21928
British Columbia

Grizzlies, Whales & More: Wildlife Kayaking on the Orca Loop

Search for orcas, bears and bald eagles as you kayak the protected waters of Johnstone Strait alongside local guides, who share traditional songs and stories of their people.
Rating (5)
Program No. 21928RJ
Length
8 days
Starts at
3,249
Print All
Map details are not available for this location.
View Map
Expand All
8 days
7 nights
19 meals
7 B 5 L 7 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Vancouver, British Columbia
D
Pacific Gateway Hotel

Activity note: Check in 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Hotel Check-in: Available from 3:00 p.m. Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table between 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. to register with the program staff, to get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule and other important information, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet at the front desk when you check in.

Dinner: Enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel at 6:00 p.m.

Evening: Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the program theme, the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss safety guidelines, emergency procedures, roles and responsibilities, and answer any questions you may have. Indicated times are approximate; program activities and schedules may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. We have set aside some free time in the schedule for your personal independent exploration. The Group Leader will often be available during free time to accompany informal excursions, activities, or meals that have been excluded from the program cost. You are welcome to join if you like, with any associated costs on your own. At camp, your days will be active and full of kayaking, so we have scheduled few evening activities. This allows time to relax, discuss your experiences, and ask questions. Continue getting to know your fellow participants, settle in, and get a good night’s sleep for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Stanley Park Walk, Beaty Museum
Vancouver, British Columbia
B,L,D
Pacific Gateway Hotel

Activity note: Walking 3 miles over 3.5 hours. Public Transit used, includes stairs.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Meet with a member of the Stanley Park Ecology Society for a walking exploration of Stanley Park. Learn about this unique park and National Historic Site, with its majestic hemlock, cedar and firs trees, totem poles and ocean and mountain vistas. You’ll get close-up views of its world-famous landmarks, including Lost Lagoon, monuments and sculptures, and the 5.5-mile stone seawall that encircles the park.

Lunch: In Stanley Park.

Afternoon: After lunch we board the coach and stop at some points of interest in Stanley Park. Then we transfer to the Beaty Biodiversity Museum to visit the Blue Whale display. The museum features the largest blue whale skeleton in Canada, a unique find since these whales rarely strand on beaches, and very few skeletons have been recovered for research or display. Blue whales are the largest animals ever to have lived on earth, reaching up to 108 feet (33 metres) in length and are also the loudest — a blue whale’s call is 190 decibels, louder than a jet at 140 decibels, much louder than a human can shout (70 decibels). They sing at a very low frequency, and this, combined with the loudness of their voices, allows their songs to travel thousands of km. The museum’s display includes recordings of blue whale sounds. A subwoofer will help you appreciate the full range of this call, which will shake your bones with its low frequency.

Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Fly to Port Hardy, Salmon Hatchery, Port McNeill, Pacific NW
Port McNeill, British Columbia
B,D
Haida Way Hotel

Activity note: Flight from Vancouver to Port Hardy with Pacific Coastal Airlines. Departs approximately 11:00 a.m.; approximate arrival in Port Hardy is 12:05 p.m.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before transferring to the airport for our flight to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island. Arrival in Port Hardy approximately 12:00 noon.

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

Afternoon: Visit the Quatse Salmon Stewardship Centre, an interpretive centre and salmon hatchery. Participants will have some time on their own to visit the interpretive centre and its interactive and informative exhibits before exploring the hatchery outside with an expert. Learn about the hatchery operations, what it takes to get salmon in and raise them for eventual release, as well as the biology and ecology of salmon and why they are so important. Then, we will transfer to Port McNeill and check into hotel. In an expert presentation, learn about the biodiversity and remarkable adaptations in invertebrates and fish of the NE Pacific Ocean and how little we know about these marine mammals. The focus will be on killer whale and humpback whale research. Discuss life-sustaining role of the NE Pacific, conservation concerns (includes Sea Star Wasting Syndrome), and solutions.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: This evening we will have a pre-trip orientation session with the outfitter in preparation for tomorrow's departure for Base Camp.

DAY
4
Orca Waters Camp, Safety Briefing, Paddling & Kayaking
Hanson Island, British Columbia
B,L,D
Orca Waters Base Camp

Activity note: Short walk from hotel to marina to board water taxi; approximately 60-minute ride, bags transported by van. Participants should be able to carry 20-35 lbs to assist with carrying gear and supplies for the trip and capable of carrying kayaks up to 75 feet (single kayaks weigh 60 lbs; at least two people carry single kayaks; double kayaks weigh 80-100 lbs; at least four people carry double kayaks). Please disclose any physical limitations on your medical form.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Board the water taxi for the trip to Orca Waters Base Camp. Upon arrival at Camp, we will step into ankle deep water getting off the water taxi. We will meet the staff, drop our gear, and have time for a comfort break before heading out. The resident experts will provide a site orientation and safety briefing, then show us how to practice getting in and out of the comfortable single and double ocean kayaks. By beginning to paddle in calm waters, you will quickly get the feel of the boat and paddle techniques. After our practice, we head out on a field trip; kayaking 2-3 hours in stable single and double fiberglass ocean kayaks; lightweight carbon/vinyl paddles provided plus dry bag, waterproof kayaking jackets, neoprene kayaking mitts.

Lunch: On a nearby beach, enjoy a hearty, healthy picnic lunch.

Afternoon: Our kayaking field trip continues as we get used to the kayaks, the wilderness setting, and one another. With luck, we may have the extraordinary experience of seeing a humpback whale lunging through a school of baitfish, or a pod of orcas surfacing in unison.

Dinner: In the camp’s covered dining area, made from locally-milled red cedar, enjoy a plated meal prepared by the cook featuring local ingredients that may include wild salmon, locally grown vegetables.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Kayaking Field Trips
Hanson Island, British Columbia
B,L,D
Orca Waters Base Camp

Activity note: Each day’s activities are planned according to likely wildlife viewing opportunities and weather conditions. Each day is different as we explore by kayak, looking for whales and other wildlife, and immersing ourselves in exceptional natural beauty.

Breakfast: Hot and cold breakfast choices in the camp’s outdoor covered dining room.

Morning: A kayaking field trip from the Orca Waters Base Camp

Lunch: Picnic lunch on shore.

Afternoon: What will you see, do, and learn this afternoon? It’s hard to miss a killer whale's six foot dorsal fin as it passes your kayak, but we will also learn about other whales, seals, porpoises, and dolphins that frequent these waters and seek out smaller life forms such as sea stars, urchins, and anemones in the shallows.

Dinner: At camp.

Evening: Enjoy a presentation on more of the area's natural wonders.

DAY
6
Kayaking Field Trips
Hanson Island, British Columbia
B,L,D
Orca Waters Base Camp

Activity note: Each day’s activities are planned according to likely wildlife viewing opportunities and weather conditions. Each day is different as we explore by kayak, looking for whales and other wildlife, and immersing ourselves in exceptional natural beauty.

Breakfast: At camp.

Morning: Each day brings new discoveries. Our base camp is ideally situated for exploring the area. As we are in the heart of the Orca's travel route, humpback whale feeding areas, and close to numerous islets that are home to numerous seabirds, bald eagles, and seals, there is usually plenty of wildlife to learn about and observe.

Lunch: Picnic lunch on shore.

Afternoon: Johnstone Strait and Blackfish Sound off the northeastern corner of Vancouver Island are recognized as among the most predictable places in the world to see both humpback whales and orcas (killer whales). When we encounter orcas, we often drop a hydrophone into the water to listen in on their vocalizations. We continue viewing the diverse marine life by kayak before returning to the comforts of our base camp.

Dinner: At camp.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Boat to Glendale Cove, Grizzly Bear Viewing, To Port McNeill
Port McNeill, British Columbia
B,L,D
Haida Way Hotel

Activity note: Travel in a covered 12-passenger boat for the trip to Knight Inlet. Grizzly bears are viewed from the safety and comfort of big flat bottomed viewing boats. A good pair of binoculars is recommended.

Breakfast: Early at camp.

Morning: After check-out, we say goodbye to the camp, then depart at approximately 7:00 a.m. with our grizzly bear experts for a two-hour boat ride up Knight Inlet. Upon arriving at our destination in Glendale Cove, we transfer to a flat-bottom boat. The shallow draught allows us to look for grizzly bears from the estuary and river and view the bears as close as is safe without disturbing them. As we go, learn about these grizzly bears in what is known as the Great Bear Rainforest, their habitat, behaviors, and current population, the critical importance of the area’s rich ecology. In late August and September, the salmon are running at the river mouth. The bears are chasing the fish around in the low tide pools. Each bear has its own preferred fishing technique. Some like to stand in a riffle and pounce when an unsuspecting salmon goes by. Other bears run around trying to corner salmon against the bank. As the salmon begin to head upstream to spawn the larger grizzlies stake their claim to the top fishing spots, growling off any newcomers.

Lunch: Lunch is provided back at the float where the large boat is tied up.

Afternoon: Our search to locate and observe grizzly bears continues. This is the time of year when pink salmon return to the Glendale River and field trips are timed around the tides to optimize viewing opportunities. Bald eagles are the first to spot salmon as they make their way up the inlet. Local grizzlies are drawn to the river by the smell of fish. Wild bears from other areas come over the mountain passes and swim the inlets following their noses to Glendale Cove. What we see depends on conditions at the time of the program. We transfer to Telegraph Cove at approximately 4:00 p.m. and rendezvous with our van for the trip back to Port McNeill. Timing is flexible depending on viewing opportunities, so a later return is possible. After arrival and check-in at the hotel, you will have time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: Farewell dinner at the hotel.

Evening: At leisure. Share your favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends and prepare for departure in the morning.

DAY
8
Fly to Vancouver, Program Concludes
Vancouver, British Columbia
B

Activity note: Flight from Port Hardy to Vancouver (YVR) with Pacific Coastal Airlines. Scheduled departure is 7:30; approximate arrival in Vancouver is 8:35 a.m. Flight times are subject to change.

Breakfast: Breakfast to go.

Morning: We take a morning flight from Port Hardy to the Vancouver airport. Approximate arrival is 8:35 a.m. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy all your Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. We encourage you to join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Click here to provide website feedback
Website Feedback