Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to questions about Spirit Bear Lodge, Packages, Wildlife Viewing and More.

What is the best time for wildlife viewing?

Typically the best time to visit is from late August through early October. By this time the rivers and streams should be full of salmon, a keystone species, drawing all kinds of wildlife to the area including eagles, seals, sea lions, wolves, whales and of course, bears! 

Will I see a Spirit Bear?

The wildlife is typically most plentiful when the salmon run is in full swing from late August through October.  The appearance of Spirit Bears fluctuates within this time frame, as white bears can show up in different river systems at different times making viewing them unpredictable.

Spirit Bear sightings like all wildlife sightings are not a guarantee and particularly with a rare animal such as the Spirit Bear it can have its challenges. That being said we have the help of  experienced guides and skippers, many of which have been local to the area their whole life. 

We strive to offer all of our guests a diversity of wildlife and cultural experiences while at the lodge and to provide an unforgettable experience so that guests leave our trips feeling happy and satisfied with their adventure.

Are Spirit Bears a Subspecies of Black Bears?

Spirit bears, or Kermode bears, are a rare colour morph of a sub-species of black bears known as Ursus Americanus Kermodei. Approximately 10% of the population of this subspecies have white or cream-colored coats due to a recessive gene and are called “kermodes” or “spirit bears”. The other 90% appear as normal-colored black bears.

Do you offer whale watching tours?

While we do not have packages focused around whale watching specifically, we often see humpbacks, orcas and other marine life on the daily journeys we make back and forth to our bear viewing areas. We depart the lodge at 8am by boat each morning and the majority of the locations we frequent are about 90 mins away. When spotting marine life the skippers will stop the boats so guests are able to enjoy the spectacular sights.  It is not unusual for us to see humpbacks bubble net feeding or lunge feeding, or orcas feeding on salmon or seals.  We have even had a whale or two breech right in front of the lodge!

In terms of whale watching. there can be quite a bit of Humpback whale activity in the fiords and bays around us. Given the daily journeys we make back and forth to our viewing areas we do tend to get some good sightings – and it is not unusual for us to see bubble net feeding or lunge feeding. If we have a decent chance of seeing whale activity, then by all means the skippers will position the boats for the best viewing opportunity that doesn’t impact the whales. This goes for any wildlife whether marine or terrestrial.

Do you offer fishing tours?

We don’t offer fishing, but we have had the occasional guest who is keen on fishing, take some time out of their bear viewing and fish off the back deck of the boat with the skipper.

What other kinds of wildlife might we see?

The wildlife viewing isn’t limited to bears.  We do see lots of marine life including humpback whales, orcas, seals and sea lions. We see lots of eagles and ravens and some maritime birds as well, and occasionally, we see or hear coastal wolves. 

Our viewing areas are typically 90 minutes from the lodge so that provides plenty of time to see vast areas of the Great Bear Rainforest from the vantage of our covered crew boats. Often we will see Humpback whales and sometimes are lucky to see them bubble net feeding or lunge feeding. If we encounter this, we will definitely stop to witness this.

How many people would be in a tour group?

Group sizes range from 4 to 10 guests.

What kind of rain gear should be bring?

We provide top quality rain gear (heavy duty bib pants and and jackets by Helly Hansen) rubber boots (Bogs) in all standard sizes. It would be a good idea to bring your own lighter weight rain jacket for traveling and wearing around the lodge when it rains. 

Where do we use the bathroom when out in the field?

On arrival at the viewing areas, the guides explain to guests how to pee ‘au naturel’ in the forest. Our boats are equipped with toilets as well. 

What is the walking/hiking like?

Some river systems provide easier access than others. Good mobility is essential for travel on the trails and for embarking and disembarking our vessels onto rocky shorelines and beaches. Trails can be overgrown, uneven and sometimes we make our own.  Typically, we can travel distances of anywhere from 200 yards to a mile at each river or estuary we visit and sometimes we visit more than one river or estuary in a day.

Sometimes we are lucky and the bears will install themselves in rivers with easy access and sometimes the bears makes us work for the sighting. Grizzly access tends to be easier as they inhabit bigger estuaries but the ground is still uneven and can be wet and muddy.

Do you offer Laundry Service?

We have limited facilities for laundry and it is only available for lodge use.

Can we Travel to and from Spirit Bear Lodge on BC Ferries?

It can be challenging to try to plan a tour with us based on the ferry schedule. We are very remote, so the easiest, most direct way of getting to Bella Bella and Klemtu is flying out of Vancouver on one of Pacific Coastal Airlines’ daily departures. If guests decide to arrange their own travel to and from the lodge we will reduce the package price by $250 per person. Guests that have used BC Ferries in the past will sometimes stay an extra night in Bella Bella in order to line up their package dates with the ferry arrival and departures. 

It is very challenging to try to plan a tour with us based on the ferry schedule, especially coming from Bella Coola.  There are no direct ferries between Bella Coola and Klemtu, so unfortunately, it doesn’t work with our tour packages to take the ferry from Bella Coola to the lodge.

Do you offer private guiding?

We do not offer private guiding as our resources such as boats and staff are needed for our regular operations.

Why is the cost for a single occupancy package more than the per person double occupancy tour package?

We are a small lodge and have a short operating window to run our program in a very remote and expensive area.  In order to run a successful program, we have designed it based on double occupancy in our 12 rooms.  Single guests are not being penalized, we are only trying to cover our costs.