To travellers, Sandra and Nancy, contacted me this year independently of one another with a wish of seeing a spirit bear in BC. Also known as the Kermode bear, spirit bears are a subspecies of the American black bear, some of which are completely white. It is estimated that between 100 and 500 individuals live in the Central and North Coast regions of British Columbia.
As you can imagine, finding a white spirit bear is like searching for a needle in a haystack.
Enter our "Realm of the Spirit Bear - Expedition Cruise into the Great Bear Rain Forest". Nancy booked on one the departures in early September 2021. It had her sail into the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest, a world of steep-sided fjords, tranquil coves and inlets, islands and great river estuaries and above all: wildlife. As she cruised this beautiful coastline, she got to explore by zodiac and walk in rainforest and wildflower meadows with her on-board naturalist.
Nancy writes: "The Spirit Bear [pictured at left] came about 50 feet from us at the riverside shelter we'd hiked to. We saw one first full day out."
Grizzly bears, Spirit bears, Black bears and wolf packs have thrived here for millennia. Whales, sea lions, bald eagles, and other marine mammals and birds abound as well.
"The afternoon/evening before the last day we ended up in an area that had about 3-4 pods of whales, probably 8 or more in each pod and they kept on surfacing, diving, spouting. We stayed over an hour, maybe closer to 2 watching them."
Our expedition cruises along the BC coast is offered in three different comfort classes. At the lower cost end you would be sailing on a beautiful sailing ship sharing bunk accommodation on which solo travellers do not pay a single supplement. For those looking for more comfort, there is a choice of a classic tug boat or a luxury catamaran.
Sandra travelled on the tug boat later on in September. "I had a very comfortable cabin, with a desk. Everything was very good, excellent crew, excellent food - filet mignon with Gorgonzola, you name it. No shortage of food - cold and hot breakfasts, a snack mid-morning, a hot lunch, a snack at tea time and three-course dinner at 7 with wine and beer included."
The main course though was the wildlife. Says Sandra: "We did two landings every day, saw so many eagles and had plenty of excitement every day. We saw bears (grizzly and black) every day except for one. One day we were on a river on Gribbell Island where we walked with an indigenous guide into the forest and sat all day with bears who were fishing for salmon. We spent an hour with a Spirit Bear that day."
Sandra continues: "There was an abundance of humpback whales and we observed them bubble-net feeding so many times. And we saw tons of birds, seals and sea lions. If you are into nature, this trip is a real highlight."
Contact us soon if you are keen on booking this trip for the upcoming season. With people cashing in their pandemic credits, spots are selling out fast.
Grizzly bear and following photos courtesy of Sandra - find her on Instagram: @sandrahotrum