Travelling solo doesn’t limit the opportunity for activities and adventure, as Kerry Gallagher found out on a recent tour of the Rocky Mountains with solo travel specialist Just You.
The Rocky Mountains. An outdoor playground ripe for exploring. This isn’t a destination where you want to stay in just one place. There are mountains, lakes, rivers, icefields, canyons, and there are activities to be enjoyed at every turn – hiking, biking, river rafting, glacier walking and even some airborne adventures. It’s my kind of place. But as a solo traveller it’s nice to share these experiences with fellow travellers, a group you can rely on to encourage you along, overcome any nerves you may have, and of course, to take your picture in some iconic settings! That’s just what I found when I travelled the Rocky Mountains with Just You.
After arriving into Calgary we transferred to Banff National Park, and by the end of the 90 minute journey I already felt at ease thanks to our amazing tour leader, Lezli, who set the scene for the trip and made us all – each solo travellers in the same boat – feel completely relaxed about everything from rooming, to meal arrangements, but more importantly the amazing sights and scenes we were going to experience. With Just You every guest is allocated a room based on single occupancy so after a long journey and arrival at the hotel, it was so nice to retreat to my own space and unwind ready for the week ahead.
Our first stop in Banff was filled with one incredible moment after another. We visited the major lakes including Two Jack Lake and Lake Minnewanka, we stopped at Bow Falls and viewed the stunning castle-style Fairmont Banff Springs, and took a short hike up Hoodoos Viewpoint to see the unique rock formations backed by gorgeous scenery. It didn’t take long for the group to gel as we marvelled at the landscapes and sheer beauty of Banff. There are certain activities that bring a group together like no other. Like taking a gondola trip up to the top of Sulphur Mountain, the eight-minute journey suspended in the air is a conversation starter and not for the faint hearted, but the views are well worth it. Or getting kitted up in helmet and high vis jackets for an e-bike tour around the town, cue some light-hearted comedy as we got to grips with electric cycling and controlling speeds!
Before we left Banff we were in for, what I would consider, a pretty once-in-a-lifetime experience, and something as a solo traveller I probably wouldn’t have signed up for on my own – a helicopter flight over the Rocky Mountains. It was an unforgettable experience and all the better shared with others, the scenery was breathtaking and getting up close to some of the mountains was truly awe-inspiring – we could talk about nothing else over dinner that night!
Our journey continued from Banff along the Icefields Parkway, a 227km stretch of road winding passed lakes, waterfalls and glaciers. Another benefit of travelling with a group is that you have more eyes to watch out for wildlife along the way – across our full journey we had seven bear sightings (black and grizzly), a moose, plenty of elk and bighorn sheep. Along this route we entered Jasper National Park, where our next adventure was glacier walking on Athabasca Glacier. It was another ‘pinch me moment’ as we stood on the glacier – 360 metres of compact snow built over thousands of years, deep enough to fit the Eiffel Tower. As we huddled in the cold for a group photo, our tour leader Lezli unexpectedly pulled out a bottle of maple flavoured whiskey to enjoy a toast and warm us up. It’s these extra little touches that make travelling with Just You really special.
After a brief stop in Jasper, we moved onto perhaps one of the most beautiful settings we visited – Lake Louise. Walking out from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and gazing over the iconic lake scene ahead is magical. This is one photo you want to capture with you front and centre, glorious lake-scape behind, and by now, fellow travellers have become friends and are only too happy to oblige in taking the perfect picture as you pose away. Although pictures will never do this part of the world justice, it’s simply magnificent.
Our journey was drawing to a close with a final stop in Calgary, and it’s fair to say we genuinely didn’t want to say goodbye to the Rocky Mountains, or each other – what would we do without Lezli telling us where to be and what to do when we got back home! It’s strange that you enter the journey just a short time ago as complete strangers, but it’s impossible after sharing so much that you leave as anything other than travel buddies.
Follow in our footsteps
Kerry flew to Calgary with Air Canada and travelled the Rocky Mountains with solo travel specialist Just You. Tours with Just You include private chauffeur service to the airport, use of the airport lounge in the UK. return flights from London, accommodation based on single occupancy, selected meals and a tour manager.
For more information on solo travel and holidays to Canada speak to our Silver Travel Advisors on 0800 412 5678.