Special Moments at Farewell Harbour Lodge

Jean Brady

08 Nov 2018

NWS client Jean searches for the bears of British Columbia

What a way to arrive at the wonderful Farewell Harbour Lodge, on a boat, through beautiful scenery across the Queen Charlotte Strait via a pod of transient orcas with young! And then Berry Island and the lodge come into view, and we know we are going to love this place!

Our first afternoon in Canada is spent back out on the sea for an amazing afternoon of humpback whale watching, as they chase the herring balls and other fish for lunch. We are surrounded by these beautiful creatures! Then it’s back to the lodge for a glass of wine and our first beautiful sunset. The lodge itself is situated on the 10 acres of Berry Island and no-one else is here. It faces west and has the most amazing sunsets, as well as views of the beautiful Great Bear Rainforest scenery.

On the next day we head out by boat and our first sighting is a black bear, walking along the shoreline, turning over stones and eating crabs. Then we climb in a zodiac to get ashore at Port Neville for our first grizzly bear encounter. We wade through mud to the shore and search all morning, walking the bear trails through the forest, but there is no sign of those bears. Back to the zodiac to go up the river estuary and suddenly we see a pair of siblings grazing on the berries!

They are nervous and keep disappearing into the forest but we clamber ashore, follow them on foot and have several glimpses of them, before we head back to our boat and head home. What a great day, with our first grizzly bear sightings as well as seeing a black bear feeding on the shoreline. Can it get any better than this?

Well, yes it can! The next day we go by boat, through the fog, to Bond Inlet, a remote and beautiful place surrounded by mountains. It’s back on the zodiac to get ashore and we look around the inlet and find both wolf and bear footprints in the sand. We are standing on the riverbank watching the bald eagles soar above us when, suddenly, there is a grizzly crossing the river in front of us!

This grizzly isn’t shy and decides to fish for salmon nearby, as we kneel in the grass and watch for the next half hour. We are thrilled and then even more thrilled, but a little nervous, as the bear decides to stroll along just 5 metres in front of us, as we all crouch down in the grass to make ourselves look small! We recover from the excitement of this encounter and walk along the bear trails in the forest to a small cliff above the river. The sun is out, the salmon are swimming upstream and the scenery is stunning.

We sit for an hour and there are no more bear sightings, but decide to linger a little longer when, suddenly, the seabirds are disturbed by something further upstream. Strolling along the river appears a very large male grizzly! This truly is an amazing day and one which is life-enhancing. To be here, in this beautiful wilderness with these truly wild animals, is an experience we will never forget.

The rest of our trip to Vancouver Island is wonderful, but how can you beat encounters like this. We are so sad to leave Farewell Harbour Lodge, Tim and his amazing team of guides and lodge staff, and so wished we could stay longer. We will return for more bear encounters! Thank you Natural World Safaris for listening to what we love and tailor-making such an amazing trip for us.

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