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Bear viewing tours Vancouver Island the 3 places you must visit here for a Beartastic experience

Posted in: Canada, Posted in: Bear Safari Canada


Bear viewing tours Vancouver Island – the 3 places you must visit here, for a Beartastic experience!

Everything we do here at Wildlife Trails is driven by science, transparency, ethics and a deep affection for the natural world. When you have been sending clients on Canada wildlife holidays to Vancouver Island for more than 15 years, you learn a huge amount about annual cycles, the strength of salmon runs and the very best locations to see grizzly and black bears. Since our North American operations manager, James Manson - who actually lived on Vancouver Island for many years – was hand crafting our bespoke Canada bear safaris; there is no other wildlife company in Canada who has their finger on the pulse like Wildlife Trails.

Campbell River bear tours

Searching the best bear tours on Vancouver Island was a priority for Wildlife Trails in the early 2000’s and we quickly identified 3 key locations; Campbell River, Telegraph Cove and Tofino. Most of our clients on self-drive Canada wildlife holidays, arrive onto Vancouver Island via Nanaimo and it is then a simple 2 hour drive north to the bustling coastal town of Campbell River. Campbell River bears tours and whale watching trips are relatively inexpensive and provide visitors with a great insight into the great diversity of terrestrial and marine wildlife which can be found on the doorstep of a major urban centre, such as Vancouver. However, the real jewel in the crown of bear viewing tours from Campbell River, is the floatplane trips to Grizzly Bear Lodge on Minstrel Island, which give you access to the world famous Knight Inlet viewing stands; as well as Johnstone strait – which is one of the best places in the world to see wild Orcas. A stay at Grizzly Bear Lodge is not just about the amazing wildlife, it is a privileged glimpse into the true wilderness of a Canadian homestead lifestyle and what it really means to live in the wild amongst apex predators; such as grizzly bears, black bears, wolves and cougars.

Telegraph Cove Grizzly Bear watching

If you continue your Vancouver Island wildlife road trip along the east coast; just before the town of Port McNeil you will take a left turn towards the small community of Telegraph Cove. This picturesque coastal community is almost directly opposite Johnstone strait, so there is no need to use extra boat fuel to reach the resident pods of Orcas which feed on the annual salmon runs just off shore. In addition, we work with one of the best and most ethical bear viewing companies on Vancouver Island; who operate out of Telegraph Cove harbour. They organise full day bear viewing tours to Knight Inlet; where their focus is the estuary bear viewing (rather than the viewing stands). During spring grizzly bear viewing (May and June) you can have more than 10 individual bears feeding on the sedge grasses, or turning over crustaceans, hoping for a fishy treat. There is also more chance at this time of year to see brown bears with spring cubs. You continue to see good numbers of bears through August and September and with increasing temperatures due to global warming, many of these bears will stay around in October, if food resources are still to be found.

Now that you have enjoyed some spectacular wildlife experiences on the east coast of Vancouver Island, it is time to cross the ‘spine’ of the island and head towards one of the most scenic and ‘happening’ seaside towns in British Colombia – Tofino. We like our clients to park up their cars by their ocean view accommodation and then leave it here for the next few days. All the various bear watching and whale watching tours we offer in Tofino, are a 10 minute walk from your accommodation. The same is true of all the great restaurants, art galleries and shops; which all contribute to a great location to spend your last few days of your Canada wildlife holiday.

Tofino whale watching tours

Here we have worked with the same specialist Tofino whale watching company for 15 years. We prefer to book our clients into their smaller 12 person Zodiac boats and they normally spend 2-3 hours just offshore, looking for Humpback and Gray Whales. The same company also offers some wonderful black bear viewing trips in the same type of vessel. Here, from a photographic point of view, we are looking for the chance to ‘shoot’ black bears turning over rocks on the shore for crabs and shellfish. With the offshore islands and coastal forests forming an impressive backdrop, these Tofino boat safaris are a great way to enjoy the scenic beauty of Vancouver Island’s west coast; in particular the pristine, Mears Island, which is home to some of British Colombia oldest Red Cedar trees.

Tofino is not the only community to be blessed by scenic beauty and incredible wildlife encounters. Take a short drive south to the smaller community of Ucluelet; A laid back fishing village perched on the most westerly edge of Canada surrounded by the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. This is the starting point of the famous Wild Pacific Coast trail; so, for those who don’t have the best sea legs, this can be a welcome change from boat safaris or sea kayaking tours out of Tofino.

If you have got the time, we would highly recommend a Vancouver Island wildlife tour, which visits all three of these amazing coastal communities. Our bespoke tours bring together funky accommodation with stunning views and some of the best small wildlife viewing company on the island – all road tested by us since 2003!

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