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British Columbia: Grizzlies of the Great Bear Rainforest

1great bear rainforestWEBEnjoy the Great Bear Rainforest at Great Bear Lodge, located 50 air miles from Port Hardy, British Columbia. It is a place of spectacular beauty where one can still find the silence and solitude of a long gone era.

The self-contained floating lodge is situated near the mouth of a major salmon river. The charming lodge has only five bedrooms to ensure a personalized experience, with a maximum of 10 guests. The common area is a comfortable place for relaxing and chatting with fellow guests and staff. Each bedroom has a washroom (toilet and sink), with hot showers located separately. The wind, hydro and solar powered lodge is in keeping with the commitment of Great Bear Nature Tours to low impact ecotourism. Natural wood decks surround the lodge, a perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine while enjoying the beauty of the scenery. Wilderness-gourmet meals await guests at the lodge on their return from the wilderness. The freshest possible local ingredients are used, as is organic food when available. A typical dinner might feature freshly caught salmon cooked on a cedar plank and encrusted with a mustard balsamic marinade. In between bear viewing sessions guests are able to join a guided activity such as sea-kayaking, an interpretive hike, or simply to relax with a book from the extensive natural history library.


The Seasons

Spring
Grizzly bears come down from their mountain dens to graze on the protein-rich sedges and grasses that make up the dense biomass of the river estuary. There the guests will observe and photograph the bears from boats, floating quietly in the estuary sloughs. Spring coincides with the breeding season, when large males may be seen interacting with females. The estuary is also bustling with bird life at this time of year.  Spring: May 7 to June 30

Summer
In the summer season, the grizzlies move between the various habitats as the food resources become more abundant but scattered. They can be found gorging on berry patches, grazing on estuarine grasslands or scouting for the early salmon. We will often see curious seal pups ignoring their mother’s signal that its time to move on, or common mergansers with a dozen or more ducklings trailing behind.  Summer: July 1 to August 19

Autumn
The return of tens of thousands of salmon marks the beginning of the fall season in mid-August. Great Bear Nature Tours has constructed a series of viewing stands along the river, providing a variety of settings to view and photograph grizzly bears as they gorge on fish in anticipation of their coming hibernation. The salmon run continues through September and October.   Autumn: August 20 to October 22


2017 Departure Dates and Costs

SUMMER: Jul 1 to Aug 19 (4 day / 3 night): $ 1,995 CAD / $ 1,600 USD per person plus 5% GST

SPRING: May to Jun 30 (4 day / 3 night): $ 2,270 CAD / $ 1,820 USD per person plus 5% GST

FALL: Aug. 20 - Sept. 30 (4 day / 3 night). Some dates in 2017 Sold out.  $3,080 CAD / $ 2,500 USD per person plus 5% GST

Early booking is essential! Departure City: PORT HARDY, BC Includes float plane transportation to and from the lodge.


Itinerary | Sample 4-day program

Johnstone Strait

Day One - Your adventure begins
Departing from Port Hardy in the afternoon, you will leave behind the noise of modern life for a remote wilderness. Transportation is by seaplane. Journeying to the lodge is a spectacular adventure in itself, traveling over the breathtaking scenery of the central coast and over the rich waters of Queen Charlotte Strait, the home of orca, gray and humpback whales.

Upon your arrival at the lodge, your hosts will be on the dock to welcome you to your wilderness retreat. Settle into your private room at the lodge, before joining the group for your first wildlife viewing session. We have a range of different viewing sites, and will choose one according to where the bears have been most active. Estuary sites are reached by boat, while river sites are reached by a wilderness track. The viewing blinds on the river have been constructed with the photographer in mind, and are optimal and comfortable places from which to view bears. There is nothing quite like seeing your first grizzly emerge from the forest. Returning to the lodge that evening, you will be treated to a wilderness-gourmet meal. Our biologist will present slides and videos, explaining the interaction of the grizzly bear with this unique ecology.

Day Two
In the morning, you will be on the trail of the grizzly bear again after some good coffee and breakfast. A typical viewing session lasts three hours. After a morning of adventure, you will return to the lodge for lunch and a chance to relax. Spend the early afternoon exploring the surrounding area with the guide. A popular activity is the interpretive rainforest walk, examining bear sign and the general ecology of the area. In mid-afternoon you will venture out to see the bears before relaxing in the lodge for dinner. On clear nights, the stars are amazing.

Day Three
As your stay at the lodge continues, you begin to settle into the natural rhythm of the valley. The bears are generally most active in the early morning and late afternoon hours, which is why we focus our viewing sessions on these times. Over the course of your stay we will take you a variety of sites, depending on the bear activity. For the afternoon recreation today we may take a boat excursion to explore the glacier-carved inlet. Or you may prefer to relax and enjoy the view from the lodge. The Great Bear Rainforest is home to many animals, including grey wolves, otters, black bears, mink and bald eagles. One of our favorite dishes is marinated salmon baked on a cedar plank.

Day Four
After your parting session with the bears, lunch and an afternoon activity, you will be returned to Port Hardy by floatplane in the afternoon sometime between 4pm and 6pm.


Additional Information

Tour price includes:

  • Accommodation in a private room at the Great Bear Lodge, with private washroom facilities
  • Interpretive discussion and welcome orientation for wildlife viewing
  • Morning and afternoon bear viewing sessions, guided by a wildlife biologist
  • Wilderness-gourmet meals including complimentary wine and beer
  • Transportation to and from the Great Bear Lodge (departing Port Hardy) by flotaplane
  • Slide shows and video presentations on the local natural history
  • Interpretive walks or boat excursions
  • Rubber boots and rain gear, if required
  • Binoculars for wildlife viewing