Rocky Mountaineer – Day 2: Kamloops to Banff

It was a very early start and we had to be downstairs by 05.50 to take the coach to the station. Luggage is left in your room and is transported to your next hotel, in this case to Banff. We parked up waiting for one more coach to arrive and like a well oiled machine each coach in order pulled along side it’s train car for embarkation.

The car was back to it’s gleaming glory and we were welcomed back on board by the hosts like old friends. Any purchases that customers had made the previous day were bagged and waiting on their seats. Payment isn’t taken until you are 100% satisfied with the sizing or quality of the purchase. All of this is prepared overnight by the Kamloops team.

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Today was wet with low cloud cover that cut the mountain tops off from view. The train had been cut down to 12 cars as it began the climb from 1100 metres to over 4000 metres during the day. Now the train was following the Campbell River with it’s glacier fed waters. Gone was the silt and replaced with sparkling blue waters.

Highlights on this portion of the journey was Craigellachie where the last spike was driven on the Trans Canada Railway in 1885 and the spiral tunnels near Kicking Horse Pass. For more explanation of how  Kicking Horse River and Spiral Tunnels The build up was something but I still got confused about how it all worked.

The journey was going to schedule until we started to approach Lake Louise where the train stops to allow customers staying at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise to disembark. We were held there for ages but it was hardly noticeable because of the drinks and snack service onboard.

As we pulled out from Lake Louise the sun started to peak through and the low cloud cover dissipated to reveal the start of the Rocky Mountain range and Banff National Park.

Nearing the end of our adventure there some speeches and thanks from the team and lots of spontaneous applause from the travellers, it was like a family had been formed in the two-day all-daylight rail journey.

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We were only 10 minutes away from Banff and got stopped again to allow freight through and by the time we finally got to the station we had been onboard for nearly 14 hours. There was a shortage of coaches this time and our coach number changed but had been shared with another carriage and some of my group were on a different coach. I was handed the keys in envelopes to distribute.

I waited outside for the rest of the group to arrive and to give them their keys. Apparently due to Calgary Stampede one of the coaches had been diverted over there to help with the large number of visitors in the area.

On arrival at the Banff Springs hotel it was around 21.30 and the bar was no longer serving food which wasn’t an issue for the SilverLeaf customers but some of the GoldLeaf customers hadn’t had anything since lunchtime. The envelope included a free roaming ticket to use on the regular bus service to downtown but this stopped service around 22.00.

I really enjoyed Rocky Mountaineer and the service from the hosts was exceptional and it was truly an unforgettable experience and far exceeded my expectations.

For Day 1 Vancouver to Kamloops