A Remote Refuge...Photo: Neil Shearar
It is one of those remote places that is barely on the map. It’s name, Khutzeymateen – pronounced “Khootz-ee-mah-teen”, is a Tsimshian word meaning “confined space for salmon and bears”. The protected area consists of over 44,000 hectares and contains the largest concentration of bears in Canada . Although British Columbia passed a law forbidding trophy hunting of grizzlies, the Sanctuary is off limits to visitors, unless you have a permit. This manages the number of people that visit per year minimizing stress for the bears.
The Khutzeymateen is located in the Northern reaches of the Great Bear Rainforest. With Prince Rupert, BC as our port, guests board Island Roamer in quaint Cow Bay before heading north towards this very important and remote refuge. Award winning writer, Phoebe Smith, captures her experience in the Khutzeymateen wonderfully in her article published this summer.
|A massive male grizzly
Photo - Neil Shearar
|Rugged outer islands with wild flowers. Photo: LJanes||A friendly humpback whale rainbow blow.Photo: RBurke|
We sail through changing landscapes on this expedition. Past wildfower-dotted islands with white sand beaches and others that are mountainous with incredible, hanging bogs. While keeping watch for transient (Bigg's) orca and humpback whales, we may silently travel under sail - one of the benefits of traveling on a sailing vessel. Our compass then turns to the Khutzeymateen Inlet. It is the catchment for salmon bearing streams, important to local First Nations like the Lax’Kwa’alaams and the Metlakatla, as well as the bears and the rest of the ecosystem.
Late May is breeding season for the bears of the Khutzeymateen. Typically, the large male bears prefer to forage in areas away from humans. But breeding season brings them to the estuaries in pursuit of females (and oblivious to us), resulting in some rarely witnessed behaviour.
Few have visited this special place because it is about as easy to find as it is to pronounce. If you are drawn to "off the beaten path" places, then this experience is for you. Escape the masses and immerse yourself in BC’s Northern Great Bear Rainforest. 2020 Dates available for booking now.
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