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Vancouver Island wildlife tours – 3 places you wish you had visited but didn’t

Posted in: Canada, Posted in: Canada Wildlife

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Vancouver Island wildlife tours – 3 places you wish you had visited but didn’t!

Vancouver Island really does have it all when it comes to designing a Canada wildlife holiday that doesn’t break the bank. Firstly, it is very accessible from Vancouver, with a regular reliable ferry service and also multiple options to fly direct to the island. Many of our clients prefer the self-drive option, as it gives them greater freedom and allows them to control their budget more easily; especially when staying in accommodation options with self-catering facilities. However, for us at Wildlife Trails, it is all about the bear viewing and whale watching on Vancouver Island and we are going to share with you 3 real gems of locations, which most people miss out on when visiting the island – make sure that you don’t make the same mistake.

Telegraph Cove Bear Watching tours.

When we first visited this beautiful little cove located just south of Port McNeil in the north east of the island, we were lured there by the reputation of a local company called Tide Rip grizzly bear tours. Firstly, we wanted to see grizzly or brown bears at Knight Inlet, which is what the owner Howard was offering, but also, we wanted to do it with a company with strong ethics and with some of the best bear guides in the business. At that time Tide Rip still had access to the world famous Knight Inlet viewing stands; where you can see brown bears catching salmon during the autumn salmon run. Now they only provide full day bear viewing tours to knight inlet estuary; where you can see bears feeding on the sedge grasses or shellfish. Sometimes you actually see more brown bears in the estuary, than you do at the stands; especially if the island has not had recent rains; as the river levels will be too low for the salmon to get up the river to where the stands are.

Although it is possible to stay at Telegraph Cove itself, we highly recommend another small harbour located just 20 minutes away at Hidden Cove; which is less developed and therefore more peaceful for wildlife observation. Many of our clients stay at Hidden Cove Lodge with Sandra and Don and have occasionally seen both black bears and sea otters direct from their own cabin. Check our one of our clients favourite tours, an 8 day Telegraph Cove and Tofino bear safari.

Zeballos sea otter tours and black bear viewing

What a great find this was by Wildlife Trails! Just the road journey to get here is an adventure itself, as you cross from the east to the western Pacific Ocean coast of the island. Part of the road journey sees you hug the shores of the Nimpkish Lake, before arriving at a stunning lodge, where you can see black bears fishing for salmon from its beautiful wraparound balcony. The wilderness lodge at Zeballos only has a few rooms, so a stay here is like being with family and you will enjoy great home cooked meals, as well as some amazing private boat based wildlife tours. Zeballos is one of the best places in Canada to photograph sea otters and it is also famous for Humpback Whales and the chance to see black bears in September and early October. Many people who want to see whales and black bears head to Tofino, but if you are looking for the path less travelled and less tourists, then our black bear viewing tour at Zeballos is the one for you.

Ucluelet whale watching and Wild Pacific Trail

Its more famous bigger ‘sister’, Tofino, tends to attract the large summer crowds, so for this reason Ucluelet maintains an unspoiled and more traditional feel to its pacific coast location; particularly along the picturesque harbour, where the whale watching tours commence from and also on it’s many wild and wind swept beaches, which are part of the famous Wild Pacific trail which start from just outside Ucluelet. We enjoyed camping here on our multi-day visit and also walking a few shorter sections of the trail – we had pretty young children at that time. The trails are very well sign posted and relatively easy walking. Some of the beaches are simply stunning and you can simply take your time looking at the various old trees, which have washed up and been sculpted by the time, the wind and the sand.

There are several excellent local restaurants close to the harbour and we recommend taking at least one of the marine wildlife tours from Ucluelet. Like Tofino, the focus for these tours tends to be either whale watching; with the chance to see Gray and Humpback Whales, or black bear watching; as they walk along the many miles of beaches, looking for food amongst the seashore rocks. There are also options for half-day or multi-day sea kayaking tours. Some of the most talked about options are the multi-day tours which take you around Clayoquot Sound or Barclay Sound.

Wildlife Trails are experts at designing private bespoke wildlife safaris around the world and Canada is one of the countries we know the best. For inspiration, check out some of our clients favourite Canada wildlife holidays and get in touch with us at [email protected] or on 0800 999 4334 to start the ball rolling.

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