For once, we got out of our room 10 minutes early. And, glory be, the bus was waiting! We were first on to a big coach and only 9 people in all were expected. We could pick our spot and spread out. One of the few stress free coach boarding experiences we’ve had.
And it got better. Much better.
Coach driver was Brad and tour guide was Sid, both of whom turned out to be great value. We picked up the remaining passengers and we were soon bowling down Icefield Highway. This is defined as a scenic road, so no trucks allowed. The traffic was actually fairly light.
The first stop was the Athabasca Falls in beautiful weather, but it was cold here – a glacial river with a lot of spray. It was also fabulous.
Back on this lovely smooth highway, when all of a sudden, Sid shouted “Bear!” Brad slammed on the brakes and backed up about 200 metres. We had been warned this might happen.
A bear. Black bear, to be precise. Feeding alongside the road, totally oblivious to the excited tourists on the bus. Apologies for the poor quality, but understandably these pics and video were taken inside the coach.
We were now approaching the Columbia Icefield, one of the main attractions for today. Some fantastic scenery on the way.
Next – the famous icefield skywalk. The river is 280 metres below. Disconcerting at first, but what an experience.
On we went down the Icefield Highway. No apologies for more pictures of this astonishing landscape.
A centrepiece of this excursion was a journey out onto an actual glacier – the Athabasca Glacier – on a 6-wheel drive speciality ice bus. This was next.
To cap this off, we had an excellent buffet lunch at the visitor centre on our exit off the glacier. The house wine was a very decent Cabernet Sauvignon…..
Fantastic experience. And more to come scenery-wise. Sorry about that….
Then, another bear incident!
Not the best pictures, but it’s a bear! Blimey! So, so fortunate.
By this stage, Sid had let me sit in his front seat. This was a real privilege, as I could see what was coming up without the reflections you get from the side windows.
More stupendous scenery:
By this stage, we were only about 50 kilometres from our destination for tonight, the Fairmont Chateau at Lake Louise.
Brad made an unscheduled stop at Waterfowl Lake. Again, overwhelming beauty. Astonishing.
And more, if you can believe it.
I give you – Lake Peyto. This was an absolute privilege.
Just a few kilometres now to Lake Louise. Arrived at the chateau after a breathtaking day. Brad and Sid – take a bow!
Checked in with minimal fuss, and offered an upgrade to a larger room, which we took.
After a while trying to process all that we’ve seen today, we had room service for our evening meal, as all restaurants were either full or we would be eating far too late.
Went out for a short evening stroll, just to get a feel for the place.
After this picture-fest, and a G&T at the bar, it’s time for bed. Only one night here, then a short transfer down to Banff tomorrow, pickup 12.15, so a lie-in awaits.