The Bucket List can bear another wildlife excursion, and after polar bears and spirit bears, the grizzly deserves its due. Eco-friendly Great Bear Lodge floats inside the Smith Inlet, surrounded by the pristine temperate wilderness of the Great Bear Rainforest in all directions. Open three seasons a year, it’s your opportunity to encounter dozens of local bears as they feast on abundant salmon and huckleberry bushes. Viewing takes place by boat on the estuary or from the shelter of wooden viewing platforms. Photographers and nature lovers, start your engines.
Length of Trip : 2 to 7 nights, depending on the package you choose.
Cost : Click here for the latest prices and packages.
Best time to go :
Spring tours run from May to June. Bear watching is on the estuary from small boats.
Summer tours run July and continue to August.
Autumn season runs from August to October. Bear watching is from viewing blinds and platforms.
Wheelchair friendly : It is possible, but call ahead.
Family friendly : Yes
Where to eat : All meals are served at the lodge. “A typical dinner might feature freshly caught salmon roasted on a cedar plank with a marinade of maple syrup, mustard seeds and balsamic vinegar.” You had me at maple syrup! Organic and local ingredients are used wherever possible.
Official Site : Great Bear Tours Official Website
Where to Stay : The self-contained floating lodge is located in Smith Inlet, 80kms miles from Port Hardy. There are 8 en-suite bedrooms, with a lounge and dining room. Powered by wind, solar, and its own micro-hydro plant, Great Bear is surrounded by pristine wilderness in every direction.
Getting There : Tours depart from Port Hardy, which is located on the northeastern end of Vancouver Island. Return seaplane flight is included in your package. Most guests fly direct from Vancouver to Port Hardy on Pacific Coastal Airlines. For more travel planning info, including suggestions for overnight stays in Port Hardy, click here.
Note from Robin : About 40 grizzlies call Smith Inlet home. The lodge has worked hard to ensure they don’t feel threatened by humans, allowing up close and personal encounters. Although their numbers are declining, there are an estimated 16,000 grizzlies roaming British Columbia. As such they are not considered endangered, with hundreds killed each year for trophy hunting.