Search for the legendary all-white spirit bear, and humpback whales deep in the Fiordland Conservancy in British Columbia. Travelling on a small yacht, explore the vast wilderness of the Great Bear Rainforest and its maze of fjords, estuaries and islands.
Surrounded by spectacular rock faces and waterfalls, this small ship adventure visits the largest remaining area of coastal rainforest on the Pacific coast; a complex maze of forested islands and waterways overlooked by towering mountains. Black, grizzly and honey-coloured Kermode, or spirit bears, feed on the salmon each summer and you may also see humpback whales. Daily shore excursions are lead by the onboard naturalist guide, using the vessel’s sea-kayaks and visiting traditional communities.
Read more about this rainforest wilderness from award-winning journalist Brian Jackman
Day1: Fly to Vancouver
Fly from the UK to Vancouver; depending on your arrival time you may have an opportunity head into the centre to explore one of North America’s most vibrant and cosmopolitan cities. Please note: you’ll be unaccompanied until you join your vessel on Day 3.
Accommodation: Hotel in Vancouver, 1-night
Day2: Fly to Bella Bella
This morning you’ll make your way back to the airport, then transfer to the South Terminal to take the morning Pacific Coastal Airlines flight to Bella Bella. On arrival at Bella Bella airport, take the shuttle to the Municipal Dock, and head to your overnight accommodation. Depending on your arrival time, you may have time to head out to explore Bella Bella.
Accommodation: Hotel/guesthouse in Bella Bella, 1-night
Day3: Board vessel
After a leisurely breakfast, make your way back to the Municipal Dock on the Bella Bella waterfront to meet your boat crew. Upon boarding the vessel, your cabin will be assigned and following a brief orientation you’ll set sail for the Great Bear Rainforest, where each night you’ll anchor in a different, secluded anchorage.
You now head deep into the coastal mountains and for the next two days will focus on a large marine park – the Fjordland Conservancy – where you’ll see spectacular rock faces and impressive waterfalls. As you explore its remote estuaries you can expect to see bears attracted by spawning salmon. In addition you may visit the native village of Klemtu to see the new longhouse that was recently built by the local community.
Days6-9: Sail the Central Coast: shore excursion at Princess Royal Island to see black bear & spirit bear
Pristine Princess Royal Island lies at the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest. June to August are exceptional months for humpback whale, orca, Dall's porpoise and Pacific white-sided dolphin, and boat excursions provide an ideal opportunity to learn about these marine creatures, as the lodge here has a close relationship with local whale researchers. Princess Royal Island is home to the honey coloured Kermode, or spirit, bear. The optimum period to see these rare, and elusive, creatures is from late August to early October. The experience and knowledge of native Gitga'at guides makes searching for them an adventure in itself. Patience is likely to be rewarded not only with spirit bears, but black bears fishing for salmon.
Day10: Disembark at Bella Bella & fly to Vancouver
The cruise ends with your arrival back at Bella Bella this morning, where after bidding farewell to the crew you’ll disembark and transfer to the airport in time for a flight back to Vancouver. On arrival in Vancouver, you’ll make your own way by shuttle bus to your hotel. Depending on your arrival time, you may have time to head out to explore Vancouver in the evening.
Accommodation: Hotel in Vancouver 1-night
Day11: Depart Vancouver
The day is free until you make your way back to Vancouver airport using the hotel shuttle bus, in time to catch your overnight international flight to the UK.
Day12: Arrive UK
You should note: Some dates start or end in Terrace instead of Bella Bella.
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 12 daysfrom £5,495 pp
Duration and price excluding international flights: 11 daysfrom £4,045 pp
Isolated for thousands of years, this amazing wilderness off the BC coast is one of the most pristine areas left on earth – at the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest. In summer its wildlife is prolific, and whale watching excursions provides an ideal opportunity to learn about these marine mammals.
The area’s mountains, valleys and forests, extending up much of BC’s coastline, offer sanctuary to large numbers of grizzlies and black bear. No other mainland location offers such intimate wildlife encounters amidst breathtaking natural splendour. You can watch bears on foot or while drifting downriver.
Where: British Columbia
Ideal for viewing: American black bear, brown bear, humpback whale, spirit bear, grey wolf
Excellent for: Wildlife cruises, Wildlife festivals, Wildlife photography, Photography tours with Nick Garbutt, Mark Carwardine wildlife holidays, Bear watching
British Columbia’s largest city stands in a fine coastal setting, against a backdrop of lofty tree-covered peaks - a great starting point to any wildlife holiday in the province. There is plenty to see in this lively, multi-cultural city, such as exploring Stanley Park on foot or by bike.
Where: British Columbia
Excellent for: Activity & adventure, City stopover, History & culture
This itinerary is available on the following
Island Odyssey is a 21-metre ketch-rigged yacht, designed for cruising the coastlines of British Columbia and Alaska. Originally built as a luxurious private yacht, she has been renovated to update the cabins and all safety systems. Accommodation consists of eight double cabins, showers and a lounge/library.
A 21-metre ketch-rigged yacht, the Island Roamer is large enough for comfort, privacy and safety, yet small enough to create a good atmosphere on board. She features eight private cabins, showers, a large salon and lounge areas. On deck, a large covered seating area provides protection against the elements.
The Island Solitude is a new vessel currently under construction, which will accommodate 12 guests in large, spacious cabins, each with two lower berths and an en suite bathroom. At 24 metres in length, she has been specifically designed for cruising the coastline of British Columbia.