Most companies will have good gear, good food and a reasonable itinerary on paper, so how do you pick the one that’s right for you?
We understand our guests are looking for a once in a lifetime experience, with a treasure trove of great stories to take home. They won’t be back to the same river a second time. So it’s our job to make that happen, and we take that responsibility seriously – without cutting corners. Words like average and good enough just aren’t in our vocabulary. We are the most consistent at delivering on this promise. We know you want to “do it right”. All of our efforts add up to the best experience and greatest value.
A Cut Above Our Competitors
What sets us apart from other adventure companies? Passion, expertise and – most importantly – attention to the special details. We’ve been perfecting our trips since 1972 and it shows – our guest return rate of over 40% speaks for itself.
Our Guides Make All The Difference
Considered leaders in their field, our guides are passionate, knowledgeable and highly trained. Each guide completes rigorous training and we ensure each one has fully up-to-date instructor, wilderness first aid and swift water rescue certifications.
Most of our guides have been with us for years (some more than 20!) and they truly set the standard for river experience and knowledge. Because of our successful reputation and the iconic status of the rivers we travel, we’re able to attract the best guides from across the country. These men and women are mature, friendly leaders who have a passion for these places, extensive knowledge and love sharing it.
Ratio Of Staff To Guests
Experience has taught us that one of the most important factors for a high-quality and safe adventure is the ratio of staff to guests – we operate with one guide per four guests maximum.
Even the best guides can only be in one place at one time, so a low ratio of guides to guest is crucial – for both the safety and comfort of everyone on the trip. You’re making an important investment – you deserve the best from your guides and they can only provide this if they aren’t spread too thin.
Food: The Wow Factor
At the end of an active day in the fresh mountain air, you deserve to be rewarded by the aroma and taste of a great meal with fresh ingredients, perhaps with a wine you selected. Or how about freshly baked cinnamon buns with your morning tea or coffee? Got the idea? On our river journeys you can expect to eat as well or better than you do at home—and we do the cooking!
Over twenty years of practice has allowed us to fine tune our menu to the highest standards – we call it the “wow factor.” Our menu includes plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, as well as exciting local delicacies served as appetizers. Local dishes are served separately from the main meal so the choice is yours to sample or not. However, few say no to fresh Arctic char, wild Taku River salmon, caribou and other local delicacies.
We maintain the highest standards for river safety and we are proud to have a reputation for excellence in this area. Our guides are certified in wilderness first aid and swiftwater rescue. We employ comprehensive and well-rehearsed emergency procedures and trip contingency planning in line with wilderness camping experiences. Satellite telephones are also a fixture on all of our trips.
More than 40% of our guests each year are repeat guests or were referred by a past traveler. You’d be hard-pressed to find many people who’d say they didn’t get good value for the money they spent with us.
We have been rated as one of “The Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth” by National Geographic Adventure and our Soper River Expedition on Baffin Island was selected as one of National Geographic Traveler magazine’s Tours of a Lifetime.
Our company has been the one that others try to emulate. Our destinations and guides are “top of the food chain” and respected throughout the industry.
We have frequent interpretive sessions while travelling – during the day on the water or during hikes and in the evening around the fire. In addition, we connect with First Nations groups. On the Tatshenshini expedition, we visit a cultural site that is operated by a First Nations couple. We hire a First Nations Elder for a story telling session. We also visit the Kluane National Park Visitor Centre. On the Nahanni River we visit the village of Nahanni Butte (pop. 100 with no road access) and when available, we hire a local interpreter for a village tour.
We have a business partnership with the First Nations people of the Nahanni Butte Band. It involves a long-term vision to involve local young people in sustainable tourism. We have a cooperative business arrangement with the Southern Tutchone in the Yukon.
We actively encourage our guests to engage in northern conservation issues. We provide monthly “calls to action” with our e-newsletters. In addition, we collect a minimum donation of $20 per person that goes directly to the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.
We support leaders of indigenous groups who put effort into preserving their culture. For example, by supporting Long Ago Peoples Place cultural camp in the Yukon, we help them to remain viable as a facility that serves school groups.
Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability Practices
We practice Leave No Trace as a matter of course. We also provide leadership in our region for research and advocate best practices. As an example, we encouraged Nahanni National Park to enact a departure regulation system and require the use of environmental fire boxes. On the Tatshenshini River we pushed for mandatory pack-out of solid human waste.
Most importantly, we provide leadership in environmental conflicts. We provided leadership in 2009 in the national campaign to expand the boundaries of Nahanni National Park to include the entire Nahanni River watershed. We helped expand those protections again in 2012 with the creation of Naats’ihch’oh National Park Reserve. We were also involved in the successful campaign to establish Tatchenshini-Alsek Provincial Park in the early ‘90’s.
Neil Hartling provides leadership to the adventure industry nationally. For many years he has been President of the Wilderness Tourism Association of the Yukon, and serves on national committees of the Canadian Tourism Commission. He has also been elected a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.
The support our guests and staff receive before, during and after the season – both “up front” and “behind the scenes” – is one of the hallmarks of our company.
We’re here to support our guests with any questions or concerns you may have. In addition, we’re happy to suggest accommodation options for you that are not included in your trip, and make reservations, if you wish.
Our guides are vital to the success of our company, so we’re in regular contact with them throughout the year. We ensure our team has all the proper certifications, is highly trained and travel our rivers regularly.
We’re confident that we’re leaders in consistently maintaining these standards. As you can see, it begins with the depth and breadth of information you’ll find on our website, and continues with our communications, information and attention to detail – even long after our guests and guides have returned home.
It’s our goal to have the most consistently knowledgeable staff in areas of local interpretation, such as:
- Flora and fauna
- Geology and geomorphology
- Human history
- Unique details, stories, features of each region
We bring an extensive library of reference material on each of our trips. A single guide won’t have all this information memorized, so often the role of our guides is to work with you to uncover details about the unique and beautiful region you’re travelling in.
The north is not a mass-market destination – thank goodness! It’s not the cheapest region to visit, but the experiences found here are like nothing else in the world.
Operating in remote regions within a short season means we encounter expenses that don’t apply to more heavily travelled destinations elsewhere. Our rivers are isolated and require charter aircraft to fly in, out or both – it’s the single biggest expense for our northern adventures – but there are many more as well. We pride ourselves on being thorough when it comes to planning for contingencies and ensuring your experience is second to none.
Every year we survey our guests to find out what they value on these kinds of trips, then we plan our itineraries and prices accordingly. We do this in the spirit of sustainable tourism’s code of ethics. Most operators who are truly ecologically sound will do the same – as a result, most of our adventures are priced quite closely. You can be certain that for northern river expeditions – day for day, kilometer for kilometer, guide for guide – you get what you pay for.
We’ve had decades of experience to develop the features that set us apart from other adventure operators in the North . . .
Our rivers are wilderness icons. They have high name recognition among travellers, but only have between 50 and 600 visitors each year, giving them a high level of exclusivity. Most of our destinations require floatplane or helicopter access. Visiting each of these rivers is truly a lifetime accomplishment to the most experienced travellers. Exciting features abound – dramatic, scenic landscapes, wildlife, flowers, fishing – all world-class in quality. Many of these features are either the last remaining or best examples on the planet.