Grizzly Bear

The Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos) is known as the second largest land carnivore in the world, but in practice is an omnivore in the truest sense of the word. While in spring they will prey on newborn moose, deer, elk, and caribou, and in the fall they often feast on spawning salmon, plant matter still accounts for 90% of their diet.

Let Wildlife Trails take you on an adventure of a lifetime to observe this magnificent animal in its natural habitat. In Spring (May & June) we can offer boat based viewing in various remote costal inlets and estuaries in Lower Mainland BC and in Northern BC. In summer (July to mid August) the estuary boat tours continue in Lower Mainland BC, and in Northern BC where the salmon run starts early, guided viewing on foot is offered. During the autumn salmon season (mid August to mid October) we can offer guided bear viewing on foot and in river driftboats in Central Mainland BC, and from secure viewing platforms or hides in Lower Mainland BC. Late autumn viewing is also offered from mid October to mid November in Northern BC. We are also able to offer a week long pack horse trip in July to observe grizzlies from horseback in the Chilcotin Mountains north of Vancouver (experienced riders only).

Food is all important to a grizzly and every year is a remorseless struggle to accumulate sufficient fat reserves to see them through the winter hibernation. The implications of failing to do so are far reaching, and a sow grizzly will only bear young if she is in sufficiently good physical condition to nurture cubs through a winter. Typical lifespan for a grizzly in the wild is 25 years, and sows tend to have their first litter between 5 and 7, and their last at 20, typically giving birth to 2 or 3 cubs. A fully grown male weighs between 550 and 800 pounds (250 and 350 kilograms), and females about half that, though in recent years there have been reports of males as large as 1,600 pounds (725 kilograms) in Alaska.

Grizzly or brown bears range from the north western corner of the North American continent, through Siberia and northern Russia, to Finland, Sweden and Norway. Recent population estimates included 70,000 in North America and over 100,000 in Russia. There are also small enclaves in Romania and northern Japan. The US population is split between Alaska (44,000) and Montana, (1,000). In Canada where the population is estimated to be 25,000 there have been increased reports of grizzlies venturing out onto the Arctic sea ice to hunt seals, and competing with their Polar Bear cousins. There is a distinct possibility that grizzlies have always done so and the Polar Bear certainly evolved from an isolated population of grizzlies in Siberia, but many people including some Inuit elders believe that increased grizzly bear activity in the Artic is linked to global warming.

In the Canadian Pacific Northwest grizzly bears spend much of their time deep in the forest foraging for roots and berries which are critical for building fat reserves. In spring and summer they often venture beyond the tree line to feed on sedge grasses in the river lowlands, and forage for crustaceans and shellfish on the shoreline of coastal estuaries and inlets. In late summer and fall they take advantage of the food bonanza that is the annual pacific salmon run. Late August through to October is perhaps the best time to observe grizzly bears as they gorge themselves on salmon in shallow spawning rivers and channels. In times of plenty such as this, grizzlies can be very fussy eaters, taking only the salmon that are in the early stages of the dramatic physical changes that prelude spawning, and then often only eating the brain, skin and underlying layer of subcutaneous fat (the parts with the highest fat content).

After the days of plenty during the salmon run, fall and early winter is a headlong rush to pile on the calories before entering winter dens to hibernate. The sows tend to den first in mid November, with the males following up to a month later. Contrary to a common misconception, grizzlies are not true hibernators and remain semi-active in their dens all winter. They are however able to lower their body temperature, slow their metabolism, and live off their fat reserves for many months.

Walking with the Grizzly Bears of Katmai National Park

After connecting with a flight from Anchorage to Kodiak you will stay two nights in this frontier town and take a half-day floatplane bear viewing tour at Frazer Lake on Kodiak Island – known as an excellent place to see female brown bears and their cubs. You will then head west on a spectacular floatplane journey to Katmai national park (sometimes Fin Whales are visible from the air!), where you will stay at the amazing Katmai Wilderness Lodge for 4 nights. As well as enjoying superb hospitality and great food you will spend ‘full days’ out in the field with packed lunches, as you search for the brown bears – giving you a once in a lifetime opportunity to ‘walk with the brown bears of Katmai’. Extend your time in Alaska with a relaxing self-drive along the beautiful Kenai Peninsula, with the chance to see bears fishing at Brooks Falls, Sea Otters, Orcas and stunning glaciers!

Katmai national park in Alaska has the highest density of brown bears in the world and Katmai Wilderness Lodge is the only permanent tourist lodge permitted to run inside the park. The real jewel in Alaska’s wildlife is Katmai National Park which lies across Shelikof Strait from Kodiak, at the base of the Alaska Peninsula. Katmai is home to the largest protected population of Brown Bears in the world, and for the past 2 decades it has been the subject of a hugely successful and innovative approach to organised bear viewing involving small groups of bear watchers (maximum 6 people) encountering the bears on foot in the company of an expert guide. This has produced a unique situation whereby something akin to a mutually observed, inter-species truce exists between humans and bears.

As well as a 4 night stay at Katmai Wilderness Lodge in August – absolutely peak time for bear viewing – we also include a spectacular fly-in tour to Kodiak Island. A legendary bear destination in its own right, genetically isolated for at least 10,000 years Kodiak’s Brown Bears have evolved into the largest subspecies of the Great Northern Bear found anywhere on the planet. Much coveted by trophy hunters for more than two centuries, the Kodiak bears are understandably more wary of humans than their mainland cousins, but the chance to come face to face with this near mythical creature is a powerful draw. we visit Fraser Lake, which is often a good location to see mothers and cubs.

Client Feedback

‘So we did make it out to Katmai on time and I can only tell you that it was the most fantastic, amazing experience which we will treasure to our dying day. Perry and Angela were great hosts and gave us some wonderful days bear watching, but they also gave us the ultimate experience with bears! We went kayaking to the waterfalls in Kaflia bay. He only goes there if conditions are right, about twice a year, and some years he doesn’t go at all. He can only take five people. So, we felt very honoured to be chosen to go and not only that we went twice! The bears were everywhere all around us! Feeding on the salmon, sows with cubs, bears swimming, snorkelling and we sat right next to them, Perry kept us safe and it was awesome. I can’t believe what we saw, it really is a once in a lifetime experience. I feel very privileged and humbled by it all.

Style - Bespoke Wildlife
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 9
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£5000
Visiting Brooks Falls, Alaska

This is one of our most exciting 10 day bear viewing tours in Alaska, as it combines the world famous Brooks Falls for those most iconic of ‘bears catching salmon’ photos, with the much less visited Wolverine Creek on the west coast of the spectacular Kenai Peninsula. One is a fly-in option that lets you photograph brown bears fishing for salmon from dusk to dawn – so you can avoid the fly-in clients who arrive for the afternoon. The other is an independent self-drive of the peninmsula; combining a glacier and wildlife tour from Seward with a superbly organised and intimate grizzly bear safari out of Nikiski.

Style - Small Group
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 10
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£4950
Vancouver Island Bear Watching Tour

A visit to Vancouver Island really showcases the sheer diversity of wildlife, both marine and terrestrial, found in the Pacific Northwest, and offers plenty of varied wildlife activities at a very affordable price. About 300 miles long and 70 miles wide, the best and most cost effective option to explore the island is a self-drive tour which gives you the freedom to visit multiple locations and fully experience all that it has to offer. The northeast of the island offers easy access to both Johnstone Strait, the best place in the world to see Orcas in the wild (as well as Humpback Whales), and the remote coastal inlets on the adjacent mainland where Grizzly Bears still maintain a stronghold, far from any human encroachment. The rugged west coast of the island is on the annual migration route of the Gray Whale, large numbers of which pass by off the coast en-route from Mexico to Alaska, and is also one of the best places in North America to see Black Bears. Sightings of Humpback Whales and Sea Otters are also possible off the west coast, and Bald Eagles and Sea Lions are more or less a certainty. The popular seaside community of Tofino on the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island is a great destination for families and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Besides the excellent black bear watching tours and whale watchign trips, there are many other outdoor activities which you can book direct, or just enjoy walking the famous Wild Pacific trail.

Style - Bespoke Wildlife
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 7
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£1200
Unique Canadian Habitats

A lot of what we design here at Wildlife Trails is unique, wildlife focused and tailored around our travellers aspirations. However, this wilderness journey which takes you from marine, to river and finally mountains habitat is right up there with the most diverse and compelling offers for our Canada wildlife holidays. We kick off the tour with a bang, as as well as the scenic flight into Bella Coola and the incredible surrounding mountains, you then have the sea air in your lungs as you take a boat transfer from the harbour across to the historic Tallheo Cannery. A semi-private marine wildlife tour here is followed by some incredible brown bear encounters at the Great Bear Chaket, before you drive up to Nimpo Lake and fly into Nuk Tessli lodge. A superb Canada wildlife tour for those interested in wilderness and the path less travelled.

Style - Wildlife Adventurer
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 11
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£3950
Ultimate Alaska Bear Photography Tour with Trai Anfield

The real jewel in Alaska’s wildlife crown is Katmai National Park, which lies across Shelikof Strait from Kodiak at the base of the Alaska Peninsula. Katmai is home to the largest protected population of Brown Bears in the world, and for the past two decades it has been the subject of a hugely successful and innovative approach to organised bear viewing involving small groups of bear watchers (maximum 6 people) encountering the bears on foot in the company of an expert guide. This has produced a unique situation whereby something akin to a mutually observed, inter-species truce exists between humans and bears. Accessible by floatplane or wheeled bushplane from Kodiak or the Kenai Peninsula, the Katmai Coast is every aspiring bear watcher’s dream ticket where giant Coastal Brown Bears can be observed grazing on estuarine sedge grasses or digging for clams at low tide in spring (May & June) or catching salmon where river meets ocean in summer (July thru September). Nowhere else on the planet will you see more and bigger bears, up close and personal, than you will in Katmai where the bear viewing experience is all about being on the ground with these magnificent animals, with very few people around.

Style - Small Group Photographer
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 12
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£8000
Sea Otters and Bears of Vancouver Island

You can’t beat Vancouver Island for that beautiful combination of wildlife diversity and value for money. This Canada wildlife holiday takes you away from some of the larger towns and focuses on smaller communities and small group or private wildlife activities. The focus out of Campbell River will be a small boat grizzly bear safari to the spectacular inlets on the main BC coast, where brown bears will be feasting on the annual salmon run. This is also a good area for Orcas and Whales and because there is a maximum of 6 people permitted in the boat, your expert naturalist will be able to provide you with superb interpretation. It is always interesting to swtich from one coast to another and you will not be disappointed with the drive to Zeballos. A stay here is more like visiting a family, where all your meals are included and late in September/early October, there is the chance to see black bears fishing for salmon right from the lodges deck. You will also go out on private boat safaris looking for black bears and humpbacks.

Style - Bespoke Wildlife
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 10
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£2500
Just Brooks Falls and Bears

Brooks Lodge and the iconic Brooks Falls, where giant brown bears are photographed plucking salmon out of the air, is one of the most iconic bear viewing locations in Alaska and indeed the world. Many peoples first experience of a Brooks lodge bear safari is one a fly-in tour from Anchorage or Homer; where you time is strictly limited to 3-4 hours with the bears and you arrive during the peak bear viewing time of the day. By applying for accommodation at Brooks Lodge through the annual lottery, Wildlife Trails has secured 3 rooms at the optimum time of year for observing the bears at the falls. Despite its fame amongst wildlife photographers, the actual rates are Brooks lodge are very reasonable and that is in part due to the rustic, but authentic nature of the accommodation.

Style - Bespoke Wildlife
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 5
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£2390
Grizzly Bear Safari in the Great Bear Rainforest

Our love affair with the Bella Coola valley located in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest has lasted nearly 20 years and was always one of the best bear viewing places in Canada. due to its ethical and responsible approach to grizzly bear safaris in British Colombia. Bear viewing without the sound of engines or need to waste precious resources is both intimate and sustainable and can lead to some of the most spectacular bear encounters in Canada. Leave the big cities behind and enjoy a Canada wildlife road trip like no other when you drive from Vancouver to Bella Coola for this budget Canada wildlife holiday.

Style - Bespoke Wildlife
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 7
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£850
Danube Delta, Brown Bears and Wild Cats

Romania is a fantastic wildlife watching destination in Europe where our partners has more than 20 years of experience. Based on our best knowledge we designed an autumn wildlife watching tour with special focus on mammals and birds. Autumn is migration time for birds and bats so we going to see a good selection of these species but this tour were created to see a good selection of mammal species as well. Some of the mammals are possible in daytime like European Souslik, Red Squirrel, Roe Deer, Carpathian Chamois, Red Fox, Brown Bear, bats in the day roost but no doubt the best time to find mammals is in the dark, at night.

Style - Small Group
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 10
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£2100
Bubble Netting Humpbacks & Grizzly Bears Alaska Tour

Amazing opportunity to see Grizzly Bears, and Humpbacks bubble netting off the coast of south east Alaska. Wildlife Trails has partnered up with small, expert local companies to offer multiple days of small group boat safaris, as we search for Humpbacks, Orcas and other amazing marine wildlife. As part of this Alaska wildlife holiday we also include a fly-in bear viewing tour from Juneau to Pack Creek; which annually hosts one of the largest concentrations of Grizzly Bears in the region; who come to feast on the huge numbers of returning salmon.

Style - Bespoke Wildlife
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 7
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£2500