There’s plenty of adventure to be had for beginner and novice rafters and canoeists

Almost anyone can enjoy one of our river journeys. Our guests come alone, in couples, as a family or in groups. They range in age from 8 to 80 years. There is literally nothing like floating through canyons, camping out in the wilderness, and totally disconnecting from the modern world.

Most people are surprised to hear the average age of our guests is 57. (Photo: Noel Hendrickson)

River Safety

We maintain the highest standards for river safety and we are proud to have a reputation for excellence in this area from our guide training to our use of the most up-to-date equipment on our rafting and canoeing trips in northern Canada and Alaska.

Up-to-Date Equipment and Gear

We only use the latest, new whitewater rafting and canoeing gear and equipment on all our adventure trips. Satellite telephones are also a fixture on all of our trips. We employ comprehensive and well-rehearsed emergency procedures and trip contingency planning in line with wilderness camping experiences.

Some of our river rafting and canoeing trips are gentle float trips that capitalize on the scenic beauty and wildlife of the region. Other paddling adventures include whitewater excitement on which you can learn to master whitewater rafting or canoeing under the watchful eye of an experienced guide. Our whitewater canoe trips that require previous whitewater training, are flagged in the prerequisites for each trip and we are happy to answer any questions you may have about any of these.

Hiking is a highlight of all of our trips. Novices are welcome on all our hikes. Each of our hikes has options for hiking based on how far you want to hike. Hiking requirements are less about skill and more about fitness.

Experienced Whitewater Guides

Many of our whitewater river guides are long term employees and all are licensed raft guides and certified canoe instructors according to the licensure bodies in each of our four paddling jurisdictions. Both groups are certified in wilderness first aid and swiftwater rescue. We have pioneered a demanding in-house training and mentorship program for our guides and we are lucky to be able to handpick them as there is strong demand among guides to work on our northern rivers and we are the company of choice. These talented men and women love sharing their knowledge of rivers, geology, culture and river stories with our guests. You can learn a lot from these fascinating folks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers to commonly asked questions by first timers. Read more frequently asked questions here ->

A few examples may be helpful. On our raft trips 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.

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 trips. 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.

Yes! Our raft adventures require no experience and anyone in good health can join us. We have had every age from 8 to 84 on our expeditions over the last 30 years. We are prepared and willing to help those who cannot carry heavy loads, etc. You just have to come and enjoy these magnificent areas.

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.

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 trips. 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.

Recommended Trips For Novices

Our canoeing experiences include important prerequisite paddling skills. After canoeists have gained moving water and introductory whitewater canoe skills, we recommend the following trips:

Once you have gained intermediate whitewater skills, we recommend the following trips: