Moraine Lake, Canada

Can you ever see enough crystal blue, glacier fed lakes? I think not. We had seen about ten prior to driving the 14 km from Lake Louise out to Moraine Lake. A sign in Lake Louise warned of congested traffic and limited parking. Pfft I thought, we’re in the middle of nowhere in the Canadian Rockies – how could there possibly be that much traffic that we should think twice about visiting?

Apparently there could be that much traffic.

Cars lined the road for a kilometre before we reached the car park, which had enough spots for well over 50 cars. Clearly everyone else had ignore the warning sign too. This must be some lake we thought, why else would there be so many people here? Hiking perhaps?

We finally got a spot and walked to the edge of the lake, preparing to be amazed.

Hmm, its ok, we thought. That squirrel on the rock is pretty cute. The lake did not seem all that spectacular from the edge, where drifted logs had piled up. Are we missing something? Maybe we had just become Lake Snobs. Seen one lake seen them all.

We did the obligatory climb to the top of the rockpile, with all the other tourists. We rounded a corner and – bam! There’s the view people are talking about. Now we can see why this lake is featured on Canada’s 20 dollar bill. I would love to see it in winter, with snow on the cliffs and mountains.

Absolutely stunning. We ended up just sitting there for 20 or so minutes just taking it all in. That blue colour, the crystal sunshine, canoes meandering across the lake, mountains, glacier silt piles. It may have been the eleventh lake we had seen in 5 days, but Moraine Lake was now our number one.

Well played Canada, well played.

Banff Gondola

Isn’t it the worst when you only have one day to sightsee in a certain place and you have all these things planned to fit into your 24 hours and it rains!

We arrived into picturesque Banff National Park and the quaint town of Banff to rain and cloud. Oh no, this won’t do for outdoorsy hikes and a trip up the Banff Gondola – recommended as the best of three gondolas in the Canadian Rockies, with the Jasper tramway and the Lake Louise gondola making up the trifecta.

Disappointed (and hungry) we decided to cut our losses and go for an early dinner / late lunch at about 4pm seeing as the rain looked like it had set in. Of course as soon as we arrived back to our accommodation the heavens cleared, the sun came out – and in a split second we were back in the car screaming round the bends to get on the gondola and go see some of the amazing views. Hunger pains aside, we were very lucky and got to see the surrounding valleys in all their glory, ignoring the looming clouds behind us.

Eventually the rain started and the clouds shadowed the valley and the view, but we were content, it was money well spent on the gondola trip. You definitely wouldn’t pay to go up the Banff gondola in poor weather, hang out for sunshine, even if it is only an hour long!

Maligne Lake, Canada

We debated over whether or not to do the $50+ cruise on Maligne Lake, which is located approximately one hour out of Jasper, Alberta. It is dubbed the number one attraction in Canada ( advertising technique? There is a lot of other spectacular things to do in Canada as well) but we had already spent a small fortune riding in gondolas and white water rafting.

The drive out to Maligne Lake from Jasper is picturesque, stopping on the way at Maligne Canyon and Medicine Lake for views and the compulsory photographs. Maligne Lake from the shore is stunning, with its far off glaciers, mountains and historical boat shed. Curiosity got the better of our money and we paid for the cruise, which motors up the long lake for 40 minutes or so to the famous ‘Spirit Island’ – which is actually an isthmus (love that word) and coined as the most photographed view in Canada.

So the verdict; it was amazing – the views from the boat and the stop off point at Spirit Island are magnificent, even on a cloudy day. The cruise is peaceful and the commentary informative and light-hearted. Still not sure if it worth the price tag, make sure you bundle your attractions to save money, with white water rafting and the Jasper tramway.

Osoyoos

Don’t try to pronounce it, especially at the USA border crossing, just drive the 4-5 hours from Vancouver to Osoyoos, a gorgeous part of Canada, right near the USA border, featuring Canada’s only ‘desert’ region (I think it’s a bit of a stretch!)

Keep an eye out for bears along the way, visit the gorgeous wineries, restaurants, cafes and lakes. I was lucky enough to go to a wedding at the gorgeous Spirit Ridge winery, overlooking the lake and adjacent to the golf course.