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“An amazing and unforgettable adventure”
Review of Spirit Bear Lodge

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Spirit Bear Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 17 November 2013

An amazing and unforgettable adventure. That is how I would sum up the four days and five nights three friends (USA) and myself (Spain) spent at the Spirit Bear lodge in the Great Bear Rainforest.

The Great Bear Rainforest is a treasure of an incalculable beauty. You have to be there to understand that this trip it is not only about finding a Spirit Bear. It is a magical place that will take your breath away. We barely got to see the sunshine while we were there but the rain, fog, clouds that changed the scenery in seconds, the reflections on the water made us feel we were in another world.

If you add to the moment you get to the Spirit Bear lodge the staff and community of Klemtu treat you as family and the guides are professionals and very nice people then you have all you need to experience and unforgettable time.

Bears are wild animals that don´t follow a schedule and the Spirit Bear in particular a rare and elusive animal that very few people in this world have had the chance to see. So when we began this trip we were aware that we might not get to see one.

We saw black bears, grizzlies and on September 17, 2013 fate was on our side. We had the privilege to see the magnificence of this creature, the Spirit Bear, during the half an hour it gifted us with while it was fishing and eating salmon.

But as I said at the beginning of this review, this trip is not only about finding bears and the Spirit Bear in particular. In the Great Bear Rainforest we also had the chance to see humpback whales, killer whales, sea lions, seals, bald eagles, seagulls....It is a paradise for those who love wildlife. We got to see all of this thanks to the guides that stopped the boats to make sure we could see and take pictures.

The food was great, the rooms nice and everybody was extremely friendly at the Spirit Bear lodge.

Would I recommend this trip? Absolutely. My friends and I will remember this adventure for years to come!

Stayed: September 2013, travelled with friends
3  Thank Olatz_A_M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
spiritbearlodge, General Manager at Spirit Bear Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 20 November 2013

Thank you very much for your review Olatz_A_M!

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67 - 73 of 108 reviews

Reviewed 16 November 2013

I have traveled many places to see black bears, brown bears ( grizzlies), and polar bears. But still on my "bucket list" was the elusive Spirit Bear! In September of this year, I had the opportunity to visit the Spirit Bear Lodge and see one of the rarest animals in the wild - the Spirit Bear!

This trip, which I shared with other friends from the US and Spain, was a once in a life experience. Tim McGrady, the manager of the Spirit Bear Lodge, was extremely helpful in the planning process and briefed us daily about our excursion of the day.

Klemtu, BC is a very scenic and majestic place! No words can describe the area, the wonderful First Nation people or the wildlife that abounds there. We saw black bears, grizzlies, whales, seals, eagles and the great white Spirit Bear. With this said, this is an adventure. Be prepared for boat rides to get to the rivers and areas where the bears are, know that hiking is a challenge but the scenery is spectacular along the way, and rain gear is not an option. The guides and staff will help you every step of the way.....

The rooms were fine, the meals were delicious - even the bag lunches hit the spot! We spent very little time at the lodge as our main purpose was to be outside and experience the Rainforest. We laughed a lot, learned much about the area, its people and the wildlife that abounds. Incredible photos were taken and memories made that will last a lifetime.

If you are looking for an adventure, I highly recommend the Spirit Bear lodge and British Columbia. It's definitely a "once in a lifetime experience" that I will never forget!

Room Tip: You're lucky enough if you get to stay anywhere at the Spirit Bear Lodge!
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  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled with friends
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2  Thank tcfortney
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
spiritbearlodge, General Manager at Spirit Bear Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 20 November 2013

Thank you very much for your review tcfortney!

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Reviewed 16 November 2013

Everything is combined to make a stay at the Spirit Bear Lodge a wonderful experience. The lodge is extremely comfortable, spotless and the food delicious. The whole staff (skippers, guides, hotel staff) are welcoming, efficient and caring to make guests feel at home and part of the community.
As far as the bear watching tour is concerned we appreciated the professional and security minded skippers and guides most of them natives and happy to share their culture with us. Landscapes are gorgious and most important we saw lots of bears : grizzlies of all sizes, including a mother and adorable triplets, black bears and the very rare and shy legendary Spirit Bear not to mention whales, purpoises, seals and sea lions and eagles from the boat. Under the efficient and caring supervisions of Tim McGrady, everything participated to make our stay not only an outstanding bear and wildlife watching tour but also to give us the feeling that for a while we have been part of this gorgious place and of the warm and welcoming Kitasoo Xhaixhai people.
Not only we would highly recommend it but we are longing to go back to this extraordinary place and friendly people.
Thank you to everybody in Klemtu for this memorable experience.
Sophie Larrède

  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank Sowhat32
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
spiritbearlodge, General Manager at Spirit Bear Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 20 November 2013

Thank you very much for your review!

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Reviewed 15 November 2013

When we began to discover the truth about black bears several years ago we learned about a “magical” land where the rare “white” black bear lived and very much wanted to visit this place. This year (2013) was our year to visit Klemtu, BC and the Spirit Bear Lodge. We went with the knowledge that we may not get to see this rare creature (we had several friends that had gone and not seen one). However, as we began to read more about the area we realized this trip could be so much more than just this one sighting and it truly was!

We saw black bears and a grizzly! My mind was locked on bear-viewing but we saw so much more! Lots of wonderful wildlife (whales, seals, eagles, sea lions, pine martins, to name a few) filled each day. I loved seeing the purple star fish and the large, varied colored sunflower sea stars (we live on the coast of NC but had never seen anything like these). Even the purple muscles that lined the shores were astonishing. The scenery was serene and limitless. We met and made friendships with people from all over the world (England, Germany, Spain, the States, Japan and Canada). We enjoyed the time with them on the daily adventures and at dinner, much of this time spent laughing and always learning (the nightly presentations were so informative). And we were blessed with a Spirit Bear sighting!

The staff, lodge and the food are five-star all the way! I am vegan and was completely accommodated. The lodge staff personalized the care for each guest. They were thoughtful and ever-ready to provide anything we needed. Our room was quiet, comfortable and immaculate. The guides and captains are knowledgeable, friendly and went way beyond to make sure our trip was all we wanted! Also, we felt incredibly safe while in their care.

However, for us, the most thrilling part was learning about the First Nation People and their culture. We had no idea what a wonderful part of our visit this would become prior to going. They are an amazingly close knit and deeply caring people. Their art work touched our hearts. The ancestral stories are mystical and woven with hidden meanings to interpret. It requires you to communicate with your soul and basic human values.

The Spirit Bear Lodge is so much more than a quest to see the Spirit Bear. It is about the people, the culture and the ecology of a diverse wildlife habitat that is veiled from the world. We highly recommend this adventure and hope to go back some day…not to see bears but to be with a proud, gentle people that live in a truly untouched piece of our world! rhonda and scotty

  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled with friends
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4  Thank RhondaHennis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
spiritbearlodge, General Manager at Spirit Bear Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 20 November 2013

Thank you very much for your review RhondaHennis!

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 November 2013

My very first stay in Canada happened to be back in March, 1979, and it was in Vancouver. It was love at first sight ! At local bookstores, you could find a magazine called « Super Natural B.C. Just a glance at it, and one would love B.C. for its natural beauty for ever.
Then, I explored more about Canada, from the only one acknowledged Viking site in Newfoundland, to the appeal of the North in the Yukon Territory, to the extraordinary gathering of polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba, to the Algonquin Park, the island of Anticosti...But, it happened one day, back in 1994, I heard of the kermode bear, and, since then, I dreamt of watching one in his natural habitat. People from the National Geographic had made the cover of one their issues, explaining that this elusive animal had never been hunted by the local people.
When I discovered the Spirit Bear lodge site, we had to go.
And, frankly, our stay was beyond expectations. Under the smooth, nice, friendly management of Tim, this lodge, in the middle of nowhere, offering tasteful buffets, different everyday, spacious bedrooms with comfy king-sized beds, with well-equipped bathrooms, seems to be a great addition of happy, professional people who have just in mind to make you feel well, just willing to share their love of Mother Nature.
Among the guides, there were some local young men - some of them kids of local chiefs - some others being specialists of the world of bears, one was even a professional pbtographer who helped us in taking close to perfection pictures ; one evening, the local guides spoke of their experience. We had also great talks with the different captains : the set is among an archipielago of small, large and big islands. The only way to go and see black, grizzly and kermode bears is to take a boat, sail among these pristine islands over-covered by the last rain forest in the Northen Hémisphere. Under tbe sun or under rain, natural beauty is all around you, and during the trip you see humpback wales, porpoises, sea-lions, and up in old trees, superb bald eagles.
Then, you put foot on land, and you are immediately in Bear country.
One day, we saw 8 grizzlies, including a mother and her triplets who found - all themselves - up in a tree feeding on small apples ( berries) ; interesting when you read that the difference between black and grizzly bears is that only the first climb on trees : apparently, they are exceptions !
On another day, we found ourselves within less than 20 yards from a young female grizzly ; we were just on the edge of a river bank, and opposite there was a big male who started swimming right into our direction and I thought that we could be the sandwich of the Year, but 1) our guides were well-aware of that, and 2) everything was under control.
Also, and Tim Mc Grady was quite clear on that, we are in the territory of First Nations people, and we had to be aware of that. So, one evening, after diner, with 5 young local students we all went to the Big House ( actually a wonderful spectacular building ) and listened to their songs and we danced with them : great, simple moment !
We were under the charm of Monsieur Kermode who showed up during the last 30 minutes of our last day !
The genuine love of nature, the respect for nature showed by every body at the lodge, among this super natural beauty makes The Spirit Bear Lodge a most-recommended destination !

  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Jean-Philippe G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
spiritbearlodge, General Manager at Spirit Bear Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 20 November 2013

Thank you very much for your review Jean Philippe!

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Reviewed 14 November 2013

I just wanted to send a note thanking the Staff of Spirit Bear and the people of Klemtu for an amazing adventure. From the moment you arrive at the Lodge until the time you leave the staff and the local community treat you like family.

I have had the opportunity to travel and photograph Bears in Yellowstone, Churchill Bay, Waterton National Park, Glacier National Park, Banff National Park, Kananaskis, Khutzeymateen Valley, and Bella Coola. Thanks to staff at Spirit Bear lodge I had my best Bear viewing experience that anybody could ask for. If you are looking for a Canadian Safari, Spirit Bear lodge is just that place. From 7am to 7pm Spirit Bear lodge will have you out in search of Bears, Whales, Eagles, and Wolves. The Guides and Boat Crews are professional, friendly, and full of personality.

Our first day, started with tracking a Grizzly Sow with triplets on foot through a beautiful estuary and we were rewarded for our efforts ( 5 KM hike ) with an amazing 45 minutes of Bear Viewing and able to see amazing behavioural interaction between mom and her cubs. That same day we were also lucky and spotted another Grizzly Sow teaching her cub to fish and a large Black Bear. Over the rest of the week we were lucky to photograph another six Bears, numerous Humpbacks, Bald Eagles, and a Pod of Killer Whales from a very close range. Did I mention that a rather large Black Bear took a nap less than 15 feet from me!!!

The accommodations and the food was amazing with fresh fish, steak, ribs, and the most amazing salsa - to die for! Your evenings are spent in a comfortable lounge swapping stories with the other guests and your guides. On several evenings I was toured around the town of Klemtu by the local staff. One evening, I was fortunate to have a very special private tour of the Big House with one our cooks.

I went in search of the Spirit Bear and came home with the Spirit of Klemtu!!!

  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank Kyle B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
spiritbearlodge, General Manager at Spirit Bear Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 20 November 2013

Thank you very much for your review Kyle B!

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Reviewed 7 November 2013

The Coastal Rain Forest of B.C. is absolutely stunning, but do expect to be wet and in rain gear for your trip. In being there for a week, we saw sunshine only on the morning we departed.
As for the Spirit Bear, when I initially contacted the management about sightings, I was told they had seen Spirit Bear for the past three weeks in September and that October should provide good opportunity to see Spirit Bear because of the Salmon runs. Based on this information, we booked a six night package at a cost of over $10K which we now feel was not a good value for what was provided.
What we did experience was one black bear and one grizzly sow with a cub and that's it. When I inquired of the guide about Spirit Bear sightings, it turns out these 3 weeks of sightings in September was the same bear, in the same spot, gorging on Salmon and that was it - period. NOT multiple sightings as it was made to sound. In fact, this guide told me there had only been four bears sighted for the entire season. This sort of puts things in a clearer perspective.
Overall, staff were nice, food was good, there is no bar, so expect to drink cheap wine with dinner which is included and the insulation between rooms is poor, so it is very noisy since staff and guests are up and about very early, it is not easy to sleep. If one is on the lower floor, the noise of the guests in the room above is incredible when they walk across the floor. Also, there is no fireplace in the great room - a terrible oversight in such a cold and damp environment.
They advise a stay of five or more nights to optimize chances of Spirit Bear sightings, but what you don't find out is that you continually are taken back to the same two or three inlets, not new spots, so while a stay this long is good for the lodge's bottom line, it is not necessarily worth the expense, especially in foul weather and very long boat rides over what can be very rough water, depending on the conditions.
IF you go, DO NOT spend the first night in Shearwater as part of your package - this is a total ripoff! Terrible accommodation and a waste o the entire day for which you are paying a premium cost, as this is considered the first night of your package. Fly instead directly to the lodge - they don't push this option, but it is available.
Another issue I had was the "suggestion" of gratuities being $20 per person per day, but it is put in an envelope and who knows what happens to the money and how it gets distributed. When I said I felt the boat drivers and the guides, who were responsible for our well being and safety should be the recipients of the bulk of the gratuity, the manager specifically discouraged me about this and said it is not their policy to promote individual tipping, and that everyone employed there shares the gratuities equally. HMMMM.....makes me wonder how this gratuity actually gets distributed......
So, fly in if you go and know that three or four days you'll get a chance to see what is on offer in the surroundings. And, if you see a Spirit Bear, you are indeed very very lucky!

Room Tip: Upper floor should be less noisy but not near the stairway - ask for end of hall to avoid people goi...
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  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled as a couple
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13  Thank judydeco
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
spiritbearlodge, General Manager at Spirit Bear Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 12 November 2013

Judydeco, we deeply regret that your experience didn’t match your expectations. We’ve been proudly operating lodge based bear viewing since 2007 and operating tours in our traditional territory since 1996. We have no desire to be anything but candid and transparent with any potential guests about our programs in the Great Bear Rainforest. You’ve been quite detailed in your critique and so I would like to respond specifically and in an equally detailed manner to some of the points you raise.

We believe our value proposition is quite clear in our literature and in our personal communications with our guests. We offer the opportunity to view bears and other wildlife in one of the most remote, untouched corners of the planet. These are wild animals who move to their own rhythms and our excursions are subject to the vagaries of north Pacific weather systems that can be as unpredictable as the animals we view. The Spirit Bear in particular is one of the most elusive animals on earth with numbers far lower than the estimates you will read about on the Internet. We believe there may be fewer than 200 of these animals remaining.

We support our viewing program with an extensive remote infra-red camera network which we pull data from regularly to provide accurate information on where and when animals are active in over 30 rivers. In a territory the size of a small European country with hundreds of rivers, we are typically able to narrow down the most active systems to a handful of between 5-10 rivers that offer us the best chances of viewing wild bears –both grizzly and Spirit Bears - in their natural habitat.

Typically, our cameras reveal between 3-5 Spirit Bears that are active in our territory, as they did in 2013, with one or two of these that will allow themselves to be viewed by humans. In any given year, and 2013 was no exception, only about 50% of our guests will have the rare privilege of a Spirit Bear sighting. This past season we had 2 adult female Spirit Bears in two different locations and one adult female with a newborn cub that we saw just twice. We also saw over 20 different grizzly bears during our 2013 season including extraordinary sightings of a mother with triplets and two sets of females with cubs. I simply cannot account for your claim that your guides told you we saw only 4 bears the entire season. We have many spectacular photos sent to us by our guests this season, which we have posted to our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/spiritbearadventures.

The week you were at the lodge the weather was just plain nasty with lots of rain and high winds. This can unfortunately impact viewing and guest comfort, which it clearly did in your case. That unpredictability in weather and viewing is also unfortunately part of the package.

The Shearwater pre-night, contrary to your suggestion, is not optional. We do acknowledge that many of our guests would prefer to simply arrive directly to the lodge. However, just as the weather can impact guest comfort, it also can delay the arrival and departure of the aircraft that transport our guests from Vancouver. By building in a pre-night in Shearwater we have effectively insulated our guests and our complex logistics from the majority of the weather delays that can plague the central coast of BC. We are quite proud of the fact that since implementing our Shearwater pre-night, it is now exceedingly rare for our guests to miss flight connections or miss out on any of the activities we promise as part of our packages. We are actively working with Shearwater Resort to improve this component of our program. I should also note that it is for these same reasons noted above that we do not offer a float plane ‘fly in’ option directly to the lodge. Floatplanes are simply unreliable in the face of often tight international flight connections.

Finally, judydeco, I would like to comment on the concern you raise with respect to the distribution of the gratuities. As with many First Nations communities, our business has a strong communal work ethic. While the guides and skippers are all guest-facing and see all the action and adventure, our housekeeping and kitchen staff work tirelessly behind the scenes to support them. Our staff all support the notion of a shared tip pool which gets equitably distributed to all staff at the end of the season in a process which is audited by other staff.

Again we sincerely regret your experience didn’t match your expectations. We appreciate you taking the time to provide us with feedback and we will take what we can from it to continue our process of kaizen – continuous improvement.

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Additional Information about Spirit Bear Lodge

Address: 540 Kitasoo Road | General Delivery, Klemtu, Kitimat-Stikine District, British Columbia V0T 1L0, Canada
Region: Canada > British Columbia > Kitimat-Stikine District > Klemtu
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Speciality Lodging in Klemtu
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Spirit Bear Lodge Wildlife, Bear Watching Tours and Native Culture in BC's Great Bear Rainforest Visit the Great Bear Rainforest, the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world. Explore the natural habitat of the Spirit Bear and home of the world’s only Kitasoo Spirit Bear Conservancy. Unique tours in the ancestral lands and traditional territory of the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation. ... more   less 

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