This Saturday's Travel post is a bit different. It's not about a place I've been too – but is about a place or activity that intrigues me. I'll tell you what I've discovered about Doing the Canadian Rockies by Train. I hope you'll be interested and if any of you have done it (or any other long train trip), your insights and advice would be fantastic.
You can go on the Rocky Mountaineer train – you can leave Jasper in the early morning. If you go Gold Leaf you will have a seat in a glass domed coach on the upper deck which means an unrestricted view – but can make for some photo issues with reflection. To get fall views you naturally would have to do the trip in autumn! There is an open observation area to allow great photo taking but the train has to slow down to make this a pleasurable experience. The meals look to be of a high standard. You sleep in a hotel In Kamloops (a desert town) for the night – no sleepers on this train. I think that this overnight stop might suit me very well rather than sleeping on the train. After a second day of spectacular scenery you end up in the lovely city of Vancouver – which I have visited.
The price as at March 2016 – for 2 people, Gold Leaf in September - $4600 Canadian Dollars (just over $5000 NZ)
Issues to check out further with the Rocky Mountaineer – is there wifi, are there plugs for recharging camera batteries/phones? Is the commentary non-intrusive?
An alternative approach was to take the American Orient Express but sadly it looks like this operation has stopped.
One option that is still available is VIA Rail – the Canadian national railway. There is a sleeper class with double berth cabins (have a toilet but the shower is down the corridor). It is a 16 hour overnight trip from Jasper to Vancouver. Great viewing from the Panorama Viewing Car. Meals are included with a Sleeper Class ticket and the food is said to be of a good standard.
Apparently the best way to get to Jasper is to drive from Calgary – a 400 k journey which takes in some stunning scenery as well.
If you went the whole way from Toronto to Vancouver it would take 4 days – a bit much for me.
The price as at March 2016 – for 2 people Sleeper Class travelling in September - $1177 Canadian
Issues to check out further – sleeping in upper/lower berth configuration? Are there any doubles? No wifi or 3G most of the way.