British Columbia is truly a land of sweeping forests, endless mountainous and unspoilt rivers and lakes and nowhere is this truer than on Vancouver Island. Fabulous Coastal scenery, incredible Coastal Temperate Rainforests, and habitats hardly touched by man combine to provide a home for a rich array of fauna and flora that reaches its zenith in the large mammal populations. Both marine and land mammals can here be seen more easily and in good numbers than perhaps anywhere on the continent.
Johnstone Strait, Blackfish Sound and the Broughton Archipelago are home to a bounty of nature’s magnificence including humpback whales, Steller sea lions, dolphins, porpoises, bald eagles and of course Orcas. The boat trips out from Telegraph cover are well-known for the guaranteed wildlife shows with pods of Orcas frequently observed at close range. These are exceptionally dynamic animals are every encounter seems to reveal a new facet of their daily lives – it is astonishing just how well one can see these incredibly powerful inhabitants of the island’s seas. The Orcas we’ll see in the Telegraph area are part of the ‘East Coast Residents’ pods that usually feed on fish, however on trips off Nootka Island we’ll also have a chance to see the West Coast Transient pods and these have an altogether different feeding strategy, they prey on sea mammals such as sea lions and young whales.
This is the ideal season to see Humpback Whales as they follow the Pilchard migrations. We’ll see them often and likely will get the chance to see and photograph breaching whales as well as teams of them bubble netting and trapping their prey next to rock walls. Vocalizing is common, especially when an infant whale is in the group. We’ll take boat trips out of Tofino looking for Dall’s Porpoise and Gray Whales and also visit a hot spring close to areas where we’ll look for Black Bears. Marbled Murrelet, Red-necked Phalarope, and Pelagic Cormorants are likely and we’ll hope to see Harbour Porpoises, Pacific White-sided Dolphin, Harbour Seal and Minke Whale.
Sea Otters have returned in numbers to the Pacific Coast after being driven to the verge of extinction. They have increased dramatically in numbers in recent years which has been great news for the underwater kelp forests as the Otters prey on their main herbivore the sea urchin. The study of the change in habitats bought about by the return of the Sea Otter has been fundamental in elucidating the idea of Trophic Cascades, an important concept now in ecological understanding. Sea Otters are exceptionally cute animals both in appearance and in their playful behaviour and our boat cruise around Nootka Island will give us a great chance to observe them at length as well as to photograph these beautiful mammals.
Knight Inlet’s Grizzly Bear boat trips are famed for both the frequency and quality of sightings. 95% of trips see bears and if we don’t they’ll take us again! Our boat captain has been taking people to watch the bears for sixteen years and has un-paralleled knowledge about exactly where the bears will be at any given time. We’ll have plenty of time to watch them and photograph as they catch fish, or as the cubs play on the shore.
Wandering Vancouver’s oldgrowth temperate rainforests is an experience that will leave you awed. The moss and fern-laden understory is peppered with giants – Western hemlock, Yellow Cedar, Western Red Cedar, Douglas-fir, Amabilis Fir and Sitka Spruce - these are some of the largest trees in North America. Red squirrels scold us as we watch Steller’s Jays, Pacific Wren and Chestnut-backed Chickadee. Cathedral Grove has an 800 year old Douglas Fir that stands 76 metres tall.
Whale-watching, other Mammals, Birds and Landscapes.
Fiona Dunbar, Tony Greenfield
Very easy. No more than three or four miles in any one day, and always at a relaxed pace ideally suited to photographers. Mostly on trails and paths.
Included in the Price
All flights. All transport, accommodation and meals in Vancouver. Services of your leaders. Please note: drinks, tips and items of a personal nature such as travel insurance, are not included.
The minimum is 5 and the maximum is 11. Only one leader will accompany a group of 8 or less.
This tour has good quality hotels with en suite facilities throughout. After our arrival in Vancouver we’ll have a night in the Coast Tsawwassen Inn. In the seaside community of Tsawwassen this premium quality hotel is handily positioned too for the ferry terminal. The next four nights are at Hidden Cove. The ocean-front cottages overlook Johnstone Strait. This little lodge is surrounded by fantastic natural habitat. Excellent meals are served in a restaurant with large windows which means that you never need to leave the view or stop the bird and mammal-watching! Then we move to the Cedars Inn in Zeballos. Built in 1936 during the peak of the gold rush, Cedars Inn originally operated as a hospital. No doctors now so we’ll be able to enjoy the spacious rooms with a magnificent setting along the river's edge; every room has a view. There’ll be salmon spawning in the river (and maybe bears fishing), deer grazing on the lawn, seals swimming in the inlet, and Steller’s Jays, ravens, hummingbirds and even bald eagles flying by. After four nights here we’ve three nights in the wonderful Blackrock Oceanfront Resort in Ucluelet, a truly lovely hotel that combines contemporary comfort and quality service with an amazing natural setting. As its name suggest this hotel has wonderful sea views and the hotel design, with lots of space and natural light really seems to bring the environment right into the heart of the hotel. For the last night of the tour we’ll return to the Coast Tsawwassen Inn in Vancouver.
UK return flights are direct from London or Manchester* to Vancouver. Other indirect routes from regional UK Airports* may be available.
*These routes may incur a supplement.
Early autumn temperatures are generally mild with daily maxima being between 12°C and 18°C, cooler at night. Rain is not infrequent but quantities are not usually large.
How to Book
Contact us to check there is availability for the number of places you require. Download a booking form or contact us and we will send one to you. Complete and send to us. You will receive confirmation of your place and then a detailed information pack will be dispatched to you about twelve weeks before departure. This will contain up-to-date health information.
Mammal and bird checklists are available.