Bear-viewing Tour Overview

A Eco-Cultural Wildlife Tour with Spirit Bear Lodge is a Unique Experience

Each day we travel by boat into the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest from our base at the Spirit Bear Lodge in Klemtu, BC. Our guides lead guests in search of Spirit bears, grizzlies, eagles and a host of other wildlife.

Tourism boatOur tours depart from Vancouver International Airport's South Terminal on a daily basis from June 1st to October 10th for packages ranging in length from 4 - 7 days.

Our guides have an intimate knowledge of the behaviour and movement patterns of the bears and will often situate guests under the forest canopy or on a rocky outcropping to get intimate and special eye-level viewing and photographic opportunities as the bears forage for roots, berries or feast on salmon. Depending on our location we may also board small skiffs and propel silently under oar or by small outboard motor up a river or into the braided channels of an estuary to view bears.

Anyone over the age of 11 years old who is active and mobile is suitable for our tours. It is truly an exhilarating and unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience to be in the company of wild grizzly bears whilst taking advantage of the experience and judgment of our seasoned bear guides.

When Should You Come?

Each month has a different seasonal feel and attraction.

June is Spring in the Great Bear Rainforest. Sedge grass, the main early season protein food source for the Grizzly Bears, is abundant at this time. The deep green sedge grass dotted with wildflowers is a big favourite of photographers. Grizzly mums with cubs in tow or sub-adults will often seek out the outer fringes of the big coastal estuaries to feed on the grass un-disturbed by the larger males who may still be working their way down from the upper alpine meadows and avalanche chutes. Seeing a grizzly mum frolic with young cubs in the early Spring air is a breathtaking sight. Humpbacks are also a relatively common sight as they forage the shore for krill, herring and mackerel. We will see Humpbacks frequently right through until we close in October.

July is very similar to June and is also the month when we typically receive the best weather – warmest days and most sunshine. The grizzlies will be moving between the estuaries for sedge and the forest for berries. Later in July, we will also see the beginning of the salmon spawning season in our outer coastal rivers where black bears will begin to appear in greater numbers.

August is when the bears begin to sniff the beginning of the great salmon feast. Salmon begin to school in greater numbers at the entrances to the rivers waiting for that perfect combination of mysterious factors that cue them to swim up river and spawn. Bears begin to congregate near the river mouth of many systems. By mid to late August, the spawning has begun in the inner coastal rivers. Although Spirit Bears can be seen anytime after they emerge from their dens in early Spring, August is when we typically get our first good sightings.

By September, the salmon spawn is in full swing and grizzly bears, black bears and Spirit Bears will all be vying for the best fishing opportunities. We often see our bear numbers begin to spike upwards as the bears all begin the hyperphagia phase of their life cycle – that is, feeding almost continuously.

October often brings another spike in bear numbers. Bear numbers are at their peak as spawned-out salmon are being pushed back down to the river mouth, making the fishing easier. Bears are keen to pack on the last bit of fat before winter denning so activity can be feverish. While bear viewing can be excellent in October, this month also often brings with it the beginning of the seasonal rains that gives the Great Bear Rainforest part of its well-earned name.

In short, the grizzly bears are active from early June to mid October as the bears move from early foraging for roots in the Spring to savouring wild berries in the Summer before moving on to the great Fall feast during salmon spawning.

Guests who are intent on viewing the elusive Spirit Bear are strongly suggested to consider a minimum SBL5 package or longer and to consider coming in August, September or October. While our guests who choose the SBL4 night packages and who come earlier in the season may well see the Spirit Bear, this creature is elusive and shy and generally those who stay for longer – on the 5, 6 or 7 day packages – are more likely to get rewarded with the moving experience of seeing the bear known as moskgm'ol.

Although these are wild animals and we can never guarantee Spirit Bear sightings, Spirit Bear Lodge guests will benefit from the experience of local First Nations skippers and guides who work closely with the Coastal Guardian Network of ‘watchmen’ in the region who all communicate with each other to maximize viewing opportunities. We also utilize an extensive network of remote, infra-red trail cameras to assist in targeting specific river systems for viewing and research.

Of course, in addition to bear viewing, our guests will have the opportunity to visit culturally significant sites including our spectacular Big House and learn about the First Nations culture that has flourished in this area for thousands of years.
Spirit Bear Lodge is proud to be certified by the Aboriginal Tourism Association of BC as an Authentic Aboriginal® tourism product. The Aboriginal Tourism Association of BC evaluates programs on a variety of criteria including operating standards and cultural content. The Authentic Aboriginal designation recognizes Aboriginal owned tourism programs that have made the commitment to excellence, quality, safety, hospitality and cultural integrity.

Spirit Bear Lodge was recognized in 2011 by the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) as a 'Signature Experience'. The CTC created the Canadian Signature Experiences to identify tourism businesses that will be used to "show the world what Canada is all about." Using the authorized CTC Signature Collection logo, we are proud to display our membership in this elite group of tourism businesses .

Please note that all guests will be required to sign a waiver document before embarking on any of our tours. This document can be viewed in advance here.

Download a colour brochure about Spirit Bear Lodge in PDF