GRIZZLY Bears in Chilko
WITH MICHELLE VALBERG
OCTOBER 9-13, 2022
Chilko Lake, British Columbia
Chilko Lake & Grizzly Bears
October 9-13, 2022
with Canadian Geographic Photographer-in-Residence &
Nikon Ambassador Michelle Valberg
September and October are the best months to see bears in the wild at Chilko Lake and the Chilko River. With as many as 100 bears arriving into the corridor to feed on spawning salmon, the photographic opportunities are endless. The Chilko is undoubtedly one of the best places on the planet to witness grizzlies in the wild. These are interior mountain grizzlies not the brown bears like we see on the coast. Interior grizzlies come in all shapes, sizes and colours and the Chilko, because of its access to reliable salmon, is arguably THE best place to see and photograph sows and cubs.
We built Bear Camp for this very reason. Perched on the banks in the heart of the spawning grounds you can literally watch bears from your bed! However, as the autumn days get shorter and the evenings cooler, we wisely move our guests into cosy lodge accommodations. No expense was spared by the Huston family of Omaha, Nebraska, when they built The Chilko Experience. Situated on a private compound 20 minutes downstream (by road) from Bear Camp, the lodge offers a wide range of ultra deluxe cabins and suites as well as a large timber frame Main Lodge with bar, dining room and plenty of space to weather the elements. There’s a wood-fired hot tub, full gym and even a bunkhouse for the kids.
On this photographic safari, we’ll leave shortly after breakfast and head straight up river to Bear Camp where we launch jet boats or kayaks. You truly get the best of both worlds on this trip as we’ll use Bear Camp as our outpost lodge for our daily explorations, returning each night to the Chilko Experience for chef -prepared meals and decadent comforts of our private guest ranch.
ROAM has space for a maximum of 9 photographers (max 3 per jet boat) per departure as we could spend up to 7 hours on the water taking pictures each day. There are opportunities for land-based photos (with tripods) as well as utilizing our drift boats to access 18 miles of the Upper Chilko where few travel. The Upper Chilko boasts hundreds of bald eagles and we’ve seen bobcat, wolf, cougar, coyote, as well as many bears.
There is also space for up to 6 multi-sport participants, who can enjoy daily activities such as hiking, ATV’s, boat trips, kayaks, SUP’s, horseback riding and fishing in addition to bear viewing. This specific program is exclusive to ROAM and available only in October.
Building MAGICAL MEMORIES
October 9-13, 2022
Itinerary at a Glance:
- Take a scenic flight over the Coast Mountains
- Check into your luxurious lodgings a short drive from the river
- Be amazed by the abundance of grizzlies and eagles feasting on spawning salmon
- Watch and photograph grizzlies feeding on salmon
- Non-photographers can explore Chilko and Tatlayoko lakes by horse, kayak, ATV, raft and boat
- Fish the breath-taking azure waters of Chilko Lake
- Hike or bike on paths enveloped by awe-inspiring mountains
- Enjoy chef-prepared meals and evening “feasts” paired with eclectic wines and craft beer
- Unwind with a book, or do nothing but drink in the spectacular scenery
- R/T charter flight from Vancouver to Chilko Lake
- Experienced professional guides
- Five star accommodations at Chilko Experience Log Homes
- All fantastic meals from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 5
- All activities described in the itinerary
- Park fees and necessary permits
Custom built by Pioneer Log Homes, the world’s largest log home builders and host of the television series Timber Kings, Chilko Experience is a true work of art. Meals are taken in the spacious Main Lodge complete with floor to ceiling windows for mountain views and a bar that says “belly up to me please”. The cabins are all different with the exception of being immaculate, beautiful and having lots of space. The lodge is equipped with WiFi, if you must, and has plenty of staff to keep you dearly spoiled between adventures.
Here’s a link to the accommodation page: https://thechilkoexperience.com/log-homes/
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every trip is different depending upon the group, trip length and time of year. The following is a sample of what you might expect.
Chilko Lake is one of the world’s premiere alpine lake destinations where you can explore by boat in total tranquility. Surrounded by massive glacier-capped peaks and a road-less wilderness, you will spend the days paddling the lake and picnicking on sandy beaches. Days are long but the alpenglow sunsets are worth the wait! During bear viewing season, most of the bruins congregate right at the headwaters so we do not have to paddle far to watch bears feeding on Mother Nature’s bounty.
There are an endless number of great trails accessible right from Bear Camp. Green Lake offers pretty mellow terrain for stretching one’s legs, while Mt Tullin is a challenging hike with 360 degree views. Heli hiking can also be arranged at additional expense (but is worth every penny) and visits a number of valleys and nearby glaciers.
Friendly horses and astute wranglers can tailor rides for all abilities on mountain trails, through fields of wildflowers, or riverside to beautiful waterfalls. You’ll soon know what we mean by “happy trails”. We utilize incredibly fit and well cared for mountain horses that will get you to places unimaginable.
A veritable bouillabaisse of fish, the Chilko is utopia for anglers of all abilities. The river is a giant bevy of hot spots, with clear shallows and deep pools. Draining the main lake, the waters never cloud and fishing is superb throughout the season. The river is “fly fish only, catch and release” and we have all the necessary gear to wade and fish this pristine waterway. We can teach beginners to fly fish or you can take a spin rod on the lake, the choice is yours
Flowing single track, winding dirt roads, coasting along the river’s edge or gliding through pine-scented forests, we’ve got it all. Our fleet of Kona mountain bikes comes with vehicle support and a knowledgeable guide. What more could you want? Eliminate the hills? We can do that too!
The lodge has a fleet of all-terrain vehicles for exploring the countryside. Fully guided excursions for all ability levels are available
About the Region
Our trip begins at the north end of Ts’yl-os Provincial Park. Established in 1994, Ts’yl-os (pronounced sigh loss) is 233,240 hectares in the Chilcotin Ranges of the Coast Mountains. Although Chilko Lake is the centre piece of the park, it is just one of many incredible natural features. Though there is much to explore in the region, it is rugged and unserviced leaving its visitors up to their own devices. This is where we fit in.
The Chilcotin River flows near Nazko Lakes Provincial Park and Stump Lake Provincial Park. Both were recently expanded to protect wildlife habitat and BC’s only colony of nesting white pelicans, respectively. Upstream from the confluence of the Chilcotin and Big Creek, lies the new 660 hectares of rolling grassy plateau protected in Big Creek Provincial Park.
To aboriginal people of the Nemaiah Valley, Ts’yl-os is much more than a provincial park. Ts’yl-os was a man, or at least he used to be long ago, and like any man he had his moods. Given his towering height of 3,061 meters (Mount Tatlow on a map), it is wise to respect him and especially not to point at him. His presence can be so dominating that when occasional bad weather hits the valley, the 250 native residents wonder if it is a message from their spiritual protector.
For the isolated Nemaiah First Nation, their agreement on the park represents an important, but tentative first step toward reconciliation with the outside world. It is this world that led to the so-called Chilcotin Indian War of 1864 and the subsequent deaths of many. Today, that historic uprising against the white intrusion on Chilcotin Lands continues to colour the native psyche and the park’s future.
The silty confluence of the Chilcotin and Fraser was also a major territorial boundary. The Ts’ilhqot’in people of the Athapaskan language group held a territory on the northwest side of the confluence where the Junction Sheep Range is located. Small bands of natives traveled the Chilcotin watershed, hunting and gathering food. During salmon runs, these bands would come together at the mouth of the Chilcotin.