We can accommodate beginners on all of our raft trips, but when it comes to canoes, selecting an appropriate trip for your skill level is critical to both the safety and enjoyment of your river holiday.
- Our raft expeditions are designed for people of any skill level, including novices. Some raft trips offer canoeing as an option. In this case, the canoeing prerequisites apply and must be met.
- Tandem canoe trips are much more skill-specific. Careful thought must be applied to assessing your canoe skill level (see below). On some rivers we have an alternative approach that can modify these requirements with the use of our “canyon rig” strategy. Above the rapids, we can catamaran the canoes together in pairs, which means you can enjoy greater stability while going for the biggest waves. In the flatter sections we disassemble the rigs.
Considerations for each canoe trip:
You’ve canoed previously and know the rudimentary strokes: bow, reverse, “j”, draw, pry and sweep. You are comfortable paddling in the bow and working with another partner, or you have river reading skills and can control the canoe from the stern while working with another partner.
You’ve mastered the skills above, have taken an introductory river canoeing course and have experience paddling on Grade II rivers. In addition, you have river reading skills and can work effectively with a partner to side slip and back ferry to move the canoe laterally in Grade II water with precision. You can comfortably apply these skills for navigating tight bends and avoiding logjams.
Nahanni 2-week, Nahanni 3-week hiking, or canoeing on an 8 or 12-day Nahanni trip, Coppermine:
You possess the skills above and have completed a whitewater canoe course. You are able to read Grade III water and quickly formulate strategies while working with a partner to navigate. Unless you opt for the canyon rig* strategy for the main rapids, you match the following description:
- At least once a year for the two previous seasons or more, you’ve paddle Grade II/III whitewater with friends or a canoe club. You’re committed to at least one “warm up” trip or course prior to your trip with us this season. We can modify these requirements by the use of “canyon rigs” for the rapids, but this must be discussed with us before booking.
*So, what’s a canyon rig? On some rivers we have an alternative approach that modifies these requirements. Above the rapids, we catamaran the canoes together in pairs, which means you have greater stability while going for the biggest waves. On the flatter sections, we disassemble the rigs and canoe conventionally.
Moose Ponds, Mountain, Snake, Burnside:
You possess the abilities and judgment level outlined above and have a more extensive whitewater background. For the last three years or more you’ve paddled Grade III whitewater at least three times per year and enjoy practicing technical moves. You’re committed to at least one “warm up” trip or course prior to your trip with us this season.
What if I’m a whitewater kayaker but have never canoed?
If this is the case, please contact us directly and we’ll discuss your background in relation to the trip you’re considering.
How do I know if I’m a whitewater paddler?
Have you swum through a long rapid with a flipped canoe? If not, you have yet to earn your stripes as a whitewater canoeist. Take a whitewater course and practice whitewater recovery skills before your trip.
Canoes and “swimming”:
Only on rare occasions will a participant fall out of the raft. On the other hand, tipping a canoe and “going for a swim” is considered an integral part of canoe sport. One or more canoes flipped at any time is a normal event and is not considered an “emergency” or “incident.” The group simply recovers the swimmers and boats. When all is secure, the group continues down the river. It’s part of the fun!
In Class II and greater rapids, a neoprene wet suit or fabric dry suit is mandatory.
On the other rivers many opt for a neoprene wet suit, although some paddlers (with strong internal “furnaces”) will opt for rain gear worn over polypropylene and fleece on the whitewater days. Feel free to consult with us for more information specific to the river you’ve selected. Due to the use of spray covers, helmets are mandatory on the Moose Ponds, and recommended on the Mountain, Snake and Burnside canoe trips.