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As the apex predators of land and sea, few creatures are more impressive than the grizzly bears of the Taku River, and the resident orcas off the southern coast of Vancouver Island.

Vancouver Island is a microcosm of British Columbia, with mountains, dense forests and desolate beaches. Its southeast coastline hosts one of the world’s largest populations of orcas, which are particularly easy to see in summertime, when you can get fantastic close-up views.

For bear addicts, this trip offers one of life’s most humbling encounters - where grizzlies mingle with guests - amidst two million hectares of protected pristine wilderness that can only be accessed by air, and thus is visited by very few people. 

Read Chris Breen's blog about his bear encounters at Grizzly Camp, plus a fascinating study of orca pods on Vancouver Island.

Suggested itinerary

  1. Day 1: Fly to Vancouver Island

    Fly to Vancouver, arriving the same day. Board an onward connecting flight to Victoria on Vancouver Island and transfer (a short drive) to your hotel on the waterfront in Sidney.

    This afternoon you have time to relax, explore the town, and perhaps enjoy a seafood meal at one of the restaurants overlooking the ocean.

    Accommodation: Sidney Waterfront Inn, 3-nights

  2. Days 2-3 : Whale Watching in the Salish Sea

    Over the next two days you can enjoy morning and afternoon whale-watching trips which depart from the jetty right outside the hotel. Sightings of transient and resident orcas (killer whales), grey, humpback, minke, and occasionally fin whales are all possible in the waters of the Salish Sea. There are also dolphins, porpoises, sealions, seals, river otters, and a huge variety of seabirds to be seen.

    On the last day you may join an optional self-guided half day sea kayaking for a slightly more adventurous and exhilarating experience of the area.

    The summer month are ideal for close encounters with orcas, - as any keen whale-watcher will know - this is the home of J, K and L pods. which are probably the most written-about and photographed orcas on earth.

  3. Day 4: Fly to Whitehorse

    This morning after a short drive to the airport, you fly to Vancouver, with an onward connection to Whitehorse in the Yukon. On arrival at Whitehorse transfer to your hotel in the city centre to overnight.

    Accommodation: Whitehorse hotel, 1-night

  4. Day 5: Helicopter to Grizzly Camp

    First thing this morning you will be collected from your hotel for the two hour road transfer to the remote town of Atlin. The road is good and the scenery ‘huge’ - it feels as if you are driving across the top of the world – and there is also a possibility of seeing caribou and bear en route. 

    On arrival in Atlin, a beautiful small town situated on a spectacularly beautiful lake of the same name, you head for the helipad where you board the flight into Grizzly Camp.

    The 40-minute flight is one of the highlights of the trip and (subject to weather conditions!) you will have magnificent views of Lake Atlin and the mountains beyond before flying over a two-million hectare conservancy and into Grizzly Camp on the Taku River, where you spend the next four or six nights.

    Settle into your rustic but comfortable accommodation before heading out for your first sight of the area’s bears.

    Accommodation: Grizzly Camp, 6-nights

  5. Days 6-10 : Bear watching

    Over the next six days you have unparalleled opportunities to view and photograph grizzly bears in extraordinary intimacy in the company of knowledgeable and experienced naturalist guides. Here the bears wander freely in their natural environment and viewing is at close quarters. There are no hides; you simply sit and watch as just a few metres away, grizzlies play, doze or fish in rivers heaving with spawning salmon - aware of, but totally unperturbed by, your presence - making this one of life’s more humbling experiences.

  6. Day 11: Helicopter to Atlin, transfer to Whitehorse

    Today it is worth getting up early to spend some final hours on the deck looking at the river and hopefully enjoying time with the bears. A morning helicopter flight returns you to Atlin for the two hour drive back to Whitehorse where you spend the night.

    Accommodation: Hotel in Whitehorse, 1-night

  7. Day 12: Fly to Vancouver

    Return to Whitehorse airport for the flight back to Vancouver where you spend your final night.

    Accommodation. Vancouver hotel, 1-night

  8. Day 13: Depart Vancouver

  9. Day 14: Arrive UK

Key info

Our trip ideas are offered to inspire you and can be tailored to suit your requirements.
  • Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 14 days from £8,195 pp
  • Duration and price excluding international flights: 13 days from £6,795 pp
  • Single supplement: From £490
  • When to go: Jul-Aug
  • Activities available:
    • Boat trip
    • Photography
    • Sea kayaking
    • Walking
Featured locations:

Vancouver Island

The healthy black bear population and whale-watching opportunities make this a great destination for wildlife enthusiasts. Separated from the mainland by a long strait, the island’s west coast overlooks the Pacific Ocean, while the mountainous interior is heavily forested with big conifers.

  • Where: British Columbia
  • Ideal for viewing: American black bear, puma, grey whale, orca, sea otter
  • Excellent for: Wildlife photography, Self-drive, Whale watching, Bear watching, Dolphin watching

Vancouver

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

Salish Sea

British Columbia has an incredibly diverse and thriving population of resident and migratory marine mammals – whales, dolphins, seals, porpoises and sea lions. The Salish Sea is a favourite destination to see orca, with pods J, K and L probably the most written-about and photographed killer whales on earth.

  • Where: British Columbia
  • Ideal for viewing: orca, Steller’s sealion, bald eagle, harbour porpoise, harbour seal
  • Excellent for: Wildlife photography, Whale watching

Whitehorse

The capital and largest city of the Yukon Territory, Whitehorse stands on the 2,232 kilometre-long Alaska Highway, straddling the Yukon River, which runs north from British Columbia to Alaska. It takes its name from nearby rapids which resembled the mane of a white horse.

  • Where: Yukon
  • Excellent for: City stopover

Nakina – Inklin Rivers (Yawu Yaa) Conservancy

Nakina – Inklin Rivers (Yáwu Yaa) Conservancy is located approximately 70 kilometres south of Atlin and encompasses protected fish and wildlife habitats. This truly wild and remote area is criss-crossed with streams heavy with spawning salmon – a magnet for the magnificent grizzly bear.

  • Where: British Columbia
  • Ideal for viewing: brown bear, bald eagle, American beaver, grey wolf, moose
  • Excellent for: Wildlife photography, Photography tours with Nick Garbutt, Bear watching
Suggested accommodation is shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Grizzly Camp

Grizzly Camp offers some of the finest grizzly bear viewing in the world, with spontaneous encounters possible each day. Set in a pristine wilderness of rivers, creeks and forests, the camp accommodates up to eight guests and four staff in individual cabins, guaranteeing an intimate and exclusive experience.