Grizzly Bear Viewing at Great Bear Lodge
From May through October, you can experience world –class wildlife viewing from Port Hardy to the central coast of British Columbia. Known as the Great Bear Rainforest, this area is one of the best places in the world to observe grizzly bears and other wildlife such as wolves, black bears, otters, pine martins, mink and bald eagles.
The Great Bear Lodge is located in rich grizzly bear habitat in the Nekite Valley. It is a charming two-story lodge with five bedrooms with private washrooms. The sitting room is a perfect place to relax in front of the fireplace with a book from the extensive natural history library. In keeping with the management philosophy of low-impact ecotourism, the lodge features wind and solar power. Your hosts will prepare wilderness-gourmet meals during your stay, using the best local produce and seafood available. Enjoy a glass of wine on the deck at night as you watch the moon rise over the mountains.
The Great Bear Rainforest is home to a significant concentration of coastal grizzly bears. During spring (May and June), grizzly bears come down from the mountains to graze on the sedges, succulents and grasses that make up the dense bio-mass of the river estuary. There you will observe and photograph them from boats, floating quietly in the estuary sloughs.
The return of tens of thousands of salmon marks the beginning of the fall season in mid August. A series of enclosed viewing stands have been constructed along the river, providing a variety of settings to view and photograph grizzly bears as they gorge on fish in anticipation of their coming hibernation.
The following is a sample itinerary based on a 3 night stay. Tours can last from 1 to 7 nights in spring and summer, or 2 to 7 nights in fall. The itinerary changes during the year as the schedule is based around the activities of the bears, the hours of daylight, the tides and the weather. However, there are always two viewing sessions per day with another activity during the middle of the day.
Departing from Port Hardy, you will be transported by seaplane flight. Journeying to the site is a spectacular adventure in itself, travelling past the breathtaking scenery of the central coast and over the rich waters of Queen Charlotte Strait, the home of orca, grey and humpback whales. Upon your arrival at the lodge, your hosts will be on the dock to welcome you to your wilderness retreat. Settle into your private room at the lodge. In the late afternoon, your grizzly bear experience begins. There are a range of different viewing sites, and one will be chosen according to where the bears have been most active. Estuary sites are reached by boat, while river sites are reached by a bus. There is nothing quite like seeing your first grizzly emerge from the forest. Returning to the lodge that evening, you will be treated to a wilderness gourmet meal. A biologist will present slides and videos, explaining the interaction of the grizzly bear with this unique ecology.
In the morning, you will be on the trail of the grizzly bear again after some good coffee and breakfast. A typical viewing session lasts three hours. Viewing sessions are non-strenuous, requiring guests only to step into a boat or to walk down stairs 50 feet from the van to the viewing blind. After a morning of adventure, you will return to the lodge for lunch and a chance to relax. Spend the early afternoon exploring the surrounding area with the guide. A popular activity is the interpretive rainforest walk, examining bear sign and the general ecology of the area. In mid-afternoon you will venture out to see the bears before returning to the lodge for dinner. On clear nights, the stars are amazing.
As your stay at the lodge continues, you begin to settle into the natural rhythm of the valley. The bears are generally most active in the early morning and late afternoon hours, which is why the focus of viewing sessions is on these times. For the afternoon recreation today, you may take a guided sea-kayaking tour of the estuary, or a boat cruise to explore the glacier-carved inlet. The Great Bear Rainforest is home to many animals, including grey wolves, otters, black bears, mink and bald eagles.
After your parting session with the bears you will enjoy lunch at the Great Bear Lodge. You will return to Port Hardy in the afternoon between 4 and 6pm.