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Orcas and Grizzlies Tour with Air

5 Days

Length of trip: 5 days
Cost: $2995 per person (plus 5% GST)
Capacity: singles and couples
Dates: Open departures from June 15 to September 15, 2023

We take pride in accessing remote areas and this trip is no exception. This trip includes return air from Vancouver to Port Hardy and taxi fare to Port McNeill. Here, you take a 30 minute BC Ferry to Alert Bay – “Home of the Orca”. This remote village on Cormorant Island will be your launch point for a nine hour boat trip to view grizzly bears. Across Johnstone Strait lies the historic Telegraph Cove, from where your whale watching boat departs. A day is also set aside to explore the Village of Alert Bay, one of the friendliest villages on the North Island. Click here for more information about Alert Bay Lodge.

We are honored to live and work on the traditional, ancestral and unceded Kwakwaka’wakw territory of the Kwakkiutl, Mamalilikala and ‘Namgis nations.

Overview

5 Days, 4 Nights. Explore pristine waters and wilderness areas to see Orcas (“killer whales”) and grizzly bears off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island, Canada. This self-guided wildlife tour is designed to provide you with authentic wildlife and cultural experiences while staying on a remote island in the Northern Gulf Islands. This area sports sheltered waters and plentiful land and marine life, including the largest population of orcas in western North America. At the end of the Strait lies Knight Inlet, home to a thriving population of grizzly bears.

During the course of your three full days on Cormorant Island, one day will be occupied by whale watching and another day will focus on a grizzly bear viewing tour. We’ve set aside a third day to explore the Village of Alert Bay (pop. 1,200), one of the few remaining authentic coastal communities on the west coast of British Columbia. Day 1 and 5 are occupied by return transportation to Alert Bay from Vancouver or Victoria (included).

You’ll be treated with a high level of service at the waterfront inn and will also be afforded time to explore the colourful village that is Alert Bay. Overlooking Johnstone Strait, the log lodge offers panoramic views of sunsets, mountains, local marine traffic and sometimes pods of orcas. A large common room and sundeck are favourite places for guests to gather, converse and dine. From the lodge, Alert Bay Village is two kilometers along the ocean-front road. On the way, you’ll pass the ‘Namgis Burial Grounds. From the Village the U’mista Cultural Centre, Big Tree Trail and Ecological Gardens are short walks away.

Restrictions on our wildlife excursions include those 8 years of age or younger and women in their final tri-semester. Days 2,3,4 and interchangeable and activities such as the bear watching can be changed right up to the night before the tour due to weather, tour operator logistics and other unseen circumstances.

Itinerary

Day 1 - Alert Bay, BC :
Land on the North Island

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 as a foot passenger for a 35 minute voyage to Alert Bay, an island commuity with a thriving First Nations culture (please call 250.974.2410 to let us know what ferry you’re on). A lodge employee will meet you at the ferry terminal and escort you to the lodge. Please advise the manager what time you would like to take dinner.

Day 2 - Alert Bay, BC :
Explore Our Village

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. Hiking trails encircle the island, there are beautiful ocean views from nearly every home, and the eclectic, small-town feel make Alert Bay a jewel for year-round residents, vacation home owners and visitors.

Day 3 - Alert Bay, BC :
Grizzlies!

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.

Day 4 - Alert Bay, BC :
In search of whales and orcas

It’s time explore Johnstone Strait the Broughton Archipelago for whales and dolphins, areas home to some of the most spectacular marine wildlife viewing in Canada. On this excursion, you’ll also be able to explore the village of Telegraph Cove, once the northern terminus for the telegraph line from Campbell River and now a launch point for eco-tourism.

After breakfast we call your taxi and get you on the right ferry to Port McNeill. Your up-Island journey continues when you’re picked up by taxi at the Port McNeill Ferry Terminal and escorted to Port Hardy Airport. Here, you catch an afternoon scheduled flight to Vancouver, BC.

This wildlife package includes:

  • Accommodation for 4 nights in Alert Bay
  • 4 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 1 dinner
  • Arrival: Flight from YVR South Terminal to Port Hardy Airport
  • Taxi transfer from Port Hardy Airport to Port McNeill
  • Taxi transfer from Alert Bay Ferry terminal to Alert Bay Lodge
  • Grizzly Bear Tour -taxi transfer from Alert Bay Lodge to Government Wharf
  • Full day excursion to Telegraph Cove including 3.5-hour wildlife and orca/whalewatching marine tour and
  • return taxi transfer from Alert Bay Lodge to Ferry terminal and taxi transfer from Port McNeil to Telegraph Cove.
  • Departure: taxi from the Lodge to the Alert Bay ferry terminal and from Port McNeill Ferry Terminal to Port Hardy Airport
  • Full day excursion to Telegraph Cove including 3.5-hour wildlife and orca/whalewatching marine tour
  • 9-hour grizzly bear viewing marine tour
  • Admission ticket to U’mista Cultural Centre
  • 4 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 1 dinner.

This wildlife package does not include:

  • Single supplement of $720
  • Meals unless otherwise stated
  • Taxi from the U’mista Cultural Centre to the lodge (about 2.5 kilometers from the lodge)
  • Return Ferry Passage
  • Gratuities and 5% GST
  • Please note that guests prefer to walk along the ocean road after visiting the U'mista Cultural Centre and the Bear tour. The scenic walk takes one by the Village, the Chief’s Burial Grounds and homes along the water. Chances are you'll meet some locals along the way. Otherwise a taxi is between $8.00 and $10.00.
What are the odds of seeing wildlife?

Between the whale tour and the bear tour, you will see wildlife!

Beginning in July, we explore hidden habitats of grizzly bears in the spectacular X̱a̱ḵwika̱n (Thompson Sound), Hada (Bond Sound) or Glendale Cove. Other wildlife viewing opportunities include eagles, humpback whales, minke whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, Dahl’s Porpoises, seals, sea lions and wolves.

How do I pack?

As you’ll fly commercial air to Port Hardy, your luggage limitations are set. However, we recommend you travel light as you’ll be transferring from the Port Hardy Airport to a taxi and then as a foot passenger on the ferry to Alert Bay, followed by a taxi to the large.

Do you provide predeparture information?

Our package includes information on travelling responsibly, local social and environmental issues, the areas we visit, preparing for the tour and arriving in Alert Bay.

How do I dress for the Bear and Whale tours?

We recommend a daypack for your water bottle, camera, medication, binoculars and raingear. Please dress using the “layer method” – waterproof / windproof jacket on top, with a fleece liner over your shirt. Running shoes or hiking boots should have good grip soles. And don’t forget your Tilly!

What’s the population of Alert Bay?

Alert Bay has a population of about 1,200 comprised of the Village of Alert Bay, the ‘Namgis First Nation and Whe-la-la-u and Area Council. The island is accessible by a 35 minute ferry ride which departs six times as day from Port McNeill.

Is Alert Bay Touristy?

The natural beauty of the island has not been altered by large developments or crowds. Travellers can sea kayak, take a whale watching tour, explore the Island’s hiking trails, and rarely see other tourists. Most beaches are accessible by foot. The world-renowned Robson Bight Ecological Reserve, a favoured rubbing beach for killer whales, is just 30 minutes away by boat. Alert Bay is an ideal place to unwind and enjoy a place that appears to have stood still for half a century.

What time is check in?

Check in time is 3:00 pm and check out is 11:00 am. If you’d like to check in a little earlier, please call our managers at 250.974.2410.

What are the places to eat in Alert Bay?

Restaurants include the Bayside Grill, Gordies Restaurant, Duchess Bannock and Desserts and the Shop Rite Deli. Alert Bay Lodge’s waterfront restaurant accepts seatings by reservation.

How do I dress for the Bear and Whale tours?

We recommend a daypack for your water bottle, camera, medication, binoculars and raingear. Please dress using the “layer method” – waterproof / windproof jacket on top, with a fleece liner over your shirt. Running shoes or light hiking boots should have good grip soles. And don’t forget your Tilly!

How can I reach Alert Bay Lodge?

The lodge managers can be reached at 250.974.2410. Our emergency cell is 250.888.7936.

Alert Bay, BC

Overall Trip Rating:
5.0
- Based on 4 travel reviews
Excellent
4
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  1. Supremely well organised
    By Tracy C. January 25, 2023
    The whole tour could not be faulted, supremely well organised from start to finish. They even organised the bears to come and see us as well as the whales. If anybody wants to reconnect with nature, quietness and learn some Culture then I can’t recommend this highly enough. I left the Island a different person and couldn’t fault one part of this trip. I want to thank everybody involved in this Adventure because you are all Bloody Brilliant!”
    Date of Experience: September 10, 2018
  2. I was very lucky with both whale and bear sightings
    By B. Arn January 25, 2023
    “The whole trip went very well and I was very lucky with both whale and bear sightings. I would also like to mention Rich and Emma as they made my stay at the lodge excellent and were always available to help with any of my travel or trip arrangements.”
    Date of Experience: August 29, 2019
  3. Fantastic Alert Bay adventure!
    By Stephen C. January 25, 2023
    Fantastic Alert Bay adventure! Nina and Scott went out of their way to make our experience in Alert Bay special. We had a great trip up from Victoria with stops and stories along the way. Toured Alert Bay and learned a lot about the locals and the history of the area. Very special visits at the lodge from First Nation members who shared songs, lore and salmon preparation. A memorable experience!
    Date of Experience: September 09, 2019
  4. The whale and bear watching were completely awesome
    By Nick C. & Chris L. January 25, 2023
    “All the arrangements worked really well, the whale and bear watching were completely awesome (not a word I use often or lightly!). We loved Vancouver Island and Alert Bay, and we’d love to be back there again one day”
    Date of Experience: August 18, 2020

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Orcas and Grizzlies Tour with Air
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