusions

  • Includes a mix of 3–4V accommodation
  • 2 dinners, 2 lunches, 2 dinners at Terra Nostra Guest House
  • BC Ferries - Bella Coola to Port Hardy/Discovery Coast
  • BC Ferries - Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen
  • A personalised Jonview Canada Roadbook (delivered at first hotel)

Tour exclusions

  • International flight in economy class, including all UK and overseas airport taxes and applicable fuel surcharges
  • Flight upgrades and airport transfers in the UK
  • Baggage on internal Westjet flight – checked bags will cost between CA$25-29.50 per bag
  • Insurance
  • Airport transfer upon arrival and on departure
  • Items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, tips and gratuities, video camera fees at monuments
  • The required Canada Electronic Authorization (eTA)
  • Anything not detailed on the itinerary

Included activities

Tours listed in the itinerary.

Accommodation

Accommodation listed on the itinerary is a mix of 3-4V graded properties. Please note some tours are up to 3 weeks in duration and there may be some nights when staying in remote locations e.g. the National Parks, when the ‘V’ rating may vary. Hotels are subject to change up until 30 days prior to departure, but you will be advised of any changes.

Journey times

Please note due to long distances covered on some of the tours, there will be some days when the majority of the day will be spent on the coach, so just sit back and enjoy the view.

Visa requirements

Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA)

Visitors travelling to or transiting through Canada by air are now expected to get an electronic travel authorisation (eTA) to enter Canada. If you’re arriving into Canada by air from either the UK or another destination e.g. the USA, you’ll need an eTA. This costs CA$7 and lasts for 5 years or until your passport expires, whichever is first. If you’re travelling by land or sea, you won’t need an eTA when you enter Canada. However, you must travel with acceptable travel documents and identification, i.e. your passport.

For more information on eTA system, and to apply online, visit the official Canadian government website.

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Latest Foreign & Commonwealth Office repatriation travel advice


Over the past few weeks, we have repatriated our customers from overseas who wanted to come home.  

Please visit this page to keep up to date with the Government’s travel advice on returning to the UK, and to register for email alerts.
 

Your holiday may be affected by travel restrictions or cancellations

We are continually reviewing our flying schedules, taking into account the  Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advice against all non-essential travel. Depending on when you are due to travel, your holiday may be affected and we’ll email you to let you know as least 21 days before travel.

You’ll be away before you know it

Your next holiday is only a click away - our website has thousands of options ready to book. But if you need more help, just give us a call on 0344 472 9499.

Looking for inspiration? Explore our destinations and holiday types and save your faves to your very own Wishlist. Or dive right in to our 2021 holiday offers.

For extra piece of mind, new bookings made before 30 September 2020 for travel up 30 April 2021 also have the flexibility to amend free of charge. If you need to change don’t worry, you can move your holiday as far out as 31 December 2021 subject to availability.

How would you like to talk to us?

With many customers needing our help, we are prioritising those customers due to travel before 31 December 2020. Log in to Manage my booking where you can message us about your options or you can give us a call. Bear in mind you may have to wait longer than expected. We continue to review this and working to open up these options to more customers. In the meantime check out our FAQs to see if this can help answer any immediate questions.

Stay tuned for the latest updates


Rest assured; we will notify you as soon as we know if your holiday has been affected.  

We are continually reviewing our flying schedules, taking into account the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advice against all non-essential travel. Depending on when you are due to travel, your holiday may be affected and we’ll email you to let you know as least 21 days before travel.

Please look out for emails from us or visit our dedicated Covid-19 (Coronavirus) page for the latest updates.

Let’s talk


If you need to speak to us to change or cancel your booking you can call our team on 0344 472 9646.

For the latest information on Covid-19 you can check our FAQs here.

Payment flexibility


Don’t worry if you’ve missed a payment or just need a little more time to pay; we have options available to help you. If your holiday is going ahead as planned, you can continue to pay for your holiday in Manage my booking, even if travelling in less than 12 weeks. If you’re unsure, you can delay any additional payments by choosing a new time to travel by requesting a call back in Manage My booking for one of our team to look at options. If your holiday is more than 6 months away, you may wish to set up a Direct Debit to spread the cost. This can be arranged whilst rebooking or afterwards in Manage my booking.

We're flexible with your holiday plans


We understand that you may wish to change your holiday plans and we appreciate the need for flexibility. 

We'll be in touch by email letting you know how to register to change your holiday plans. You can also log into Manage my booking to find the details there. 

Please look out for emails from us or visit our dedicated Covid-19 (Coronavirus) page for the latest updates.

You're holiday is going ahead as planned


If we haven’t notified you of any changes, your holiday will be going ahead as planned but if you prefer to move your holiday to a later time we can help. You can call our team on 0344 472 9499 who can look at options for you.

Thank you for your patience and understanding


Payments are being prioritised based on when the request was made, working in order from March 2020 onwards. We will always try to process refunds at the earliest opportunity, for requests before August our maximum timeframe is 120 days. As we are steadily reducing the maximum processing time for each new request, for refund requests made in August, we expect the maximum processing time to be 80 days, from the date the refund is requested. For those requesting a refund in September, we expect it to be processed within a maximum of 60 days, and then reduce to 30 days for refunds requested in October, before returning to normal levels.

We'll be in touch soon


To finalise the amendment, one of our customer advisors will phone you. We need to work through amend requests in departure date order so we can prioritise those with the most imminent travel plans, so you may have a longer wait than usual until we’re able to ring you back. We will help everyone that wants to move their holiday.

I returned early from holiday and have further questions?


You can contact our team by emailing feedback.backhome@virginholidays.com to discuss options on unused portions of your holiday. If you need to contact our team about amending an existing holiday or requesting a refund please log in to manage my booking.

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