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British Columbia

Wildlife of British Columbia: Whales, Grizzlies and Ancient Forests

Program No. 21819RJ
Explore mountains, coastal estuaries, wild beaches and a northern rainforest as you learn about British Columbia and the First Nations people who have long called it home.

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Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Aug 5 - Aug 12, 2024
Starting at
3,699
Aug 12 - Aug 19, 2024
Starting at
3,699
Aug 19 - Aug 26, 2024
Starting at
3,699
Sep 2 - Sep 9, 2024
Starting at
3,699
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Aug 5 - Aug 12, 2024
Starting at
4,499
Filling Fast!
Aug 12 - Aug 19, 2024
Starting at
4,499
Filling Fast!
Aug 19 - Aug 26, 2024
Starting at
4,499
Filling Fast!
Sep 2 - Sep 9, 2024
Starting at
4,499

At a Glance

On this wilderness adventure, explore winding coastal trails, the protected waters of the Inside Passage and the Great Bear Rainforest for unparalleled opportunities to learn about wildlife and Pacific rainforest ecology. The Great Bear Rainforest is one of the largest remaining intact coastal temperate forests in the world and home to the highest density of grizzly bears in North America. Ferry along the nutrient rich waters off Telegraph Cove in search of Killer Whales; watch for porpoise, dolphins, seals and sea lions.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Active program with daily field trips. Walk up to two miles daily.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Visit the Great Bear Rainforest to look for bears in their natural habitats and learn about the importance of Pacific salmon to First Nations communities.
  • Examine the biodiversity of the NE Pacific Ocean with a local expert then embark on a whale watching trip to search for Orca whales.
  • Learn about the First Peoples of Vancouver Island at the Royal British Columbia Museum and then experience the living culture of the Kwakwaka’wakw people in their traditional territory of remote Alert Bay.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Sydney McCabe
Sydney McCabe is a marine biologist whose studies have focused on marine ecology and conservation in the Pacific Northwest. Since joining Eagle Wing in 2014, Sydney has had the opportunity to explore many avenues of marine conservation and environmental stewardship. In the summer, she is a marine naturalist, educating the public on the rich biodiversity of the Salish Sea. In the fall and winter, she leads a school outreach program, inspiring local youth on the importance of the Salish Sea.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of John Adams
John Adams View biography
John Adams is the author of “Old Square-Toes and His Lady: The Life of James and Amelia Douglas.” Part historian and part storyteller, John has turned a passion for the past into a long career in history. His family-owned business, Discover the Past, provides a variety of historical educational programs for the community. His natural, lively, humorous and clear style makes his presentations both informative and memorable.
Profile Image of Jackie Hildering
Jackie Hildering View biography
Jackie is a biology teacher, cold-water diver, underwater photographer and whale researcher living on Vancouver Island. She is the co-founder of the Marine Education and Research Society and winner of the Vancouver Aquarium’s Murray A. Newman Award for Excellence in Aquatic Conservation. Jackie was recently featured on Animal Planet’s “Wild Obsession” and in the BBC production “New Threat to Canada’s Pacific Humpback Whales?” She is passionate about telling “the story of mystery, fragility and wonder of the life hidden in the cold, dark Northeast Pacific Ocean.”
Profile Image of Lynne Brookes
Lynne Brookes View biography
Lynne Brookes has taught courses in biology, ecology, and environmental studies as well as teachers’ workshops in the U.S., Latin America, and Canada. A former president of an Audubon Society chapter, she served as president of the Arrowsmith Naturalists from 2014-17. “Retired” on mid-Vancouver Island, Lynne is a volunteer teacher focusing on native plants, ecology, and wildlife-friendly gardening for the Vancouver Island University ElderCollege program. She also conducts programs and workshops at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre in Errington, British Columbia.
Profile Image of Greg Holmes
Greg Holmes View biography
Greg Holmes, international wanderer and grizzly bear greeter, has navigated a number of destination marketing roles for the better part of 25 years. Roles as varied as leading visitors in Moscow to bringing the 2010 Olympic torch to hundreds of communities across Canada have kept Greg busy over the years. In his spare time Greg is completing renovations on the 1949 Burnaby Heights bungalow home he shares with his wife and their two dogs. He enjoys sailing, sea kayaking, tennis, biking, and hiking.
Profile Image of Sydney McCabe
Sydney McCabe View biography
Sydney McCabe is a marine biologist whose studies have focused on marine ecology and conservation in the Pacific Northwest. Since joining Eagle Wing in 2014, Sydney has had the opportunity to explore many avenues of marine conservation and environmental stewardship. In the summer, she is a marine naturalist, educating the public on the rich biodiversity of the Salish Sea. In the fall and winter, she leads a school outreach program, inspiring local youth on the importance of the Salish Sea.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Raven Steals the Light
by Robert Bringhurst, Bill Reid (Illustrator), Claude Levi-Strauss (Introduction)
A classic collection of 10 Haida myths and legends with accompanying black and white etchings by Vancouver artist Bill Reid. These stories capture the storytelling traditions of the Haida.
Great Bear Wild
by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (Introduction), Ian McAllister
A colorful photographic journey through the Great Bear Rainforest that follows the coast from Vancouver Island to southern Alaska; McAllister captures the spectacular landscapes and wildlife, including wolves, whales and bears.
The Island Within
by Richard Nelson
A beautifully written tribute to the Pacific Northwest. Drawn from the author's journals, this is an account of the natural and cultural history of an island in the waters of Haida Strait, with emphasis on the relationship between people and the land.
Whelks to Whales, Coastal Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest
by Rick M Harbo
This revised second edition of Harpo's popular field guide covers 400 species from northern California to Alaska.
The Great Bear Rainforest, Canada's Forgotten Coast
by Ian McAllister, Karen McAllister, Cameron Young
An environmental history of coastal British Columbia featuring handsome color photographs.
Mark of the Grizzly
by Scott McMillion
McMillion gives readers a thorough understanding of the behavior of these magnificent, yet deadly creatures through examples of encounters gone very wrong.
Grass Beyond the Mountains, Discovering the Last Great Cattle Frontier on the North American Continent
by Richard Hobson
Hobson's classic memoir of his cross-country trek and pioneering days as a rancher in British Columbia's undiscovered remote north.
Field Guide to Marine Mammals of the Pacific Coast
by Sarah G. Allen, Joe Mortenson, Sophie Webb
Sophie Webb, director of Oikinos, contributes the exquisite paintings for this outstanding field guide, the 100th in the California Natural History Guides series, perfect for the Sea of Cortez.
DK Eyewitness Top Ten Vancouver & Victoria
by Eyewitness Guides
A compact, illustrated guide in the popular series, featuring favorite attractions in Vancouver and Victoria.
Myths and Legends of the Pacific Northwest
by Katharine Berry Judson
Presented here with 52 photographs, these traditional stories, first collected in 1910, reveal myths and traditions of creation, alongside noted geographical features of the territory.
National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Pacific Northwest
by Peter Alden
A compact photographic guide to the wildflowers, trees, mosses, butterflies, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals of the Pacific Northwest.
Bachelor Brothers' Bed and Breakfast
by Bill Richardson
Lake Woebegone goes British Columbian in this humorous slip of a novel about an unconventional Vancouver B&B, which features twin bookworm brothers, a talking parrot and a motley crew of hotel guests.
The West Beyond the West, A History of British Columbia
by Jean Barman
A fascinating history of the Canadian province from the 18th century to the mid-1990s. The author weaves portraits of major personalities and events into a readable overview of the cultural and social influences that have shaped the region.
The Last Great Sea, A Voyage Through the Human and Natural History of the North Pacific Ocean
by Terry Glavin, Carl Safina (Introduction)
A wide-ranging conservation history of British Columbia and the North Pacific Ocean. Glavin lives in the Gulf Islands, where he writes frequently about fisheries and environmental issues facing the region.
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8 days
7 nights
18 meals
7 B 5 L 6 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Vancouver, British Columbia
D
Radisson Blu Vancouver Airport

Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 3:00 p.m. Remember to bring your nametag (sent previously).

Afternoon: Program Registration: 4:00 p.m. After you have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table in the lobby to register with the program staff, get any updated information, and confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please locate your Group Leader and let them know you have arrived.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: Orientation: 7:15 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will learn from a series of local experts who will give lectures and lead field trips. Program-related travel and transfers will be via private motorcoach unless noted otherwise. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

DAY
2
Ferry to Vancouver Island, Victoria, Historic Walk
Victoria, BC
B,L,D
Chateau Victoria

Activity note: Walking about 2 miles, approximately 2 hours; city streets, pavement. Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 72 miles, approximately 3.5 hours riding time including 1.5-hour ferry crossing.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: After a motorcoach ride, we’ll board the ferry to travel to Victoria on Vancouver Island. The largest island on the west coast of North America is separated from the Canadian mainland by the Georgia Strait, Johnstone Strait, and Queen Charlotte Strait. En route, we’ll enjoy the beautiful scenery and be on the lookout for seabirds, seals, and whales.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in downtown Victoria.

Afternoon: We’ll embark on a walking field trip in Victoria’s Old Town and Inner Harbour and learn about well-known and hidden treasures along the way from an historian. We will get a first-hand look at some of the best of the city’s Victorian architecture along Wharf Street. We’ll see the British Columbia Parliament Buildings and the historic Empress Hotel. After the walk, we will check in to our hotel with some time to freshen up before dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Victoria Walk, Royal BC Museum, Salish Sea, Free Time
Victoria, BC
B
Chateau Victoria

Activity note: Walking about 2 miles on pavement; some standing at museum.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: This morning, we will explore Beacon Hill Park, a Victorian Park which includes bridges, lakes, ponds, and an alpine garden. A local expert will walk the grounds with us as we see the numerous species of ducks, birds, and peacocks which roam the grounds of Garry Oak, Arbutus, Douglas fir, Western Red Cedar, birch and maple trees. We will then experience the Royal British Columbia Museum and Art Gallery. Through unique galleries, the museum showcases the human and natural history of British Columbia and temporary exhibits from other countries and cultures. Authentic artifacts and specimens are displayed in highly realistic settings, giving visitors the experience of another time and place. Researchers at the museum, throughout British Columbia and around the world use its collections to reveal new insights into the natural world and human cultures of British Columbia. Next, a presentation at the hotel where we will learn from a naturalist about life underwater and the thousands of species who call the Salish Sea "home".

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to have what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: Free time. This period of time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Please note that the period scheduled for free time is subject to change depending on local circumstances and opportunities for independent exploration.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy local cuisine. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for early check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
4
To Telegraph Cove, Pacific Rainforest, Cathedral Grove
Telegraph Cove, British Columbia
B,L,D
Telegraph Cove Resort

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach to Telegraph Cove; driving about 316 miles, under 6.5 hours riding time with stops. Walking about 1.5 miles, approximately 2 hours; gravel paths and grassy areas.

Breakfast: Early morning breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: We will check out and depart by motorcoach, travelling to northern Vancouver Island and our destination of Telegraph Cove. Keep your eyes out for local wildlife as we pass through forests, small towns, and coastlines that wind in and away from the road. We will pick up our presenters who will provide an onboard lecture as we make our way to Cathedral Grove at Cameron Lake within MacMillan Provincial Park. This beloved place protects giant Douglas fir trees, some more than 800 years old, plus groves of ancient Western red cedar. While here, we’ll learn from our local experts about the rich biodiversity of the West Coast rainforest and ongoing efforts to protect the old growth forests on an expert-led walk.

Lunch: At Qualicum Beach.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our journey to Telegraph Cove, tucked away on the eastern coast of Northern Vancouver Island in one of the last virtually untouched areas of the North American continent. This tiny sawmill and cannery community was important to the development of the North Island and has a rich and colorful history and is one of the last boardwalk communities of eastern Vancouver Island. We’ll then check in at the hotel before dinner.

Dinner: At a restaurant in Telegraph Cove.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Whale Museum, Ferry to Alert Bay, U'mista Cultural Centre
Telegraph Cove, British Columbia
B,L,D
Telegraph Cove Resort

Activity note: Walking about 1 mile; about 1.5 hours; gravel paths and grassy areas. Getting on/off a ferry; crossing to Alert Bay is about 7.5 nautical miles, less than 1 hour (each way). Driving about 4 hours total.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will walk to the Whale Interpretive Centre in Telegraph Cove for an expert-led exploration. The waters between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia are home to magnificent orcas (killer whales) from early July through October. These protected waters are an ideal location to view and listen to orcas and other marine mammals as they feed, socialize, and raise their young. The center therefore, thanks to its location, is home to one of the best collections of marine mammal skeletons in British Columbia including those of whales, dolphins, porpoises and seals. The center was established to provide public awareness about the biology of marine mammals as well as about the biology, habitat needs and threats posed to local marine mammals. Then we will board a ferry for Alert Bay.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Arriving in Alert Bay, we will visit the U'Mista Cultural Centre and learn from a local First Nations’ member about their traditions and how to interpret totem pole burial grounds on an expert-led exploration. The centre’s mission is to ensure the survival of all aspects of cultural heritage of the Kwakwaka'wakw peoples. Afterwards, there will be time for self-led exploration of the museum, totem poles and big house.

Dinner: At a local restaurant in Telegraph Cove.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Grizzly Bear Field Trip by Boat, Pacific NW Marine Life
Telegraph Cove, British Columbia
B,L,D
Telegraph Cove Resort

Activity note: Getting on/off 12-passenger aluminum boats; cruising approximately 2 hours each way; vessels are covered and have onboard toilets. Dress warmly in dark layers with a waterproof shell; bring a hat and a water bottle. No perfume/aftershave/scents. We will always stay at least 150 feet from bears.

Breakfast: On the boat.

Morning: After boarding aluminum water taxis at the dock, we’ll continue traveling toward Knight Inlet, due north of Johnstone Strait and Telegraph Cove, for our exciting bear and wildlife spotting adventure. Once we reach a bear viewing hot spot, we will transfer to large flat-bottom viewing skiffs, which have an elevated platform on the bow as well as a crow’s nest up above for the bear viewing. These are former herring fishing boats that have been modified for wildlife viewing in shallow estuaries. Their shallow draught serves to get us in close to the action. Knight Inlet, a prime black bear and grizzly bear habitat, cuts 80 miles through the remote Coast Range of mountains to Mount Waddington, the highest mountain in British Columbia. Under expert leadership, we will explore the hidden habitat of bears, learn about the ecosystem and discover how bears play an integral role in sustaining the bioregion. Bald eagles, orcas and other wildlife are abundant, and the river system supports a phenomenal fall salmon run. Needless to say, the opportunities for nature photography in Knight Inlet are superb. As a courtesy to the bears and to ensure the longevity of viewing for years to come, we will always stay at least 50 meters from bears as per recommended guidelines; please do not wear perfumes or aftershave on the bear viewing trip.

Lunch: On the float back away from the bear viewing area, we will enjoy a spread. Eating in the bear viewing area is not bear friendly; we cannot have these bears associating the smell of people with the smell of human food.

Afternoon: Our west coast grizzly bear adventure will continue amid great towering mountains rising out of the sea, cascading waterfalls, and waterslides. While our local experts will make their best effort to get us to the best places for bear viewing, they cannot guarantee sightings – they would like to be able to book an appointment with the bears but sometimes they do not show up!

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At the hotel, a local expert will deliver an evening presentation on marine life. We’ll learn about the biodiversity and remarkable adaptations invertebrates and fish of the NE Pacific Ocean have. It is always surprising to discover how little we know about these marine mammals. The primary focus, however, will be on orca and humpback whale research as we discuss the life-sustaining value of the NE Pacific, conservation concerns (includes Sea Star Wasting Syndrome), and solutions. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
7
Whale Watching, Coach to Nanaimo
Nanaimo, British Columbia
B,L,D
Coast Bastion

Activity note: Walking about 1 mile over the course of the day; pavement and boardwalks. Getting on/off the boat; whale watching is approximately 4 hours, with varying distance based on location of sightings; vessels carry up to 74 passengers. Heated indoor cabin, two open-air decks, onboard washrooms and snack bar. Bring a light jacket or rain gear. Hats, gloves, and jackets provided for all passengers on request. Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 221 miles, approximately 4.5 hours riding time.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: From Telegraph Cove, we’ll embark on a whale watching study cruise in the “whale watching capital” of British Columbia. In addition to whales, there is a great diversity and abundance of marine life in local waters. The cold, oxygen- and nutrient-rich waters fuel one of the most vibrant ecosystems on earth. While orcas are the primary viewing experience, we may also encounter humpback whales, Dalls porpoises, Pacific white-sided dolphins, and occasionally Harbour seals and Steller sea lions. To enhance our field trip, the boats are equipped with underwater microphones (hydrophones) so we can listen in on the squeaks, whistles, and echolocation that allow orcas and dolphins the ability to communicate and locate their food. The boat has a range of educational materials from ID catalogues to maps, charts, and books on the local area and marine life. The captain and crew will be happy to answer questions.

Lunch: At a restaurant in Telegraph Cove.

Afternoon: We will board the motorcoach and travel south on Vancouver Island to Nanaimo, with some stops along the way.

Dinner: At the hotel in Nanaimo. Share favorite experiences and enjoy camaraderie with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
8
Ferry to Vancouver, Program Concludes
Nanaimo, British Columbia
B

Activity note: Early morning hotel check-out. Getting on/off a ferry; crossing from Nanaimo to Vancouver is about 30 nautical miles, approximately 1.5 hours. Arrival to the Vancouver Airport approximately 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: After breakfast we will make our way to the ferry. Once we reach the dock, we’ll get off the ferry, and board a motorcoach for transfer to Vancouver Airport, expected arrival around 12:00 noon. If you are departing, please plan flights accordingly. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.