When it comes to authentic, one of a kind wildlife adventures, there are few places on planet Earth that can rival British Columbia. This area of Canada is famed for its diverse range of species, providing visitors with the chance to experience unforgettable animal encounters.
From waters that are packed with marine life to mountain ranges and rivers that come alive with the sound of birdsong or the sight of bears fishing for their lunch, British Columbia is a heavenly haven for wildlife enthusiasts. When planning a trip across the Atlantic, there’s nothing more exciting than taking a look at excursions in the wilderness and trying to maximise the chances of seeing North America’s native wildlife populations in all their glory.
Read on to learn about some of British Columbia’s most fascinating wildlife and then we’ll reveal our top three wildlife tours in British Columbia.
Wildlife Tours in Canada: British Columbia
Some of the planet’s most fascinating animals are found in British Columbia, making it a global delight for getting up close and personal with impressive creatures in their natural habitat. As far as wildlife tours in Canada go, many of the most iconic Canadian favourites can be discovered here. For those who have dreamt of photographing a grizzly bear or watching a grey whale breach, it’s difficult to imagine a more perfect destination than this Canadian jewel. And stunningly, this is a state with everything to offer, from majestic marine mammals on the coasts to bears in the woods.
Whale watching in British Columbia is a very popular activity; a prime destination for those keen to witness the wonders of these enormous ocean dwellers in action. The waters in BC come alive between April and the end of October. Orcas tend to gather here between June and September, while grey whales and humpbacks can be spotted in the spring and autumn months.
Despite the world class whale watching, for many, the main attraction in British Columbia is the bear population. This part of Canada is home to both black and grizzly bears. The Great Bear Rainforest, which stretches from the north of Vancouver Island to the Alaskan border, is a prime location for grizzly and black bear viewings, whilst black bears can also be seen on other parts of Vancouver Island and at Liard River Hot Springs. In the summer, elusive, mysterious white bears – which are known as spirit bears – can be found on Princess Royal Island. The Great Bear Rainforest is also home to wolves and cougars, and it’s worth monitoring the skies above for bald eagles on the hunt for prey as the wildlife diversity in this area is impressive.
Whales, eagles and bears will likely steal the headlines but British Columbia has a large wildlife population to see on any trip you choose in the area. Stay on the lookout for raccoons, marmots, beavers, great blue herons, lynx, bobcats, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, elk and moose. With so many options to choose for animal lovers, here are our 3 favourite wildlife experiences in British Columbia:
1. Whale Watching Day Tour from Victoria
For visitors staying in Victoria, there’s no better way to spend a day than heading out to sea in search of the giants of the ocean. Nestled on the tip of Vancouver Island, Victoria is ideally located to take full advantage of whale watching opportunities and the chances of seeing these majestic creatures cruising through the waters is highest from the beginning of spring to the middle of autumn. Depending on the season, it may be possible to spot minke whales, grey whales, orcas and humpbacks.
A whale watching day tour, which includes transport to and from the boat, provides visitors with access to a modern vessel, which offers comfort and stability. The boat is capable of achieving high speeds, making it ideally suited to spotting and following whales and porpoises as they glide effortlessly through the waves, sporadically shooting vapour into the air and flipping their tails playfully.
This coastal tour covers up to 80 kilometres and the crew includes experienced sailors in addition to a certified marine biologist who is on hand to provide in-depth information about British Columbia’s marine life species and to answer all your questions. The crew is well-versed in tracking whales and looking for out for signs that give away their positions. They also use high-tech gadgets and devices to increase the chances of a successful voyage.
Whale watching is an incredibly special and unique experience and this tour is designed to be as immersive as possible. As well as providing a commentary and offering information and nuggets of wisdom about whales, sea birds and porpoises, the in-house marine biologist will also make use of the boat’s hydrophone to bring your tour to life. With this technology, guests can hear the weird and wonderful sounds of the deep blue sea and enjoy another dimension to the excursion.
In total, the Victoria whale watching tour lasts for about three hours, enough time to provide a scenic tour of the inner harbour as well as an exploratory voyage of the open waters. Blankets and binoculars are provided and complimentary tea and coffee are available on board to warm the cockles whilst out on the waters.
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2. Great Bear Nature Tour
Many visitors choose British Columbia as a holiday destination due to its population of grizzly bears. There are few places that offer better bear watching opportunities than this corner of Canada. The Great Bear Nature Tour is a five-day experience, designed to connect wildlife enthusiasts with one of the world’s most distinctive and precious species. The itinerary takes travellers from the bustling city of Vancouver on a 70-minute flight to the charming town of Port Hardy, situated just a stone’s throw from the start of the bear trail.
On arrival, guests board a small plane, taking a short scenic flight over the Queen Charlotte Strait to access their accommodation, a floating lodge in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest. Guests will enjoy two bear viewing sessions per day in addition to excursions which are geared towards discovery of the local area and other wildlife species.
Morning and afternoon bear spotting sessions can be interspersed with hiking and rainforest walks and stargazing at night. Bears tend to be most active in the morning and late afternoons and the timetable takes this into account. Visitors will also have the chance to explore a number of different sites, looking for bears and hopefully, watching them undertake a range of different activities.
In addition to the enchanting bear viewing excursions, guests will also be able to take part in a sea kayaking trip or enjoy a boat cruise to marvel at the beauty of the estuary. As well as being home to grizzly bears, this area is also a haven for several other species, including black bears, otters, bald eagles and grey wolves.
After enjoying three nights at Great Bear Lodge, visitors will depart for Port Hardy and then transfer to Vancouver. Food, drinks and transport are all included in the price of your exciting Great Bear Nature Tour.
3. Whales and Wildlife Adventure Tour
The whales and wildlife tour offers a brilliant snapshot of the diversity of British Columbia’s wildlife. This four-day adventure excursion is a wildlife lover’s dream, providing incredible opportunities to see a host of Canada’s most high-profile inhabitants in a single trip.
The tour starts in Vancouver where guests will take a short flight to Campbell River followed by a bus trip and a water taxi to the beautiful location of Quadra Island. On the west coast of the island, visitors will find their accommodation for the trip, the rustic and welcoming April Point Resort. Here, rooms have spectacular sea views and visitors can swap morning alarms for the cry of bald eagles soaring above.
After enjoying a restful night’s sleep, guests will be invited to join a whale watching tour. As killer whales migrate to warmer waters, pods of up to 120 whales gather in the waters of Telegraph Cove and Robson Bight, making this a wondrous spot to see orcas in the wild. In the summer, the whales make for these areas in their droves, providing a truly incredible spectacle for those who happen to be in town at the time.
The next adventure is a wildlife spotting extravaganza that takes place in British Columbia’s famous Discovery Islands. The waters surrounding these tiny landmasses are packed with marine mammals, including seals, whales, dolphins and sea lions, and on land, it’s also possible to spot black bears.
Zip along the surface of the water on a Hurricane Zodiac, weaving through Discovery Passage and travelling to the remote Pacific Islands to reach the prime spots. Navigating the way through clear waterways and negotiating secluded coves and ice-carved inlets, guests will have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of awe-inspiring animals and birds in the skies, in the waters, and on land. This is a truly captivating tour, which showcases British Columbia’s wildlife and the breathtaking natural beauty of its painting-like scenery.
British Columbia provides a jaw-dropping backdrop for a wildlife adventure in Canada. Offering some of the most inspiring and memorable opportunities on the planet, this is the place to be for those keen to watch playful, powerful bears in the wild or spot giant tails emerging from undulating ocean waves. With a host of tours available, there are several ways to enjoy the best animal encounters on offer on your Canada holiday.