In mid-August this past summer, after a long pause of four years, we once again set sail for a nearly month-long journey up the enchanting Inside Passage.
Beyond the towering mountain lined fjords, winding channels, and secret, pristine anchorages, lay our destination: The Great Bear Rainforest. A sprawling tapestry of green, this rainforest stretches from the northern edge of Vancouver Island to the southern boundaries of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, covering an astonishing 15.8 million acres. This lush expanse is not just any forest but one of the world’s most important eco systems and temperate rainforests. As we plied these waters, we felt the spiritual embrace of this ancient land.
The rainforest nurtures an incredible variety of life. From black bears, mighty coastal brown bears (grizzlies), elusive rainforest wolves, and stealthy cougars to the iridescent shades of salmon and the soaring eagles above. But the forest’s true celebrity is the ethereal white kermode, or “spirit bear”. Not an albino, but a unique subspecies of the black bear that wears a white coat due to a singular genetic trait. Thanks to a pact in 2016, much of this forest is protected from the logger’s saw, preserving this sanctuary for the generations to come.
Nawalak wasn’t just our ship; she was our floating home in this emerald realm. We split our adventure into two parts, north and south, with a brief two day pause at Shearwater/Bella Bella. There, we were honored to meet up with the legendary Ian McAllister. It was two decades ago that this esteemed naturalist explored these waters aboard Nawalak, igniting the spark of Pacific Wild and becoming a beacon for wildlife conservation.
Our days were filled with discovery, and every night, we would return to Nawalak’s welcoming embrace, where aromas of hot meals tantalized our senses. Using our quiet electric-powered tender, or kayaks, we ventured into hidden coves, immersing ourselves in the mesmerizing zone where water meets land. On some days, we’d venture deeper into the turquoise embrace of glacial rivers, watching as salmon made their eons-old journey, shadowed by coastal bears and observed by watchful eagles waiting for their turn to feast.
Aboard Nawalak, we witnessed many humpback whales, including a solo humpback bubble net feeding, a family of transient (Biggs) killer whales hunting marine mammals in dense kelp beds, Pacific White Sided dolphins swimming alongside, a mama grizzly and her three cubs foraging on Pacific Crab Apples, playful sea otters, and even a black bear swimming. The wildlife viewing was definitely a 10/10. Nature’s spectacle, indeed, was at its zenith.
We plan to return to this green paradise again in 2025. We invite you to be a part of this magical journey. If the call of the wild resonates with you, do join us.
I hope the photos below transport you vicariously to the heart of our epic voyage.