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Spirit Bears & Black Bears of British Columbia, Canada

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Spirit Bears are a new Hemmings Photo Tour. No reviews about this workshop as of yet. 

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Journey into the Great Bear Rainforest with the goal of photographing the elusive Spirit Bear, also known as the Kermode Bear, (Ursus americanus kermodei), named after Frank Kermode, former director of the Royal Museum of British Columbia, “Kermode, meaning “Isle of Man” who studied the subspecies for many years.  The Spirit Bear, not an albino bear, but rather a rare subspecies of the black bear is unique with its whitish blonde fur and have been known to have a 35% greater success rate of catching salmon compared to the black bear.  To ensure our success, photographing the Spirit Bear, we have teamed up Spirit Bear Guide,  Marven Robinson from the Gitga’at First Nation. Marven Robinson has been a pillar of protecting the Great Bear Rainforest and considered a Spirit Bear and Great Bear Rainforest Specialist. During our Spirit Bear Photo Workshop we learn about the Spirit Bear, its habitat and daily living habits. The spirit bear is extremely rare with estimates of only a couple of hundred that exist today. We will be exploring the best place on earth to find and photograph these rare mammals.

Oct. 13th, 2018 – Oct.18th, 2018. /  Sept/ Oct. 2019 -tba

ARRIVAL: Prince Rupert, (YPR) British Columbia, Canada from Vancouver (YVR)

Price: $4,499.00 USD USD Deposit $1500 USD Single Supplement $250 USD- 7 Nights/5 days with the bears. CDN$ Price $5578.76 Deposit $1860 CDN (1.24) Prices includes tax. Flights not included, boat included to/from Prince Rupert to Hartley Bay.

Workshop Leader: David Hemmings  

Why this spirit bear trip?

This entire trip dedicated to finding and photographing the spirit bear every day. There is no down time travelling from place to place while on a more expensive sailing/yachting tour where participants only get a few hours at the one bear viewing spot the entire trip. We have all day, every day. We also have a private charter boat from Prince Rupert into Hartley Bay the first day of the adventure.

What to expect:

This trip is a true wilderness adventure. While we are in one of the best areas for spotting and photographing spirit bears we cannot guarantee that we will see them. This is part of the adventure and excitement of finding one of the rarest bears in the world. Patience will be required as we search and wait for sightings and photo opportunities of this elusive animal. Once you see one for the first time and get that first shot, the wait is time well spent. Remember, we are in one of the most beautiful rainforests in the world. We are surrounded by natural beauty and many landscape photo opportunities.


We will be based at a guest-house in Hartley Bay where we will eat our breakfasts and dinners each day. Hartley Bay is a very pretty and secluded First Nations community where there are no roads, instead there are a network of boardwalks connecting the community and ate is the main mode of transportation. A local cook will be at our disposal for all of our meals. Bedrooms are private with shared bathrooms. Accommodations are basic and clean.

Other information:

A moderate level of fitness is required to participate in this trip. There will be hiking involved to get to our shooting locations. This can be for periods of about one half hour to forty minutes in duration. The terrain can be wet, uneven and muddy. It also can rain as we are in the Great Bear Rainforest.We will be getting in and out of boats every day, sometimes onto slippery surfaces. Once in the great outdoors our toilets are provided only by the rainforest itself.


Clothing and equipment:

For this trip you will need to bring good quality outer rain wear as it is the rainforest and can get quite wet at times. Daily average temperatures can be quite cool at this time of year so bring layers. Good long underwear and some fleece or wool pants and sweaters. Waterproof hikers or knee high muck boots are necessary. You will also want to have warm socks as well as gloves and head protection.


Day 1: (Saturday Oct 13th.) Depart Prince Rupert by chartered boat for a scenic 2 1/2 hour ride to Hartley Bay, our base for the trip. Settle in and then pack a lunch and head out for an afternoon/evening of looking for the spirit bears. 

Days 2 to 5: Oct. 14/15/16/17th. Depart after breakfast from Hartley Bay by boat to our spirit bear viewing areas. We will be gone all day and do not return until the evening dinner. 

Please note that this itinerary may change according to weather conditions and photo opportunities.

Workshop dates:

 Oct. 13th, 2018 – Oct.18th, 2018 / Sept & October 2019 dates tba.

Travel days and flight information:

Arrival: Fly into Prince Rupert (YPR), British Columbia ( Air Canada -flight from Vancouver (YVR) Please plan to arrive in Prince Rupert on October 12th. Overnight stay in Prince Rupert. Depart Prince Rupert early am for Hartley Bay by chartered boat.

Departure: October 18th 8:10 pm flight Air Canada from Prince Rupert to Vancouver (YVR) to home or  some people might prefer to plan to stay overnight in Prince Rupert and return to Vancouver the next day in case of any unforeseen weather delays for the boat trip from Hartley Bay.

Looking for the ultimate bear photo tour? Join the BC Grizzly Bears with Dave on the Chilko River arrival Williams Lake (YWL) Sat. Oct. 6th.2018 . Enjoy the week with Dave photographing amazing grizzly bears, mother and cubs in glacial blue waters. Continue your bear photo adventure to the Spirit Bears leaving Sat. Oct. 13th, joining Dave on a private flight from Bella Coola to Hartley Bay for the Spirit Bear Workshop. Join the Spirit Bears + BC Grizzly Bears and get a free single supplement (own room) on the BC Bears workshop.