British Columbia is truly a land of sweeping forests, endless mountains 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 Cove are well-known for the guaranteed wildlife shows with pods of Orcas frequently observed at close range. These are exceptionally dynamic animals and 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, Gray Whales and Black Bears ‘flipping rocks’ in search of crabs on the beaches. 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 understorey 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.
Dates and Prices
25th August - 8th September 2024 (15 days)
* doesn't apply if you're willing to share and a room-mate can be arranged
Bear-watching and Whale-watching, also other Mammals, Birds and Landscapes.
One leader for a group of up to 8, two leaders up to the maximum of 12.
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.
Mammal, bird and flora (selected) checklists are available.
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. Then we have four nights at the Lovely Middle Beach Lodge, situated on a secluded headland on the wild West Coast; the panoramic views are superb. 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. The lovely large communal areas and bedrooms are bright and comfortable. 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 two nights at the Cedars we’ve two nights at the lovely Alert Bay Lodge on an island between ‘mainland’ Vancouver Island and Malcolm Island in the famed Johnstone Strait. Here Paula and Pablo will look after us and ensure we have a comfortable stay. The food is excellent. After three nights in the Anchor Inn by the Campbell River we’ll return to the mainland for the last night of the tour, once again at the Coast Tsawwassen Inn in Vancouver.
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.
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.
Contact us to check if there is availability for the number of places you require. Click on the ‘Book this Tour’ button on this page to be taken to the online booking form or contact us and we will send one to you which you can complete and send back 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.