Canada; or as it is also known, the wildlife capital of the world. Forget African safaris, Canada and all of its ten provinces are home to some of the most stunning wildlife you can find across the globe. From grizzly bears to deep-diving whales, we are confident in saying you won’t find a better location for wildlife holidays anywhere else in the world.
Hamish who blogs about his travels at My Travel Fix always recommends a spot of wildlife watching to those who are looking to get the true Canadian experience: “It’s simple: if you love wildlife, Canada should be at the top of your list. The country has so much to offer. Not least, vast swaths of pristine wilderness teeming with animals of every description. From black bears to bald eagles, there’s something for everyone. I’ve never felt more connected to the natural world. And, as a photographer, never shot better photographs. The flight back to London was a bitter-sweet moment. I will be returning to this beautiful country very soon.”
Keep reading to find out a little more about some of the animals you can see, where you are likely to spot them and some comments from travel bloggers all about their experiences in Canada.
When people conjure up images of Canadian wildlife in their heads, they will almost definitely think of large, dark brown moose wandering along empty, quiet roads, and they aren’t wrong. Moose are a common animal in Canada and are easily identified by their large antlers. Moose are not animals to be messed with and can weigh up to a mighty 400 kgs for a male and 350 kgs for a female, as well as potentially growing to a length of 3.2 metres.
Rhonda, blogger, travel writer and photographer at her blog Travel Yes Please spoke to us a little more about why she loves Canada and all the wildlife you can see whilst you’re there: “Canada is a great destination for wildlife lovers because its vast wilderness is home to an abundance of animals including rarities like spirit and polar bears, to the iconic beaver and moose.
“My favourite place in Canada to spot wildlife is Jasper National Park because it doesn’t matter what time of year I visit, I always see animals. I’ve seen grizzly bears, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, moose, elk, and deer, but most exciting was seeing a black bear with cubs.”
Where to see Moose in Canada
It is safe to say that the moose can often be an elusive animal to spot, but if you head to their natural habitats and know where to look, a quick glimpse isn’t out of the question. The best time of year to look for these majestic animals is late spring and Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario is the place to do so. The large park is a popular space for moose as although it is a popular tourist destination, it has hidden and secluded areas where the moose can make their home without disturbances.
Bears are an iconic part of the wildlife makeup of Canada and are often one of the most spotted in the country due to their varying habitats, breeds and behaviours. There are so many species of bear in Canada, it is important to know which ones you want to see before heading to their popular locations, we have detailed some of the types of bears below for you.
Polar bears are often found in the colder climates of Canada but are identified by their white or yellow fur. With a worldwide population of 25,000, Canada is home to 17,000 of these so a sighting isn’t out of the question if you know where to look. Polar bears can be very dangerous, so searching for them should be guided by an expert or on one of our many bear watching excursions. Churchill is known as the Polar Bear capital of the world and for those who wish to see these stunning animals up close and personal can enjoy a holiday to this remarkable place.
READ MORE: A guide to polar bears in Manitoba
Black bears are the most common and widespread bears in Canada and the ones you are most likely to see on your family holiday to Canada. They can be found across many of the provinces and like to live in dense wooded areas or areas that offer protection and shelter. Hamish, a blogger at My Travel Fix loved visiting Canada and tells us more about the bears he saw on his trip.
“Most impressive of all were the bears which – contrary to my understanding – were not hard to find. I saw both black and grizzly bears, with their fluffy round ears and small, dark eyes. Each day was like a scene lifted straight from Snow White.”
With around 25,000 grizzly bears in Canada, they are the second most popular of the three and can only really be found in the spring as they hibernate through the winter months when they give birth to their cubs.
“Wildlife lovers are spoilt for choice when visiting Canada, with so much to see from grizzly and black bears to moose, elk, bighorn sheep and beavers to name just a few,” comments Joe from the blog Walk My World.
Joe continues to explain more about his experiences bear watching when he saw grizzly bears: “If we had to single out just one wildlife watching experience it would have to be bear watching from the Lake Louise Gondola in Banff. It gives you the chance to get up close and personal with wild grizzly bears, all from the safety of your gondola or chairlift. We’d recommend the chairlift for better photo ops as there is no glass to create glare. The chance to watch a mother and her two cubs frolic in the meadow beneath our feet was something we’ll remember forever.”
Where to see Bears in Canada
It depends on which bears you are looking for as to which area of Canada you are most likely to see them in. Polar bears live around Churchill, just north of Manitoba and a glimpse of them can almost be guaranteed as they hunt and live on ice floes that drift in through the spring months.
Black bears are a little more commonly spotted across Canada but are still often found in certain areas or provinces, some of these including Whistler, Vancouver Island and The Boreal Forest in Ontario.
Grizzly bears can be seen in locations such as Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, The Chilcotin Mountains, The Cariboo Mountains, Alaska and Glendale Cove.
READ MORE: An Insider’s Guide to Bear Watching
Beavers are often spotted around lakes and streams all across Canada, which is lucky for visitors as there are plenty of these locations to choose from. In previous years, beavers were overhunted for their fur so had to be slowly re-introduced to the country and are now supported by wetland rehabilitation and conservation charities and corporations.
Beavers can be easily spotted in their natural habitats if you look out for their mud-covered damns and lodges on the edge of the waters. Beavers aren’t going to come out and see you, you are going to have to go searching a little bit for them in order to catch a glimpse.
Where to see Beavers in Canada
There are a few popular places that beavers like to call their home, one of the most prominent of these being the Canadian Rockies. Head to The Fenland Loops, The Colombia River or the Flowing Water Trail in Bow Valley Provincial Park.
For those that haven’t visited Canada before, you may have never seen a Bison, but they are not to be underestimated and are definitely one to find on your Canadian holiday.
There are a few different varieties of Bison, which many may not know, with 2,200 plains bison and about 11,000 wood bison in Canada. Male bison can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and can stand as tall as 6ft! They are known for being the largest animal in North America and therefore are relatively easy to spot when on your travels, although those who are driving need to make sure they are careful and avoid any wandering bison.
Where to see Bison in Canada
The Elk Island National Park in Alberta isn’t just one of the places to see Bison in Canada, but one of the only places to see them in the whole world. The park is home to about 700 wood and plain bison as well as Wood Buffalo National Park which has the second-largest concentration of this large animal.
Eastern Canada is home to 350,000 to 400,000 Atlantic puffins that can be found mostly around Newfoundland and Labrador. These colourful and charismatic birds can be found perching on the side of the cliffs and rocks where they nest and lay their eggs. They are easy to spot due to their orange-tipped beaks and contrasting white and black feathers. They are easiest to spot from mid-May to September, but for those that spot them in spring, their beaks are still deep grey before they change to orange over the summer months.
The birds put on quite a show sweeping and swooping around the cliff edges of their habitats as they make their unique squeaking sounds, unlike anything any other birds make.
Where to see Atlantic Puffins in Canada
Atlantic Puffins are secluded to a few sheltered areas in Canada, these being Newfoundland and Labrador on the east of the country. The best time to visit is between May and September when their beaks are bright and orange.
The west coast of Canada is home to some of the most magnificent mammals in the world, whales. A short boat ride or a cruise can take you to some of the best whale-watching spots across the globe where you will be able to catch a glimpse of some of these huge beauties in their natural habitats. A sightseeing trip to see some of these sea creatures can lead you to several breeds including Orca, Humpback and Minke, you may even be treated to a show by some of the playful or younger whales. Sighting these whales isn’t always easy and shouldn’t be underestimated but If you do, then it is an extra special moment.
Where to see Whales in Canada
As we have mentioned, the west coast of Canada is one of the best places to spot whales with the waters around Vancouver, Victoria or British Columbia being some of the most popular locations for specific breeds. An Alaskan cruise is also another wonderful way to spot whales whilst you’re gliding through the icy water.
READ MORE: Whale Watching on the West Coast of Canada
Other popular animals in Canada
- Canada Goose
- Bighorn Sheep
Canada is known for being a country of many greats, one of these being its wide variety of animals that almost anyone can experience on their holiday. Hopefully seeing some of these animals will now be on your bucket list, all that is left to do is to book your cheap flights to Canada.