Vancouver Island

Featuring Grizzlies, Whales and First Nations

Tour Highlights

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

We fly to Victoria, and upon arrival transfer to our hotel. This afternoon join in on the Program Orientation discussion. Our Welcome Dinner is this evening.
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 and other marine birds, porpoises and even orcas!
As we head north we’ll make a stop at Goldstream Park, then we continue on to the quaint fishing village of Cowichan Bay, and learn about the life cycle of salmon and marine habitat preservation. We’ll have free time for lunch in the quaint town of Chemainus and from there 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.
We travel to Terrace Beach to join a local naturalist who will lead us on a walk along The Wild Pacific Trail, where we’ll learn about the region’s unique flora and fauna. 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.
Abundant to the West Coast of Vancouver Island, the Black Bear makes its presence known when the tides are low. They roam the shores in search of their favourite delicacy, the Rock Crab. Cruising through these scenic passageways allows for many opportunities to view other wildlife like herons, eagles, harbour seals and porpoises in their natural habitat. All the while the crew will entertain you with interesting facts about wildlife and the surrounding area. After our cruise we’ll travel to the east side of Vancouver Island and the city of Courtenay - our base for the next 3 nights. Dinner is at a local restaurant.
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. A packed lunch and snacks are available on the vessel. 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 viewing en route could include Orca, Humpback, dolphin, 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 historical lands. They will shuttle us by minibus to a series of viewing areas that are strategically placed throughout the salmon spawning grounds, where Grizzlies are fishing and feeding. The bears can come within 10 feet of our platforms, providing once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunities. Later a Chinese Smorgasborg dinner is included.
We visit Deep Bay Marine Research Station where we learn more about Marine biology and ecosystems. After lunch at a local restaurant 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 guide will discuss her culture and how her people have maintained a highly sophisticated society that has 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.
We continue to Errington and visit the Wildlife Recovery Station. This non-profit, volunteer facility provides care 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 its on to Cathedral Grove - an old growth forest of Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar, Western Hemlock, Broadleaf Maple and Balsam Fir. Some trees are estimated to be 800-years-old.
As we head south to Victoria we’ll once again stop in Chemainus, which once boasted the largest enclosed sawmill in North America. Now the town is known for its beautiful murals. Then it’s a stop in the town of Duncan, famous for its Totems, before returning to Victoria. Our Farewell Dinner is this evening.
We fly home from Victoria.

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