A guided small-group expedition to view grizzlies in one of the most densely populated grizzly spots in North America
Explore lush grizzly habitat as we float protected rivers through old-growth forest
Meet and hear storytellers, singers and drummers from the Nuxalk Nations culture
Grizzlies & Wildlife of British Columbia
Along the central coast of British Columbia, where the Coast Range meets the Pacific Ocean, lies a wilderness known and visited by few. Glaciers ice the summits of the peaks, spawning rivers that trace a path to the sea through ancient forests of cedar, hemlock and fir. The waters and woods of the Bella Coola Valley have sheltered great wildlife populations for millennia. Salmon, eagles and bears, totemic animals of coastal native peoples, are still abundant here, evocative of nature that is both primal and arresting. We are immersed in it, on this rare adventure into the Canadian wild.
After our group flight from Vancouver to Bella Coola (pre booked for you), we are met by our Expedition Leader and transferred to Tweedsmuir Park Lodge, a remote but very comfortable base for our wilderness explorations. Set in a river valley at the base of a massive 8,000-foot rock mountain in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, the views from the lodge are dramatic. The deck of the main lodge, as well as the porches and windows of each cabin, overlooks a broad meadow that is a well-known bear sanctuary where grizzlies are often seen.
A slow drift down the Atnarko and Bella Coola rivers offers an ideal pace and proximity for wildlife viewing. During the summer, the rivers are crowded with spawning salmon that attract bald eagles and bears, and we may see both on the banks as we float past. The peaks of the Coast Range rise all around, their serrated ridgelines veined in snow and ice. This afternoon we are afforded a different perspective as we soar above them in a helicopter, dipping through passes where mountain goats are often spotted clinging to the granite above timberline. We fly over Hunlen Falls, Canada’s third highest, which offers yet another spectacle as it pours a thousand feet off a sheer rock precipice, its plume freefalling into spray over Lonesome Lake. If time allows, we may explore a secluded trail in Tweedsmuir Park to look for the rare cougar, gray wolves, bald eagles and other northern birdlife.
British Columbia is home to an estimated 6,000 to 14,000 grizzlies, among the highest bear concentrations in North America. The summer and early-fall salmon runs attract dozens of bears to this area, and though it is very likely we will see them during our other activities, we spend this entire day focused on these magnificent creatures. We take another float trip, pausing along the riverbanks to watch for bears. The floor of the temperate rainforest is covered with giant sword ferns, devil’s club and tangles of huckleberries, blueberries, raspberries, salmonberries and thimbleberries. Though they gorge on salmon, bears love berries, too, and this vegetation is a draw for them. Of course, grizzlies are unpredictable and we can never guarantee their appearance, but the Bella Coola Valley is so rich with their presence that we feel confident in our sightings.
Along with prolific wildlife and spectacular scenery, the Bella Coola Valley is home to a group of First Nations peoples, the Nuxalk, a vibrant culture present here for millennia and still thriving today. On a visit to the village of Bella Coola, we are introduced to the Nuxalk culture through local artisans, storytellers, drummers and singers.
Where lush coastal forests exist, moisture abounds, and due to the unpredictable weather experienced in the Bella Coola Valley, we are occasionally precluded from traveling by helicopter on our flightseeing excursion. We have arranged a “backup day” in case of bad weather on our proposed flying day. If we have been able to keep our regular itinerary, then we may hike a trail upriver on the Atnarko, where we may see eagles and bears fishing for salmon, and other wildlife.
After free time this morning at the lodge, we travel back into town for our group flight back to Vancouver, where we catch our return flights home.
Dates and Costs
Sept 03 - 03
Sept 08 - 13
Sept 13 - 18
Sept 02 - 07
Sept 07 - 12
Sept 12 - 17
Cost in US Dollars: $4195.00
Single supplement: $895.00 (Limited availability)
Price excludes internal air and optional helicopter flight. Prices are per person based on double occupancy and are given in US Dollars.
2014 fees may change slightly.
Location of Adventure
Bella Coola, British Columbia
Group Size Limit
Approximately 9 Travellers
A very important feature of our British Columbia wildlife tour is the limited group size as nature expeditions are best experienced with smaller sized groups of travellers.
Accommodations, meals from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on final day, bottled water, services of NHA Expedition Leaders, local guides and lodge staff, most gratuities, airport transfers in Bella Coola on Day 1 and final day, permits and entrance fees, all taxes.
Travel to and from start and end point of trip (Bella Coola), alcoholic beverages, some gratuities, passport and visa fees, optional activities, items of a personal nature (phone calls, souvenirs, etc.), airline baggage fees, airport and departure taxes, optional travel insurance.
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.
Travellers interested in very close up viewing and photography of grizzlies may prefer our Alaska Explorer or Grizzlies: From Kodiak to Katmai trips, as we may not experience bears at such a close range on this trip. This area, however, has its distinct advantages in that the scenery is spectacular and the grizzlies are truly wild, with very few other people around. Bears in the “Great Bear Valley” tend to be all over the place. We have prepared for a variety of ways to view them but cannot guarantee which manner we will use due to the permit requirements at any given time.
We have taken the proper steps but will never be assured of a specific activity due to the nature of these animals and the nature of permitting in Canada. Also, be aware that since the area we are visiting is full of bears, natural dangers do exist. We try to be as careful as possible, but we can never fully predict the behavior of wild animals.
A quote from Natural Habitat director, Ben Bressler:
Getting There & Getting Home
We have pre-booked spaces for our travelers on R/T flights from Vancouver to Bella Coola. These flight times are not determined until late spring. We will notify you when these times are confirmed so you may book your arrival and departure flights in and out of Vancouver. You will be invoiced for these flights upon booking.
Please call us with questions.