Grizzly Bear Safari: Bear Viewing & Bear Tours
For details on our exciting Wildlife & Grizzly Bear Photography Workshops, see our Wildlife & Grizzly Bear Photography Workshops page. Learn to photograph grizzly bears from professional photographers and learn some tricks of the trade!
Grizzly Bear Watching and Bear Viewing Tours, Bella Coola, BC
In the autumn, when the salmon arrive to spawn, Bella Coola is host to one of the highest concentrations of grizzly bears. Among these old growth forests, pristine rivers, stunning peaks, soaring eagles, and vast glaciers, there is one animal at the top of the food chain: it is the mighty grizzly bear.
- Observe grizzly bears feasting on salmon
- Float the pristine Atnarko River in a non-motorized McKenzie Drift Boat (and in 2015 have a choice of Drift Boat or Raft!)
- Optional Add-On: see the stunning scenery of the Bella Coola Valley from the air by helicopter!
- Explore the ancient Great Bear Rainforest in the company of a local guide
- Explore Nuxalk First Nations culture and visit the petroglyph gardens
- Stay in private chalets at the historic Tweedsmuir Park Lodge
Our grizzly bear viewing trips, recognized by the Canadian Tourism Commission as a Signature Experience that showcases authentic, immersive and engaging tourism experiences for travellers, take place from late August to the end of October. This is when the local rivers are host to teeming numbers of returning salmon which in turn draws lots of grizzlies hoping to fatten up for the coming winter. At this time of the year the grizzly bears are intent on fishing and are more tolerant of both other bears and people and are therefore much easier to observe.
Accompanied by an experienced and knowledgeable guide, our drift trips are the perfect way to see the bears and wildlife of the Bella Coola valley. The McKenzie River boats are non-motorized and therefore do not disturb the bears in their natural habitat. The leisurely pace and silence offer a relaxed and peaceful way to travel the valley, as well as a completely unique opportunity for viewing wildlife up close and personal. On some occasions, our guests see up to 15 different grizzly bears in a single float.
In addition to the river floats you will also be able to walk old growth forests, literally in the footsteps of the bears. Our guide will show you day beds, claw marks on trees, tufts of bear fur, and of course lots of bear scat.
Guests from all over the world have stated that this is one of the ultimate wildlife viewing opportunities on the planet, and they have the pictures to prove it.
Visiting in Early to Mid-October
September is not the only month with great bear viewing: October is too! The bears are fattening up before going into hibernation. In October, grizzlies occasionally frequent our lower lodge lawn more often than other months in order to graze on the clover.
Other reasons to visit in October:
- No crowds! we are the only bear viewing operation running tours in late October and the public viewing station is closed! This means our guests pretty much have the river to themselves and a few random Coho fishermen!
- Beautiful Autumn Colours! The contrast is amazing: lush, green lawns, with deciduous trees displaying every variation of green, yellow, orange and red you can imagine.....and sometimes there might be a backdrop of white when the mountain tops receive their first dustings of snow
- Mild temperatures! In October the summer heat is long gone and winter's frigid temperatures haven't arrived just yet.
- Fly-Fishing! September and October are the best months to catch Coho (aka Silver) Salmon (NOTE: we do not offer guided fly-fishing in September, but we do during the other months. You may fish on your own in September). Even if you are an absolute beginner, we encourage you to give fishing a try! We can supply every piece of fishing equipment : from cast & fly rods, to lures, boots and waders. Our guides will show you the best spots. Why not throw in a line while you are drifting down the river looking for bears!
- Mushrooms! Have you been to Bella Coola in the fall and seen cars parked on the side of the road? They are mushroom pickers! The damp forest floor is perfect for Pine Mushrooms to flourish. You might even get to enjoy some for dinner while staying at the lodge...or come and pick your own, the chef will cook them up for you!
Small Group Sizes
Nature encounters are best experienced in small groups and we keep our Grizzly Bear Viewing drifts to a maximum of three guests per boat. Walking excursions are a maximum of six.
Get more information
We can organize a custom stay for you, but recommend either our 3, 4 or 5 night program (see the suggested itineraries below video). These trips have been designed to showcase some of the best Bella Coola has to offer and provide an amazing wildlife viewing experience.
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Rates & Dates
September 1 – October 15 (Peak Season) 2014
- Three Night Grizzly Bear Safari – $2,480 per Adult, $300 per Child
- Four Night Grizzly Bear Safari – $3,180 per Adult, $400 per Child
- Five Night Grizzly Bear Safari – $3,880 per Adult, $500 per Child (includes a heli-sightseeing trip)
*Note: All prices are per person, based on double occupancy, are in Canadian Dollars (CAD) and do not include tax. Tax rates are 2.5% for International guests & 5% for Canadian residents. Prices do not include flights to and from Bella Coola.
Single Occupancy is available on request and is $400 CAD per night for the Private Package.
In regards to our rates, children are 11 years old and under.
If you are flying to Bella Coola and would like us to book your flights, the rate is approximately $600 CAD on Pacific Coastal Airlines. It is worth checking their website as they often have seat sales (www.pacific-coastal.com).
- Accommodation in beautiful timber chalets at Tweedsmuir Park Lodge (based on double occupancy), winner of TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence and Traveller's Choice award (Top Small Hotels of Canada)
- All meals: Hot & Continental Breakfast, Lunch in the Lodge or Packed Lunch out in the field, 3 Course Dinner, plus Afternoon Snacks and unlimited soda, coffee and tea!
- Daily guided bear viewing tours described in the itinerary, such as Nature Walks and Scenic River Drifts,
- Experienced, friendly guides certified by the Commercial Bear Viewing Association
- Entrance fees to parks
- All ground transportation, including airport or ferry pick-up and drop-off!
What to Bring
Below are a list of items that are recommended when participating in our package tours;
- Good, worn-in, low or medium cut hiking shoes are suitable for most hikes
- Small backpack for lunch, snacks, fluids and personal gear
- Comfortable pants
- Shirt, fleece or sweater
- Fleece or knitted hat, baseball cap or sun hat
- Thin gloves
- Change of socks
- Wind jacket and pants or thin rain gear
- Sunscreen and lip balm
- Camera with a large memory card for all those great shots
- Personal medication if applicable
The activities does not require a high degree of physical fitness although some short walks may be required.