A bear adventure like no other

The Ultimate Bear Safari takes you to the best place in the world to see polar bears, grizzly bears an even the elusive spirit bears in the wild. Be in the right place at the right time to see bears in their natural habitat.
  • Destinations visited: Arctic Canada, Churchill (Canada), Svalbard, Alaska, Bella Coola (Canada), Great Bear Rainforest (Canada)
  • Duration: 45 days
  • Cost: from £45,000 including international and internal flights, transfers and all meals
  • Bear focus: polar bears, grizzly bears and spirit (Kermode) bears

6 destinations, 45 days, 3 bear species; this is the ultimate bear safari.

Leg 1: Polar bears in Arctic Canada

During the winter in the Arctic, the sea freezes over and the polar bears head out into the far north to hunt for their favourite meal, the ringed seal. As summer approaches, this ice begins to melt, bringing the polar bears closer to the land. This is when you head out. 

Camping right on the edge of the ice floe, technically out to sea, you head out each day with your local Inuit guides to track the polar bears and other Arctic wildlife on foot.

One day you might find yourself walking single file towards a bear, getting as close as you can without disturbing him, the next you’re snorkelling with the unicorns of the sea, after that, you may kayak on the peaceful water, breaking thin sheets of ice as you go.

Departing in June for the best wildlife sightings, the sun never dips below the horizon, days are long and full of adventure and may culminate in fresh Arctic char served directly on the ice flow, or a tasty barbecue right on the floe edge. Wildlife you may spot includes polar bears, narwhal, walrus, eider ducks, Arctic fox and kittiwakes. There will be plenty of time for unhurried photography of the icy landscapes and icebergs too.

The camp is set up each year a few kilometres away from the floe edge, as the season goes on the edge melts back getting closer to camp. Consisting of large tents and a communal area, the setup is comfortable and warm and snacks and drinks are available all day if you want them. Most of your time is spent exploring here and with 24 hour daylight, your often out until the early hours of the morning without realising it!

Leg 2: Polar bears at sea in Svalbard

From the Arctic floe edge north of Baffin Island, you make your way across the Arctic Circle to Svalbard to scour for polar bears and other Arctic wildlife via expedition ship. Boarding the wonderful M/S Malmo, sister ship to the M/S Stockholm, you have 9 days in the icy northern seas. Witness spectacular ice-filled fjords, towering bird cliffs and huge sea bird colonies. 

Hopefully you will see polar bears hunting along the edges of ice floes.

Excursions during your time in Svalbard are on zodiacs and on foot. Travelling on an expedition ship as small as the Malmo means you may be able to completely circumnavigate the archipelago, getting further north to the polar bears favourite hideouts, making you much more likely to see them, as well as other wildlife such as the Svalbard reindeer, Arctic fox and walrus.

The Malmo is an intimate ship with space for up to just 12 guests and 2 expedition leaders. Each cabin has its own porthole. The ship is fully ice-strengthened and refurbished and is ideal for exploring smaller fjords and getting further north than the larger ships. It definitely does not feel like an Arctic cruise ship, more like your own private boat.

Leg 3: Polar bears on land in churchill

Your next stop is the Hudson Bay coast, just south of the Arctic Circle. Arriving into Winnipeg, you take a night out to relax before an early departure to the town of Churchill where you enjoy a flight down to Seal River Heritage Lodge, your home for the next five nights. 

During the summer months, the Seal River Estuary area, often swathed in bright pink fireweed, is popular with polar bears and they often curiously approach the lodge for a sneaky peak.

Here you venture out each day, embarking on a whole range of activities, from marine tours to see beluga whales and sea birds, to trekking and walking, buggy explorations of the coast and swimming with whales. No matter which activity you choose, spotting bears is likely and your guide will always be on hand to ensure the proper distance between them and you is maintained.

There will also be wildlife photography workshops, presentations and lectures and the kayaks are free for you to use at any time of day for some relaxation. On your last day make sure you leave with your camera at the ready as you transfer back to Churchill by plane and enjoy some magnificent aerial views of the area. You then have an afternoon to explore Churchill and spend a night at a comfortable hotel before continuing on to the next leg of your trip, in Alaska to spot the magnificent grizzly bears!

This homely lodge is beautifully furnished, intimate and family run. Built in an authentic Canadian wilderness style, you will be treated like a member of the family as you stay in one of just 8 rooms. Here these is a viewing tower to bear spotting at all hours, lots of nature trails and great access to the bay for kayaking. Dogs are on the lookout for bears 24 hours a day so you won’t miss a sighting if you don’t want to and wolves are often spotted here too.

Leg 4: Kodiak Grizzlies in alaska

After a flight from Winnipeg to Anchorage, then on to Kodiak Island, you will be met by a local representative and have the rest of the day, as well as the next day to explore some of Kodiak; including Kodiak’s native and Russian heritage, as well as enjoying a private boat trip through rocky coves and coastal waters.

Kodiak Island is home to the world's largest grizzly bears, the Kodiak grizzlies.

After your short introduction to Kodiak, and Alaska, you board a floatplane to the stunning Kukak bay to meet your expedition ship, and home for the next four nights. The ship allows us to look for North America’s largest predators, the Kodiak grizzlies. The rivers bubble and froth as the spawning salmon make their way up the rivers, swiped from the shores by hungry grizzlies. Explore the incredible wilderness area by boat and even on foot as the grizzlies preoccupy themselves with eating, playing and foraging.

An intimate cruise ship with just 4 cabins, sleeping up to 8 guests at a time. This converted tug boat is excellent for cruising the coasts of Alaska, getting you close to the wildlife and natural wonders of this stunning area.

Leg 5: Grizzly bears in British Columbia

From the wild wilderness of Alaska, you fly north east to British Columbia and the Bella Coola Valley. Here you will spend a week staying at the luxurious, traditional style Tweedsmuir Park Lodge searching for grizzlies and enjoying a whole host of other activities.

Here you can track grizzlies, explore via bike or foot, go birding, fishing and much more.

During your time here, you can explore how you like; whether you want to venture to remote locations via helicopter, drift down salmon rich rivers watching for bears as they fill up for the winter or cruise along dramatic fjords. You can go flight-seeing, enjoy nature walks, try fishing or go birding, or even just enjoy sports in the gardens, from slack lines and archery to mountain biking and horse-back riding. The grizzly bear viewing here is phenomenal, with North America’s highest concentration of grizzly bears and a range of activities in which you can see them.

This family style accommodation is nestled into Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, within 60 acres of pristine wilderness. There are so many activities and so much wildlife here, it is impossible to list it. Enjoy your luxurious, traditional style cabins, soak in the hot tub and enjoy the spa, or head outside and experience what the valley has to offer, with grizzlies and black bears often coming as close as the lodge gardens! Tweedsmuir gives you an immersive experience in the world of the grizzlies, and provides a welcoming, and homely retreat from the Canadian wilds.

Leg 6: Spirit Bears in the Great Bear Rainforest

From Bella Coola, you transfer to the Great Bear Rainforest in the wild valleys of Canada's far western edge. The Great Bear Rainforest is home to some of the planet's oldest and tallest trees, cut through by salmons rich rivers. Here you board the Island Roamer for the last leg of your journey, to search for the white spirit bear, a legend among natives and mystical creature in its own right.

Spirit bears are animals of myth and legend, found only here in the Great Bear Rainforest.

During your time exploring one of the most at-risk parts of the natural world, you search for this unique subspecies on Princess Royal Island, as well as visiting the Kitasoo Spirit Bear Conservancy to learn more. Your guides know the best places to see these bears as they fish the rivers, sheltering in one of the most incredible habitats in the world. You can also see black bears and wolves, and even humpback whales on this magnificent journey. End your time here with a soak in the Bishop Bay Hot Springs and a float plane ride to Prince Rupert.

A unique, custom boat that has access to some of the most remote areas of the Great Bear Rainforest. There are just 8 cabins, keeping it intimate and the interior is stunning in its decor.

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