Here are the best places to see bears in the wild worldwide.
Though all bear species look cute and cuddly – they are certainly not teddy bears! An encounter with a bear in the wild is surely an unforgettable experience. And interestingly, bears seem to have a penchant for dwelling in some of the most beautiful and picturesque places on Earth.
If you are looking forward to seeing one or more different species of these intimidating creatures in their natural habitat, here are 10 options for you. Definitely you should find a location close to you.
10 Of The Best Places To See Bears In The Wild Worldwide
1) Churchill, Canada. Species: Polar Bears
For your best chances to see bears in the wild, let’s start with Churchill.
Churchill is renowned for being the Polar Bear Capital of the world. This place is located in Northern Manitoba’s west side specifically on the shores of Hudson Bay.
Every fall, polar bears come on the shores of Hudson Bay in their thousands and wait for the water to freeze again. Therefore the fall is the best time of the year for you to watch polar bears from a close distance. When the water freezes again they go back to hunting their primary food source, ringed seals.
However, you can also watch them even when it’s not winter via boats.
2) Alaska, USA. Species: Brown Bears, Black Bears, and Polar Bears
Among all the places in this list, Alaska has the richest wildlife. Here you can see most of the bear species from brown bears to black and polar bears.
Brown Bears are the easiest to spot among them and you’ll see them throughout the state. In fact, almost 30,000 brown bears live in Alaska. Most of those brown bears are grizzlies. The McNeil River Falls is the best place in Alaska to watch them in large numbers.
Black Bears are also common in Alaska and you can watch one in the streets or in the neighborhoods. These bears are smaller in size and there are an estimated 100,000 black bears in Alaska alone. Polar bears are a little rare and will be seen along the Arctic coastlines.
To see bears in the wild, you can’t afford to overlook Alaska.
Describing Alaska as a haven for bears would not be an exaggeration.
3) Yellowstone National Park. Species: Brown and Black Bears.
The Yellowstone National Park is another good place to watch bears up close. This park is located in the United States. In the states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. It’s very famous for its vast wildlife.
Among all the seasons your best bet to watch bears are in summer and fall. Here in Yellowstone National Park, you can spot brown (grizzly) bears and black bears. Above all, you can watch other animals like bison, moose, wolves and many other species.
The Yellowstone National Park is a complete wildlife safari.
4) British Columbia, Canada. Species: Black, Brown, and Kermode Bears.
British Columbia is the westernmost province of Canada. It is located between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains.
This place has 7 national parks and you may wonder why this place has so many parks. Well simply because of its geographic location and vast wildlife. Grizzly and Black Bears are very common in this area. In fact, this place has specified lodges for watching different bears. You can go to Bella Coola River to watch grizzly bears feed on migrating salmons.
With just about 400 Kermode (Spirit Bears) left alive today, it would also be well worth the effort to catch a rare glimpse of this awe-inspiring creature.
5) Norway. Species: Polar and Brown Bears
Norway is very well known for its Polar Bears and Brown Bears. The Spitsbergen Island in Norway is home to almost 3,000 Polar Bears.
You can visit Norway in summer to watch these bears. Anyone can easily spot the bears from boats and have a glimpse of these majestic creatures. You can also visit the Svalbard Island and watch other animals like polar fox, reindeer, wheels, seals, walrus and so on.
Norway also has 15 bird sanctuaries where migrating birds come from all over the world.
Norway’s scenic beauty is indescribable and anyone who loves wildlife and nature should visit Norway at least once in their lifetime.
6) Spain. Species: Cantabrian Brown Bear
You can find the world’s most unique and rare Cantabrian Brown Bear in Spain. The bear falls in the Endangered Species list because of illegal poaching and hunting. This beautiful bear species is very close to extinction and extreme measures are taking place now to somehow save the species.
These bears are very hard to spot on your own. You will need the help of expert wildlife guide to see this animal. You can also see other rare animals like Iberian wolves and golden eagles while in Spain.
7) Romania. Species: Brown and Black Bears
Romania is currently home to 5,500 brown and black bears. Romania is well known for wildlife hunting. As a result, the numbers of these bears declined fast. People killed bears for fun throughout the last 5 decades and now the Romanian bears are on the verge of extinction.
Recently, the Romanian government banned illegal hunting throughout the country.
Although you can spot these bears pretty easily while walking in the wilderness or when you visit sanctuaries for rescued bears. The bear population is currently steady and increased a little in the last couple of years.
The Liberty sanctuary in the Carpathian Mountains is one of the best places in Romania to watch bears.
8) India/Sri Lanka: Species: Sloth Bears
Sloth bears were the inspiration for Baloo, the popular and delightful Jungle Book character. They have a characteristic shaggy, dark (almost jet-black) fur, with contrasting cream colored snouts.
Also, these are the only bears that carry their young on their backs. Sloth bears are native to India and Sri Lanka.
In India, you’ll easily see them in the jungles of Karnataka and in the Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary.
In Sri Lanka, you’ll find them in the Yala National Park. Yala Park is among the largest wildlife reserves the country has and apart from bears, the park is home to other exotic animal species like leopards.
Sloth bears are known for carrying their young on their back. The cubs cling tightly to their mother’s long, shaggy fur.
9) Peru. Species: Spectacled (Andean Bears)
For sightings of the reclusive and solitary spectacled bear, head down to Peru. These bears are the only ones native to South America.
The forests of northern Peru especially in Chaparri, is your best bet to see spectacled bears. In fact, they are particularly common in the area and have become used to human presence so they are less shy as a result.
This is because of the long established protection and minimal human disturbance they enjoy in the reserve.
10) China. Species: The Giant Panda
Of course our list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning everyone’s favorite bear: the Giant Panda.
Their chubby, irresistibly cute appearance and generally gentle nature endears them to most people.
This wildly famous black-on-white bear has a lesser known subspecies called the Qinling Panda and you can see both of them in China (DRC). In the wild, you can only see giant pandas in the remote, mountainous areas of central China, in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. While you could see the Qinling Panda in the Qinling Mountains.
Note that sighting either of these pandas is particularly tricky. They are also highly protected. So you’ll be better off using a local guide or just visit a panda sanctuary instead.
So there you have it, our list of the top 10 places to see bears in the wild. Remember that you may not be able to see some bear species all year round (due to hibernation, etc.), and they may be restrictions on visitors. That’s especially true for highly protected species like the giant panda.
Therefore, it’s advisable to confirm before you make the trip down.
Whatever the case, you’ll definitely come back with new discoveries and some added respect for these majestic animals.