Turquoise waters, towering crags, the deep green of forest and the icy glint of snowcapped peaks: wind the only sound, the scent of pine in the air, and, deeper in the wilderness, the quiet footfall of elk, bears and moose.
This is Moraine Lake, my favourite spot in the Canadian Rockies, a landscape 120 million years in the making. A few hours’ drive away, Vancouver, a little over 130 years old; a shimmering city of glass and steel, framed by mountain and ocean blue; a place of dazzling museums, sublime food, a wealth of culture, and the prospect of hiking, skiing and more on your doorstep.
The juxtaposition of peerless landscapes and compelling cities, of modern distractions and timeless comforts, is found across Canada. And, of course, they’re part of the reason you might want to take a holiday here.
Canada is not the world’s biggest country – it is second to Russia – but it’s hard to think of one that is more varied or beautiful. Most first-time visitors will, rightly, be tempted by the best-known scenic distractions, of which the Rockies are the most compelling.
But a country of this size has more to offer. The mountains of the Yukon or British Columbia, are the equal if not superior, of the Rockies; the coastal landscapes of the Maritime Provinces are as stirring as the better-known Vancouver Island; and Toronto and Quebec are cosmopolitan, historic cities of which any country would be proud.