Natural History Highlights of British Columbia

# Tailor-Made Tour

Natural History Highlights of British Columbia

12 Days from £5,563 per adult. Prices based on rates applicable at the time of costing which may vary. Please ask for a definitive quote
12 Days
Tailor-Made Tour
Whale Watching
Photographic

Taking in the top wildlife experiences of British Columbia, this leisurely paced holiday combines two of the very best wilderness lodges in Canada to bring you wildlife encounters to last a lifetime.

Watching magnificent grizzly bears chasing salmon or foraging along the shoreline and observing pods of orcas in their natural habitat are among life’s greatest wildlife experiences and this itinerary offers intimate experiences with both these iconic animals.

The holiday begins with the rich marine environment of Johnstone Strait and Blackfish Sound where you can enjoy some of the finest whale watching in the world from an excellent wilderness lodge, located right in the heart of the action. The sheltered waters of this region offer some of the most reliable orca (killer whale) watching in the world. These impressive top predators are joined by humpback whales, porpoises, harbour seals and huge Stellar’s sea lions and they can all be enjoyed against a stunning backdrop of seemingly endless forests, snow-capped mountains and uninhabited islands.

Heading further into the British Columbian wilderness by floatplane you will then be based at a floating lodge with some of the highest concentrations of grizzly bears in Canada as your neighbours. A stay here offers some of the most intimate and memorable bear viewing anywhere, with excellent photographic opportunities and accessibility. Black bears are also regularly seen and other wildlife includes super pods of Pacific white-sided dolphins, bald eagles, marbled murrelets and much more. Depending on the season you can enjoy the bears at eye level from flat bottomed boat, kayaks or purpose-built viewing stands. Leaving the wilds of the Great Bear Rainforest behind, there is some time to experience vibrant and diverse Vancouver.

Itinerary

Price from £5,563 per adult. Based on sharing double / twin room in the May - July season.

Day 1 - Arrive Vancouver

Arrival in Vancouver. On arrival at Vancouver airport take the hotel shuttle to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure.

Staying at Pacific Gateway Hotel. Includes No Meals.

Day 2 - Johnstone Strait

Take the hotel shuttle to the Vancouver Airport South Terminal. Take Pacific Coastal Airlines flight to Port Hardy. Met on arrival and transfer to Alder Bay by vehicle. Continue the transfer by motorboat into wild Johnstone Strait and to your lodge on Berry Island, part of the Broughton Archipelago.

After settling in perhaps take your first excursion. For example explore Johnstone Strait by boat in search of orcas and humpback whales.

Staying at Farewell Harbour Lodge. Includes Breakfast and Dinner.

Day 3 - Johnstone Strait

Enjoy a day of wildlife viewing on various excursions from the lodge. Each day’s itinerary will be decided locally based on your interests.

Excursions include a full day exploring the marine environment of Johnstone Strait and Blackfish Sound for its celebrated population of northern resident orcas. The best period to see these charismatic ‘wolves of the sea’ is from late July to mid-September.

Besides these impressive marine predators, you are also likely to spot humpback whales, Dall’s porpoises, Pacific harbour seals and Steller’s sea lions. Birdlife includes numerous bald eagles and a wealth of seabirds such as rhinoceros auklets, marbled murrelets and surf scoters. During one of the days you will also have opportunities to learn about the local Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations culture and history perhaps with visits to their villages and pictographs.

Staying at Farewell Harbour Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 4 - Johnstone Strait

Today the focus could perhaps be on bears. From the lodge you could travel (approx. 90 mins) to one of the remote estuaries in the Great Bear Rainforest. Transportation will then switch to a zodiac or quiet paddle boat as you travel quietly in search of grizzly and black bears.

Depending on the season, you may find bears feeding on coastal sedges, crabs along the shoreline or hunting returning salmon. Depending on conditions you may also spend time tracking and observing bears on foot, under the expertise of your local guides; a very special and intimate experience.

Staying at Farewell Harbour Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 5 - Johnstone Strait

Enjoy a final full day exploring the wilds of Johnstone Strait in search of its orcas, whales and bears. Perhaps also spend some time paddle-boarding or kayaking in sheltered bay next to the lodge where humpback pass through or looking for black bears around Berry Island. Enjoy an evening presentation by the guides.

Staying at Farewell Harbour Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 6 - Campbell River

This morning perhaps take a final excursion for orcas or just simply relax in the beautiful surroundings.

Return by boat and road to Port Hardy airport. Take Pacific Coastal Airlines flight to Campbell River via Vancouver. Pick up in Campbell River and transfer to your hotel.

Staying at Combort Inn and Suites. Includes Breakfast and Lunch.

Day 7 - Knight Inlet

After breakfast pick up from the hotel and transfer (20 minutes) to Campbell River Floatplane Dock.

Enjoy an exhilarating floatplane journey over vast forested mountains and remote fjords to land on the water in front of your next wilderness lodge.

After an orientation, begin bear watching in Glendale Cove. Most excursions are in small flat-bottomed boats enabling outstanding eye level viewing and photography of the numerous grizzly and (less common) black bears that feed in the cove.

Staying at Knight Inlet Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 8 - Knight Inlet

A full day to explore Knight Inlet and Glendale Cove on various water and foot-based excursions.

The Glendale Cove area next to the lodge, supports one of the largest densities of grizzly bears in British Columbia due to its abundant and year-round food supplies. Bear watching in the spring and summer consists of boat-based viewing as they feed on sedges and shore crabs along the tide line.

While from late August though to October the annual salmon run, brings the spectacle of fishing grizzlies from specially designed viewing platforms or boats in the estuary. A thrilling experience.

Besides some unforgettable bear watching, other excursions available include a scenic marine life tour of Knight Inlet by powerboat and interpretive hikes into the temperate rainforest. Large pods of Pacific white-sided dolphins, harbour seals, mule deer and Douglas squirrels are also commonly seen, and birdlife includes several pairs of bald eagles, cedar waxwings, marbled murrelets, Great northern divers, red-necked grebes and more.

Staying at Knight Inlet Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 9 - Campbell River

Enjoy a last morning excursion from the lodge, before saying farewell to new found friends as you return to Campbell River by floatplane. On arrival back in Campbell River transfer to the hotel and enjoy the day at leisure. Perhaps visit the Campbell River Museum to learn more about the local area and First Nations history.

Staying at Comfort Inn and Suites. Includes No Meals.

Day 10 - Campbell River

This morning take a local transfer (arranged locally through the hotel and not included) back to Campbell River airport to take Pacific Coastal Airlines flight back to Vancouver. Met on arrival at Vancouver airport and transfer into Downtown Vancouver to your hotel. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure in Vancouver.

Staying at Coast Coal Harbour Hotel. Includes No Meals.

Day 11 - Vancouver

A day at leisure to explore Vancouver or its surrounding attractions independently. Excursions that can be arranged include a city tour of this vibrant city via a hop-on hop-off bus, whale watching tours into the Salish sea or a tour of Stanley Park, home to urban wildlife such as racoons and beavers.

Staying at Coast Coal Harbour Hotel. Includes No Meals.

Day 12 - Vancouver

Morning transfer to the airport for your departing flight or onward travel.

Includes No Meals.

Travel Info

Are Flights Included?
No

Flight Info:
There are direct flights from the UK to Vancouver with British Airways, Air Canada, Air Transat and WestJet.

Best visited:
June to October

Area Specialist

Ian Loyd

The best time to travel to see both fishing grizzly bears in the salmon run and peak orca activity is late August to mid-September. Availability during that time often fills well over a year in advance though, so advance planning is highly recommended.

If you have any queries about this tour please feel free to call me directly on +44 (0)1803 866965 or...

Route Map

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Pacific Gateway Hotel: 49.190967, -123.140476
Comfort Inn and Suites: 50.028719, -125.244481
Farewell Harbour Lodge: 50.601022, -126.670164
Knight Inlet Lodge: 50.676839, -125.725309
Coast Coal Harbour Hotel: 49.288361, -123.122198