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 or Raft!
- 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 award-winning Tweedsmuir Park Lodge
- **NEW FOR 2015** Choose either a Private or Semi-Private package!
- Optional Add-On: see the stunning scenery of the Bella Coola Valley from the air by helicopter!
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.
Private and Semi-Private Tours
Wildlife experiences are so much better in small, intimate groups. Group size is definitely something you should consider when booking your holiday. At Tweedsmuir Park Lodge, guests have the option of choosing a Private package or a Semi-Private package. Here are the differences;
Private package - All of your tours are composed of just the people in your reservation (plus the guide of course!). On the Guided River Drifts you will get to use a McKenzie Drift Boat, which is the best option for serious photographers (ie has a solid base and sides). Reservations can be made on any day of the week.
Semi-Private package - Both Guided Walks and River Drifts are in small groups, with no more than 6 people. Drift the river in a comfortable raft with seats. Semi-Private packages have set trip dates (except for the 5 night package which can start on any day).
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!
We can organize a custom stay for you, but recommend either our 3, 4 or 5 night program (see the suggested itineraries below the video). These trips have been designed to showcase some of the best Bella Coola has to offer and provide an amazing wildlife viewing experience.
The Brown Bear Research Network
Tweedsmuir Park Lodge is a proud supporter of the Brown Bear Research Network. We recognize the importance of preserving wildlife and the environment for future generations. For each guest that stays with us during bear viewing season (late August to mid October), we make a donation to this great cause. The Brown Bear Research Network's mission: "is to fund and facilitate innovative and progressive research on brown (grizzly) bears in the Great Bear Rainforest. Through empirical scientific research, we aim to gain an insight into the current state and population trends of brown bears on the west coast." To learn more, view Brown Bear Research Network the website.
BOOK YOUR GRIZZLY BEAR SAFARI NOW! - Book your trip and get instant confirmation with our secure online booking engine!
Rates & Dates
2016 - August 22 – October 15
Semi-Private tours have set departure dates (note: if your preferred duration trip does not line up with the day of the week, please still contact us to see if we can make it work).
- 3 Night Grizzly Bear Safari – Starts on Fridays – $2680 per Adult, $3240 per Youth, $670 per Child
- 4 Night Grizzly Bear Safari – Starts on Mondays – $3580 per Adult, $1790 per Youth, $895 per Child
- 5 Night Grizzly Bear Safari – Starts on any day –$4480 per Adult, $2240 per Youth, $1120 per Child
Private packages can start on any day of the week.
- 3 Night Grizzly Bear Safari – $3480 per Adult, $1740 per Youth, $870 per Child
- 4 Night Grizzly Bear Safari – $4580 per Adult, $2840 per Youth, $1145 per Child
- 5 Night Grizzly Bear Safari – $5680 per Adult, $2590 per Youth, $1420 per Child
We strong encourage stays of 4 nights or more, as we often hear guests stay "we wish we were staying longer!". Please contact us if you would like to stay more than 5 nights and we would be more than happy to build you a custom itinerary.
*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.
Please note that these packages require a moderate level of fitness. Participants should be able to walk for a minimum of 3 hours over uneven terrain. For people who might find this a challenge, it may still be possible to join us by selecting a Private package where we can tailor a program to suit individual needs. If there are members in your group who would be unable to walk for 3 hours over uneven terrain, please tell us before booking.
In order to secure your reservation, we require a 50% deposit. The balance is due 60 days before the trip start date. If you need to cancel more than 60 days before your trip start date, we will refund 50% of the deposited amount.There aren't any refunds for cancellations within 60 days.
Youth and Child Rates
Children are 3 to 11 years old. Youths are 12 to 18 years old and children 2 and under are free.
Single Occupancy is available on request and is $300 CAD per night for the Semi-Private Package and $400 CAD per night for the Private Package.
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).
Once you step off the plane in Bella Coola almost everything is included (retail and alcohol purchases are extra)!
- All ground transportation, including Bella Coola Airport pick-up and drop-off!
- Double occupancy accommodation in beautiful, private timberframe chalets at Tweedsmuir Park Lodge, a member of The Magnificent 7 Luxury Lodges of Canada and recipient of TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence and Traveller’s Choice Award (Top Small Hotels Canada)
- All meals: Hot & Continental Breakfast, Lunch in the Lodge or a Packed Lunch to take out in the field, 3 Course Dinner, plus Afternoon Snacks and unlimited soda, coffee and tea!
- A variety of Guided Tours on each day of the package, lead by local guides. Tour include Scenic River Drifts and Guided Nature Hikes. For sample itineraries, see above. Note: these are sample itineraries and the format of each trip may change due to number of bookings, weather, bear activity, river conditions etc.
- All tours are Private or small group Semi-Private
- Experienced guides, certified by the Commercial Bear Viewing Association
- Entrance fees to parks
- Use of all sporting equipment, including mountain bikes that you may use to do some exploring on your own!
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.