For friendly, expert advice call: +44 (0) 1962 733051

Spring in Canada's Pacific Northwest

Tour Code: CAN04

A 14-day holiday to the beautiful forests and fjords of Canada's Pacific North-west in search of the Grizzly Bear and other wildlife.

14 days from £5995(inc flights) Land Only Price: £5295 SRS: £0


The Grizzly Bear is still widespread in British Colombia and on this holiday we head to its inlets, forests and islands in search of this top North American predator. We begin by visiting some of the key birding sites in the pine-clad Cascade Mountains near Vancouver where spring migration will be in full swing. We then take a ferry to Vancouver Island, watching for whales, dolphins and seabirds as we cross before driving up to the north-west of the island for a 3-night stay at Great Bear Lodge, a floating wilderness lodge situated amongst stunning scenery. We’ll watch Grizzlies from boats and enjoy the local bird life which will include many summer visitors swelling the air with birdsong.

  • Migrants such as Western Sandpiper & Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Dall’s & Harbour Porpoises, plus Orca possible on ferry crossing
  • 3 species of scoter, Rhinoceros Auklet, Marbled Murrelet & Pacific Loon
  • Chance of seeing migrating Grey Whales
  • Stay at the floating Great Bear Lodge
  • Watch Grizzly Bear mothers & cubs, plus a chance of seeing Black Bear
  • Varied Thrush, flycatchers & sapsuckers among bird life
  • Bald Eagles overhead & Sea Otters playing in inlets & creeks
  • Led by expert naturalist guide

Food

All meals included except for dinners in Vancouver. Allow £30-£40.

Accommodation

Comfortable hotels, motels and a floating wilderness lodge; all have private facilities.

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Vancouver

Day 2 Vancouver area

Day 3/5 Ucluelet

Day 6/7 Zeballos

Day 7 Zeballos

Day 8/10 Great Bear Lodge

Day 11 Port McNeill

Day 12 Vancouver

Day 13 Depart Vancouver

Day 14 Arrive London

The vast forests and snow-clad mountains of British Columbia are still roamed by the continent’s most formidable predator, the Grizzly Bear. For thousands of years Grizzlies have lived alongside the native peoples of this region and been honoured for their great strength and intelligence. Whilst respect for the Grizzly remains strong amongst these indigenous peoples, the bears are not held in such high regard by other sectors of modern society. Today they face a wide variety of threats throughout their range, from the relentless march of the logging industry to trophy hunting and illegal trapping. Despite these threats, the Grizzly Bear is still widespread in British Columbia and it is to these beautiful forests, inlets and islands that we head, on this tour, in our quest for North America’s top predator.

We begin with a flight to Vancouver, a vibrant and cosmopolitan city backed by the pine-clad mountains of the Cascade Range, and will spend a day visiting some of the region’s top birding sites, including Boundary Bay, Iona Lagoons and the Reifel Bird Reserve. Spring migration will be in full swing by mid-May and we hope to find such species as Western Sandpiper, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Townsend’s and Yellow-rumped Warblers, Western Tanager and the diminutive Rufous Hummingbird.

The following morning we take a ferry across the Straits of Georgia to Vancouver Island. Both Dall’s and Harbour Porpoises ply these waters, whilst small pods of Orcas are occasionally seen at this time of year. In May huge numbers of sea-duck, divers and other seabirds head north through the straits on their way to their Arctic breeding grounds and during the crossing we will look out for such species as Surf, White-winged and Black Scoter, Pacific Loon, Rhinoceros Auklet, Marbled Murrelet and the beautiful Harlequin Duck.

Arriving at Nanaimo, on the east coast, we drive across the island to the small community of Ucluelet within the Pacific Rim National Park. This is a dramatic area of rocky headlands and sandy beaches pounded by the full force of the Pacific and backed by some of the last remaining oldgrowth rainforest in the region. It is also on the migration route of the Grey Whale as the species migrates from Mexico’s Baja Peninsula to its summer haunt in the Bering Sea. On one morning we will head out onto the water to look for these dramatic mammals, together with Steller’s Sea Lions, Sea Otters and such birds as Pigeon Guillemot, Harlequin Duck and the beautiful Tufted Puffin.

After three nights in the Pacific Rim National Park, we head north on a long but scenic drive through a diverse range of spectacular scenery to Zeballos in the north-west of the island. Here we have an excellent chance of viewing the charismatic Sea Otters which are often found in large rafts in the area at this time of year.

Now our adventure really begins as we board a float-plane at Port Hardy for the spectacular journey to Great Bear Lodge. This small floating wilderness lodge is set amidst breathtaking scenery in the Great Bear Rainforest, one of the last strongholds of the Grizzly Bear. Within the rainforest lies the Nekite Valley, its river estuary — filled with the sedges, succulents and grasses that make up the spring-time menu of the bears — a magnet for hungry Grizzlies emerging from their long winter fast and also for Black Bears in search of intertidal produce. May is also the time to see mother bears with their inquisitive newborn cubs and perhaps to spot a male bear as he leaves the forest to find a mate. Our bear-viewing will be done by boat, with the bears generally being most active in the early morning and late afternoon. At other times you may take a boat trip to explore the glacier-carved inlet, or enjoy some forest walks or birdwatching. At this time of year the forests will be alive with such birds as the beautiful Varied Thrush, Townsend’s, Yellow and Yellow-rumped Warblers, Hermit Thrush, Fox Sparrow, Pacific-slope Flycatcher and Red-breasted Sapsucker, and the newly arrived summer visitors should be busily proclaiming their new territories with a variety of unfamiliar songs.  Alternatively, you may prefer simply to relax at the lodge and enjoy the complete silence and solitude broken only by the cries of Bald Eagles flying overhead or the splashing of River Otters playing in the water.

Leaving this wilderness paradise behind, we return to Port McNeill on Vancouver Island before sadly retracing our steps to Vancouver for our final night in Canada, stopping en route to look for the numerous divers, ducks and grebes that frequent the coastal waters. In Vancouver we will have most of the day at leisure, enabling us to watch the Racoons and birds in Stanley Park, wander the streets of historic ‘Gas Town’, or simply relax by the waterfront before our evening flight home.

Pacific Rim National ParkFloat planeNekite EstuaryBald EagleHarbour PorpoiseYellow-rumped WarblerHermit ThrushRed-breasted SapsuckerSea OtterLesser YellowlegsFox SparrowGrizzly BearWestern TanagerBlack ScoterRufous HummingbirdHarlequin DuckPigeon GuillemotDrifting towards a Black BearBlack BearTownsend's WarblerRhinoceros AukletGrizzly BearSteller’s SealionsBarrow’s GoldeneyeSunset over the Pacific RimLong BeachRacoons, Stanley ParkGrey WhaleBlack BearSea Otter raftWild Pacific TrailHumpback WhaleTemperate RainforestFlight to Great Bear LodgeTotemGrizzly Bear watchingGreat Bear LodgeGreat Bear LodgeGreat Bear Lodge
S.P.
Surrey
Both Tim Melling and Chris Sears did an excellent job. They were always helpful and accomodating to any special interests, and very considerate after I 'twanged' my back! Their knowledge and expertise on all aspects of the wildlife we encountered was amazing, and they worked really hard to ensure we missed nothing.
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DeparturesAvailableCost

Sat 12th May 2018 - Fri 25th May 2018

YES

£5995

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Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

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

Land only cost: £5295 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Canada

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Paul Stanbury
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Tour Reviews

Both Tim Melling and Chris Sears did an excellent job. They were always helpful and accomodating to any special interests, and very considerate after I 'twanged' my back! Their knowledge and expertise on all aspects of the wildlife we encountered was amazing, and they worked really hard to ensure we missed nothing.
S.P., Surrey