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Where to go in Canada

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Where to go in Canada

Many of the expeditions we feature start from the tiny frontier town of Churchill, where you can take to the tundra to view polar bears and beluga whales in some of the country’s most remote and rugged landscapes. Our expert guides voyage to areas such as Polar Bear Alley to put you in the heart of the King of the Arctic’s domain. Elsewhere, the Western reaches of Canada such as Tweedsmuir and Bella Bella offer similarly memorable wildlife encounters. Canada is world renowned for its rocky mountaineer train adventures, reputed ski resorts and relaxed outdoor lifestyle, but it is easy to forget that this is the world’s second largest country, and there is an incredible wealth of different parks and natural attractions to entice which we have listed below.

Bella Bella

Strategically located on the Inside Passage, 98 nautical miles north of Port Hardy and 78 nautical miles west of Vancouver, Bella Bella has become a major transportation hub for the Central Coast of British Columbia. Bella Bella has amalgamated from the Heiltsuk tribes that occupied numerous non-permanent villages in the winter and spring. When the European explorers arrived to the coast in the 18th Century, there were natives from numerous different cultural groups here, unable to establish permanent villages. These complex cultures all had their lust for a ‘rich spirit life’ in common - a theme that continues to this day and of the 1,450 (approx.) residents here, about 90% are Heiltsuk and 5% First Nations, the other 5% classed as non-First Nations. Most people simply travel through Bella Bella, making their way into the Canadian wild in search of wildlife and that sense of the undiscovered. From here you can access Eucott Bay Hot Springs, popular with boaters – great at the end of a coastal expedition. The first, or last, stop tends to be the Fjordland Conservancy, a 91,000 hectare area of complex coastline of inlets, bays, fjords and islands. Waterfalls dot sheer granite walls and mountains are covered in thick sitka spruce.

Bella Coola Valley

A dramatic land of sweeping green valleys and glacier topped mountains, this valley is a paradise for nature lovers and soft adventurers. Time your trip right and you could witness grizzly bears swiping salmon with their claws from spawning rivers, with hardly another person in sight. Within the central coast of British Columbia, this is not a typically renowned bear viewing location, so it is your chance to experience this fascinating and privileged spectacle before everyone else discovers it. Located in the remote reaches of North Vancouver, reaching Bella Coola is an adventure in itself - a one and a half hour internal flight across glaciated peaks. Bella Coola Valley has a population of about 2,000, and the town of Bella Coola within this is around 600-strong, right in the western section of the valley. The landscape is mountainous and rugged, cut through by clear rivers, fringed by green grass and pretty vegetation. The grizzly bears are the main attraction when it comes to wildlife, and the vast mountain ranges and dense forests make a good home for them. Near the end of the summer, late August to September, the bears make their way down salmon spawning rivers to fatten up in time for winter. Watch them snap up fish in the air and swipe them from the waters with finger-length talons. Mothers may care for their cubs on the banks and males play fight, seemingly just to kill time.


Disembarking in the small frontier town of Churchill can be a bit of a shock to the system. You struggle to take in the surrounding frozen wild west landscape, yet there is little to take in here, on the shores of Hudson Bay. This is the ‘polar bear capital of the world’ and your gateway to some of the most unforgettable and exciting moments in the natural world and combines perfectly with a trip to North America in search of bears. Around 1000AD the Thule people arrived here, later evolving into the Inuit culture that is still present and very evident today. Situated along Manitoba’s 1,400 kilometres of coastline, you are at the junction of three biomes; marine, boreal forest and tundra and the wildlife opportunities can, at times, be absolutely breathtaking. Staying out in the tundra in Tundra Lodge, you can live amidst the action and watch as mothers care for cubs and males forge friendships that will be forgotten as soon as it is hunting time. With ample observation decks, you will not miss the action, day or night, and bears are known to approach, intrigued by the train-like structure in their midst. Each day you will head out in tundra buggies, each person with their own window and each guide fully trained and equipped with walkie-talkies directing them to the wildlife.

Great Bear Rainforest

Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Coast Mountain Range on the west coast of British Columbia, the ancient Great Bear Rainforest is one of the largest tracts of temperate rainforest left in the world. At a massive 21 million acres, it stretches over 250 miles up the mainland coast of B.C. and fjords stretch all the way into the ice-capped Coastal Range. A remote land of archipelagos and 1000 year old cedars, its unique position has allowed it to stay relatively isolated from the rest of North America. Here the possibilities of adventure are limitless, with mist-shrouded valleys and tall waterfalls pouring down the granite walls of deep glacier-cut fjords and fertile river valleys mixed with old growth forests. The powerful, overwhelmingly green landscape sets the tone, with forests of spruce and cedar trees and the brackish waters and meadows, where land meets ocean, form fecund estuaries of prime importance to the wildlife of the area. It is home to many subspecies and unique populations such as the majestic and mythical white spirit bear. It is famed for the wonderful spirit bears who, despite their white colour, are of no relation to polar bears. They are more of a living contradiction: a white black bear, living exclusively in the rainforest and surrounding islands, especially Victoria Island. Their colour is thought to be due to a recessive gene which needs to be carried by both parents; however neither parent needs to actually be white to pass it on. You will sometimes see black-furred parents cowering over pasty and dirty vanilla-coloured cubs. They stand out on land against the dense emerald vegetation, yet are thought to be more successful at fishing, perhaps as their colour is less noticeable to the fish from under the surface. Spirit bears are also known as Kermode bears, named after Francis Kermode who was the first to research them.

Tweedsmuir Provincial Park

An area of vast changes in landscape, from colourful eroded lava domes and rugged coast mountains to alpine forests and deep ocean fjords, Tweedsmuir Park truly is backcountry. Famous for having one of the highest concentrations of grizzly bears in the world, the variation between climate and vegetation zones creates many habitats for wildlife and some stunning surrounding terrains. Named after John Buchan, Lord of Tweedsmuir, technically Tweedsmuir Provincial Park is split into North (475,000 hectares) and South (506,000 hectares), making a total area of 981,000 hectares of pristine wilderness, on the outskirts of the Bella Coola Valley. The north has very limited access via floatplane or hiking, however the south is cut by highway 20, so it is a little easier to access. This does not mean, however, that area is not as wild, and it is blessed with stunning meadows, hidden lakes and swift rivers, as well as high alpine regions and glaciated mountain ranges. There is also the Rainbow Range, a stunning mix of orange, red and yellow, formed by an enormous eroded lava dome and fragmented rock, where specific minerals were involved in the volcanic formation. Here you can find Hunlen Falls, the highest waterfall in Canada named after a Chilcotin Chief named ‘Hana-lin’ who used to fish below it. Tweedsmuir is well-known for its abundance of wildlife, attracted by the variation in vegetation on the wild salmon that spawns in the summer and autumn months. Not only is there one of the largest populations of grizzlies, but also black bears.

Vancouver Island

As one of the world’s most spectacular cities, Vancouver Island is a ‘must-see’ destination if you are travelling through British Columbia, Canada’s most westerly province. The Coast Mountains stand tall, raised 1,500 metres above the city, an area of outstanding opportunities for adventure and sophistication. Contrasting natural beauty with cosmopolitan styles, activities here range from climbing and caving to fine dining and galleries. The Coast Salish people lived here for thousands of years before Burrard Inlet was explored by Captain George Vancouver in 1792, now the shores of this picturesque city. Despite its beauty, it was not its image that attracted the Europeans, but the gold, and by 1858 it was flooded with prospectors. Vancouver may have been the first to explore the city, but ask a local and you’ll find the most famous pioneer was ‘Gassy Jack’ Deighton, the founder of the first saloon here in 1867. Split from north to south by the Beaufort Mountain Range, which is also Canada’s largest all natural ski base, it is home to one of the world’s most diverse eco-systems, with rainforests, marshes and meadows, as well as sandy beaches, river, mountains and lakes.

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