Vancouver Island Grizzlies and Orcas
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Visit the amazing Orcas and Grizzlies of Canada’s West Coast. Get away to the remote community of Alert Bay, where you can step back and relax, enjoying all of the natural beauty that Canada’s west has to offer.
- Coastal ferry between Port McNeill and Alert Bay on Cormorant Island
- U’Mista Cultural Centre’s historic and contemporary artwork, including the reclaimed First Nations potlatch collection
- First Nations dancing at the Big House; tour the Ecological Gardens and Big Tree Trail
- 3.5-hour whale watching tour of the inlets, islands and waterways in Johnston Strait and the Broughton Archipelago
- Full day visit to the Knight Inlet population of Grizzly bears
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After making your way to Vancouver International Airport, head to the South Terminal and check in at Pacific Coastal Air for your flight. Your 70 minute flight crosses Vancouver Island’s Inside Passage and lands at Port Hardy, near the Island’s north tip. At Port Hardy Airport, a taxi will be waiting to escort you to Port McNeill. Here you’ll board a coastal ferry for a 35 minute voyage to Alert Bay on Cormorant Island. Once in Alert Bay, you can catch a taxi (about $5) at the ferry terminal for a 2 kilometre drive down the ocean road to Alert Bay Lodge. You can also call the lodge from the ferry and the manager will try to get away to pick you up. Please advise the manager what time you would like to take dinner at the lodge.
Today is yours at leisure to explore the village of Alert Bay. After breakfast, the lodge manager will provide you with a map highlighting popular attractions on the 5 km long Cormorant Island and tickets to U’Mista Cultural Centre. The village can easily be reached by foot from the lodge. You may choose to visit the Alert Bay Tourism Information Centre, shops and galleries featuring native art. Experience the wonder of the U’Mista Cultural Centre with its examples of historic and contemporary artwork, including a First Nations reclaimed potlatch collection. Should time allow, marvel at First Nations dancing at the Big House, or tour the Ecological Gardens and Big Tree Trail – a series of easy walking trails located at the top of the island approximately 2 km from the Village.
Today after breakfast depart Alert Bay for an exciting eight-hour excursion to Telegraph Cove including a 3.5-hour whale watching tour of the inlets, islands and waterways in Johnston Strait and the Broughton Archipelago. After a taxi ride to the ferry terminal and a short ferry ride to Port McNeill, spend a short time touring Telegraph Cove, its small shops and the fascinating Whale Interpretative Centre that highlights the biology, habitat needs and threats to orcas and other local marine mammals (admission by donation). Lunch can be taken at Telegraph Cove. In the early afternoon, you embark on your whale watching tour. As the on-board naturalist narrates, your skipper leads the search for orcas, humpback and minke whales as well as other marine life such as Dahl porpoises, harbour porpoises, Pacific white-sided dolphins and sea lions. Bald eagles and many species of birds are plentiful in the region and black bears, deer and cougars may be spotted along the shore. After your whale watching tour the last leg of the excursion whisks you from Telegraph Cove by high speed boat to cross Johnstone Strait. You arrive in Alert Bay by late afternoon.
We depart at 6:45 am from Alert Bay for a full day on the water to seek out grizzly bears in their natural habitat. Our destination is Knight Inlet, a two hour ride by covered boat into Johnstone Strait. Becoming famous for its population of Grizzly bears, Knight Inlet a long and deep glacier-carved fjord surrounded by snow-capped mountains and steep-sided, forested cliffs.
Here we drift, paddle and motor quietly around an estuary, looking to spot grizzly bears as they feed on the sedges and grasses at high tide. Low tide brings more bears out, and we may see them turn over large boulders in their search for crabs, isopods and beach barnacles. On some tides we transfer to our flat bottomed skiff to get into the shallows. Please bring your binoculars and camera! Lunch is included.
Meals: B, L, D
An early start this morning to catch the 6:35 am ferry to Port McNeill. A taxi will be waiting to escort you to a restaurant in Port McNeill where you can enjoy a leisurely breakfast. After breakfast you can leave your luggage at the restaurant and stretch your legs along the waterfront path. Your bus will arrive by 9:15 am. Bus will stop in Campbell River for lunch and a chance to stretch your legs. Bus arrives into Victoria at approximately 5:00 pm.
The order of activities on Days 2, 3 and 4 may vary due to weather conditions and tour operation logistics.
Alternate tour options:
Victoria-Vancouver: starting in Victoria with a coach transfer to Port McNeill and a flight from Port Hardy back to Vancouver. Prices are the same as the itinerary listed above.
Vancouver-Vancouver: starting in Vancouver with a flight to Port Hardy with a flight back from Port Hardy to Vancouver. Prices are slightly higher for this option that includes round-trip airfare.
- Flight from Vancouver to Port Hardy one-way
- Accommodation for 4 nights in Alert Bay
- Meals: 4 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 2 dinners.
- Taxi transfer from Port Hardy airport to Port McNeill
- Round-trip taxi transfers between Alert Bay ferry terminal and Alert Bay Lodge
- Water taxi transfer from Telegraph Cove to Alert Bay
- Taxi from Alert Bay Lodge to meet Grizzly Bear Tour
- Admission ticket to U’Mista Cultural Centre
- Full day excursion to Telegraph Cove including 3.5-hour wildlife and orca/whale watching marine tour
- 9-hour grizzly bear viewing marine tour
- Taxi transfer from Port McNeill to local restaurant for breakfast
- Bus transportation from Port McNeill to Victoria
- Flights or ground transportation to Vancouver International Airport and from Victoria
- Meals unless otherwise stated
- Taxi from the lodge to the U’Mista Cultural Centre (about 2.5 kilometres)
- Activities or equipment rentals unless otherwise stated
- Alcoholic beverages
- Gratuities to local guides
- Items of a personal nature
- Travel insurance
Disclaimer: We do our utmost to ensure that information posted on our website is correct at the time of publication, however trip details are subject to change without notice by the suppliers and operators involved. We update the information as soon as possible when changes are advised to us, however, we cannot assume responsibility for such changes made by the suppliers and operators.