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Cruise the Great Bear Rainforest in search of bears, whales and wolves. The remote central coast of British Columbia holds a spectacularly scenic wilderness. Every fall Grizzly and Black Bears come down from the towering peaks and lush rainforests to feed on spawning salmon.
On this adventure we search for these bears, including the all white race of Black Bear called a Kermode or Spirit Bear. We also have a good chance of finding wolves, humpback whales and numerous migrating and resident birds, including large numbers of Bald Eagles.
Join us to experience nature as you have never seen it alongside ten-thousand-year-old native cultures and learn why the Great Bear Rainforest is one of the last gems on the Pacific Coast.
Day 0: Arrival day in TerraceDay 1: Embarkation and set sail Days 2-4: Douglas ChannelDays 5-6: Khutz inletDay 7: Princess Royal IslandDay 8: Kitimat and transfer to Terrace airport
Day 0: Terrace
To ensure that the group can set sail on time as there can sometime be unforeseen weather delays when travelling in coastal regions, we advise you to arrive in Terrace the day prior to the trip and spend the night at an accommodation of your choice. You can refer to the accommodation suggestions listed in this itinerary. Please note that we will be picking guests up from select hotels the next morning – see “Day 1” for locations.
Terrace has many remnants of its industrious past, such as the Heritage Park Museum, the “Old Bridge’ (National Historic Site of Canada), and the George Little House - the original founder of Terrace. You can view local art at the Terrace Art Gallery and purchase native art and gifts at the House of Sim-oi-Ghets. There are plenty of cafes, bars and restaurants to sit down and eat at as well.
Shuttle from select hotels in Terrace to the MK Bay Marina in Kitimat on Day 1 are included in your trip fees. Any transportation beyond this service is the responsibility of the guest.
Following breakfast, you will meet the rest of the group and shuttle driver from Kalum Kabs at one of the three properties for transport to the boat:
9:00am at Yellow Cedar Lodge 9:30am at Best Western Terrace Inn 9:45AM at Holiday Inn Express & Suites
Expect the transfer to MK Bay Marina in Kitimat to take about 50 minutes. Once at the Marina you will be met by a Crew member at the top of the ramp to the docks. Upon boarding the Island Odyssey, cabins will be assigned and following introductions and safety orientation we will set sail for the Great Bear Rainforest.
We will spend each evening in different and remote anchorages with wonderful views. During our daily shore or small boat excursions, our onboard naturalist will help identify different coastal plants, animals, birds and marine life. Interested participants can help keep a species list for the trip. There will be time to explore the protected waters using our stable sea-kayaks.
Heading south down Douglas Channel, keep your eyes trained on the shoreline for foraging bears while underway. We see a variety of birdlife throughout the region including bald eagles and the “trickster’ ravens. If weather and tides permit, a wander along remote beaches and wildlife trails will show evidence of bears and possibly wolves in the area.
As we explore the waters of southern Douglas Channel (Wright Sound, Squally Channel, and Whale Channel) – and at various other places along our journey – we expect to see humpback whales. We keep an eye out for large spouts and hope to witness very interesting behaviours like breaches, pectoral slaps, spy-hopping and possibly bubble-net feeding. We will take the time to observe these amazing, 15-metre-long creatures whenever the opportunity arises.
Fin whales have also been spotted more often in recent years and we hope to have luck in spotting these massive and speedy cetaceans. We also keep watch for other marine mammals like orca, porpoise, and Steller sea lions – an inquisitive species that are expert, deep-water predators who dine a variety of fish, octopus and halibut. If time permits, we will make a stop to visit local whale researchers to learn about their fascinating work.
We hope for a good wind in order to set the sails and enjoy the silence and serenity of nature. There may be an opportunity to visit Bishop Bay hot springs for a soothing soak.
We keep watch for bears and coastal wolves along the shoreline to Khutze Inlet. Its beautiful river valley provides a rich estuary and we hope for some good grizzly viewing at the water’s edge. Spawning salmon also attract a wide variety of sea birds, such as American dippers, Bonaparte gulls, common mergansers, and bald eagles.
As we travel along Princess Royal Island, we keep a close watch on the shoreline, since this is the best-known area for seeing the rare Spirit (also known as Kermode) bear. We are fortunate to spend a day with local Gitga’at First Nation guides, who will take us to their favourite bear viewing areas. With a little patience we hope to be lucky enough to see black bears and the elusive, all-white Spirit Bear fishing for salmon at a quiet spawning stream hidden in the forest. These white bears are actually black bears expressing a genetic variation resulting in about ten percent of the area’s population being all white.
We will arrive in Kitimat around noon. Travel time to the airport is approximately 1 hour. We will provide transportation for you and your luggage to the Terrace Airport for a mid/late-afternoon flight. Alternatively, you can decide to spend an extra day in Terrace and either depart on the evening flight or the next day.
Shuttle fees from the Kitimat Marina to the Terrace Airport at the end of the trip are included in your trip fees. Any transportation beyond this service is the responsibility of the guest.
• Black Bear, Grizzly Bear, Kermode (Spirit) Bear
• Bald Eagle
• Black Oystercatcher
• American Dipper
• Chestnut-backed Chickadee
• Humpback Whale
• Orca (Killer Whale)
Joining us in 2003, this 68' ketch, The Island Roamer is the sister-ship to 'Island Odyssey'. Originally built as a luxurious private yacht in 1984, she completed a major renovation in 2003 to update the cabins and all safety systems. She features 8 private cabins (double occupancy), 3 heads with hot showers and a comfortable salon with a natural history library. On deck, the large deckhouse provides a comfortable spot to watch for wildlife.
A certified Canadian Ministry of Transport passenger vessel, Island Roam has all of the safety equipment, electronic navigation aids, and features you would expect from a vessel of her standard. All of our cabins have adequate storage space for your bags, personal items and jackets. Coat hangers and life jackets are stowed in every cabin for your convenience. There is electricity in each room, so you can charge your camera batteries and enjoy a reading light in the evening.
We have 8 private cabins, based on double occupancy. At the time of booking, you may request a type of cabin you would like - single berths or if you and your travelling partner prefer, a double berth cabin. Single travellers do not have the choice of the double berth cabin. Specific room bookings are up to the crew once you have arrived onboard the vessel.
On our Great Bear Rainforest tour, as in all of our destinations, our itineraries remain flexible. This allows the crew to take time to enjoy wildlife sightings, spend more time at an ancient village site, or simply cater to the interests of the group.
Usually on the Pacific Coast we have a good variety of constantly changing weather. Expect a mixture of sunshine, rain and wind on most trips. You will require waterproof rain gear and rubberboots as most of our landings will be wet, where you will be stepping into the water and onto the beach.
We travel in protected areas most of the time. On many days of the summer this coast is like sailing on a lake - flat and calm. Sometimes we cross into open water for short periods of time where we may experience greater motion. If you are prone to motion sickness it is a good idea to bring sea sickness medication. Check with your doctor.
All of our meals are served buffet style. We can usually accommodate most special dietary concerns if we are given sufficient advance notice.Typical DayIn the morning, you might expect to have breakfast served around 8am. If you are an early riser there is always the opportunity for a morning kayak around the secluded bay we are anchored in. After the meal, a shore excursion will take place - Either to search for wildlife, look at intertidal zones, or go for a culture/nature hike. We will load into the zodiacs and take off to see what nature has in store for us. Bring your backpack, water bottle and camera! You never know what you will see on these outings.
We come back to the boat for a gourmet lunch served by one of our amazing chefs. At this time, the skipper might take us to our next destination, while we look for more wildlife along the shores, or try to find pods of whales. The crew will be explaining all the places we are passing and all the species that you might see flying, swimming, or walking near the vessel. If something is of interest we will stop or slow down to enjoy. We are never in any hurry. We travel to all of our destinations only when the weather and wildlife is consistently good - And our skippers are experts and finding exciting things to show you. A stop at an ancient village site is always a unique experience for our guests. After lunch, we might spend some time relaxing, while the crew puts up the sails and takes you through a passage or strait. This would be a good time to reflect in a journal or take a book from our extensive reading library. If we are lucky, you may see some Humpbacks frolicking in the waters around the boat. If this happens we turn off the engines and float silently among them - quite spectacular. Before dinner we might do a light hike to bear stands to view some grizzly or black bears feeding on the salmon, or enjoy an afternoon kayak. We serve dinner and then might go for a dip in some remote hotsprings along the coast, and then come back to the boat and enjoy some BC wine.
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