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Holiday Creator Chris Parker is Saga’s expert on all things Canadian; here he explains why a train journey on the Rocky Mountaineer through Canada’s eponymous mountain range is an unmissable travel experience…
What better way to see the world than by taking a scenic train journey? Find out about our rail holidays
An adventure on everyone's Bucket List
A journey on the Rocky Mountaineer is one of those things that has to be on everyone’s Bucket List. It’s an absolutely amazing experience that I don’t think can be equalled anywhere else in the world!
To me, it’s simple – if you spend two days travelling through the Rockies, you want to do it properly. The Rocky Mountaineer is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I mean that literally – simply because there’s so much to see in Canada.
If you want to see even a small fraction of everything Canada has to offer, you’d have to spend months and months exploring. It’s unlikely you’ll return to a particular place, even if you really loved it, so in my opinion, you should see it all in the best way possible!
Of course, Silver Leaf is great; the staff bring food and drinks to your seats, and the carriages have glass roofs so you can enjoy 360 degree views, but the train is just on one level.
A Gold Leaf experience
However, if you choose to upgrade to Gold Leaf, you’ll travel in a two-level train, so you’ll ride through the forest above the tree line, or at least level with it.
That, to me, makes all the difference – through the glass dome of the roof, you can see the mountains in their entirety instead of just being able to see half way up; you can see lakes sparkling in the distance, you can see eagles flying overhead – it’s magical.
I started my journey in Vancouver, which is fairly flat, but you can see the mountains in the distance.
As the train gets closer to the mountains, the scenery unfolds before your eyes; you go past canyons and valleys, past some of the highest mountains in Canada, you go over wooden bridges and look down into white-water rivers.
At certain points I even felt like I was flying above the scenery – especially as the train itself is a lot like flying business class! Waiters bring drinks to your seat – and it’s all inclusive, even the alcohol!
So if you want to settle back with a whiskey or two as the scenery passes by, you can do exactly that – I can’t remember the last time I felt so much like a VIP.
You also have a train manager from Rocky Mountaineer who’s on hand throughout the journey, ready to point out areas of interest, or answer your questions, and they seem to know everything – I did try to stump them a few times but they were just packed full of useful information and knowledge.
They’re also very quick to point out any wildlife; I was lucky enough to see a black bear! At the time I was having a meal in the dining carriage downstairs, and I just looked up to see him sitting beside the track, calmly watching the train go by.
The train doesn’t go too fast, so you can really drink in the views, and it was a really wonderful moment; it felt for a couple of seconds like it was just the bear and me, looking at each other – I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!
Travelling across Canada by rail
And speaking of the dining car – I can’t emphasise enough how delicious the food on board was. You don’t come off the train feeling hungry, let’s put it that way!
You have three or four courses – all included in the price – and there are at least three choices for each course, so there’s always something you’ll like. They cook it all on board too, so if you have special dietary requirements, they can accommodate.
I think it’s very unusual to have a kitchen on board a train – and each dining cart has its own kitchen, so the food is always prompt and hot when it gets to you.
So you’re sitting there watching amazing scenery, eating amazing food, hopefully with amazing company – what could be more amazing than that!
Cool mountain peaks and even ‘cooler’ cities, Canada offers a world of experiences. Find out more about our holidays to Canada here