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Where the coastal mountains meet the sea and ancient temperate forest gives way to the intertidal zone, Pacific Rim National Park is a place of sublime beaches, giant ferns, thick moss, towering spruces, eagles soaring and the ocean stretching as far as the eye can see.

The south western coast of Canada positively drips with water, and abounds with plant life, adding a new meaning to the word rainforest. This extends from the Pacific Ocean north to the boreal forest, Arctic tundra and wetlands, south to the dry forests and steppes of California, and east to the crest of the Coast Mountains, right up the slopes to alpine tundra and glaciers. The key ingredient is rain – lots of it. Pacific Rim receives annual precipitation of about 300 centimetres, comfortably more than the 250 centimetres a rainforest requires.

Much of the forest consists of twisted and stunted trees reaching out from a mass of thick, wet moss, drenched in rain that collects in pools. Yet elsewhere rise trees so huge, tall and ancient that they dwarf the imagination. This is a world of vivid green moss, arching ferns, and a mass of plants so thick that it's virtually impossible to see the soil beneath it. What the rainforest looks like in any given location depends on the soil, topography, proximity to the ocean, soil moisture and the length of time it has been left undisturbed – temperate rainforests pass through various stages: mature, old growth and ancient old growth.

Today, the awe-inspiring coastal landscapes of the Pacific Rim region still remain integral to the livelihood and heritage of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations people.

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Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: brown bear, humpback whale, orca, bald eagle, wolf
  • Where: Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itineraries:

Vancouver Island Self-drive

This two week self-drive itinerary takes in the mountains, dense forests and coastlines of Vancouver Island. Travel at your own pace to ensure that you get the most of the wilderness interior, with hikes, sea kayaking and boat excursions to watch grey whales, orcas and black bears.

  • When to go: May-Oct
  • Duration inc. flights: 15 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £3,795 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

British Columbia’s Wildlife Highlights

This exciting wildlife watching group holiday to British Columbia has been expertly designed to maximise wildlife sightings. Visiting both Vancouver Island and the Great Bear Rainforest, we should see a whole range of mammals and birds including orca, sea otters, grizzly and black bears.

  • When to go: May-Oct
  • Duration inc. flights: 13 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £7,495 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Walking with Bears & Whale Watching

This trip offers a remarkable opportunity to spend time with the ‘the bear whisperer™’ to experience seeing grizzly bears at close quarters in one of the planet’s last pristine wildernesses. You can also see bald eagles in the skies, and watch grey and humpback whales slipping through the offshore waters.

  • When to go: Sep-Oct
  • Duration inc. flights: 10 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £5,395 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Whales & Mountains

This superb route winds it way through the celebrated Rocky Mountains and into the Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island. This area of ancient coastal rainforest abounds with plant life and is famed for its whale watching, as well as being home to brown bears, wolves and bald eagles.

  • When to go: May-Sep
  • Duration inc. flights: 14 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £3,095 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea