Tag Archives: travel tips

Spirit Bear Lodge – An overview, a teaser and what you need to know

I shared my photos with a number of friends (partially cuz I like to share, partially to reassure them that I don’t just work and ride my horse and that’s it) and the most common question I got back was “where was this?”.  Us poor Canadians really don’t know what’s in our backyard. So, first, it is here www.spiritbear.com and second, that is located here.  And the second most common question was about how I did this. I like to call it a Canadian safari.  You go to some place that you wouldn’t normally go to, people organize you into groups, they take you out to see wild animals and scenary, make sure you stay safe and are well-fed and you take photographs.  Of course, that description takes all the romance and adventure out of it.  An alternate description would be: you embark on a journey on little planes and boats to access a remote corner of the world that only a David Suzuki or a Richard Attenborough have gone before, put your life into the hands of experienced and well-trained guides, trek out into wild habitats to see large, potentially dangerous animals on their home turf, endure sometimes harsh conditions to get that perfect shot to bring home to show your friends. And, depending on your previous life experiences, it could be either the former or latter!

As you can see from my other posts on this subject here and here, what you see and the photos you get are truly magnificent.  Here’s another one for your teaser:

 

umpf! Got one!

umpf! Got one!

 

What You Need To Know:

The staff at the lodge are great. They know your name. They are friendly and professional and personable. They are also sneaky when planning a birthday surprise.

The food is very good, indeed! You don’t have a lot of choices – this is one place Starbucks has NOT found (although they do have locally roasted coffee up there), but the chef does not give you any cause for complaints. Plenty of food at all meals and I dare you to find a meal where you can’t find something you like. Breakfast is both continental and hot, cooked food. (mmm, bacon!) Lunch is a plethora of sandwiches (apparently the egg salad goes fast), snacks, fruit, veges, juices, pop and water. And Dinner always has a fish and meat option with plenty of sides a vege main. No choice in desserts but I’m not complaining at the carrot cake, strawberry shortcake, etc, etc.

The guides and boat captains are all extremely competent, friendly, professional and approachable. It must be tough to be all of that, all the time and watch out for wildlife at the same time – so hats off to them. Those that are First Nations are very willing to answer your questions and share stories with you.

Photo gear – see separate post coming up 🙂

Gear – their packing list has been well thought out and you won’t go wrong to follow it. The only alteration I’d make is that if you have your own waterproof boots that you are comfortable walking in on uneven, rocky shorelines, bring your own. There was only a couple of places that I preferred the lodge’s rubber boots over my own gear (if I had brought it!).  One strong suggestion if you have any type of walking issues (stability and balance) is to bring a walking stick.  Even one is helpful in a couple of areas we went.

Misc – you are on the boats a lot. If you are at all prone to seasicknesses, bring your own stuff for that. I was lucky and had perfectly calm seas the entire time I was there.

Lastly, I will say that they take care of you once you are there, so once you’ve packed and started your trip, don’t worry about anything else!

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Rough road ahead. Remove dentures.

I couldn’t make up something like the title of this post. I believe it came from a collection of real road signs in South Africa. My last photo post of lions reminded me of my safari trip! It was a short 4 day, 3 night trip into the Serengeti ending in Ngorogoro crater all on the Tanzania side. I had no idea what to expect and frankly, except for my bottle of bug spray was pretty poorly prepared. However, I would do it all again. But the next time, I would remember to take proper support (ladies: get a good sports bra). SAFARI TIP #1 It does not matter that you have been an “A” all your life – get the maximum support. The roads look deceptively smooth and you’re in a proper vehicle, but OMG, seriously, go for the full support and keep your mouth closed!

I know there are safaris on horseback and would love to do one of those one day, but you can cover so much more distance in the jeep plus lug all of your gear. However, you do then tend to spend the entire time out in the car. SAFARI TIP #2 This necessitates learning the life-saving skill of multi-tasking (guys you do have an advantage here since you can stay standing). I quickly learnt how to pee out in the open with company, while simultaneously looking for snakes, spiders and lions (or other carnivores). The location you chose was also strategic – gravity makes liquids flow downhill. And lastly, ladies, consider wearing skirts. You all may be laughing now, but if haven’t mastered this out in the middle of nowhere with only your friends around, you wait until dusk at camp with a hell of a lot more people around and less coverage! Oh, and make sure you get the toilet paper ready before you drop your pants.

I won’t natter on for too much longer, just one last SAFARI TIP #3. Get a headlamp – they aren’t just for miners anymore. You can get some pretty funky ones at outdoors stores now and spend the money – don’t cheap out just because they are a little pricey. There will be plenty of situations where you will want BOTH hands free AND still want to see where you are – or more importantly where the monkeys/bugs/snakes are around you. On the plus side though, you generally know where the lions are even without the light 🙂

Happy travels!