Accompanied by Gary Zorn, the 'the bear whisperer™', see grizzlies up close feasting on salmon, as you walk upriver in the Cariboo region of British Columbia. Then enjoy the stunning natural landscapes of Tofino, home to grey and humpback whales.
During this thrilling adventure, you have the opportunity to walk among grizzly bears in the boreal forest and on the banks of the salmon-infested rivers that have run through these ancient forests since time immemorial. With only the sounds of salmon splashing and eagles crying overhead, watch and photograph these incredible beasts as they take advantage of nature's bounty.
This is high adventure and only a few intrepid souls have had such an opportunity – walking with bears is not for the faint hearted!
After the excitement of seeing these predators up close, you head to Vancouver Island, your base for whale watching in the pristine waters of Clayoquot Sound and Remote Passage in search of the charismatic grey and humpback whales as you travel to their local feeding area. What’s more, as you make your way between the rugged mountains and through the coastal rainforest of British Columbia and Vancouver Island, you will soon be captivated by the wonders of one of the last pristine natural wildernesses on the planet.
Day1: Fly to Vancouver
This morning you board your daytime flight from the UK to Vancouver and transfer to your hotel. No evening meal is included today, but there are plenty of interesting places to choose from.
Accommodation: Hotel in Vancouver, 1-night
Day2: Fly to Williams Lake & transfer to Pyna-tee-ah Lodge
Mid-morning head back to the airport and board an afternoon flight to Williams Lake. On arrival you will be met and transferred to the lodge at Likely – a drive of around two hours. After you check in and settle in this lovely home away from home, there will be an orientation briefing covering bear awareness, equipment, expectations, and question and answer session, followed by an early dinner.
After a very early breakfast, you head for one of the rivers where salmon come to spawn – one is reached by four-wheel-drive vehicle followed by a short hike, while the others are accessed by small jetboat. You then spend the entire day on the river watching and photographing bears within Cariboo Mountain Provincial Park.
On subsequent days you may return to the same river, or switch rivers – it all depends on the bears.
Knowing and recognizing the body language of bears plays an important role in safe viewing. The bears you see are wild animals in their natural habitat, not habituated bears that are used to being around people. All wildlife viewing is done without disturbance to either animals or the habitat. At times you may get remarkably close to grizzly bears – particularly those that inhabit the rivers during the annual salmon run. Your guide Gary has over 30 years of experience with these bears, and is known as a “the bear whisperer™” due to his passion for these creatures, and his knowledge and understanding of their habitat, habits, body language, actions and reactions. He is renowned for the unique relationship he has developed with them, as well as his many amazing bear tales.
Day5: Fly to Vancouver & connect to Tofino
Your stay ends after breakfast and a leisurely morning, with a transfer back to Williams Lake airport for a flight to Vancouver, where you can opt for lunch in town or at the airport. Continue on a flight to Tofino on Vancouver Island, and transfer to your hotel for a comfortable night's rest in preparation for whale watching the next day.
Accommodation: Hotel in Tofino, 4-nights
Days6-7: Tofino – whale watching
For the next couple of days, enjoy whale-watching trips through the pristine waters of Clayoquot Sound, home to beautiful scenery and wildlife. Depending on the time of year, you could encounter grey whales, humpback whales, sea lions, sea birds and resident bald eagles.
Day8: Tofino – coastal bear watching
In Tofino, enjoy a coastal bear watching tour which explores the fjord inlets of Clayoquot Sound. While the bears forage in the intertidal zone, you can unobtrusively observe and photograph their behaviour. The rest of the day is free to relax and explore Tofino and the surrounding area. There are many hiking trails in the Pacific Rim National Park; or you can take a stroll along one of the many beaches, or wander around Tofino's collection of eclectic shops.
Day9: Fly to Vancouver & depart
The morning is free to enjoy at your leisure in Tofino, before transferring to Tofino airport for a flight to Vancouver and onward overnight connection back to London.
Day10: Arrive UK
Our trip ideas are offered to inspire you and can be tailored to suit your requirements.
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 10 daysfrom £5,395 pp
Duration and price excluding international flights: 9 daysfrom £4,445 pp
With more than 30 years' experience in outdoor adventure tourism, Gary Zorn has become known as the ‘the bear whisperer™’ due to his passion for the grizzlies of the Cariboo Mountains in British Columbia. He is renowned for the unique relationship he has developed with them, as well as his many amazing bear tales.
Gary’s comprehensive knowledge of the land, its flora and fauna, and the area’s history combine to provide a well-rounded wilderness experience – an opportunity to enjoy and learn about the area. His sense of stewardship, regard for the environment and commitment to combining good management with maintenance and enhancement of the unique ecosystem and the life it sustains through his ‘leave only footprints’ philosophy ensures that it will survive for future generations.
The small town of Tofino lies on the west coast of Vancouver Island, at the southern edge of Clayoquot Sound. It is a popular destination for anyone wanting to enjoy whale watching, particularly in March when the migration of thousands of grey whales is celebrated at the Pacific Rim Whale Festival.
Where: British Columbia
Ideal for viewing: otter, bald eagle, orca, humpback whale, American black bear
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
The healthy black bear population and whale-watching opportunities make Vancouver Island 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
Facing the Pacific Ocean, backed by Vancouver Island’s mountainous spine, this park preserves the natural heritage of Canada’s west coast, whose cool maritime climate generates an abundance of life on land and in the water. Interwoven with these natural wonders is the history of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations.
Where: Vancouver Island, British Columbia
Ideal for viewing: brown bear, humpback whale, orca, bald eagle, wolf
Cariboo Mountains Provincial Park is a true wilderness, dominated by high serrated peaks and glaciers, and densely forested valleys featuring attractive lakes and lush wetlands. Its extensive undeveloped landscape provides critical habitat for a number of wildlife species including grizzlies and rare mountain caribou.
Where: British Columbia
Ideal for viewing: brown bear, caribou, moose, lynx, American black bear
Excellent for: Wildlife festivals, Walking with wildlife, River safaris, Bear watching
Suggested accommodation is shown below.
for further recommendations.
This spacious and homely lodge occupies a two-hectare landscaped riverfront site overlooking a beautiful stretch of the rolling Quesnel River at the outlet of Quesnel Lake in Likely, British Columbia. With charming hosts and hearty traditional country meals, the Pyna-tee-ah is certain to delight you.