Adventure is an ambivalent term. For some, it’s a bracing walk. For others, it’s bungee-jumping out of a helicopter. Clarity is essential.
Once you’ve understood what level of adventure your client wants, it’s much easier. Alberta is Canada’s adventure state, and there are options out there from white-knuckle rides to those for wusses seeking softer adventure.
Wimp: Although not for those with vertigo, a helicopter sightseeing flight gives a lot of excitement with almost no effort. The Rockies are ideally designed for this, with the aircraft swooping over towering peaks and powering across crystal clear lakes.
White-knuckle: Heli-hiking works for those who want more than a short-lived thrill. There’s the initial adrenaline rush of the flight, which will take clients to areas not easily accessed by other means, or so remote that they’d usually have to hike for days to reach them. Then they can stride out and among glaciers, lakes and forests.
Book it: North America Travel Service offers a 25-minute Alpine Helicopter Flightseeing Experience out of Canmore, from £160, and a three-night Heli-Hiking Adventure. The latter starts from £1,799, and clients stay in one of two remote lodges in remote areas of Alberta, helicoptering out for hikes each day accompanied by a professional guide.
Wimp: This may be cowboy country but clients needn’t be expert riders to enjoy it. Short rides are easy to organise in resort, or you can book something in advance. With a horse taking the strain, they can concentrate on gazing at Alberta’s beautiful scenery.
White-knuckle: For the more horse mad, operators feature ranch stays where clients can go for rides lasting from an hour to overnight pack trips, and learn about Canada’s ranching history.
Book it: Thomas Cook Signature offers the Sundance Loop Trail Ride from £60, with a two-hour ride along the banks of the Bow River departing from Banff. 1st Class Holidays offers stays at Six Rafter Ranch, located between Calgary and Banff. The log-built lodge offers riding for all levels of expertise and rafting, treetops ropes and a zipline, and there are hiking trails. From £205 per night.
SLEIGH OF HAND
Wimp: Younger children and older clients can enjoy a relaxing sleigh ride across the snow in a horse-drawn sled, being tucked up warmly with blankets and letting someone else do the driving.
White-knuckle: For a more hands-on experience, clients can learn to drive a dog sled, feeling the wind on their faces as they slice through the snow behind a team of huskies.
Book it: Do Something Different offers a Banff Sleigh Ride for £22 per adult, for a 45-minute ride through the Bow River Valley sitting on upholstered seats in a horse-drawn sleigh. North American Travel Service offers a six-hour Dog Sledding Winter Experience out of Jasper from £165, where clients are taught to drive their own sled and end with a campfire lunch.
Wimp: Those visiting Canada in winter can experience the beauty of the northern lights in Fort McMurray in northern Alberta, staying in comfort and heading out in the evenings to hopefully spot these magical lights.
White-knuckle: The really bold can learn to ice climb. Try Yamnuska Mountain Adventures, a group of top climbers and professional guides who will teach everyone from novices to experts. The Canadian Rockies are known to offer the best ice climbing across the globe, with blue ice forming fantastic shapes and reflections. For less adrenaline, suggest an ice walk instead.
Book it: Virgin Holidays offers a three-night northern lights trip, including flights from Calgary to Fort McMurray, nightly lights viewings with an astrologer and accommodation. Do Something Different offers a half-day guided Ice Walk to Grotto Canyon out of Banff for £60, equipping walkers with ice cleats and hiking poles, hot chocolate and snacks.
ON THE WATER
Wimp: The Rockies are known for their stunning lakes, and Maligne Lake is one of the most beautiful. Boat tours across the lake are available, so clients can see the wonderful views from an enclosed and heated glazed boat. The most effort they’ll need to expend will be a short walk on Spirit Island, up to a photo point.
White-knuckle: White-water rafting is brilliant fun, and is widely available across Alberta with rapids of every level from those suitable for beginners and kids, right up to more challenging white water.
Book it: Canadian Affair offers a Spirit Island Cruise on Maligne Lake out of Jasper from £39 per adult, and new for this year, Kananaskis River Whitewater Fun. From £48 per adult, the grade two to three-level rapids are suitable for families. River gear, change tents and beverages are provided.
Wimp: Dinosaur-mad kids will love the chance to dig for bones at Dinosaur Provincial Park, Southern Alberta. Here they join world-renowned paleontologists from the Royal Tyrrell Museum, excavate in a realistic quarry, make their own fossil replica, and take a guided tour through the Canadian Badlands to learn about the history and prospect for dinosaur bones.
White-knuckle: Those who dream of being rodeo heroes can check out Fantasy Adventure Bull Riding, the world’s first bull-riding school, in Calgary. Bull riders teach you the skills, give you a back pen tour to see the four-legged superstars and then it’s time to put your skills to the test.
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