Wild Bears

Where to see Wild Bears in the world

The chance to see Wild Bears in the last true wilderness areas of the world has always been a huge draw for wildlife travellers and photographers, with wild bears like grizzly, black, polar, and spirit bears often featured in BBC wildlife programs, or on the cover of nature magazines. One of the most sought-after experiences is watching brown bears fishing for salmon in Alaska or Canada and their ability to eat vast amounts of food and then lose nearly a third of their body weight during their long hibernation is a fascinating biological adaptation.

Where to see Wild Bears in Europe

Although several western European countries hunted their wild bears to extinction, including the UK, Germany, and France, under a new European diversity law apex predators like bears, wolves and lynx have been afforded a greater level of protection and in some countries, there has been recent reintroduction; although they have not been without their detractors and in particular farmers and shepherds are generally against seeing them back in their shared wilderness areas.

Although there remains some trophy hunting of wild bears in both Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, these two places remain strongholds for European brown bears and we would highlight in particular bear viewing in Finland and bear viewing in Slovenia, as two of the best places to see wild bears in Europe. Always demand how the bear viewing is conducted to check if it is ethical bear viewing that does not habituate the bears to either human contact or negative feeding habits. There is also now the chance to see reintroduced bears from Slovenia into the French/Spanish Pyrenees, but expectations should be distant sightings in scopes and a focus on understanding the bears and habitat by looking for evidence of scratching posts, bear scat, and photos and videos from camera traps. If you would like to see wild bears in Europe then check out our bear viewing tours in Finland.

Where to see Wild Bears in North America

The opportunities to see wild bears in North America are simply unparalleled and at Wildlife Trails we were so excited about the bear viewing in Canada when we first visited in 2003, that we created our signature famous ‘3 Bears tour’, which gives you the chance to see brown bears, black bears, and polar bears in the same 2 week Canada bear safari. With a little bit of luck, you could cheekily try for 4 species, by visiting the magnificent Great Bear Rainforest and look for the iconic Spirit Bear, or Kermode Bear as it is also known – a subspecies on the black bear with a recessive gene displaying. Why not join us in October 2022 for our small group 3 Bears tour to Canada.

A short flight north brings you to that ‘frontier state’ of Alaska, which is more like a country than a state, with its sheer vastness and incredible wildlife in an unspoiled and untamed wilderness. Visit Kodiak Island to see the largest brown bears in the wild and then take a floatplane into the world-famous Katmai National Park and literally ‘walk with bears’ as you connect at a completely different level with the wild bears of North America. If this wild experience is for you then click here for our ‘Walking with the giants of Katmai National Park’ tour.

Where to see Wild Bears in South America

There is only one wild bear found in South America but what a spectacular animal it is and indeed for some lucky travellers who have seen the Andean Bear, commonly called the Spectacled Bear, in the wild, it is the most beautiful wild bear in the world. The Spectacled Bear is found in several South American countries, including Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Peru and northern Argentina.

Best places to see the Spectacled Bear

Although shy and fairly elusive there are a few places where you can see the Spectacled bear in the wild. Probably the best place to see Spectacled bears for close up viewing and amazing photography is Maquipucuna Cloud Forest during the very short season when the bears visit to eat ripe Avocados. Another one of the best locations to see Spectacled Bears is in the Ecuadorian Andes, which we can easily add as a wildlife extension to the small group Galapagos cruise departing in July 2022.

Where to see Wild Bears in Asia

There are three species of wild bears found in Asia, including the most common Asiatic Black Bears, sometimes referred to as the Moon Bear due to its crescent white neck marking, the highly distinctive ‘hunched’ Sloth Bear with an almost exclusive diet of ants and termites and the highly endangered and beautiful Sun Bear, which has a small population in Borneo.

We have visited the high Himalayas where Asiatic black bears are mainly seen. They are certainly not easy to view and any sightings are likely to be at distance and with binoculars and scopes. Certain National Parks and wildlife sanctuaries in northern India give you the best chance and for the well prepared and hardy, a winter trip to the mountains of Ladakh can produce sightings of Black Bears.

Where to see Sloth Bears in Asia

Both India and Sri Lanka are considered the best places to see Sloth Bears in Asia due to fairly stable populations and the possibility to visit National Parks like Tadoba and Satpura in India and Wilpattu and Yala in Sri Lanka just after recent rains. This softens the ground and makes it easier for the Sloth Bears to dig the ground and search for their favourite food of termites and ants.

Where to see Wild Bears in Africa

You will probably be well aware that there are no wild bears in Africa but the reason for this short paragraph on them is that they used to be there until the 19th century and we can even see from Roman Mosaics that the Atlas Bear (great name!), inhabited the Atlas Mountains from Morocco to Libya. It was a pretty impressive Wild Bear with a height of 9 feet and a weight of over 1000 pounds. The Romans largely contributed to the demise of this impressive wild bear with their occupation of North Africa and their high levels of hunting in the region. The Atlas bear and its cubs were targeted particularly to be used in the infamous Gladiatorial battles between humans and animals.


Our Clients Say About Us


We went to Alaska, which Wildlife Trails sorted out for us. I chose Wildlife Trails because Allan was more knowledgeable than others I emailed, and more helpful. We went to Anchorage, Seward, er, Nikiski, Kodiak and Katmai. At Nikiski we stayed at Daniels Lake Lodge B&B in a log cabin by the lake. It was an amazing place and was the wildest and most remote of our journey. We saw a black bear and 3 coyote on the road. Had a great day out with Alaska West Air near there. We had bears right beside our boat at Big River Lakes near Wolverine Creek, saw bald eagles and plenty of salmon in the river. They gave us a scenic flight on the way back flying right over double glacier and its ice field - so close we almost landed on it. Really breath-taking. We booked up Juneau Mendenhall Glacier Ice Adventure Tour ourselves through Alaska Shore Excursions - local tour operator was Liquid Alaska Tours. This was excellent. We did canoeing, went in an ice cave under the glacier and used crampons to climb on top of it. A fantastic day out. Would recommend these. Also had a great day out at Brooks Falls watching the bears catching the salmon that were jumping up the waterfall. Well worth the trip. Wouldn't recommend Jayleen's Alaska whale watching trip. We didn't see anything but a lighthouse for most of the morning. Cost us a fortune for 6 hours when we saw more on the 2 hour cruise with Alaska Tales for a fraction of the cost. These are a new company. We didn't have many on the boat so didn't have to fight the crowds to see the whales and they took us straight to them so didn't waste any of our time. To see black bears close up we went to AnAn Bear observatory. A mother and cub came very close to where we were standing on a platform. At the other places we saw brown bears. A great trip all in all. As I stated above Wildlife Trails are very knowledgeable and helpful. They always replied quickly to any emails I sent asking them a lot of questions (some I should have been able to work out myself). When we had problems they were always contactable to help us sort them out. The ferry they booked for us went on strike but Wildlife Trails had sorted us out a flight in its place before we even knew there was a problem, so the holiday ran very smoothly. I would recommend Wildlife Trails to anyone and I have already booked another trip with them next year.

ByDawn and Steve
Fantastic Canadian adventure

We had a two week holiday on Vancouver Island.. we went on a whale watching tour and saw Orcas, Humpbacks, Dahl porpoises, white striped Dolphins, seals and Sea lions. We then did a Grizzly bear r and saw lots of Grizzlies as well as loads of Black Bears. The highlight of the holiday was a three day kayaking trip which was fantastic. Kayaking with Orcas and Humpback whales was incredible Our holiday was completely organised by Wildlife Trails, and I can’t recommend them highly enough.. everything was planned to perfection and they made the entire holiday exactly what we asked for

ByChris and John
Outstanding from planning, throughout the whole trip and home again

We had a 13 day tour to India, mostly wildlife as this was what we wanted and a little element of city & culture. Day in Delhi staying at the Imperial, apart from noisy traffic getting to the el it was an iconic place to be, so much hitory and staff who had been there 30yrs and proud of what they did. then onto 5 days at Ranthambor - 2 incredible Tiger sightings with so many other species, onto Agra and the Taj Mahal and then the Saptura National Park. Great time was taken in the planning, we were given lots of options as to how to make the trip up including time of year and how to maximize wildlife sighting.