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5 Days of Lodge-based wildlife viewing
per person based on double occupancy
Prices are per person based on double occupancy and do not include 5% GST. R/T air travel package to/from Chilko Lake is included. All prices in USD.
September and October are the best months to see bears in the wild at Chilko Lake and the Chilko River. With as many as 100 bears arriving into the corridor to feed on spawning salmon, the photographic opportunities are endless. The Chilko is undoubtedly one of the best places on the planet to witness grizzlies in the wild. These are interior mountain grizzlies not the brown bears like we see on the coast. Interior grizzlies come in all shapes, sizes and colours and the Chilko, because of its access to reliable salmon, is arguably THE best place to see and photograph sows and cubs.
We built Bear Camp for this very reason. Perched on the banks in the heart of the spawning grounds you can literally watch bears from your bed! However, as the autumn days get shorter and the evenings cooler, we wisely move our guests into cosy lodge accommodations. No expense was spared by the Huston family of Omaha, Nebraska, when they built The Chilko Experience. Situated on a private compound 20 minutes downstream (by road) from Bear Camp, the lodge offers a wide range of ultra deluxe cabins and suites as well as a large timber frame Main Lodge with bar, dining room and plenty of space to weather the elements. There’s a wood-fired hot tub, full gym and even a bunkhouse for the kids.
On this photographic safari, we’ll leave shortly after breakfast and head straight up river to Bear Camp where we launch jet boats, kayaks, lake boats or even SUP’s for the really adventurous. You truly get the best of both worlds on this trip as we’ll use Bear Camp as our outpost lodge for our daily explorations, returning each night to the Chilko Experience for chef-prepared meals and decadent comforts of our private guest ranch.
ROAM has space for a maximum of 9 photographers (2-3 per jet boat) per departure as we’ll spend 7 hours on the water taking pictures each day. There are opportunities for land-based photos (with tripods) as well as utilizing our drift boats to access 18 miles of the Upper Chilko where few travel. The Upper Chilko boast hundreds of bald eagles and we’ve seen bobcat, wolf, cougar as well as many bears.
There is also space for up to 6 multi-sport participants, who can enjoy daily activities such as hiking, ATV’s, boat trips, kayaks, SUP’s, horseback riding and fishing in addition to bear viewing. This program is exclusive to ROAM and available in October.
Itinerary at a Glance
- Take a scenic flight over the Coast Mountains
- Check into your luxurious lodgings a short drive from the river
- Be amazed by the abundance of grizzlies, black bears and eagles feasting on spawning salmon
- Watch and photograph grizzlies feeding on salmon
- Non-photographers can explore Chilko and Tatlayoko lakes by horse, kayak, ATV, raft and boat
- Fish the breath-taking azure waters of Chilko Lake
- Hike or bike on paths enveloped by awe-inspiring mountains
- Enjoy chef-prepared meals and evening “feasts” paired with eclectic wines and craft beer
- Unwind with a book, or do nothing but drink in the spectacular scenery
- R/T air package from Vancouver to Chilko Lake
- Experienced professional guides
- Accommodations at Chilko Experience
- All meals from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 5
- All activities described in the itinerary
- Park fees and necessary permits
What to Expect on the Bear Viewing Photo Safari
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 an afternoon session before the first of many delicious meals in our wilderness setting.
The “photographers” will depart right after breakfast for the headwaters. Utilizing specialized 4-stroke jet boats, we’ll explore the river and lake for the ultimate photographic opportunities. We will have the added benefit of using Bear Camp as a day lodge for charging equipment, lunch and coffee breaks as well as warming up on cooler days.
The Non-photographers will have the following activities to choose from:
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 alpenglow sunsets are worth the wait! During bear viewing season, most of the bruins congregate right at the headwaters so we do not have to paddle far to watch bears feeding on Mother Nature’s bounty.
ATV: the lodge has a fleet of all terrain vehicles for exploring the countryside. Fully guided excursions for all ability levels are available
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 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.
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!
After another amazing breakfast and a morning session, we will get ready for flights home. You should arrive mid-afternoon but we always recommend overnighting in Vancouver at the end of the trip in case of weather issues with smaller aircraft. ROAM would be pleased to make Vancouver accommodation arrangements on your behalf as we often get preferred rates.
Custom built by Pioneer Log Homes, the world’s largest log home builders and host of the television series, Timber Kings, Chilko Experience is a true work of art. Meals are taken in the spacious Main Lodge complete with floor to ceiling windows for mountain views and bar that says “belly up to me please”. The cabins are all different with the exception of being immaculate, beautiful and having lots of space. The lodge is equipped with WiFi, if you must, and has plenty of staff to keep you dearly spoiled between adventures.
About the Region
Our trip begins at the north end of Ts’yl-os Provincial Park. 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.
The Chilcotin River flows near Nazko Lakes Provincial Park and Stump Lake Provincial Park. Both were recently expanded to protect wildlife habitat and BC’s only colony of nesting white pelicans, respectively. Upstream from the confluence of the Chilcotin and Big Creek, lies the new 660 hectares of rolling grassy plateau protected in Big Creek Provincial Park.
To aboriginal 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 Nemaiah First Nation, their agreement on the park represents an important, but tentative first step toward reconciliation with the outside world. It is this world that led to the so-called Chilcotin Indian War of 1864 and the subsequent deaths of many. Today, that historic uprising against the white intrusion on Chilcotin Lands continues to colour the native psyche and the park’s future.
The silty confluence of the Chilcotin and Fraser was also a major territorial boundary. The Ts’ilhqot’in people of the Athapaskan language group held a territory on the northwest side of the confluence where the Junction Sheep Range is located. Small bands of natives traveled the Chilcotin watershed, hunting and gathering food. During salmon runs, these bands would come together at the mouth of the Chilcotin.