More vacationers every year are choosing to take their holidays on a special train that provides everything in one package; travel, accommodation and fine dining. No where is this more evident than in Canada where the Rocky Mountains, the Pacific and Atlantic Coasts and the magnificent scenery in between has made scenic train tours a booming industry.Rocky Mountaineer has started a number of rail tours, some of 3 nights/4 days duration into the Rocky Mountains, some two or three days longer to allow for better exploration of the mountain areas. All tour trains have dome cars with plenty of seating, day cars and dining cars. On some portions of the tour there are sleeping cars provided. Of special note for those who remember the fine dining one used to experience on the rails, Rocky Mountaineer has ensured these folks will not be disappointed.
White linen, heavy silverware, uniformed waitpersons providing seamless service and exceptional menus have all been re-instated to enhance the rail tour experience.The Trans Canada Rail Adventure is rail enthusiasts' dreams come true! Rivaling any of the better known rail tours like the Orient Express, this tour is longer and has some of the most spectacular and diverse scenery anywhere in the world. The tour lasts 16 nights and 17 days, starting in Vancouver on the Pacific Coast and ending in Halifax on the Atlantic Coast. There is of course the opposite west-bound route starting in Halifax and ending in Vancouver.
Here is a brief rundown of the east-bound itinerary.Day 1. You arrive in Vancouver, check into your hotel assigned by Rocky Mountaineer Tours and spend time exploring the city on your own. Admission to the Observation Deck at Harbour Centre with views of the city, mountains and ocean is included.
Day 2. After a pleasant night's sleep, you board the Rocky Mountaineer for the first leg of the journey, which will end in Kamloops in the heart of British Columbia's interior. The scenery will change from the lush green fields of the lower Fraser River Valley, through forests and winding river canyons as you travel through the Coast and Cascade Mountains. Highlights will include the rushing waters of Hell's Gate, the narrowest strip of the Fraser River. Slowly the scenery changes to the desert-like environment along the Thompson River, where sage brush abounds, along with a few rattlesnakes.
Then along the shores of Kamloops Lake before easing into your overnight destination of Kamloops.Day 3. Your journey continues eastward to the Canadian Rockies and the province of Alberta. Here again you will see a phenomenal range of scenery as you travel across ranchlands, along rocky lakeshores, then into high mountain passes and through the remarkable tunnels that go through the mountains. Today's highlights include Craigellachie where the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway was driven, the climb over Rogers Pass, the Kicking Horse Canyon, the Spiral Tunnels - a remarkable feat of railroad engineering and of course the glaciers and snow-capped peaks of the Canadian Rockies. Your journey today ends in the resort town of Banff this evening.
Overnight in Banff. Day 4. Enjoy a three-hour sightseeing tour by bus of Banff townsite this morning. Among the highlights are visits to Bow Falls, the Banff Gondola, the Cave and Basin Centre, Surprise Corner and the Hoodoos. The rest of the day is free to spend at leisure in Banff.
Overnight in Banff.Day 5. A half-day tour takes you into Yoho National Park. Among the attractions are the Spiral Tunnels (this time from the highway), Emerald Lake (it really is green) and a natural rock bridge that spans the Kicking Horse River. The tour ends at Lake Louise and your afternoon is at leisure to enjoy this magnificent location.
Overnight at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.Day 6. Free day at Lake Louise.
Take a stroll beside the lake or an afternoon paddle in a canoe. Afternoon tea in the lounge. Overnight at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.Day 7. A full day sightseeing tour of Banff and Jasper National Parks via the Icefields Parkway. Among the highlights are Bow Lake, the Columbia Icefield and Athabasca Falls.
The Icefield is one of the largest accumulations of ice south of the Arctic Circle in addition to being one of the most accessible ones in North America. It is here that you will ride on an Ice Explorer to the middle of Athabasca Glacier to learn more about its geological features. Arrive in Jasper late this afternoon. Overnight in Jasper.Day 8, 9. This afternoon begins your three-day journey with VIA Rail First Class from Jasper to Toronto across the Prairie Provinces and Northern Ontario.
Overnight on VIA Rail both nights.Day 10. Arrive in Toronto on VIA Rail this evening.
Overnight in Toronto.Day 11. Enjoy a full day bus tour to Niagara Falls, one of the great natural wonders of the world. Included is a cruise on the Maid of the Mist to the base of Horseshoe Falls (Imax Theatre show of "Journey Behind the Falls" is substituted when Maid of the Mist is not operating).
Return to Toronto early this evening. Overnight in Toronto.Day 12. Travel by VIA Rail in VIA First Class from Toronto to Montreal. Overnight in Montreal.Day 13.
Montreal sightseeing with stops including Old Montreal, Notre-Dame Basilica, Olympic Park, Mount Royal and McGill University among others. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore this vibrant city on your own. Overnight in Montreal.
Day 14. Spend the day sightseeing independently in Montreal before taking the overnight VIA train to Halifax. Dinner is served onboard.
Overnight on VIA Rail.Day 15. Enjoy the landscapes of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as you arrive in Halifax this afternoon. Breakfast is served onboard. Spend the rest of the day exploring this eastern seaboard city. Overnight in Halifax.
Day 16. Visit the picture postcard village of Peggy's Cove and the most photographed lighthouse in the world. There will be plenty of time at the cove for exploring and shopping. Overnight in Halifax.
Day 17. Halifax Departure. Your tour ends with check-out from your Halifax hotel.After sixteen nights and seventeen days, you have a lifetime's supply of memories and visual images of the diverse scenery and culture you have explored on your journey of 6,400 kilometres (4000 miles) across the world's second largest country..
Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Canada Vacation.
By: Michael Russell