Grizzly Bear Safari - the great bear stakeout!
A blog about the best places to see Grizzly Bears on your Grizzly Bear Safari - Part 1 Canada
The power and beauty of Grizzly Bears have fascinated humans for thousands of years. Long before European settlers started to plunder the impossibly rich wildlife resources of North America, the indigenous people living there in harmony with nature, carved their noble features into their beautiful Totem poles. Grizzly Bears continue to fascinate us today, as can be seen from the many wildlife documentaries that feature this sub-species of the Brown Bear (Ursus Arctos) - the next one to grace our screens is ‘the Great Bear Stakeout’ narrated by the irrepressible Billy Connolly and showing on BBC 1 tonight at 9pm.
Wildlife Trails first went on a Grizzly Bear Safari back in 2003 visiting Knight Inlet; a famous location for Grizzly Bear viewing, and the Bella Coola valley, an undiscovered gem, that became one of our most popular Grizzly Bear tours, due to the amazing private river drifts and guided walking safaris where Grizzly Bears were seen up close and personal. Knight Inlet is amazing for photographers looking for multiple bears feeding on dying salmon and looking to take action shots of bears squabbling over the huge fish bounty. However wildlife purists can feel a little detached from the action, as you are looking down on the bears from a man made viewing platform. For this type of client Bella Coola ticks all the boxes, as slowly drifting down the river in a traditional rowing boat, with no engine noise, while photographing Grizzly Bears fishing for salmon has to be one of the most natural and authentic Grizzly Bear safaris in North America.
On our return to Canada in 2004 we reccied three new locations for Grizzly Bear safaris. The first one involved a spectacular floatplane transfer from Port Hardy to the Great Bear Lodge. This lodge run by a biologist with a masters, adopts a more intensive approach to Grizzly Bear viewing, involving visits to multiple hides located at prime spots and longer days in the field - a great option for full on wildlife enthusiasts and keen photographers.
The second option was in the less visited province of Northern BC accessed via the coastal city of Prince Rupert. This is a great town to start your wildlife tour, as there is some fantastic whale watching to be had just a few miles off the coast and this is also where James look a floatplane flight from to reach the beautiful Khutzeymateen Bear Sanctuary, the only preservespecifically set up for the protection of Grizzly Bears in Canada. This proved to be a totally authentic wilderness experience as James camped on a floating dock in an idyllic location just outside the reserve boundaries. Daily boat safaris take you out to observe either Grizzly Bears feeding on sedge grasses or later in August/September gorging themselves on the salmon run.
The third and final option took James up to the Kitimat Valley where a top notch operator conducts very small scale bear viewing (max 4 people) by boat in Spring, or on foot in Summer & Fall. It’s a rarely visited wilderness area and the bears here are far less habituated than in other areas where bear viewing takes place, so the guides have developed a real “back to nature” approach which relies on camouflage, stealth, patience, and venturing into seemingly inaccessible wilderness areas.
Wildlife Trails visits Canada on a regular basis and with James living on Vancouver Island for many years, we have developed friendly and helpful relationships with local operators that has allowed our clients special access to prime wilderness areas. So as you sit back tonight and watch ‘the Great Bear Stakeout’, consider travelling to this country yourself and enjoying your very own Grizzly Bear Safari.