For me, the ideal adventure not only introduces me to places of wild beauty - its landscapes, wildlife, cultures and history- but also plays a role in protecting and sustaining it for future generations.

So I was thrilled when Maureen Gordon, co-owner of Maple Leaf Adventures, told me that they had added a second sailing vessel to accommodate interest in an upcoming collaborative conservation expedition with Canadian Geographic into British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest, a vast protected area currently under the environmental threat of a controversial pipeline proposal.  

The SV Maple Leaf in the Gardner Canal, the B.C. coast’s longest fjord in the Great Bear Rainforest. (Photo: Kevin J. Smith/Maple Leaf Adventures)


This 9-day voyage, June 19-27, 2014, aboard a flotilla of two small, coastal expedition ships, will raise funds for the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, coastal reserach and conservation.

With just seven guests per ship, participants will have the opportunity for in depth conversations with the trip’s experienced captain and guides, including naturalist and artist Robert Bateman and his wife Birgit, an accomplished photographer.The expedition cruise will explore the fjords, rainforest, and islands as well as do bear viewing and whale watching, visit whale researchers and local villages, and explore the area’s history.  

The 6-million hectare Great Bear Rainforest located on the British Columbia coast, boasts deep, granite fjords, a rich whale population, and bears – grizzly and black bears, including the rare, white spirit bear. There are almost no roads, and accessible by water. Since 2006, over a third of the land area has been protected. 

“The Great Bear Rainforest is one of Canada’s globally significant places,” said Kevin Smith, Maple Leaf Adventures’ president, and a geographer whose been involved in the highest level of land use planning for the area.

Spirit bear. Photo by Kevin J. Smith/Maple Leaf Adventures.


June 19-27, 2014, 9 days / 8 nights, $9995 Canadian dollars per person (approximately $8000 USD); depart & return: Vancouver, BC. 

Price includes all cruising and accommodations, meals and snacks prepared by private chef, all beverages including quality wine and beer, all shore excursions and guiding, local flights between Vancouver and Bella Bella, BC, and use of all gear on board including kayaks.


Maple Leaf Adventures has just added another new Great Bear Rainforest trip (not with Canadian Geo and the Batemans) June 10-17, 2014 for Cdn $4550 plus tax (excluding local flights). 


For additional information and bookings visit or call 250-386-7245 / 1-888-599-5323. 

Here’s Robert Bateman talking about what’s so special about Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest. (Video play time: 1:59)

CREDITS: This video clip is excerpted from the film, Reflections, shot in the Great Bear in June 2012. Reflections footage used with permission, and shot by Ben Fox and Cameron Dennison. Additional footage in this video is by Kevin J. Smith. Reflections features an expedition of 50 of British Columbia’s top artists into the Great Bear Rainforest to publicize the area and what is at risk if a proposal for heavy oil supertankers through the area’s reefs and islands is approved.  

View the 23-minute movie here


About Maple Leaf Adventures

Selected for Canada’s “Signature Experiences Collection” by the Canadian Tourism Commission, Maple Leaf Adventures has provided conservation travel experiences aboard a classic sailing ship since 1986.  With a reputation as one of Canada’s top sustainable tour operators, its multi-day excursions give guests one-of-a-kind experiences in some of the most beautiful and rare places in the world, often in areas that were once under threat of destruction or in dire need of protection. In 2012, Maple Leaf was awarded the Parks Canada Sustainable Tourism Award, for promoting the appreciation of Canada’s natural, cultural and aesthetic heritage, while also protecting them. National Geographic Adventure has rated Maple Leaf one of the “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth”. For more information, visit

About Canadian Geographic

Canadian Geographic magazine is a Canadian magazine that is unapologetic about celebrating Canada. We’re dedicated to uncovering and communicating the stories about Canadian people, places, frontiers and issues (past and present) that Canadian magazine readers want. Owned by The Royal Canadian Geographical Society,Canadian Geographic magazine is more than a geography publication, each issue of Canadian Geographic is a voyage of discovery and exploration that features the latest science, environment, travel and human and cultural stories from across Canada. Info:

About Robert Bateman

Robert Bateman is one of the world’s most celebrated wildlife artists and naturalists. His work is in many public and private collections and art museums and he was recently commissioned by the Government of Alberta to paint a gift for newlyweds Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. With a degree in geography from the University of Toronto, Bateman taught high school for 20 years, before becoming a fulltime artist. His work reflects his commitment to ecology and preservation. He has become a spokesman for many environmental and preservation issues and has used his artwork and limited edition prints in fund-raising efforts that have raised millions of dollars for worthy causes.

Photographer Birgit Freybe Bateman’s latest honour was an exhibit, Mindful Vision, sponsored by the State Russian Museum in the Stroganoff Palace in St.Petersburg from June 1 to August 31, 2011.  Due to great public interest, the exhibit was then extended to the end of September of that year.  To quote their web site, “The content of her works is not a concrete subject but the plastic motifs dictated by the expressive forms of objects, fragments and details commemorated by the photo lens.” She has lived in British Columbia for 27 years and also travels as a resource person on photographic expeditions.

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".