“Our trip began with a night in the wonderful city of Vancouver, followed by a short flight to Campbell River, before heading to Knights Inlet Lodge, which is only accessible by seaplane (our transport of choice) or a four-hour boat trip.
If you want to see bears and wildlife in their natural environment, this is the place to stay.
We landed around 11am to find an eco-friendly pontoon. Or rather, a hotel floating on water. It was mind blowing.
After a short safety introduction from the manager and necessary clothing provided by the lodge, we set off in a six-person dinghy for our first adventure with a guide. Within one hour on the water we spotted our first grizzly bear, a mother and her two cubs. They were exploring in the long grass by the water’s edge and we stopped a mere 50 feet from them.
Back at the hotel we were given our room keys and were free to admire the view of the inlet from our bedroom. It was stunning.
Dinner was buffet style, which consisted of fish, meat, and vegetarian options with vegetables to complement each meal. The food was outstanding and it was lovely to be joined by the guides and hotel manager at the table.
Each evening before bed, details were posted on a board to let you know the plan for the following day, including what guide you were with and any clothing requirements.
Breakfast followed the same standard as dinner, you name it, they served it.
Our next dinghy adventure had the same success. Within our hour we spotted three grizzly bears on the far shore line, feeding on the barnacles under the rocks. To see a full-grown bear lift a very large rock with one paw was awesome. The guide gives you lots of information about the bear’s habitat and feeding patterns. As the site is scientifically researched, all the bears are identified by markings.
The following day we set off on a guided tour of the inlet by 4x4, to discover where the bears live, feed and sleep. The guides are full of knowledge and they also showed us films of bears caught on camera.
Our next tour was the rainforest walk, to see waterfalls and an 800-year-old cedar tree. Our guide, Shaun, had endless knowledge of the flora and fauna. He also reassured us by calling out ‘hey bear’ in a soft tone, to make sure none of us got a surprise.
On our boat trip back to the hotel, we encountered a pod of white-sided dolphins, bald eagles, and hummingbirds. This inlet is truly amazing to see wildlife in its full glory. We can’t recommend it enough.
After returning to Vancouver, the next part of our holiday was a three-day GoldLeaf Service trip on the Rocky Mountaineer train to Jasper via Whistler.
We’ve been lucky enough to go on two previous trips on the train, on two different routes, and we have never been disappointed. As always, the service, the food, and all of the overnight hotels were exceptional. All your luggage is taken to your room ahead of you and is collected and transferred to the train. The staff are incredible and take such good care of you, it is truly like being a royal.
After a short stay in Banff we were collected by a coach and transferred to a pickup point for the trip of my lifetime… Heli Hiking in the Cariboo Range with CMH.
We were taken on a 15-minute helicopter ride up to a lodge, nestled in a clearing overlooking the Columbian mountains. You must see it to believe it.
After a safety introduction, you are asked about your hiking ability and graded from A to C (with a hike available for all abilities). All the guides onsite are fully trained and have years of experience, so you are in safe hands.
Briefings are given and professional hiking gear is handed out, before setting off on the first of many helicopter rides into the mountains. At a height of around 8000 feet, you land on small rocky ledge perched high in the mountains and jump out with your guide.
As you watch the helicopter fly away, leaving you in the wilderness, you are certainly not disappointed.
We hiked for around three hours, up and down the mountain range, and stopped at stunning views of glaciers and waterfalls. Our guide gave us all the relevant information on the surrounding beauty, and also kept an eye on us to make sure we were ok.
After being picked up by the helicopter and returned to the lodge, we removed all the gear and were given our room key.
The rooms are well equipped with a shower and bathtub, which is much needed after a long hike. The view from our window was of the Columbian Mountain Range in its full glory.
Dinner was a sit-down affair with all of the guides and hotel managers. The quality of the food was stunning, a truly delicious three course meal, and the lodge itself had a bar/relaxation area outside with a view to die for (alongside a gym, sauna and jacuzzi).
Every morning at 7.30am there is a stretch class, which is needed before your next hike. After collecting our packed lunch we set off by helicopter to a different location. This time we hiked up steep mountain ranges, across glaciers, and passing waterfalls for around three-hours, before stopping for lunch with mind-blowing views.
After lunch the helicopter takes you to another part of the mountain for a four-hour hike, before returning you to the lodge for around 5pm.
The next day’s trip was my holiday highlight… rock climbing (Via Ferrata).
We were kitted out with all the relevant climbing gear, before being dropped off to a remote part of the mountain range. We hiked for around one hour, before finding a high waterfall. Attached to the side and across the mountain was a wire that snakes its way up. We attached ourselves with a harness and clamps and off we went. For six hours we climbed up the side of the waterfall, across glaciers, rivers, suspension bridges and canyons. It was certainly not for the faint-hearted but it was exhilarating.
Lydia was with me in group A, but opted to skip the rock climbing, and instead joined group B on the second day for a hike across meadows and glaciers. This is how flexible the guides are with each individual.
The experience was absolutely incredible and we would like to thank Julie for organising such a fantastic trip.”