Canada has long been on my list of countries to visit, mostly because it is so widely known for its beautiful yet accessible wild spaces. If you have read many of my blog posts you'll have picked up on my love of the environment and outdoors. I adore getting out into the hills and seeing the glorious expanses this world has to offer us. Every time I step into the wilderness I am reminded of what I am defending when I try to minimise my negative impact on this incredible planet we call home. Canada drove that home yet again.
We landed in Edmonton at an ungodly hour of the night and were overwhelmed by the kindness of a new friend we had made in Iceland a few weeks before when she drove out to the airport from a party at her house just to fetch us. She then proceeded to offer us a bed for the night, followed by a guided tour of the river by canoe the next morning.
Of course we jumped at the chance to see the city from a different angle, and early the next morning we slathered on the sunscreen and headed to the river.
If you are ever in Edmonton I highly recommend looking for a way to get on the river (assuming it's summer and the river isn't frozen...), as it really does give you a much more peaceful and alternative view of the city and it's inhabitants.
After a long physical day we loaded up on some of Canada's most iconic cuisine, reusable chopsticks in hand (poutine is life), and wandered off to bed.
Our time in Edmonton was short, but probably sufficient, and the next day we jumped on a greyhound bus (yay public transport!) down to Calgary, loaded up with zero waste snacks and anticipation.
Calgary is pretty chill, and there isn't a huge amount to do there, but it was a great spot to stop and pick up our rental car for the rest of our time in Canada. Once we had the car we were able to amble about at our own pace, which I would definitely recommend. For 3 of us travelling by car was cheaper, more flexible, and meant we could leave stuff in the car and carry fresh food to cook rather than eating out all the time. It also gave us access to cheaper accommodation in campsites and fun detours in the national parks.
After just one night in Calgary we shot over to Drumheller to see some of the best preserved dinosaur fossils in the world! There is a huge museum there that is full of phenomenal fossils, fun facts, and interesting stories. This was probably one of my favourite museums of the trip.
That night we drove over to Banff, and stayed the night in a campsite just outside of the park. You can expect to pay at least NZ$40 per night for a hostel, and being scouts we all love camping so we opted for the more nature immersed option. Campsites cost us between $20 and $30 per night for all three of us, so less than a quarter what we would have paid for hostels.
Now, check out this glorious slice of paradise!
One of the top recommendations for Banff in every single guide ever is Lake Louise. It's outstanding. The valley is dramatic and the lake is classic glacier melt pale blue. It is pretty packed, and you'll probably have to park in one of the overflow car parks and get the free shuttle up to the lake. The shuttles run regularly, so this was actually quite convenient.
Lorraine is far from being the only stunning lake in Banff however. Check this one out! It was right next to the road when we pulled over for a snack break.
Our trusty steed!
The walking tracks around the parks are fantastic, and there are plenty of different options for all levels of activity.
Some of the campsites we stayed in were pretty remote, and it was fabulous. When camping it's so important to make sure you put all your food and things that smell like food into the bear boxes overnight.
Bears aren't the only ferocious creatures strolling around the wilds...
Aaaaand back to the multitude of stunning, crystal clear, mirror lakes.
Visibility was low for most of our time in Banff and Jasper, due to some really bad forest fires that were tearing down huge swaths of the park as we drove through. It brought me to tears more than once realising that the devastation was probably made far worse by human actions causing climate change.
On a lighter note, it made the sunrises and sunsets more interesting.
Possibly one of the more obscure sights was this lake - Jasper Lake - which seemed to be mid shin deep the whole way across. It was brilliant and I would highly recommend a visit. Set aside more time than you expect, because you'll definitely try to walk to a deep bit... and we couldn't find one.
Look at this gorgeous sock tan we built up with all our walks!
We had our little camping stoves and pots with us as well, so we cooked almost all of our meals which saved about 50% of our food bill and meant that we could eat whenever we were hungry, regardless of where we were. This flexibility was brilliant, especially because we kept underestimating times and getting to random campsites after dark.
On the topic of waterways, RIVERS. Great for looking at, great for cooling beers in, and magnificent spots for a lunch of leftovers from the night before stored in my trusty tiffin!
Hazy sunrises from the fires...
More stunningly glorious lakes.
After days of calm, breathing deeply and being so in awe of the beauty that this world is capable of we abruptly emerged into the human strewn outside world, and then Vancouver.
It's a pretty funky little place, with groovy street art and fascinating shops.
Thanks for sticking with me all the way to the end :)
As you can probably tell - I was absolutely in awe of how stunningly beautiful Canada is, and I loved how warm and welcoming all the folks we stayed with were.
Canada - keep being phenomenal. I will certainly be back for more!
Thanks so much for reading my blog. I hope that you enjoyed it!
See you somewhere!
P.S. My cousin who we stayed with in Edmonton has a hedgehog! Look how cute it is!!! I am so in love!