Canada Wildlife Holidays
In Canada's Nature
For me, Canada's incredible wildlife is the country's biggest draw. You can see black bears, grizzlies, humpbacks, elk, bighorn sheep and eagles all in the same holiday! You can spot wildlife simply from the roadside, but expert tours and wilderness lodges provide the most memorable experiences in simply breath-taking locations.
Canada's bear species
Black bears in Canada
Black bears are abundant in Canada and are probably the bear species you are most likely to spot on your holiday. You can often see black bears just by the roadside as you drive through mountain regions like Banff, Jasper and Whistler. British Columbia’s coastal black bears can be viewed on a boat tour from Vancouver Island. It's a great way to get up close to the animals and see their unique behaviour as they forage along the rocky shorelines for crabs.
Grizzly bears in Canada
Majestic grizzly bears can be harder than black bears to spot when you're simply out and about, which is why a dedicated lodge visit really pays off. You can watch grizzlies feasting on salmon in the Great Bear Rainforest - a spectacular wilderness region along British Columbia's Pacific Coast. The lodges in this wild and beautiful area have a fountain of knowledge on when and where to see grizzlies. There's nothing like seeing them in such a pristine environment.
Polar bears in Arctic Canada
Polar bears congregate on the shores of Hudson Bay in Churchill, Manitoba. This remote Arctic region gives you the best chance of seeing dozens of majestic bears. Specially-designed tundra buggies transport you across the frozen landscape to where the polar bears wait for the sea ice to return. The photo opportunities are incredible and offer the perfect mix of seeing the animals in their natural habitat as well as getting close - the bears are very curious about the trucks!
Canada's whale species
Where the orcas roam
Orcas, or killer whales, come high up on most wildlife enthusiasts' lists of must-see animals. There is a resident pod of these beautiful creatures in the Strait of Juan de Fuca off Vancouver Island's capital, Victoria. That means the orcas live there year-round rather than migrating so you've got a great chance of spotting them. Tours here offer guaranteed sightings or a second tour for free. You can also spot them up the coast in Tofino, in the Pacific Rim National Park.
There are plenty of places in Canada to spot magnificent humpback whales. Off the coast of Vancouver Island, the sounds and fjords around the Great Bear Rainforest and along the Inside Passage to Alaska are some of the top spots in the West. In Eastern Canada, Quebec has incredible whale watching along the St. Lawrence River. Seeing that iconic fluke disappearing into the ocean should be on everyone's bucket list.
12 species in one place
The Bay of Fundy in Atlantic Canada is pretty special. This huge body of water between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick has the highest tides in the world. The movement of water stirs up the sea and brings in a ton of nutrients, making it a rich feeding ground for marine life. The area can boast up to 12 species of whales in the summer months, including humpback, fin, minke and rare North Atlantic right whales. You can also spot dolphins and porpoises.
Canada's diverse residents
Canada's most famous - moose
The moose has to be the most iconic animal in Canada. This endearing gentle giant tops many people's wishlists of animals they'd love to spot on holiday. While the moose is widespread, it's actually easier to spot them in Central and Eastern Canada. The parks of Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada are particularly good places to spot these striking animals. Try the forests and waterways of Algonquin Provincial Park, a few hours from Toronto, for a sure-fire place to see them.
Elk, sheep & mountain goats
It's possible to spot a large variety of sure-footed mountain wildlife when you holiday in the Rocky Mountains and further north in the Yukon. Elk are widespread, wandering through Banff town in the early morning and frequent visitors to campsites in the mountains. Characterful bighorn sheep are often seen by the side of the road along the Icefields Parkway. Mountain goats are harder to spot but you might get lucky in Jasper, Alberta or Smithers, British Columbia.
Eagles, birds & smaller animals
Don’t forget about Canada's incredible birdlife! Whether you're an avid birdwatcher or not, it's an exhilarating experience to see a bald eagle soaring above the treetops or an osprey diving for fish in a river valley. The blue jay is a colourful and common sighting too. You can also spot a variety of cute smaller mammals, from the fluffy marmot to the cheeky chipmunk and lively ground squirrel.
Best for bears
Knight Inlet Lodge
Set in a wonderfully peaceful and remote location in West Coast British Columbia, the area surrounding the floating lodge has one of the highest concentrations of bears in the province. Your days here are filled with excursions led by experienced local guides to see the bears both on foot or by kayak.
Great Bear Lodge
This gorgeous lodge is located in a remote coastal valley in British Columbia. With very little else around, the lodge is one of the only companies operating in the Nekite Valley and is one of the best places in the world to see grizzly bears. The number of guests at the eco-friendly lodge is limited to 16 so you are always guaranteed a truly personalised and memorable experience.
Tweedsmuir Park Lodge
One of the most relaxed places for bear watching, keep your eyes peeled from your private log cabin for bears simply wandering by. Tweedsmuir Park is a fantastic place to stop off at as part of a self-drive holiday along Highway 20 in central BC, so take some time out and truly appreciate the surroundings of the Great Bear Rainforest. There are multiple viewing locations throughout the resort, providing great opportunities to go spotting exactly where the bears are.
This Relais & Chateaux property offers British Columbia's magical coastal setting along with five-star accommodation, extraordinary service, gourmet dining and a spectacular spa. The spa even has soothing mineral pools and an exclusive treatment called the 'water journey' to harness the relaxation and purification powers of the surrounding ocean. Sonora Resort offers unmatched splendour, comfort and natural thrills in the famed beauty and tranquillity of the Great Bear Rainforest.
Spirit Bear Lodge
Nestled in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest, the Spirit Bear Lodge is unsurprisingly one of the best places in the world to see the beautiful Spirit Bear – a white bear that is part of the black bear family. The Lodge is a community-based ecotourism venture owned and operated by the Kitasoo/ Xai’xais First Nations people. All bear watching excursions are led by a certified biologist and an aboriginal skipper.
Arriving at Pyna-tee-ah Lodge at the base of the Cariboo Mountains is like being welcomed into the home of close friends. The lodge only ever has a maximum of 12 guests so the atmosphere is always relaxed and homely. The large surrounding area around Quesnel Lake offers lots of great viewing opportunities both on foot or by boat and every tour is accompanied by the resident ‘bear whisperer’ with his 30 years of experience.
When & Where
Plan your visit
When & where to see bears
Bears come out of hibernation around April to November (except polar bears which don’t hibernate). The best chance of seeing grizzlies and black bears is in the summer months, while for polar bears it is October and November. The salmon run in BC peaks around September. You can watch grizzlies feasting on salmon in the Great Bear Rainforest. Spot black bears in mountain regions like Banff, Jasper and Whistler as well as Vancouver Island's coast. For polar bears, head to Churchill, Manitoba.
When and where to see whales
May to October is the main season to spot whales, peaking around July and August. For the grey whale migration past Tofino, you’ll need to go in March. Towns like Tadoussac in Québec and Digby in Nova Scotia are best for humpbacks, minke, blue and beluga whales. Manitoba’s Hudson Bay is the best place for belugas. British Columbia reigns supreme for orcas - resident pods are visible on tours from Vancouver, Victoria and Tofino.
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See Canada's wildlife for yourself
Watch these inspiring videos to get an idea of the incredible animal encounters you can experience in Canada
Wildlife holidays in Canada
The fluke of a whale disappearing into the glassy ocean. A bear’s breath misting the morning air. An eagle silhouetted against a snowy mountain peak. Our wildlife holidays help you find where Canada is alive and get you closer to nature than ever before. Canadian wildlife is spectacular, with so many species here that you’ll struggle to see anywhere else. If you’re interested in nature travel, there’s no better place for it. Whether you have always dreamed of watching bears in the lush forests while they feast on sockeye salmon or seeing bald eagles as they soar over the Rockies, we have a wildlife holiday for you. Canada has its own Big 5 animals to spot - whale, bear, wolf, eagle and moose. See how many you can tick off on your Canadian wildlife holiday.
Canada has an abundance of animals to view in their natural habitats and we offer some of the best places for wildlife travel. We have a range of resorts for you to experience animal holidays in true wilderness locations. Discover small floating resorts in British Columbia and eco-resorts in the Great Bear Rainforest. Some locations require floatplanes or Zodiac boats to reach the picturesque setting, letting you enjoy close encounters with incredible creatures in unspoilt wilderness. Canada is the perfect holiday destination for any animal enthusiast.
Best places to spot Canadian wildlife
From bear watching in British Columbia to minke in the Maritimes, find the best places to spot wildlife.
Black bears can be spotted in any of Canada’s mountain regions, but the most reliable place is on Vancouver Island. Join a bear watching cruise to spot the coastal black bears foraging on the shoreline. For grizzlies, head into British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest where resorts like Knight Inlet know the best salmon fishing spots.
These majestic birds can be spotted in the BC mountains – particularly on a Rocky Mountaineer train tour.
For the best chance to see Canada’s iconic animal, head east. Ontario and Quebec are full of moose, especially in Algonquin Provincial Park.
Wolves are harder to spot, but if you join a wildlife tour in the wilds of the pristine Yukon, you’ll have the best chance.
Banff wildlife is abundant and varied, but elk are a staple of the national park. Spot them in the town or in campsites in the early morning.
For orcas and humpbacks, there’s no better place than off the coast of Victoria on Vancouver Island. The orcas live here all year round and humpbacks are summer visitors. For more varied species, head east. The rich waters off Digby, Nova Scotia, and Tadoussac, Quebec, are teaming with humpback, sperm, minke and blue whales from April to November.