Oct 20

A Digital Detox with the bears of British Columbia

by in Blog trip, North America, Outdoors

Flying into Knight Inlet Lodge by sea-plane on a May morning is like entering another world, where time stands still and bears rule the wilderness …

Grizzly bear cubs Knight Inlet BC Canada - photo zoedawes

Grizzly bear cubs at Knight Inlet


On our ever-noisier digital planet, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to hear nature’s voice, to tune in to the subtle nuances the seasons bring, to smell, not the aroma of man-made coffee, but damp grass during a rain-storm. Yet we all need to be around nature or we start to internally combust. We are animals, not machines and spending hours a day ‘relating’ to a computer screen or mobile phone does us no good in the long term. Every so often we need a digital detox to remind ourselves what life is REALLY all about and put things into perspective. That’s what a few days with the bears of British Columbia provides. Here’s how …

ear Watching Knight Inlet BC Knight Inlet

Bear Viewing at Knight Inlet

Digital Detox with Bears in BC

There’s only one way visitors can get to the bear lodge and that’s by float plane (seaplane) from Campbell River. Watch the BC float plane video (Some people go into Knight Inlet by boat but that’s for day tours or personal trips.) You have a relatively small luggage allowance as the planes only seat 8-10 people in a tight space, so you’re forced to ditch the party frocks, suit jackets and unnecessary fripperies, to be left securely locked up at the airport until you return. You’re also asked not to bring perfumed toiletries that might attract the bears. The Lodge provides unscented shampoo and soap, waterproofs, safety gear, footwear and even binoculars so you can just take the ‘bear necessities’ …

View from seaplane of BC - photo zoedawes

View from plane

As you fly over the rugged, tree-clad landscape you realise you truly are getting away from it all as signs of human habitation are few and far between. The aerial view of Knight Inlet Lodge, nestled on the shore of Glendale Cove highlights its isolation amidst the magnificent forests, snow-capped mountain and fathoms-deep fjords of the Pacific Northwest region of Canada.

Aerial view Knight Inlet Lodge BC Canada - photo zoedawes

Aerial view Knight Inlet Lodge BC

With just 18 guest bedrooms, the Lodge is never over-crowded. The rooms have queen-size beds, en-suite bathrooms and views out across Glendale Cove or craggy rocks. However, there is NO TV in the rooms and NO internet, so you have SWITCH OFF! Yes, it may sound a bit like going ‘cold turkey, but believe me, it’s not difficult to do and you very quickly adapt to a different pace of life. With excellent food (meals and wine included), interesting talks every evening and like-minded guests from around the world to chat to, it’s easy to keep occupied – or just relax and watch the ever-changing scenery outside.

Daily Itinerary Knight Inlet Lodge BC Canada - photo zoedawes

Daily Itinerary Knight Inlet Lodge

The daily itineraries are well-organised into small groups which mean you get to know others but in a low-key way. Each day there are grizzly-bear viewing tours, up until August by boat and during the salmon season from Viewing Platforms over the river. These are the highlight of the stay and why most people come.

Bear watching boat Glendale Cove BC - photo zoedawes

Boat in the rain

Puttering out into Glendale Cove in the rain in a little boat in search of bears is one of the most memorable things you will ever do. The mist swirls around the shoreline, shrouding all like a scene from a Japanese woodcut. Sea gulls and herons perch atop barnacle-encrusted jetty posts or on half-sumberged rocks. Little ducks called marbled murrelets, described by our guide as ‘floating potatoes’, dive below the rain-pocked water and overhead a bald eagle swoops down onto its giant nest.

Glendale Cove in the rain BC Canada - photo zoedawes

Glendale Cove in the rain

Once the engine is switched off it’s the silence that enchants. Gradually the natural sounds of the Inlet come to the fore. The swooshing of waves as a pod of dolphins comes alongside for a quick play. Raindrops pattering on the roof of the boat and onto the surface of the water all around. The swirl of water as a curious sea-lion pops its head up to see what’s going on.

Sea lion in the rain Knight Inlet BC Canada - photo zoedawes

Sea lion in the rain

Then, on seeing a bear, you hear the crunch of its jaws as it munches its way through mussels and tiny shrimps on its endless quest to fill its stomach after months of hibernation. Of course, camera shutters click and videos whirr but you get so long to look, that eventually you know you’ve got enough photos and stop so you can enjoy this life-enhancing scene. The bears, used to humans watching them all day long, take little notice and go about their daily business oblivious to the pleasure they bring.

Grizzly Bear Cub looking for food on Knight Inlet shore BC Canada - photo zoedawes

Young Grizzly Bear on Knight Inlet shore

Yes, I’d have liked one more day to be able to enjoy the simple pleasure of sitting on the deck of the Lodge and watch the natural world go by for a few hours. We stayed for two nights and, though almost every minute was busy, including going ‘bear-tracking’ and on a fast boat cruise of Knight Inlet (find out more on my Bear Watching trip to British Columbia), I found the whole experience both absorbing and de-stressing. Being totally immersed in this ruggedly beautiful environment, far from the world of technology, sharing it with diverse wildlife, was a potent reminder of what really matters.

Henry David Thoreau quote - image zoedawes

Many thanks to everyone at Explore Canada and Destination British Columbia for an uplifting experience. Inspired to find out more? Discover more about Knight Inlet here and the delights of British Columbia.


A Digital Detox with bears Bc Canada - Pinterest Pin zoedawes

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11 Responses to “A Digital Detox with the bears of British Columbia”

  1. From Zoe Dawes:

    On a recent talk about this trip someone asked me what I enjoyed the most about this trip. Of course seeing the bears was the real highlight but it was the atmospheric setting that really made it extra-special. And the best viewing trip was most definitely the one in the rain …

    Posted on October 20, 2015 at 2:45 pm #
  2. From Kathryn Burrington:

    While I was staying at the nearby Great Bear Lodge I found the forest so captivating that I didn’t miss the internet at all and for anyone who knows me that really is saying something! The Great Bear Rainforest is the most bewitching place I’ve ever been and from the sounds of it, it was for you too.

    Posted on October 20, 2015 at 9:34 pm #
  3. From Phil Bergman:

    Great story Zoe! I love the term “digital detox” which is not only true but a catch name. You capture the magic of the lodge which is the remote location, how you get there, staying on a floating lodge, the scenery, the peace and quiet and of course the bears! Overall a wonderful article which I will be sharing with family and friends.

    Posted on October 20, 2015 at 11:29 pm #
  4. From Zoe Dawes:

    Phil – it was lovely to stay with you and please pass on our gratitude to everyone who made the trip so special for Gary, Nim and me. Hope you also enjoyed the other post and watch the float plane video 🙂 Hope the bears have a safe hibernation and all the best for the 2016 season!

    Posted on October 21, 2015 at 10:03 am #
  5. From Zoe Dawes:

    You’re so right Kat, the place is so special and being around the bears it’s easy to turn off and start to reconnect with nature 🙂

    Posted on October 21, 2015 at 10:05 am #
  6. From Alex:

    Great to be get to see bears up close – love to do that one day

    Posted on October 30, 2015 at 11:45 am #
  7. From Zoe Dawes:

    Hope you do go Alex – it’s one of the natural highlights of the world:-)

    Posted on October 30, 2015 at 12:03 pm #
  8. From Heather on her travels:

    I think I’d feel a bit twitchy with no internet but as you say it’s probably easier if everyone is in the same boat

    Posted on November 15, 2015 at 8:52 pm #
  9. From Zoe Dawes:

    Yes, Heather, it was a bit strange at first but very quickly enjoyed not having pull of the internet! Sure you’d love it – and it’s not for too long 🙂

    Posted on November 16, 2015 at 12:25 pm #
  10. From Margaret Garnaut:

    After seeing Knight Inlet Lodge featured on Getaway (many years ago) I promised myself that if ever I got to Canada (many kilometres from Perth) I would try and include this place on my itinerary. A friend and I did a 12 day bus trip through the Rockies (amazing) and then a 7 night inland passage boat tip to Alaska. I was so looking forward to the Lodge – and getting there by floatplane. The first night was spent at a lovely (new) hotel in Campbell River then the float plane trip over the most amazing scenery you could imagine and arriving at the Lodge. From the moment we arrived there was so many great things to do and may I say such wonderful organization by the staff with focus on our safety at all times. I will be re-visiting sometime in the future despite the long haul from Perth Western Australia. Margaret

    Posted on December 15, 2015 at 10:07 am #
  11. From Zoe Dawes:

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience of Alaska Margaret – sounds wonderfu. So glad you got to see the bearsat Knight Inlet – well worth the long haul from Oz!

    Posted on December 15, 2015 at 10:31 am #

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