Great Bear Lodge lies deep in the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia; an area twice the size of the Serengeti and home to grizzly bears, after which it is named. The 'Great Bear', or grizzly, is very much the focus - with two daily outings to see them foraging, hunting, breeding or feeding up prior to hibernation, depending on the season. The lodge itself is small and intimate, with just nine en-suite rooms, a cosy lounge, communal dining area and outdoor deck perfect for taking in the landscape over a coffee.
There are specially-built hides along the river, allowing visitors to get up-close to the bears while under cover, providing the opportunity to see them behaving naturally. Though grizzlies are the main attraction, the Great Bear Rainforest shelters literally hundreds of species, including an array of birdlife - especially magnificent in spring - as well as marine wildlife to include whales, dolphin, seals, sea-lions and otters. There are also a number of larger mammals including black bears, Pacific grey wolves and specially-adapted rainforest wolves that often swim for miles each day, catch salmon and feeding on beached whales and seals.
One of the most wonderful things about staying at Great Bear is returning to delicious home-cooked meals in the warmth of the lodge after days out exploring the wilderness. River-fresh, marinated salmon cooked on hot cedar was our absolute favourite, but the roasted squash and ginger soup with Florentine muffins was a close second and the chef is happy to photocopy recipes for guests to take home.
- Bear excursions with a professional guide and wildlife biologist: in spring outings tend to be by boat as the bears gather in the estuary grazing and displaying mating behaviour; in summer, the bears are more active - and elusive! When they are seen, it is normally gorging on berries; in autumn they congregate at the river for salmon season and guests watch from the hides.
- Birding - especially excellent in spring. There are hundreds of species including bald eagles, rare geese, northern pintail, blue and green-winged teals, gadwall, surf scoter, greater scaup, and owls.
- Boat and walking excursions. Rare but sometimes seen species, in addition to commonly sighted bears, seals and deer, include: wolves, orca, Pacific white-sided dolphin, weasels, sealions, marmots and mountain lions.
- Stargazing the incredible British Columbia night sky.
- Relaxing with a book from the extensive library.
PRE AND POST SUGGESTIONS
- Start with at least two nights in Vancouver to get over your jet lag and enjoy the vibrant city with its wonderful outdoor lifestyle.
- Wherever you go after Great Bear Lodge, you are likely to need to spend a night in Port Hardy due to timings. The best accommodation here is The Quarterdeck Inn which is a 5 minute walk from the seaplane jetty and a 10 minute walk into the centre of Port Hardy. Accommodation is spacious, clean and simple with a pub serving traditional pub grub on the property.
- After Great Bear Lodge, Nimmo Bay would make a wonderful finish and four nights in luxury here would allow you to enjoy some incredible heli fishing, paddle boarding, ocean kayaking and Great Bear Rainforest hiking.