Day 1: Alert Bay, BC
After an early morning departure from Victoria, your coach begins its winding journey up the east coast of Vancouver Island. Vancouver Island is 460 kilometres long and today’s journey will cover 420. As we head north, you’ll notice how quickly small towns and villages yield to forests, fields and farms. Soon after passing the town of Campbell River (pop. 30,000), the highway narrows to single lane and we enter the Nimpkish Valley. Now the human population has essentially been replaced by wild animals - Roosevelt Elk, deer and bear frequent this area.
The coach arrives at the small town of Port McNeill (pop. 2600) in time for you to collect your luggage and make the five minute walk to the ferry to Alert Bay (pop. 1000). Upon your arrival at the ferry terminal, the manager of the lodge will escort you to the lodge. The manager will also help you get sorted for your kayak trip and will store your excess luggage. After dinner, you may enjoy a stroll along the waterfront, take in the ocean and mountain views from the sundeck, or enjoy a read from our library. Meals: Dinner. Accommodation: Waterfront Lodge.
Day 2: Johnstone Strait, BC
After breakfast, you leave your non-essential luggage at the Lodge, grab your dry bags and head for the dock to meet the water taxi. This high speed boat will spirit you down Johnstone Strait to your base camp into the heart of orca territory. After a short introduction to kayaking you’ll start your exploration of the islands, bays and channels with up to seven fellow kayakers, paddling daily in a pristine wilderness environment.
Located on an island with an old growth forest, your base camp comes complete with tent platform, tents, a well laid out camp kitchen, drop toilets - even hot showers! The guides are great cooks and, with notice, can cater to a wide variety of dietary preferences. There is good swimming to be had from the beach and a campfire every night. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. Accommodation: Camping.
Day 3: Johnstone Strait, BC
During the tour, your guide will also explain how our whale watching practices conform to Be Whale Wise guidelines established by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Our standard equipment includes an underwater hydrophone that enables us to eavesdrop on orca conversations. Using the hydrophone and a photographic catalogue, your guide will help you distinguish between various orca clans.
Also close by are many islets that are home to numerous sea birds and seals and the more protected inner passages of Broughton Archipelago where evidence still survives of past First Nations' use. Our exact routes will vary each day depending on possible wildlife sightings, currents, tides and weather. The nearby waters in Johnstone Strait are well populated with Bald eagles, harbour seals, dolphins, porpoises, and rich inter-tidal life. In the evening, we can stretch our legs along forest trails. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. Accommodation: Camping.
Day 4. Johnstone Strait, BC
As we search for signs of orcas, our paddling routes take us along forested shorelines, rock cliffs inhabited by bald eagles, and through hidden coves and lagoons. A promising sign is the presence of salmon – the orca’s favourite dish. At any moment we may see a fin break water or encounter a pod of orcas as we round a bend in the coastline. When this happens, we form a ‘raft’ by coming together as a group and grabbing the gunnels of a fellow paddler’s kayak. If we are lucky, the orcas will not interrupt their path and will swim either beside our raft, or underneath it.
We generally paddle for several hours in the morning and then break for a shore lunch to suntan, beachcomb and stretch our legs. Several hours after lunch we return to camp and relax with our favourite beverage as our guide prepares dinner. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. Accommodation: Camping.
Day 5: Alert Bay, BC
Today is our final morning our wilderness paradise. You have the option to go for a hike, lounge around the campsite for go for a final morning paddle. Our water taxi picks us up shortly after lunch for the journey back to civilization. Generally, we return to Alert Bay by 3:30 pm. You'll have plenty of time to unpack and go for an evening stroll along the boardwalk as you consider a place to dine. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch. Accommodation: Waterfront Lodge.
Day 6: Alert Bay, BC
We've set this day aside for you to explore the village of Alert Bay. After breakfast, the lodge manager will provide you with a map highlighting attractions on the 5 kilometer long Cormorant Island and tickets to U'Mista Cultural Centre which features the reclaimed potlatch collection, exploring the Ecological Gardens and walking the Big Tree Trail. If your free days falls on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday we recommend the dance ceremony at the Big House. Or you may choose to lounge in the expansive common room at the lodge, and enjoy the view, a good book and a pot of tea. Meals: Breakfast. Accommodation: Waterfront Lodge.
Day 7: Alert Bay, BC
Your grizzly bear tour boat arrives to pick you up 6:45 am. On this boat ride, you’ll join up to 11 fellow wildlife enthusiasts to journey deep into a wilderness fjord to look for grizzly bears. We head for Knight Inlet, a deep, glacier-carved fjord and then into Glendale Cove, home to one of the largest grizzly bear populations in British Columbia. During a salmon turn, we may see up to 40 bears in this area. On a regular basis, we can see the grizzly bears feed at high tide on sedges and grasses; low tide brings more bears out to turn over large boulders as they search for crabs, isopods and beach barnacles. We turn to Alert Bay by 4:00 pm, hopefully with a camera chocked full of wonderful pictures. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch. Accommodation: Waterfront Lodge.
Day 8: Fly out from Port Hardy, BC
After breakfast we'll get you on the right ferry from Alert Bay to start your trip up Vancouver Island to Port Hardy Airport. At Port McNeill you’ll be picked up by taxi and escorted to Port Hardy Airport. Here, you catch an afternoon scheduled flight to Vancouver, BC. Meals: Breakfast. Accommodation: Not provided.
- Pricing is based on double occupancy
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