Welcome to Banff.
Famed for its dramatic vistas, Banff is a resort town in the province of Alberta, fully incorporated within Banff National Park. Here, Rocky Mountain peaks, turquoise glacial lakes, a picture-perfect mountain village, abundant wildlife and scenic drives all come together. This is a destination where the photos provide enough encouragement to plan a trip, but we’ll be sure to provide some guidance on the best time to visit and what you cannot miss while you’re there!
Banff is Canada’s first national park. In 1883, on the slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, three railway workers discovered a natural hot spring, and from there the park was born. Nowadays, Banff is one of the world’s premier destinations, spanning a region of unparalleled majestic mountain scenery. Every year, millions of visitors make the pilgrimage to Banff to take in its stunning views and arsenal of activities.
Banff Town, known for is charming and colorful streets, is a resort town of fewer than 10,000 people fully incorporated within the park. The peaks of Mt. Rundle and Mt. Cascade, part of the Rocky Mountains, dominate its skyline. On Banff Avenue, the main thoroughfare, boutiques and restaurants mix with château-style hotels and souvenir shops.
Made a World Heritage Site in 1985, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Canada, hosting more than 4 million visitors a year. Here are just a few activities you can do while there:
- Whitewater rafting
Must See Attractions
Around a third of a square mile in surface, the gorgeous turquoise color comes from rock flour carried into the lake by melt-water from the glaciers that overlook it. Lake Louise has been called the ultimate getaway. Romantic and relaxing, the pace in Lake Louise attracts people who want to savor the finer things in life; a good book in front of the fireplace, the stillness of the outdoors, or a quiet walk after dinner — you can even get married here!
Yet Lake Louise offers a vibrant nightlife including bistros and lounges. There’s a lower village with a vast array of fine dining, first class accommodations and shopping. Up the hill the Chateau Lake Louise presents lake-side views of the towering Victoria Glacier offering old-world charm and elegance amidst the wilderness. Enjoy phenomenal skiing in a serene and quiet setting in the great Canadian Rockies, enjoy winter resort Spas and hot springs or land on a high mountain glacier by ski plane.
The Lake Louise ski resort shares the same valley as the village and is only a few minutes from any village hotel — a great option for skiers who want the kind of peace and quiet that only the wilderness of a national park can offer. In Lake Louise all this is virtually right outside your door.
If you choose to stay at Lake Louise and are looking for the ultimate luxury experience, consider staying at the iconic Fairmount Chateau. Surrounded by soaring mountain peaks, the majestic Victoria Glacier and a glistening emerald lake, the hotel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is recognized globally for progressive environmental stewardship and responsible tourism. And just look at those views!
Sunshine Meadows – 7,000 feet above ordinary
Sunshine Meadows in Banff National Park could easily be considered one of Alberta’s most scenic hikes—and the real beauty of it is that you don’t even have to work that hard to enjoy the million-dollar views. Located in the popular Sunshine Village ski resort, the trails open up as soon as the snow melts, revealing plenty of well-marked trails which wind past piercing blue lakes, fragrant meadows bursting with wildflowers and spectacular vantage points of the surrounding mountain ranges.
Ride Banff’s biggest gondola (8-passenger cabin capacity) with the whole family. Start at the base at an elevation of 1,659 m and ride the gondola to the top Village terminal at 2,159 m. Take in all the views of the valley and wildlife.
From the Village, ride the Standish Chairlift to 2,385 m (7,825 ft) and experience the 360 degree breathtaking views.
The Columbia Icefield is just one of the many attractions along the Icefields Parkway. It is home one of the most accessible glaciers in the world. The massive six kilometer long and one kilometer wide tongue of the Athabasca Glacier flows to within walking distance of the Icefields Parkway. You can go beyond just viewing the glaciers from the parkway by taking the Ice Explorer Adventure. It is a giant 6 wheeled all terrain vehicle that looks like something out of a futuristic movie. During the 90 minute experience it will take you right onto the Athabasca Glacier.
The best times to visit Banff are June to August and December to March. Nature lovers will want to get to the park when the weather is warm and welcoming (and while the hotel rates in town are at a reasonable level). The skiers, however, will want to vacation in the height of winter. The Northern Lights will shine the brightest from February through to April on the dark, clear nights. Temperatures in winter range from 8 degrees to 31 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures in summer range from 45 degrees to 71 degrees Farenheit. Whenever you decide to visit, you’ll be assured unforgettable memories!
Billing itself as the “ultimate bucket list breakfast”, Giraffe Manor is a small hotel located in the suburbs of Nairobi. This beautiful manor home was constructed in 1932 and originally sat on 150 acres of land running down to the Mbagathi River. By the early 1970’s the manor had fallen into disrepair and was purchased by Betty Leslie-Melville and her husband. Shortly after their purchase, they were made aware that the last remaining habitat of the rare Rothschild giraffes in Kenya was threatened. Already providing a home to three wild bull giraffes, the Leslie-Melvilles agreed to take possession of one of the Rothschilds, a 8-foot tall, 450 pound baby names Daisy. Thus began a breeding program run in conjunction with other locations to reintroduce the Rothschild giraffe into the wild to expand the gene pool.
The manor was turned into a small, private hotel in 1983. From the beginning, its appeal was ability of the guests to truly interact with these lovely creatures. The giraffes often pop through the window of the main floor dining room to check out what the guests are having for breakfast. They often nosily peek into the front door, and have no respect for the privacy of the guests located in the front of the second floor.
In 2009, the Manor changed hands again, and is currently in the portfolio of The Safari Collection, a unique collection of luxury hotels located in Kenya’s finest locations. If you think you’d like to experience this breakfast with the giraffes, it is recommended that you plan a 2-night stay. At 5,889ft above sea level, Nairobi is cool at night and warm in the day, with two rainy seasons March to May and mid-October to December. Situated close to the equator, seasonal differences are minimal, however in June, July and August, temperatures can be as low as 35˚F. All guests enjoy full-board during their stay, which includes all meals and most drinks (house wines, spirits, beers and soft drinks, excluding champagne and specially imported wines and spirits). Complimentary chauffeured vehicles are available for sightseeing, however guests may need to share vehicles depending on demand and availability. Obviously, “once-in-a-lifetime” doesn’t come cheap. You can expect to play at least $900 per person per night. But reading the reviews and blogs of those who have traveled to the Giraffe Manor, it is apparent that they feel it was money well spent!