Frequently Asked Questions
No question is too small when planning for a northern river adventure. If you don’t find the answers you need here, please contact us any time.
Choosing a Trip & Booking
What kinds of trips do you offer?
Just about everything – from easy week-long quick escapes to 3 week long expeditions – trips to suit every interest. Our trips are river or ocean based and will allow you to explore majestic areas with unique qualities, flora and wildlife. With our options of different craft and challenge level there is a choice for every level of adventurer. All of the trips include great hiking so it is a true multi-sport vacation. This Web site will give you a good idea of each destination. You can find the detailed itinerary of each expedition here on the site. If you would like to speak with someone regarding a trip, our friendly staff will be happy to help you, or you can contact some of our many alumni who have volunteered to be references for us.
Which is the best expedition?
It depends on your interests – they all have a different focus. Most have great hiking. The Nahanni River in Nahanni National Park has waterfalls twice the size of Niagara, 75 kilometers of canyons over 4000 feet high, hot springs and wildlife. The Tatshenshini and Alsek Rivers are best described as some of the most visually spectacular in the world, flowing through the world’s largest non-polar ice cap, with mountains over 15,000 ft. high and glaciers calving icebergs into the river in front of us. The Firth River offers remote barrens above the Arctic Circle with an incredible abundance of wildlife. The Coppermine River follows in the footsteps of Sir John Franklin on a wilderness and wildlife journey to the “Polar Sea”. Our Horton River expedition offers a journey down mainland Canada’s most northerly river and is famous for its nesting raptors. Our whitewater canoe trips such as the Wind, Snake or Upper Stikine will challenge the canoeist. Sea kayaking in Alaska offers excellent whale and wildlife viewing.
What are the expeditions like?
Imagine the “land of the midnight sun”, a country of diverse land forms, wild flowers and new delights to the eye, every day. Imagine rivers that flow through these lands in a sinuous manner, serving as a conveyor to move you from one delightful experience to the next. Imagine rewarding hikes, with a range of distances to choose, to pick the one that’s right for you.
You will be accompanied by your knowledgeable guides who share their love for the area, and with them you unfold the mysteries and experience the beauty of the north. You will wake up each morning in your well equipped camp, not knowing specifically what will happen but knowing it will be memorable and will inspire stories to tell your friends for years to come. You may be one who prefers to be challenged physically or you may be looking for a peaceful natural retreat experience – we can help you find a trip option to meet your desires. You can be certain that our goal is to begin working together with you now to plan a holiday that will meet and exceed your expectations in as many ways as possible and be one of those “trips of a life time” that we all dream of. Our years of experience tell us that you will return home refreshed, revitalized and already planning your next adventure.
When is the best time to go?
We limit our season to the best time to experience each river. So you can’t go wrong with any of the dates we list. Feel free to select the one that best matches your holiday time. All our Arctic journeys are timed to take advantage of the wildlife, birds and flowers. On the Nahanni and Tatshenshini Rivers, the early season trips have 24 hours of daylight, while the late season trips often get northern lights. If you are looking for flowers and birds, pick an early season expedition. Pick a time to suit your interests!
Do I need to sign a waiver?
All our guests are required to read and sign our waiver and release form in order to reserve their space. You can sign online here or print and sign and return a scanned copy to us. Guests are required to re-sign their waivers at their pre-departure orientation at the start of their expedition.
To ensure your waiver is completed correctly:
Read the waiver in colour, and if possible, print in colour.
Ensure that you have put your initial in the box in the top right corner of the first page.
Have a witness sign under the witness signature section on the second page.
OK, I’m going! How do I sign up?
Signing up is easy. Simply call us or Email (or visit our online reservation page) and reserve a space with your credit card for instant confirmation:
Toll free: 1 (800) 297 – 6927
Europe or local call: (867) 668 – 3180
Fax: (867) 668 – 3180
Remember, there is absolutely no risk in reserving your space since — with a few exceptions — the trip deposit is refundable up until 90 days before departure. Then leave the rest to us. Before you go, we provide you with extensive pre-departure information, including suggested reading lists and advice on clothing and equipment. And just because you’re joining a “tour” doesn’t mean you can’t have some independence. If you like to explore on your own, plan to arrive a day or two early or extend your trip after the tour. We can make some great suggestions for trip extensions.
To give you added comfort we have adjusted our 2023 cancelation policies to ensure that you can reserve the trip of lifetime worry free! You can read more on how we are accounting for COVID-19 here.
About Price and Value
We work hard to ensure you receive the greatest value from your experience with us. This is your “trip of a lifetime” and that’s how we treat it. We have earned a reputation as the best river outfitter in the north and there are some good reasons for this. We have chosen to set the highest bar, and refuse to cut corners.
The north is not a mass market destination – thank goodness! It is not the cheapest region to visit, but the experiences found here are like nothing else in the world. We know you will be pleased with the experience and value you receive. Our prized rivers are remote and require charter aircraft to fly in, out or both. This is our single biggest expense. Operating in such remote regions with a short season, brings expenses not encountered elsewhere – but the results are priceless.
We continue to survey our guests every year to determine what they value on these trips and we plan the program and price accordingly. We do this in the spirit of Sustainable Tourism and Code of Ethics. Most operators who are truly ecologically sound will do this and as a result, most are priced quite close. You can be certain that, for northern river expeditions: day for day, kilometer for kilometer, guide for guide – you get what you pay for. There are a small number of notable exceptions as there are in most businesses and they are well to steer clear of – they are likely cutting corners. For such a special trip, you do not want to find yourself on an “econo tour”.
What sets us apart as the best? What are the most important factors? Most companies will have good gear, good food and a reasonable itinerary on paper. How can you pick the best one for you?
Our guests seek the richest experiences and want to bring home the best stories. We design our itineraries to maximize your time in the best places that will maximize this. Experience has taught us that the most important factors are the guides and the ratio of staff to participants (1-4 max.). Even the best guides can only be in one place at one time and this is not an area in which to compromise. You are making an important investment in this special trip, you deserve the best from your guides and they can only provide this if they are not “spread too thin”.
We have the greatest retention of staff in the north, with some having served for 30 years and an average of over 10 years. Also important, is the support that the guests and staff receive before, during and after the season, both “up front” and “behind the scenes”. This directly effects the quality of your experience and most importantly, safety. We shine in this area.
In addition, we commit to the goal of having the most “consistently” knowledgeable staff in the areas of local interpretation such as flora, fauna, geology, geomorphology, human history, and unique details pertinent to the area. On our trips we bring the most extensive library of reference material. One individual guide cannot have all of this information memorized, so the realistic role of a guide is to work with you to uncover the beautiful details of the region.
We are confident that in the area where we operate, we are leaders in “consistently” maintaining these standards. As you can see, it begins with the depth and breadth of information you see here, and continues with our communications, information and attention to detail, even long after you have returned home.
We welcome any questions you may have on this topic. This is a very special trip for you. You will likely not travel this river a second time, so you want to “do it right”. We understand this and that is why we set the standards as high as we do. We will provide you with the richest experiences possible. If you are like most of our guests, you will be back to travel another river – after all – it is the “magnetic north”!
Planning, Travel & Documents
Essential Travel Documents: Your Passport
Visitors to Canada will need a passport to enter Canada. Most countries require that your passport be valid for a full six months after the end of your visit. If your passport does not meet this requirement you may want to renew it.
Make a photocopy of the photo page of your passport and carry it separately from your passport. If your passport is lost or stolen, a photocopy will help the local Consulate speed up authorization for replacement. It is also a good idea to leave a copy with a trusted contact at home.
Also check your passport for blank pages. We recommend that you apply to have extra pages added if you do not have at least two blank visa pages in your passport.
Please carry your passport on you; do not pack it in your checked-in luggage. You may be asked for your papers not only upon departure but at various times during the trip, even while checking into hotels. If you are carrying a customs form, please keep it in a safe place at all times, perhaps in your pouch along with your other valuables (we do not recommend carrying it in the passport because we often must submit the passport at hotels, where reception clerks can easily lose the form)
Day ‘0’ on my itinerary – what is that?
Different rivers present different logistical considerations. On the Nahanni we board a float plane soon after your arrival in Fort Simpson. On other rivers it works better if we have our pre-departure meeting in the evening of Day “0” and then depart early the following morning for the “put-in”. We have used “Day 0” for those trips where you meet in the evening.
On any trip, you need to arrive at the meeting point on the date listed as the first day in the “Dates and Rates” list and you may travel home on the last date listed for your trip.
In our welcome aboard letter, we will specify on which date you need to arrive at the meeting location and which day you may plan to fly home. Please feel free to confirm this with us before booking your ticket.
What about Insurance?
We strongly recommend trip cancellation and medical evacuation insurance. The package we use includes coverage for evacuation, and for Canadians, has additional medical coverage. Call our office for more details concerning what the trip cancellation insurance covers. The cost is approximately 7% of the trip fee and is non-refundable. Please check to ensure your medical insurance will cover you away from home and includes evacuation coverage outside of your home region.
Preparations for our expeditions begin with a great deal of planning, months (in some cases, years) in advance. For this reason we must maintain the policy that no refunds are available within the 90 day period before each departure and we highly recommend trip cancellation insurance. Medical evacuation insurance is encouraged because if you require an evacuation the expenses incurred will be billed to you. Due to the remote wilderness locations of our expeditions, an evacuation could easily cost over $50,000.
Both trip cancellation and medical evacuation insurance may be purchased separately. The price will vary according to your age, where you reside, and details of your trip. If you have any questions about the insurance, or if you would simply like a price quote, please contact our travel agent at Uniglobe Specialty Travel.
Karin, Uniglobe Specialty Travel
Toll-free within Canada: 1-866-932-2565
Direct for US/International: 1-867-668-3300
Air Travel – How do I get there?
Agents in major centres are sometimes unfamiliar with Northern airlines and may require assistance. Be assured that the flights are available and if you run into any difficulty obtaining information, please contact us.
We have planned our schedules around the daily commercial flights to our meeting points. All are serviced by airlines such as First Air, Air North, Canadian North and Air Canada.
You are welcome to make flight reservations through your own agents or if you wish you may contact our agents (see contact details under Getting Here).
Agents in major centers are sometimes unfamiliar with Northern airlines and may require assistance. Be assured that the flights are available and if you run into any difficulty obtaining information, please contact us.
Tipping – Is it required and how much?
Most guests tip their guides. If you feel your guides have been especially helpful and instrumental in increasing the enjoyment of your trip, and have gone out of their way to make you feel comfortable, you may wish to leave a tip at trip’s end to show your appreciation. Consider $35 per day, per person as a starting point (“Example: 12 Day Alsek Expedition – $35 x 12 days = $420 per person to be split amongst the guide team.”). Please do not feel compelled or required to leave a tip.
How do I get to the meeting point?
You will find travel information in the “Getting Here” section. Each of our meeting points are accessible by airlines on the days listed for pre-departure meetings.
What do I need to bring?
We have included an easy to follow equipment list in the “What To Bring” section. To serve you best, we have created a video for making packing easy:
You provide your personal gear and we provide the rest: top-quality tents, river gear, safety gear, kitchen and camping equipment and bush plane transportation.
Do I have to bring a friend?
Absolutely not. Spending two weeks together on a river tends to bring a group of strangers together and the hardest part of most river journeys is saying goodbye. If you would like to canoe, but don’t have a partner, we will pair you up with someone in the same position.
Who goes? I’m not sure about travelling in groups.
The majority of people who come with us are from North America, but it is not uncommon to have folks join us from anywhere in the world. We have had people from most countries in Europe as well as South Africa, Australia and Asia. Most share the common goal of a strong interest in the outdoors and enjoy meeting and making new friends. They come alone, in couples, as a family or in groups. They range from 8 to 80 years. On our regular trips we keep our guide to guest ratio 1-4, to provide the best value for the optimum quality of experience. This is the best for our category in the Canadian north. Custom trips can have a lower ratio but at an additional cost. Number of participants is governed by permits. It ranges from 12 to 20 plus guides depending on the permits. If this is an issue for you, please enquire about your specific trip before booking. Our experience is that, with our well organized camps, there is little difference to the feel of a group of 12 or 20 participants and the additional guides available to the larger group is a great enhancement.Because of our long relationship with many locals and officials, we have unique freedom and are able to visit certain areas which would be difficult or impossible to reach on one’s own.
What are the skill prerequisites?
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 and 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.
The following are the considerations for each canoe trip:
Yukon River canoe
You have 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.
Stikine, Wind canoe
You have mastered the skills above. You 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 to navigating tight bends and avoiding log jams. You have swum through a rapid with a capsized canoe.
Nahanni 2 week, Nahanni 3 week hiking, or canoeing on a 8 or 12 day Nahanni trip, Coppermine canoe
You possess the skills above and have completed a whitewater canoe course. You have swum through a rapid with a capsized canoe. 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 paddle Grade II/III whitewater with friends or a canoe club. You are committed to at least one “warm up” trip or course prior to the planned trip 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.
Moose Ponds, Mountain River Canoe, Snake River
You possess the abilities and judgment level above and have a more extensive “whitewater” background. For the last 3 years or more you have paddled Grade III whitewater at least 3 times per year and enjoy practicing technical moves. You are committed to at least one “warm up” trip or course prior to the planned trip this season.
Canyon Rig Description
On some rivers we have an alternative approach that can modify these requirement 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 and canoe conventionally.
What if I am a whitewater kayaker and have not canoed previously?
If this is the case, please contact us directly and we can discuss your background in relation to the trip you are considering. Are You 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 a rare occasion will a participant fall out of a 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 will opt for the 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 have selected. Due to the use of spray covers, helmets are mandatory on the Moose Ponds, and recommended on the Mountain River canoe, Snake and Burnside canoe trips.
I am 75 years old, can I still do one of your adventures?
Yes! Our raft adventures require no experience and anyone in good health can join us. We have had every age from 5 to 85 on our expeditions over the last 30 years. We are prepared and willing to help those who cannot carry heavy loads, etc. However we believe part of our responsibility is helping ensure you have the most enjoyable experience possible and are happy to discuss what adventure is most appropriate for you. Please get in touch directly with our office to learn more.
How active are these expeditions?
We believe in showing you all aspects of the areas we are travelling in and not just “the river banks”. To achieve this we have scheduled all our adventures to allow plenty of time for hiking, exploring, photography or just relaxing. We try to do at least one hike every day – these range from short 1 or 2 hour walks from our canoes or rafts to all day hikes from the camp. All our hikes are optional.
What kind of shape do I need to be in?
All canoe participants should be healthy, reasonably fit and comfortable in and around water. Our raft expeditions have no exceptional requirements. Previous experience is not a requirement for many of the journeys. The individual itineraries have specific comments in this regard. On all expeditions, we provide many hiking opportunities from one hour to all day. Participation is entirely up to you – you can lead the group, go only part way, go for a short stroll or choose to relax in camp and read a book. All participants are required to fill out a medical form for their own health and safety. A good general level of fitness is recommended; the trip will be much more enjoyable if you are in good physical condition. Most hiking will not be overly strenuous but we will be walking up and down hills. We recommend regular exercise prior to the trip such as walking, swimming, or participating in a fitness program.
How hard is the experience? Can I participate?
A few examples may be helpful. On our raft journeys we have had people in their eighties as well as those as young as 6 years old. The average is mid-fities. We try to plan the pace to accommodate a wide variety of abilities. Attitude tends to be the main criterion. Surprisingly, younger people often “poop out” before seniors because they lack the ability to pace themselves. If you are capable of walking over rocky, uneven ground, if your bad back is manageable and if your doctor tells you that you should go and enjoy yourself, then you will likely manage OK. Please contact us with any questions you may have about this. We can also connect you with one of our previous participants for a third opinion.
Who does the rowing on raft expeditions?
There is one guide per raft, typically 3 to 5 rafts per expedition and the guides do the rowing. We always have paddles available for anyone who wishes to paddle.
What type of craft will we use?
Various trips place different demands upon guest participation. Here is an explanation of the differences:
- 2-Person Canoes
The traditional 16’ and 17’ canoe. Previous canoe experience is an asset. Physical fitness and comfort on and in moving water are important. Refer to the specific trip itinerary for additional skills that may be required for your trip.
The safe and stable expedition raft is ideal for those who desire their hands free to photograph or travel in a more relaxed fashion. The guide maneuvers the raft with oars and paddling by participants is completely optional.
- Inflatable Kayaks – please inquire for more details
On our combination raft and canoe journeys a tandem canoe may be arranged.
Note: There is a $280.00/person flight surcharge for the tandem canoe or try our new inflatable kayaks; $125 to rent our solo kayak on the 8 & 12 day Nahanni combination journeys.
A Word About River Ratings
Physical requirements for river trips are generally modest, but can vary depending on the nature of the rapids (on some rivers, portages are necessary at times). Rivers are ranked according to the difficulty of their most severe rapids, and we’ve indicated the class of rapids for each river trip throughout the site. (Note -the scale recommends that these ratings be increased by one when remote location or cold water is considered.)
- Class I – Easy flat water and mild waves. Some maneuvering may be required to navigate around log jams or sweepers.
- Class II – Standing waves up to 3′.
- Class III – Moderate waves and narrower channels due to obstructions such as rocks or gravel bars. Quick and accurate river reading is required with instinctive maneuvers orchestrated with a paddling partner.
- Class IV – Expert whitewater canoeist (4 is considered to be the top extreme of canoe capability). Difficult, with narrow channels obstructed by rocks, steep and narrow drops.
- Class V – Possibility of overturning a raft. We always use caution and judicious safety measures and portage around anything that looks doubtful.
Our river guides are the best in the north and you can feel confident in their hands.
How do you rate the experience required and difficulty of each trip?
On each itinerary you will find a description of the prerequisites (if any) and the difficulty level for that particular trip; or view our ‘Notes about Prerequisites’ on the trip pages. Most importantly, we strongly recommend that you address any questions directly to us, so that we can clarify any questions that you have.
On The Trip
What about regulations concerning artifacts?
Please note that our guides strictly adhere to all regulations concerning treatment of artifacts, fossils, flora and fauna. Violation of these regulations is punishable by law. Law enforcement agencies actively pursue violators. If you have any questions about the local regulations concerning such things, please contact our office or ask your guides. Take only pictures, leave only footprints.
What is the daily routine?
We have structured our expeditions to allow personal time and lots of time to hike and explore the area we are travelling through. “Travel days on the river” can be anywhere from a short day of 2 hours to an occasional long day of 8 hours depending on the location of the next campsite. We plan hourly shore breaks. Many trips have one or more “lay-over” day when we stay put and enjoy camping two nights In that spot. We like to get our groups on the river fairly early each day, usually by about 10 am, to allow us plenty of time to stop during the day to watch wildlife, do a short hike or allow us to photograph or explore around camp at night.
You are welcome to participate with in-camp chores and routine, but this is your option, (Remember this is your holiday and we are working). Pick the role that will be most enjoyable for you. If at any time you are puzzled about expectations, please ask one of your guides. They are very approachable and would rather clarify your questions than have you wondering. Coffee is usually brewed by 7am.
Early risers may keep themselves busy by seeking out panoramic photographs or pursuing other personal interests. Getting up, preparing and eating breakfast, making plans for the day, striking camp and loading the boats is a process that usually takes about three hours. If the camp is a “two nighter”, we have a relaxed start, things are tidied up and we enjoy the highlights of that particular spot.
Evenings are usually unstructured. A campfire, fishing, enjoying the midnight sun (June and July) or countless other activities may occupy the time. Except for short forays within the vicinity of camp, travelling alone out of site of camp is discouraged for safety reasons. As professional outfitters, we must be consistent with this policy.
We have several washing strategies. We have a convenient hand washing station that is set up in every camp. Your guides will direct you to environmentally friendly ways to wash and look after sanitary concerns. Here are two popular strategies for personal bathing: Some bring a Camel Back style of water bladder. This can be filled with some warm water from the stove, hung in a tree and voila a shower! Others will use a collapsible bucket with some warm water from the stove for a “bird bath”. Most people will do some personal laundry once or twice during the trip as well.
What about a bathroom and how does it work?
On our trips we make it easy and comfortable. The toilet in every campsite is established in a private location and well away from the camp and any water. In the “Arctic” where there are no trees, we set up a tent that works both to keep you out of the bugs and to provide you with the necessary privacy. Relax! There is a seat, just like at home.
Do you get up in the middle of the night? No problem. Many of our seasoned travelers have opted to bring a container that they can use as a “chamber pot” in the comfort of their tent. A wide mouthed container and lid, such as a yogurt container works well.
Will we see other groups on the river?
Although we are travelling on a wilderness river, we may encounter other visitors. We do our best to avoid this, but often, particularly at points of significant interest, it is likely that we will see other groups. Once away from these places it becomes easier to maintain our solitude.
How long do we spend on the river each day?
We have structured our expeditions to allow lots of time to hike and explore the areas we are travelling through. “Travel days” can be anywhere from 2 to 7 hours long. There is usually a shore break every hour. We like to get on the river fairly early each day, usually by about 10 am to give us time to stop during the day to watch wildlife or do a short hike or to allow us plenty of time to photograph or explore around camp at night. All our longer expeditions have at least 3 layover days for hiking (see the individual itinerary for specific details).
Is there time for hiking, photography, fishing and relaxing?
Yes, our time on the river each day will vary, leaving time for other pursuits. Learn more about your daily routine.
What will we be eating?
We have three guidelines for our nutritious and delicious food selection: quality, quantity and variety. If you have special needs or desire a copy of our detailed meal descriptions, please let us know. With advanced notice (90 days minimum) we can accommodate most special dietary requirements (some accommodations are subject to an additional fee). Snacks and treats are provided but if you have any special favourites, feel free to bring some along.
We take great pleasure in delivering the best selection possible and appropriate in these remote and beautiful settings. Over twenty years of practice has allowed us to fine tune our menu to ensure we achieve our measurement of success: we call it the “wow” factor. Our menu includes high quality meats and cheese, abundant salads and plenty of fresh fruit.
One of the highlights of travelling to an exotic location is the opportunity to sample local foods. If this interests you, we have some exciting local dishes to try. We serve these selections as appetizers, so that the choice is yours and they are separate from the main meal. On each trip you can sample, Arctic char, Taku River salmon, caribou and other local foods.
Where do we stay or sleep?
All our expeditions are camping adventures. We provide you with a top quality, free standing expedition tent. Our tents are spacious enough for two people. If you are travelling solo we will provide you with a tent for your self.
Who are the leaders?
We are proud of our tremendous staff. Many have guided with us for nearly two decades. They continue to return each season because of their sincere love for their work and the places it takes them. We are the top-of-the-food-chain so we attract the best. Our guides are friendly, knowledgable, hard working, highly skilled women and men who love the North and enjoy sharing its beauty and secrets with others. Our guides are highly qualified and certified and the fact that we are viewed by other operators and National Parks as the “standard to aim for” perhaps says it best. A number of them are trainers and examiners in fields including paddling, rescue, first aid and interpretation. In the off season, these people are often upgrading the staff of other operators and National Parks. Junior guides come to us through our demanding practicum program that serves to ensure we employ only the “cream of the crop”. Entry requirements are high and the program yields an exceptional northern river guide. We have little “turn over” with most guides returning year after year – along with returning guests.
Weather Wildlife & Bugs
What weather conditions may I expect?
Weather conditions in northern mountainous environments range widely between extremes. The only fact you can bet on with mountain weather is that it can change instantly. This means that although we may enjoy fine weather we must also be prepared for changes. On any given day you may experience sunny, hot, dry weather that is interrupted by periods of rain or on rare occasions – even snow. In general, the weather is moderate with average temperatures of 16°C (62°F) in July, and 14°C (56°F) in August. When packing, please be prepared for heat waves and cold spells. For tundra river trips, please refer to the specific notes in the itinerary regarding weather. Remember, as mere mortals your guides have no control over the weather. This may seem obvious but it is surprising how many well-educated people will look for someone to blame for poor weather. The best we can do as guides and outfitters is to suggest proper clothing, and we have done this in the equipment list. Please call for any clarification you may require.
When is the best time to see the flowers of the area?
Our Tundra journeys are timed to coincide with the blooming of the flowers of the area. Pick a late June or early July adventure on the Tatshenshini or Nahanni River if this is of prime interest.
Will I see any wildlife?
Each river is a little different. If seeing wildlife is your prime reason for going, we suggest you choose one of our Tundra expeditions. These are all located above the tree line and this allows us more opportunity to see the wildlife. Each adventure is scheduled to allow for maximum opportunities to see the wildlife of that particular area – the caribou, wolves and muskox of the Burnside and Firth, and the birds of prey, caribou and wolves of the Coppermine and Horton. The Nahanni is below tree line and we can see Dall sheep, moose, black bear, grizzly bear, Woodland caribou, wolf, etc., if it comes to the river when we are nearby. The north is rich in wildlife even if it is not readily seen. Our guides will do their best to point out animal “sign” such as tracks, scat, bear scratching posts, etc. as they come across them. The interpretation of natural history is a significant focus on our trips. We do our best to impart our knowledge of the geology, wildlife and prehistory of the area.
What about bears?
There is no doubt about it – there are bears in the woods. However, the chances of encountering a “spoiled bear” is unlikely, as we travel in remote and unpeopled areas. Our attitude is that bear sightings are a special privilege… a sign of the wilderness at its finest. Where there is a greater chance of seeing bears, such as along the Tatshenshini/Alsek river corridor, we take additional precautions to avoid bear encounters. On all trips we promote cleanliness and a high standard of camp management regarding garbage and human waste, as it is crucial to minimize bear/human habituation and the potential of creating spoiled bears. We also watch for “sign” i.e. tracks and bear trails and do our best to avoid high bear-use areas. In the spirit of our philosophy, we feel that because this is the bears’ territory, we need to take responsibility for being the intruders. Your safety is always our first concern, our guides will be equipped with bear spray. Our greatest advantage in most situations is our strength in numbers and a knowledge of the country/bear biology which helps us prevent a situation before it happens.
What is the fishing like?
If fishing is high on your list of priorities consider the Firth or Coppermine Rivers which are famous for Arctic Char. All of the rivers we frequent (with the exception of the Tatshenshini, Alsek and Stikine) boast Dolly Varden, Lake Trout, Arctic Grayling and in places Northern Pike. These species are wary and although fishing can be well rewarded, it does require patience and persistence. Small spinners seem to yield best results for grayling and Dolly Varden, while medium to large lures yield better results for Char and Lake Trout. Although some try their hand at fly fishing be aware that a number of our rivers are big and wide and at times can be very windy. So on these bigger rivers, a medium to heavy weight fly rod and line is required. Fishing on the Tatshenshini and Alsek is poor due to the siltiness of its waters. Licenses are available at our rendezvous locations. Your guides can provide details.
What are the bugs like?
Mosquito populations vary according to temperature, rainfall, and wind. Generally, we are able to camp in places that have few or none of the pesky critters. However, on occasion (particularly in early season), try as we might, we may be unable to avoid them. Be prepared with mosquito repellent and a head net, or better yet – a “bug jacket” with screened hood. On the high arctic tundra, “bug jackets or shirts” are an absolute necessity. If you cannot locate one please call us for assistance.
Do you have more questions or personal concerns?
If this is your first river holiday, you likely have many questions. Please feel free to call with any questions you have. We regularly address health concerns, feminine hygiene, dietary needs, washing and other factors. Our job is to ensure you feel comfortable while making the best use of your valuable holiday time.