Before Natural World Safaris, the brand was split into three, including World Bear Safaris. We have kept all of our specialist knowledge from our World Bear Safari days and continue to design journeys into the natural world to see these magnificent creatures in the wild, including the mighty grizzly bear.
Grizzly bears are a subspecies of brown bear, living in western North America and Canada in a variety of landscapes, such as boreal forests, alpine forests and meadows. With similar colourings, grizzlies are distinguishable from black bear by the distinctive hump on their shoulders. Males have been reportedly weighed at 680 kilos, although they are usually between 180 and 360 kilos and females can be half the size.
As a general rule of thumb, any time between June and September is best for seeing the bears. The earlier months of June and July generally see the grizzlies in the sedge grasses (meadows) where they are grazing and often have their newborn youngsters in tow. This can cause for some feisty encounters as the big males also emerge and start showing interest in the fresh-faced females! Later in the season (July to September) the salmon run comes in and the bears begin to claim their river spots to ensure the best fishing rights. This is a frenetic time as huge grizzlies fight to prove their dominance and stake their claim on the best salmon fishing locations. When it comes to the ice grizzlies, the time period is slim with literally only a few weeks that will offer you the opportunity to photograph these icy dreadlocked beasts. Early to mid-October usually provide the best weeks, however, it is important to remember that wildlife is unpredictable so nothing can be guaranteed.
In Canada, Tweedsmuir Park Lodge is a cosy destination located on the banks of the Atnarko River and surrounded by stunning mountain scenery. It's the perfect base from which to explore this beautiful wilderness area and one of the best places to spot grizzly bears fishing the rivers during salmon-spawning season.
In Alaska, nothing prepares you for the guttural roars of grizzlies fighting over the best fishing spot in Katmai National Park, or the peace and tranquillity of lone individuals chest deep in salmon pools in Bella Coola Valley biding their time.
Despite their magnificent size, grizzlies are good runners, reaching speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. They hibernate for the winter in a large den; they will dig themselves in sheltered ground to build up their fat reserves on which they will live through the long cold forthcoming months. Pregnant females will enter their den alone, eventually emerging with cubs (usually twins), feeding them underground on their reserves – losing about 40 per cent of their body weight as they do so. These omnivorous ‘top of the food chain’ predators can easily take down a moose or elk for a large supper, but their main diet consists of nuts, leaves, berries and roots.
One of the best ways to explore the domain of our grizzly friends is on a self-drive trip. This means you can travel at your leisure (we can tailor the itinerary for you prior to departure) and you make your way from property to property along the way. In this way, you can see as much or as little as you wish of the Canadian wilderness and can take your time to soak up your surroundings. It may be that some of your ‘self-drive’ actually involves local charter flights or boats to access the more remote properties. One thing for sure, however, is that you have the freedom to explore at will, but the reassurance of knowing that all of your accommodation, activities, etc. are all booked in advance.