Grizzly Bear Safari: Bear Viewing & Bear Tours
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.
- See grizzlies feasting on salmon
- Float the pristine Atnarko River in our McKenzie drift boats
- See the stunning scenery of the Bella Coola Valley from the air
- Walk ancient forests 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, are in the autumn, from start of September to the middle 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 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 occassionally frequent our lower lodge lawn more often than other months in order to graze on the glover.
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. 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). These trips have been designed to showcase some of the best Bella Coola has to offer and provide an amazing wildlife viewing experience.
Rates & Dates
Aug 24 – Sep 27 (Peak Season)
- 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
Aug 16 - Aug 23 & Sep 28 - Oct 15 (Early & Late Season)
- Three Night Grizzly Bear Safari – $2,180 per Adult, $300 per Child
- Four Night Grizzly Bear Safari – $2,780 per Adult, $400 per Child
- Five Night Grizzly Bear Safari – $3,380 per Adult, $500 per Child
*Note: All prices are in Canadian dollars (CAD). Prices do not include flights to and from Bella Coola or HST tax. Tax rates are 2.5% for International guests & 5% for Canadian residents.
Single Occupancy is available on request and is $115 CAD per night.
Please contact us for group rates and the various tour options available to you and your group.
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 at the Tweedsmuir Park Lodge / Double Occupancy
- All meals: Hot Buffet & 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!
- All activities described in the itinerary
- Experienced guides
- 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 Grizzly Bear Safaris.
- 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
- 1 litre water bottle
- Sunscreen and lip balm
- Camera with a large memory card for all those great shots
- Personal medication if applicable
Physical Requirements (Easy/Flexible)
This adventure travel opportunity does not require a high degree of physical fitness although some short walks may be required should you wish to participate in every activity.