There are few more iconic wildlife experiences than seeing the grizzly bears in a variety of landscapes. They live in places such as boreal forests, alpine forests, meadows in British Columbia, the Rocky Mountains of Canada, and parts of western North America.
Grizzly bears are a subspecies of brown bear and, despite their magnificent size, are good runners. They are feared by many and rightly so, because (whatever you do) you don’t mess with a grizzly bear!
A few select travellers can enjoy the incomparable thrill of encounters with this massive brown bear, but it is essential that you are with trained guides that know the terrain and understand the bears habitat. This allows you to get remarkably close to them, either in the wilderness, or better still watching them hunting during the salmon run, which is an incredible annual event that should not be missed.
This schedule is an itinerary that we have arranged for many of our clients that we feel will give you the very best wildlife experience. We have also included other highlights of the country to make the most of your holiday and to make the most of your time off work. However, please note that nothing is cast in stone as we can tailor make the itinerary to suit your interests, the time you have available and of course your budget. No two people are the same so we will do what we can to get the right accommodation at the right cost that you are comfortable with.
ROCKIES ROAD & RAIL
Day 1-2: Banff Sightseeing
Day 3: Bow Valley and Lake Louise
Day 4-5: Jasper Lodge and Wildlife
Day 6-7: Rocky Mountaineer
Day 8: Vancouver
Day 9: Whale watching
Day 10: Vancouver
Day 11-12: Whistler
Day 13: Back to Vancouver Airport
One-way Calgary to Vancouver 13 days
From the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast this holiday guarantees a host of sightseeing opportunities and exciting experiences including wildlife viewing excursions. Enjoy the stunning scenery of Banff and Jasper National Parks before boarding the world-famous Rocky Mountaineer for the 2-day journey to Vancouver.
Day 1 – Banff:
On arrival at Calgary Airport transfer to Banff by scheduled coach service. Check into the Caribou Lodge or similar for a 3-night stay.
Day 2 – Banff Sightseeing:
This morning enjoy an excursion that includes the Gondola to the summit of Sulphur Mountain for exceptional views of the Bow Valley and six mountain ranges. While at the summit look out for mountain sheep, marmot, chipmunks and a variety of birds. Other highlights of the excursion include Surprise Corner, the Hoodoos and Bow Falls. The afternoon is at leisure then early evening enjoy a wildlife safari in search of animals that inhabit the area around Banff including elk, bighorn sheep, deer and even the occasional black bear can be seen.
Day 3 – Sightseeing:
A full day of sightseeing starts with a drive along the Bow Valley Parkway and a visit to Johnstone Canyon before reaching Lake Louise, one of the most photographed lakes in the world. Here you’ll have time to wander the lakeshore before travelling to Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks, one of the great photo opportunities in the Canadian Rockies. Cross the Great Divide into Yoho National Park via the scenic Kicking Horse Pass and see Takakkaw Falls in the magnificent Yoho Valley. A day of scenic wonders but also keep your eyes peeled and camera ready as you’ll be visiting areas inhabited by wildlife. Tour includes lunch.
Day 4 – Jasper:
Travel by coach along the Icefields Parkway recognised as one of the most scenic highways in the world. At the Columbia Icefield venture onto the Athabasca Glacier in an Ice Explorer vehicle and then visit the Glacier Skywalk with stunning views of the Sunwapta Valley. Keep your camera ready as wildlife including black bear are often seen along the Parkway. On arrival at Jasper check into Chateau Jasper or similar for a 2-night stay.
Day 5 – Jasper Wildlife:
Today explore the magnificent Maligne Valley and discover spectacular natural beauty couple with abundant wildlife viewing opportunities and a wildlife discovery tour. Look out for osprey, bald eagles, bighorn sheep, elk, deer, black bear and even, if you’re very lucky, the elusive moose. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore the picturesque town of Jasper.
Day 6 – Rocky Mountaineer:
By coach travel to Jasper train station and board the world-famous Rocky Mountaineer train for today’s journey to Kamloops. Travelling in SilverLeaf Service ** with its single level dome coach a myriad of scenic highlights will be seen including Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. Overnight in Kamloops with breakfast & lunch included today.
Day 7 – Rocky Mountaineer/Vancouver:
Re-board the train and today’s route follows the Thompson River through Ashcroft; one of Canada’s driest towns then pass through Rainbow Canyon with its cliffs striped with pinks, greys and greens creating a stunning effect. Continue onto the Fraser Canyon where at Hell’s Gate you will observe a water torrent past the canyon walls at its narrowest point. The last leg of the journey is through the lush farming region of the Fraser Valley before arriving in the Pacific port of Vancouver. On arrival transfer by coach to the Sheraton Wall Centre for a 4-night stay. Breakfast & lunch included today.
Day 8 – Vancouver Sightseeing:
Explore the city at your own pace with your hop-on/hop-off pass. With over 20 stops you’ll enjoy visiting Stanley Park and its famous totem poles, Robson Street, historic Gastown, Granville Market (a great place to have lunch!), Chinatown and more.
Day 9 – Victoria Whale Watching:
A full day of sightseeing starting with a cruise onboard the Salish Sea Dream catamaran for a guided whale watch adventure en route to Victoria, capital city of British Columbia. Arrive in the city’s Inner Harbour then enjoy a guided shuttle bus to the Butchart Gardens with free time to wander the exquisite floral displays. Re-board the catamaran for the return cruise to Vancouver.
Day 10 – City Luxury:
A day at leisure to explore the city on your own, enjoy some shopping or simply relax.
Day 11 – Coach to Whistler:
Travel by coach to the mountain resort of Whistler and, on arrival, check into the Aava Hotel or similar for a 2-night stay. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Day 12 – Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains:
Support a population of around 50 black bears that have adapted to feeding and hibernating amongst ski area habitats. Riding in a comfortable 4×4 vehicle you will be led through the ski area roads that traverse the area’s forests, meadows and stream environments. Take short walks to bear feeding sites, daybeds, rub trees and old growth trees in seach of black bear sightings. The rest of the day is at leisure and we highly recommend taking the Peak2Peak Gondola for stunning views of Whistler and the surrounding Coast Mountains.
Day 13 – End of Tour:
A coach journey takes you to Vancouver Airport where your arrangements end.
Price from £3,628pp based on twin share
** upgrade to GoldLeaf Service from £496pp
Departs: late April to mid-October
12-nights’ accommodation as detailed
Scheduled coach transfer from Calgary Airport to Banff
5-hour Banff sightseeing tour including admission to Banff Gondola
2-hour Evening Wildlife Safari
9-hour Mountain Lakes & Waterfall Tour including lunch
10-hour Sightseeing tour from Banff to Jasper
3-hour Wildlife Discovery Tour in Jasper
Coach transfer Jasper hotel to train station
2-day Rocky Mountaineer journey from Jasper to Vancouver including breakfast and lunch both days
Coach transfer from Vancouver train station to hotel
One day hop-on/hop-off sightseeing bus pass
10-hour Ultimate Day tour to Victoria including whale watching & admission to Butchart Gardens
Scheduled coach transfer from Vancouver to Whistler
3-hour bear viewing excursion
Scheduled coach transfer from Whistler to Vancouver Airport
Bear Watching at Knight Inlet Lodge Holiday
Day 1: Calgary
Day 2: Campbell River
Day 3-4: Knight Inlet
Day 5-6: Vancouver
If you have always dreamt of viewing bears in their natural habitat in a lush forest setting with dramatic snow-capped peaks & a rugged coastline, this package is the one for you. The Knight Inlet Lodge is situated right in the heart of Canada’s most famous grizzly bear habitat.
Day 1: Fly to Vancouver
Upon arrival in Vancouver independently make your way to your hotel in Vancouver downtown. Start your holiday with some free time in Vancouver where you can enjoy a relaxing walk or cycle around the seawall of Stanley Park or go deeper into the park and visit the colourful First nation totem poles and the Lost lagoon. The perfect way to start your holiday to Western Canada. Overnight in Vancouver
Day 2: Vancouver to Campbell River
Your day begins with a scheduled flight across the Strait of Georgia flying to Campbell River, your overnight base. This coastal city is located on the East coast of Vancouver Island and known as the ‘Salmon capital of the world’. Capture the spirit of Campbell River with a stroll in the sea breezes on Discovery Pier and you might see a salmon, eagle, or a whale. Take in views of Discovery Passage, Quadra Island and, in the distance, the rugged Coast Mountain range of mainland British Columbia. If you fancy your hand at a little salmon fishing you can cast rod off Discovery pier and perhaps you will catch a big one. If you don’t fancy trying to catch your own then try one of the many local restaurants for freshly caught fish and shell fish.
Days 3: Campbell River to Knight Inlet
From Campbell River you will be taken on an exciting floatplane ride to the remote Knight Inlet Lodge, where you will enjoy full board accommodation for the next night. Set on a floating lodge, all of the rooms include full private facilities and views of the cove or the shoreline (keep an eye out for wildlife strolling by) Each day offers fantastic bear spotting in the beautiful, secluded setting with experienced local experts. It is not uncommon for there to be up to 50 bears within 10 kilometres of the lodge in the peak fall season, when the salmon are returning to the river. With plenty of opportunities for bear spotting excursions and wildlife tracking expeditions, you’ll have the best chance possible to see these magnificent creatures and other wildlife in pristine, natural habitats.
Bear viewing is not the only activity that is on offer during your stay at knight Inlet. Take one of the fully guided rainforest walks that heads up the nearby valley, where you will discover moss covered old growth trees and stunning waterfalls. Take out a sea kayak and drift quietly along looking for bears foraging amongst the shoreline, maybe you will be lucky enough to see new bear cubs, fresh from their winter den.
There’s nothing like a good meal after a day of adventure. Knight Inlet Lodge has a variety of dining options, so there’s always something for everyone. The dining room is home to bountiful and sumptuous West Coast and Continental cuisine, with delicious daily specials, fine wines and sinful desserts. They often feature crab, salmon and prawn harvested fresh from the pristine glacier fed waters of cove. With fresh ingredients flown in daily and expert chefs, the lodge provides a dining experience that receives almost as many compliments as the bear viewing!
Day 4, 5 & 6: Knight Inlet & Vancouver
At the end of your stay in Knight Inlet, enjoy another floatplane ride back to Campbell River before flying onto Vancouver. Here’ll you’ll spend 3 nights in downtown Vancouver to give you the chance to explore this vibrant city further before flying home.
Grizzlies of Tweedsmuir Park
Day 1: Bella Coola
Day 2-4: Park Lodge
Depart Vancouver South Terminal on the scheduled morning flight to Bella Coola. Keep your camera handy during the 75-minute flight for spectacular aerial views over the fjords and mountains below. On arrival in Bella Coola you will be met and transferred to the lodge (45-minute drive). After check-in the lodge team will provide an orientation and an informative bear awareness seminar. Your bear viewing commences with a late afternoon Scenic River Drift down the Atnarko River. Relax and take in the surrounding mountains – and keep your eyes open for wildlife! The River Drift is only offered at Tweedsmuir and is one of the best ways to enjoy close viewing of bears, at their level, as they actively fish in the river. This evening enjoy swapping tales of the day’s sightings with your fellow guests over dinner.
Wake up early and wander down to the wildlife viewing platform, which is for the exclusive use of Tweedsmuir Park Lodge guests. Early morning is a great time to spot bears and the raised structure provides an excellent vantage point. After breakfast set out on a guided nature walk in the old growth forests of Tweedsmuir Park. Your naturalist guide will show you how to track bears and will point out various signs of activity, including rub trees, scat, and the hollows in the forest floor which the bears use as day beds. Enjoy a picnic lunch in the park and continue exploring with a drive down the Tote Road past old, abandoned homesteads brimming with character. You will arrive back at the lodge in the late afternoon with time to relax or return to the viewing platforms before dinner.
Check out the Wildlife Viewing Station before breakfast and then prepare for another River Drift in search of more bears. The bears are at their most active in the morning and evening, so this is an ideal time to take to the water. Return to the lodge for lunch before a short walk for more bear viewing this afternoon. Alternatively, you may prefer to take an optional activity (additional cost), such as horse-riding, Via Ferrata or a helicopter flight.
There will be time for one last visit to the Wildlife Viewing Platforms before breakfast and departure from Tweedsmuir. You will be transferred back to Bella Coola Airport for a mid-morning flight to Vancouver, landing around midday.
About The Grizzly Bear
Grizzly bears are a subspecies of brown bear, and with similar colourings. Grizzlies are distinguishable from black bear by the distinctive hump on their shoulders. Males are usually between 180 and 360 kilos and females can be half the size, but there have been some reportedly as big as 680 kilos. Despite their weight and size, they are good runners, reaching speeds of up to 30 miles per hour.
These omnivorous ‘top of the food chain’ predators main diet consists of nuts, leaves, berries, and roots, but they can easily take down a moose, or elk for a large meal. The Grizzly’s build up their fat reserves, so that they will live through the long, cold, months, as they dig themselves in to sheltered ground to hibernate for the winter in a large den.
Pregnant females enter their den alone during hibernation and, after approximately 180 to 250 days, they eventually emerge with one to four cubs (often twins). She feeds them underground on her reserves and mothers can lose around 40 per cent of their body weight as they do so.
Facts About the Grizzly Bears
COMMON NAME: Grizzly bears
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ursus arctos horribilis
AVERAGE LIFE SPAN IN CAPTIVITY: 25 years.
SIZE: Five to eight feet
WEIGHT: 800 pounds
Best Places to See the Grizzly Bear
***Please be aware that many of these prime bear viewing locations get booked over a year in advance, so planning is essential!!
Knight Inlet is nestled in British Columbia and is a scenic wonder of a place that is replete with grizzly bears. Knight Inlet is a spectacular fjord carved by ancient glaciers in British Columbia’s Coastal Mountains, it is situated in the aptly named Great Bear Rainforest which is one of the largest unspoiled forests in the world with trees as old as 6.4 million years old. In the autumn when you get the salmon run and hundreds of bears come to the shores to hunt, you will be there watching and observing them. It is the best place to see grizzly bears in Canada because of this very reason. This is simply a breath-taking ‘must-see’ location for anyone who is into natural beauty.
Campbell River and Bute Inlet boat trip
Close to Vancouver’s northeast cove, Bute inlet is a forested region which can have up to around 40 grizzlies in the autumn months, you can then go down the Campbell River and even see dolphins and orcas as you see bears fishing. Journey to the Orford River Valley aboard a comfortable, high-speed covered vessel where you will be taken on to the traditional territory of the Homalco First Nation via bus to a series of viewing platforms. The Orford River offers some of the best Grizzly Bear viewings on the West Coast and we can guarantee that this tour will be the experience of a lifetime.
Tweedsmuir Provincial Park
The beauty of the Tweedsmuir Provincial Park which is located in British Columbia, is that it offers one of the best places to see the grizzlies in their habitat. With 989, 616 hectares of land the Bella Coola River is one of the places that bear fish for salmon. A great place to visit is between May and October. Discover Tweedsmuir Park Lodge, nestled amongst the majestic Coast Mountains, the largest fjord system in the Americas, the high Chilcotin Plateau, and the planet’s largest expanse of coastal temperate rainforest. Here you will encounter abundant wildlife and nature in action, with easy access to the Great Bear Rainforest, the Pacific Ocean and neighbouring glaciers.
This region occupies many of British Columbia’s bio geoclimatic zones, fostering great eco and bio-diversity. Explore the terrain and wildlife unique to each zone with your very own guided tour. Spot grizzly bears, bald eagles, deer, black bears, or try your hand at catching up to five species of Pacific salmon!
Stewart and Hyder are a pair of interconnected provinces that provide ample opportunities to view bears. Hyder has a bear viewing platform at the Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site where you can see bears delightfully search for salmon and in Stewart, visit the Bear Glacial Provincial and the gorgeous Salmon Glacier. It is located on the British Columbia /Alaska border.
The Chilcotin Mountains
The Chilcotin Mountains of British Columbia (also known as the Chilcotin Ranges) are on the interior stretch of the Coast Mountains and span through rugged and unpopulated wilderness ranges to the Fraser River. This is where you’ll also find some of British Columbia’s most dramatic nature and populous wildlife, like grizzly and black bears! The safari-like experience of Bear Camp in the Chilcotin region of British Columbia has bears roaming literally just meters below your elevated canvas tent and bear viewing platform. Nestled on the shores of Chilko Lake in the protected Ts’il?os (Tsylos) Provincial Park, this bear viewing experience is unlike any other in BC and pairs perfectly with fishing, paddling and flightseeing activities in the area. You can also include wildlife viewing, fishing, photography tours and horseback riding.
The Cariboo Mountains
The Cariboo Mountains are an ecosystem of their own; home to countless wildlife and among them, a large population of grizzly and black bears. The wilderness around them is also home to the deepest fjord lake in the world, Quesnel Lake. The wilderness around them is also home to the deepest fjord lake in the world, Quesnel Lake. Each fall (autumn), local bears await the salmon journey towards the Quesnel Lake watershed to spawn in the nearby rivers, streams and lake itself.
Katmai National Park
Approximately 2,200 bears live in Katmai National Park, and one of the best places to see bears at Katmai is at the famous Brooks Falls. Each summer and fall, salmon swim upriver to spawn and Katmai’s bears gather at the falls, looking for a meal. Bears are focused on food, packing on the pounds for a long winter’s nap. Be sure to track their progress during Katmai’s “Fat Bear Week” and vote for your favourite competitor. Let the fattest bear win!
Best Properties to view the Grizzly Bear
Knight Inlet Lodge
There are many opportunities and bear viewing locations here and the beauty of the location is seeing the grizzly bears up close. The lodge is situated 60 km from the inlet and has 18 guest rooms, dining room, lounge and support buildings for all of your luxury needs. It is located 80 KM from the Campbell River in British Columbia. This floating lodge is situated in Glendale Cove which can have up to 50 bears within 10 km in the autumn season. In the estuary around the lodge the nutritional plants the bears need grow close by, so it creates an intimate experience of seeing the mother bears with their cubs up close. This is best seen in the autumn, but some are also there in the summer. There are viewings conducted on boats so you don’t disturb the bears but can still engage with their beauty. There are additional orca and photography tours as part of the Knight Inlet Lodge experience so don’t be hesitant to contact our Wildlife Escapes team today for more information.
Great Bear Lodge
The great bear lodge is an 80-kilometre seaplane flight from Port Hardy in British Columbia, you will mostly see grizzly bears here, but you can also see black ones. As you are flown in you will be welcomed by resident seals and otters investigating the ruckus. The lodge itself has a unique floating design, which only opened in 2014 to replace the previous guesthouse, raising the bar when it comes to space and comfort. You will be able to go on tours and see the bears in places that nobody else has access to. You will also have the option to participate in various activities such as guided nature walks or river cruises. It’s also important to note that if you visit between May and June the place comes alive with beautiful flowers and astonishing birds. With all things considered, this viewing experience combined with the luxury of the lodge makes this a great option when wanting to see the bears in Canada.
Spirit Bear Lodge
Located in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest, this is an almost spiritual experience with these intelligent animals. Not only can you see Grizzly Bears here but also the rare Spirit Bear. The staff at the Spirit Bear Lodge have lived on this land tracing back to the time of their ancestors so this is a very pure experience as the tours incorporate their culture and history into the tours. Travel is by motorboat where you will explore the magic rainforest and even see the magic of Princess Royal Island, the home of the Kitasoo Spirit Bear Conservancy.
Bear Cave Mountain Camp
Located in the Fishing Terrestrial Branch in Yukon this is the best place to see the ice bear, which is a grizzly bear, but with more ice on their fur. Isolated from main roads, the land of Bear Cave Mountain is a beautiful scenic location with its thermal springs and epic mountain peaks. As there is a massive quantity of salmon here you can see up to 40 grizzlies in the September and October months as they prepare to hibernate. By mid-October winter comes and the bears transform into Ice-Bears. This is something you will never forget as it combines the beauty of Canada’s tundra with the awe of seeing the majestic ice bears. You will arrive in style by helicopter. The camp has heated guest cabins and a main lodge with a dining room that supplies high level cuisine by top level chefs. However, the best part of this camp is the designated bear viewing sights where you can see the ice bears in their natural environment providing many unforgettable photo opportunities and real-life experiences. This is the place to go for the Wildlife Escapes explorer who wants to go somewhere far away from civilisation and get lost in the beauty of these glorious creatures.
Why we love Canada
To start with Canada has some of the freshest air in the world. The people are renowned as being some of the friendliest and helpful on Earth and we can confirm the stereotype is true! Did you know Canada has more lakes than anywhere else in the world meaning you will experience some truly scenic locations and maybe even take some time to relax and fish or take a relaxing cruise. How could we forget to mention the world-known syrup, make sure to sample the pancakes. It also has astonishing places to ski such as Whistler Canada and Le Massif in Quebec where you can glide down awe inspiring mountains. Canada also has a wide variety of architecture in its different towns and cities which will keep every visitor interested in finding out more. We also must mention how there isn’t just Grizzly Bears but a wide variety of other animals to see such as mountain sheep, moose, and mountain goats. You can even visit places with indigenous cultures such as the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis peoples and diversify your world view. Canada has such a wide depth of experiences and moments that it’s impossible to not love it with all your heart the moment you land.
Top tips for visiting Canada
- Its bigger than you realise
Just be aware that Canada is the second biggest country in the world. You can’t see everything in the usual time off form work, but when you plan your holiday with us we will allocate the time you have effectively.
- Be prepared for Canada’s climate
Remember to bring many layers as even in summer the mountains can get chilly. Bring a woolly hat, gloves and a scarf and make sure you stay wrapped up.
- Canada has two official languages
English is the most prevalent language in Canada, but places like Quebec still speak French so just be aware when you are in the towns.
- Tipping in Canada and Canadian Sales tax
You just tip the usual people, like waiters, cab drivers etc , the average tip in Canada is 15-20 percent. Also be prepared to have a nearly 15 percent increase on purchases as Canada has a federal tax as well as a regional one.
- Take advantage of the unpopulated land
As Canada has such a massive landmass make sure you book well ahead to make your trip complete and avoid missing out on any wildlife experience and take advantage of as much of the natural and undisturbed beauty as you can.
***Knight inlet gets booked over a year in advance, so planning is essential!!
Best time to see the Grizzly Bears:
It’s important to recognise there are different seasons for seeing the bears and this can affect your bear viewing experience.
Grizzly bears in Spring
Bears first emerge from their dens in April, while it is possible to see them this month; it is also the least probable as they don’t come out of their forests much,
May and June are when they start moving to the rivers. This is the ‘Spring bear viewing season’ and can result in seeing a multitude of bears and even females with cute little cubs. We can organise that experience here at Wildlife Escapes.
Grizzly bears in Summer
There are much less bear viewings in the July and August as in the Summer as they return to the cooler forests to hide from the sun and to gather more food.
Grizzly bears during the salmon run
Western British Colombia has some of the largest salmon runs in the world. This annual migration cannot be underestimated for Canada’s Grizzly Bears and Orcas. In recent years this migration starts towards the end of August with the best salmon runs occurring in September and often extending well into October. So, when you are planning your grizzly bear safari, the month of September is prime time. There are fewer tourists, the weather can still be good and the grizzly bear viewing can be spectacular.
Bear watching tips:
Western British Columbia has some of the biggest salmon runs in the world. The migration starts towards the end of August with the greatest salmon runs occurring in September and extending into October. This means that September is the best month to view the majestic grizzlies as they are plentiful, and the weather is still good. MAKE SURE YOU BOOK EARLY!
Tips on viewing the bears:
On a grizzly bear watching holiday you will always be well briefed about safety. Whilst usually watching will be from the confines of a boat, floating lodge or hide, there are times you will be in the wilderness and need to be aware of your surroundings. It is recommended that you always travel in a group as bears usually get scared off by noise. Don’t carry food in your backpack.
If you do come across a black bear, stand strong, wave your arms around, make noise and make yourself seem bigger than them. If you come across a grizzly bear, you should do the opposite and move away slowly, especially if they have a cub. However, when booking a holiday with our Wildlife Escapes team you will be on a guided holiday where these moments will be very rare, however it’s still good to know.
So if you like the idea of being somewhere in a beautiful part of Canada, watching the majestic grizzly hunt and exist, at Wildlife Escapes we are just a phone call away to make this a relaity for you!