Nature Viewing in BC
This year I had the incredible opportunity to visit Great Bear Nature Tours at the lodge in Smith inlet. Yes even the Mountain Man likes a little luxury on occasion and these guys provide just that. My family gave my father and I the trip for our birthdays (3 weeks apart). We spent 4 days and 3 nights in a spectacular location at the end of one of BC’s incredible fjord like inlets.
We began by leaving Victoria B.C. and driving north, to almost the end of Vancouver Island, where the cute, friendly town of Port Hardy welcomed us. This drive takes a full day and is one of the most scenic anywhere. Mountains, lakes, ocean and lots of wildlife are seen just on the drive. Coming back we had to stop for a huge Roosevelt elk crossing the road.
Once at Port Hardy you catch a seaplane (well organized) for a short 30 minute or so flight to the Lodge. Again the view flying over the coastal mountains is second to none. At some points I felt I could reach out and touch the mountains as we flew below their tops. You land near the estuary at the end of the inlet and are greeted not only by all the wonderful staff but even by the other guests. You soon learn that after a day or two you all become like family. It’s such an intimate setting that guests and staff all connect on a wonderfully relaxed level. We met fellow travellers from the UK, Germany, Holland and the U.S.
Although my father and I are long time outdoors man (I am the mountain man after all) we still learned so much from all the biologist guides. This resort only hires guides with a biology degree or background I understand. You could ask them almost anything about the marine mammals, birds, and vegetation. Although Bear viewing is the original draw, once there you’ll soon come to realize that’s there’s so much more to see, hear and smell. The guides are knowledgeable, funny and hard working. Due to the dry summer,
several times during out stay they actually got out of the aluminium boats we toured in and pulled the boats by hand over the shallow parts of the river. They took such care as to protect the environment. Definitely a first class experience!
The accommodations on the floating lodge are as comfy as it gets. I’m in the business so you know I’m picky but with each room having its own bathroom, very comfy beds and modern furnishings makes you think you were still on land in a nice hotel. The foods was INCREDIBLE. We ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at one big long table just like a family. We enjoyed the homemade chili, lamb and seafood pia dinners all the while chatting to each other as you would at the family dinner table. One of the lodge owners, Tom, would sit at the head of the table and answer the obvious bear questions and relate wonderful stories of his experiences with bears in the past.
Each night when we returned from our evening viewing sessions they had fresh baked cookies or fancy crackers and cheese along with wine or hot chocolate waiting. We’d sit around for a bit discussing what we saw that day and guessing on what we’d see the next. I can’t say enough about the all the staff and the owners of the Lodge.
They indeed run a first class resort which is evident by one of the guests during our stay being there for his second time and another for his 6th! My father and I are certainly looking at return trip in the future. So if you want to enjoy the BC Coast, See spectacular scenery and wildlife, Great Bear Nature tours gets two “paws up” from me. Of course don’t forget to stay at the Accent Inn Victoria or Vancouver Airport pre or post your trip… (I am the chains marketing guy after all)
John Espley, Director of Marketing & Communications
Accent Inns (Mountain Man)