Tucked away, in the remote north of Vancouver Island, you’ll find bears. And lots of them. Not ones to be restricted to one single area – we’re not about zoos at Meraki Travel – where to find said grizzly and black bears is hard to pinpoint to one specific location. They really are just about anywhere. Hence why our Bears itinerary will take you to three hotspots for these magnificent mammals, dependant only on which accommodation type you’re after. But, wherever you end up going, things are guaranteed to get wild. Think rugged landscapes and equally rugged company – in these secluded spots, it’s just you and the bears. So, say goodbye to commercialisation and hello to the real deal, because British Columbia’s most famed resident isn’t one to be tamed. And that’s just how we like it. Think low-impact, ecotourism where the bears go undisturbed and your experience remains authentic.
On your journey in from Vancouver, you’ll be treated to a short flight to Vancouver Island followed by a water taxi or floatplane. Fancy, right? We do know how to spoil you. And what a way to start this adventure. Here you were thinking that you were in Canada to see the bears and only the bears, but the wilderness views. Just wow. Flying over North America’s untouched terrain is nothing short of breathtaking. Think dramatic hillsides, packed to bursting with thick, old-growth trees, glassy fjords, the spooky remains of old logging cabins and, if you’re really lucky, the tell-tale swish of a humpback’s tail – all before the real point of your trip has even begun!
But where exactly are you going? Well, so isolated that they almost seem secret, the three lodges that we offer require you to fly to either Port Hardy or Campbell River on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island, but the journey won’t stop there. The next leg will see you transferred by water taxi, or a floatplane, to get to the wilds of what is to be your home for the next three nights. This is where the adventure really begins.
Floating off the coasts of teeny islands, or upon glacier-fed inlets, these lodges feel like a million miles away from Vancouver’s cosmopolitan cool – back to basics would be somewhat of an understatement. But you’re here for the bears, right? So who needs TV. Your time will be spent on the hunt for beautiful beasts. Guided forest walks, exclusive marine excursions and wildlife tracking trips mean that there won’t be much time to miss your phone signal. All that you will need is a good camera – one with a decent zoom to do the scene justice. Safety comes first remember, you won’t want to be getting too up close and personal with one of these creatures, no matter how cuddly they may look.
And when we say 'Bear Lodges' here are the beauties that we mean...
A water taxi away from Vancouver Island’s Port Hardy, perched on a rocky edge of Berry Island and stretching out onto the ocean, you’ll find Farewell Harbour Lodge – a waterfront retreat that is all about the bears. Boasting 10-acres of private forest, you won’t be short on wildlife sightings here, but it’s charm doesn’t stop at its bear-watching opportunities. Simplistic in style, each of its 12 ocean-view rooms are decked out like traditional wood cabins and make for a perfectly cosy setting. Plus, between grizzly and black bear viewings both on foot and by marine tour, you’ll be treated to full board, including wine with dinner.
Floating on the glacier-carved Knight Inlet fjord in the beautiful Glendale Cove, this lodge is both sumptuously remote and authentically rustic – we mean, you expect log cabins only reachable by float plane when on a bear watching retreat, right? The 18 rooms are simplistic in design, but let’s face it, you’re here for the activities, which means a whole lot of grizzly and black bear viewing excursions at every opportunity. And, if you just can’t get enough, the lodge’s decks provide the perfect spot for some at-home-viewing. Meals are provided on a full board basis and you’ll even get wine thrown in with dinner too!
Sat afloat of the water that makes up a small cove, just 50 air miles away from Port Hardy and only attached to the bear-ridden land via a long gangway, the Great Bear Lodge is the kind of boutique where adventures begin – the float plane that takes you there just confirming it. Its eight bedrooms ooze wilderness charm and a cosy sitting room is the perfect spot to unwind and digest the grizzly and black bear sightings of the day with your fellow guests. Dining is a self-professed ‘wilderness gourmet’ affair, which means only the freshest of locally sourced ingredients – if you’re a fish-lover, you’re in a for a treat. Plus it’s full board and comes with complimentary wine and beer at dinner. Who can argue with that?
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Bears. They’re one for the bucket-list, that’s for sure. A playful nature and furry faces with human-like, forward-facing eyes have long left us fascinated by the elusive creatures – take a look at our blogs to find out more about why bears have captured our hearts.
With 60% of the world’s entire bear population calling western Canada home, a trip here wouldn’t be complete without ticking a meet-and-greet off your bucket list.
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