We did this trip in late August 2012. Unfortunately we didn't see a Grizzly bear. We did enjoy the trip, the scenery was lovely, and the guides tried their very best to find some bears for us. On the way home we did see a Black bear, and we couldn't fault the trip at all - sometimes nature just doesn't fit in with your plans.
Our real issue though was with how we were dealt with after the trip. We were issued with a Voucher for a free trip. We immediately asked whether we could book ourselves on 5 days later when we knew we would be returning to Telegraph cove after a kayaking trip. We were told that those with vouchers were not allowed to book a place, but instead had to wait to see whether there were spare spaces, once all the paying customers were booked on.
We decided to take a gamble, and booked ahead for a nights accommodation in telegraph cove, on the offchance that we would be able to get a space on the following days trip. We contacted Tiderip the day before, and were told that the trip was full and we wouldn't be given a space. If we had been allowed to book it 5 days earlier when we originally enquired, then we would have been able to go.
We happened to be free the following day as well, and were told, at 11am on a Saturday, that there were 6 spaces left on Sunday's trip. But we weren't allowed to book a place. We asked when we would know whether we could get on the trip - we were told to come back at around 5pm to see if there was still a space.
I explained that given that it was a Saturday, which happened to be Labor day weekend, we would have to book accommodation asap for that night and the following night, if we were going to stay for the trip. So we really needed to know whether we would be able to have a space. The guy dismissively said "oh there's plenty of accommodation in Port McNeill, you'll be fine" and repeated that would have to come back after 5pm to see if there was any space available for the next day.
We decided that it wasn't worth the gamble of booking 2 more night's accommodation on the offchance that we could go on the trip, plus potentially wasting another 2 days of our holiday - so we left.
The tour operators basically make it as difficult as possible for you to use your voucher, so it's barely worth the paper it is written on. This was a very expensive trip, and we would have expected them to honour their 'free trip' promise by allowing us to book a place on one of the 2 days we tried for. I also wonder, given that it's a 'Lifetime voucher' how we would ever use the voucher again. If we are lucky enough to come back to Vancouver Island, would we travel all the way to Telegraph cove on the offchance that we would happen to get a space on a trip, without being able to book it? Unlikely. We were disappointed.
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