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Northern British Columbia stretches from the major population centres of Prince Rupert and Prince George north to the border with The Yukon and Northwest Territories, and from the Pacific and border with Southeast Alaska east to the border with Northern Alberta. It encompasses almost half of the Province, much of it landlocked, as well as the most northerly 125 mile section of Canada's West Coast, and the rugged Princess Charlotte Islands, known to their First Nations inhabitants as Haida Gwaii. It is also home to the only reserve in North America specifically designated for the preservation of Grizzly Bears, and the coastal waters either side of the territorial divide with Alaska is the only place on earth where you can witness the dramatic spectacle of Humpback Whales "bubble netting" schooling baitfish and lunge feeding.

A 30 minute floatplane flight or 2 hour boat ride north of Prince Rupert, a port of call on the Inside Passage sailing to Alaska, is remote Khutzeymateen Inlet at the head of which lies Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary. The spring months of May and June are the best time of year to view bears here as many can be seen grazing on estuarine sedge grasses close to the shoreline and the area can be visited on a live aboard sailboat cruise, or fly-in tour with floatplane transfers from Prince Rupert and bear viewing excursions by boat. The latter can be arranged as a day trip or an overnight stay including bunkhouse and tented accommodation at a floating camp just outside the sanctuary. Salmon enter their spawning waters from August onwards and most of the bears move inland to feed in inaccessible streams and creeks, though some are still seen in the estuary, or swimming across it.

Humpback Whales arrive off the coast from their breeding grounds in Hawaii in July and begin and begin an intense period of feeding in these nutrient rich waters which continues on into the autumn. Orca and Gray Whales are also regularly seen in the area though the playful and acrobatic Humpbacks are very much the stars of the show.

Inland from Prince Rupert there are a number of pristine river systems which support very healthy populations of Grizzly Bears, some of the highest population densities in Canada, and very knowledgeable local guides specialise in small scale (maximum 4 people), low impact bear viewing in these pristine and sensitive eco-systems. From mid May to mid June small, shallow draft, very quiet jetboats are used to get you close to the spectacle of a dozen or more grizzlies contentedly grazing the same sedge meadows. In August when the salmon run is in full flow, and October when the bears are switching from the last salmon to berries and roots and getting ready to den, all viewing is done on foot, often utilising natural hides to get close to the action. The bears in the area have had little or no contact with humans and are therefore very shy compared to those in areas where large scale bear viewing has been conducted for many years, but the guides have prefected a stealth and a back to basics approach that makes for exciting, intimate, and very natural encounters with these majestic animals.

Northern BC has broader appeal beyond its obvious wildlife attractions however. It boasts some of the most spectacular scenery in Western Canada, and many visitors to the region say that it is how they imagine Alaska to have been before it became a mass tourism destination. It is also one of the best places to experience first hand the vibrant First Nations culture of the Pacific Northwest with the Tsimshian, Heiltsuk, Gitskan, and Haida Nations all well represented here. Whatever your particular wildlife interests, a visit to Northern British Columbia will not disappoint.

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