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Bear spotting: 5 best places to see bears

Bear spotting: 5 best places to see bears

Everybody loves bears. They’re cute and cuddly, right? Well, not exactly, but these endangered creatures rank among nature’s most majestic sights. Viewing them in the world can be a magical experience that will take you into some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes. Here, Will Bolsover, Managing Director of World Bear Safaris, explains the options.

Polar Bears in Churchill

The ultimate in polar bear observation, Churchill in Canada is the staging point from where to see some amazing interaction between stranded bears before they set off across the frozen waters of Hudson Bay. Based on the south west shores of the bay, the polar bears wait for the waters to freeze so that they can set off across the ice in search of fresh food. Due to so many bears congregating in one area there are some interesting encounters and you will often see young males sparring, in practice for the real deal later in life. There is also the option of spending nights out on the tundra in a unique tundra lodge. Find cheap flights to Winnipeg from £521

Polar Bears in Svalbard

If it is wilderness you want, Svalbard for you. Boarding a small expedition ship (some with as few as 12 passengers) you can explore the Arctic regions of Svalbard and Spitsbergen for between 9 and 12 days, maximising your chances of seeing polar bears in the wild as they wander the ice floes in search of unsuspecting seals. This experience contrasts hugely with Churchill as you are sightings individuals or mothers with cubs, rather than groups of interacting bears. However, it is a truly unique experience with lots of interaction with your guide. Find cheap flights to Oslo from £521


Grizzlies in Bella Coola

A remote pristine valley 90 minutes flying time north of Vancouver, Bella Coola is renowned for its grizzly bear sightings. Bella Coola has just 1,500 inhabitants but during a few specific weeks of August and September it becomes the grizzly bear capital of British Columbia. Staying at the cosy Tweedsmuir Lodge on the banks of the Atnarko River, you set off in your 8ft “drift boat” every day to float downstream and watch as these bears go about their fishing. The famous salmon run is what attracts our grizzly friends to these waters and as soon as supplies diminish the bears move on to pastures new. Other highlights include a helicopter flight over the surrounding mountain peaks and glaciated valleys, and cultural experiences hosted by the Nuxalk First Nations people. Find cheap flights to Vancouver from £426

Big Bears in Katmai National Park

If you want to photograph grizzly bears in the wild, this is the trip for you. Some of the biggest grizzlies on record have been sighted in Katmai and between July and September you have the opportunity to see them with cubs, fishing the rivers. This trip offers a unique opportunity to view the grizzlies safely on foot. Great photographic opportunities present themselves as big bear brawls break out over “fishing rights” and mothers and cubs go about their foraging, trying to keep a low profile. With a maximum of six people per trip staying on a cruiser boat that patrols the shoreline, this is a special trip. Find cheap flights to Anchorage from £678

Spirit Bears in British Colombia

Cruise the coastline of BC in a 68ft ketch, viewing spirit bears and humpback whales. On this 9-day trip, you navigate fjords and explore remote estuaries in the hope of spotting the elusive spirit bear. If we are lucky you may also see black bears as they patrol the shoreline. A highlight is spending time at the Spirit Bear Conservancy in the hope of spotting these creatures as they wander along the forested backdrop. With only 400 spirit bears left in existence, this trip offers the best of seeing them in the wild. Find cheap flights to Vancouver from £426