As Prince Charles and Camilla travel to Canada on their Royal Tour, Lauren Jarvis heads to the country’s Rocky Mountains for a taste of the high life…
Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall are visiting Canada this week on a whirlwind tour, celebrating ‘Canadian Achievement’ past, present and future. And this month, high in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, a new attraction opens that’s definitely a dizzying triumph of imagination, engineering and design.
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The new Glacier Skywalk offers breath-taking views of the Canadian Rockies
The first structure of its kind in the world, the Glacier Skywalk offers breathtaking views of the iconic Rockies from a glass-floored, observation platform, 280 metres above the Sunwapta Valley.
A Harley Davidson tour is a great way to explore Alberta
An interpretive boardwalk leads visitors on a tour through time to discover how the region’s mountains and glaciers were formed, and introduces them to the country’s wildlife, including wolves, moose and of course, Canada’s famous grizzly bears.
Those with a head for heights can take a leap of faith and step out on to the reassuringly solid glass platform, which extends 30 metres from the cliff edge, to immerse themselves in the soaring, mountain panorama of the Columbia Icefield. Then for an extra thrill, they can jump on to a Glacier Adventure Ice Explorer bus and walk on the dazzling, ancient ice of the Athabasca Glacier.
The Skywalk is the newest attraction along Canada’s most scenic highways, the Icefields Parkway. Winding through the heart of the Rockies, this is one of the world’s top 10 drives, with every turn revealing a new wonder, from crashing waterfalls to turquoise mountain lakes, and maybe even an elk or black bear.
Canada is home to stunning mountains and lakes
Many begin their Rockies adventure in Calgary, picking up a car or motorhome and heading out on Highway 1 for Canmore, Kananaskis, an hour west of the city.
Whether you’re a sun lover or a snow bunny, there are no end of outdoor activities to enjoy in the region’s unspoiled wilderness. Try skiing, cycling and hiking, or make like a royal and take to the skies in a helicopter with Rockies Heli Tours for a bird’s-eye view of the mountains.
Further along the highway you’ll find Banff National Park, a UNESCO World heritage Site, and another sky-high gem, the Banff Gondola.
An eight-minute journey whisks you 2,281 metres up Sulphur Mountain for a spectacular view of six mountain ranges. Before you leave town, find time for a relaxing dip in the naturally heated 40°C waters of the historic spa and bathhouse at Banff Upper Hot Springs.
No Royal Tour would be complete without a stay at a castle, and the elegant Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, on the shores of a stunning aquamarine lake, is the perfect place for some VIP-style pampering.
Prince Charles was recently in Canada
Take a lakeside hike with one of the hotel’s excellent mountain guides looking for bears, then bliss out with a massage in the spa, before feasting on fondue in the Chateau’s Walliser Stube dining room.
From Lake Louise, the Icefields Parkway winds past the Glacier Skywalk and up to the laid-back, arty mountain town of Jasper.
Nestled in Canada’s largest National Park, surrounded by jaw-droppingly beautiful mirror lakes, waterfalls and canyons, there are lots of ways to explore, including a trip on the Jasper SkyTram up Whistler Mountain and exhilarating Harley Davidson rides with Jasper Motorcycle Tours, complete with biker gear and a sidecar.
While a Harley may not be the royal ride of choice, both The Queen, Prince Philip and Elizabeth the Queen Mother have stayed at The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, overlooking the tranquil, forest-fringed Lac Beauvert.
With kayaking, cycling trails, a golf course, outdoor heated pool and a spa, the hotel hosts royal visits in The Outlook Cabin overlooking the lake, which guests can also hire for exclusive use and private receptions.
Charles and Camilla only stayed four nights in Canada on their tour, but take a little longer to explore the country and the majestic scenery, stunning alpine towns and luxe mountain hotels will leave you feeling you’re the King – or Queen – of the world.
Frontier Travel (www.frontier-canada.co.uk) can arrange holidays to the Canadian Rockies from £1,550 per person, including return flights from the UK to Calgary, two nights in Kananaskis, three nights in Banff, three nights in Jasper and one night in Edmonton. Additional ad-ons, including entry to the Glacier Skywalk, Glacier Adventure and the Banff Gondola are also available.
Heli-hike tours can be booked through Rockies Heli Tours (www.rockiesheli.com) and Harley Davidson rides through Jasper Motorcycle Tours (www.jaspermotorcycletours.com).
Cruise Canada (www.cruisecanada.com) rents self-drive motorhomes for three to seven people.
To find out more about Alberta, visit www.travelalberta.co.uk
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