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Snapshot: Blue River Safari 

May 25, 2023

If rugged experiences, wildlife watching and extraordinary natural settings sound like your cup of tea, then put Canada’s Blue River Safari on your to-do list, pronto

Sighting the mighty grizzly bear in his or her natural environment has to be one of the most anticipated experiences on any traveller’s wish list when visiting Canada. With the average male and female grizzly bears weighing approximately 270 kg and 150 kg respectively, these beautiful brown bears are a sight to behold. And the best place on earth to see them? Canada’s Blue River via an incredible safari tour.

Grizzly Bear bathing in the Blue River in British Columbia.
Grizzly Bear bathing in the Blue River in British Columbia.

Surrounded by what is aptly named Grizzly Bear Valley, in the Monashee Mountains of British Columbia, a Blue River Safari gives you the chance to explore up to 12 km of the river and surrounding valley by boat. Blue River is in fact ringed by the world’s only inland temperate rainforest – a lush, verdant green haven of cedar and spruce and idyllic conditions for bear spotting.

A  beautiful autumn morning at the Blue River near North Thompson River in British Columbia.
A beautiful autumn morning at the Blue River near North Thompson River in British Columbia.

While never guaranteed, when you consider British Columbia is home to approximately 15,000 grizzly bears (half of the grizzly population in Canada) it is certainly highly likely you’ll be able to get up close to these majestic creatures on a Blue River Safari. The best time of year to sight the Grizzlies is in the warmer months, from May to October, during the daylight hours when the cruises operate.

A grizzly bear catching a fish in the Blue River, British Columbia.
A grizzly bear catching a fish in the Blue River, British Columbia.

If it’s not the Grizzlies you want to spot, however, but rather wildlife in general, some of the most commonly found animals on the safari include eagles, osprey, and moose. Black bears, the grizzly’s equally-as-cute cousin, also roam the river in large supply. As you glide atop the Blue River’s calm waters – some sections of the river are so shallow that you’re literally floating above 8 cm-deep river deltas – the key is to keep your eyes and ears glued open. Thankfully an experienced safari guide will ensure you don’t miss a beat, or rather, a bear casually swimming right towards your boat.

A black bear searches for food in the Blue River, British Columbia.
A black bear searches for food in the Blue River, British Columbia.

There are several Blue River Safaris to choose from, the most popular of which include the one-hour Eco Safari aboard a 40-foot catamaran (ideal for tranquil photo opportunities), and the one-and-a-half hour River Safari, which will see you travel up narrow rivers on a catamaran first, then a jet boat (ideal for adrenaline junkies). On both safari tours, you’ll get the chance to visit a specially built dock in Mud Lake and walk ashore to a beautiful glacier-fed waterfall. It doesn’t get much better, right?

Tourists on a boat during a river safari tour listening to the tour guide in the Blue River.
Tourists on a boat during a river safari tour listening to the tour guide in the Blue River.

Located halfway between Kamloops and Jasper, the Blue River region offers an unforgettable, rugged wilderness experience where you never know what to expect. Activities are endless in this part of the world: think camping, hiking, mountain biking, quad biking, fishing, canoeing and kayaking – and that’s just in summer. Come winter, the Grizzlies hibernate while visitors turn to active pursuits like snowmobiling, skiing, and mountaineering.

Tourists in a jeep on a safari tour, in Parberry Mountain.
Tourists in a jeep on a safari tour, in Parberry Mountain.

The Blue River is certainly not a place for the faint-hearted, but it will leave you breathless and longing for more.

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