Great Bear Wilderness Safari

from £2825
excluding flights *
4 nights May-Oct

Overview

Immerse yourself in the world’s largest coastal temperate rainforest on this guided, wilderness safari, eco-tour. Sleep under the stars each evening and enjoy the soothing sound of the waves gently crashing against the rocky shoreline from your safari-style tent. By day explore the coastline and rivers to view bears, or discover whales, porpoises and sea lions in Queen Charlotte Strait. Another day could be spent viewing sea otters and sea birds or enjoying an interpretive hike at one of the nearby sandy beaches. You'll travel as part of a small group with knowledgeable guides from the local area and learn about the Indigenous culture of the Kwakwaka’wakw people, who have resided in the area for over 14,000 years.

Highlights

  • Opportunity to encounter iconic wildlife such as grizzly bears and black bears
  • Sleep under the stars each evening in your safari-style wilderness tent
  • Witness a wide variety of marine wildlife from humpback whales, orcas, sea otters and sea lions
  • Learn from local Kwakwaka’wakw guides, who have incredible knowledge of the local land

What's Included

  • 1 night accommodation in Port Hardy at the Kwa’lilas Hotel
  • 3 nights accommodation at the wilderness safari camp
  • All meals and snacks from the time you board the boat on the second day until you disembark on the last day
  • Return road and boat transfers, as per the itinerary
  • Complimentary local wine and craft beer with dinner
  • Daily guided excursions

Full description

The ocean-side wilderness camp is strategically situated in Skull Cove on Branham Island, some 40km north of Vancouver Island’s Port Hardy, and offers spacious canvas-walled tents that are raised on wooden platforms made from locally milled cedar. Each tent is fully furnished and includes a private ensuite bathroom. Feast your eyes on the fantastic views from the beautiful dining room and lounge, which is just steps from the ocean and watch the world go by.

For those on a self-drive holiday, you can start the tour in Port Hardy, or there is also the option to fly from Vancouver to Port Hardy. Both options include one night in Port Hardy before transferring by boat to the wilderness camp. While much of the wildlife viewing is by boat, there are times when you'll go ashore to view bears on the riverbanks, stroll along a beach, or visit a First Nations’ cultural site. Daily guided excursions are included, along with rain gear and rain boots (if required) and all meals including complimentary local wine and craft beer with dinner.

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Prices & Dates *

Airfares start from around £550 per person and are quoted separately to the holiday price. When enquiring, our Travel Specialists will provide the best fare possible from your preferred airline / airport.

From prices per person based on 2 sharing a safari tent with private bathroom

Departure Date Duration Twin Price (pp) from Port Hardy Twin Price (pp) from Vancouver
16, 19, 23, 26, 30 May 2020 4 nights £2,825 £3,340
02, 06, 09, 13, 16, 20, 23, 27, 30 Jun 2020 4 nights £2,825 £3,340
04, 07, 11, 14, 18, 21, 25, 28 Jul 2020 4 nights £2,825 £3,340
01, 04, 08, 11, 15, 18, 22, 25, 28 Aug 2020 4 nights £2,825 £3,340
01, 05, 08, 12, 15, 19, 22, 26, 29 Sep 2020 4 nights £2,825 £3,340
03, 06, 10, 13 Oct 2020 4 nights £2,825 £3,340

Two pricing options are provided above. The option from Port Hardy is for those self-driving, whereas the option from Vancouver is based on those flying from Vancouver to Port Hardy, and includes the cost of these flights.

What's Included

  • Return flights between Vancouver and Port Hardy (for Vancouver package only)
  • Return transfer between Port Hardy Airport and Kwa’lilas Hotel (for Vancouver package only)
  • One night accommodation in Port Hardy at the Kwa’lilas Hotel
  • Return transfer between the Kwa’lilas Hotel and the dock where you board the boat
  • Return boat transportation between Port Hardy and the wilderness safari camp
  • 3 nights accommodation at the wilderness safari camp in a comfortable spacious canvas-walled tent with private bathroom with toilet, sink and shower
  • All meals and snacks from the time you board the boat on the second day until you disembark on the last day
  • Complimentary local wine and craft beer with dinner
  • Daily guided excursions
  • Hire of rain gear and rain boots
  • The following fees: Park permit fees; First Nations Youth Fund Fee; Environmental & cultural stewardship fees
  • Staff gratuities
  • 24 hour emergency assistance from our team during your holiday
  • No surcharge guarantee
  • Full financial protection »
Maximum group size: 10 passengers Minimum group size: 2 passengers

Itinerary & Accommodation

Itinerary & Accommodation

Day 1: Arrive Port Hardy

Today you will travel to Port Hardy and check-in at the Kwa’lilas Hotel for one night.

Day 2: Port Hardy to Wilderness Safari Camp

This morning you’ll be transferred to the dock and then travel by boat out to the wilderness safari camp. On the way you’ll explore the islands and waterways that separate Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia. These waters are home to a wide diversity of wildlife, including humpback whales, orcas, sea otters, sea lions, and seabirds. You’ll arrive at camp late afternoon where the staff will be waiting to welcome you. After a short orientation you'll enjoy appetisers and local Vancouver Island wines and craft beers, before indulging in a succulent seafood dinner prepared by your chef. Retire to your safari-style tent to be lulled asleep by the sound of the waves gently crashing against the rocky shoreline.

Day 3: Wildlife Viewing

Start your day with a hearty breakfast and French-pressed coffee at the oceanside dining table. After breakfast you’ll depart the camp for a day of grizzly bear viewing. Depending on the season, you will view the bears in different areas and in different ways - from a 12-passenger boat to smaller inflatables, or even from land as you walk around the local streams and rivers. You’ll return to camp late afternoon for a relaxing dinner and a restful evening sleeping under the stars.

Day 4: Wildlife Viewing

After a delicious breakfast you’ll depart for a day of wilderness adventure. Depending on the weather, the tides, possible wildlife sightings and the wishes of the group, your guides may decide on another day of bear viewing or whale watching. Perhaps you’ll experience seabird and sea otter spotting, a visit to the Nakwakto Rapids, or a visit to the picturesque long sandy beach at Burnette Bay – or you may even enjoy an action-packed day that includes a combination of these activities.

Day 5: Wilderness Safari Camp - Port Hardy

After breakfast you’ll head back to Port Hardy by boat. You’ll take your time cruising back, always on the look-out for more wildlife to view. Your tour ends back in Port Hardy at the Kwa’lilas Hotel.

Coastal Rainforest Safari Camp

Canada

Grade: Simple

Type: Camping

This ocean-side wilderness camp is strategically situated in Skull Cove on Branham Island, some 40km north of Vancouver Island’s Port Hardy, and offers spacious canvas-walled tents that are raised on wooden platforms made from locally milled cedar.

Discover More

Seasonal Wildlife Highlights

Wildlife viewing possibilities change throughout the seasons. There is no particular “best time” to view wildlife, there is something special to see and experience year-round. The following information provides a helpful guideline of what you might expect to see throughout the seasons.

Spring (May and June): The days grow longer at this time of year. Humpback whales are returning to feed after spending the winter in the warm waters of Mexico and Hawaii. First, we see lone adults followed by mothers with their new calves. Rafts of sea otters with young pups are also seen and heard as the pups cry for their mothers. Steller sea lions are seen in large groups during early spring but as June advances they start heading to even more remote breeding rookeries. Seabirds are nesting at this time of year and we often see them in the hundreds, if not thousands. During spring you may also see black bears foraging along the inter-tidal zone and grizzly bears in the estuaries. The mountain peaks surrounding the inlets are still capped with snow, while the shoreline and rivers valley are green with new growth.

Summer (July and August): The summer months are mostly about food. The number of humpback whales in the area grows throughout the summer as they feed on both krill and small schooling fish, often with a powerful lunge right at the surface. The northern resident orcas are more commonly seen in the area. Small groups of Dall’s porpoises are a common sight and Pacific white-sided dolphins are also seen occasionally. The new sea otter pups continue to grow, and being the only marine mammal without any blubber, they always need lots of food. The bald eagle chicks are now as large as their parents and will soon leave their nest for the first time. Black bears are often still seen along the shorelines and grizzly bears may be feeding in the estuaries during the summer. Both species have more widespread food choices at this time of year as berries and other vegetation ripen.

Fall (September and October): This is when we see the highest concentrations of humpback whales and when they tend to be at their most active. After spending all summer restoring their energy reserves, the humpbacks seem to have a bit more time to interact with each other before they start to head south for another winter. You may witness some pre-mating behaviours such as males chasing females or hearing humpbacks singing on the hydrophones. The northern resident orcas are still feeding on chinook salmon in early fall but many move to chum salmon later in the fall and may not be seen as often as they travel further looking for prey. The Steller sea lions that departed in the late spring for their breeding rookeries return to local haul outs in large numbers, seeing over a hundred of these huge beasts hauled out is a common sight at this time of year. The Pacific white-sided dolphins that are occasionally seen during the summer are now more commonly seen and often in groups of well over a hundred. Fall is also the time for bears to eat as much as they can in preparation for their winter hibernation. With the salmon returning to spawn in the local rivers, the bears are looking to gorge themselves on this high energy food. Much of the bear viewing at this time of year is done from small boats in the rivers or from riverside viewing stands at key feeding locations.

 

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