September, 2022 (dates to be announced soon)
5 Days / 4 Nights
Journey with us into the heart of the Great Bear rainforest, in the traditional territory of the Gitga’at First Nation, to watch and photograph one of the rarest bears in the world. Spirit bears, or Kermode bears, are a sub-species of black bears that possess a double recessive gene that gives them their white fur. It’s estimated that there are fewer than 400 of these bears left in the wild.
This trip is for photographers who value patience, being immersed in nature, and are willing to wait it out to experience an incredibly rare and special wildlife moment. Spirit bears are elusive and we may not see them everyday. However, our guides are the best in the business, and over the course of this tour, they will give us the best opportunity to have an amazing sighting. With the wondrous temperate rainforest as our setting, we will have opportunities to go wide to showcase this unique environment or to go in tight to capture the personality of the different bears. In addition, we may also have the ability to photograph a black bear mother and cubs (spirit bear mother and cubs are exceptionally rare), fishing behavior, and other wildlife as we navigate through this incredible wildlife hotspot.
Marven Robinson, Tim Irvin and their team of experienced local guides and ecologists will be your guides on this trip.
Marven has spent his whole life in this part of the coast and has been called the “spirit bear whisperer.” In addition to his guiding work, Marven is also a Gitga’at Guardian Watchmen and a Councillor in the Hartley Bay Band Council. By travelling with Marven, guests will have the opportunity to discuss the rich history and culture of the Gitga’at people.
Tim is an ecologist, photographer and writer. He is a fully certified level 3 bear guide with the Commercial Bear Viewing Association of British Columbia and has been guiding trips in the Great Bear Rainforest since 2002. You can learn more about Tim here. One of Tim’s passions is guiding wildlife adventures for people who care deeply about wildlife and wild places, and therefore he will share his knowledge of the natural history of bears and the surrounding ecosystems.
By combining the local and First Nation’s knowledge of the Gitga’at, with the knowledge of ecology that Tim’s team provides, we are provided with an exceptional experience.
Though we can’t guarantee wildlife sightings, or brilliant sunrises or sunsets, our experience with this location gives us the confidence that this trip will offer amazing wildlife photography opportunities. The weather can be wet and chilly, so it’s best to come prepared with these conditions in mind. We will be in the rainforest after all. There can be fog some mornings, however, it usually burns off by noon, and may reveal a brilliant warm afternoon. We tend to have our best activity early in the morning and after 4pm. All animals have their own personality and some are indifferent to our presence, while others may be more nervous.
○ 4 nights accommodation at the guesthouse
○ All guiding services
○ All meals and beverages
○ Photography instruction
○ Transportation to Prince Rupert, British Columbia
○ Travel insurance (required)
Shockingly, 50% of the ‘hotspots’ where the Spirit bear gene is especially prominent are not protected by parks or protected areas. 10 percent of all sales from the tour will be donated to our conservation partner, which is being finalized.
The tour departs from Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada and includes a water taxi that will take us to the Gitga’at community of Hartley Bay in the Great Bear Rainforest
This itinerary is a basic outline only — our activities on this trip will be dictated by factors including weather, tides and photo opportunities. Each day a plan will be made by our incredible guides to maximize our chances of seeing a spirit bear and other wildlife, working within the parameters of weather, safety and time.
You will need to arrive in Prince Rupert on Sept 19, at least one day before our trip begins. We can provide suggestions on the best flights to Prince Rupert as well as hotels and local attractions.
8:00 am — We depart from Prince Rupert for Hartley Bay by water taxi. The 3 hour trip provides a first glimpse of this beautiful landscape from the water.
11:00 am — After arriving in Hartley Bay, we will quickly get settled in the guesthouse, have an orientation session, pack a lunch and head out for the afternoon and early evening in search of spirit bears at a beautiful river valley close to the village.
Each morning we will set out by boat from Hartley Bay to explore the Great Bear Rainforest. To maximize our chances for encounters with spirit bears and other wildlife, we will depart from Hartley Bay first thing each morning and be out exploring until early evening. There will be opportunities for wildlife viewing and photography every day, but please remember that the weather conditions and the location of wildlife will dictate our activities.
Morning: After breakfast and packing up, guests can choose to accompany their guide on a hike to a nearby lake and/or a trip to view the local Gitga’at Cultural Centre.
11:30 am — We will depart by water taxi for Prince Rupert.
2:30 to 3:30 pm (weather depending) — We arrive back in Prince Rupert, where our tour will come to an end and we will say our goodbyes.
After leaving Prince Rupert, we will stay in a local guesthouse in Hartley Bay — an isolated and picturesque First Nations community of about 180 people. There are no roads in Hartley Bay. Rather, boardwalks connect the town and people get around on all-terrain vehicles. Our accommodations will be modest, but clean and comfortable with private bedrooms and shared bathrooms. A local cook will supply our meals.
A moderate level of fitness is required. Participants should be mobile enough to climb in and out of boats and walk across the uneven and slippery terrain of the intertidal zone. You must also be capable of carrying your gear over muddy rainforest trails for approximately 20-30 minutes.
If you have any concerns about your physical capabilities, please contact us and we can discuss whether this trip is appropriate for you. Please note that all guests will be required to sign a waiver.
○ We will call you to discuss the tour and answer all of your questions.
○ We will send you a recommended packing list.
○ We strongly encourage you to consult with your doctor or visit a travel clinic before you come on our tour.
○ We require that you have valid travel insurance and sign our waiver in order to participate in our tour.
Please contact us to book your spot!
At this moment, the tour is proceeding. If any Covid-19 restrictions prevent this tour from happening, you will be issued a full refund. We are happy to answer any questions you may have.
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.
Before the tour, we discuss (i) tour information (logistics, lodging, food), (ii) gear and equipment, (iii) photos on your “wish list”, (iv) what to expect, and (v) answer any questions that you may have.
10 percent of sales from the tour will be donated to one of our partner conservation organizations. We will also provide you with a briefing on the conservation challenges facing our tour’s primary wildlife subject.
With our briefing sessions and hands on learning, you are going to leave our tours as a better photographer, with a better understanding of behavior, composition, and post-processing.
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 well- experienced, keep us safe, and put us in the best possible position to create a compelling image.