Arrive in Vancouver and check in to your Richmond hotel.
There will be some free time to explore the heart of interesting Richmond and we highly recommend walking the well-known 'Dumpling Trail' to get a feel of the city as well as its rich Asian heritage. A fast elevated metro train service also allows quick access to Vancouver city centre and its attractions. .This evening, we will walk to a nearby restaurant and enjoy a welcome dinner to get acquainted with our group.
We will transfer to Vancouver's South Terminal for a short flight to Bella Coola. Flying over the fiords, high mountains and rugged terrain will give you an idea of why so few roads exist in this relatively pristine part of British Columbia's coastline.
On arrival, we will transfer to the Bella Coola Valley Inn before heading out on a walking tour to visit the Kopas Store, the Copper Sun Gallery and the Bello Coola Museum. The museum provides an insight into the area's varied history starting with the Indigenous people who have inhabited the region for thousands of years, then the early explorers, the coming of the first pioneer European settlers and the building of the 'Freedom Road'. The Kopas Store and the Copper Sun gallery provide a showcase for the traditional Nuxalk peoples' artwork and handicrafts as well as maps, jewellery and masks typical of the area.
British Columbia's central coast swathed in temperate rainforest hosts a tremendous variety of habitats. On our full day bus tour, we plan to get a comprehensive overview of the history, the culture, landscapes and the biodiversity of the area.
Depending on the weather and the exact time of year, we will aim to visit some or all of Bella Coola area highlights including the Clayton Falls Recreation Site and Tidal Estuary Waterfalls, the First Nations Salmon Smokehouse (only when operational), the Snootli Creek Fish Hatchery, stroll to the Walker Island Giant Red Cedar Grove, visit the Norwegian Heritage House, stop at the BC Parks public Grizzly Bear Viewing Stand (during season), do a short walk to the Burnt Bridge Creek Lookout at the southern edge of Tweedsmuir Park, and visit viewpoints to Mt Stupendous, Mt. Nusatsum and Mt. Defiance.
We board our ocean-going boat and depart on a guided day tour of the ocean fiords and inlets to see several sites built by settlers and learn about the history and settlement of the area. We cruise by Hanging Glaciers and stop in Bachelor Bay at the sandy beach and visit Seal Rock. The views to the east of Mt. Nusatsum and to the west of Bentinck Spire are spectacular.
All the while, our captain and tour leader will be on the lookout for wildlife as we cruise into the mouth of the Salmon Spawning Creek at Green Bay to view the tidal estuary in search of grizzlies, black bears and wolves. Heading out around the point into South Bentinck Arm we may have the opportunity to see seals, dolphins, humpback whales and orcas.
You will have the opportunity to enjoy a soak in the natural and remote natural mineral hot spring nestled in a rock crevice with crystal clear waters. After a soothing soak in the hot springs, we cruise to a quiet little emerald green harbour at the trailhead of the famous Big Cedar Tree while our captain prepares a nice onboard lunch as we enjoy watching the seals and eagles.
Departing the sheltered bay, we cruise up to a vertical granite bluff to view a very impressive display of ancient First Nation pictographs that tell stories of long ago. Heading north out of the fjord we keep an eye out for dolphins. Our cruise ends with arrival back at the Bella Coola Harbour late afternoon. The 8-hour cruise covers approximately 50 nautical miles of remote marine wilderness with many spectacular sights.
We will venture upriver to today view the bears and wildlife. Grizzlies feed on the estuaries and the spawning salmon in this area and our guide/naturalist will walk us slowly upriver on an active grizzly bear trail. Along the estuary game trail, our guide will point out grizzly digs, territorial rub trees, claw marks, bite marks, grizzly day beds and old grizzly tracks sunk deep in the moss. We will likely see river otters, blue herons, kingfishers, mink, marten and bald eagles living in this watershed. Moving slowly and always watching for grizzlies we make our way upriver to the natural old-growth wildlife viewing stand.
We hope to have excellent unrestricted views of the grizzlies, bears and wolves on the white sandbars upriver and downriver in a large old-growth stand of cedar and spruce timber. This area is home to bears, wolves and blacktail deer who use the game trails year-round. This is an excellent location for photography and an ideal spot for photographers to set up their tripods amongst the timber canopy. We will remain at this natural wildlife viewing stand during prime time and enjoy the wilderness and wildlife.
Note that wildlife have their own mind and while we plan our trips during the best seasons and visit areas known for wildlife viewing, accompanied by experienced guides, we do not guarantee sightings
A large number of guided bear viewing walks and boat cruises are available for you to re-visit any of the locations that we may have seen over the previous days. In addition, Indigenous craftsmen and artisans have several galleries and workshops to showcase their exquisite carvings and artwork. Further, having an unstructured day allows us to re-schedule any of the activities that we may have had to cut short on account of inclement weather.
We transfer to Bella Coola airport for our return flight to Vancouver and the end of our Great Bear Rainforest tour.