Rocky Mountaineer’s First Passage to the West trip in Goldleaf Service starts at €1,431pp for two sharing: two days on the train, hotel accommodation for one night in Kamloops. rockymountaineer.com, 0044 800 0885 541
are reflected in vast lakes.thin waterfalls cascade down cliffs, feeding bubbling rivers that course over rocks and under bridges.
We passed the scene of the Great Train Robbery of 1906. That may be a bit of an exaggeration as the Billy Miner Gang took $15 and a handful of liver pills before being caught shortly afterwards.
At times, even the great Rocky Mountaineer was halted, literally in its tracks, as mile-long convoys of freight trucks rumbled by. Then it was back en route into Glacier National Park and across Stoney Creek Bridge before crossing Kicking Horse River seven times.
Our carriage lights dimmed to blue as we entered the first, 3,255ft-long, spiral tunnel, emerging 50ft higher after turning 290 degrees. We gained another 56ft after the second, 2,933ftlong, spiral that turns 230 degrees. Picking up speed as we headed downward again, we enjoyed picturepostcard landscapes as we passed Lake Louise and pulled into Banff.
But this final stop doesn’t have to be the end of the Rocky Mountaineer adventure. You can add on excursions including a cruise across Lake Minnewanka, a raft trip on the Bow River in Banff or a guided hike in Jasper.
Many British holidaymakers combine the train with a cruise from Vancouver to Alaska. Guests can also buy self-drive packages to explore more scenery. In 2019, these will include a stay at Sunshine Village, known as Canada’s top hiking area with an elevation of 7,200ft, two nights at the newly constructed Malcolm Hotel in Canmore, or two nights at Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge in rugged terrain.
In Banff, our group stayed at the Rimrock Resort Hotel, which has fantastic views of the Rockies from many of its rooms.
Waking up early and watching from my bed as the sun rose over 9,672ft-high Mount Rundle was a magical start to the day.
Later, I popped over the road to bathe in natural hot springs where the water temperature can reach a comforting 40C before taking a cable car to the summit of Sulphur Mountain for breathtaking views over the town.
Whatever else you do while you’re in this beautiful part of the world, a journey on its fantastic railway is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.