Vancouver Island Featuring Grizzlies, Whales and Historical First Nations Sites

Vancouver Island Featuring Grizzlies, Whales and Historical First Nations Sites

The natural beauty of Vancouver Island must be seen to be believed!

It is ranked as one of the world’s best islands to visit by most travel publications, and has been designated Canada’s Number One Destination by Trip Advisor. From Victoria – BC’s historic capital, to the rugged wilderness around Tofino on the west coast, “The Island” as it’s known locally has one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems: rainforests, marshes, meadows, beaches, mountains, oceans, rivers and lakes. This diversity provides habitats for a huge variety of wildlife species, and so visitors to the island are assured of a wide range of opportunities to experience spectacular natural beauty and wildlife viewing. The beauty and tranquility of the island has also long been a draw for artists and artisans – there are countless art galleries, studios and shops selling unique, locally produced arts and crafts throughout the island.

A highlight of this tour will be our Grizzly Bear Watching Tour in a region known as the Great Bear Rainforest. Viewing these amazing animals up close in their natural habitat is an experience that you will never forget. This region is also one of the world’s premier locations for whale watching, as we will discover on our marine wildlife viewing adventure. There will be many more opportunities to enjoy a wide variety of wildlife viewing. A Naturalist will travel with us throughout the tour, and local guides will join us as well in order to provide more detailed insight.

Vancouver Island is also home to many resilient First Nations communities. We will visit some of these communities and learn about the natural and cultural traditions that have been passed down through the generations.

*** This tour is suitable only for the fit and active traveller.

Tentative Itinerary

Day 1: Victoria

We fly to Victoria and upon arrival transfer to our hotel. This afternoon there will be a Program Orientation discussion, followed by our Welcome Dinner.

Day 2: Victoria / Marine Wildlife Adventure

This morning we enjoy an informative talk about the wildlife and ecosystems found along BC’s southern coast, before embarking on a nature walk to Beacon Hill Park with a naturalist guide. After our included lunch we board a vessel for an exciting marine wildlife viewing adventure along the southern coast of Vancouver Island and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Keep your eyes peeled for possible sightings of seals, sea lions, eagles, porpoises and even orcas!

Day 3: Courtenay

We begin the day with a city tour of Victoria. Then continuing up the coast we stop at the quaint fishing village of Cowichan Bay, and learn about the life cycle of salmon and marine habitat preservation. Our next stop is the quaint town of Chemainus, once home to the largest enclosed sawmill in North America. It is now known for its beautiful murals, which we will see on our tour. We continue to Courtenay for our overnight.

Day 4: The Great Bear Rainforest / Courtenay

Today we set off in a comfortable marine vessel to see Grizzly Bears along the Orford River - home to one of BC’s largest concentration of Grizzlies. Our journey will take us through the exciting Seymour Narrows and the Hole in the Wall, past many scenic islands, with icefield capped mountains in the background. Wildlife viewings en route could include Humpback, Orca, dolphins, seals, sea lions, bald eagles, otter and mink. Once we reach the Orford River we are welcomed by our hosts, the Homalco First Nations, for whom these are the historical lands. They will shuttle us by minibus to a series of viewing areas strategically placed throughout the salmon spawning grounds, where the Grizzlies are fishing and feeding. The bears can come within 10 feet of our platforms, providing once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunities. We will stay at the river for about 3 hours, with a packed lunch and snacks available on our vessel.

Day 5: Courtenay

We visit the Deep Bay Marine Research Station where we learn more about Marine biology and ecosystems. After lunch at the field station we proceed to the town of Comox, home to a thriving First Nations community, and visit the traditional bighouse where feasts and potlatches are hosted. Our native guide will discuss her culture and how her people have maintained a highly sophisticated society that survived here for thousands of years without a written language. View the art displayed in totem poles, crest carvings, paintings and regalia. This is a unique and genuinely moving experience. Dinner is at a local restaurant.

Day 6: Tofino

We continue to Errington and visit the Wildlife Recover Station. This non-profit, volunteer facility provides care and medical attention to injured wildlife from all over Vancouver Island. After our visit we proceed to Coombs - a farmers market where goats live on the roof of the moss covered store. Then it’s on to the fabled town of Tofino on the wild west coast of the island. With its ancient rainforest, vast stretches of white sand and massive waves pounding in from the Pacific Ocean, Tofino boasts one of Canada’s most breathtaking locations.

Day 7: Tofino

We go to Terrace Beach to join a local naturalist for a presentation called “Living on the Edge: Where the Rainforest Meets the Sea”. The naturalist will lead us on a walk along The Wild Pacific Trail, and we’ll learn about the unique flora and fauna in this region. Whales are often spotted from this location as well. Later we’ll stop at the Kwistis Visitor Centre, which focuses on the natural and cultural heritage of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

Day 8: Port Alberni

This morning we visit the Ucluelet Aquarium and experience the amazing marine life that inhabits the waters of this area. Later we board one of the working vessels of the Lady Rose Marine Service for a 5-hour cruise from Ucluelet to Port Alberni. En route the skipper will give commentary on landmarks and wildlife to be found along the inlet. It is commong to see various whales such as orca, grey and humpback, as well as sea lions, seals, sea otters, bears and bald eagles.

Day 9: Victoria

We depart for Victoria, with our first stop at Cathedral Grove - an old growth forest home to a wide variety of plant species and wildlife. This forestland consists of Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar, Western Hemlock, Broadleaf Maple and Balsam Fir. Some trees are estimated to be 800 years old. We’ll stop in the town of Duncan, famous for its Totems, before arriving back in Victoria. This evening is our Farewell Dinner.

Day 10: Home

Air Canada takes us home.

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Cost per person: $5197
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