Imagine with me for a moment, being surrounded by hundreds of spawning salmon in the river, being in their underwater world of currents and rock beds. I was swimming in a river that is the nursing bed of life. This was my adventure in the clear crystal waters of the Atnarko River.
After a snorkeling lesson from my guide Holly Willgress of Kynoch Adventures, I put on my wet suit, goggles and flippers and waddled my way into the surprisingly warm water. I slowly immersed myself and stuck my face into the water. Like a magnifying glass, I saw hundreds of salmon moving in one direction. But they simultaneously moved in another direction to avoid me. The best way I viewed them was to float with them without splashing my arms or legs. Although I found that to be a bit difficult as the river kept pulling me downstream. I’m not sure how these salmon are able to swim upstream and hold their position while resting. There were many parts of the river that were shallow, so I could easily stand up and take a break. The currents were swift and strong, dragging me downstream. Even with my flippers, I was not able to keep up with the salmon.
As I was frolicking in the water getting used to the current, our other guide, Fraser told the group to quickly get into the raft because he spotted a sow and her 2 cubs heading our direction. We quickly gathered our gear and jumped into the boat. We waited quietly as they walked by the river’s edge to feed on some salmon. One of the cubs went into the river and grabbed a salmon and brought it to shore. It was such a thrill to be able to observe them so closely in their natural habitat. Fraser encouraged us to be quiet and keep our distance. We also gave the bears time to move down the river before we headed down further. Now that’s what I call a spontaneous wildlife encounter! I loved it!
Snorkeling with thousands of spawning salmon was quite a unique adventure that I will never forget! Our nature guides, Holly and Fraser, provided us with wet suits, tasty wholesome lunch, yummy snacks, snorkel gear, fins, aqua shoes and tons of hospitality. They have a great touring package. This is a perfect summer activity as you can slip in and out of water from the raft. I must say this is a unique adventure, as I never would have imagined that I would be able to snorkel in the salmon run. This is a must do adventure while you are in Bell Coola.
1900 Hwy 20, Bella Coola Valley, BC
Tel. 250-982-2298 / Toll Free 1-866-982-2298
In this adventure, I drifted down the Atnarko River with Kynoch Adventures hoping to see some bears. We were also assisted by the kind folks at Tweedsmuir Park Lodge in the filming of this wonderful adventure. The Atnarko River was the ideal place to see Grizzly Bears as they feed on spawning salmon between mid-August to October. You can often spot them fishing on the river’s edge or playing in the water.
We silently drifted down the scenic river as the mountains tops were seeing the last light of day. We were now in the shadows of the valley. In the river, there were hundreds of salmon, some were swimming, some were drifting. The rippling water drowned the silence of dusk on the river.
After a while, we finally spotted a sow and her 2 cubs. In fact, as we got closer to them, we realized they were the same bears we ran into when we were snorkeling with the salmon earlier. They were playing with each other in between rock boulders. I sat there at the riverbank, enjoying them being playful. This was a unique adventure to see the bears at eye level and observe their behavior in their natural habitat. They started to make their way down the river, sticking close to each other.
My guide, Fraser, emphasized the sustainable aspect of the bear tours. Fraser and his wife, Holly, work cooperatively with BC Parks to ensure there is a respectable viewing distance between the bears and the viewers. It is crucial that we do not disturb them in their natural surroundings or else they may wander elsewhere for privacy. Fraser and Holly are committed to the environment and passionate about wildlife and they want to share their love and knowledge through their eco-wildlife tours.
Going on this bear viewing tour is an awesome opportunity to view these beautiful and powerful creatures in their home. But it is always important to observe bears in a responsible manner. Remember we’re in their neck of the woods and we want it to stay that way. There is a chain reaction to everything we do, so it is important to respect the viewing distance, not just for your safety but also for their privacy. Please “bear” this in mind.
1900 Hwy 20, Bella Coola Valley
Tel. 250-982-2298 / Toll Free 1-866-982-2298
Toll Free Canada / USA: 1.877.982.2407
From June 1st - October 15th Tel/Fax: 1.250.982.2407 OR
Any other time Tel: 1.604.905.4994