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Canoeing expeditions on the Nahanni River in northern Canada


The famous Nahanni River in Canada's Northwest Territories is on every paddler's to-do list and is an iconic world-renowned canoeing river. These guided canoeing expeditions offer options on different sections of the river for a variety of skill levels. Ranging from 8 days to 21 days, there is a trip to meet every paddlers needs.

A Nahanni River canoeing experience is truly the "trip of a lifetime." For those with limited vacation time, the one week adventure allows you to experience the best of the Nahanni's "Grand Canyons," Virginia Falls and many of the iconic features for which the Nahanni River is known for. You follow a 7-day route, travelling over 240 kilometres (150 miles) from Virginia Falls to Nahanni Butte. Over this course, the Nahanni River drops 396 metres (1300 feet), or almost 9 feet per mile.

The Nahanni River 12-day trip covers the same distance as the seven day trip but allows more time for additional hiking and exploring, as well as savoring the beauty of the Nahanni Valley area. This extended trip allows you to enjoy two nights at Virginia Falls to hike and photograph this wonder of nature. As well you have more time to experience some fantastic canyon hiking to the top of The Gate and  at least one additional lay-over camp and a more relaxed pace than the one week trip allowing more time to savour the experience.

If you're an avid whitewater canoeist then the 14 day trip is the classic Nahanni adventure. The Nahanni River is a mecca for serious canoe trippers and for many of those who love this adventure sport, a canoeing expedition on the Nahanni is a once in a lifetime "pilgrimage." Covering the entire length of the original Nahanni National Park boundary from Rabbitkettle Lake to the confluence with the Liard River, the 14 day canoeing adventure is considered a classic for the adventurous paddler. You travel on the Nahanni River from Rabbitkettle Hot Springs to Lindberg's Landing over approximately 370 kilometres (230 miles) with an elevation drop of 550 metres (1800 feet).

If you have the time, this three week canoeing and hiking trip is indeed the ultimate way to experience northwest Canada and the Nahanni River by canoe. Beginning upstream of Rabbitkettle Lake, but below the technically demanding Rock Gardens, this canoeing and hiking adventure allows a premium amount of time for those who wish to maximize their experience with the many side-hike possibilities.

STARTING AT
$6325.00 CAD
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TRIP DETAILS
DESTINATION
EQUIPMENT/CLOTHING
ACCOMMODATIONS
MEALS & DINING
DATES & PRICING
ITINERARY
TRIP TYPE
River Canoeing
SEASON

late May to late August

DIFFICULTY
Moderate / Challenging
MAXIMUM GROUP SIZE
11
GUIDE INFORMATION

Your guides are licensed and very experienced and knowledgeable of the area.  Your licensed guide/interpreters are among the best in the north. Because guides are the most significant variable in selecting a holiday, they maintain a 1:4 guide to guest ratio to ensure that you receive maximum benefit of their knowledge assistance and good nature. They strive for the most consistent level of knowledge of flora, fauna, geology, geomorphology and cultural human history.

RESTRICTIONS

On the 8 and 12 day trips: Some Class II whitewater experience required.

On the 14 and 21 day trips: This trip is appropriate for intermediate paddlers who are comfortable on Class II whitewater. You have a willingness to learn and a fitness level suited to paddling from 3 to 7 hours per day. 

$147.20 park fee applies to all trips.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Requirements: Sleeping bag and pad, sunglasses, sunscreen, day pack, insect repellent, water bottle, pocketknife, matches, whistle.

Nahanni National Park is one of the most spectacular parks in the Northwest Territories.  The South Nahanni River, one of North America's finest wild streams, rushes 322 kilometres through the park.  At Virginia Falls, you will witness the continents most spectacular undeveloped waterfall, twice the height of Niagara Falls.  There are strikingly different landscapes throughout the park, from canyons, to mountains to hotsprings.  The area is considered so unique that it was declared the first World Heritage Site by the United Nations.

TRANSPORTATION

Trips originate and end in Fort Simpson, NWT.  Fort Simpson is accessible by both the MacKenzie and Alaska Highways. Fort Simpson is also accessible by air from Edmonton, Alberta.

WEATHER

Average summer temperatures from 15-20 degrees Celsius.   Be prepared for all types of weather as conditions can change quickly.

REGION
Northwest Territories
PROVIDED EQUIPMENT

Canoes and equipment, tents, group camping equipment, charter flight from Ft. Simpson to the put in location and transportation back to Ft. Simpson at the end of the tour, either by plane, boat or vehicle.

SUGGESTED CLOTHING

Rain gear, long pants, sweater, warm jacket, windshell, shorts, long underwear, warm socks, hat, bathing suit, sneakers, hiking boots, neoprene booties. Full packing list supplied upon booking.

SUGGESTED ITEMS

Camera (waterproof), fishing gear, binoculars, flashlight.

ACCOMMODATIONS

Tent campsites along the river.

MEALS & DINING

MEALS & DINING

All meals are included while on the river.  Creative variety and nutritious with ample snacks available during the day. With advance notice we cater to special dietary needs.

 

8 day tour, available June - late August
$6325.00 / per person - CAD
June 18-25, July 5-12, July 15-22, July 30-August 6, August 9-16, August 26-September 2, 2018.
12 day tour, available June - late August
$6950.00 / per person - CAD
June 11-22, June 25-July 6, July 9-20, July 23-August 3, August 6-17, August 20-31, 2018.
14 day tour, available late June - mid August
$7100.00 / per person - CAD
June 22-July 5, July 7-20, July 24-August 6, August 8-21, 2018.
21 day tour, available July - August
$8700.00 / per person - CAD
July 5-26, 2018. Canoe and hiking expedition. July 29-August 19, 2018.
PAYMENT INFORMATION
Pricing does not include: 5.00% GST.

A 30% deposit is required to hold your reservation.

Balance of payment is due 90 days before trip commencement.
CANCELLATION POLICY & DETAILS
Your deposit is refundable less a $100 administration fee until 90 days prior to your trip departure date - then your final payment will be due, and all deposits become non-refundable. Trip Cancellation & Medical Evacuation Insurance is available, and highly recommended. Insurance is refundable until the 90 day non-refundable period.

8 day tour, available June - late August

Day 1

This is the first day listed for your trip.

Your trip leader will meet you at the Ft. Simpson airport. (If you arrive the day 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/warehouse.

After loading our supplies and gear into the aircraft we begin one of the major highlights of the adventure - the upriver flight into Nahanni National Park. Flying over the majestic Nahanni Range and Ram Plateau, a stunning panorama unfolds in front of our eyes. Be sure to have your camera ready! Past participants have stepped off the plane, declaring that,"if the trip finished now, I would have my moneys worth!

Following supper in camp at Virginia Falls, your guides will provide further briefing with the techniques for living comfortably along the river. A last look at the stunning scenery before bed will remind you that you are in one of the most scenic places on the planet!

 

Day 2

We’ll 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’s impossible to spend too much time at Virginia Falls! We’ll assemble the boats and after a late shore lunch and briefing, embark in the late afternoon on an exhilarating run through Painted Canyon, also known as Fourth Canyon. The final challenge for the day will be Figure 8 Rapids (Hell’s Gate). Camp is finally made for the evening below Wrigley Creek

Day 3

We drift past the confluence of the Flat River and enter Third Canyon, the walls of which loom 1200 metres (3937 feet) above the river. We camp halfway through this canyon near The Gate.

Day 4

Paddling through the Big Bend and Second Canyon and past Headless Creek, we’ll find our selves camped in the vicinity of Deadmen Valley. The view includes the Tlogotsho Plateau and Prairie Creek Canyon. It was here, on the shores of Headless Creek, the bodies of the Mcleod brothers were found in 1905 and the legend of Headless Valley was born.

Downriver at Sheaf Creek, R. M. Patterson and his partner, Gordon Mathews, wintered in 1928. Patterson later wrote Dangerous River, one of the most eloquent accounts of the early days on the river. Around the campfire, we’ll read from his book.

Day 5

We start the day by challenging the big waves of George’s Riffle and enter First Canyon, the deepest of all the canyons. Camp will be made at Lafferty’s Riffle.

Day 6

After the waves of Lafferty’s Riffle, we take a quick dip in Kraus’ Hot Springs before bidding farewell to the canyons and entering the braided channels of The Splits. Here a broad valley is revealed and the surrounding mountains, ridge piled upon ridge, form a dramatic contrast to the enclosure of the canyons. Lush boreal forest bordered by steep ridges form a storybook setting.

Day 7

Stopping in the village, we’ll have an opportunity to see this traditional community. Here we board a charter plane for our flight down the Liard valley back to Fort Simpson. You’ll need to book accommodation for this final night in Fort Simpson. The group can meet for dinner at the Sub-Arctic Cafe for a final farewell meal and good-bye to your guides (accommodation and meal not included).

Day 8

After a relaxing morning and time to look around the Village of Fort Simpson, you will board your homeward plane with a load of fond memories and a relaxed and renewed spirit!

12 day tour, available June - late August

Day 1

This is the first day listed for your trip.

Your trip leader will meet you at the Ft. Simpson airport. (If you arrive the day 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/warehouse.

After loading our supplies and gear into the aircraft we begin one of the major highlights of the adventure - the upriver flight into Nahanni National Park. Flying over the majestic Nahanni Range and Ram Plateau, a stunning panorama unfolds in front of our eyes. Be sure to have your camera ready! Past participants have stepped off the plane, declaring that,"if the trip finished now, I would have my moneys worth!"

Following supper in camp at Virginia Falls, your guides will provide further briefing with the techniques for living comfortably along the river. A last look at the stunning scenery before bed will remind you that you are in one of the most scenic places on the planet!

 

Day 2

This is a day for exploring the area around Virginia Falls, nearly twice the height of Niagara. 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 3

We’ll 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’s impossible to spend too much time at Virginia Falls! We’ll assemble the boats and after a late shore lunch and briefing, embark in the late afternoon on an exhilarating run through Painted Canyon, also known as Fourth Canyon. The final challenge for the day will be Figure 8 Rapids (Hell’s Gate). Camp is finally made for the evening below Wrigley Creek.

Day 4

We drift past the confluence of the Flat River and then enter Third Canyon, the walls of which loom 1200 metres (3937 feet) above our heads. This 20 kilometre canyon is created by the river slicing through the mixed strata of shale, sandstone and limestone of the Funeral Range. We camp halfway through this canyon near The Gate, a 100 metre-wide (328 feet) gorge where the walls tower 460 metres (1509 feet) above us.

Day 5

In the morning we do a short hike to the top of The Gate and are awarded a magnificent view of Third Canyon and Pulpit Rock. After lunch it’s back in the canoes and on through Third Canyon to camp at Big Bend.

Day 6

On through Second Canyon and into Deadmen Valley, where we will stop for a spectacular two-hour walk up a dry creek bed for an overview of this immense region. After drifting by Headless Creek, we continue on to Sheaf Creek. Here R. M. Patterson and his partner Gordon Mathews wintered in 1928. We’ll camp for the night at Dead Man Valley.

Day 7

This may be selected by the trip guide as a layover day. If so, you can spend a relaxing day around camp or exploring the massive alluvial fan of Prairie Creek. For birders, it’s the nesting grounds for Upland Sandpipers, common nighthawks, White-winged Crossbills, Chipping and Savanna sparrows. Fishermen will find both bull trout and Arctic grayling inhabiting the pools and eddies of the creek.

Day 8

We start the day with a short hike up Dry Canyon, followed by the big waves of George’s Riffle. These rapids are at the western entrance to First Canyon. We’ll camp near its end at Lafferty Creek.

Day 9

We spend the day hiking up Lafferty Creek Canyon to view some of the hundreds of caves in the area.

Day 10

After the waves of Lafferty’s Riffle, we take a quick dip in Kraus’ Hot Springs before bidding farewell to the canyons and entering the braided channels of The Splits. Here a broad valley is revealed and the surrounding mountains, ridge piled upon ridge, form a dramatic contrast to the enclosure of the canyons. Lush boreal forest bordered by steep ridges form a storybook setting.

Day 11

Stopping in the village, we’ll have an opportunity to see this traditional community. Here we board a charter plane for our flight down the Liard valley back to Fort Simpson. You’ll need to book accommodation for this final night in Fort Simpson. The group can meet for dinner at the Sub-Arctic Cafe for a final farewell meal and good-bye to your guides (accommodation and meal not included).

Day 12

After a relaxing morning and time to look around the Village of Fort Simpson, you will board your homeward plane with a load of fond memories and a relaxed and renewed spirit!

14 day tour, available late June - mid August

Day 1

This is the first day listed for your trip.

Your trip leader will meet you at the Ft. Simpson airport. (If you arrive the day 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/warehouse.

After loading our supplies and gear into the aircraft we begin one of the major highlights of the adventure - the upriver flight into Nahanni National Park. Flying over the majestic Nahanni Range and Ram Plateau, a stunning panorama unfolds in front of our eyes. Be sure to have your camera ready! Past participants have stepped off the plane, declaring that,"if the trip finished now, I would have my moneys worth!"

Following supper in camp at Virginia Falls, your guides will provide further briefing with the techniques for living comfortably along the river. A last look at the stunning scenery before bed will remind you that you are in one of the most scenic places on the planet!

 

Day 2

At Rabbitkettle Lake we’ll prepare for the downriver trip. Conditions permitting, we’ll hike the 7 kilometres (4 miles) to the tufa mounds.

Day 3

Days 3-4: We begin the downriver trip. This portion of the river above Virginia Falls is a flat, meandering section that allows opportunity to learn the necessary canoeing skills from the guides or brush up on techniques. The mountains and U-shaped valley created by the glaciers will dominate the scenery. Camping will be in the choicest spots between Rabbitkettle Lake and Virginia Falls

Day 5

Virginia Falls (twice the height of Niagara) will be the destination. We’ll camp there for two nights. This is the other spot within Nahanni National Park where planes may land and we might see other campers here.

Day 6

This is a day for exploring the area around Virginia Falls. 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

We’ll 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’s impossible to spend too much time at Virginia Falls! We’ll assemble the boats and, after a late shore lunch and briefing, embark in the late afternoon on an exhilarating run through Painted Canyon (also known as Fourth Canyon).

Day 8

We enter Third Canyon, the walls of which rise 1200 metres (3937 feet) over the river. Keen eyes may spot woodland caribou, moose and Dall sheep. Stopping at the Gate and Pulpit Rock for lunch, we’ll 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.

Day 9

Paddling through the Big Bend and Second Canyon and past Headless Creek, we’ll find ourselves camped in the vicinity of Deadmen Valley. The view includes the Tlogotsho Plateau and Prairie Creek Canyon. 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 in 1928. Patterson later wrote Dangerous River, one of the most eloquent accounts of the early days on the river. Around the campfire, we’ll read from his book.

Day 10

Camp will be in Deadmen Valley or First Canyon.

Day 11

The highlights include First Canyon, Canada’s deepest river canyon at a depth of 1300 metres (4265 feet), George’s and Lafferty’s Riffles and White Spray Springs. After stopping at Kraus’ Hot Springs for a soak, we leave the canyons and carry on to camp in the area known as The Splits. Here the river braids and twists into many channels.

Day 12

While negotiating the huge meanders prior to the native village of Nahanni Butte, we’ll experience the river valley opening up to meet the forested flatlands. Camp will be in or near the village (population 80).

We’ll 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 area home for thousands of years. They will treat us to tea and bannock and answer any questions we may have about life in this remote part of the world.

Day 13

A powerboat ride down the voluminous Liard River will take us to Lindberg’s Landing where we’ll be the guests of Edwin and Sue Lindberg for showers, a BBQ and an overnight stay at their cabins.

Day 14

We’ll be picked up by vehicle and driven to Fort Simpson to meet our plane home. There may be time to explore around town.