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Browning Pass Charters – Bears galore in Vancouver Island

30 July 2016

As part of our honeymoon we headed to Vancouver Island. I had previously visited Canada on a wind orchestra tour, but hadn’t had chance to get out of the cities and see any nature other than Niagara Falls (itself very impressive, but the area around it was rather tawdry and touristy for my taste).

I was very keen therefore to get out into the countryside, experience some of the beautiful scenery and get up close with nature, primarily bears and moose, the latter being a creature that had fascinated me since childhood.

We opted to stay a few nights in Vancouver Island, a short plane ride from Vancouver. In hindsight, we wish that we had hired a car and driven to take in more of the scenery, but we thought that flying would take out the stress, and it was a stunning scenic flight over the mountains. We stayed in the stunning Relais & Chateaux Hotel the Wickaninnish Inn (about which I need to write a whole separate post), and the main focus of our trip was wildlife.

We stayed in Tofino, a peninsula in the Clayoquot Sound, an area renowned for passing whales and wildlife.  There are so many options in Tofino, it was hard to settle on one, but we were recommended to Browning Pass Charters, owned and run by lifelong Tofino resident Mike White.

Mike is incredibly experienced in tracking down the bears their habitats and we were lucky enough to get in close to 13 black bears, including a mother and her three cubs. He runs a 37 foot Canoe Cove Yacht which has an upper deck for viewing and fore-deck for getting close to the action. Viewing the bears from the water means they are not disturbed but you can get remarkably close, watching them forage for crabs by overturning boulders with ease with their massive paws.

We also saw a number of bald eagles on the way and back, and Mike always had hot chocolate on the go whenever you needed to warm up from the outside cold. I was very reluctant to go in whenever there was a bear around, but there were so many sightings that eventually opted for a cup!

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