Canada provides ample opportunities for adventurous travellers to get back to nature as well as some of the world’s finest wildlife encounters. Some of the most exciting experiences require an adventurous spirit and combining the two can afford clients a more enriching experience. We round up some of the best wildlife adventures on offer in the North American nation.
Home to 587 species of wildlife, Alberta is an ideal adventure getaway for animal lovers looking to explore off the beaten track. The province promotes itself as the only place in North America where prairie, boreal forest and mountain ecosystems co-exist, so visitors can hope to spot local wildlife including wolves, black bears, elk, moose and mountain goats.
Amanda Newby de Saulles, UK market development director for Travel Alberta, explains that the province is accessible for all levels of adventure traveller.
“Not only are clients able to view wildlife in the stunning surroundings of national parks, they can do so while partaking in an active adventure, such as kayaking on Lake Louise, hiking in Banff or bike riding through Elk Island. The more adventurous can attempt to spot bears while white-water rafting on Red Deer river or, during winter, while ice-walking in Jasper national park’s Maligne Canyon.”
A self-drive tour allows for additional freedom, adds Saulles, as clients can explore the parks at their own pace. Just remind them to bring warm clothing, essential camping kit and a set of binoculars.
Book it: North America Travel Service offers an eight-night Alberta wildlife fly-drive itinerary from £1,940pp based on two travelling in October 2017 with car hire and flights included.
Just three hours north of Toronto is the Algonquin, Canada’s oldest provincial park. Like the native Algonquin tribes, which once roamed the wilderness, clients can take to the park’s 950 miles of river and canoe routes to spot moose, black bears and deer.
Embarking on a paddle safari is perfect for families and couples alike says Laura Kirton, product and marketing executive at First Class Holidays.
“Clients can take their pick of more than 2,400 lakes to canoe on and also hike through myriad forest trails. A highlight of this trip will be the varied wildlife they are bound to encounter, from moose, elk and bears to more than 130 different species of bird. The Arowhon Pines Resort is located in the heart of Algonquin provincial park too; an outdoor enthusiast’s oasis with watersports, hiking trails and wildlife opportunities right on the doorstep.”
Kirton suggests sealing the deal by timing a visit to the park in autumn when fallen leaves set it ablaze with golden, red and orange hues.
Book it: First Class Holidays offers the seven-night Explore the Algonquin package from £2,929pp including flights, car hire and fullboard accommodation. Price is based on September 13-17 departures.
British Colombia is defined by its stunning coastline and plethora of wildlife.
Wendy Lahmich, director of sales at Holland America Line & Seabourn UK, recommends Seabourn’s 14-day Ultimate Glacier & Fjord Adventure. “We provide everything that a small expedition ship has to offer but with six-star luxury and service. Our guests can go on kayaking and Zodiac adventures where they stop to look at glaciers and mountains, watch for wildlife and take in the incredible surroundings,” she says.
Passengers can take a shore excursion at the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, where they might spy porpoises, seals, sea lions, bald eagles and grizzly bears.
“The bears often feed at the shore, so there is an excellent chance of seeing several at once,” Lahmich adds.
On the tour clients have a chance to see birdlife, including golden eagles at the Cormorant Channel Marine Park. The area is also a core habitat for the northern resident orca population.
Book it: Seabourn’s Ultimate Glacier & Fjord Adventure starts from £3,999pp cruise only, based on a June 12, 2017 departure.
Bordered by Ontario in the east and Saskatchewan to the west, Manitoba is made up of mountains, lakes and prairies where hiking, camping, fishing and biking is popular with locals and tourists alike.
For a bucket-list experience, Ross Sinclair, senior product manager USA, Caribbean and Canada at Travel 2, recommends clients take to a tundra buggy to watch the polar bears.
“The tundra buggies are powerful vehicles that are built specifically to travel in all weather and surfaces. They can carry passengers safely off the track to get as close to the polar bears as possible. To make the most of the trip professional driver guides are there to enhance the passenger experience and educate guests.”
The town of Churchill, famous for its polar bears, is also home to beluga whales and is a top destination for keen ornithologists, Sinclair adds.
He recommends Travel 2’s six-day Beluga, Bears and Blooms Tour on account of the variety of wildlife clients can spot.
“As well as the tundra buggy, they will travel on a Zodiac boat on the Churchill river to see beluga whales in their natural environment,” he adds.
Book it: Travel 2 offers the Beluga, Bears and Blooms Tour from £3,939pp including. Travel based on an August 10, 2017 departure.
Whale watching tops the must-do list for many visitors to Nova Scotia. The best area to catch a glimpse of these majestic mammals is from Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail, says Tim Blostone, UK representative for Nova Scotia.
“Day trips are available and easily accessible throughout the province with some 14 species of whale native to Atlantic Canada.
“Adrenaline junkies in search of the ultimate marine adventure should consider taking to the waters of Nova Scotia in a kayak. Organised tours allow holidaymakers to get up close to a whole host of aquatic wildlife including puffins, seals, porpoises and the distinctively coloured Atlantic white-sided dolphin,” adds Blostone.
Book it: Cox & Kings has a 12-night self-drive tour of Nova Scotia from £1,295pp including car hire, accommodation and a whale watching tour. Price excludes flights.
Your clients have likely heard of Africa’s big five, but what about Canada’s equivalent?
From moose to humpback whales, the province has carefully preserved its wildlife in the many protected areas, such as Gaspesie national park just 45 minutes from Quebec City.
Here clients can take to the forest trails to spot black bears, grey wolves and snowy owls.
Andre Martel, market manager Europe at Tourisme Quebec, shares tips on the best way to experience the region’s own “big five”.
“As Canada’s largest province, the best way to experience Quebec’s wildlife is to take a self-drive adventure combining multiple regions in one trip and explore the province’s variety of nature areas, from our national parks to the shores of the St Lawrence river.
“The best time of year for visitors to see multiple species is August and September. This ties in with the moose mating season, when black bears go hunting for salmon and when blue whales congregate to feast in the waters of St Lawrence along with white belugas, which can only otherwise be seen in the Arctic.”
Martel suggests booking Wildlife Worldwide’s new Wilderness Quebec tour, which takes in Bic national park’s bays, coves and mountains, guided hikes in the Reserve Faunique de Matane and a Zodiac whale watching trip in Tadoussac.
Book it: Wildlife Worldwide has the 13-night Wildness Quebec tour from £3,095pp based on two sharing, including car hire, guided activities and flights. Package based on June to September 30 departures.