Experience the grizzly bears of Khutzeymateen Inlet aboard the Island Roamer, on a large carnivore themed expedition. Wildlife is prolific here and also includes humpbacks, orcas, sealions and dolphins.
Since it was established in 1994, the world's first conservation area of its kind, in Khutzeymateen Inlet, offers coastal brown bears an area free from the depradations of hunting and logging, where they can feed and rear their young without risk. Scientists estimate that around 50 grizzlies are protected by the no-hunting policy of Canada’s only Grizzly Bear Sanctuary. The headwaters of Khutzeymateen Inlet are protected, and the area was recently expanded to include the entire inlet as the Khutzeymateen Conservancy. With one of the few permits to access the Sanctuary, we will use our zodiacs to venture right into the estuary where the bears are feeding.
The waters of the north coast are frequented by marine mammals such as seals, sea lions, humpback whales and the infamous orca, or killer whale. We may also encounter Dall’s porpoises, the fastest cetaceans in the oceans, which often ride our bow wave while we are under way. Giant Steller's sea lions are commonly seen hauled out along the rocky shores.
This area has a rich and varied bird population: an amazing number of bald eagles, ravens and various species of gulls gather in the estuaries to feed on the spawning salmon. A variety of other birds, such as the common merganser, black oystercatcher, American dipper and Steller's jays are also common visitors to the rivers of the rainforest.
Day1: Fly to Vancouver
On arrival transfer to Sandman Airport Hotel for an overnight stay.
Day2: Fly to Prince Rupert
Today fly north to Prince Rupert. On arrival at the airport on Digby Island, take a shuttle bus onto the ferry to cross to downtown Prince Rupert, then transfer to your hotel for an overnight stay. The remainder of the day is free to explore.
Day3: Board Island Roamer and set sail for Chatham Sound
Early this morning transfer to the jetty at Atlin Terminal to board our yacht - the Island Roamer - meet the crew and Raincoast Conservation expert Dr Paquet, check into your cabin and sail for Chatham Sound after an introductory briefing and safety drill.
Dr Paul C. Paquet is Senior Scientist, Research Director for Raincoast Conservation Foundation and Adjunct Professor at the University of Victoria, internationally acclaimed for his ecological and behavioural research on large carnivores, especially wolves and bears, which he has been studying for more than 40 years.
Days4-5: Chatham Sound
Spend two days exploring the larger islands of Chatham Sound, such as Porcher, Stephens and Dundas, while keeping a weather eye out for marine wildlife such as sea lions, orcas and humpback whales. There will be opportunities to take Zodiac trips along the shore in search of wildlife and use the vessel’s sea kayaks. Onshore we can hike into the primeval forests of the deserted coastline and up to a viewpoint in the company of our expert naturalist guide.
Days6-7: Khutzeymateen Inlet
Sail into protected waters of Khutzeymateen Inlet to explore the Grizzly Bear Sanctuary and watch grizzlies along the shores of the fjords that indent the coastline. June is a great time to see bears who have just emerged from hibernation, some with cubs, At this this time of year they are hungry and eager to feed on the many estuary plants that flourish along the shoreline. From the Zodiacs it is possible to get exceptional views of bears feeding, and our local guide and expert conservationist Dr Paquet, who has an intimate knowledge of their habits. We also hope to see the infamous coastal wolf and a multitude of marine mammals.
Day8: Chatham Sound
From the fjord-like Portland Canal, we return to outer islands of Chatham Sound, home to the Tshimshian First Nations peoples for thousands of years, passing two traditional villages en route. Lax Kw'alaams was once a Hudson Bay Company trading post known as Fort Simpson, while Metlakatla became a model Christian community under the leadership of the Revered Duncan in the 1800s. Metlakatla was fortunate to avoid the smallpox that ravaged many native coastal communities. Tiny Green Island still has a manned lighthouse (surrounded by hundreds of nesting gulls).
Day9: Disembark in Prince Rupert and fly to Vancouver
Today navigate the narrow Venn Passage to reach Prince Rupert, stopping to see the incredible collection of ancient native petroglyphs (native rock carvings) en route – including the renowned “Man who fell from heaven” – accompanied by a local Tshimian guide who will help us understand them. Disembark in Prince Rupert in the late morning and transfer by shuttle to the airport on Digby Island for a domestic flight back to Vancouver, where you spend a final night.
Day10: Depart Vancouver
Transfer to the airport for an overnight flight back to the UK.
Day11: Arrive UK
You should note: The price includes a CAD300 donation towards Raincoast Conservation Foundation.
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 11 daysfrom £4,795 pp
Duration and price excluding international flights: 10 daysfrom £3,795 pp
Group size: 16
Included in the price/package:
Return flights between Vancouver and Prince Rupert
6 nights shared cabin on Island Odyssey
All meals while on board
2 nights hotel in Vancouver (room only)
1 night hotel in Prince Rupert (room and breakfast)
The sanctuary of Khutzeymateen comprises the land that surrounds the inlet of the same name on British Columbia’s north coast. This area, which was important to the First Nations peoples as a place for hunting and fishing, was the first habitat of the grizzly bear to be protected in Canada.
Where: British Columbia
Ideal for viewing: brown bear, American black bear, American beaver, moose, grey wolf
Excellent for: Wildlife cruises, Bear watching
This inlet between the Haida Gwaii (a.k.a. Queen Charlotte Islands) and Dall Island, extends from Porcher Island north to Portland Inlet. Between 12 and 24 kilometres wide, it runs from Dundas Island in the west to the Tsimpsean Peninsula. The Skeena River joins it just south of Prince Rupert.
Excellent for: Wildlife cruises, River safaris, Whale watching, Dolphin 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
The Island Roamer is a 21-metre ketch-rigged yacht, large enough for comfort, privacy and safety, and 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.