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Canada: The West

Tour Code: CAN01

A 14-day wildlife and whale-watching holiday, including a unique opportunity to view Grizzly Bears catching salmon.

14 days from £6795(inc flights) Land Only Price: £6095 SRS: £695


We begin our holiday in Tofino on Vancouver Island, where we’ll hope to see migrating Grey Whales offshore, while inland Black Bears forage for food in intertidal zones and birds such as American Dipper can be found near streams. Next we head to the north-west of the island through spectacular scenery and take boat trips to look for Sea Otters, other marine life and seabirds such as Marbled Murrelet. Our next base is Great Bear Lodge, which we’ll reach by float-plane. Surrounded by forested hills, waterfalls and enveloped in peace and tranquillity, our only neighbours here will be wildlife. And it’s here we’ll experience an undoubted highlight of this tour – a chance to watch and photograph Grizzly Bears fishing for salmon.

  • Watch Grizzly Bears catching salmon
  • Great opportunities for photography
  • Chance of Grey Whale, Orca, Pacific dolphins & Dall’s Porpoise
  • Bald Eagles congregating waiting for scraps of salmon
  • Steller’s Sea Lion & Black Bear possible
  • Stay in the floating Great Bear Lodge amongst stunning scenery
  • Rhinoceros Auklet, Surfbird & Double-crested Cormorant
  • Led by an expert naturalist guide

Food

All meals included except for dinners in Tsawwassen/Vancouver. Allow £30-£40.

Accommodation

Comfortable hotels, motels and a floating wilderness lodge, all with private facilities.

Brown Bear (Paul Marshall)

Brown Bear (Paul Marshall)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Vancouver

Day 2/4 Ucluelet

Day 5/6 Zeballos

Day 7 Port McNeill

Day 8/10 Great Bear Lodge

Day 11 Port McNeill

Day 12 Twassassen

Day 13 Depart Vancouver

Day 14 Arrive London

Brown Bear (Paul Marshall)

The province of British Columbia in the west of Canada embraces vast areas of wilderness and spectacular scenery and plays host to a large and diverse range of wildlife. On this tour we will travel through a variety of different habitats, giving us an outstanding chance of seeing Orca, Humpback and Grey Whales as well as some excellent birdwatching. From Vancouver Island we will travel to Nekite Valley on the mainland. Our destination is the Great Bear Rainforest, a remote and temperate coastal rainforest which is home to several threatened species and one of the last strongholds of the Grizzly Bear. Here, in a true wilderness environment, we will stay on a floating lodge from which we will be able to travel a short distance to witness one of the most exciting wildlife spectacles in the world — Grizzly Bears congregating to fish for salmon, together with their retinue of attendant Bald Eagles.

We begin our tour with a flight to the cosmopolitan city of Vancouver on the west coast. Crossing the Strait of Georgia by ferry the following morning through magnificent coastal scenery, our destination is Vancouver Island and the picturesque district of Ucluelet, located within the spectacular Pacific Rim National Park. The park has outstanding examples of coastal rainforest, sandy beaches and coastal marine-life and we will take a couple of days to fully explore this wonderful region. The cold, nutrient-rich seas off the Pacific Rim National Park are a particularly reliable area in which to see Grey Whales, a population of which stop off here for the summer months instead of heading further north to the Bering Strait. Birdlife is also plentiful in the area and we will be on the look-out for Chestnut-backed Chickadee, American Dipper, Steller’s Jay, several species of warbler and Varied Thrush. The Black Bear is still flourishing in British Columbia and we have an excellent chance of observing them from the water, as they forage for food in the intertidal zones.

Leaving Ucluelet, we will drive to Zeballos situated in the north-west of Vancouver Island. The drive is a long one but it will take us through a diverse range of spectacular scenery, from rainforests and mountains to beautiful beaches. From Zeballos we will take a boat trip in search of the charismatic Sea Otters often found in this area before moving to Port McNeill on the Johnstone Strait, an area which is known to be one of the most accessible and predictable places to view Orcas. In addition, we will have excellent opportunities of seeing Harbour and Dall’s Porpoises, Pacific White-sided Dolphin, Harbour Seal, Steller’s Sea Lion and possibly, if we are extremely fortunate, Minke, Humpback and Grey Whales. Birdlife in the area is plentiful and should produce such species as Rhinoceros Auklet, Marbled Murrelet, Red-necked Phalarope, Pelagic, Brandt’s and Double-crested Cormorants, Surfbird, Black Turnstone and Black Oystercatcher amongst others.

From Port McNeill we will travel the short distance to Port Hardy, from where we will board a float-plane, travelling over breathtaking scenery to Great Bear Lodge, our base for the next part of our holiday. Here we will find ourselves in true wilderness, on a floating lodge nestling against a backdrop of snow-capped peaks, forested hills and waterfalls. Enveloped in silence and tranquillity, our only neighbours are the birds and mammals which inhabit the area. One of the definite highlights of our tour will be the unique chance to observe the magnificent Grizzly Bear from the safety of enclosed viewing stands situated along the river.

Outstanding photographic opportunities will present themselves as we watch the bears fishing for salmon in the waters nearby. Our concentration on this incredible spectacle will be matched by the Bald Eagles congregating in the nearby trees, intently watching for any scraps of fish the bears may leave. In the evenings we will have ample opportunity to discuss the day’s events over an excellent home-cooked evening meal, before talking with the local guides or just relaxing and watching the moon rising over the mountains. Birdlife will not be ignored and we will hope to see Marbled Murrelet, Pigeon Guillemot, Western Grebe and numerous Bald Eagles, which often fly very close to the lodge itself. Whilst out in the boats, we will also be watching the shore for sightings of Black Bear. The Great Bear Rainforest, where our lodge is situated, is also home to an exciting range of other animals and we might catch sight of Otters or even a Grey Wolf if we are very fortunate.

Leaving this wilderness paradise to return to civilisation will be extremely hard but we will carry lasting memories with us. Our return float-plane will give us another chance to enjoy the spectacular views before we land back in Port Hardy. The following day we will make our way down the east coast from Port McNeill and back to Vancouver on the mainland, where we will have a last chance for some sightseeing, shopping or some final birdwatching in the area, visiting the nearby Boundary Bay or Reifel Bird Sanctuary. Here we should get farewell sightings of the more common bird species of the region such as American Robin, Steller’s Jay and Red-winged Blackbirds and perhaps some of the more unusual species such as Barrow’s Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser and Harlequin Duck.

Canadian Wilderness (Tim Melling)Tofino (Paul Marshall)Great Bear Lodge (Paul Marshall)Clients of sea safari (Peter Dunn)Clients ready for boat trip  (Peter Dunn)Great Bear Lodge (Paul Marshall)Great Bear Lodge (Tim Melling)Great Bear LodgeHumpback Whale (Peter Dunn)Black Bear and cubs (Peter Dunn)Juvenile Bald Eagle (Peter Dunn)Wood duck (Peter Dunn)Greater Yellowlegs (Peter Dunn)Preparing for the observation platform (Peter Dunn)Harbour Seals (Paul Marshall)Orca (Paul Marshall)Orca (Peter Dunn)Orca (Paul Marshall)Pacific White-sided Dolphin (Lee Morgan)California Sealion (Lee Morgan)Grizzly Bear (Paul Marshall)Temperate forest (Paul Marshall)Black Bears (Tim Melling)Grizzly Bears (Tim Melling)Wood Duck (Tim Melling)Black Bear (Paul Marshall)Grizzly Bear (Tim Melling)Grizzly Bear (Tim Melling)Grizzly Bear (Paul Marshall)Grizzly Bear (Paul Marshall)River Otter (Paul Marshall)Esperanza Inlet (Paul Marshall)Smith Inlet (Paul Marshall)Ucluelet (Paul Marshall)Great Bear Rainforest (Paul Marshall)Sanderling (Paul Marshall)Sea Otter (Lee Morgan)Sea Otters (Paul Marshall)Raft of Sea Otters (Paul Marshall)River Otters (Paul Marshall)Grizzly Bear (Paul Marshall)Grizzly Bear (Ian Woods)Bald Eagle (Tim Melling)Black-tailed Deer (Tim Melling)Sea Otter (Tim Melling)Grizzly Bear (Tim Melling)Humpback Whale (Tim Melling)Humpback Whale lunge feeding (Tim Melling)Lion's Mane Jellyfish (Tim Melling)Grizzly Bear (Tim Melling)Walkum Estuary, British Columbia (Tim Melling)Wildlife on the Nekite River (Tim Melling)Juvenile Bald Eagle (Tim Melling)Canada Geese (Tim Melling)Vancouver Island sunset (Tim Melling)Pacific Rim (Paul Marshall)Sunset over the Pacific (Paul Marshall)Ancient Murrelets (Peter Dunn)Black Bear and cub (Peter Dunn)Black-capped Chickadee (Peter Dunn)Red-breasted Nuthatch (Peter Dunn)Red-winged BlackbirdGrizzly Bear (Peter Dunn)Sea Otter Mum & Pup (Martin Potter)Humpback Whale (Martin Potter)Orca (Martin Potter)Young Orca Porpoising (Martin Potter)Brown Bear Fishing (Martin Potter)Brown Bear Chasing Salmon (Martin Potter)Brown Bear On Rock (Martin Potter)Brown Bear In The River (Martin Potter)Annas Hummingbird (Martin Potter)Young Grey Squirrel (Martin Potter)Sea Otter (Martin Potter)Osprey (Chris Hutchinson)Pacific white sided dolphins (Chris Hutchinson)Pacific white sided dolphins (Chris Hutchinson)Anna's Hummingbird (Chris Hutchinson)Bald Eagle (Chris Hutchinson)Grizzly Bear eating fish (Chris Hutchinson)Grizzly Bear with salmon (Chris Hutchinson)Black Bear (Chris Hutchinson)Black-capped chickadee (Chris Hutchinson)Northern Flicker  (Chris Hutchinson)Black Bear, Tofino (Chris Hutchinson)OrcasGreat Bear LodgeCougar (Gill Merritt)
P.G.
Cheshire
Felt the two leaders worked well together. Terry was excellent. The Bears were excellent, had good views most times. Great Bear Lodge was fantastic, the whole experience- not forgetting the food. Loved Zeballos too.
M.G.
Gloucestershire
Accommodation was excellent throughout as were the restaurants chosen for evening meals. Great Bear Lodge was extremely comfortable and the food delicious. We saw an amazing amount of wildlife. Our tour leader and Canadian guide were most helpful.
J.C.
Warwickshire
Ken really did go the extra mile. His organisation and choice of restaurants was perfect. I enjoyed everything. Maybe the grizzlies, Seal, Otter, whales and Orca were my favourites. My room-mate and members of the group were great. We got on really well and had so much fun. Ken was part of this fun, his sense of humour matched ours.
Mr & Mrs W.
Hertfordshire
The itinerary was well put together and ran smoothly. We had various wildlife sighting that exceeded our expectations. A superb holiday - thank you! And our thanks to Alan and Ken.
J.T.
Australia
I was particularly impressed with our Naturetrek leader, Tim Melling. Tim has encyclopaedic knowledge and great enthusiasm, as well as a kind and inclusive manner which added enormously to the whole experience. I was also very pleased with our local guide, Duane. He and Tim worked beautifully together, and Duane kept us regaled with local stories and information, lots of laughter and wonderful lunches in beautiful surroundings. Of course, the wildlife was most obliging as well, and the real highlight for me was the three nights at Great Bear Lodge where we were treated to magnificent sightings of many grizzlies, including a number of mother bears with cubs.
Mr & Mrs B.
Essex
The set up at Great Bear Lodge was excellent. The new lodge accommodation is very luxurious and I loved the friendliness and helpfulness of all the staff there. The needs of clients had been considered and the little touches such as cushions for hard seats was lovely. The guides were always smiling and I can't thank them enough for the brilliant bear viewing. Overall an excellent trip, with excellent guides.
M.H.
Somerset
The knowledge of Tim Melling and organisation by Diane were outstanding. The willingness of both to share their knowledge way beyond what was required, the general kindness and consideration for individuals could not be bettered.
T.I. & V.I.
Cornwall
We were blessed with great weather and saw a great diversity of wildlife.
D.A.
Oxfordshire
It was our first ever wildlife holiday and in all honesty the trip surpassed all our expectations!
S.F.
Hertfordshire
A fantastic trip. I felt at the end of each day that that day was the best, but the next day was even better.
G.P.
London
...the Western Canada trip was just perfect! the organization was exemplary both from this side of the pond and on the Canadian side. The two Canadian guides were fantastic ... They kept smiling and drove long distances providing lots of sustenance and information along the way. Paul Stanbury was also superb. I am not a birder but his knowledge was infectious and well presented.
P.B. & B.H.
Hampshire
Tour leader, Paul Stanbury, was excellent - knowledgeable, dedicated, always ensuring all was running smoothly ... on a very positive note, Knight Inlet was outstanding ... vast quantities of excellent food and wonderfully helpful and knowledgeable staff.
B.M.
Tyne & Wear
I expected this trip to be very good and my expectations were surpassed ... My thanks to Naturetrek, in particular Paul and Chris for a trip of a lifetime.
M.J.
Surrey
Paul Stanbury was an excellent leader - by far the best we have had on Naturetrek holidays.
J.M.
Dorset
I would just like to state that this was one of my best holidays ever! ... Knight Inlet was like being in one big family home ... Best of all was Paul.
T.C.
Hampshire
I would rate the trip as a memorable lifetime experience and would like to thank everyone who contributed to its organisation and planning.
G.H.
London
I enjoyed this trip enormously and the itinerary meant we saw and experienced many different sights and wildlife. The local guides were good, Paul Marshalls birding expertise was much appreciated and he was great to have with us.
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DeparturesAvailableCost

Thu 6th September 2018 - Wed 19th September 2018

1

£6795

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £6095 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Wed 12th September 2018 - Tue 25th September 2018

2

£6795

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £6095 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Sat 15th September 2018 - Fri 28th September 2018

YES

£6795

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £6095 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Canada

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Tour Reviews

Felt the two leaders worked well together. Terry was excellent. The Bears were excellent, had good views most times. Great Bear Lodge was fantastic, the whole experience- not forgetting the food. Loved Zeballos too.
P.G., Cheshire