This is the first of a new series of posts that shares more information about our grizzly bear adventure last year! As you may recall, we took a Natural Habitat Adventures tour in late August and traveled up to Canada’s British Columbia province to see grizzly bears in wild. For six incredible days, we were immersed right in the southern part of Tweedsmuir Provincial Park and stayed at the beautiful Tweedsmuir Park Lodge. (If you are a new blog visitor or follower, please go back in my blog archive to see August-October posts about this trip!)
So how did we see and photograph the bears on this wildlife journey? The answer is several ways! We were on the hunt for them by taking float trips down the Atnarko River, standing at a viewing station, and also walking along river footpaths. We also had bears wandering around the grounds of our lodge!
We had expert rowers/guides for the float trips. Each boat had three front-row seats for guests and the rower sat in back. The tour director also rode along in our boat. Our crusty rower/guide grew up in the area and lived in a nearby home. He wasn’t much of a talker, but he was a kind-hearted fellow. We got the distinct impression that he knew all the bears individually and they all knew him too! The float trips were a delight and we were quite fortunate to have great weather for each one of them.
Though each ride was only a couple of miles, it lasted several hours. It was leisurely for us visitors, but the rowers had some pretty difficult maneuvering to get us safely through narrow places. Along the way, we stopped at areas where bears were known to frequent. Of course, we were all on the lookout for them to appear, either up ahead in the distance or else along the riverbank beside us. The bears always knew of our presence, and there was mutual respect about maintaining an unobtrusive distance. Without a doubt, we were always excited when we spotted a bear, but we managed to restrain our revelry! Most of us were equipped with cameras to photograph the wildlife and dramatic scenery. But one lady on our tour kept her nose in a book while we drifted along the river. Go figure!
It was a happy accident that we timed our vacation schedule to coincide with the opening day of the local bear viewing station. Surrounded by an electric fence and located a few hundred yards down from the boat launching site, this viewing area was built out on a small hill overlooking the river.
Armed conservation officers strictly controlled access to the area. This spot was ideal for frequent bear sightings and the slight aerial perspective was perfect for photography. Both hubby and I got some great pictures from here. And no, I wasn’t swimming with the bears when I took this picture from the river’s perspective. I was in a boat!
We also ventured out on foot a couple of times with our tour director on paths along the river. We had two bear sightings during these strolls, one close and one faraway. There was no picture taking for the close one because we had to safely keep our distance. Our group was up high on a steep embankment and the bear was located down below us.
Stay tuned for bear stories and pictures in the days ahead!