Great Bear Rainforest
Fall

Canada's Great Bear Rainforest | Credit: Owen Perry and Russell Markel

Season(s)
Autumn (August - September)
Duration
8-nights and 9-nights
Pricing
Starting at $8,950 CAD/Person
Starts / Ends
Bella Bella – Heiltsuk Territory
Overview

There’s no place like British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest, the largest intact coastal temperate rainforest in the world. Encompassing more than 64,000 square kilometres (24,700 square miles), this is a place where ancient, towering forests support more biomass than any other terrestrial ecosystem in the world.

Our Great Bear Rainforest Fall expeditions take us deep into the heart of this remote region where we’ll encounter and learn about its ecosystems and most iconic species – salmon, bears, wolves, and whales. Living and traveling aboard the schooner Passing Cloud, we’ll visit glacier-scoured fiords, spectacular estuaries, ancient forests, vast islands, and outer coast beaches. We’ll use our inflatable skiff extensively to explore these habitats, and we’ll meander our way up small river systems on foot to witness salmon returning to spawn and view the bears and other wildlife that congregate to feast on this annual ecological bonanza. And throughout our expedition, we look forward to encounters with the abundant populations of whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, and other coastal wildlife that thrive in the surrounding coastal seas.

Bears, of course, are of particular interest in the Great Bear Rainforest. Our expert guides will teach us about the fascinating and often dramatic lives of bears, the critical roles they play in maintaining the surrounding “salmon forests”, and ongoing conservation initiatives to protect them. We look forward to encountering the coastal grizzly bears that thrive here, as well as black bears, and if we’re very lucky, a glimpse of the rare white spirit bear that’s found nowhere else on Earth.

In keeping with the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement and its central tenets of co-management and ecosystem-based management, we work closely here with the Heiltsuk, Kitasoo-Xai’xais, and Gitga’at First Nations, and BC Parks, to protect and enjoy this amazing place. Through Tourism Protocol Agreements with these Nations and BC Park Use Permits, Outer Shores is fortunate to enjoy access to numerous limited-entry Parks, Conservancies, Special Management Areas in this region, including Special Management bear-viewing sites.

Below you will find sample itineraries for our Spring and Autumn expeditions in the Great Bear Rainforest. We look forward to having you join us!

Highlights

Exceptional wildlife viewing opportunities, including grizzly bears, black bears, Spirit bears, wolves, humpback whales, porpoises, otters, seals, sea lions, seabirds, eagles, ravens, and spawning salmon.

Enjoy inflatable boat excursions in spectacular coastal estuaries and interpretive shore walks through ancient temperate rainforests​.

Itineraries

Duration
8-nights or 9-nights
Starts / Ends
Bella Bella - Heiltsuk Territory
Distance
300 nautical miles (~540 km), or 35 nm (~60 km)/day
Physical REquirements
Moderate

Summary

Our Fall Great Bear Rainforest expeditions take us into the Great Bear Rainforest during one of the greatest ecological events on earth – wild salmon returning to their natal rivers and forests to spawn, and all wildlife that gathers to feast on them. We’ll observe, photograph, and learn about the Great Bear Rainforest’s ecosystems and most iconic species, including salmon, grizzly bears, spirit bears, whales, and wolves.  NEW! Beginning in 2024, our 9-night “super-voyage” expeditions will take us on a  complete circumnavigation of Princess Royal Island and deep into the Kitasoo-Spirit Bear Conservancy, and well as visit exceptional grizzly bear viewing areas within the Fiordland Recreational Area.

Days 1-3
Bella Bella / Fiordland Conservancy / Spawning Salmon / Bears

Our Fall expeditions through the Great Bear Rainforest begin in the Heiltsuk First Nation community of Bella Bella. As soon as we depart, we’ll be on the lookout for our first wildlife sightings, such as humpback whales, sea otters, killer whales, and even elephant seals. This afternoon we’ll anchor in a protected bays and go ashore for our first taste of coastal temperate rainforest ecosystems and spawning salmon in action.

Continuing our journey north, east of Princess Royal Island, we’ll visit and explore Fiordland Conservation Area and a Special Management grizzly bear-viewing site. As salmon begin to make their way upstream to spawn, we’ll be on the lookout not only for bears, but all the species that are drawn here to take advantage of this annual ecological phenomenon. We’ll visit deep glacier-carved fiords and large mainland estuaries where we hope to encounter and observe bears – grizzly, black bears, and the iconic white Spirit bear.

Days 4-6
Waterfalls / Whales / Estuaries / Salmon / Bears / Wolves

Over the next few days, we’ll continue our journey deeper into the Great Bear. We’ll enjoy vast landscapes, towering granite snow-covered mountain peaks, and cascading waterfalls. We also expect to encounter more marine wildlife, particularly the humpback whales that are returning to this region in great numbers. Using our inflatable skiff, we’ll explore spectacular coastal estuaries that provide prime habitat for bears, wolves, and a wide range of birds and waterfowl including ravens, eagles, kingfishers, herons, mergansers, and buffleheads. And throughout our journey, we’ll be on a constant lookout for a glimpse of the secretive coastal wolves that inhabit the Great Bear Rainforest. In addition to the large estuary and river systems, we’ll also visit and explore small coastal streams that often support large numbers of pink salmon and have good opportunities for encountering black bears fishing for salmon.

Days 7-9
Princess Royal Island / Kitasoo Spirit Bear Conservancy/ Traditional Big House

Weather permitting, our expedition will circumnavigate Princess Royal Island and visit the Kitasoo Spirit Bear Conservancy. The rare and iconic white Spirit or Kermode bears are found almost exclusively on this large remote island, and it will be all eyes on deck in the hopes of catching a glimpse of this globally unique animal. While in this area we hope to visit a small whale research station and learn about ongoing whale research in this region. This region is seasonally home to large numbers of humpback whales that frequently engage in social “bubble-net” feeding, which is always an amazing experience! Killer whales, fin whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, and sea lions are also frequently encountered in this area.

 

Near the southern end of Princess Royal Island, we’ll visit the Kitasoo-Xai’xais First Nation community of Klemtu. We’ll be welcomed by this remote Indigenous community of approximately 500 people in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest and be given a guided tour of their awe-inspiring traditional Big House. On our final day, as we travel the short distance to Bella Bella, we’ll hope for last minute wildlife sightings and savour the pristine landscapes and seascapes of the Great Bear Rainforest and Sea. Upon departure we’ll say our farewells to this remarkable part of the world and give our thanks to all those who have worked so hard to protect it.

Featured Blog Posts

Testimonials

This trip was more than I could have asked for as a person living in a world where the future of our planet and all of her inhabitants is in question. This trip gave me hope – not only that the Great Bear Rainforest still exists, but seeing the conservation work people are doing first hand, including providing the opportunity for this beautiful place to be seen and to inspire others. Anyone wanting to experience adventure, inspiration, the most natural beauty, profound animal encounters, once in a lifetime photography experiences, and the trip of a lifetime with genuine and amazing people who truly care about you having the best excursion possible – travel with Outer Shores.

— BARBARA, AB, CANADA

Thank you for a truly awesome trip. The highlights – there was almost nothing but highlights – the bears, the whales, the natural world, the sounds, the seas – above all the companionship.

— BARBARA, AB, CANADA

The inspiration provided by this trip will live on for years to come. Highlights: Spirit bear, humpback whale breaching near Whale Point, the Crew (Graham, Molly, Joel, and Russ). Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

— Owen, BC, CANADA

Every time I come aboard, the Passing Cloud feels more and more like home. This is partly due to the heart and soul of this ship, but mostly because of the people on board. From the mystical Kermode (Spirit) bears to the breaching whales, this trip has been a journey like no other. To the ship, the crew, and our undeniably charismatic Captain Russell, thank you for the trip of a lifetime.

— Lauren, MT, CANADA

“Leaving Passing Cloud and the Great Bear Rainforest after an amazing journey – both physical and spiritual. The ship, crew, and of course Russ, have transcended our expectations with a truly spectacular environment.”

— RenÉE, Mt, CANADA

“Everything was impressive about this trip. Every day stunning adventure, scenery, megafauna, and the friends we’ve made and been able to share the days with. We will share with all our friends an understanding and realization of a pristine and vulnerable coast.”

— Sharon & Hans, BC, CANADA

Date
Price
Status
Depart / End
Booking
May 30-June 6 (7-nights) SPRING
$6,450 CAD/person
Waitlist
Bella Bella
Booking Inquiry
June 7-14 (7-nights) SPRING
$6,450 CAD/person
Waitlist
Bella Bella
Booking Inquiry
August 18-Sept 1 (14-nights) PRIVATE VOYAGE
N/A
Waitlist
Bella Bella
Booking Inquiry
Sept 2-11 (9-nights) FALL
$8,950 CAD/person
Waitlist
Bella Bella
Booking Inquiry
Sept 13-21 (8-nights) FALL
$8,450 CAD/person
Waitlist
Bella Bella
Booking Inquiry
Sept 22-30 (8-nights) FALL
$8,450 CAD/person
Waitlist
Bella Bella
Booking Inquiry
Oct 1-9 (8-nights) FALL
$8,450 CAD/person
Available (1 of 6)
Bella Bella
Booking Inquiry

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