Whales & Bears of British Columbia Western Canada
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Rugged scenery and wildlife of Western Canada...
'Beautiful British Columbia' proclaim the number plates, and for once without hyperbole. Sensational wildlife regularly presents itself amidst a backdrop of rugged scenery. Whales and bears are the big draw picture cards but other players like seals, elk and beaver ensure a truly authentic British Columbian encounter.
About the tour
Your chance to
- Explore Vancouver Island, the largest island on the North American Pacific coast
- Observe Orca, Humpback and Grey whales with experienced naturalist guides
- Look for Grizzlies in their natural surroundings
At a glance
- 9 nights in a mixture of standard and comfortable hotels, all rooms en suite
- Travel by minibus, ferry, motorboat and Zodiac
This is a small group guided holiday. The group is usually between 4 and 16 in size, with an average of 12 like-minded clients booking individually, in a couple or as friends together
You are healthy, enjoy the outdoors and want a relaxing trip. No experience is required.
Day to day itinerary
Those on the group flight will be met at the airport and transferred to our hotel in Vancouver. Those on Land Only arrangements should make their own way to the start hotel this evening.
City tour of Vancouver; afternoon ferry to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.
Vancouver is often hailed as Canada's most beautiful city. This cosmopolitan and diverse metropolis is in stark contrast to the rest of British Columbia, but always proves to be a highlight. We have a guided city tour this morning, mostly on foot. In the afternoon we transfer to the port to board a ferry to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, a one and a half hour journey across the Strait of Georgia. We spend some time visiting this gateway city before settling into our hotel for the night.
Optional excursion to Horn Lake Caves Provincial Park; afternoon visit Cathedral Grove Park to see Douglas fir trees
This morning there is an optional excursion to explore the ancient fossils and crystal formations of Horn Lake Caves Provincial Park. In the afternoon we drive to Ucluelet (near Tofino), where we'll stay for the next three nights. We stop on the way at Cathedral Grove Provincial Park to see the last remains of the temperate rainforest that covered the island more than a thousand years ago. This is one of the most accessible areas of giant Douglas-fir trees in the province and there are many trails enabling us to meander through Douglas-fir, Western Hemlock, Grand fir and Western Red Cedar trees. Today's total journey time is around 3.5 hours.
Walking tour of Pacific Rim National Park; zodiac excursion with naturalist guide to observe Grey and Humpback whales.
The Pacific Rim National Park is nestled between the mountains of the Vancouver Island Range and the Pacific coastline. We'll take a walk inside the park this morning in order to admire the rich natural heritage of the west coast of Canada. In the afternoon we board zodiacs with a naturalist guide who will lead a 2.5 - 3 hour whale observation excursion. Our goal is to see Humpback and Grey whales, but it is also common to come across seals and sea lions amongst the rocky headlands. Today's driving time should not exceed 2 hours.
Visit Tofino Botanical Gardens; zodiac excursion to observe Black bear and Bald eagles.
We obtain a greater understanding of the rainforest environment this morning at the Tofino Botanical Gardens. There is a lovely birdwatching area where woodpeckers, songbirds and hummingbirds can be found and Bald eagles are sometimes seen circling overhead in search of prey on the neighbouring Tofino Mudflats. Late this afternoon we board zodiacs for a 2.5 hour expedition to observe Black bear and Bald eagle (depending on the low-tide schedule, this activity may take place earlier in the day). In the wilderness of Clayoquot Sound, Black bears can be found searching for crabs and clams on the rocky beaches. We'll travel the fjord inlet by zodiac, looking in sheltered bays and stopping to observe any Black bears that we find from the comfort of our zodiac.
To Campbell River; short walk in Elk Falls Provincial Park.
We depart Ucluelet and drive for 4 hours to Campbell River on the North Shore of Vancouver Island. Campbell River is known as the 'Salmon Capital of the World' for its hugely impressive salmon runs where five species of Pacific salmon can be found in the river. It has been designated as a Heritage River for its importance in British Columbia - following the fish are bears, seals, kingfishers and eagles. This afternoon we take a short walk in Elk Falls Provincial Park with its thundering, impressive waterfalls.
Boat trip to Orford River to observe Grizzly bears in their natural habitat.
Today we board a covered boat for a full day excursion to the Orford River area (on the mainland of British Columbia) to observe Grizzlies in their natural habitat. Conservative estimates suggest there are 10,000 Grizzly bears living in British Columbia, with 92% of the original habitat of Grizzly bears still occupied. The abundance of spawning salmon in the Orford River at this time of year brings Grizzlies down to feast. A two hour journey by boat with a spectacular backdrop of mountainous scenery brings us to the mouth of the Orford River. From here we take a short bus journey inland, where there are five viewing platforms from which to spot the bears. We will visit one (or maybe two) of these, from where we hope to observe the bears catching and feeding on salmon, sometimes with cubs in tow. On the boat journey to and from the Orford River we may also see Black bears, Grey, Orca and Humpback whales, dolphins, porpoise and sea lions.
Day trip by ferry to Quadra Island for hiking or optional sea kayaking excursion amongst local wildlife.
We board a ferry for a 10 minute journey across the Discovery Passage to Quadra Island where we spend the day exploring the islands trails and beaches by foot. Alternatively, you can join an optional excursion from Quadra Island to try sea kayaking. This 3 hour excursion is accompanied by kayak and marine life observation guides and is suitable for beginners. There is never a dull moment paddlying by kayak around Quadra Island - we could see soaring eagles, oyster catchers, herons, cormorants, gulls and if we are lucky we may come across seals, sea lions, dolphins and porpoise! In addition there will be lots of inter-tidal life including sea stars, sea urchins, jellyfish and crabs. The mountain views offer a stunning backdrop to this excursion.
Transfer to Victoria for return ferry crossing to Vancouver.
We drive for around 4 hours to Victoria, making stops along the way to enjoy the scenery of Vancouver Island for the last time. This afternoon we'll board a ferry across the Strait of Georgia, admiring the small islands and breathtaking panorama of the city of Vancouver as it comes into view. In the late afternoon there will be some free time to explore Vancouver at your own pace, visiting Stanley Park or China Town.
Those on the group flight will be transferred to the airport today. Those on Land Only arrangements are free to leave at any time.
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Departure dates and prices
These are ‘land only’ prices which require you to book your own flights and join the rest of the group on Day 1 of the trip.
- Sun 11 Sep 16 - Tue 20 Sep 16
- Thu 22 Sep 16 - Sat 01 Oct 16
- All accommodation (see below)
- All transport and listed activities
- Tour leader throughout
Hotels - We use a mixture of standard and comfortable hotels on this trip. At the start of the trip we stay in a hotel close to the airport to allow for easy joining in Vancouver, whereas at the end of the trip we'll have a hotel in a central area to enable us to explore Vancouver City. The accommodation highlight will most likely be our 3 nights at the Canadian Princess in Ucluelet, a traditional fishing resort overlooking a pretty harbour. We stay in comfortable, spacious hotel rooms in the on-shore part of the resort, all equipped with en suite facilities. In Campbell River we also have a 3 night stay at the Painters Lodge, where we stay in garden view rooms overlooking the grounds.
Single supplement available on request: from GBP470
What's not included
- Travel insurance
- Single accommodation (available on request)
- Visas or vaccinations
- All meals
Terms & conditions apply
All prices we advertise are accurate at the date published, but we reserve the right to change any of those prices from time to time. Prices include a cost for fuel that was estimated at the date of this publication. Prices on our website are updated regularly. Before you make a booking we will give you the up-to-date price of your chosen holiday including any flight supplements, upgrades or additional facilities which you have requested. Prices quoted in this brochure are based on exchange rates published by OANDA on 25th June 2014.
Contact our DeparturePoint consultants for availability and full terms & conditions.