One of the things I love about travel is how universal some experiences are. Some things just transcend language.
I’ve seen examples of this being on a train on the western suburbs in Sydney, Australia.
Everyone in the carriage was Sudanese apart from me. And one of the guys was copping it from several ladies. I don’t know if they were friends, family, or what, but he was in a lot of trouble.
And despite no understanding of Sudanese, I could tell he was protesting and doing his best to defend himself.
At one point he gave up and threw his hands in the air. I cracked up laughing at the poor bugger. He cracked up laughing back at me, and then the ladies did, too.
Despite not speaking a word of Sudanese, and their English being minimal, it was a hilarious scene.
On this occasion, we were in the Gondola at Banff. North Nomad and I had been waiting for a clear day (because we had almost two weeks straight of rain at Banff ). That clear day came and we made a bee line for the Gondola.
After an excruciatingly long line up to get in our gondola (you queue for tickets first, and then wait until the designated time, and queue for the gondola), North Nomad and I were in a Gondola with two Japanese ladies. We were incredibly relieved not to be in with the family with the screaming children, to be frank!
The ascent was a little steep, and at one point, there was a jolt which made everyone jump and for one of the ladies to exclaim in Japanese. We weren’t sure what we said, but we all giggled. Another one of those sentiments that is universally shared no matter what the language barrier is!
Our reward for lining up for 40 minutes with naughty children was beautiful scenery. And you do get views of Banff that you just can’t experience in any other way. You get both the height and the closeness to the tree tops riding the Gondola that you don’t get trekking up to the Summit. To me it all looked like a Christmas village with cute looking buildings and mountain peaks covered in snow.
The very new looking Banff Gondola experiences packs you into a comfortably sized, four person Gondola. You’re taken 698 metres ( 2,292 feet) to an elevation of 2,281 metres (7,486 feet) at the Summit Upper Terminal.
At the top of the Summit are several hikes you can do. We chose to hike back down to Downtown Banff, which was surprisingly tricky. The path is uneven and requires a bit of fitness.
We joked that the guy we saw running up the path to the summit actually walked until he saw other people, then burst into a sprint.
There’s also the Sanson’s Peak walkway, which is an interpretative trail which takes you along the path Sanson took for 30 years every day to check the weather. And there’s the South East Ridge Trail, which goes along the ridge of the mountain to the south, taking you to the summit of Sulphur Mountain.
My tips on getting the best out of your Gondola ride:
- Go early. Seriously. I cannot stress this enough. Our line up to get tickets wasn’t long, but the line to get on the gondola ride itself was. And there were some particularly badly behaved children in our queue that I thought North Nomad was just going to give up and leave because of.
- The cost when compared to the value is a little steep for eight minutes of pretty views and heights. Make it into a package with other things to do at Banff. The ride alone is expensive, however, the ride packaged with things like the Lake Cruise and/or Sky Walk appears to be really good value. We didn’t plan ahead, and just did the Gondola ride. Lesson learnt for next time!
Location: 1 Mountain Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1B2, Canada
Opening Days and Time: January 1 to April 17 10Am to 6PM, April 18 to August 31 8:00AM to 9:00PM, September 1 to October 19 8:00AM to 7:00PM, October 20 to December 31 10:00AM to 5:00PM. Except for Christmas Day, which is 9:00AM to 5:00PM.
And in January 6-15 2015, the ride will be closed for maintenance.
Cost: One way Adult (16+) $35.95 – Down is free. Children are $17.95, and kids under 5 are free.
You can connect with South Nomad, Jessica, over at Google+.