Bear & Humpback Whales Tour of BRITISH COLUMBIA
Discover British Columbia at its wildest. North American wildlife tour and expedition to see bears, whales, moose, deer, eagles, osprey and more.
- Explore the world’s largest remaining tract of virgin temperate rainforest
- Search for rare white spirit bears, grizzlies, black bears and wolves
- Sail with whales through some of the most remote wilderness on earth
- Priced at $5,995 per person
In the wild valleys of the Coast Range on Canada’s far western edge, the planet’s oldest and tallest trees rise along salmon-studded rivers that rush to the Pacific. Thousand-year-old cedars, and Sitka spruce soaring 350 feet into the clouds, provide shelter for the white spirit bear of native legend. Here, too, are grizzlies and wolves, and eagles nest in ancient branches. At sea, humpback whales ply the pristine fjords. We join them as we sail a maze of inlets on the central BC coast – a wilderness voyage into one of the earth’s most magnificent – and most at-risk – natural realms.
Location of Adventure: British Columbia, Canada
Internal floatplane flight from Hartley Bay to Prince Rupert (or from Prince Rupert to Hartley Bay, depending on itinerary direction), accommodations, meals from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on final day, bottled water, services of an expedition leader, local guides and boat crew, most gratuities, airport transfers in Bella Bella or Prince Rupert on Day 1 and final day, permits and entrance fees, all taxes.
Travel to and from start and end point of trip (Bella Bella and Prince Rupert), alcoholic beverages, some gratuities, passport and visa fees, optional activities, items of a personal nature (phone calls, souvenirs, etc.), airline baggage fees, airport and departure taxes, optional travel insurance.
2012 Dates: Sept 11th – Sept 19th, Sept 19th – Sept 27th
$5,995 per person
Single Supplement: $65
Group is limited to 14 travelers
Physical Rating: Easy to Moderate/Flexible
Price excludes internal airfare
Day 1: Arrive Bella Bella, British Columbia
Day 2: Board Island Roamer / Cruise Fjordland Conservancy
Day 3: Cruising Fjordland
Days 4 - 8: Princess Royal Island / Whale Channel
Day 9: Hartley Bay / Fly to Prince Rupert / Home
Arrive Bella Bella, British Columbia
We fly as a group from Vancouver to Bella Bella. Upon arrival, we will be met at the airport and taken to Shearwater Resort, the “Gateway to the Great Bear Rainforest.”
Bella Bella is an isolated village of 1,400 on the remote central coast of British Columbia and is the traditional home of the Heiltsuk First Nations people. This evening, we will gather with our Expedition Leader at 7:00pm for a welcome/orientation dinner.
Lodging: Shearwater Resort (D)
Board Island Roamer / Cruise Fjordland Conservancy
This morning we board the Island Roamer, our home for the next seven nights, and settle into our private cabins aboard this comfortable 68-foot ketch. Sailing out of Bella Bella marina, we depart for the sheltered inlets and estuaries of the Great Bear Rainforest, stopping each night in a different secluded anchorage. The ancient Great Bear Rainforest is one of the largest tracts of temperate rainforest left in the world, and is home to thousands of species of plants, birds and animals. In this lush rainforest stand 1,000-year-old cedar trees and 300-foot tall Sitka spruce trees. Rich salmon streams weave through valley bottoms that provide food for magnificent creatures such as orcas (killer whales), eagles, wolves, black bears, grizzlies, and the rare and mysterious white Kermode bear or Spirit Bear.
Our first destination, deep in the coastal mountains, is the Fjordland Conservancy area that offers some of the most dramatic examples of glacially gouged scenery on the British Columbia coast. Sheer granite cliffs rise more than 3,000 feet from the sea, and waterfalls plummet from their faces into Kynoch Inlet below.
Lodging: Island Roamer (B,L,D)
As we navigate the fjords, we pass small native villages and explore remote estuaries up close, hoping to see grizzly bears attracted by spawning salmon. Both grizzlies and black bears abound among the salmon-rich streams that cascade through these ancient forests. We also keep an eye out for the wolves that thrive here, though they are elusive.
Lodging: Island Roamer (B,L,D)
Days 4 - 8:
Princess Royal Island / Whale Channel
Sailing north, we hug the indented shoreline of Princess Royal Island, one of the most remote wilderness areas in British Columbia. Princess Royal is the best-known area for seeing the rare, all-white Kermode bear, also called Spirit Bear, reflecting its legendary status among the local Tsimshian nation as a creature to be revered and protected. Spirit Bears are actually a unique subspecies of North American black bear, in which about one in every ten bears is white or cream-colored due to a recessive gene.
We will visit creeks and estuaries as we travel, hoping to spy the white bear among the deep evergreen backdrop. Only 400 or so Spirit Bears are thought to exist, living exclusively along this portion of British Columbia’s Pacific Coast. The campaign to save the Great Bear Rainforest has heightened efforts to conserve this dwindling habitat from further logging, the greatest threat to the future of the bears and the rich ecosystem that sustains them.
One of our last days will be spent with local Tsimshian guides who take us to specially known wildlife viewing areas. We will also plan to visit the First Nations village of Klemtu, home of the Kitasoo Band and we may also indulge in a soak at Bishop Bay Hot Springs, accessible only to boaters. Cruising Whale Channel, we may see porpoises, orcas, and these waters’ most charismatic cetaceans, humpback whales. These gentle mammals, which can grow to 50 feet and weigh 40 tons, may entertain us with breaching, spy-hopping, slapping their flippers, or simply swimming sleekly past. The humpbacks inhabit these waters in late summer and fall, en route from Alaska to Hawaii or Mexico on their annual migration. We may get to visit with a whale researcher on Gil Island who can offer further insight into their fascinating habits.
Exploration of these protected waters will also be done using the stable sea kayaks we carry onboard. On daily shore excursions, our Expedition Leader will help identify various plants, and interested participants can keep a species list for the trip. At low tide we can search the shoreline for different species of colorful sea stars, anemone, and algae.
Lodging: Island Roamer (B,L,D)
Hartley Bay / Fly to Prince Rupert / Home
In the late morning we conclude our voyage in Hartley Bay where we will meet our float plane. We fly to the Prince Rupert Airport where we will catch our group flight to Vancouver, with onward departures.