Keen on Nature? Take a look at our guide to some of the top places to spot wildlife in Canada
The essence of a "gap year", whether you are 18 or 68, is to do something different and get off that beaten track - and there is nowhere quite like Canada, the second largest country in the world, to accomplish just that. If you are looking for your dream wildlife holiday, or just have a desire to visit the beautiful country that is Canada, here are some of the best places to include on your trip.
Digby Neck, Nova Scotia
Small whales, big whales, spotted whales, striped whales – you’ll find them here. Fin, humpback, minke, right, sperm, pilot and even the mighty blue whale have all been spotted along this coastline.
Avalon Peninsula, Newfoundland
In close proximity lie herds of caribou, huge numbers of Atlantic puffin plus thousands of white gannets. Newfoundland is an isolated area of Canada and this remains part of its draw and beauty.
Vancouver Island, British Colombia
The waters off Vancouver Island are filled with killer whales as well as sea lions, seals, porpoises, river otters and sea eagles soaring overhead. For the ultimate experience hire a kayak and get up close and personal.
Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan
This park boasts the second largest pelican colony in North America and is well worth a visit. The park is also home to other bigger species such as bison, moose, elk, black bear and red foxes but at over 1 million acres of wilderness, you will have to spend some time here for best wildlife spotting results.
Banff National Park, Alberta
Banff is home to a variety of wildlife such as the grizzly and black bear, moose and wolves. The pika is also another good spot. Pikas are like small gophers or rodents and are generally found on rocky outcrops. The best time to visit to spot wildlife here is early spring or autumn.
Jasper National Park, Alberta
Jasper National Park is another one of the great National Parks in Canada, particularly if you enjoy wildlife watching. Some large carnivores live here such as the mountain lion, bobcat, lynx, coyote and wolf, so beware! Coyotes are generally easy to spot, mountain lion, wolf, bobcat and lynx less so. Highway 93A, Highway 16 or the Maligne Road at dawn or dusk are the best bets for spotting the Canadian carnivores.
Princess Royal Island, British Colombia
Princess Royal Island is located in the heart of the famous Great Bear rainforest, an extremely remote part of Canada. Remote it may be and a trek to get to but the trip is so worthwhile to glimpse the elusive and rare Sprit bear (also known as the white Kermode bear) only found in this region of the world. The Spirit Bear is a relative of the Black Bear rather than the Polar Bear, which it looks more like. It has a gorgeous creamy coloured coat and is extremely relaxed and mellow towards humans partly as a result of having no previous direct contact with us.
Manitoba, Arctic Canada
Manitoba sits in freezing Northern Canada and the Arctic Circle and is home to a wide range of arctic species including arctic foxes, snowshoe hares, beluga whales, moose, seals and the great polar bear. The area itself is also a huge draw with the chance to see the Northern Lights and silent, open, untouched spaces.
Tips for spotting wildlife
- Do some prior research to choose the prime season for spotting wildlife in the area you intend to holiday in.
- Dawn and dusk are the best times, at any time of year, to see wildlife.
- Try and take a knowledgeable guide with you. They often will be experts in tracking and will see things you perhaps would never see on your own.
- Do not get too close (and this goes without saying for the larger, more dangerous creatures). A useful piece of advice is to stay far enough away that you are not altering their natural behaviour in anyway. If they start to look anxious, back off.
- Bring a good pair of binoculars and have a practice with them before you start using them.
- Wear inconspicuous colours – avoid bright or vibrant primary colours especially.
- Know where the wind is blowing. Animals will smell you a mile off if you are upwind of them.
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