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Spirit Bears, Grizzlies & Humpbacks - Cruising the Great Bear Rainforest

Tour Code: CAN05

A 10-day holiday to coastal British Columbia including a 7-night wildlife cruise through the Great Bear Rainforest

10 days from £5395(inc flights) Land Only Price: £4645 SRS: £0

The 'Great Bear Rainforest' protects one of the largest remaining tracts of temperate rainforest left in the world. The best way to explore this spectacular and remote region of towering moss-draped forests and dramatic fjords is by water so for this exciting holiday we have chartered the 16-berth sailing ketch the 'Island Roamer'. Our tour is timed to coincide with the annual migration of millions of Pacific salmon as they return to the streams of British Columbia to spawn, attracting Grizzly and Black Bears, Wolves, Bald Eagles and the fabled white Kermode Bear, the 'Spirit of the Rainforest'. Huge Humpback Whales and speedy Pacific White-sided Dolphins are among the other wildlife we will be keeping a close look-out for as we cruise the coastal waterways of the 'Inside Passage' and explore the region's remote fjords, estuaries and bays. 

  • 7-night cruise aboard exclusively chartered 21-metre sailing ketch, 'Island Roamer'
  • Look for the rare Spirit (or 'Kermode') Bear, a white genetic variant of the Black Bear
  • Watch Black & Grizzly Bears fishing for salmon
  • Remote and breathtaking scenery of coastal British Columbia
  • Explore the fjords and estuaries of the 'Great Bear Rainforest'
  • Humpback Whales and Dall's Porpoise
  • Witness the annual salmon run, one of the world's natural wonders!
  • Numerous birds including Bald Eagle, Rhinoceros Auklet and Harlequin Duck
  • Wolf, American Martin and Sea Otter sighed on past cruises
  • Led by expert naturalist guides


All included in the price except for lunches and dinners in Vancouver. Allow £30.


For this cruise we have exclusively chartered the 16-berth 'Island Roamer', a 21-metre sailing ketch launched in 1983. She features 8 twin/double cabins with shared toilet and shower facilities, a large comfortable lounge and plenty of deck space for wildlife-viewing. In Vancouver we use a comfortable tourist hotel.

Spirit Bear

Spirit Bear

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Vancouver and overnight.

Day 2 Fly Terrace; embark 'Island Roamer' in Kitimat and begin cruise.

Day 3/8 Great Bear Rainforest cruise.

Day 9 Disembark 'Island Roamer' and fly London.

Day 10 Arrive London.

The ‘Great Bear Rainforest’ protects one of the largest remaining tracts of temperate rainforest left in the world. Stretching along the intricate, island-dotted coastline of British Columbia, from Vancouver Island to the Alaskan border, this is a region of spectacular natural beauty and abundant wildlife. Ancient Western Red Cedars — some over 1,000 years old — grow alongside towering Western Hemlocks, Amabilis Fir and Sitka Spruce, each dripping with curtains of lichens and moss. This forest of towering giants forms a magnificent natural cathedral, bisected by numerous glacier-fed streams which flow into the maze of narrow channels, fjords and wooded islands of the fabled ‘Inside Passage’. On land, the forests, estuaries and rocky beaches are patrolled by Black Bears (including the occasional ‘Spirit Bear’, a rare white genetic variant), Grey Wolves, Cougars and, of course, the ‘Great Bear’ itself, the Grizzly! Overhead soar Bald Eagles, whilst offshore Humpback Whales return every summer, joining pods of Orcas, Grey Whales, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Steller’s Sea Lions and numerous seabirds.

Since much of the Great Bear Rainforest is remote and inaccessible, the best way to explore this spectacular region is from the water. For this reason, Naturetrek has chartered the 16-berth sailing vessel, Island Roamer, to operate a 7-night dedicated wildlife cruise. Our holiday begins, however, with a flight to Vancouver in Western Canada, where we spend one night before flying north over the mountains, fjords and islands of coastal ‘BC’ to the small community of Terrace. On arrival we drive for 45 minutes to the small fishing village of Kitimat where we board the Island Roamer and begin our cruise.
Each summer, millions of Pacific salmon return to the streams of British Columbia to spawn. Our cruise has been timed to take full advantage of this annual natural feast for, once the salmon start running up the rivers in the early autumn, the bears, Wolves, eagles and other wildlife move in. Our time on the water begins with an exploration of the forests and maze of waterways in the vicinity of Princess Royal Island, one of the largest islands in the Great Bear Rainforest. Here we hope to see the rare ‘Spirit’ or Kermode Bear, an attractive ‘all white’ genetic variant of the Black Bear that only occurs in this small area. We will also explore the beautiful Khutze Inlet, a great area to look for Grizzly Bears fishing for salmon, along with Black-tailed Deer, River Otter, American Mink and American Marten. The aptly named ‘Whale Channel’ is a reliable area for Humpback Whales and, if fortunate, we may come across a Grey Whale or two, passing south on their epic journey to Mexico, or even a huge Northern Elephant Seal. Birds to look out for include Fork-tailed Storm Petrel, Harlequin Duck, Pacific and Red-throated Divers, Pigeon Guillemot and perhaps the beautiful Tufted Puffin. We will also try to make daily shore excursions by Zodiac and take time to explore the forests, estuaries and coastlines on foot. This will give us the opportunity to enjoy the abundant and colourful intertidal life, plus a few lingering woodland birds such as Varied Thrush, Pacific Slope Flycatcher and Townsend’s Warbler.
Continuing south we spend the remainder of our cruise exploring the coastal waterways of the Fjordland Provincial Protected Area. This is a breathtakingly beautiful stretch of coastline and home to an abundance of wildlife both above and below the waves. Waterbirds should include Rhinoceros Auklets, plus the diminutive Marbled Murrelet; the latter is a flagship species for the conservation movement, for it nests only in old growth forest! Great Northern Divers are common, together with Red-necked and Slavonian Grebes, Black and Surf Scoters and parties of twirling Red-necked Phalaropes. Whenever we are on the water we must always keep our eyes open for the distinctive triangular fins of a pod of patrolling Orcas or perhaps a speedy group of Pacific White-sided Dolphins or the ‘rooster tail’ shaped splash of a Dall’s Porpoise. We will also explore remote estuaries to look for Grizzly Bears attracted by spawning salmon and keep a sharp look out at all times along the forest edge for one of the Great Bear Rainforest’s elusive Grey Wolves. A healthy population of Cougars also lives here, but this secretive cat is only seen by the very fortunate few!
Our cruise ends in the small coastal community of Bella Bella. Here we must disembark from the Island Roamer and leave the moss-draped forests of coastal BC for Vancouver, and ultimately, home.

Spirit BearSpirit BearSpirit-Bear - Princess Royal Island (Paul Stanbury)Spirit BearDall's Porpoise (Paul Stanbury)Humpback Whales (Paul Stanbury)Humpback blowing (Paul Stanbury)Grey Wolf (Paul Stanbury)Fork-tailed Storm Petrel (Paul Stanbury)Western Sandpipers (Paul Stanbury)Lesser Yellowlegs (Paul Stanbury)Lincoln's Sparrow (Paul Stanbury)Island Roamer in Fjordland (Paul Stanbury)Humpback Whale (Paul Stanbury)Fjordland Protected Area (Paul Stanbury)Fjordland Protected Area (Paul Stanbury)Fjordland Protected Area (Paul Stanbury)Fjordland Protected Area (Paul Stanbury)Immature Bald Eagle (Paul Stanbury)Chum Salmon (Paul Stanbury)Kynoch Inlet - Fjordland (Paul Stanbury)Fjordland Protected Area (Paul Stanbury)Grizzly Bear fishing (Paul Stanbury)Fjordland Protected Area (Paul Stanbury)Great Bear Rainforest (Paul Stanbury)Moon rise (Paul Stanbury)Black Bear - Princess Royal Island (Paul Stanbury)Grizzly BearSpirit BearHumpback WhaleHumpback WhaleGrizzly BearSpirit BearSpirit BearRed-necked PhalaropeHumpback WhaleSea OtterHumpback WhaleAmerican MartenBlack BearSpirit BearSpirit BearSpirit BearThe Island Roamer
Mr and Mrs H
Watching the Spirit Bear was fabulous. The food on board the Island Roamer was something really extra special – the chef Carmen does amazing food.
Having such an enthusiastic naturalist on board really added to the experience – we learnt so much about the animals and the conservation issues in the area.
The whole trip was great from start to finish. The crew were incredible, the food was first class and the wildlife was spectacular.
This holiday was one of the best due to the crew, leader and cook team. Their leadership qualities, knowledge, ability and sense of humour to cope with all of us individuals was perfect. It allowed me -and the lovely group - to enjoy the bears and the incredible variety of wildlife, and experience the silence of the wilderness from the water with just the sounds of sea eagles and ravens at dusk.
First class! Could not have been better. We saw all we expected and more. The whole trip was great from start to finish. The group gelled well, the crew were incredible, the food was first class and the wildlife spectacular.
Wonderful and we felt it a real privilege to be seeing all the wildlife in such (relatively) untouched habitats. The crew were all very enthusiastic and knowledgeable and determined that we should get the chance to see as much as possible (or eat as much as possible!). We've never been on a tour where the local guides/operators have been so good. The wildlife was fantastic - humpbacks breaching, lunging, pectoral fin slapping, sideways spins; evening and morning sightings of family of grizzlies (mother and three cubs) plus mother and 2 year old grizzly playing together; black bears fishing; and a spirit bear waiting our arrival on Swindle Island whilst eating a salmon - he later ambled upriver, came back and was with us for about an hour! Sighting of a fin whale; sea otters and rounded off with orcas.
V.P. & A.F.
One of the most memorable of trips we have made with Naturetrek in terms of wildlife sightings and overall experience. The organisation, planning and conduct of the cruise on Island Roamer was second to none. We felt complete trust in the skipper and first mate crew - such pleasant and helpful people. The cook was outstanding too and worked miracles with delicious meals. The wildlife was spectacular - from regular humpback whale sightings, including one individual breaching repeatedly alongside the boat, the grizzly, black and spirit bears, fabulous birdlife and a pod of killer whales around us within the last 20 min of the voyage ! Lee and Lindsay also took trouble to introduce us to the invertebrate marine life and salmon and forest ecology of the area, adding an important dimension to the whole trip.
The office was very helpful in arranging flights on different days. Nick was very organised, calm and hugely knowledgeable. I have some mobility problems but the crew were brilliant in getting me on and off ship, zodiac and kayak!
We had the most amazing trip with everything exceeding our expectations.
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Mon 3rd September 2018 - Wed 12th September 2018



more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £4645 More info

Room sharing options: Female sharing is available More info

Tue 11th September 2018 - Thu 20th September 2018



more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £4645 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Canada

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Paul Stanbury
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01962 733051

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Tour Reviews

Watching the Spirit Bear was fabulous. The food on board the Island Roamer was something really extra special – the chef Carmen does amazing food.
Mr and Mrs H, Sweden