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Banff Town, Bow River and Autumn

Banff Town is located right inside Banff National Park, in Alberta, Canada. The nearest airport is situated in Calgary, which is about one hour and a half away. The workshop included transportation from Calgary to Banff and back again using the Banff Airporter shuttle service, which is comfortable and reliable. The road to Banff was filled with scenery, from snowy peaks to small lakes and mixed Aspen/Pine forest. We catched a glimpse of Autumn as some of the Aspen trees had turned yellow already. The excitement grew up.

Once in Banff, we met with the whole group and our instructors, Luis Solano Pochet and Alvaro Cubero. Twelve ticos and two Peruvians, we all headed out for a delicious lunch and then explored Banff itself. Luis explained that Banff is most likely the only town in the world that’s been built inside a National Park. The reason it happened was because the town was actually built a number of years before the area was declared the first National Park in Canada. Parks Canada limits new construction work in the town, helping preserve the natural scenery that this place is home to.

Right by the middle of Town, Bow River crosses with its green/turquoise water. We marveled at the snow-covered peaks that we could see from the town, included the iconic Mount Rundle, which could be seen from different angles throughout the workshop. We also got to see Crows and Black-billed Magpies, which may be regarded as the equivalent to Great-tailed Grackles that we normally see in Costa Rican cities in terms of abundance, though not necessarily have the same bad reputation.

As the days passed, we explored quite a bit of Banff’s surrounding spots, getting different views of Bow River and the Pine Forest. We also went to the highs of Mount Norquay, a lookout point that transforms into a Ski resort in the winter. From the lookout point, we practiced panoramas and returned for a night photography lesson. I did not have much luck with the latter, but the panorama turned out to be a pretty good view of the city by daylight.

On the last few days, we stopped by a point were beavers where constructing a den. There we photographed up close Aspen tree that were glowing in the sun with their yellow leaves. Their white bark, interrupted by some black protuberances, is also an intriguing sight. And then we had Vermillion Lakes, which are a series of lakes connected by a canal and featuring trails inside the forest. The odor was not pleasant, but it had a great view of the mountains. For the last day, I just explored more of Banff, in the company of fellow workshop participants. Whyte Museum offered us a collection of desiccated animals, with impressive Grizzly and Elk, as well as countless birds of all sizes and types. Finally, we went to Cascade Gardens and explored for a bit, looking for colorful flowers and peaceful walking. Then my return trip to Calgary reached me, and I felt all the most nostalgic for leaving such a wonderful place, and such wonderful people.

Saskatchewan and Athabasca Rivers

Athabasca is the farthest north that we ventured into Alberta, about 250 kilometers in distance from Banff. It is situated in Jasper National Park, 30 kilometers before reaching the town of Jasper. Athabasca river is pretty long at 1,230 km, and its origins are found right at the Columbia Icefield. As its origins are glacial, its color is the expected Turquoise that we see in most other lakes and rivers in Alberta. Saskatchewan is also a pretty long river. We passed by on our way to Jasper. A nice trail that followed the course of the river let us enjoy an unsurpassed view of the valley it goes through.