Bear Camp Multi-Sport
Ideal for families or even the most intrepid adventurers, Bear Camp has it all. Just a one-hour flight from Vancouver or Whistler, Bear Camp is literally worlds apart. We offer authentic wilderness experiences for hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, wildlife viewing, stand up paddle boarding, boating, and wildlife viewing paired with incredible scenery, great food and wonderful hospitality.
To say Bear Camp is a unique accommodation experience is an understatement. Bear Camp is place where people and bears can interact and live harmoniously. With 20-25 resident grizzly bears during summer and another 80-100 grizzlies coming to visit in autumn to feed on spawning salmon, we built the camp on stilts. Your waterfront tents are elevated, spacious, comfortable and serve as wildlife viewing platforms. Some call it “glamping” but we say it’s like an African safari experience with a Canadian twist!
While you are here, you can pick and choose your activities on a day-by-day basis. Adventure by day, comfort by night – in a cozy bed, hot showers and chef-prepared meals – makes reaching this wild west frontier even more desirable. Our all-inclusive packages are 4, 5 or 8 days, but you will be challenged to do it all in a week as we kayak on a 55-mile long lake surrounded by snow-capped peaks, ride into the alpine on rugged mountain horses (or by foot) with trusted guide, canoe or SUP on a crystal clear river, cast a line for record trout, photograph a grizzly feeding on salmon, take a scenic raft or drift boat ride, challenge some fun whitewater in an inflatable kayak or explore the region by mountain bike (undulating terrain or screaming single track) – the choice is yours. Some might say “the sky is the limit” but there’s even optional heli hiking to places unimaginable!
Here’s a one minute Bear Camp over view with the Lava Canyon add-on:
Where is Chilko Lake?!
Located almost due north of Vancouver, this massive alpine wilderness is tucked on the dry side of the Coast Mountain ranges and spans 5 different bio-geo-climactic zones hosting abundant wildlife. Participants will witness the value of a healthy ecosystem and the wildlife that it supports. Home to one of the biggest salmon runs in the world, Chilko Lake is the spawning ground for millions of fish. All this salmon brings grizzly bears to the table and this in turn creates a “salmon forest” where the recycled nutrients from the fish fertilize the soil. Giant Fir trees, spans of trembling aspen, alpine fescue, and majestic stands of spruce trees surround a glacial lake, so clean you can drink it.
|Trip Length||4, 5 or 8 days|
4 Day – Thursday to Sunday
5 Day – Sunday to Thursday
8 Day – Sunday to Sunday
|Price||$1995, $2495, $3495 USD|
|Meeting Place||Vancouver, BC|
|Gateway City||Vancouver, BC|
|River Rating||Class II-III|
- Itinerary at a Glance
• incredible scenic flight over the mountains and glaciers
• Enjoy hiking, biking, rafting, sea kayaking, SUP’s and canoeing
• Horseback riding at Tatlayoko
• Fly fish or spin fish for rainbow and bull trout (lake or river)
• watch grizzlies and bald eagles gorge on salmon
• deluxe safari tenting based on double occupancy (1 king or 2 doubles)
• chef-prepared meals
• professional guide services
• all activities as outlined
• park fee and permits
• R/T Vancouver to Williams Lake plus transfers on commercial plane $600 pp (Good)
• One-way direct charter to Bear Camp/ return to Vancouver commercial plane from Williams Lake $800 pp (Better)
• R/T Vancouver to Bear Camp airstrip by direct charter plane $1000 pp (Best!)
Float plane or heli access – quotes by request
- Detailed Itinerary
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every trip is different depending upon the group, trip length and time of year. The following is a sample of what you might expect.
Day One – Meet in Vancouver for flights northbound.
For those arriving at Vancouver International Airport on Day One – it is essential to arrive a minimum of two hours before our meeting time. Please to allow enough time for possible flight delays, clearing customs and transferring from the International Airport terminal to the South Terminal area. As soon as everyone’s gear is stowed, we will board our plane for the incredible flight over the mountains and glaciers. Upon arrival at Chilko Lake, your guides will give you an orientation to camp and the events ahead but there should be time for a hike or paddle before the first of many delicious meals in our wilderness setting.
Activities to choose:
Hiking: there are an endless number of great trails accessible right from Bear Camp. Green Lake offers pretty mellow terrain for stretching one’s legs, while Mt Tullin is a challenging hike with 360 degree views. Heli hiking can also be arranged at additional expense (but is worth every penny) and visits a number of valleys and nearby glaciers.
Kayaking: Chilko Lake is one of the world’s premiere alpine lake destinations where you can explore by boat in total tranquility. Surrounded by massive glacier-capped peaks and a road-less wilderness, you will spend the days paddling the lake and picnicking on sandy beaches. Days are long but the alpen glow sunsets are worth the wait! During bear viewing season, most of the bruins congregate right at our doorstep so we do not have to paddle far to watch bears feeding on Mother Nature’s bounty.
Horseback: Friendly horses and astute wranglers can tailor rides for all abilities on mountain trails, through fields of wildflowers, or riverside to beautiful waterfalls. You’ll soon know what we mean by “happy trails”. We utilize incredibly fit and well cared for mountain horses that will get you to places unimaginable.
Fishing: A veritable bouillabaisse of fish, the Chilko is utopia for anglers of all abilities. The river is a giant bevy of hot spots, with clear shallows and deep pools. Draining the main lake, the waters never cloud and fishing is superb throughout the season. The river is “fly fish only, catch and release” and we have jon and drift boats and all the necessary gear to wade and fish this pristine waterway. We can teach beginners to fly fish or you can take a spin rod on the lake, the choice is yours.
Mountain Biking: Flowing single track, winding dirt roads, coasting along the rivers edge or gliding through pine-scented forests, we’ve got it all. Our fleet of Kona mountain bikes comes with vehicle support and a knowledgeable guide. What more could you want? Eliminate the hills? We can do that too!
River Float or Paddle: floating right from Bear Camp, we can travel a half-day (10 miles) or an entire day (21 miles with a picnic lunch) by raft or inflatable kayak (aka “ducky”) and navigate some fun and scenic water that is still appropriate for little ones.
Drift Boat: for the ultimate in scenic rides – and ideal for photographers – try a dory ride on this breathtaking stretch. In a drift boat you get a fun ride but soak up the scenery instead of waves. Our drift boat is also ideal for fly fishing outings and during salmon season, the dories provide an unobtrusive way to float among the bears.
Bushcraft: there are many options for paddling, fishing, hiking or biking but one of the big highlights of this trip is the option for “bushcraft”. This involves a hike or drive up to Scotty Meadow to meet, 75 year old survivalist expert, Mike Yates, a.k.a. “Grizz”. Mike ran a survival school for decades and was better known as the Marlboro Man for the cigarette manufacturer’s advertising series in Europe and abroad. Participants will see how to live off-the-grid, learn about plants and wildflowers as well as learn about constructing traditional log homes. By the day’s end you will be ready to face even the worst zombie apocalypse…or at least light a fire and build shelter!
Whitewater Rafting – Try our Bear Camp Combo package that adds a 3 night Chilko River Expedition or try a Lava Canyon mini adventure for 2 days/1 night.
The Lava Canyon section of the Chilko River offers the longest stretch of commercially navigable whitewater in North America. Unmatched in its diversity and enormous stretches of continuous Class IV whitewater, you will be treated to rollicking hydraulics and towering standing waves that cascade for more than 18 miles through deep and narrow lava gorges.
Sections of this incredible river can be challenged exclusively with ROAM.
- Bear-Camp Safari Tents
The heart of Bear Camp is a 1954 log fishing & hunting cabin that has been renovated with some modern funk to compliment the vintage charm. Surrounding the cabin are your safari-tent platforms, perched along the waterline, 16 feet in the air. Walk over 500’ of deck-front as you watch grizzly bears feast on salmon right below you. If you can’t already tell, we are passionate about this place: the wilderness, the wildlife, the adventure, the tranquility. Off-the-grid living isn’t for everyone though, so we have made it more inviting to get out of your comfort zone and into ours: hot showers, flush toilets, cozy wood stove and chef-prepared meals will have you slipping into a wilderness paradise, with everything you need and nothing you don’t.
In your tent you will find either a king bed or two double beds, piled with warm down duvets, BC-made recycled pine furniture, reading lamps, charging docks for your devices (keep an extra camera battery charging!) and plush towels. In a bed so inviting it can be hard to get up in the morning, so each day begins with coffee delivery right to your tent!
See the “Trip Planner” for Vancouver accommodations
- About the Region
Our trip encompasses a large swath in the Chilcotin which includes the Chilko River and Tatlayoko and Chilko lakes. Ts’yl-os Provincial Park was established in 1994, Ts’yl-os (pronounced sigh loss) is 233,240 hectares in the Chilcotin Ranges of the Coast Mountains. Although Chilko Lake is the centerpiece of the park, it is just one of many incredible natural features. Though there is much to explore in the region, it is rugged and unserviced leaving its visitors up to their own devices. This is where we fit in.
Participants are continually overwhelmed by the excitement and beauty of this natural corridor. Obviously the Province of British Columbia agrees with us, as it has established more than 17 new parks in the Cariboo-Chilcotin region. The Chilko River drains Chilko Lake making this free flowing waterway perfect to raft from May through October. The Chilko is one of North America’s best rafting rivers and boasts miles of roller coaster rapids that will keep you grinning from start to finish.
To First Nation people of the Nemaiah Valley, Ts’yl-os is much more than a provincial park. Ts’yl-os was a man, or at least he used to be long ago, and like any man he had his moods. Given his towering height of 3,061 meters (Mount Tatlow on a map), it is wise to respect him and especially not to point at him. His presence can be so dominating that when occasional bad weather hits the valley, the 250 native residents wonder if it is a message from their spiritual protector.
For the isolated Tsilhqot’in (Chill-co-tin) First Nation, their agreement on the park represents an important step toward reconciliation with the outside world.
- Trip Planner
We are very excited that you will be joining us on this incredible expedition. Richard Hobson, a pioneer Chilcotin rancher and author once said that the Cariboo-Chilcotin was “a land that drew me like a magnet into its soul.” We have prepared this trip planner to help you get ready for the adventures ahead in this truly unspoiled part of the world. We have tried to anticipate questions you might have concerning travel arrangements, what to bring, and getting in shape.
If any of your questions remain unanswered, please don’t hesitate to call. We strive to fully prepare you for what to expect on your trip so you can spend your vacation running rapids, hiking and landing monster trout rather than wondering whether or not you brought the right pair of shoes.
Personal Equipment Notes
The personal equipment list we provide you with has been developed through years of practical experience. It is important that the clothing you bring will withstand the rigors of the trip. Your personal equipment should not weigh more than 40 pounds and all clothing should be quick drying and be made of synthetics. Warmth and comfort are the main objectives with this outline. Weather conditions can vary considerably in the North. It’s important to dress in layers so that you can maintain a comfortable body temperature no matter what Mother Nature may have in store. The inner layer should move perspiration outside, where it can evaporate. The intermediate layer should insulate while the outside layer should act as a barrier to wind and rain.
On this trip we’ll be more likely to have the occasional shower than an entire day of rain. Still, you’ll be more comfortable if you stay warm and dry, so be sure to pack some rain gear-both tops and bottoms. They should be compact enough to fit easily into your daypack.
Pile or Fleece
The best we’ve found is 200-weight Polar Plus, which is used by a variety of companies. This fabric is warm, dries quickly and is not excessively bulky. It can be found in many different styles and colours.
Synthetic materials like polypropylene, polyester and natural fibers like silk and wool work well. Both are quick drying and bacteria resistant, as well. Do not bring cotton long underwear. When wet, cotton dissipates heat from your body and takes a long time to dry.
Choose lightweight, synthetic fabrics that breathe well for warm weather walking. Whatever you choose, be sure you have comfortable freedom of movement, especially for uphill and downhill walking.
Footwear for Hiking and Walking
The importance of good footwear cannot be overstated. What may seem like a good shoe at home could leave you with sore feet on your trip. Given that our trails are often gravelly or sometimes muddy, you need a good walking boot with a firm sole, good ankle support and a degree of water resistance. It’s now easy to find a “hybrid” walking boot, which combines the lightweight, ventilated features of a shoe with the support and durability of a boot. If you buy new walking shoes or boots for the trip, make sure you break them in well before you go.
Bring at least one pair for each day unless you want to wash them out each night. We recommend synthetic/wool blend as these tend to draw the perspiration from the foot and will keep your feet warm, even when wet. It may be a good idea to bring along some additional items such as foot powder, cushioned pads and/or bandages to place inside your footwear-just in case. Another worthwhile product is something called Spenco 2nd Skin, which provides cushioned comfort with an antiseptic for blistered and sore feet. Many people find a product called moleskin gives them great relief from blisters. The guides carry a blister kit as part of their first-aid supplies.
Bring a daypack that holds approximately 20-35 litres to carry raingear, camera and water bottle.
Personal Equipment List
• 1 pair light hiking boots with appropriate number of socks
• 1 pair river sandals (Tevas) with neoprene socks and/or wetsuit boots
• 5-7 pairs warm wool socks
• 2 long-sleeved shirts
• 3 T-shirts
• 2 long underwear tops (synthetic)
• 1 pile or fleece jacket (100-200 weight)
• 1 high quality waterproof rain jacket
• 1 down or synthetic jacket or vest (for early or late season departures)
• 2 pairs long underwear bottoms (synthetic)
• 2 pairs of light shorts (quick-drying)
• 1-2 pairs of quick-dry pants
• 1 pair high quality waterproof rain pants
• Undergarments (ideally 1-2 of them synthetic)
• 1 swimsuit
Head & Hands
• 1 sun hat or visor
• Fleece hat
• 1 pair lightweight fleece gloves
• 1 day pack (for use on boats or day hikes)
• 1-liter water bottle or hydration system
• Toiletry kit (personal medications)
• Sunscreen, lip salve, insect repellent
• Sunglasses with safety strap and extra prescription glasses (if necessary)
• Small flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries
• Camera with extra batteries (optional)
• Notebook, journal, reading material (optional)
• Binoculars (optional)
• Fishing rod, with case and tackle (optional)
We are flying from Vancouver in small passenger planes, so please pack your gear into soft duffle bags (NO SUITCASES). The gear should weigh less than 40 pounds in total. The airline may charge you for excess baggage or even, in rare circumstances, refuse your bags.
Getting Insured -Trip Cancellation Insurance
R.O.A.M. strongly recommends that you purchase trip cancellation insurance. You risk forfeiture of all monies paid, if you cancel your trip. You have the option of purchasing an insurance policy that meets the specific needs of our travellers.
Please make sure you understand what the insurance will and will not cover. Please consult the policy for exact coverage, details of other risks insured, and for other benefits and limitations of the insurance.
Getting in Shape
Our trips are designed for people who enjoy the out-of-doors, rather than for fitness fanatics. Still, they are active holidays. Age is unimportant when it comes to your ability to do the rafting, walking, and/or hiking-the more important consideration is your physical condition. If you haven’t attempted the kind of exercise levels required by our trips within the last couple of years, please be aware of the sort of trip you’re taking. It’s an active one, and you’ll enjoy it more if you’ve been doing some exercise before you go. No previous river experience is required.
Your guides will give you an orientation to expedition practices and teach you all the basic skills that you’ll require to enjoy the different aspects of the trip. Our prime consideration is to provide you with a trip that is as safe and comfortable as possible while still maintaining the integrity of a wilderness experience. Activities that involve aerobic conditioning, such as swimming, walking, jogging, squash, and tennis are great for overall physical conditioning. Keep in mind the relative topography of where you live compared to the region you will be visiting. If you live in flat country, for example, consider supplementing your training with artificial hill training on a treadmill or stair-master.
A Thumbnail Training Program
• Two-three months before the trip starts: try to do exercises that involve aerobic conditioning three times each week-swimming, walking, jogging, squash, cross-country skiing, tennis, biking.
• One month before the trip: go for a couple of longer walks each week.
• The week before your trip: try to go for three long walks.
• Be sure to stretch after exercising-it reduces the chances of injury, muscle pain, stiffness, and fatigue.
Our kayaks are manufactured in B.C. and are ideally suited for the waters we are paddling. When on the river, we utilize state-of-the-art self-bailing rafts. The rafts have been designed with center-mount oar rigs and allow participants the option of paddling or just soaking up the views. The mountain bikes are made by Kona and have disk brakes and good suspension. Our fishing boats are custom made by Koffler Designs and are specially designed for the Chilko. With a little advance notice, a bush plane on floats or helicopter can be located to the lodge for those wishing to add heli-hiking or fly-in fishing to their adventure.
For the fisherman, Chilko Lake is a truly world class. Home to large populations of rainbow and bull trout, the river is one of B.C.’s best fisheries and has a special classification because of it. If you plan on fishing a lot, you may want to bring your favorite 5- to 6-weight rod with case.
The Chilko-Chilcotin tends to be dry in climate and much warmer than the coast. Daytime highs in the interior can reach 90 degrees F and the temperatures will drop quite a bit during the evenings. While we don’t expect rain, it is always a possibility in British Columbia. Be sure to follow our recommended equipment list, as our experience suggests a multi-layering approach with a range of temperatures and conditions in mind.
Making Your Travel Plans
To Downtown Vancouver
Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in North America, and you should plan to spend some time here, either before or after your trip. There are many ways to get downtown from the airport. The easiest way is by taxi, which takes about 20 minutes and costs about $40. There is also a regularly scheduled airport shuttle that goes to all major hotels and costs about $25. Should your plans call for a rental car, you’ll find all the major agencies represented at the airport.
Unless told otherwise, your Chilko trip and flight departs 11:00 AM sharp from a private terminal near the international airport. Closer to the date, we will let you know the exact terminal (they are all close to each other) as it can vary. Assume for the time being (as a default), we will fly from Signature Flight Support Services. This is not the main Vancouver International terminal-it is smaller private departure lounge near the south terminal
Signature Flight Support Services – Vancouver
Any taxi can take you to the terminal from the Main International Terminal (10 minute drive) or from your hotel. For those driving, there is long-term parking available for a daily charge.
We are flying from Vancouver in small passenger planes, so please pack your gear into soft duffel bags
Here you will meet your pilots and load the aircraft for the scenic flight up and over the Coast Mountains. If you are going to be late for your flight, please call us as soon as possible (888 639 1114) to see if we can hold the plane. Unfortunately this may not be possible, so participants missing their flight will be responsible for their own airfare and expenses to Chilko Lake.
After Your Trip
After your trip, you will be dropped off in Vancouver. Weather permitting, you should arrive in time to make connecting flights that depart after 8:00 PM but we highly recommend you overnight in Vancouver. It is approximately 10-15 minutes by shuttle to the main terminal of the airport.
The Canadian monetary unit is the Canadian dollar (CDN). Like U.S. currency, coins are the nickel, quarter, the one dollar “Loonie” and two dollar “Toonie.” The most common bills are 5, 10, and 20-dollar denominations. Avoid carrying large sums of cash at any time during your holiday. Credit cards are widely accepted, especially VISA and MasterCard.
American dollars and traveller’s cheques are accepted everywhere though at exchange rates that thieves envy. When converting American to Canadian dollars, you’ll get the most favourable rates at banks. Most banks are open from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM Monday to Friday though some branches stay open later and on Saturday mornings. ATMs are everywhere.
Canada is very safe for travelling, but still there is no point in carrying lots of valuables when travelling. Regrettably, tourists are among the most easily targeted, so please exercise some caution. We also recommend that you check your personal insurance policy before travelling to ensure that you are covered for theft and loss while travelling. As a safety precaution, do not travel with excessive amounts of cash or jewelry if it is not necessary.
Canada is officially a bilingual nation with English and French being the two recognised languages. However, the chances that you will hear any French spoken out west are slim. Of course, once you are “oot” and “aboot” on your Canadian holiday, you shouldn’t have any language problems, eh? Once a forbidden subject, it is now okay to speak to Canadians about Olympic Hockey.
A passport is required for all travel to and from Canada
On our trip, we’ll be traveling through some environmentally and historically sensitive areas. Our excursions are designed to promote an understanding of the delicate ecosystems that make our province unique while preserving their fundamental integrity. We ask participants to share our concern for the environment by practising low-impact touring in this sensitive area.
R.O.A.M. operates on a “leave-no-trace” policy, meaning we travel in a self-contained manner, carrying in what we require and carrying out all garbage and human waste. We believe the survival of the natural environment and the wildlife it supports depends on establishing an economy beyond simple resource harvesting. Our goal is to immerse our clients in B.C.’s vast natural beauty, which, in turn, supports eco-tourism as a viable, economic choice.
Canada’s Goods & Services Tax (GST)
Canada has a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 5% and the province of British Columbia has a 7% Provincial Sales Tax (PST).
Telephone and Fax
Phoning and faxing in Canada is the same as in the United States. Coin-operated public telephones are the norm in Canada, and there are also phone-card-operated machines. To make a local call using coins, the cost is 25 cents. Local phone numbers in Vancouver require the area code (604) followed by the 7 digits. For international calls, you begin by dialing 1, and overseas calls begin with 011.
Our trip leader carries a satellite phone for emergency purposes. Should you need a phone at your disposal, you should make arrangements for your own satellite communication. Because of our remote locale, cellular phones are not an option.
Our guides are as impressive as the scenery; passionate about their work, they are delighted to pass on their knowledge and skills. They have an intimate knowledge of a region’s wildlife, natural history, culture and folklore. Trained in wilderness first aid and professionally certified to the highest provincial level in British Columbia, our guides are eager to please and will ensure you have a memorable experience.
Tips and Tipping
• Tipping is common in Canada, and fairly similar to U.S. practices. Of course, there are some exceptions, which we have noted.
• Taxis – 5% is appropriate for good service and 10% is generous.
• Porters – $2 per bag.
• Restaurants – It is appropriate to leave 15% before tax.
The tipping of R.O.A.M. guides is entirely discretionary, and we feel strongly that gratuities should not be offered to them if they lead anything less than a great trip. However, we expect that our guides will do a great job in making your trip memorable and, when they do, it is not uncommon for our travellers to offer a gratuity. The guides very much appreciate it. We are often asked what is appropriate. In general, we have found that when our travellers offer a gratuity, it is in the range of a “thank you” to 15% of the trip cost per person. But again, tipping is entirely at your discretion.
The Granville Island Hotel* and Sandman Signature Vancouver Airport* offer our travelers “preferred rates” if booked through our Canadian office.
*Granville Island Hotel
1253 Johnston St
Tel 683-7373 Fax: 683-3061, US/Canada 1-800-663-1840
Easy to get to and hard to leave, this is my personal favorite. This island retreat in the heart of the city is right on the water, and within walking distance of the Public Market and other attractions. Centrally located, you can even take the water taxi to shopping districts downtown.
*Sandman Signature Vancouver Airport
10251 St. Edwards Drive
Tel: 604.278.9611?Fax: 604.233.7733 US/Canada 1-800-726-3626
Offering the latest in upscale hotel elegance. Enjoy the convenience of staying at the airport, while still only a short taxi ride to downtown.
845 Hornby Street
Tel (604) 689-7777, Fax (604) 608-5348, US/Canada 1-800-663-0666
If you are looking for a small country inn with downtown elegance, the Wedgewood is for you. Proudly owned and managed by Eleni Skalbania, the Wedgewood has loads of character. Eleni’s European heritage is reflected in every detail, from the charming guest rooms to the hotel’s fine restaurant, Bacchus. Well located, the hotel is right across from the Vancouver Art Gallery and close to the Robson Street. shopping district.
845 Burrard Street
Tel (604) 682-5511, Fax (604) 682-5513, US/Canada 1-800-810-6888; 1-800-961-7555
Home to Vancouver’s burgeoning film industry crowd, the Sutton Place is ideally located in the heart of town. Adjacent to Robson Street, Vancouver’s shopping district, and close to the Vancouver Art Gallery and great restaurants, this is an elegant hotel. ,Its restaurant, Le Club, is not only the best place in town for catching a glimpse of any celebrities in town, but is also home to a decadent chocolate bar. The 400 rooms are large and carefully decorated to make guests feel like they are staying in a much smaller hotel.