The second-largest country on Earth, Canada is vast and wild—filled with exotic, majestic, downright adorable creatures large and small: wolves, grizzlies, polar bear and caribou on land, narwhals, sea lions and salmon in the sea, and the cutest puffins filling the sky. Watching wild animals in their natural habitat is one of the great joys of a trip to Canada, and spring is a fantastic time to do it.
You’re not likely to see anything cuter than a puffin, Newfoundland’s official bird. The social creatures almost look like mini penguins, except their beaks turn bright orange during breeding season. Elliston is the best place in North America to watch these little clowns scurry across green cliffs and plunge 200 feet down to the sea.
After 100+years, Parks Canada returned wild plains bison to Banff National Park in 2018 as a birthday present to Canada for its 150th in 2017. Spy the 30-strong free-roaming herd (with red fur calves) in Panther Valley at Canada’s first national park.
Travel across the Arctic tundra alongside 3,000 migrating reindeer with indigenous Inuvialuit as they have for generations. Herding the animals hurrying south to their spring calving grounds on the four-day Tundra North Tours adventure is a classic way to experience The North—and one for the bucket list.
Spring is prime time to spy furry cubs emerging from the den and floating Knight Inlet Lodge is grizzly central. Take guided bear tracking hikes and you may find yourself spotting dozens of bears in a day! Spring is also a great time to search for the elusive white Kermode Spirit Bear at Great Bear Lodge in one of the world’s most pristine rainforests.
Starting in May, whales flock to Canada’s east coast. The area is home to 22 species, including acrobatic humpback, tiny minke, pilot, sperm and the largest of them all, blues. Hit Newfoundland’s Witless Bay and remote Quirpon Island (look for icebergs, too), or head out onto the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick or Nova Scotia.
Ride by qamutik (sled) with Inuit guides in the Arctic in search of giant polar bears, watch tusked narwhals and white belugas and paddle to a sanctuary with 20,000 sea birds—all from a cushy base camp at the floe edge. This is what you can expect on a safari with Nunavut’s Arctic Kingdom.