We travelled as a group of eight and were joined by four others on our boat trip out of Campbell... read more
We travelled as a group of eight and were joined by four others on our boat trip out of Campbell... read more
We booked our tour well in advance as we really wanted to see Grizzly Bears while in Canada. We... read more
I have given five stars to Eagle Wing Whale Watching (Victoria) MacKay Whale Watching (Port McNeil) Prince of Whales Whale Watching (Telegraph Cove) Tide Rip Grizzly Bear) but with considerable thought I have given your company one star and not necessarily for the lack of grizzly bear sightings but other factors which I will elaborate
I did not need to know how expensive the boat was as if to justify the cost for my wife and I just under CAN$1000 compared to Tide Rip at under CAN$800
I knew what I was undertaking when I paid but it is a little of the unknown when you come from abroad and you have a certain level of expectation.As I had the privilege to join Tide Rip Grizzly Bear Tours I have a comparison.it is not reassuring when the captain/owner tells you its a retirement job after captaincy of Princess Cruises.Of course he was pleasant but he did not have an accompanying naturalist unlike Tide Rip where there were a captain and a guide who were very knowledgeable and experienced and may I say young and very passionate about their job .I am also aware that you legally only need one crew for a twelve passenger boat.It would be helpful to have had an assistant but I suspect that would have been an additional cost.I did not find it at all amusing and I made some tongue in cheek remarks as the captain explained to us what to do in an emergency if he had a heart attack or even a stroke.Even if he has a clear billing he is at higher risk.He then explained what we would need to do 1) in an enclosed cupboard there was a flare and some type of pistol equipment that you fired in air but not at rescue helicopter.There was also an emergency button to press to make contact with Victoria Rescue Centre and last we had mobiles and we could ring emergency number even though for most of the two hour journey to Orford River there was no signal.So the passengers have this responsibility and you sign a waiver form to protect the company.
There was little in the way of ongoing commentary during the trip there - there could have been discussion on bear and whale types patterns of behaviour and a detailed history of 1st nation whose land is Orford River.
I did ring their contact number after the trip and the female receptionist tried to explain to me aspects of the tour which I will elaborate ahead are not their responsibility as they are ONLY A WATER TAXI - so in fact it should be called Nomalco Adventure Tours and not Adventure Quest Tours.We had been informed we would have our lunch in the information centre at Orford River but as bus was not available we ate our lunch chicken wrap apple and a chocolate biscuit on the jetty - it was OK but Tide Rip with only eight passengers to our 12 put on an amazing buffet lunch transported from Telegraph Cove to Knight Inlet on a tressle table on the jetty
So now for the grizzly bear tour.We first went to information centre where one would have expected an induction from the guides - not to be.There were four viewing platforms and three buses all vying and sometimes waiting unnecessarily long for next viewing platform visit.It was apparent right from the beginning that heavy rain throughout the night with a fast flowing muddy river was not going to bring out the bears.Over the three hours we saw a shadow of a bear in the far distance blocked by hanging branches and the guides trying to assure us we had seen a bear probably so they did not need to provide another free trip for no bear sighting.Throughout the three hours the captain of the boat,the owner of the tour,was out of sight in the back of the bus and never ventured to the viewing platform but then I suppose he is only providing a water taxi.
The guides,even though I give them credit for maintaining our safety they had little in the way of personal skills,did not engage unless prompted and provided little information on bears generally while we idled the hours in hope.The senior quide never ventured to the platform and with lower gate shut I do not understand why and left us with a first year barely out of her teens inexperienced and nervous guide - not good enough and a commentary could have been provided in quiet tones.We waited endlessly just for change of scenery until another platform became vacant
The guides reluctantly admitted after pressing them many times that the conditons were very unfavourable for sightings.At the end they tried to say we had a sighting but none of us agreed and it was the guides who decided that the passengers could have a free trip within next two years.This is of course not easy if you are a nine hour flight away.
You cannot justify such second rate guiding when you are paying megabucks
If we had seen grizzlies,which cannot be guaranteed and I understand that ,I would not have looked at other aspects of the tour which were far below the standards
Yes you do need to raise your game and not rest on your laurels and I suggest you read the reviews I alluded to above to seeing where I am coming from
We have seen so many variations of your review. Your first draft that you screamed to our office lady, your second draft that you emailed to our Holmalco partners, that it is finally reassuring to be presented with the final form. It was wise to leave out the colonialist comments targeting our Holmalco partners in the final draft. We are not entirely to sure why you felt necessary to engage us in constructing your Trip Advisor Review. Please allow me now to clarify our policy on verbal abuse and harassment but I digress we must begin at the start of our interactions with you as a client.
Our first interactions with you was when you phoned our office staff from the McDonald’s parking lot screaming that you could not locate the boat. Our office staff member finally asked you to calm down and directed your attention to across the parking lot to the ocean vista in front of you. You were not convinced and completely denied the existence of the ocean. After more verbal confrontations we finally got you to move your vehicle across the street. When you finally made it to our office, you complained rudely about the waiver which needed to be signed. In your review you made it seem like signing a waiver was unheard of during your travels. This is standard practice on all tours that operate within our geographical area why you felt necessary to berate us for this practice can only be an indication of your desperate attempt to find any and all faults within our operation.
Your captain for the day was Tom, he is indeed retired and he was formally employed by the Princess Cruise Lines. Unfortunately, Tom is not the owner of the company. Yes, Peter my name is Leigh and I was not on your tour. The next major complaint you have is with regards to our comprehensive Transport Canada required safety briefing. I am so sorry Peter, but the fine people at Transport Canada make the laws which govern our operation. You seem to object to the normal 1 to 12 ratio of Captain to passengers. This ratio is set according to gross tonnage. Any vessel that exceeds that capacity will require a second crew member, this is independent of the number of passengers on-board. We have never had a single safety incident on any of our tours and our 2019 built 12 passenger landing-craft is maintained to the highest standards. You claim that Captain Tom provided you with minimal commentary, unfortunately this goes against all of the other reviews he has garnered. We would describe Captain Tom as extremely chatty and very knowledgeable. We can only speculate that perhaps your “tongue and cheek” comments put a damper on the free flow of communication.
Lunch was not to your standard. I am sorry to inform you that we have been serving wraps and salad options on these tours and they are met favorably by most guests. We allow lunch choices at the time of booking. Perhaps you should have chosen an option that suits your constitution better. We will not be changing our lunch options as we need to provide for a wide range of dietary options such as gluten, dairy free, vegan and vegetarian.
Your review does not mention any of the whales you saw on the boat portion of the tour. Humpbacks, which you saw on your tour are very large mammals. Most guests when presented with these large mammals see them. I have no idea as to why this part was absent from your review but I am thinking that you decided to leave off all the marine wildlife you encountered for dramatic effect. It also gives you more clout when you slander our company on other companies TripAdvisor pages.
As for the complaints leveled against Holmalco Wildlife Tours. We would first like to state that we are not simply a water taxi. A water taxi does not stop for whales or wildlife. I know this can be confusing as our vessel is classified as a water taxi but that is just a general term to refer to larger passenger carrying Aluminum craft. The nice thing about this tour is there are two companies involved and you are getting a boat based tour and a platform grizzly bear tour. On your tour day, conditions were not favourable. That being said we have had identical conditions at the river in the past and have had great sightings. To put your experience into perspective you are the only tour that we have had in five years that has not seen bears in September. Here we can understand your disappointment. Which is why Holmalco Wildlife Tours offered you a free voucher valid for two years to return to the river on a standby basis. Your complaints about the guides could unfortunately stem from a position of cultural insensitivity. We must be very careful as travelers not to put our own cultural bias into our interactions with others. We have been working closely with Holmalco Wildlife Tours for many years and many of the guides are like family to us. While we recognize that some guides are more experienced than others they have always acted professionally and responsibly.
Now we reach the end of responding to your complaints and we feel obligated to level our complaints at your feet. I called Captain Tom when he was on his way back to ensure that he extended the whale portion of your tour. I met this group upon returning to the dock to ensure that management was there to deal with anyone who wanted to complain directly to me. While the guests expressed disappointment no one mentioned any complaints that are now so vehemently leveled against our company. Instead you chose to call our female office staff member two days later and verbally berate her again. Your level of verbal abuse was so intense that she was force to terminate the phone call and leave the office early in tears. We do not tolerate this kind of abuse against our employees. No one deserves this kind of treatment from anyone. To put this level of abuse into context our office staff member is a retired social worker with years of experience dealing with clients with mental health and addiction issues. I am not entirely too sure what laurels are Peter but perhaps we can all set our “goal posts” to a higher standard.
Leigh Nelson (Owner/Operator)
Kristin MacKinnon BSc. BEd. (Owner)
We had the most wonderful tour yesterday to see grizzly bears along the Orford River in Bute Inlet as well as a bonus of getting very close to two humpback whales (within the prescribed distance, of course). Our guide and boat operator, Leigh, was most knowledgeable and helpful, willing to do whatever he could to make the tour as memorable as possible.
In Orford Bay, our two Homalco guides, Cheyanne and Jaymie, were terrific. Lots of stories, information, and even a language lesson. They are bright, energetic young women with a lot to share, and also willing to do whatever they could to make the tour as good as it could be.
Many thanks to all of you for a terrific day, where even the weather cooperated.
We opted to go whale watching with a covered boat. A calculated decision made ahead of time based on variable weather conditions in the season. Unfortunately, this meant the boat was very cramped and there was insufficient exterior viewing area for all tour participants. This made it somewhat frustrating. So we would select the zodiac next time...rain or shine.
The guide, Tom, was competent and patient as we tracked some transient and humpback whales. (Ironically, the weather was great).
This trip uses an 8 passenger aluminum boat to get people out for whale watching. The boat was crowded with 7 passengers but the close quarters did allow for plenty of interaction with the boat captain, who was very knowledgeable about the area and the habits of the whales we sought. We saw both orcas and humpbacks, although orcas proved more elusive. The boat has a back deck from which people were able to view whales and take pictures.
I would have preferred an extra hour (and would have paid more) to have more time to spend looking for and observing the animals. That said, the humpbacks were visible from the dock, so didn't need much time to get to them.
My mum and I just got back from a truly fantastic holiday in Canada and this, in part, was due to the tours we did with Adventure Quest in Campbell River.
We did the full day bear watching trip as well as whale watching trips the following day. Both were fantastic.
The bear watching was incredible, despite the salmon run being late this year, we still saw about 10 bears, all pretty close up as well. We saw some on their own as well as some mums and Cubs. The experience was just magical. The only slight negative is that you only really get about 3 hours with the bears. And our Homalco guide, as charming and lovely as he was, took us to a spot where he said that at low-tide, you can often see bears foraging - when we got there it was high tide and despite realising his mistake, we stayed at the location for 20 mins. This was quite disappointing because we already knew we were not going to see them at low tide. We should have moved in in my opinion. A waste of precious bear viewing time.
Saw lots of humpback whales the next day which was great, and our guide, Leigh,gave us lots of interesting I fo about them. He also took every effort to get us to view Orca, which we finally managed.
Leigh is SUPER lovely and helpful, he is very quick to respond and super patient (I asked about a million questions before actually arriving) and he was really helpful and knowledgable. And as I say, he did his best to show us what we really wanted to see, Orca. Tom, our boat driver to the bear viewing was also fantastic, friendly and knowledgeable.
Overall, we had a fantastic time on both tours.
Took the Grizzly Bear tour and on both the way out and particularly the way back we got sightings of humpback whales. A group of three on the way back was exciting to see. Tom the captain taking quite a bit of trouble to provide this experience. The Grizzly experience was not quite as good, although we saw quite a few bears/cubs the sightings were brief (probably a bit early in the Season?) and the constant moving on to accommodate other tour groups made it fell pretty commercial. Our Homalco guide was very inexperienced and nervous, not adding to the experience I’m afraid. I appreciate everyone has to start sometime but really should have been better briefed/trained.