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Bear Safari Canada - Grizzly Bear Lodge

Posted in: Canada, Posted in: Bear Safari Canada

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Bear viewing at Grizzly Bear Lodge

​A small intimate 5 bedroom property where you feel like part of the wildlife family, not just another number at a luxury lodge. The stunning location of Grizzly Bear Lodge on beautiful Minstrel Island - half-way between Johnstone Strait for Orcas and world famous Knight inlet - ensures you are right in the thick of the action. With superb brown bear viewing in the estuary next to Knight inlet or from the world famous Knight inlet viewing stands.

How to get to Grizzly Bear Lodge and Knight Inlet

There are regular flights with Pacific Coastal from the south terminal at Vancouver Airport to Campbell River. From Campbell River you will take a spectacular floatplane journey to Grizzly Bear Lodge. In the last 15 years Knight Inlet has become world famous as a brown bear watching spot. It has been featured in numerous BBC and National Geographic documentaries; these films show multiple bears squabbling over the thousands of salmon which return to these rivers to spawn. Dominat large male brown bears take the best positions on the artificial spawning channel and amazed onlookers bear viewing from the nearby raised viewing platform click away to their hearts contents as the bears put on a show.

Grizzly Bear lodge - Knight Inlet

The real magic of Grizzly Bear lodge is its small scale and location. Because Minstrel Island is located about half-way between the famous Knight Inlet viewing stands and Johnstone strait, you have the chance to combine a girzzly bear safari with. Unlike its more famous 'neighbour' Knight Inlet lodge at Glendale Cove, which accommodates around 40 people, the atmosphere at Grizzly Bear lodge is more intimate and less commercial. The smaller boats used for the transfer to the Knight Inlet viewing stands allow couples and family groups a certain degree of privacy.

'On arrival at the lodge, ourselbves and the other guests were greeted with a supper of “all you can eat” snow crab legs and local dry smoked salmon, and were then whisked away in a fleet of small 3 seat motorboats to look for black bears foraging in the tidepools on the shoreline. For those of you familiar with our jeep safaris in India, this was the waterborne equivalent – just you and your guide in a small private vessel. Sadly on this occasion it was high tide and the black bears were nowhere to be seen, but life doesn’t get any better than cruising a glassy calm fjord, surrounded by towering glacial features lit by the warmth of the late afternoon sun.  Wildlife was also far from absent and along the way we saw a small colony of seals basking on a floating log jam, numerous great blue herons, and a couple of bald eagles'

Bear viewing at Knight Inlet - What to expect?

'Next morning came the main event – the grizzlies of Glendale Cove an hour-and-a-half’s boat ride away. On arrival we transferred to a venerable old school bus for the short drive to the 2 viewing towers situated on the bank of a salmon spawning channel. Once again we were up to our ears in bears even before reaching the viewing towers, encountering no less than half a dozen grizzlies on the approach. Having taken up position in the first of the towers we didn’t have long to wait as within minutes a particularly handsome sow with two 1 year old cubs emerged from the bush on the opposite bank of the spawning channel, and they were soon eating their fill of salmon while keeping cool in the water. Grizzly bear viewing at Glendale Cove is limited to 2 hours in an attempt to minimize the disturbance to the bears and keep them from becoming habituated to humans, and any worries I had about that not being long enough were soon dispelled. Between 10am and midday I don’t think there was a single minute when there weren’t bears in close proximity to the viewing tower, and the action was so non-stop that even my appetite for sightings was satiated with 30 minutes, but no film or space on memory cards to spare. The spawning channel is manmade with numerous bends to maximise the amount of suitable gravel spawning habitat in a relative small area. The first viewing tower is positioned so that it overlooks more than one section of the channel as it meanders, and it wasn’t uncommon to see 3 or 4 mothers with cubs fishing different sections simultaneously. In 2 hours there I would estimate that I saw in the region of 20 individuals, many walked right by the tower, or even under it. Without doubt the highlight though, was a prolonged bout of wrestling right next to the tower between a pair of 3 year old brothers, Rock and Roll, who are inseparable in their first year away from their mother. Having tired of gorging themselves on salmon they wrestled and roughhoused for fully 30 minutes within 10 metres of the tower, putting on a great show for those of us lucky enough to be there'

Best time of year for bears at Knight Inlet?

The bear season at Knight Inlet is divided into 3 main period. First you have spring bear viewing during the months of May and June; bears will come out of hibernation before that in April, but they mainly stay in the dense forests feasting on berries. By May they have moved out of the woods towards the mainy estuaries, where fresh, nutrious sedge grasses become their preferred food. This can be a very productive time for brown bear viewing at Knight Inlet, but instead of the viewing plaform you will use a small skiff (boat without engine) to use as a floating plaform to photograph and video the bears. We then have the summer bear viewing months of July and August, when temperatures climb and bears can retreat to the cool forest. You will still see the odd bear around but not in the same numbers as spring. They like the Orcas and black bears are waiting for the arrival of one of the main salmon runs which brings life to all the animals as well as the forests themselves. The autumn bear viewing season is probably the most spectacular, although certain location can be dominated by large male boars who the female bears have good reason to fear.

If you would like to follow in our footsteps and experience the magic of Grizzly Bear Lodge then click on this bear viewing tour to Knight Inlet.

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