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Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary Tour

The Khutzeymateen Valley is Canada’s only Grizzly Bear Sanctuary and an absolute paradise for wildlife photographers looking for a grizzly bear photography tour. This 39,000-hectare valley lies 40 kilometres (25 miles) northeast of Prince Rupert on the British Columbia coast. It supports a robust ancient trilogy of grizzly bears, spawning salmon, and mammoth Sitka spruce trees. In 1992, after years of effort by several individuals and organizations, such as the Valhalla Society, the Khutzeymateen Valley was declared Canada’s first Grizzly Bear Sanctuary by the B.C. government.

This area is home to an estimated 40 – 60 grizzlies who depend on the rich valley for their existence, with its dense rainforest, river mouth estuary, and open fjord. In addition to photographing grizzly bears this area also attracts wolves, migrating geese, ducks, harbor seals, beavers, and otters, as well as orca and humpback whales. The watershed also supports over 100 species of birds including owls, grouse, shore birds, hummingbirds, swifts, woodpeckers, and kingfishers. Uninhabited by humans, there are no roads, villages or campsites, making this valley pure wilderness and the perfect habitat for the grizzly bear. To explore this magnificent valley, Ocean Light Adventures will welcome you aboard the Ocean Light II, a 71 ft ocean ketch which will serve as our base.  From there we will travel by motorized inflatable to the estuary to safely observe and photograph these mighty animals.

Photography Guide: Michelle Valberg

Nikon ambassador Canada

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What to Bring

The following is a list of the clothing and equipment you will need on your Khutzeymateen grizzly bear photography tour. It is of utmost importance that you follow this list accurately for your own comfort and well-being. The proper preparation is a vital factor in an expedition’s success. When selecting your clothing, keep in mind the following principles about staying warm and dry.

Layering. It is very effective to wear layers of clothing to stay warm, as the air trapped between the layers acts as an insulator. Layering also allows you to regulate your body heat by adjusting the number of layers, depending on the temperature and your activity level.  There are 3 main layers: Transfer which is the layer next to your skin; Insulating which is the main warmth layer(s); and, Protective which is the outer layer to protect you from wind, rain, and other elements.

Keeping Dry. Wetness increases the loss of body heat and is uncomfortable, so it’s important to stay as dry as possible. Some clothing is hydrophobic, and therefore, stays dry (i.e., synthetics such as polypropylene, polyester, capilene, and natural fibres such as wool and silk).Clothes made of these materials make great expedition clothing. Be careful of other materials (e.g., cotton and down), because they are absorbent and stay wet. Also, avoid overdressing as it can cause excess perspiration and therefore wetness.

Your Camera Gear: If you wish to discuss specifics regarding which camera bodies and lenses you own and which ones are best suited to the trip, Michelle will be happy to discuss that with you.

While on your Khutzeymateen grizzly bear photography tour, your camera gear is best kept in a waterproof case or pack. It is crucial to keep gear dry while sitting in the rain. We strongly encourage you invest in a rainproof cover for your camera – both AquaTech and Think Tank Photo make excellent models that fit most cameras.

We encourage you to bring plenty of memory cards and/or ample hard-drive space or storage devices – the area is exceptionally photogenic and you may easily experience once-in-a-lifetime scenes. No drones allowed! Polarizing filters are often used to reduce glare when shooting scenes that include water or wet subjects.

Please note that most – if not all – of your photography will take place from within an inflatable boat and as such tripods are not necessary and not recommended. The boat has regular household outlets (120V) for charging batteries and laptop computers.

 

Travel Details

Itinerary

Please Note: Due to the early meeting time on the first day, you must arrive in Prince Rupert prior to Day 1 of your expedition.

Day 1 – L/D

The trip begins in the coastal community of Prince Rupert. An early morning float plane flight from the Seal Cove float plane dock takes you to the Ocean Light II and her crew who await at the head of the Khutzeymateen Inlet. The remainder of the day will be spent pursuing bear viewing opportunities.

Days 2 and 3 – B/L/D

The itinerary for your Khutzeymateen grizzly bear photography tour must remain flexible so that we can maximize each day’s bear and wildlife viewing opportunities. The daily tide schedule varies and will largely dictate our itinerary. But our time in the inflatable or ashore will find us in some part of the estuary/inlet viewing what could be any number of animals, including black and grizzly bears, seals, river otters, coastal grey wolves, geese, ducks, and eagles. At dusk, after the evening’s activities, you will return to the boat to enjoy a hot drink and dinner while reflecting on the day’s events.

Day 4 – B

After breakfast the float plane will arrive for your return trip to Prince Rupert.

The Boat. The Ocean Light II is an Ocean 71’ ketch and is thought by many to be the perfect B.C. Coast charter yacht. With thirteen Atlantic crossings, the Ocean Light II has the pedigree and comfort to make any sailing experience with her one to remember. It has a spacious, well maintained interior of mahogany, authentic Douglas Fir and white enamel. The layout offers 5 separate guest cabins that are closed off from the rest of the yacht. A berth will be assigned to each person upon arrival. There are two heads, a shower and the interior is all newly remodeled. The main salon located below deck is a spacious 14’ x 17’, which seats twelve comfortably while still leaving space to move about freely. There is ample deck space and she is very comfortable under sail. Ocean Light II features all of the extras expected: 19’ hard bottom inflatable, three kayaks as well as an extensive library for your enjoyment.

The Guides & Crew. Chris Tulloch and Tom McPherson have many years of coastal sailing and bear viewing experience. They have introduced the coast of B.C. to hundreds of people, young and old. Assisting as crew, guide, and cook is Jenn Broom. She has worked on the coast for many years and will make you feel at home aboard our beautiful boat. Alternately, Luise Frommer will be the cook and crew.

We take special care in preparing nutritious and delicious meals. All meals will be prepared aboard the sailboat and will include fresh seafood, homemade soups, breads and salads. Wine is served with dinner, and you may bring your own drinks to be consumed in moderation only when the anchor is down for the night.  We will not tolerate excessive drinking on our vessel. Clients have the option to assist in food gathering and meal preparation. If you have particular dietary restrictions, please let us know well in advance.

Weather along the coast in the spring can be variable.  One should expect the variety of weather that creates the many moods for which this area is noted. Come prepared for cold, wet weather and perhaps a morning frost. When the sun comes out – as it often does – you will be pleasantly surprised. Hot, sunny days are common as well.

 

What’s Included

What’s Included?

  • The services of a fully qualified skipper/bear guide and cook/crew
  • Air charter from Prince Rupert to the Khutzeymateen Valley return
  • All meals as listed on the itinerary (B = Breakfast;

L= Lunch; D = Dinner)

 

What’s Not Included?

  • Gratuities for crew (optional and/or discretionary, but always appreciated!)
  • Optional airport drop-off fee if you request the float plane to drop you off at Prince Rupert Airport (final day of trip).
  • Transportation between your home and Prince Rupert, BC
  • Personal belongings and equipment as per “Clothing & Equipment List”
  • Any meals and accommodation in Prince Rupert prior to Day 1
  • Excess baggage charges
  • Any extra personal expenses incurred because of weather, logistical delays, or delayed departures of chartered or scheduled aircraft.

 

Dates and Cost

Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Photography Tour

Date: June 2021

Price: $2995 CAD plus 5% GST from Prince Rupert

No single supplement for single travelers but singles may have to share a cabin with other single of same sex.

Price includes $150 Park Fee, $25 Bear Sustainability Fee for research and conservation, $25 Bear Viewing License fee, all meals as per the itinerary, and return charter float plane flight between Prince Rupert and the Khutzeymateen Valley.

Payment options:

  1. By cheque. Please make payable to Ocean Light II

Adventures and mail to:

Ocean Light II Adventures

#363 – 1917 West 4th Ave

Vancouver, BC V6J 1M7

  1. By Email (Interac e-Transfer) – For Canadians only. Send to adventure@oceanlight2.bc.ca
  2. By International Wire Transfer. A $17 transfer fee per transaction will be added to total cost.

Cancellation Policy

More than 365 days prior to tour.

Full refund on deposit.

365 days to 120 days prior to tour.

Refund of 50% of trip deposit.

119 days to 90 days prior to tour.

50% of trip cost.

89 days or less prior to tour.

No refund.

 

Testimonials

``Thank you for the incredible opportunity to travel with you to the Great Bear Rainforest. Your generosity of spirit, good cheer, knowledge and friendship made for an especially enjoyable time.Thank you for sharing your craft, dedication to your art and nature for your friends and followers. We have learned so much from you.``

Mary Ann

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