Bella Coola Grizzly Tours. Guided Grizzly Bear Watching Tours & Wilderness Adventures in the Bella Coola Valley, BC, Canada

3 Day/2 Night Glacial Grizzly Tour
Enjoy a Nautical Journey into the Majestic Glacial Fjords
of the
Great Bear Rainforest

 Bella Coola Grizzly Tours

42ft. M.V. Nekhani
Touring the Glacial Fjords.

The 42 foot MV Nekhani is a great platform to gather your friends, family, or co-workers for an unforgettable Marine Wilderness Adventure. Bella Coola is the premier departure point and mainland port of the Great Bear Rainforest and offers air and water access to the entire Central Coast.

Our Spring, Summer and Fall Nautical Glacial Grizzly Tours start at 9:00 am on board the 42 foot MV Nekhani. MV Nekhani is moored at the Bella Coola Harbour at the end of Highway 20 and the beginning of your unique marine tour. On your arrival your host and skipper Leonard Ellis welcomes you aboard the MV Nekhani and gives you a familiarization tour of the Transport Canada approved passenger vessel.

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M.V. Nekhani - Click to Enlarge

Bella Coola has long been renowned as the Grizzly Bear Capital of the British Columbia Coast.  Its superb habitat produces some of the largest body size and highest concentrations of Grizzly Bears in the province.  Emerging hungry from their dens in the Spring we observe the Grizzlies grazing on the tidal estuaries in May and June.

In the Fall the mainland salmon spawning rivers host Sockeye, Spring Salmon, Coho, Chum and Pink Salmon and these incredible runs of wild salmon provide a rich source of protein that the Grizzlies and Black Bears utilize to fatten up for the Winter. Easy watershed access to the dry interior offers a food source of Moose as well so it is easy to see how these Grizzlies attain their enormous size and high population concentrations.

Crab Catch

Bella Coola’s “Seafood Catch of the Day” is a big part of our unique Grizzly Tour where the guests actually get to participate in the setting and hauling of the Dungeness Crab and Prawn Gear. We teach our guests how to fish for prawns and crabs and they actually get to participate in the crab and prawn fishery.

With our guests ”hands on” assistance we bait up and set out the crab pots at the mouth of the rivers to let them soak for a day or so. After they are set, the crab pots will be fishing/soaking for the next 24 hours while we are touring.

We cruise on to the mouth of the Bella Coola River to view what is left of the huge old piling pier. This long wooden pier was an incredible amount of work to build by hand to provide deep waterfront access for the steamships to supply the Norwegian community and Bella Coola.

Jumbo Prawns!

Your guide provides very old historical pictures of the Old Norwegian settlement that existed on the North East side of the estuary and explains the history of the area and how the settlers and their town were eventually flooded out of this area.

We cruise on past the vertical granite walls past the Bald Eagle Tree where the Eagle keeps a vigilant eye on any fish activity that may provide him a meal. We cruise by the old Tallheo Cannery and while pointing out the Hanging Glaciers in the backend of the valley your guide tells of the history of the old cannery and the little sailboats that used to unload salmon here long ago. Your guide will explain in detail how the old timers use to catch the fish with their nets and the canning process they used to preserve the salmon.

Marine Life Viewing

We stop in the beautiful sheltered waters and pebble beach of Bachelor Bay to visit the Harbour Seals at Seal Rock and your skipper/guide points out the outstanding view of Mt. Nusatsum to the East and the stunning view of Bentinck Spire to the South-West.

Your skipper teaches the guests how to ready the prawn gear to be set and encourages the guests to take part in the “Seafood Catch of the Day” activities of baiting the pots and setting them off the stern of the Nekhani. This is a fun fishing activity and the guests get to participate thoroughly in the fishery and learn how prawns are caught. Once we set out the prawn gear the guests will have to wait for the pots to “soak” through a few tides. The guests get to participate in the activity of hauling them back on the following day.

A Family of Grizzlies on the River

We arrive at the mouth of a wilderness salmon spawning river where we will view the wildlife on the estuary and drop anchor in a most beautiful pristine setting. We enjoy a nice relaxed barbequed dinner on board Nekhani and enjoy the magnificent views of Bentinck Spire before venturing up river to view the bears and wildlife.

Grizzlies feed on the estuaries and the spawning salmon in this area and your guide/naturalist will walk you slowly upriver on an active Grizzly Bear trail. Along the estuary game trail your guide will point out grizzly digs, territorial rub trees, claw marks, bite marks, Grizzly day beds and old Grizzly tracks sunk deep in the moss. As well we will likely see River Otters, Blue Herons, Kingfishers, Mink, Marten and Bald Eagles living in this watershed. Moving slowly and always watching for Grizzlies we make our way upriver to our natural old growth wildlife viewing stand.

Grizzly Feasting on Salmon

We have an excellent unrestricted view of the Grizzlies, Black Bears and Wolves on the white sandbars upriver and downriver in a large old growth stand of cedar and spruce timber.

This area is home to Grizzly Bears, Black Bear, Wolves and Blacktail Deer and they use the game trails year round in this area. This is an excellent location for photography and an ideal spot for photographers to set up their tripods amongst the timber canopy. We will remain at this natural wildlife viewing stand during prime time and relax enjoying the wilderness and wildlife movements.

Our guided Grizzly Tours offer outstanding photographic opportunities to capture those special images of Grizzly Bears that few, if any, people have ever photographed. Our priority is always providing our photographers with unique photo opportunities.

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Once the sun starts to set behind the mountain we slowly start heading back down river to the Nekhani anchored up in the sheltered bay. Walking slowly and keeping a watchful eye as any time along the trail a Grizzly Bear, Black Bear or a Wolf could be observed on the creek fishing for salmon.

Viewing Grizzly Bears

We arrive back at the MV Nekhani just before nightfall to enjoy the cozy warmth of the onboard woodstove and enjoy some hot drinks and snacks. After discussing the day’s activities our guests are looking forward to their cozy single bunk beds. No need to worry at all about tough weather or being seasick on this Tour as our vessels is very seaworthy and we are not subject to ground swells from the outer coast.

Few things are more peaceful than a Bella Coola morning with the sun rising over Mt. Nusatsum. We are up at sunrise for coffee and a hearty breakfast. We use local farm fresh eggs and endeavor to use all local home-grown products in our galley. For those with special diets please let us know in advance. Once breakfast is done we head out to another wilderness salmon spawning river in an area where Grizzlies, Moose, Wolves and Black Bears live. We will walk slowly up the game trails on the river bank watching for Grizzlies and other wildlife. We spend the prime morning hours observing bears and other wildlife moving in this Wilderness area.

This is a perfectly natural Grizzly Bear Tour in pristine habitat. We take you in to the heart of the BC wilderness where the Grizzly Bears actually live and you are not restricted to viewing bears from a designated area. The wildlife we endeavour to view is Wild and not at all habituated to humans.

View our Bears Photo Gallery
View our Tours Photo Gallery

Grizzly & Cubs

Some of the biggest boar Grizzlies on the West Coast live in these remote areas and for countless centuries have been moving in the same huge imprints worn deep in the moss. You will likely see old boars, sows with cubs and juvenile Grizzlies and certainly lots of evidence of their presence. Morning and evening is prime time for wildlife to feed and with a little luck we will observe Grizzly Bears and other wild animals moving around in their natural habitat. As the sun gets higher in the sky and the prime feeding time comes to an end, we start walking slowly back downstream and head back to the river mouth for a pickup.

After lunch we head West out the fjord bound for the Big Tree and Hot Springs. En route we scan the horizon for dolphins and whales that frequent these vast glacial waterways. Pacific White Sided Dolphins are common sightings in this area and they usually put on a quite a show for us with their dazzling areal displays and playfulness. Dolphins are generally quite playful and frequent the area in the Summer and Fall with their populations being very high.

Orca aka "Killer Whale"

Pods of Killer Whales are also an amazing sight to see and are usually in the area in May and June hunting for the Chinook Salmon that are heading back to the Bella Coola watershed. Humpback Whale sightings are common early in the season and the Humpbacks can sometimes be seen breaching, which is truly an unforgettable sight.

The versatility and seaworthiness of our Twin Diesel 42 foot, 12 passenger Tour Vessel, MV Nekhani, really shines for these Marine Tours. MV Nekhani has an elevated wildlife viewing tower built specifically for wildlife viewing and photography. This elevated wildlife viewing tower offers photographers an excellent view of the surrounding waters and wildlife and excellent photo opportunities.

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Grizzly Bear Pictograph

On the way to Larso Bay we will view the ancient First Nations Pictographs on the East wall of the Inlet. These orange (Salmon Roe coloured) paintings are so old and faded they are difficult to spot and are barely visible. The pictographs tell many stories of the First Nations people in ancient times when First Nations were the only inhabitants of the Coast.

The Big Cedar Tree in Larso Bay is certainly one of the largest Red Cedar trees around the Coast and is about 19 feet in diameter. It is just a short easy hike from the Oceans Edge and it takes about 15-20 minutes to get there on a nicely groomed trail. It is an enormous sight to behold, so don’t forget your camera. This area is bear and wolf habitat and Spring Black Bear and wolf sightings here are not uncommon.

We depart Larso Bay and head across the Inlet to Michel Falls, a beautiful set of cascading falls from a large glacial water source in the mountains. Your skipper carefully navigates you right in close to the base of the falls and you are cooled down by the refreshing spray of the plummeting glacial water. Next we visit Hot Springs Creek and poke our nose up the creekmouth to visit the resident Bald Eagle that fishes there. Your skipper points out the protected sandy beach and a great sheltered camping spot.

Soaking in the Hot Springs

Arriving at the secluded Hot Springs the guests prepare once again to disembark for a soothing dip in the natural mineral hot pools.  This is a very special spot tucked away on the shoreline and barely visible from the boat. A gorgeous hot springs pool has been built by locals by damming a beautiful natural rock crevice. There is room for about 8 people or more in the hot springs pool and the hot water is crystal clear with no odor.  At high tide you can dive right off the hot spring rocks into the cold glacial water to refresh yourselves, and many do. This is a remote wilderness hot spring that is not commercialized at all and visited by few.

As an option if some of the guests choose not to visit the Hot Springs they can remain on board Nekhani and do a little bit of fishing/jigging for Red Snapper, Lingcod and Halibut provided they have a tidal sport fishing License. We supply all the fishing/jigging gear on board Nekhani. 

A Typical Bountiful Seafood Harvest

With everybody back on board Nekhani again from the soothing Hot springs dip, we head North in search again for Dolphins and Whales and enjoy another cruise by a pristine waterfall setting where we sometimes spot Black Bears and Blacktail Deer.

Hauling back our “Seafood Catch of the Day” is next on the tour itinerary and we idle in to the beach and pick up the prawn line. Everybody waits in anticipation of our big catch and guests always like to participate in the fishery. Some of the interesting creatures that come up from the deep include Octopus, Spider Crabs, Hermit Crabs, Shell fish, Starfish (which are released) and of course lots of Big Jumbo Spot Prawns and the Sweet Coon Stripe Shrimp. Youngsters and adults alike are all interested in viewing creatures from the depths. It is especially good for the children to experience this and they enjoy seeing all the Crustaceans from the sea.

David Suzuki has determined that the Pacific Spot Prawn and the Dungeness Crabs fished on the BC Coast are in the Top Ten Sustainable Fisheries in the World and are caught in an environmentally sustainable manner. This particular seafood is harvested in a way that protects surrounding sea creatures and the eco-systems they depend on.

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Seafood Cocktails

After hauling the prawn strings we head to the river mouths to haul the crab pots. The guests get to gaff the crab buoys and heave on the lines and pull up the crab pots from off the bottom. We encourage our guests to participate with the crab and prawn fishing and this way they learn quite a bit about fishing for these species and how the fishing gear works.

We usually do quite well on the Dungeness Crabs and these nice hard crabs are excellent eating when boiled up fresh from the glacial waters.

Onboard the Nekhani our chef has the salted water in the crab cooker boiling ready for our “Seafood Catch of the Day”.

Happy Hour commences while listening to some Jimmy Buffet tunes and relaxing. Guests can enjoy the panoramic views from the top deck and bridge.

A Delicious Crab Dinner!

Your guide will cook/blanch the prawns till they float and then cool them quickly. Next the Jumbo Crabs go in to cook for 18 minutes.

There is much anticipation and always a goodtime on deck around the flaming crab cooker when the catch of the day is cooking!

Once your prawns and crabs are cooked to perfection your guide demonstrates how to peel the prawns and shuck the crabs while dipping them in Garlic Butter and then.... the FEEDING FRENZY is ON! The guests enjoy a world class seafood dinner onboard and the socializing and discussion of the day’s activities goes on into the night! 

This is about as good as it gets with the finest fresh daily caught seafood! The prawns and crabs have only been out of the ice cold glacial water for about an hour or so and are still kickin’ when we cook ‘em. The guests enjoy the bounty of the sea, as well as the main seafood course, prepared by our chef with home-grown organic vegetables from our garden, complete with all the trimmings.

Prawns for Dinner!

After dinner the guests can take in a nice relaxing stroll around the waterfront docks observing the fishermen and the local activities on the ocean side. This is a working harbour where they may even see the commercial fishing fleet unloading their catch of salmon or halibut. In the evening there is generally quite a chorus of resident Harbour Seals, Sea Lions and otters talking and grunting after dark to keep the guests amused.

Guests have the option for a full day Bella Coola Grizzly Tours Valley Bus Tour and can also be picked up at Bella Coola Grizzly Tours Resort at 9:30 to enjoy a Grand Tour of the Bella Coola Valley Land Base.

For complete information on our Bella Coola Valley Bus Tour please see our Bella Coola Valley Bus Tour web page. 

Leonard & Michelle,

Our stay in Bella Coola started not so good and then we cross your driveway and then everything change. You make our weekend! How can I say, we don't have word to say how amazing it was. The hot spring was like in a dream! Steve was a pretty nice guide. He explain us everything and he let us fish! The prawns fishing was incredible!

No word to describe our happiness!!! Thank you so much.

Marc & Anais from Switzerland.

Glacial Grizzly Tour
Schedule and Prices

3 Days /2 Night

$1995.00 per person
(with price based on 4 guests) 

This exclusive Marine Grizzly Tour is limited to a maximum of 4 guests (minimum of 2) on board MV Nekhani and is conducted by Leonard Ellis or his son Daniel, who between them have more than 40 years of guiding experience in Coastal Grizzly Country.

To reserve your dates email us

Telephone - 1-888-982-0098 (Toll free North America)

Glacial Grizzly Tours depart the Bella Coola Harbour at 9:00 am in the morning and return back to the Bella Coola Harbour the 3rd day at sundown.

Departures and Custom Charters on Board MV Nekhani are available any day of the week with advance notice.

Please inquire if you would like a price on an exclusive Offshore Saltwater Fishing Charter for Spring Salmon and Coho. We are happy to accommodate you.

We accept all major credit cards and cash for payment.

Operating Spring, Summer and Fall

We also offer an 8 Hour Glacial Fjord / Hot Springs Day Tour more info...

 - Wilderness Grizzly Expeditions and Exhilarating Adventures since 1978 -

Price Includes:

  • All  Meals and Accommodations on-board the 42 foot MV Nekhani, Morning and Evening Grizzly Tours, Hot Springs, Pictographs, Interpretive Nature Walks, Waterfalls, Marine Life, Glaciers, Fresh Seafood, Licensed/Certified Guides and non-alcoholic Beverages
  • Price does not include applicable 5% tax
  • Price does not include Gratuities
  • Maximum of 4 guests on Board
  • Licensed/Insured /Transport Canada Approved Vessel and Skipper

Glacial Grizzly Tour Details

  • Price does not include Saltwater/Tidal Sport Fishing licenses for the “Seafood Catch of the Day”. Clients that wish to participate in the Prawn and Crab fishery and consumption of Prawns, Crabs and/or fish for Halibut or any Bottom fish must be in possession of a valid Tidal Sport fishing License which can easily be purchased in Bella Coola at Hagensborg Grocery store or Cliff Kopas store in Bella Coola prior to departure on our Marine Tour. Cost for the 3 day Tidal Sport fishing license is $11.55 for Canadians and $19.00 + salmon stamp $6.50 for non-Canadians.

  • A $200.00 deposit per person is required to book your Tour and confirm your arrival date. We require a valid credit card for all overnight tours. Balance of payment is required in full on the first day of the month of your departure. Deposits are non-refundable. However, deposits may be moved ahead to the following year if more than 30 days notice of cancellation is given. A Waiver of Liability will be required to be signed by all that participate in our Grizzly Tours.

  • Alcoholic beverages are permitted on board our vessels but are not supplied by Bella Coola Grizzly Tours. There is a fully stocked Government Liquor store in Bella Coola where you can purchase any refreshments you may desire.

  • Children are welcome on our Marine Tours and it is quite an educational experience for them. Children are required to wear life jackets at all times while on board our vessels.  Families with children 12 years old and under please inquire so that we may accommodate you. Clients should be in reasonable physical condition to participate in this Tour and capable of easy walking on wilderness trails.

  • Pets may be permitted at the discretion of BC Grizzly Tours. Pets are not permitted along on the actual land based Grizzly Tour. Please notify us at time of booking to discuss the options of bringing your pet along.

It should be noted that in over four decades of guiding international clientele to Grizzly Bears in the Coastal Wilderness of BC there has never been any injuries or casualties whatsoever suffered by Clients Guided by Leonard Ellis or Bella Coola Grizzly Tours Inc. Your Certified Wilderness Guide is fully equipped to provide adequate defence for you in case of an altercation.

Your Skipper/Guide Leonard Ellis was born and raised on the Coast of British Columbia and has spent over half a century Living, Working and Guiding on the Central Coast of B.C. He has experienced Hurricanes, Flood’s, Tsunami’s and has had many encounters with Grizzly Bear, Black Bear, Kermode Bear, Mountain Goat, Wolves, Wolverines, Killer Whales, Humpback Whales and Basking Shark in his time.  He has many unique tales to tell as a Wilderness Guide on the North Coast of B.C. and Leonard is always happy to share his many exciting stories and unforgettable experiences with you.

Bella Coola Grizzly Tours Inc.
P.O. Box 336,
1953 Mackenzie Highway 20
Bella Coola, British Columbia
Canada, V0T 1C0

Phone: (250)-982-0098
Toll Free: 1-888-982-0098

Email us:
Skype: bcgrizzlytours

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Photo Credits: Michael Wigle, Leonard Ellis, Michel Bazille, Shannon Ellis, Dawn Brynildsen, Arnold Honigman

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