Thanks to the enduring appeal of David Attenborough, we know all about The Big Five. With lions and elephants on offer, an African safari might seem the obvious choice for a wildlife holiday. But have you ever considered a wildlife holiday to Canada? If not, then you absolutely should. Canadian animals are not to be sniffed at – Canada has mountain lions and it has whales, the giants of the sea. More than that, it also boast bears – black, grizzly and polar – moose, bison, caribou, orcas, dolphins… The list of Canadian animals goes on. We assure you, Canada’s wildlife will not let you down.
One of the friendliest looking sea mammals you’ll ever encounter, the beluga whale is beautiful and inquisitive. The bulbous forehead doesn’t just make for a cute face, it makes them capable of vocalising the huge range of chirps, clicks, whistles and squeals for which they are famous. They’ve even earned the nickname “sea canaries”. As incredibly sociable mammals, they use this impressive range of sounds to communicate constantly with their pods. Every year, 50,000 of these white whales migrate to Hudson Bay in north-eastern Canada as the sea ice breaks and the water becomes warmer. Zodiacs and large passenger boats can take you out among these curious whales, and hydrophones will let you listen in on their conversations. If you are a strong swimmer and adventure tickles your fancy, then why not have an experience of a lifetime by kayaking or snorkelling with these beautiful sea mammals? After all, squeals of delight aren’t just for the whales!
The Kermode bear, known in First Nations folklore as the “Spirit” bear, has to be one of the most mystical animals you’ll ever be lucky enough to encounter. This bear lives exclusively in the coastal regions and rainforests of British Columbia and can be found nowhere else in the world. Its stunning white coat isn’t due to albinism – they are a sub species of the American black bear, with recessive white genes that have been passed on through generations. Thanks to their isolated island habitats and the small bear population, more than one in 10 of the population today have white coats. This adaptation makes them successful hunters, camouflaging them against the sky when fishing for salmon. Though unlucky for the salmon, it makes it easier for us to spot them amongst marshy woodland and green forests. The highest concentration of Kermode bears is believed to be on the Princess Royal Island and Gribbell Island, where 120 recorded bears freely roam. There are plenty of tours operating day trips to visit BC’s islands to try to catch a glimpse of these rare beauties. For a longer trip into the wilderness, The Great Bear Rainforest on the coast of British Columbia boasts the ultimate bear watching experience. Spend a few days in the pristine forests there and you won’t wonder how it got its name!
From alpha predators to gentle giants, the moose is next on our list. As the largest member of the deer family they can weigh up to 700kg. They can stand up to a huge 2.1 metres at the shoulder and their enormous antlers can span between 120 and 150 centimetres. The iconic splayed antlers of the males are shed every year and regrown before the next mating season. Although usually harmless, their fights can be spectacular when they are competing over females! They are incredibly resilient swimmers and unbelievably they can dive underwater up to a depth of 5.5 metres. Their diet consists largely of aquatic plants and their favourites grow along the bottom of lakebeds. Despite their bulk, they have nimble legs and wide-spanned hooves that are perfect for the deep snow and heavy currents of Canadian winters. Moose can be found in most forests from the eastern tip of Newfoundland and Labrador all the way to the borders of Alaska and are one of Canada’s most spotted animals. Drive into any one of Canada’s many national parks and you’re likely to see them – just watch out for moose crossing the road!
Even ardent animal lovers might not realise that Canada is the ideal place to view one of the best known yet most elusive animals in the world. From one white bear to another very different one, Canada is also perfect for viewing polar bears in the wild. It is usually very difficult to see polar bears safely and impossible to get up close, but head to the town of Churchill in Manitoba and you’ll be rewarded. Named the polar bear capital of the world, this arctic region on the edge of Hudson Bay has pioneered face-to-face encounters. They use unique tundra buggies which are able to traverse the icy landscape while keeping you safe and warm, heading deep into the polar bear’s natural habitat. Bears are known to come right up to the buggy, promising an experience to take your breath away and the photo opportunity of a lifetime!
Whatever you decide to see, Canadian Affair can help you plan your perfect trip! Want to know more? Our team can help – give us a call on 0203 424 6331.