20 years ago, I cut my teeth as a Great Bear Rainforest bear guide running grizzly bear tours in coastal estuaries, and I can tell you that spring on the British Columbia coast is glorious. There is nothing like the sweet fragrance and vibrant greens of spring, mingled with birdsong, snow-capped mountains, and the sight of grizzly bears amidst all.
On this trip, we take you into the famed Khuzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary – Canada’s only official sanctuary for grizzly bears. The Kutzeymateen is the very best place in Canada for springtime grizzly bear viewing and photography.
Human activity has been carefully managed in this inlet for 30 years, so most bears are very accustomed to bear watchers and are generally very comfortable with people. This can lead to some very intimate encounters and wonderful photo opportunities.
During this tour, we will stay at Khutzeymateen Wilderness Lodge, a quaint floating lodge situated in a beautiful fjord. Just spending time in this place is worth the trip. The scenery is spectacular, the food is delicious and the photography opportunities are endless. Once you arrive, you won’t want to leave.
May 19-25, 2024
These are prime-season dates for the Khutzeymateen.
Prince Rupert, British Columbia
All bear viewing in the Khutzeymateen is by zodiac-type boats.
*Rather than typical tours at the lodge that have up to 10 guests in a boat, this special trip will have only 5-6 guests split between two 24-foot vessels, providing much more comfort and extra flexibility for photography.
$7690 +5% GST + $100 Conservation Fee
All prices in Canadian dollars
All accommodations, meals, guiding, and boat transportation to the Lodge from Prince Rupert.
Two 3-hour viewing and photography sessions per day, timed for the best light and tides.
Access to paddle boards and kayaks
Travel to Prince Rupert and meals/accommodation in Prince Rupert
Situated in the traditional territory of the Gits’ii First Nation, the Sanctuary was created in 1994, and was the first protected area in Canada designed specifically to protect grizzlies and the ecosystems that support them. Located in a spectacular glacial fjord with a vibrant estuary, multiple salmon streams, and flanked by old-growth temperate rainforest, an estimated 50-60 grizzly bears are known to depend on this special place. This represents one of the densest populations of grizzly bears in Canada. At 45,000 hectares, the Khutzeymateen truly is, as one author put it, the “fortress of the grizzly.”
As a biologist and guide, Tim has been leading adventures for people in the Great Bear Rainforest since 2002. He is a Level 3 guide with the Commercial Bear Viewing Association of BC. With his knowledge of coastal ecosystems and species, Tim strives to share his love of the rainforest with his guests to provide extraordinary experiences they will never forget.
WOW. I just want to go back to the Khuzeymateen … and into the hands of Mother Nature to watch the bears grazing, swimming, mating, fighting, chasing each other, and playing joyfully without worries. Bears just being bears. This truly incredible experience wouldn’t be possible without the help of our great guides, Tim, Jamie, Geren and Franco and of course the guy who overfilled our bellies, Chef Neil.
Another fantastic experience with Wildlife Journeys! We were immersed in the rainforest experience with Tim and the guides from the Khutz Lodge and came back with fabulous memories and images of bears and the lovely scenery.
Tim and the team did an amazing job from start to finish. The whole area is a picturesque, blissful sea of green trees, stunning water, and ethereal fog. Complete magic!
From our initial contact with Tim we have had super service. He provided quick & informative responses to any questions. Our initial meeting in person confirmed that Tim is a passionate person who would go the extra step to ensure that any need was met. A wonderful time had that will never be forgotten.
Thank you, Tim, for the opportunity to visit the magnificent Great Bear Rainforest and the magnificent creatures that live there. It was a life changing experience and one that I will cherish forever. You were the perfect host and teacher.
Tim’s knowledge and concern for our care was over the top! I highly recommend Tim’s trips and I know my husband is already planning for the next one!
Guests arrive in Prince Rupert and spend the night in a local hotel (Air Canada has one daily flight from Vancouver – flight #8089 at 13:15).
You will meet your water taxi at 7:30 am, in preparation for an hour-and-a-half trip to Khuzeymateen Wilderness Lodge. Upon arrival, you’ll get checked in, and get prepared to head out in the boat to search for bears and other wildlife.
After your morning session, you will return to the lodge for lunch and relaxation. In the afternoon, you’ll head back out on the water for our afternoon session, and then you’ll return to the lodge for a delicious dinner prepared by the Lodge chef.
For the next five days, you will head out in search of bears after a hearty breakfast, adjusting the schedule as necessary to coincide with the best wildlife viewing opportunities. We will take a break for lunch and otherwise spend as much time as possible searching for wildlife.
For those who wish, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards are available for use whenever we have some spare time around the lodge.
On your last morning, you’ll have a great breakfast, get packed up, and soak in your surroundings until water taxi arrives around 9 am to take us back to Prince Rupert with plenty of time to catch the 15:45 Air Canada flight to Vancouver that afternoon (flight #8090).
You’ll love it! It’s a small and quaint floating lodge in the perfect setting. See for yourself on this page of the Lodge website.
There are 8 guestrooms (each with a queen bed), three shared bathrooms, two showers, and a living room equipped with a wood stove.
After a day of bear viewing, you can kick back on the dock with a drink in hand, take in the mountain views, and swap stories from the day beside an open fire. Some people choose to go kayaking or paddle boarding or relax in the wood-fired sauna before the Lodge chef serves an amazing meal in the dining area. It doesn’t get any better.
By pairing the local knowledge of the Lodge staff with Tim’s broad expertise as a biologist and Great Bear Rainforest guide – plus prime season dates and small group size – this trip offers you exceptional value.
We have two 3-hour bear viewing and photography sessions per day.
For each viewing session, our group will be split into two boats, with 5 guests in one boat and 6 in the other. Tim and/or a local guide will join you and you’ll head out to explore and look for wildlife.
The small group size will provide much greater comfort and flexibility for photography compared to a typical tour. In other words, you won’t have to worry about other photographers getting in your way!
The best places to see bears can vary considerably with the tides, so our activities will change depending on water levels and the best light so that we can provide you with the best viewing and photography opportunities possible.
While grizzly bears are the main attraction, we also commonly see black bears, harbour seals, and eagles. In the past, we have also seen orcas, humpback whales, and wolves. Great blue herons and different species of shorebirds are common, and during spring the songs of varied thrush, hermit thrush, kinglets, and warblers provide a wonderful soundtrack.
The most common focal lengths used are between 200-600mm, but shorter lenses are also useful for close encounters. I typically bring 24-105 and 100-500mm lenses. If you have questions about the best photo gear for this trip just contact me.
No. Tripods do not work well in the boat. But if you need extra stability, a monopod is a good option.
Yes. The chef is happy to work around any dietary restrictions.
The Lodge now has a Starlink internet connection, so you can send and receive phone calls and emails during your stay if necessary.
The conservation fee supports grizzly bear conservation efforts through the Khutzeymateen Ranger Program, the Grizzly Bear Foundation, and the Commercial Bear Viewing Association of British Columbia
The boats are 24 feet long, with padded bench seats, and a roof overhead to keep you comfortable when it rains. After spending years working in the pouring rain in open boats, I can tell you that the rain protection the boat offers is an amazing bonus – especially when taking video of bears in the rain!