Bears, Banff, Victoria and Churchill

Jul 19th, 2006, 06:10 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 4
Bears, Banff, Victoria and Churchill


One of my friends is from Victoria (she is currently studying in Brighton with me!) and we are going to visit her in September 2007 during our summer uni break. Basically, I have a couple of queries:

1) how long would it take to drive from Victoria to Banff?
2) would you see bears at Banff and if not where would you find them?
3) what is the cheapest way to get to Churchill from Victoria, at mo i'm lookin at flight to Winnipeg and train to Churchill?
4) anyone know of any day tours you can do in Churchill to see polar bears and how much does this cost? I don't want to do a package tour as too expensive.

Any help greatly appreciated!

Lisa xx
Pepaim is offline  
Jul 19th, 2006, 06:26 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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1) victoria is on an island so you'd need to take a ferry to the mainland which i believe, is about 2 hours. then you are looking at a drive of about 11-12 hours to get to banff.
2) i've been to banff and jasper probably 100 times and have only seen the butt of a bear once, while he ran into the bush. if you want a better chance of seeing bears, consider going to tofino, which is on the same island as victoria. beautiful place.
3)there is no cheap way to do the bear viewing in churchill. and, it is a LONG ways from victoria.
ltt is offline  
Jul 19th, 2006, 07:17 AM
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For bears: My son and I love bear watching. Our best luck in Western Canada - all 4 visits - was in Jasper on the road to Maligne Lake plus in two other locations (which are too difficult to describe here). Black bears tend to have hang-outs, so it's not uncommon to see them in the same places year after year. Grizzlies - that's different. Much harder to find there. I've never seen black or grizzly in Banff. We saw one 2 year old black bear very briefly in Tofino. You must be patient and hang out where the bears hang out. And please, do not get close to them. Watch from afar.

For Mileage and time:Go on internet to Michelin Route Planner to get good driving directions from any point A to point B. It will tell you driving time and miles, plus most scenic or shortest route.
Jul 19th, 2006, 08:21 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 29
I agree that seeing bears is purely a matter of luck or patience! We tried a lot of "bear watching" on the Maligne Lake road in Jasper and didn't see any. We then moved to Banff and saw two black bears walking on the railway line parallel to the Trans-Canada Highway (1) between Yoho National Park and Lake Louise - we were delighted as we'd hoped to see bears and had almost given up hope!
Problem was, it being the highway, stopping was tricky and the traffic was in chaos with everybody slowing down to look! A ranger came along to move us on.....

We also briefly spotted a black bear climbing up a mountainside from the Rocky Mountaineer train just outside of Jasper... but the cynic in me can't help think it was a mechanical bear planted by the Rocky Mountaineer company
rosieh is offline  
Jul 19th, 2006, 08:38 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 694
Actually Vancouver Island, where Victoria is located, is a great place for bear watching.

In September you could do a trip 'up island' [about a five hour drive] toward Port McNeill and have a very good chance of seeing:

1. black bears -reasonably common on Vancouver Island

2. grizzly bears feeding on salmon on the adjacent mainland via a wonderfully scenic boat trip

3. killer whales in the straits between the island and mainland [one of the best areas in north america for orcas]

4. wonderful scenery

September is 'prime time' for grizzlies and a very good time for orcas.

Victoria is a charming city and Vancouver Island is a wonderful place.

I would be pleased to offer more ideas and specific information.


gannetmusic is offline  
Jul 19th, 2006, 04:05 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,465
Apparently your chances of seeing bears in the Rockies are quite good this year. Check out this story (published 17 July 2006) -

Borealis is offline  
Jul 19th, 2006, 09:11 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 916
1. The drive from Victoria to the ferry terminal: 45 minutes. Ferry ride from Vancouver Island to the mainland: 1.5 hours. Drive from ferry terminal to Banff: 10-12 hours, not including the one hour you lose as you drive over the time zone line. I would honestly go from Victoria to Banff in 2 days with an overnight somewhere in between.

2) Bears are unpredictable so you can't guarantee to see them at any one particular spot. However, generally if you're in the Rockies, you'll probably see one or two somewhere along the side of the highway.

3) Churchill is very, very, very remote. There is no cheap way to get there.

4) I don't think a day trip is an option, as it takes over a day just to get to Churchill from Winnipeg. Churchill is the Canadian equivalent to the very remote northern towns in the Russian taiga. The distance between Victoria to Churchill is similar to the distance between London England to... some remote town in the Russian arctic. I believe October and November are the main months for polar bear watching. I don't think it would be worth the time nad money to go there otherwise when you'll be surrounded by hundreds of other options in the summer.
Carmanah is offline  

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