Alicia & Neil
Photograping Bears in the Great Bear Rainforest.
In September of 2021 Covid was raging and international travel was not an option. We decided that we would drive to the Bella Coola Valley and photograph bears feasting on spawning salmon in Tweedsmuir Provincial park which is part of the Great Bear Rainforest in BC. We really enjoyed ourselves but do remember this is a rainforest so be prepared. It rained pretty much every day, there were lots of breaks where we were able to photograph inspite of the rain. When the clouds do clear enough the scenery is easily some of the most breath taking in the world.
I read an article that said getting there is easy, just fly in. It is a short flight from the Vancouver airport but remember this is a rainforest and the airport may be closed due to low clouds. When we were there some international visitors missed their connecting international flight because of this.
The second option is a ferry from Vancouver Island. The ferry leaves from the north of the island so this means making some arrangements. At the end of our stay we took the ferry from Bella Coola to Vancouver Island, the scenery is absolutely stunning with deep fiords and high costal mountains. If you are lucky some whales or dolphins may keep you company. It is also a very expensive trip.
The third option is to drive to Bella Coola which we did. It is a 6 hour drive from Williams Lake to Bella Coola through very isolated country with limited cell service. Make sure your vehicle is in good repair and you have a spare. The road is paved from Williams Lake to "The Hill" although a little rough in places. At the bottom of "The Hill" the highway is again paved all the way to Bella Coola and in good shape. Now "The Hill" and people refer to it this way is gravel, which is probably better for traction, is an adventure as it is very steep with a lot of curves. We have a Hybrid which has electronic breaking and we still stopped a couple of times to let our brakes cool as you could smell them. We had a clear dry day and very little traffic so it was not as bad. People come down this hill with big 5th wheel trailers, I would not want to meet them on a curve.
We stayed in the Rip Rap Campground and I can highly recommend it. Bathrooms and showers were nice. What was most welcome was they have a small building that visitors can relax in. As we were camping in the back of our Rav4 evenings would have been a little claustrophobic without this. It also gave us the opportunity to meet other visitors.
We spent several days here and had lots of opportunity to photograph bears and lots with their cubs. One female crossed right in front of us with her cub and gave us no attention. We have heard the females actually like to come where people are as males avoid people so their cubs are safe. Male bears will kill the cubs if they can. The main viewing areas we went to were Belarko Viewing area and Fisheries Pool Campground. We have included some of the pictures we captured as well this video.
This bear fished in the river right in front of us while her baby sat on the shore.
This bear was fishing right in front of us at the Belarnko viewing area.
The baby of the bear fishing.
This was a big male bear with a huge salmon.
A mother bear was calling to her twins to come out.
The cubs did finally come out.
Adult bears can stand in the river but these cubs became very tired swimming against this current.
This bear caught this fish. The baby was wanting his share. Eventually the two headed into the woods with the fish.
This baby caught his own fish. He almost seemed to surprise himself.
The clouds cleared and the scenery is breath taking