Engage all your senses in a wild encounter with the grizzly residents of Bella Coola! Watch as grizzly bears catch and feast on salmon along the river, and wander across the lodge grounds. Drift by the river, or trek on foot through the Great Bear Rainforest with a knowledgeable guide to view these majestic creatures in the wild.
Day 1: Arrive at the Lodge
For those choosing to arrive by air, enjoy the short 70 minute scenic mid-morning flight from Vancouver International Airport’s South Terminal direct to Bella Coola. Marvel at the impressive Coast Range mountains and expansive fjord network as you fly overhead.
Upon arrival at the Bella Coola airport, you will be met by your guide for introductions. They will assist you with your bags before transferring you ~45 minutes to the lodge.
If you are arriving by car, we recommend arriving no earlier than 14:00. If you arrive early, enjoy a bite to eat in the main lodge or relax with a cocktail on the sun deck.
Upon arrival at the lodge, you will be given a detailed orientation of the the lodge, its amenities, and the wildlife viewing stand.
Check-in to your chalet is at 16:00. A three course dinner is served at 19:00 each night.
Day 2-4: Grizzly Bear Safari
Grizzly Bear Viewing River Drift
Gently float down the Atnarko River in the presence of Grizzly Bears. Observe them in their natural environment, foraging for food, and looking after their young. Starting in late August, thousands upon thousands of salmon arrive in the local rivers to spawn – the final phase of their lifecycle.
For the bears, salmon are an easy meal. Many bears, as well as other wildlife, congregate on the river to feast and fatten up before the long winter ahead. Due to the abundance of food, the bears are less shy than usual. They are also more tolerant of each other as well as of the people drifting by with their cameras. Along with bears, it is also possible to see a wide variety of birds and other wildlife with incredible mountain views as the backdrop.
Private Groups of less than 3 guests will drift in a Mckenzie Drift Boat. These boats have comfortable seating for up to 3 adults + 1 guide and gear. Small Groups of more than 3 will drift in an Inflatable Raft. These boats have comfortable seating for up to 6 adults + 1 guide and gear. Both boat types provide a stable platform from which to capture photographs. There is a total guest weight restriction (including gear)of 800 lbs (382 kgs) for McKenzie Drift Boats. This also applies to Inflatable Rafts later in the season in low water conditions.
Whether on a McKenzie Drift Boat or an Inflatable Raft, a trained wildlife guide will accompany you every step of the way to explain Grizzly Bear behaviour, to teach you about the history and geography of the area, to share interesting facts about the river habitat, and to keep you safe.
Grizzly Bear Ecology Walking Tour
In autumn, Tweedsmuir Park Lodge is all about bears and a highlight activity is to venture out on foot, with a guide, to discover these majestic animals in their natural habitat. Guests will learn about bear ecology and how to cohabitate safely amongst these magnificent creatures. Guides will take guests to some of the bears’ favourite hang outs and will point out signs of bear activity such as claw marks, day beds, scat, and tufts of fur stuck in the bark of rub trees. Other wildlife species that also inhabit the forest include black bears, mule deer, moose, American beaver, mountain goats, bald eagles and numerous amphibian species. The adjacent lands are also a significant habitat for Vaux’s swift, the Peregrine falcon, fisher, wolverine, and Townsend’s big-eared bat.
All tours are designed with safety in mind. It should be noted that the objective of these walks is not to see bears, but to find the telltale signs of their passing. In the event a bear is encountered, the guides are trained in reading and interpreting bear behaviour so that conflicts are avoided. Guests will be briefed on how to act in the wilderness to avoid startling a bear and how to react in case a bear is spotted. All of our guides also carry bear spray and are trained in how to deploy it safely. They also carry radios to communicate with the lodge in the case of an emergency.
Day 5: Explore the Great Bear Rainforest
Guided Hike in The Rainbow Range
The Rainbow Range hike is a 14 km round trip hike offering panoramic views of an eight-million-year-old peralkaline shield volcano. This hike has the advantage of starting at approximately 1400 metres of elevation. This allows guests to access trails above the treeline, in the open alpine, without first exhausting themselves climbing hundreds of feet/meters on a gnarly approach trail.
The day starts with a 45 minute drive up a switchbacking road affectionately referred to locally as simply “The Hill”. The elevation gain is 1400 metres up an escarpment separating the Bella Coola Valley from the Chilcotin Plateau.
The hiking trail begins by meandering through a burnt forest, then enters subalpine forests, winds past a couple of lakes, before topping out above tree line with views into the volcanic and multicolored peaks of the Rainbow Range. Highlights include abundant wildflowers, observing forest fire ecology, the option to go for a swim in the lake, the potential to spot marmot as well as wolf and moose tracks, and of course, the views from the top.
Day 6: Depart from the lodge
Enjoy one last peaceful morning in the forest and another delicious breakfast before saying goodbye to the Bella Coola Valley. After checking out at 11 am, you’ll transfer to the airport or ferry terminal for your return home.
Included day touring options include:
Contact us for more information and pricing!
You can request to book this tour privately, travelling only with people you know.