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Escorted Tours of Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise & Surrounds

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Toronto
posts: 37
reviews: 13
Escorted Tours of Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise & Surrounds

We are planning our 1st visit to the region this year (2012). The primary focus is sight seeing with escorted tours just outside of peak season. What are best times of the year and the recommended Tour Operators. We live in Toronto, so expect we will have to fly in and out of Calgary. Came across caravan.com - any personal experiences to share? Which are the best Tour operators / Tours? We have 10-15 days, so are flexible. Don't mind doing BC as well, but concerned it might be a push. Initially we were thinking of renting a car, but find that escorted tours may be netter value for money.

seattle
Destination Expert
for Seattle
posts: 14,764
reviews: 83
1. Re: Escorted Tours of Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise & Surrounds

Caravan is fine but definitely on the lower cost range of operators. The tour is fine, hotels are ok. You will see and do the basic highlights. Others to look at

Collettevacations.com

Trafalgar

Globus or cosmos

Many are calgary to calgary but some are Calgary to Jasper then the train into Vancouver. Once you have an itinerary in mind with a company I can comment on the hotels etc. You need to come after June 5th or so if you want to see all the lakes unfrozen (rough estimate). If you go early its also fine but don't expect to get to all locations (Maligne, Moraine or Peyto) as the road may be still closed or the attractions not operating yet.

Banff, Canada
Destination Expert
for Banff, Lake Louise
posts: 2,632
2. Re: Escorted Tours of Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise & Surrounds

Greetings Tourizt

For sightseeing outside of the peak season I would highly recommend September. The weather is usually fine (however conditions can change very quickly at any time in the Rockies). The evenings can be a bit cool but as long as you have a light jacket or sweater with you if you are out for an evening you should be OK.

The great thing about September as well is that most of the summer activities will still be available and the roads to locations such as Moraine Lake, Takakkaw Falls and Maligne Lake will still be open.

I would recommend 10 days as the minimum time to see and enjoy the Rockies, whether you are on a tour or self driving.

BanffLakeLouise

Toronto
posts: 37
reviews: 13
3. Re: Escorted Tours of Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise & Surrounds

Thanks BanffLakeLouise and davidgmg

Did some research and found that caravan.com is by far hugely more affordable, so likely to go with it - check out http://www.caravan.com/tour/canada-rockies

We will likely go during the best time of the year - what would that be please? And if we had to extend a day or three on our own, by renting a car, what else could we do, that is not already part of the itinerary.

ps: It appears Cosmos does not do the Rockies. We went with them in Europe over a decade ago, and loved it.

Calgary, Canada
Destination Expert
for Calgary, TripAdvisor Support
posts: 23,046
reviews: 66
4. Re: Escorted Tours of Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise & Surrounds

It looks to me as if Cosmos does do the Rockies; I found a number of tours here:

cosmos.com/Vacations/…

So, if you figure they're worth the extra bucks, they're still an option.

PS: Just for future reference, I found that by doing a google search on the words

cosmos rockies tour

--contrary to popular belief, web searching is a skill that can be learned, not something that everyone automatically learns the instant they access the 'net for the first time. Which is why I hate web sites like lmgtfy.com !

Edited: 7:55 pm, March 10, 2012
seattle
Destination Expert
for Seattle
posts: 14,764
reviews: 83
5. Re: Escorted Tours of Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise & Surrounds

Since Caravan does Glacier along with Jasper and Banff NP its a very cursory look at the Rockies however it covers a lot of the highlights. I'd probably want to spend more time in Jasper or explore a bit more around Banff and Lk Louise. Unfortuanately if I remember their itinerary you drive the Parkway both direction and on the last day you do the ice explorer before heading back to Calgary.

If I had more time in Jasper I'd like to do Maligne Lk and a little more sightseeing in that area. In Banff I don't believe they do Lk Minnewanka loop and In Lk Louise I don't think they do Moraine Lk. I assume they make the usual stops along the pkwy including Peyto Lk but if they don't that is a shame. However to cover more ground you might have to retrace your steps back to Banff. It would be great if they would drop you in Banff at the end however that most likely isn't too practical so you may have to backtrack a bit to do more sightseeing. I think their basic itinerary will cover a lot of the highlights so even if you stick with it you will be happy.

Toronto
posts: 37
reviews: 13
6. Re: Escorted Tours of Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise & Surrounds

YES!! Cosmos does. I missed it somehow.

Cosmos will allow us to cover Vancouver/Victoria, in addition to Alberta.

Got to get to work with research / selection / booking. Any tips / insights always welcome and thanks for your assistance!

Seattle, Washington
posts: 1
7. Re: Escorted Tours of Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise & Surrounds

hi there is any tour that starts in Seattle for Banff area?

thnks diana in seattle

Greater Sydney...
posts: 8,562
reviews: 32
8. Re: Escorted Tours of Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise & Surrounds

A valued contributor to this form, davidgmg, who is a tour guide and lives in Seattle, will hopefully drop in to advise, but I have never seen any before.

seattle
Destination Expert
for Seattle
posts: 14,764
reviews: 83
9. Re: Escorted Tours of Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise & Surrounds

there is. Grand Circle Travel starts in Seattle then drives to Spokane up to Glacier NP then up to Banff and over to Vancovuer and back to Seattle. Frankly its a lot of driving.

Alaska air normally charges me about $114 one way to Calgary and I'd rather spend one hr flying then find a company that starts and ends in calgary. Try Trafalgar as one option.

Grand Circle has a hard time keeping guides and gets lot of complaints so frankly its a hit or miss as far as your enjoyment but its one of the only tours I've seen. You might also talk to Alki Tours in Seattle as they put their own programs together.

10. Re: Escorted Tours of Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise & Surrounds

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