Grizzlies & Wildlife of BC's Coastal Rainforest
Day 1: Bella Coola, British Columbia
Our grizzly bear tour begins with a group flight from Vancouver to Bella Coola (booked by NHA), where we are met by our Expedition Leader and transferred to Tweedsmuir Park Lodge, a remote but very comfortable base for our wilderness explorations. Set in a river valley at the base of a massive 8,000-foot rock mountain in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, the views from the lodge are dramatic. The deck of the main lodge, as well as the porches and windows of each cabin, overlooks a broad meadow that is a well-known bear sanctuary where grizzlies are often seen.
Day 2: Bella Coola River Float Trip & Optional Helicopter Flightseeing
A slow drift down the Atnarko and Bella Coola rivers offers an ideal pace and proximity for wildlife viewing. During the summer, the rivers are crowded with spawning salmon that attract bald eagles and bears, and we may see both on the banks as we float past. The peaks of the Coast Range rise all around, their serrated ridgelines veined in snow and ice. This afternoon, a different perspective awaits. Those who wish have the option to soar over the wilderness on a helicopter excursion, dipping through passes where mountain goats are often spotted on the granite cliffs above timberline. Fly over Hunlen Falls, Canada’s third highest, which offers yet another spectacle as it pours a thousand feet off a sheer rock precipice, its plume freefalling into spray over Lonesome Lake. For those who choose to remain on land, we'll explore a secluded trail in Tweedsmuir Park to look for the rare cougar, gray wolves, bald eagles and other northern birdlife.
Day 3: Tweedsmuir Park
Enjoy an upriver hike on the Atnarko, where we may see eagles and bears fishing for salmon. The floor of the temperate rainforest is covered with giant sword ferns, devil’s club and tangles of huckleberries, blueberries, raspberries, salmonberries and thimbleberries. Though they gorge on salmon, bears love berries, too, and this vegetation is a draw for them.
Day 4: In Search of Grizzlies
British Columbia is home to an estimated 6,000 to 14,000 grizzlies, among the highest bear concentrations in North America. The summer and early-fall salmon runs attract dozens of bears to this area, and though it is very likely we will see them during our other activities, we spend this entire day focused on these magnificent creatures. We take another float trip, pausing along the riverbanks to watch for bears. Of course, grizzlies are unpredictable and we can never guarantee their appearance, but the Bella Coola Valley is so rich with their presence that we feel confident about sightings.
Day 5: Exploring Bella Coola
Along with prolific wildlife and spectacular scenery, the Bella Coola Valley is home to a First Nations people, the Nuxalk. Their vibrant culture has been present here for millennia and still thrives today. On a visit to the village of Bella Coola, we are introduced to the Nuxalk culture during a visit with a local historian who tells us about the region’s history, and we may have a chance to meet a local artisan to learn about the traditional practice of totem carving. We'll see some local totem poles and learn about their symbolism that reveals the rich legends of Nuxalk culture. This evening we’ll enjoy a farewell dinner together.
Day 6: Free Morning - Bella Coola / Home
After free time this morning at the lodge, our grizzly bear tour comes to a close as we travel back into town for our group flight back to Vancouver, where we catch our return flights home.
Please note: This itinerary is meant as a guideline. The activities we are able to participate in, the exact itinerary, and the duration and order of the activities will be determined by weather, permits and equipment availability at our guide’s discretion. Optional helicopter excursion available for additional fee.