Grizzly Bear Safari – The Great Stakeout!

The Great Bear Stakeout – Hotspots for Grizzly Bear Safari and Grizzly Bear Viewing on your Alaska wildlife holiday or Canada wildlife holiday. 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.

Knight Inlet and the stunning Bella Coola Valley

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.

Great Bear Lodge and Khutzeymateen

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.

Kitimat Valley and why Wildlife Trails for your bear safari?

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.

The Great Bear Stakeout Part 2 – Hotspots for Grizzly Bear Safari and Grizzly Bear Viewing on your Alaska wildlife holiday or Canada wildlife holiday.

After multiple trips to Canada and enjoying some of the best Grizzly Bear viewing in North America we wondered if it was possible to take our Grizzly Bear safaris to another level – then we disovered Alaska! Nowhere in the Northern Hemisphere can you come face to face with more and bigger brown bears, often at close range, than in Alaska’s legendary Katmai National Park. Two decades of carefully managed bear viewing here has produced a unique environment in which bears are incredibly tolerant of human observers, provided they conduct themselves in a predictable and non-intrusive manner, and can be safely viewed on foot for prolonged periods, often in close proximity. Anybody who watched the Great Bear Stakeout last night would have been amazed at how close the film crew got to the bears and how incredibly toelrant the bears were of their human observers; this is exactly the experience you would have if you visit Katmai National Park on your Grizzly Bear tour.

An Alaskan brown bear perfectly positions himself above Brooks Falls to catch a leaping salmon.

What makes Alaska so special for bear viewing?

The beauty of Alaska is that there are multiple destinations to view Grizzly Bears and one of the most iconic is the famous Brooks Falls where many Grizzly Bears can be observed catching salmon at a beautiful waterfall. There are three viewing platforms at Brooks Falls; one overlooking a footbridge close to where the river empties into Brooks Lake, and two overlooking the falls. In September (unlike July) most of the action is at the footbridge which acts like a seine net in that it is clogged with spawned out salmon which of course attracts bears in large numbers. The abiding memory of our visit to Brooks Falls was looking out over the wide expanse of water either side of the foot bridge and counting no less than 24 bears in our field of vision, many of them sows with 2 or 3 cubs. Well that and the 5 sleeping bears we found blocking my path when we tried to hike to the upper falls platform!

Face to face with the world largest bears on Kodiak Island

Another fantastic location for viewing Grizzly Bears is Kodiak Island, home to the largest Grizzly Bears on the planet. Although it is sad to report that bears are still hunted on Kodiak; unlike Kamtai where they have enjoyed full protection for more than 20 years. There are options to take fly-in bear tours to fantastic locations on Kodiak Island such as Lake Clark, where our clients have enjoyed superb sightings of both male Grizzlies and females with cubs. Here at Wildlife Trails we are always trying to make that connection, both to our clients but also to the local authorities, that these animals are worth far much more alive to the local communities than dead to some trophy hunter, and this is a much more sustainable way of generating money from visitors to Alaska.

We look forward to welcoming you to Alaska and organising a very special Grizzly Bear safari for you and your loved one, that will live long in the memory.