Zodiac tours of wild Pacific estuaries, birding in a rare grassland ecosystem, snorkelling with salmon, 4×4 tours in a land of mountain goats – plus backcountry pack-horse treks, canoe safaris and much, much more. The Cariboo Chilcotin Coast and Fraser Canyon is like a wildlife preserve without cages, featuring a constantly changing menagerie. From Cariboo mountain goats to coastal orcas and Chilcotin caribou to Fraser Canyon bighorn sheep, the abundance and diversity of wildlife in the region makes for one of the greatest outdoor shows on earth.
Yet exactly how, where and when does one find all those moose and caribou? Is spotting a grizzly foraging along a riverbank a matter of luck? Is it dangerous? The region’s eco-tour guides, outfitters and naturalists address such questions and ensure everyone has a good time, with minimum risk to humans, wildlife and habitat. These highly experienced, certified guides also provide expertise on where and when to find specific species, viewing options that help ensure the ideal experience for each guest and guidance on a broad range of accommodation and guiding options.
This is a place where wildlife safaris feature luxurious waterfront lodges and the only drive-by traffic is an endless parade of eagles, wolves, dolphins and whales. Local biologists lead eco-raft adventures on the Bella Coola and Atnarko rivers where songbirds congregate and otter, mink, fox and deer forage. Amateur and professional ornithologists join birdwatching tours into the Cariboo Mountains, home to kingfishers, hawks, owls, warblers and woodpeckers, while self-guided birders wander Scout Island Bird Sanctuary at Williams Lake in search of rare white pelicans, swans and songbirds. Alpine mule trekking is another popular low-impact option for exploring game trails blazed by caribou, mountain goats and wolves.
In the Chilcotin, the wild and remote Yohetta Wilderness area not only shelters mountain goats, bighorn sheep, bobcats and wolverines, but also one of the last remaining wild horse herds in Canada. The southern Cariboo around Lillooet is desert country. Etched by the wind, scorched by the sun, this is a land of rattlesnakes and prairie dogs, where eagles soar in search of prey.
B.C. is also rated one of the planet’s top three grizzly-viewing destinations, with significant grizzly populations native to the central Coast, the Chilcotin Mountains and the northeastern Cariboo plateau. Certified bear experts lead tours of these areas’ rugged fjords and inlets, grassy estuaries and riverbanks, the grizzly (Ursus arctos horribilis) and black bear’s (Ursus americanus) natural habitat – while detailing the bears social hierarchy and body language. Viewing options range from roadside sightings and alpine excursions to fully guided single and multi-day river drifts to photograph grizzlies dining on salmon. As well, the Great Bear Rainforest is the only place in the world where the legendary white Kermode, or spirit bear, can be found.