In August 2013, Narrelle Harris and I stayed for three nights at the Great Bear Lodge in the northern wilderness of British Columbia, Canada, hosted by the lodge and the Canadian Tourism Commission. Here's what we saw...
The twice daily Wildlife Safari at the Great Bear Lodge involves either a viewing session within hides, or a boat trip out into the estuary.
The boat trip is the more impressive of the two, though it takes longer to prepare for.
It's not that easy to move under all this gear, I find, but once I'm in the boat there's no way I'm going to get wet from the sporadic rain.
It's also surprisingly comfortable, given I'm seated in a small rowboat and will be there for three hours.
The water is smooth as glass, the outboard motor is set to slow, and we're each sitting on a small folding camp seat which gives some back support.
Any lingering discomfort (perhaps enhanced from overdoing the excellent breakfast) is overridden by the beautiful scenery.
Once out of sight of the lodge around an island, there are no humans in sight and no evidence of human activity.
What we do have is nature at its most pristine and spectacular - towering tree-covered mountains running down to perfectly still water which throws up perfect reflections of everyting above.
Here and there, stands of sedge run down to the water on low exposed promontories, the sort of places we might spot bear.
In the end, we don't see a bear this morning. But we do see plenty of other interesting wildlife: a troop of otters swimming past to climb the opposite bank and disappear among the trees.
Not far away are a gang of seals lounging around on a centrally located log. They're wary of grizzlies, says our guide and pilot Emma, as the bears will eat seals if they can catch them.
As far as birds go, we see our old friend the bald eagle, and several gulls - which Emma reminds us should not be called seagulls in the Australian style. There's also a kingfisher.
The star of the show, really, is the landscape. I've never seen anything so utterly beautifully arranged - but with no human hand involved. It's astonishing to see how well nature manages for itself when left alone...
Next post: Bears!