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Exploring forests, fjords and farmlands: Where to find Canadian wildlife

two grizzly bears standing in front of a mountain - Canadian wildlife

With only 33 million people living in the second largest country in the world, it’s no wonder that huge parts of Canada feel rugged and untamed. Much of the nation is undeveloped wilderness – the perfect habitat for an array of fascinating wildlife. From the iconic grizzly bear to the majestic beluga whale, Canada is home to some of the most incredible animals in the world. Here’s where to find them:

Grizzly Bears: British Columbia and Alberta

Incredibly, over half of Canada’s grizzly bear population lives in British Columbia. Furthermore, around 13,000 grizzlies find their home in the vast Great Bear Rainforest – from Knight Inlet to Alaska Panhandle.

However, Alberta also has several parks inhabited by wild grizzlies. A trip to Waterton Lakes National Park, Jasper National Park or Banff National Park can result in an awe-inspiring – and often exhilarating – grizzly sighting.

Grizzly bear - Canadian wildlife

When should I go?

June to October is the best time to see grizzly bears throughout British Columbia and Alberta.

What are the best spots?

British Columbia: There are numerous places in British Columbia where you can watch the unforgettable sight of grizzlies catching salmon in the river. Knight Inlet and Bella Coola in the Great Bear Rainforest are two of the top spots. Outside of British Columbia, Vancouver Island is also a great place to watch the spectacle. You can even join the salmon run, snorkelling with thousands of fish along the Campbell River.

Alberta: Unfortunately, Alberta doesn’t have sanctuaries and lodges for bear-spotting like British Columbia does. Instead, the best way to see grizzlies is to drive around the less inhabited areas at dawn and dusk; grizzlies are usually spotted grazing in grassy farmlands. However, a high concentration of daily sightings has been reported at Lake Louise Gondola from June to September.

 

Whales: Quebec

The idyllic Fjord-du-Saguenay National Park in rural Saguenay, Quebec has a thriving wildlife population. What’s more, a visit in the summer could result in a sighting of Saguenay’s most enchanting guest: the beluga whale. The quaint fishing village of Gaspé is also a great place to travel to as it’s visited by many humpback whales. Furthermore, there’s also a chance you might catch a glimpse of the largest – and most breath-taking – animal in the world: the blue whale.

Blue whale - Canadian wildlife

When should I go?

Visitors have the best chance of spotting whales from June to early October. Unfortunately, sightings of these elusive and mysterious creatures are never fully guaranteed.

Where should I sail from?

For a chance of spotting a beluga whale, head out on a boat trip into the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park – Canada’s first marine national park. Alternatively, for the best whale-spotting opportunities in Gaspé, embark on a boat trip from the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Go whale watching in Saguenay on our In the Wake of the Vikings cruise or enjoy a whale-watching excursion in Gaspé on our Eastern Seaboard Explorer cruise.

 

Birds: various locations across Canada

For a less intimidating – but slightly noisier experience – Île Bonaventure (Bonaventure Island), located 2.2. miles off the coast of Gaspé, is home to North America’s largest gannet population. Furthermore, The Bay of Fundy is a great birdwatching destination and is also visited by up to 12 whale species. This vast area, between Canada’s Nova Scotia and New Brunswick provinces, is the flight path for sandpipers, puffins, eagles and more. Finally, head north of Vancouver to Squamish for a chance to see the magnificent bald eagle.

bald eagle - Canadian wildlife

When do they migrate?

Île Bonaventure: Visit the island in the Summer as a staggering 50,000 gannets will also be making the trip.

The Bay of Fundy: Being a migratory path for over 360 species, you are guaranteed sightings throughout the year. For example, over 100 types of birds have been seen daily in the autumn at Cape Sable Island; Spring and summer bring gulls, kingfishers, herons and more to the village of Lawrencetown.

Squamish: Travel to this town north of Vancouver in the winter to see one of the largest concentrations of bald eagles in the world. Float trips on the Cheakamus and Squamish Rivers are the best way to see them.

 

What other wildlife can I find in Canada?

Moose

The largest living species of deer – and synonymous with Canada – many visitors travel to Algonquin Park in Central Ontario for a chance to see the famous moose.

Bison

Once almost extinct, and now recovering due to conservation efforts, head to Wood Buffalo, Elk Island or Prince Albert National Parks to see these mammoth creatures.

The Grey Wolf

With males weighing up to 70 kilograms, the grey wolf is the largest species of wild dog in the world. These stunning – and almost mythical – wolves are native to British Columbia, Labrador, the Yukon Territory and Northwest Territories.

Tell us about your wildlife sightings in Canada. Are you soon to travel with Viking to Canada? Which species are you eager to spot? Let us know in the comments section below.

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