Inspired by “Fiennes: Return To The Wild”: Explore These 9 Breathtaking Destinations

Moraine Lake is a stunning turquoise lake, cradled by the Valley of the Ten Peaks, located in Banff National Park ©David Wirzba

Filmed in Canada, we expect you will find the combination of visually stunning cinematography and intimate storytelling in National Geographic’s latest drama-docu, “Fiennes: Return To The Wild” compelling viewing. More than just an adventure, British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes and his cousin, actor Joseph Fiennes, retraced the steps of a pioneering expedition from 1971. Proof of the true power of exploration, the two-part series was a deep dive into family bonds, resilience, and the beauty of the country’s wild landscapes.

In this post, we delve into nine must-visit destinations featured in the series so you can mirror the pair’s incredible journey. While this list will doubtless whet your appetite for travel to the Great White North, don’t hesitate to tap into our vast wealth of personal knowledge as our specialists regularly explore Canada and uncover new hidden gems from coast to coast.

1.Banff National Park: The Heart of Canada’s Wilderness

Nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park is a testament to nature’s grandeur. As Canada’s first national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, “The Mountain Kingdom” boasts an array of awe-inspiring landscapes, from towering peaks and verdant valleys to crystal-clear lakes and glaciers numbering over 1,000.

Prime hiking season here runs from June through September, with visitors trekking through lush forests, marvelling at cascading waterfalls, and soaking in the serene beauty of alpine meadows. The wildlife is equally captivating, and there’s always the possibility of a spontaneous encounter with elk, deer, and even the elusive grizzly bear.

Home to iconic landmarks like Moraine Lake (try kayaking through candlestick ice as winter takes its last breath) and the charming town of Banff, with its quaint shops, galleries, and restaurants, the park is a huge draw for travellers year-round. Prefer colder climes? Skiing and snowboarding are popular pursuits in the winter months.

2. Lake Louise: The Jewel of the Rockies

Often referred to as the “Jewel of the Rockies,” Lake Louise is a sight to behold. Its turquoise waters, surrounded by towering mountain peaks and thick pine forests, create a picture-perfect setting that has captivated visitors for decades. Located within Banff National Park, Lake Louise offers a tranquil retreat with endless opportunities for outdoor adventure.

From the vivid turquoise waters to the soaring peaks encircling the lake, Lake Louise is a stunning mountain setting ©Mahesh Gupta

In the summer, there is the option to canoe on the lake’s serene waters, hike the numerous trails for panoramic views, or simply relax on the lakeshore. Winter transforms Lake Louise into a snowy wonderland, ideal for ice skating, snowshoeing, and skiing at the nearby Lake Louise Ski Resort. Overlooking this natural treasure, the iconic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, a historic luxury hotel, is the perfect base for exploring this breathtaking destination.

3. Athabasca Glacier: A Journey Across the Ice Age

Part of the Columbia Icefield, Athabasca Glacier is one of the most accessible glaciers in North America. Located along the Icefields Parkway, this massive river of ice offers a unique opportunity to experience the raw power and beauty of Canada’s glacial landscapes. For the best views, embark on a guided tour aboard specially designed Ice Explorers, which take you onto the glacier’s surface for a closer look.

Ride aboard an Ice Explorer, designed for glacial travel on the Athabasca Glacier ©Steffen Wienberg

As everyone at Frontier Canada will tell you, walking on the glacier, surrounded by towering peaks and deep blue crevasses, is a truly humbling experience.

The Glacier Skywalk, a glass-floored observation deck perched high above the Sunwapta Valley, provides another exhilarating way to appreciate the glacier’s majesty. Perhaps even more noteworthy, as climate change continues to impact glaciers worldwide, this whole activity serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of preserving these natural wonders.

4. Icefields Parkway: A Scenic Route to Adventure

Widely hailed as one of the world’s most awe-inspiring driving routes, the Icefields Parkway is a 145-mile ribbon of asphalt that slices through the majestic heart of the Canadian Rockies. Linking the celebrated national parks of Banff and Jasper, this breathtaking thoroughfare immerses you in a landscape of towering, snow-capped peaks, serene turquoise lakes, and ancient glaciers that have sculpted the land over millennia. Winding past some of the most pristine and photogenic wilderness on the planet, the celebrated roadway offers countless opportunities for adventurous exploration.

Drive one of the most scenic roads in the world, the Icefields Parkway ©Stuart Davies

Highlights along the parkway include Peyto Lake, known for its striking blue colour and wolf-shaped outline, and Sunwapta Falls, a stunning waterfall that roars through a narrow gorge. It’s not uncommon to see bears, moose, and mountain goats from the side of the road, the combination of scenery and wildlife making this an unforgettable bucket list drive.

5. Whitehorse: The Northern Frontier’s Vibrant Capital

As the capital of Canada’s Yukon Territory, Whitehorse is a gateway to the rugged wilderness and rich history of the North. Known for its vibrant arts scene, historic sites, and proximity to stunning natural landscapes, “The Wilderness City” offers a unique blend of urban o​utpost and adventure. As if stuck in a permanent state of timelessness, its Gold Rush heritage is forever evident in its well-preserved buildings and fascinating museums.

Flying over Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon, and the largest city in Northern Canada ©Kristina Delp

For outdoor enthusiasts, Whitehorse and its surroundings offer a wealth of exhilarating year-round activities. In the summer months, visitors can embark on scenic hikes or tackle demanding mountain biking trails, immersed in the rugged splendour of the Yukon wilderness. Come winter, the region transforms into a veritable playground, with opportunities for dog sledding across frozen landscapes and snowmobiling through pristine snow-blanketed forests.

Those seeking a more tranquil respite can retreat to the nearby Takhini Hot Springs, where soothing natural hot pools provide the perfect antidote to the Yukon’s invigorating elements. And at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, nature lovers can observe a captivating array of native species thriving in their natural habitats, from towering moose to nimble Dall sheep.

6. Dawson City: A Gold Rush Legacy

Nestled on the banks of the Yukon River, Dawson City is a living testament to the Klondike Gold Rush era. Walking through its historic streets, you’ll find well-preserved buildings that transport you back to the late 19th century, but Dawson City isn’t just about history; it boasts a vibrant arts scene, with the annual Dawson City Music Festival drawing artists and visitors from all over the globe.

During late winter and spring, Dawson City, cultural capital of the Yukon, and home of the Klondike Gold Rush, experiences long nights perfect for Northern Lights viewing ©MigginsPhoto

Far more than a mere cultural hub, Dawson City serves as a gateway to the Yukon’s stunning, untamed territory. For adventurous visitors, the opportunities for immersion in the region’s pristine natural landscapes are boundless, from challenging hikes in the wild to serene canoe journeys across mirror-still lakes and even thrilling dog-sled expeditions through boreal forests. A constant, captivating presence, the Yukon’s diverse wildlife, including the majestic moose, stealthy bears, and a vibrant array of avian species, is also a frequent delight for many travellers.

Where nature and natural phenomena abound, whether visitors are chasing the ethereal glow of the midnight sun in summer or the mesmerising dance of the Northern Lights in winter, Dawson City’s spellbinding blend of frontier history and wilderness promises to transport them on an adventure unlike any other.

7. The Great Bear Rainforest: Nature’s Untouched Sanctuary

Stretching along British Columbia’s north and central coast, the Great Bear Rainforest is one of the world’s largest temperate rainforests and a sanctuary for biodiversity. While the area is a mecca for travellers hoping to catch sight of grizzlies during the popular salmon run, you will also find the much rarer Kermode bear, or spirit bear, in this same wilderness, a unique subspecies of the black bear that only exists in this habitat. Also a prime spot for viewing marine life, orcas, humpback whales, and sea otters are regularly sighted in the rainforest’s coastal waters.

However you travel, whether taking serene paddles through its fjords or walking through its lush landscapes and beside its ancient, old-growth trees, we can promise you will be left with a profound sense of wonder and connection to nature.

Knight Inlet Lodge is an Indigenous-owned wildlife viewing destination in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia

​As you might expect, conservation is key in this region, with many of the ideas passed down by indigenous communities through the generations. In fact, the Great Bear Rainforest isn’t just a destination; it is often viewed as a successful example of how we can coexist with the wildlife and the world around us.

8. Vancouver Island: A Coastal Wonderland

Off the coast of British Columbia, Vancouver Island is a diverse haven, offering something for every traveller. Its capital, Victoria, is well-known for its British colonial charm. The city is complete with stunning floral displays like those found at the Butchart Gardens, and it has a vibrant harbour where eco-conscious activities abound. Whale watching is a major highlight, and orcas, humpback whales, and grey whales are frequently spotted in the surrounding waters.

The most celebrated residents of Vancouver Island North are its marine mammals ©Stephane Wegner

Lined with pristine beaches and old-growth forests, Tofino, on the island’s west coast, is a paradise for surfers and nature lovers. Also rich in Indigenous culture, the island is packed with authentic pursuits where you have the opportunity to learn about the history and traditions of its First Nations communities.

9. Algonquin Park: Ontario’s Wilderness Gem

One of Canada’s oldest and most famous parks, Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park, is a wilderness lover’s dream. Its 2,934 square miles are renowned for their beauty, with the stunning landscape a mix of forests, lakes, and rivers. It also boasts frequent sightings of moose, black bears, and birdlife. When it comes to getting around, canoeing and hiking are popular activities, and with over 2,400 lakes and numerous trails, there is endless opportunity for exploration.

The best autumn leaf peeping in Algonquin Park is expected from mid-September to mid-October ©Jaime Dantas

Algonquin Park is also a significant site for ecological research and conservation, with ongoing efforts helping to maintain this pristine environment and its tranquil, natural beauty, the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Autumn is a particularly spectacular time to visit. A moderate hike, the Hardwood Trail ends with stunning views over Smoke Lake, where the changing seasons colours are abundant.

Are you ready to follow in the footsteps of the Fiennes cousins and explore these remarkable places? Follow us on Facebook or Instagram for more travel inspiration, or call us on 020 8776 8709 and start planning your tailor-made Canada holiday today!