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Quest for the Spirit Bear

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Kermode or Spirit Bear Kermode or Spirit Bear Randy Green

Priced from $5,575 CAD   Days: 8-9

We are offering three ways to see the shores of the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia in 2018 on our Quest for the Spirit Bear. This is a richly biodiverse region that is home to black bears, grizzly bears, Orca whales, humpback whales, eagles, ravens, wolves, salmon, beavers, deer, and wolverines.  It is also the only place on Earth where the elusive Spirit Bear lives. The Spirit Bear, or Kermode, is a black bear with a rare genetic mutation that makes its fur translucent white.  The local First Nations people of the region, who serve as guides on this trip, consider the Spirit Bear to be sacred.  One of the Tsimshians' myths says that "Raven made one in every ten bears white to remind the people of the time when glaciers covered this land."

Check out our Spirit Bear Lodge of the Great Bear Rainforest tour!

On this truly unique 8 - 9 day trip, we explore the inlets, bays, estuaries and old-growth forest aboard a 68' ketch or the new motor yacht MV Island Solitude 82', as well as by kayak and on foot. Our knowledgeable captain and local guides will take us to the areas where we are most likely to spot wildlife, including the Spirit Bear. 

We hike the cathedral-like old growth forest, where trees are so large it takes sixteen people to encircle their trunks. We kayak in the crystal clear waters full of huge star fish, we float along the largest kelp forests in the world, we duck under water falls from glaciers, and we spot ancient First Nations carvings tucked into the trees along the shore.  We visit a bear stand inland at the mouth of a river, where we have opportunities for some of the best wildlife photography in the world.

Aboard our sailboat, whales often follow our boat playfully.  "I have looked into the blow hole of a humpback," says International Wildlife Adventures Director Susie Green.  "This trip is so moving it makes grown men sob in awe and wonder."

Read Susie Green's blog of her recent Spirit Bear cruise

See pictures from other travelers:  Spirit Bear trip pictures 


 

 

  • Itinerary
  • Date - Rates
  • Lodging
  • Map
Itinerary:
Special: book by Dec. 15, 2017 for 2018 and receive $100 off. Book now -- limited space--almost sold out. 

Sample itineraries only and subject to change due to weather and animal sightings.


#1: Northern Great Bear Explorer on SV Island Odyssey Aug. 28-Sept. 5, 2018

Day 0, Aug. 27, 2018: Arrive Prince Rupert, BC.

Arrive Prince Rupert, BC on your own. The hotel is not included but we are happy to book a room for you. O/N Prince Rupert.

 Day 1, Aug. 28, 2018: Board the boat

Meet the boat at the top of the dock of the Cow Bay Marina in Prince Rupert. After meeting the boat’s crew, cabin assignments, and a safety orientation we will depart Prince Rupert harbour for the beauty of Portland Inlet.

Days 2 - 4, Aug. 29-31: Khutzeymateen and the Inner Waters

We’ll spend at least two days in the Khutzeymateen Inlet area. At its head is Khutzeymateen Provincial Park, also known as Khutzeymateen Grizzly Sanctuary, which adjoins the more recently declared Conservancy lands along the inlet’s length. These landscapes are collectively among the most beautiful and inspiring anywhere! It is along these shores that we will look for grizzly bears as they forage for salmon, which will begin spawning at this time of year. After anchoring, we’ll proceed by zodiac as we take care to spot the bears. The bear population here is not hunted and the bears display a general indifference to our presence. Still, we will maintain a respectful distance that allows them to engage in their natural behaviors. 

There will be time to explore the protected waters using sea kayaks that we carry onboard. Evenings after we anchor, or mornings before we set off will be the best times to enjoy the calm waters and solitude of the fantastic landscapes watching sun rises and sunsets.

Days 5 - 8, Sept. 1-4:  Douglas Channel and Princess Royal Island

We depart the Khutzeymateen area and transit the Grenville Channel towards the mouth of the Douglas Channel near Princess Royal Island – the best area for sighting the rare Spirit or Kermode Bears. These bears are actually Black Bears, but the high frequency of a recessive gene in the population makes about ten percent of the bears in this area all-white. 

While visiting creeks and river estuaries we keep an eye out along the shore looking for the elusive Spirit Bear as we spend time here over the next four days. We’ll enlist the assistance of local Tsimshian guides who will take us to their favorite bear viewing areas. In Whale Channel we may expect to see humpback whales and will take the time to observe these amazing creatures. Often, we see whales in the vicinity of Bishop Bay hot springs, where we may have the opportunity to take a dip! 

On our daily shore excursions, with a good low tide, we may explore the shoreline for different species of colourful sea stars, anemone, and algae. 

Day 9, Sept. 5 - Trip Finish - Kitimat/ Terrace

We will arrive in Kitimat by mid morning. A Kalum Kabs shuttle will transport you and your luggage to the Terrace airport. The travel time to the airport is approximately 1 hour.


#2: Quest for the Spirit Bear on SV Odyssey Sept. 22-29, 2018 

Day 0, Sept. 21, 2018: Arrive Terrace, BC

Arrive Terrace, BC on your own. The hotel is not included but we are happy to book a room for you. O/N Terrace, BC.

Day 1, Sept. 22, 2018: Board SV Odyssey

You will meet the group and shuttle at a confirmed location in the morning making our way to the MK Bay Marina in Kitimat to board the vessel. Once at the MK Bay Marina you will board, cabins will be assigned with a brief introduction and safety orientation before we will set sail for the Great Bear Rainforest. 

There will be time to explore the protected waters using our sea-kayaks whenever we are at anchor.

Days 2 - 7, Sept. 23-28: On board exploring the Great Bear Rainforest!

Over the next 5 days, we will travel down Douglas Channel keeping a watchful eye on the shoreline for bears and wolves. In the Central Coast, we will continue through Campania Sound and Whale Channel - excellent areas for spotting humpback whales and Steller sea lions. We may go ashore in the Gitga’at (Princess Royal Island) Conservancy and sail over to enjoy a relaxing dip in the Bishop Bay hot springs. 

We will spend a day with our Gitga’at First Nations guides taking us to their favorite bear viewing areas. With a little patience we hope to be lucky enough to see grizzlies, black bears and the elusive, all-white Spirit Bear! These bears are actually black bears expressing a genetic variation resulting in about ten percent of the area’s population being all white. 

We will voyage deep into the coastal mountains to explore the Fiordland Conservancy Area. Beneath towering rock bluffs and waterfalls, we will search remote estuaries with the expectation of seeing grizzly bears feeding on spawning salmon. We often visit the First Nation’s village of Klemtu to see their ceremonial Big House.

Day 8, Sept. 29: Trip Finish - Bella Bella

We will arrive at the Bella Bella Municipal Dock before noon in time to catch the afternoon Pacific Coastal flight to Vancouver, BC. 


#3: Quest for Spirit Bear on Island Solitude October 5-12, 2018

Day 0, Oct. 4, 2018: Arrive Terrace
Arrive Terrace on your own. The hotel is not included, but I am happy to book it for you. O/N Terrace

Day 1, October 5, 2018: board MV/ Island Solitude 

Upon boarding, cabins will be assigned followed by a brief introduction and safety orientation.  We will set sail for the Great Bear Rainforest where each night we anchor in a different, secluded anchorage. There will be time to explore the protected waters using sea-kayaks. 

Days 2 - 3, Oct. 6-7:  Douglas Channel

Over the next two days we will explore the Douglas Channel keeping eyes open for humpback whales.  We are fortunate to spend the days with local Gitga’at First Nations guides who will take us to their favorite wildlife viewing areas where we will get one of our best chances to spot the elusive Spirit Bear. We will have the opportunity to visit the coastal Gitga’at village of Hartley Bay, accessible only by water, for an introduction to the culture of the Gitga’at people and how they depend on the ocean in their daily lives.

Days 4 - 7, Oct. 8-11: Princess Royal Island

We travel along the shore of Princess Royal Island – the best known area for seeing the rare Spirit or Kermode bear. These bears are black bears expressing a genetic variation that results in about ten percent of the population in this area being all white. We will visit creeks and river estuaries and keep an eye out along the shore as we travel. Khutze Inlet has a beautiful river valley, an abundance of birdlife and we may see bears along the shore. 

We will voyage deep into the coastal mountains to explore the Fiordland Conservancy Area. Beneath towering rock bluffs and waterfalls, we will search remote estuaries with the expectation of seeing grizzly bears feeding on spawning salmon. We often visit a local First Nation’s village - either Klemtu or Hartley Bay to see their new ceremonial Big House. 

On our return, as we approach the waters of Milbanke Sound keep watch for sea otters. These mammals were decimated in the early 20th century by over hunting for their luxurious pelts. With the nuclear testing at Amchitka between 1968 and 1972, 89 sea otters were transplanted to Vancouver Island. Some found their way to the central coast and it is here you will spot them in the kelp beds wrapped in the leaves of kelp to anchor themselves against the currents.

Day 8, Oct. 12: Back to Bella Bella 

We will arrive back in Bella Bella before noon in time to catch the Pacific Coastal flight departing in the afternoon. 

*Please contact our office prior to booking your airline tickets as this is a sample itinerary and is subject to change.

Date - Rates:
Special: book by Dec. 15, 2017 for 2018 and receive $100 off. 
Book now for 2018--(limited space--almost sold out). 

Dates/Rates:

#1. Northern Great Bear Explorer: August 28-Sept. 6, 2018 on SV Island Odyssey 

Price: $5,820 CAD per person based on double occupancy, plus $100 sustainiblity fee and taxes of 5%. Rate will be converted to USD at time of booking. There is no single berth on the boat.


#2. Quest for the Spirit Bear: September 22-29, 2018 on SV Island Odyssey

Price: $5,575 CAD per person based on double occupancy, plus $100 sustainiblity fee and taxes of 5% from Terrace, BC ending in Bella Bella, BC. Rate will be converted to USD at time of booking. There is no single berth on the boat. 


#3. Quest for the Spirit Bear: October 5-12, 2018 on MV Island Solitude (new ship)

Price: $6,970 per person CAD based on double occupancy, plus 5% GST from Bella Bella, BC plus $100 per person for sustainability fee. rates are in CAD and will be converted to USD at time of booking.There is no single berth on the boat.


Price includes lunch on Day 1 to breakfast on last day, the boat, all activities and guide services.

Not included: Air from Vancouver to start or ending destinations depending on itinerary, overnight hotel in starting destination depending on itinerary.

Registration: To confirm your space on this tour, please call our office (800-808-4492, US & Canada); a $600 deposit is required to confirm your space. Balance is due 90 days prior to departure.

Call: 800.808.4492 US and Canada or globally 575.524.0084.

The day-to-day itinerary is subject to weather and animal activity. The above itinerary is a sample only. Flight delays can happen due to weather and neither IWA nor the boat operator is responsible for any additional costs due to delays.

Cancellation Policy: In the event you must cancel your reservation, refunds will be made according to the following schedule: Deposit of $600 CAD is nonrefundable, unless space can be resold, in which case a $300 Service Charge will apply. 90 to 61 days prior to departure, 50% of total is nonrefundable; less than 60 days prior to departure, 100% nonrefundable.

Insurance: Because many advance logistical arrangements have been made prior to the running of this trip, we must adhere to the above policy. In light of this, we strongly recommend trip cancellation insurance. A quote will be sent to you upon request. We offer Travel Guard. 


To book this trip, call:
800.808.4492 (US & Canada);
575.524.0084 (Worldwide)

Lodging:

GreenSusie Canada CABC 0918web600

 

Island Odyssey deckplan

Map:

spirit-bear-map

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"We had an amazing trip, probably the best we have ever done...We had marvelous viewing of the spirit bear, in sunshine, on the second day of viewing and a wonderful close encounter with a rather large black bear...The boat and crew were amazing, so much better than another company that was touring about the same area. Sensational!"

Contact us

800.808.4492
(US & Canada)
575.524.0084
(Worldwide)

 or


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