Wolves, Whales & Bears: American Safari 2013

Travel For Wildlife is hitting the road for our 2013 Expedition Series: The American Safari. In one epic three-month journey we visit some of North America’s greatest wildlife watching hotspots. And we’re taking you with us. Read more about American Safari here.

Join Hal and Cristina on American Safari!

Join Hal and Cristina on American Safari!

Welcome to Base Camp

This page is American Safari headquarters. Here you can find all our videos, photos, and stories from the road. View itinerary.

Where Are We Now?

Sunday, October 20, 2013. Back Home! After a five-day drive across the continent we’ve arrived back on the east coast. We sighted elk in Washington, pronghorns in Wyoming, and lots of deer across the midwest. We visited Native American historical sites like the grave of Chief Joseph in WA and the Little Bighorn battle site in SD. Unfortunately national parks were closed and we couldn’t stop in Yellowstone, but we are happy to be back in NC just in time for spectacular fall colors. A huge thanks to all our sponsors who made the American Safari possible! What an amazing journey! Wednesday, October 2. Nimmo Bay, British Columbia. Just completed our second day at Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort. We spent all day on the water yesterday watching seals, sea lions, porpoises and loads of humpback whales! The whales were incredibly active, slapping their tales and flippers, breaching and even gape-feeding with their mouths wide open. It was incredible. Sunday, September 29. Port McNeill, Vancouver Island. Spent the past couple nights camping in the Pacific Rim National Park and visited the Ucluelet Aquarium, one of the only aquariums in the world that uses a “catch and release” system. They let all the animals go back into the ocean at the end of the season. It was really cool. Now we’ve just arrived in Port McNeill and catching a boat to Nimmo tomorrow! Thursday, September 26. Tofino, Vancouver Island. Had a great bear tour with the Whale Centre of Tofino. We saw harbor seals, harbor porpoises (they’re tiny!) and yes, three black bears! We watched them tipping over rocks along the shore and searching for crabs. It was awesome! Tuesday, September 24. Tofino, Vancouver Island. We’re staying at the awesome Wickininnish Inn and this morning we went whale watching with the Whale Centre. Sighted gray whales, sea otters, harbor porpoises, and steller sea lions! Sunday, September 22. Nanaimo, Vacouver Island, British Columbia. After two days of free camping in BC rec sites, we hopped on a ferry and landed in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island! True to form it is raining. That’s why they have rainforest here! Many thanks to my old friend Dylan who’s given us a place to shelter from the rain. Tuesday, September 17. Tweedsmuir Pronvincial Park, BC. We’re staying at the beautiful Great Bear Chalet and it’s right in the center of the park on the Atnarko River. We’ve seen bunches of grizzly bears already! On Sunday we watched five different bears (two cubs!) from the Belarko viewing platform. Yesterday had a fun time watching and filming Pink Salmon spawn, then our guide and host Jeff Bray took us out to a bunch of his favorite sites on the river and we saw a mother grizzly with cub! Saturday, September 14. Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, BC, Canada. After several days of free camping in British Columbia’s excellent Recreation Sites, we’ve arrived in the Bella Coola area. It’s a remote town at the west coast of British Columbia, one of the few central coast towns accessible by road. Heading back into Tweedsmuir Provincial Park now to look for grizzly bears at the salmon run! Monday, September 9.Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. Had a fun day at the Lake Louise Gondola and saw a grizzly bear! (post and video coming soon.) Sunday, September 8. Banff National Park, Alberta Canada. After three great days at the Mount Engadine Lodge (see new post about Mud-Munching Moose) we drove up to Banff National Park. Today we hiked around Lake Louise and Morraine Lake. Stunning views! Also excited to see all the wildlife overpasses and underpasses constructed to allow animals to cross the highway safely. Very cool. Thursday, September 5. Mount Engadine Lodge, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Alberta. A few days ago we took a beautiful back country drive up through the Rocky Mountains Forest Reserve here in Alberta. We stopped at Frank Slide (“Canada’s DEADLIEST Rock Slide!”) and got to watch some very cute Pikas in the boulder field. Then a drive through a remote pass revealed our first Bighorn Sheep of the trip (see Cristina’s photo of the week post below). And finally we wound up at the Mount Engadine lodge. What an amazing remote and gorgeous spot this is. Best of all, the mud pit in front of the lodge is a favorite haunt for local moose! We saw two this morning, a big bull who had just shed his velvet, and a cow. Awesome! Monday, September 2. After a couple relaxing night camping in the Lewis & Clark National Forest, we took a lap through Glacier National Park. Target species: Mountain Goats and Marmots. We were not disappointed. A hike up Hidden Lake Trail in Logan’s Pass lead us to extremely close viewing of 5 or 6 goats, including nannies with little kids! It was pretty great. I love mountain goats. We also saw our first grizzly bear of the trip in the Many Glaciers area (about half mile away up a mountain!) Last night we drove back into Canada and arrived in Waterton Lakes NP without realizing it was Labor Day weekend. Wow this place is crowded! Thursday, August 29. Bozeman, Montana. We had an incredible week hiking to The HooDoo Basin in a remote corner of Yellowstone National Park. Over 6 days we covered 52 miles and climbed 3,500 feet of elevation. It was exhausting but rewarding. We spotted moose and elk along the trail, helped the park service haul a dead bison, spotted a mountain goat, and found tracks of wolves and bears constantly (though none were sighted!) A huge thanks to Nathan Varley and his crew (MacNeil, Mike, and Nathan) for all the great meals and for taking such good care of us on the trail. We definitely recommend you use Yellowstone Wolf Tracker for all your Yellowstone wildlife watching needs! We spent the past day getting our car repaired in Bozeman and resting up. Now we head north! Wednesday, August 21. Yellowstone National Park. We’ve spent the past two nights at the Grizzly Bear Lodge in Silver gate and we love this town. Been eating awesome meals at the Log Cabin Cafe, taking care of chores, and visiting the park. So far in the park we’ve seen loads of bison, some pronghorns, a couple white-tailed deer and even a couple mountain goats! No predators yet, but we’re holding out hope for our five day high-country hike that starts tomorrow! Wolves and grizzlies here we come! Monday, August 19. Yellowstone National Park. We’re very excited to be settled in to our cozy cabin at the Elkhorn Lodge in Cooke City, Montana. Great little hotel, great view, great town. We took our first drive into the park today and sighted loads of bison as well as our first pronghorns! Yesterday’s drive over the Beartooth Highway was stunning. And of course we visited with the over-tame chipmunks and squirrels at the pull-offs. Sunday, August 18. Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota. After our TV interview in Winnipeg, we entered the U.S. and drove most of the way across North Dakota. On a whim we stopped in Theodore Roosevelt Nat Pk and we loved it so much we stayed two nights! (first north unit, then south unit). It turned out to be an awesome place to watch huge prairie dog towns and lots of bison. It was nice to spend some time with prairie wildlife before hitting the mountains. Other cool sightings included a coyote, white-tailed deer and wild horses. Also surprised to see a porcupine road-kill in the middle of the prairie! Friday, August 16. Winnipeg, Manitoba. We’re back in Winnipeg again to do a brief appearance on a live morning television show called the Global Morning Show. If you’re in Winnipeg, tune in around 8:20 AM! Then we drive south to the U.S. of A. on our bee-line to Yellowstone. Wednesday, August 14. Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba. Wow. What an incredible day. This morning we did a five hour hike to see the cabin of the great naturalist Gray Owl, then we had a super rare sighting of a FISHER at 4 pm! (a large member of the weasel family and an awesome predator). And then for a grand finale we spent nearly an hour watching a lynx hunting by the side of the road! Does it get any better than this? Tuesday, August 13. Riding Mountain National Park. We spent the past four days wandering southward from Thompson, camping at Clearwater Prov Park and then two nights in Duck Mountain Prov Park. Duck Mountain was awesome! We had a close encounter with a pair of Great Gray Owls (see photos below) as well as sightings of a black bear with three tiny cubs, 2 coyotes, beavers, muskrats, white pelicans, elk, white-tailed deer, and lots of very cute red squirrels. Friday, August 9. Thompson, Manitoba. Spent the night on the train coming back from Churchill (saw the Northern Lights!) and arrived in Thompson to get a SeaDoo tour of Paint Lake and search for wolves! Dang those things are fast! We covered over 70km and hardly saw a single house. Serious wilderness. We didn’t spot wolves but saw a bunch of eagles & loons and it was super beautiful. Many thanks to Marion of Spirit Way in Thompson Thursday, August 8. We’ve had an awesome week here in Churchill, Manitoba. Now it’s time to get back on the train and head to Thompson. We’ll be sleeping on the train tonight. Check out our train video here. Tuesday, August 6. Churchill, Manitoba. Cold rainy day here in Churchill but we had the pleasure of getting a tour with Nature 1st Tours. Paul Ratson is one fascinating fellow to talk to and he showed us all around Churchill. We had our first direct evidence of WOLVES! Paul showed us the tracks in his backyard where a large male black wolf frequently visits! (see pic below). We also sighted a few bears including a mother with cub. Paul showed us some fox dens but we’re a couple weeks late to see the kits. Dang! I learned a lot about life in Churchill. Thanks Paul! Monday, August 5. Churchill, Manitoba.This morning we did a snorkeling with beluga whales tour with Sea North Tours and it was one of the most awesome wildlife watching experiences we’ve ever had. Our guide towed us slowly from the zodiac and for an hour we were totally surrounded by curious whales, including several small babies! (video below) It was so moving that when Cristina came out of the water she actually cried. How awesome is that? Then we drove around in our rental and scoped out more of the roads around Churchill. We sighted two more polar bears and a bunch of great birds. What a day! Sunday, August 4. Churchill, Manitoba. Today we got a rental car from Tamarack Rentals and went for a drive around Churchill. We drove to Cape Merry and watched belugas from shore, down to the weir where we saw harbor seals, and along the bay where we spotted a sleepy polar bear. Then we took a Fort & Beluga tour with Sea North Tours & spotted a polar bear on the island by the fort, and then had an awesome time watching beluga whales all around our zodiac in the river! Saturday, August 3. Churchill, Manitoba. Today was our first day ever seeing Beluga Whales in the wild. We went kayaking with Sea North Tours in the Churchill River and saw hundreds. I had one very special encounter (see video below.) Can’t wait to snorkel with them! Friday, August 2. Churchill, Manitoba. Wow. What an awesome day. We took a full day Tundra Buggy Tour with Frontiers North Adventures and we saw Polar Bears galore! FIVE of them! Pretty incredible considering this isn’t even bear season here in Churchill. My favorite sighting was watching a bear climb into the bay and go for a swim. He was rolling around and sticking his paws in the air (video below.) We also saw four Woodland Caribou and tons of birds. Big thanks to Neil for being an awesome Tundra Buggy driver. Thursday, August 1. Churchill, Manitoba. We’ve finally arrived at the northernmost point of our journey! We had a long slow train ride up from Thompson but thankfully we each had our own single cabin courtesy of VIA rail. We had cabins right across from each other and had fun jumping back and forth across the aisle. It’s a surprisingly cold windy cloudy day here in Churchill. Just taking care of chores today and preparing to get out tomorrow. Staying at the Tundra House Hostel thanks to Frontiers North Adventures. Wednesday, July 31. Thompson, Manitoba. We had a great tour this morning of the Spirit Way and learned a lot about the steps that Thompson is taking to become “The wolf capital of Canada.” We even spoke about our trip and wolf tourism at the Chamber of Commerce lunch meeting today! Many thanks to Volker Beckmann for his hospitality and to the Lakeview Inn & Suites for the great stay. Tuesday, July 30. We spent the night camping at Setting Lake in the middle of nowhere Manitoba and it was beautiful. Along our drive we spotted two more black bears (see photo gallery below) and over a hundred huge ravens sitting along the side of the road, spread out every few miles. Upon arriving in Thompson we went for a drive to look for wolves and wound up watching beavers instead! (check out videos below) Monday, July 29. Driving North from Winnipeg. Today we leave our comfy room at the Radisson in downtown Winnipeg and head north into the wilderness. We’ll stop to see the snake dens in Narcisse, then look for a pretty place to camp. I’m hoping to see some moose along the drive! (a wolf would be nice too) Sunday, July 28. Winnipeg, Manitoba. This morning we visited the Manitoba Museum and saw the world’s largest trilobite. (Cristina posed with her trilobite ring, see photo gallery below). We were given a highlights tour and it was surprisingly riveting considering it lasted nearly two hours. We learned one fascinating fact after another. If you get to Winnipeg, take that tour. This afternoon we’re visiting The Forks, meeting with friends from Churchill Wild, and then having dinner with our new friend Stephen Petersen of the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre! Saturday, July 27. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Had a fun morning at the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre at the Assiniboine Zoo. We were honored to get our tour from the head of conservation and research himself, Dr. Stephen Petersen. Tonight is dinner at Deseo Bistro (courtesy of Tourism Winnipeg. Thanks guys!) Friday, July 26. We made it to Canada! Just arrived in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Saw a black bear on the road on the way in! He was a lanky yearling and stood up to look at us before diving back into the woods. 20 minutes into Canada and already saw a bear! Today we visited Fort Whyte Alive in Winnipeg and checked out their bison herd. The cultural programs were especially interesting. Wednesday, July 24. Right now we’re in Ely, Minnesota. We’re staying on a house boat courtesy of Timber Bay Lodge and it’s awesome. Tied up on the shore of Birch Lake last night, saw an amazing full moon rise over the water and listened to the loons as we fell asleep. Just visited the International Wolf Center! Back to the house boat tonight Sunday-Monday, July 21-22. We are spending two days driving from the Outer banks of NC to Ely Minnesota. We’ll be camping at some state parks along the way. Can’t wait to get there! Saturday, July 20. Our last day in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Yesterday we visited the Alligator River NWR again. Favorite sightings were a big male bear who walked quite close to us, more mother bears with cubs, and another nice sighting of a huge cottonmouth. Today I built a bear sand sculpture to say goodbye to the beach Thursday, July 18. We are now in Rodanthe, North Carolina. Yesterday we had an amazing day full of wolves, whales & bears! Started the day with a dolphin tour from Nags Head Dolphin Watch. Then watched baby black bears galore in the Alligator River NWR. And finally, a Red Wolf howling with the red wolves in the US Fish and Wildlife captive breeding program. What a day! Other fun sightings were two Cotton Mouths (aka Water Moccasins) on the road (a venomous snake) and a manatee crossing under a bridge!

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