Khutzeymateen Photo Tour
Experience this wild and beautiful place
- Highest concentration of grizzly bears in Canada
- Premium guide to guest ratio with just 5 guests per boat
- Exclusive events with the Grizzly Bear Foundation
- Numerous grizzly bears each day
- Naturalist talks and photography sessions
- Pristine wilderness, amazing food, floating lodge
- Kayaking, Stand Up Paddle Boarding, and fishing from the dock
- All meals, accommodation, and float plane airfare from Prince Rupert
- 4 nights, 4 full days of photography
The best springtime grizzly bear photography in Canada. From the moment you arrive, you realize that you are truly in nature. In this protected land, grizzly bears thrive. With the highest concentration of grizzly bears in Canada, there are so many amazing photography opportunities. If you love bears, you need to put the Khutzeymateen on your bucket list.
The floating lodge itself is one of a kind. The service is impeccable, the food is delicious, and the rooms are very comfortable and cozy. With 2 boats, you will have ample space to move around and bring all of your camera gear. During our down time, you can fish from the dock, relax in the sauna, or sit by the wood fire. Come for some of the best grizzly bear photography in Canada, and leave with memories that will last a lifetime.
* The lodge operates in the Traditional Territory of the Tsimshian Nation, specifically the Gitsi’is Tribe of Lax Kw’alaams and the Metlakatla First Nation.
Tour Highlights: High concentration of grizzly bears
Dates: May 11-15, 2023
Tour Leader: Zac Mills
Group Size: 10
Status: 7 spots left
Price: $5,695 + 5% tax (Canadian dollars)
Price includes: All meals and accommodation, Airfare from Prince Rupert
Location: Prince Rupert, British Columbia
Fitness Level: Easy
WATCH OUR KHUTZEYMATEEN VIDEO
PHOTOS FROM LAST TOUR
GRIZZLY BEAR CONSERVATION
The Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary is the first and only grizzly bear sanctuary in Canada. The name comes from the Tsimshian First Nations word that means sheltered place of fish and bears. It was established in August 1994 to protect the large population of bears, which is estimated now to be approximately 50 grizzly bears.
The Grizzly Bear Foundation is dedicated to the long-term welfare of the grizzly bear in North America. As part of this tour, we are excited to be donating to their important conservation work. In addition, you will receive several exclusive presentations to learn first-hand about the latest grizzly bear research, and the threats and challenges to their conservation.
THE BEAR NECESSITIES
This tour is all about grizzly bears. Approximately 50 grizzly bears call this pristine wilderness home. And Spring is the best time of year to see the most bears. At this time of year, bears come to the shore to feed on sedge grass, their primary source of food when they come out of the den.
You’ll photograph grizzly bears eating, walking along the shoreline, cubs playing, and if we’re lucky, some battles for the right to mate. Spring is mating season and this means that we are likely to photograph some of the well-known big males in the area.
Early spring – when the vibrant green sedge is still short and does not obscure the bears – provides exceptional viewing and photography opportunities. Because this area has been protected, bears here are tolerant of us humans and allow us into their lives. It’s a privilege that’s magical and profound.
Our typical day starts shortly after sunrise. After quick coffee and breakfast, we will head out in search of bears during the golden hour. While we can see bears anywhere along the shoreline, it’s typically about a 15-20 minute boat ride to the prime bear viewing locations.
Over the next three hours, we will rely upon our expert guides (who are all certified bear guides) to get us in the best possible position. When we do find a bear, we are usually able to have an extended encounter.
After our morning session, we will return to the lodge for lunch, down time, and a photography workshop or naturalist talk. Later in the afternoon, we will head back out on the boat for another three hour session of bear photography. This schedule ensures we are photographing bears in the very best light. Once our session is finished, we will return to the lodge for dinner and a welcome overnight rest. Please note that we may need to adjust our schedule depending on weather and tides.
We want help you to become a better photographer. And to do so, we’re going to go the extra mile. Before the tour, we will have 3 hour long one-on-one sessions with you to understand your shooting style, discuss topics of interest (such as field techniques, composition, post-processing), and provide guidance to help you grow as a photographer and storyteller.
During the tour, we will have at least 2 optional image review sessions so that we critique our images and make necessary adjustments while we’re in the field. After the tour, there will be 3 more hour long one-on-one sessions to help you choose and edit your favorite images from the tour, and discuss other topics of interest. We will also organize a Zoom group event so each of us can present our favorite images and share stories.
Our policy is simple: ask us anything at anytime about gear, technique, strategy, composition, post-processing and beyond. We are here to help you!
MEET YOUR GUIDES
As a wildlife photographer, traveler, and former World Bank economist, Zac brings a different perspective to wildlife conservation. He founded the Wildlife Collective to help others become better wildlife photographers and to use their voice for conservation. With leadership roles in several conservation organizations, Zac knows first hand that working together with like-minded individuals can make a difference. A certified guide and bear lover, Zac hopes to entertain you with stories from the wild, inspire you to get involved in conservation, and to become the best wildlife photographer you can be.
With eight years of experience in bear-viewing, Taylor has developed an intimate knowledge and admiration for grizzly bears and their habitats. In tandem with her work as a guide, naturalist, and photographer, Taylor promotes wildlife conservation through her role as the Outreach and Communications Manager for the Grizzly Bear Foundation, a charitable organization advocating for the welfare and conservation of grizzly bears across North America. Taylor strongly believes in the power of the connections we foster together through wildlife-viewing and photography and can’t wait for you to join us.
The tour departs from Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada. Please plan to be in Prince Rupert by May 8th because we depart on the morning float plane to the Khutzeymateen on May 9th, the first day of the tour.
Arrive in Prince Rupert
You must arrive in Prince Rupert on May 8th. I will be spending the night at the Prestige Hotel, which is next to where we get dropped off from the airport shuttle, but there are other nearby options as well.
Prince Rupert to Khutzeymateen
We will meet at the Ocean Pacific Air office in Seal Cove at 7:30am, approximately a 5min taxi ride from downtown. Once we’re checked in, we’ll board the float plane for the approximately 20 minute flight from dock to dock. Upon arrival at the Khutzeymateen Wilderness Lodge, we will be shown our rooms and after a quick change we’ll head out on the boat in search of bears.
After our morning session, we will return to the lodge for lunch, relaxation, and our daily photography instruction session, which will alternate between image reviews, post-processing, and other issues of interest. In the afternoon, we’ll head back out on the water for our afternoon session, and then we’ll return to the lodge for a hearty dinner.
For each of the next three days, we will have an early breakfast and then we will follow the same schedule — we’ll be on the water early in search of the 50 grizzly bears who call this place home.
Arrive in Prince Rupert
On our last morning, we will sleep in and have a wonderful breakfast. Our float plane will depart around 9am for our scenic flight back to Prince Rupert, which brings this magical experience to an end.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Do I need to be vaccinated against COVID-19?
Yes — in line with with BC government regulations, all guests visting the Khutzeymateen Wilderness Lodge in 2022 are required to be double vaccinated against COVID-19. Your vaccination status will be verified when you check-in with Ocean Pacific Air on the first morning of your tour.
How many grizzly bears will I see?
Wildlife is unpredictable, BUT we are going at the best time of year to see grizzly bears in close proximity. On the high end, we may see 12+ bears per tour. On some days we may only see a few bears, but it’s not the quantity, it’s the quality. We hope to be able to spend a lot of time with each bear to photography their behavior and personality. We can expect to see moms and cubs, sub-adult bears, and big males primed for mating season.
What other wildlife can we see?
We’re likely to see bald eagles, seals, and many other shore birds (such as gulls and herons). If we’re lucky, we may also see wolves, black bears, and whales.
What do boats look like?
Each boat is has a roof covering to protect from the elements, proper seated areas, and plenty of space for you to give up and move around!
What do you mean by premium space?
Normally, 8 guests would share one boat, which doesn’t leave much individaul space to move around or accommodate all your camera gear. This wasn’t the client experience we wanted to offer. That’s why we are proud to provide 2 boats, which gives you substantially more room and offers an all around better exprience.
How cold will it be?
It will be brisk. We recommend a good hat, waterproof gloves, rain gear, and rain boots to protect against the elements. The Sanctuary is on the northern edge of the Great Bear Rainforest, so prepare for it to rain. Our boat does have a cover, but rain and spray can still come in through the open sides. Fortunately, you do have the option of wearing the mustang survival suit while on the boat, which negates the need of packing all your own rain gear.
What focal range do you recommend?
The Khutzeymateen is a place where every focal range from 24-800mm can be of value. There are likely to be times with bears in beautiful vistas that can be shot wide, and there are other times where the bears may be a bit further back, so the extra focal reach can go a long way. So definitely bring a long lens, but plan to bring a medium-range and wide angle lens as well.
Can I bring a tripod?
No. There’s simply not enough space for a tripod on the boat. However, monopods are ok and provide that extra stabilization that you may need.
What's the bathroom situation?
We have two beautiful bathrooms with hot showers at the lodge. On the boat, however, there are no bathrooms. In an emergency bathroom situation, we will do our best to find a solution!
What's the food situation?
Amazing! Neil will keep us well-fed and healthy with his daily concoction of amazing meals. This is not a place where you leave the dinner table hungry. And you can always enjoy the complimentary beer and wine served at dinner. Please note that all dietary conditions can be accommodated.
What's the cell coverage like?
None. There is wifi at the lodge, but it’s pretty slow. Fast enough to send a message and check emails, but not much more. But this part of the beauty of being in the pristine wilderness, where we can disconnect from the fast pace of every day life, and instead be present in nature.
Send us an email and we’ll be happy to arrange a time to chat through everything with you and answer any questions you may have.
• All guiding
• Photography instruction
• All meals, beverages, beer, and wine
• Return float plane from Prince Rupert
WHAT’s NOT INCLUDED?
• Insurance (required)
JOIN US FOR A TRIP OF A LIFETIME!
Why Our Photo Tours Are Different
We value our guests, so everyone who travels with the Wildlife Collective will automatically receive a 5 percent discount on all subsequent tours. It’s our way of saying thank you for your support!
All of our tours have a conservation focus. We will learn about the challenges facing our primary subject and ongoing conservation work. Plus, every tour makes a donation to a conservation partner.
We take you to the world’s most amazing wilderness destinations, which were chosen based on our ability to offer our guests the ultimate wildlife photography experience.
Every tour includes photography sessions before, during, and after the tour. With our hands on learning, you are going to leave our tours as a better photographer. Ask us anything at anytime!
We will never exceed 6 clients per instructor, and in most tours, the ratio will be even smaller. This ensures that you get the personalized attention that you deserve on our tours.
We work with the world’s best wildlife guides, who also happen to be our good friends. They are experienced, keep us safe, and put us in the best possible position to create a compelling image.