Spirit Bear Lodge, Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia
State capital: Vancouver Population: 4,648,055 Language: English, French and native languages, including those of the Kitasoo/xai’xais peoples Time: GMT-7 Visas: UK citizens need an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA; canada.ca/eta) to enter Canada by air. It costs CA$7 (£4) per person. Money: Canadian dollar, currently CA$1.71 to the UK£
When to go
June: Grizzly bears with cubs emerge from their dens. Other wildlife, including humpback whales, are active.
July: The best weather. Grizzlies are still often seen on the sedge grass. Black bears become more visible by the end of the month. Mid-august to mid-october: Salmon are in the rivers, which means you have the best chance of seeing spirit and other bears, but sightings aren’t guaranteed.
Health & safety
There are no particular health hazards, but do as your guide says in areas where there may be bears.
The author travelled with Discover
the World (discover-the-world.co.uk; 01737 218 802). A similar trip costs from £2,285pp (based on two sharing), including return flights from Vancouver to Bella Bella and four nights at Spirit Bear Lodge on a full-board basis with excursions, guides, local transfers and two nights in Vancouver. Departures are from June to September 2019, with early booking recommended. The longer Ultimate Pacific Coast
Experience, exploring the wild coastal landscapes of Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast as well as Whistler, costs from £3,408pp. Discover the World offers all airline options to Canada, with prices in June 2019 starting from around £389pp for a return flight.
Nearest airport Bella Bella is served by Pacific Coastal Airlines from Vancouver South Terminal. The lodge runs a boat transfer service. Many airlines fly from the UK to Vancouver.
Spirit Bear Lodge
The lodge is situated in Klemtu on Swindle Island (www.spiritbear.com). It is owned by the Kitasoo/xai’xais nation and over half the staff are from the community.
For good wildlife viewing, it is advisable to spend at least three
nights at the lodge – four or five are even better. Excursions last all day and are by boat, but shore landings and forays are made by RIB. Kayaking, hiking and cultural activities are available, too.
Further reading & information
https://greatbearrainforest.gov.bc.ca – the official site for the Great Bear Rainforest www.explore-canada.co.uk – Destination Canada’s site www.smithsonian.com – has a good 2015 article about the threats to the Great Bear Rainforest