Whales & Bears of British Columbia Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group
Trip Code:
Activity Level: Leisurely

You are healthy, enjoy the outdoors and want a relaxing trip. No experience is required.

11 Days Flight Inclusive
10 Days Land only
Min age: 16

Trip Overview

'Beautiful British Columbia' proclaim the number plates, and for once without hyperbole. Sensational wildlife regularly presents itself amidst a backdrop of rugged scenery. Whale and bear watching are the big draw picture cards but other players like seals, elk and beaver ensure a truly authentic British Columbian wildlife encounter.

At a Glance

  • Travel by minibus, ferry and Zodiac 
  • Group normally 5 to 12, plus local leader/driver
  • 8 nights comfortable hotels, 1 night standard hotel
  • No meals included

Trip Highlights

  • Orca, Humpback and Grey whale watching with experienced naturalist guides
  • Search for Black bears on the rocky shoreline of Clayoquot Sound
  • Observation of the 'mythical' Grizzly bear in its natural surroundings
  • Vancouver Island, the largest island on the North American Pacific coast
  • Walking tour of Pacific Rim National Park

Is This Trip for You?

This trip has been graded 1 (Leisurely) with a Safari Rating of 3.

As a lot of our time will be spent outdoors a degree of fitness and a sense of adventure is required. We have the opportunity to explore some of the incredible natural history, scenery and wildlife of Vancouver Island on this itinerary. Inevitably some time will be spent travelling as there is a fair distance to cover, however, we have kept this to a minimum and the longest journey of 4 hours will be broken up with stops.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as not suitable for full wheelchair users, but it may be suitable for other persons of reduced mobility. Please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.


There will be a local leader who will also drive the vehicle, local guides will also be used where necessary.

Adult min age:
Min group size:
Max group size:


Land Only

Start City:
End City:

Flight Inclusive

Start City:
End City:

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Vancouver.

    Those on the group flight will be met at the airport and transferred to our hotel in Vancouver. Those on Land Only arrangements should make their own way to the start hotel this afternoon/evening. There will be an opportunity to meet your guide and fellow travellers this evening.

    Accommodation: Moda Hotel/Executive Vintage Park Hotel/Sandman Hotel Vancouver City Centre (or similar)

  • Day 2

    Discover Vancouver; ferry to Vancouver Island.

    Vancouver is often hailed as Canada's most beautiful city. This cosmopolitan and diverse metropolis is in stark contrast to the rest of British Columbia, but always proves to be a highlight. We have an orientation tour this morning with time to take in the sights of Gastown and Granville Island, from which they are some great viewpoints overlooking the city. In the afternoon transfer to the port to board a ferry to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, a one and a half hour journey across the Strait of Georgia. We spend some time visiting this gateway city before settling into our hotel for the night.

    Accommodation: Travelodge Nanaimo (or similar)

  • Day 3

    Visit Cathedral Grove to see Douglas fir trees.

    After breakfast we begin our drive to Ucluelet or Tofino, our location for the next three nights. On the way we will make a stop for a walk at Cathedral Grove Provincial Park to see the last remains of the temperate rainforest that covered the island more than a thousand years ago. This is one of the most accessible areas of giant Douglas-fir trees in the province and there are many trails enabling us to meander through Douglas-fir, Western Hemlock, Grand fir and Western Red Cedar trees. Today's total journey time is around 3.5 hours.

    Accommodation: Canadian Princess Resort / Tofino Motel Harbourview (or similar)

  • Day 4

    Pacific Rim N.P.; boat excursion to observe Grey and Humpback whales.

    Pacific Rim National Park is nestled between the mountains of the Vancouver Island Range and the Pacific coastline. We walk inside the park this morning in order to admire the rich natural heritage of the west coast of Canada. With almost 10 miles of sand and a huge collection of driftwood, the next stop from the rugged beaches is Japan! We usually take one of the trails to the beach and visit during low tide to explore some of the intertidal pools and rocky islands.
    In the afternoon we board Zodiacs with a naturalist guide who will lead a 2.5 - 3 hour whale observation excursion (depending on the low-tide schedule, this activity may take place earlier in the day). Our goal is to see Humpback and Grey whales, but it is also common to come across Orcas, seals and sea lions amongst the rocky headlands. Today's driving time should not exceed two hours.

    Accommodation: Canadian Princess Resort / Tofino Motel Harbourview (or similar)

  • Day 5

    Visit Tofino Botanical Gardens; boat excursion to observe Black bears.

    Obtain a greater understanding of the rainforest environment this morning at the Tofino Botanical Gardens. There is a lovely birdwatching area where woodpeckers, songbirds and hummingbirds can be found and Bald eagles are sometimes seen circling overhead in search of prey on the neighbouring Tofino Mudflats.

    Late this afternoon we board Zodiacs for a 2.5 hour expedition to observe Black bear and Bald eagle (depending on the low-tide schedule, this activity may take place earlier in the day). In the wilderness of Clayoquot Sound, Black bears can be found searching for crabs and clams on the rocky beaches. We'll travel the fjord inlet by Zodiac, looking in sheltered bays and stopping to see any Black bears that we find from the comfort of our Zodiac.

    Accommodation: Canadian Princess Resort / Tofino Motel Harbourview (or similar)

  • Day 6

    To Campbell River; visit Elk Falls.

    Depart Ucluelet and drive for four hours to Campbell River on the North Shore of Vancouver Island. Campbell River is known as the 'Salmon Capital of the World' for its hugely impressive salmon runs where five species of Pacific salmon can be found in the river. It has been designated as a Heritage River for its importance in British Columbia - following the fish are bears, seals, kingfishers and eagles. This afternoon we take a short walk in Elk Falls Provincial Park with its thundering, impressive waterfalls.

    Accommodation: Painters Lodge (or similar)

  • Day 7

    Boat excursion to Orford River to observe Grizzly bears.

    Board a covered boat for a full day excursion to the Orford River area (on the mainland of British Columbia) to observe Grizzly bears in their natural habitat. Conservative estimates suggest there are 10,000 Grizzly (Brown) bears living in British Columbia, with 92% of the original habitat of Grizzlies still occupied. The abundance of spawning salmon in the Orford River at this time of year brings Grizzlies down to feast. A two-hour journey by boat with a spectacular backdrop of mountainous scenery brings us to the mouth of the Orford River. From here we take a short bus journey inland, where there are five viewing platforms from which to spot the bears. We visit one or sometimes two of these platforms, from where we hope to observe the bears catching and feeding on salmon, sometimes with cubs in tow. On the boat journey to and from the Orford River we may also see Black bears, Orcas, Humpback and Grey whales, dolphins, porpoise and Sea lions.

    Accommodation: Painters Lodge (or similar)

  • Day 8

    Quadra Island for hiking or optional sea kayaking.

    Board a ferry for a 10-minute journey across the Discovery Passage to Quadra Island where we spend the day exploring the islands trails and beaches by foot. There is also an optional excursion from Quadra Island to try sea kayaking. This three-hour excursion is accompanied by kayak and marine life observation guides and is suitable for beginners. There is never a dull moment paddling by kayak around Quadra Island - we could see soaring eagles, Oyster catchers, herons, cormorants, gulls and if we are lucky, we may come across seals, Sea lions, dolphins and porpoise! In addition there will be lots of inter-tidal life including starfish, sea urchins, jellyfish and crabs. The mountain views offer a stunning backdrop to this excursion.

    Accommodation: Painters Lodge (or similar)

  • Day 9

    Transfer to Victoria; ferry to Vancouver.

    We drive for around four hours to Victoria, making stops along the way to enjoy the scenery of Vancouver Island for the last time. This afternoon we board a ferry across the Strait of Georgia, admiring the small islands and breath-taking panorama of the city of Vancouver as it comes into view. In the late afternoon there will be some free time to explore Vancouver at your own pace, visiting Stanley Park or China Town.

    Accommodation: Moda Hotel/Executive Vintage Park Hotel/Sandman Hotel Vancouver City Centre (or similar)

  • Day 10

    End Vancouver.

    Those on the group flight will be transferred to the airport today. Those on Land Only arrangements are free to leave at any time.



There are 8 nights in comfortable hotels and 1 night in a standard hotel.

In Vancouver we stay either at the Moda Hotel or the Executive Vintage Park.

At Ucluelet we stay at the Canadian Princess, a traditional fishing resort overlooking a pretty harbour (please note that on some departures we will stay in Tofino at the Tofino Motel Harbourview instead of in Ucluelet). Our comfortable, spacious hotel rooms are located in the on-shore part of the resort and have en suite facilities.

At Campbell River we have a three night stay at the Painters Lodge in garden view rooms overlooking the grounds. 

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single will only guarantee a room for single use. It does not necessarily mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Please note that a member of the group may be allocated a single room by default if the make-up of the group means there isn’t anyone for them to share with. Paying the supplement in advance is the only way to guarantee a single room.

Single supplements cannot be refunded retrospectively.

Single supplement from £895.00

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

No meals are included on this trip. The leader may suggest organising a kitty at the start of the trip to cover picnic lunches. If everyone is in agreement, a set amount will be collected (in the region of CAD40 - 50) and the leader will coordinate and top up the purchase of supplies for lunch. This enables lunch to be taken in some wonderful beauty spots, making the most of Canada's great outdoors!

For breakfast and dinner, the leader will recommend various options in convenient locations, usually booking restaurants and eating with the group.


Transport is by 15-seater minibus, ferry and Zodiac. Most of the roads are in very good condition. The longest driving day will be about four hours when we travel from Tofino to Campbell River. We have tried to keep travelling to a minimum on this trip, although most days involve some driving due to the distances covered.

Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

With a latitude and maritime situation much like the UK, temperatures in the coastal region average 22ºC on Vancouver Island, but can reach as high as 30ºC in the low-lying interior. June and September are usually a bit cooler, and the coast can get rain at any time. The mountains have typical mountain weather, and sun, cloud, rain and even snow can all be experienced in a morning.

Weather Charts

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 11 days

The group flight from London is a daytime flight departing on Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of British Airways (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up‐to‐date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.

Travelling land only: 10 days starting and ending in Vancouver

Your trip normally starts at our accommodation in Vancouver, Canada in the afternoon of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions ‐ sent approximately two weeks before departure.

As advice about luggage allowances for both hand and hold luggage is subject to change, we suggest you check the airline's website for the latest information prior to your departure. The usual, standard check-in baggage weight allowance is 20kg.

In the unlikely event of any of your luggage being misplaced or damaged, a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) must be filed with the appropriate airline if you subsequently wish to make a claim against the airline or on your travel insurance. This must be done at the airport where your baggage arrived, or should have arrived.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Transfers Details

Private transfers are available on this trip or alternatively it is easy to organise a taxi from the airport to the start hotel. This should cost in the region of $50 CAD (GBP 30).

Location start:
Location end:

What to Take

Essential Equipment

Most useful will be clothing that can be worn in layers; i.e. jeans, shorts, light shirts and sweatshirts or jumpers.
If you have a choice, a fleece jumper and waterproof jacket are much better than bulky sweaters and jackets. It will be cold in the evenings in September, whilst it can be surprisingly warm during the day.
Other items to take: a warm jacket, waterproofs, strong shoes or walking boots, daysack, swimwear.

Optional Equipment

Tracksuit pants, torch, insect repellent, sunhat.

Bear in Canada

Practical Information



All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for the duration of the intended length of stay, if your passport has less than 6 months validity it may take longer to pass through immigration. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.



The Government of Canada has an entry requirement, known as an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), for some international travellers flying into Canada. Citizens from countries other than the US who do not require a visa to enter Canada are required to obtain an eTA before entering the country. Eligible travellers will need to go online to apply for their eTA.

To apply for your eTA you will need your passport, credit or debit card and an email address. At the time of publication there was a CAD$7 fee to process your eTA. Your eTA will be valid for a period of five years, or until your passport expires. We recommend you carry a print out of your eTA approval when you travel. Please visit www.canada.ca/eTA to apply.

If you have not applied for and received authorisation via an eTA prior to travel you may be denied boarding, experience a delayed processing or be denied admission at the Canadian point of entry. However, neither possession of a visa nor meeting the basic requirements for travelling visafree on the eTA, guarantees admission to Canada. As with most countries, the final determination of admissibility is made by immigration officials at the point of entry.

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

There are no specific health risks on this trip.



There are no specific health risks.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

Canada's Timezone:
America/Vancouver PST (GMT -08:00)


Canada's Electricity:

120 Volts. Plug types A & B; establishments often take two flat parallel pin plugs and/or two flat parallel pins and a round grounding pin plug.


Canada's Currency

The national currency of Canada is the Canadian Dollar (CAD), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (November 2019) of approximately 1.70 to the GBP, 1.32 to the USD, 1.46 to the EUR, 0.90 to the AUD and 0.85 to the NZD.

ATM Availability

You should bring most of your funds in Canadian Dollars, but can withdraw money at cash machines en route. If relying on cash machines, please advise your bank of your travel plans prior to departure to help reduce the chance of your card being blocked.

ATMs are widely available in Canada. Credit cards are widely accepted in shops and restaurants.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

It is a good idea to allow approximately $70 CAD (excluding alcohol and tips) a day for food on average. In Canada, sales tax (of approx. 5%) and tips (of between 15-20%) should be added to the menu cost.

Optional Excursions (approximate costs, depending on group sizes)

Sea kayaking at Quadra Island $75 CAD (or rent a kayak for around $45 CAD)


Tipping is a way of life in North America and, while obviously not compulsory, it is expected. If you feel that your leader has performed well over the course of your trip, you may want to show your appreciation of their services. The sum you choose to give is entirely personal, but as a reasonable starting point, we suggest a contribution of around $60-70 CAD per person for your leader. Smaller groups may wish to give a little more per person. 

It is also common to give a tip to other local guides, staff or taxi drivers in Canada (normally around 15%). 

Responsible Tourism

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 14 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. Swimming results in more tourists deaths than any other activity. All customers should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim, and are requested to treat the sea with extreme caution if they choose to enter the water. Details on how to keep yourself safe while swimming are shown here.



The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.


These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.