Flying over the west coast mountains I feel at home. I am heading back into the depths of British Columbia, my favourite place on earth. Having travelled to Canada countless times, and being a self-confessed bear lover the Great Bear Rainforest is always top of my list to visit, so asked if I wanted to head back I threw on my outdoor gear quicker than you could say maple syrup!
The trip so far has already taken me to the crème de la crème of wilderness lodges dotted along the west coast but now I am heading to Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort which is, without doubt, the cherry on top.
Set on the edge of the Great Bear Rainforest to the north of Vancouver Island, Nimmo Bay is a part floating – part stilted lodge set on the water and framed by the forested mountains that rise behind it. Accessible by float plane, I am making the journey to the lodge in a little Cessna, full of luggage and donning the headset. This is where the excitement ramps up, being able to appreciate the vast scale of this coastline and the mountain peaks that can often be shrouded from view by the low lying clouds. I jabber to the pilot who was amused to tell me I had already met his girlfriend just an hour ago when I frantically asked for some directions to the airport – she had called ahead to tell him I might be late! Despite the vast scale, this is small town Canada so everyone knows everyone’s business!
Banking around the side of a mountain side I recognised immediately where we are soon coming into land. Slowly, the pilot made the necessary moves and we glided down towards the water, cutting the surface like a knife to butter. Into view came the striking red roofs of the stilted cabins and the floating lodge beyond.
Greeted by the friendly team I immediately feel back at home. Don the lodge manager soon picks me out and after quick introductions I found myself tying the laces on my hiking boots and heading off into the forests for a ‘hike to the top’. This was a route that was only just being tested out and they were excited to trial me out as guinea pig. Winding through ancient spruce trees, crawling over mossy logs, and scrambling up the soft woodland slopes – this is my kind of adventure. The forest is magical, shrouded by the canopy above, the mossy forest floor that had once been described as a ‘decadent’ forest. It was far from it, rich and alive with flora and fauna. As I reach the top, I am gifted with sweeping views across the inlet and the surrounding mountains. Just a tiny boat could be seen in the distance – perhaps a local fishing boat I wonder.
Over the following days, we head out by boat, exploring the inlets for marine and wildlife. Activities are flexible but I am keen to try and see a pod of orcas that we knew to be nearby. Dall’s porpoise, seals and a pod of twenty or more dolphins danced merrily in the wake of our boat as we go. We never caught up with the orcas but were more than rewarded with our attempts.
On the final afternoon, we have the sighting I was waiting for. Sitting quietly on our floating pontoon in a tiny inlet, stuffing myself on fresh crab salad and tasty cheesecake gazing out onto the water’s edge. Out of nowhere, I spot a big black rock…a moving big black rock. I grab at my binoculars and peer through to see a beautiful black bear digging away at the rocks in search of his meal – perhaps he plans to feast on a crab salad like me?