Day 1 MAJESTIC MOUNTAIN & CANYON FLIGHT
This is the first date listed for your trip.
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.
Your trip leader will meet you to transfer you to the float plane base (if you arrive prior, please make your way to your accommodation). Once everyone has arrived there will be a chance for last minute questions concerning clothing, gear, packing and other details. Those requiring our river bags will have time to transfer gear from their own bags. You can leave unrequired items at our 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!”
Day 2 RABBITKETTLE HOTSPRINGS (GAHNĮHTHAH MĮE)
At Rabbitkettle Lake (Gahnįhthah Mįe) we will prepare ourselves and the canoes for the downriver trip. Conditions permitting, we will hike the 7 kilometres to the tufa mounds round trip.
Day 3 & 4 MOUNTAIN PEAKS
We begin the downriver trip. This portion of the river above Virginia Falls (Náįlįcho) is a flat, meandering section that allows opportunity to brush up on techniques (see our ‘Canoe Pre-requisites’ sheet). The mountains and U-shaped valley created by the glaciers will dominate the scenery. Camping will be in the most choice spots between Rabbitkettle Lake (Gahnįhthah Mįe) and Virginia Falls (Náįlįcho).
Day 5 VIRGINIA FALLS (NÁĮLĮCHO)
Virginia Falls (nearly twice the height of Niagara) will be the destination. We will camp there for two nights. This is the other spot within the National Park where planes may land and we may see other campers here.
Day 6 HIKING
This is a day for exploring and photographing the area around Virginia Falls (Náįlįcho). The vast expanse of the falls captivates photographers and hikers with a tireless display of powerful drama. Keen and fit hikers may undertake an all-day expedition to the top of Sunblood Mountain for an excellent view of the surrounding area. Others can enjoy exploring the expansive area overlooking the brink of the falls.
Day 7 PAINTED CANYON
We will make the final portage around the falls. The trail is downhill and well defined. You need carry only what is comfortable for you. Everyone pitches in to carry what they can and we take as long as we need to complete the task. It is impossible to spend too much time at Virginia Falls! We will assemble the boats and, after a late shore lunch and briefing, we will embark in the late afternoon, on an exhilarating run through Painted Canyon, also known as Fourth Canyon. Dinner conversation in camp will be full of recollections of paddling adventures in the canyon.
Day 8 THE GATE AND PULPIT ROCK
We enter Third Canyon, the walls of which rise 1,200 metre over the river. Keen eyes may spot woodland caribou, moose and Dall’s sheep. Stopping at The Gate (Tthetaehtłu ́ah) and Pulpit Rock for lunch, we will hike to the top of the canyon for a bird’s eye view of the narrow gorge below and the expanse of the canyon walls. Camp will be downstream of Pulpit Rock and The Gate (Tthetaehtłu ́ah).
Day 9 DEADMAN VALLEY (DAHAEHTTH’Į)
Paddling through the Big Bend and Second Canyon and past Headless Creek we will find ourselves camped in the vicinity of Deadmen Valley (Dahaehtth’į). The view includes the Tlogotsho Plateau (Tł’ogotsho) and Prairie Creek Canyon (Tło Dehé). It was here, on the shores of Headless Creek, that the bodies of the Mcleod brothers were found in 1905 and the legend of the Headless Valley was born. Downriver at Sheaf Creek, R. M. Patterson and his partner, Gordon Mathews, wintered over in 1928. Patterson later wrote Dangerous River, one of the most eloquent accounts of the early days on the river. Around the campfire, we will hear the story.
Day 10 PRAIRIE CREEK (TŁO DEHÉ)
Camp will be in Deadman Valley (Dahaehtth’į) or First Canyon (Ala Tthe Zhíhgojʔa).
Day 11 FIRST CANYON
The highlights will include First Canyon(Ala Tthe Zhíhgojʔa), Canada’s deepest river canyon at a depth of 1,300 metre, George’s and Lafferty’s Riffles and White Spray Springs (Tu Kádeegai). After stopping at Kraus’ Hot Springs (Tułetsęę) for a soak in the 37°C natural springs we leave the canyons and carry on to camp in the area known as The Splits (Ndutah). Here the river braids and twists into many channels.
Day 12 GREAT DENE WALL AND NAHANNI BUTTE (TTHENÁÁGÓ)
While negotiating the huge meanders prior to the native village of Nahanni Butte we will experience the river valley opening up to meet the forested flat lands. Camp will be in or near the village (population 80). We will be hosted by a member of the community who will show us through the village, sharing the history and culture of the people who have made this remote part of the world their home for thousands of years.
Day 13 LIARD RIVER (NÁCHÁH DEHÉ)
A power boat ride down the voluminous Liard River (Nácháh Dehé) will take us to Lindberg’s Landing where we will be the guest of Sue Lindberg for showers, a BBQ and an overnight stay at her cabins.
Day 14 HOMEWARD BOUND
This is the last date listed for your trip.
We will be picked up by vehicle and driven to Fort Simpson (Lįįdłįį Ku ́e) to meet our plane home.
Please note: The above is a tentative agenda and has been designed with much thought to capitalize on the most scenic and exciting parts of the river while making time on other sections. Your guides will adjust the schedule to make the best use of river and weather conditions. We adhere to the departure regulation system of the Park which works to ensure that all river travelers have the same wilderness experience.
Under certain conditions (weather, forest fire, plane availability and upriver conditions), it may be necessary to make our upriver flight soon after arrival. On the other hand, we have occasionally found ourselves waiting for safe flying conditions. In any event, we will have supper and find ourselves camped in Ft. Simpson or on the shores of the Nahanni. If we are required to overnight in Fort Simpson you are welcome to camp or take a hotel room (at your own cost). Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks are included from the pre-trip meeting until the final river meal. Any other meals off the river are your responsibility.