This 10 day canoe adventure begins with two nights of camping and a full day of exploration at Virginia Falls. Experience rarely explored viewpoints or take in the spectacular view from the summit of Sunblood Mountain. Your friendly and engaging guides ensure one on one canoe instruction before we begin our exploration of some of the Nahanni’s most spectacular landscapes and the traditional territory of the Naha Dene.
Drifting down river from Virginia Falls you become immersed in the ‘grand canyons’ of the Nahanni, Canada’s deepest canyon system. Our schedule has been refined over decades of service and hundreds of trips to provide a wilderness experience like no other. We’ll have time for two nights at the best campsites with additional hiking opportunities. On the river your guides will share their wealth of knowledge of the Nahanni’s history and point out wildlife. Each evening revel in the magic of the North as you soak in the scenery while your guides prepare and serve gourmet meals. This true wilderness adventure is sure to make memories that will last a lifetime and is the perfect introduction to expedition canoe travel.
- Class II whitewater experience
Learn more about canoe trip skill prerequisites >
- Canoe Canada’s deepest river canyons, camp at Nailicho (Virginia Falls) – nearly twice the height of Niagara, soak in the hotsprings and explore the very first UNESCO World Heritage Site and Nahanni National Park, one of the largest parks in the world
- A must-do journey for avid canoeists who also enjoys hiking, wildlife, wildflowers, geology and history
- 9 river days
- Two stunning flights, one from Fort Simpson to Rabbitkettle Lake, and a second from Nahanni Butte to Fort Simpson at the end of your river journey
- 4:1 Guest to Guide ratio ensures your safety and comfort throughout the entire journey
We travel on the Nahanni River from Virginia Falls to Nahanni Butte over approximately 220 kilometres (136 miles) with an elevation drop of 550 metres (1800 feet).
If you’re an avid whitewater canoeist, you already know the Nahanni River in Canada’s Northwest Territories is a mecca for serious canoe trippers. For many of those who love this adventure sport, a canoeing expedition on the Nahanni is a once in a lifetime “pilgrimage.”
Depending on water levels, it is customary on the Nahanni River to sometimes employ the use of Canyon Rigs (catamaraned canoes) for some rapids to ensure greater stability. This decision is made on site by the guides, based on a safety assessment of prevailing conditions.
July 21, 2024 - July 31, 2024
5 seats available
August 13, 2024 - August 23, 2024
11 seats available
July 10, 2025 - July 30, 2025
11 seats available
Additional dates may be available, please inquire.
DAY 0 – FORT SIMPSON, NWT
Your journey north from your home will be a refreshing departure. You will fly over the largest expanse of wilderness in the world with stunning views on cloudless days, pass through quieter and friendlier airports, and generally begin to immerse yourself in the wilderness experience that is about to unfold. This is the arrival day and is the first day listed for your trip. There are two scheduled flights that arrive in Fort Simpson from Yellowknife.
Please make your way to your hotel and plan to rendezvous with your guides at the meeting point confirmed in your Welcome Aboard package at 8 p.m. for an orientation meeting with the trip leader. There will be a chance for last minute questions concerning clothing, gear, packing and other details.
This is the first date listed for your trip.
DAY 1 – MAJESTIC MOUNTAIN & CANYON FLIGHT Your trip leader will meet you after breakfast (not included) and transfer you to the float plane base. After loading our supplies and gear into the aircraft we begin one of the major highlights of the adventure – the upriver flight. Flying over the majestic Nahanni Range and Ram Plateau, a visually stunning panorama unfolds in front of our eyes. You want to be sure to have your camera on your lap! Past participants have stepped off the plane declaring that “if the trip finished now, I would have my money’s worth!” Following lunch in camp at Virginia Falls, your guides will provide further briefing with the techniques for living comfortably along the river. The afternoon will be spent enjoying the stunning scenery around Virginia Falls. After a delicious supper you’ll crawl into bed knowing that you are in one of the most scenic places on the planet!
With a full day to explore Virginia Falls and its surroundings there are many options of what to get up to. Seek the rewarding views that come with summiting Sunblood Mountain, walk to little explored vantage points of the Falls or simply settle into a slower pace of life and take in all this wilderness wonderland has to offer. Your guides will also lead a canoeing skills session to ensure everyone receives one-on-one canoe instruction letting everyone enjoy a great nights sleep with peace of mind.
After breakfast your guides will complete the portage of camp equipment. Participants are asked to portage their own pack 2 km to the “put in” below the Falls. Most of this portage is on a board walk and down hill. Lunch is served on the cobble beach below the Falls. Following a safety talk, we load the rafts/canoes and begin our descent. Leaving the roar of the Falls behind us, we will ride high on the waves through the Painted Canyon. The excitement continues with our passage through Figure Eight Rapids. We will find our camp close to the mouth of the Flat River.
Back on the river we float along the legendary Funeral Range and enter Third Canyon (35km) where the Nahanni cuts a passage just past Mary River. You will be awestruck as we float silently between the kilometer high canyon walls which rise skyward above the river. We will camp at The Gate in view of Pulpit Rock. The following day we will layover and make a short hike to a lookout above The Gate that affords a magnificent vista of the valley below. The following day we will continue on through Third and Second Canyon (15 km) into Deadmen Valley – known for its legends and mystery. This spectacular open valley offers numerous exploratory options. Following an exciting run through George’s Riffle, we drift between the sky-high walls of First Canyon which reach heights of over 1400 m. This 26 km canyon will lead us to Lafferty’s Canyon, a side canyon which joins the Nahanni on its east side. We often take a second layover here and spend the day exploring chasms and pools which dot the canyons floor. The following morning it is down to the soothing waters of Kraus’ Hot Spring. We then bid farewell to the canyons and make our way into the Splits – a maze of islands that provide sanctuary to moose and bison.
Following breakfast, we will continue on to the Native village of Nahanni Butte. (Pop. approx. 120) Remote yet surprisingly modern, a stroll into town provides insight into a culture far removed from most of North America. Following a snack from the village store we will board small aircraft for a flight down the Liard River to Fort Simpson. The awaiting shuttle van will take you to your accommodation (not included). Your group will have a celebratory final evening recounting memories that will last a lifetime.
After a relaxing morning you will be transported to the Fort Simpson airport. From there you will board your homeward plane with a load of fond memories and a relaxed and renewed spirit.
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