Trip Planning FAQ
The following are general guidelines to prepare yourself for the adventure of a lifetime with Canoe North Adventures. You will be contacted with detailed preparation instructions specific to your trip well before your departure date.
An important part of Canoe North Adventures trip planning is matching an appropriate route to the skill level of our participants. The pace of each trip is determined by the group and its least experienced member. For our canoe expeditions, you should be comfortable in and around water, and have at least some flatwater paddling experience. For more advanced trips, you should have whitewater experience combined with being a strong flatwater paddler.
When assessing the fit between a paddler and a river, we first look at the demands of the river. How technical is the river and what physical demands will it ask of paddlers? Are there elements of risk associated with remoteness, elevation change, weather or the length of the trip? We then look at the skills and physical ability of the paddler along with their attitude and overall ability. We encourage those thinking of coming on a Canoe North Adventure trip to conduct their own self-assessment with the realization that most people underestimate their ability and skills. Most important is talking to one of us to determine which river would be appropriate.
Can I Really Do This?
Many of our prospective trippers worry about the physical requirements involved in joining one of our trips. We encourage trippers to have an active lifestyle but we do not expect prospective trippers to ramp-up an intensive training program before embarking on a trip. Keep in mind that most of our trips have no portages – and this really limits the normal slogging to a bare minimum. Our rivers have steady current making for light and easy paddling limited to four or five hours daily. As a minimum, we do encourage trippers to develop a daily stretching and walking program eight to ten weeks prior to departure.
Novice Canoe Trippers
If you possess an adventurous spirit but perhaps lack intermediate or advanced canoeing skills, we can select the perfect introductory expedition to responsibly take you just outside of your comfort zone. We provide you with expert canoe instruction and coaching – both prior to your expedition launch and while on trip. We are passionate about sharing our extensive river knowledge and take pride in teaching dynamic canoeing and river-running skills.
Pre-Trip Canoe Training
Contact us for more information. 519-941-6654
Exceptional River Safety
Canoe North Adventures has experienced an impeccable safety record in over 200 expeditions and almost 30 seasons of adventure travel. We have never experienced a serious injury that required medical assistance or evacuation. By knowing and caring for each tripper; ensuring they have been well coached with expert instruction; and, by intimately knowing the regions and rivers travelled, we have delivered a level of safety second to none on Canada’s northern waterways.
Our licensed, senior river guides bring a wealth of wilderness experience to each expedition and certifications in Moving Water, Advanced First Aid and River Rescue. They enthusiastically share their extensive knowledge with their canoe groups and they can also entertain a group with tall tales around the campfire! Our licensed, junior river guides bring their skills and enthusiasm to every trip. They are recent grads from university level Adventure Studies programs and possess remarkable river and camping skills and are eager to share this knowledge. Each Canoe North Adventures leadership team is typically comprised of at least one Senior and one Junior Guide. Our typical guide ratio is 1:3 or 4, and 1:5 with a very experienced group.
Expedition Canoes & Gear
Outfitting Centre in Norman Wells has a fleet of 40 expedition canoes with handsome logos, spray decks, kneeling pads and throw bags. Our Royalex fleet includes 17ft and 18ft canoes manufactured by Esquif, Nova Craft and Old Town. Our camping equipment including Eureka K2 Tents, Grey Owl paddles, Kokatat PFDs and Level Six splash jackets are of the highest professional quality available.
You will be thrilled to know that our latrine takes the uncertainty and anxiety out of the phrase “when nature calls”. Our woodsy latrine consists of a sturdy three-legged toilet seat and tidy hole with the most stunning views imaginable. Paper products are discreetly collected and burned.
The number one concern for prospective trippers is bugs. We are happy to report that in the Mackenzie Mountains, there is little or no standing water and so there is very poor habitat for hatching mosquitoes. Bring a bug jacket even though most likely you will not require one unless you are joining an expedition into the high-arctic such as the Horton or Coppermine River. On all other rivers, we generally wear shorts and t-shirts almost never requiring even bug spray.
Paddlers have concerns around travelling in grizzly and black bear country. We are respectful of travelling in bear country and have developed a comprehensive Bear Awareness Policy while on trip. Fortunately bears in these remote northern regions are wild bears rather than park bears. They have very predictable behavior – they want to quickly exit any area where there is human activity. It is always a thrill and a privilege to see large game in their natural environment. If we are lucky enough to see a bear on trip, we generally see only the hind-end disappearing at a full gallop. We have never had a group or individual threatened by a bear encounter of any kind. As a precaution, our guides do carry bear spray and bear bangers.
Accessing Our Rendezvous Points
Whitehorse, Yukon is the starting point for the Yukon River. Whitehorse can be accessed through Vancouver with either Air Canada, WestJet or Air North or via Edmonton and now Ottawa with Air North.
Norman Wells, Northwest Territories is the starting point for the Redstone, Keele, Natla, Mountain, Ravensthroat, Snake, Horton and Broken Skull Rivers. Norman Wells is accessed through Yellowknife with Canadian North.
Yellowknife, Northwest Territoires is the starting point for the Coppermine River. The group will fly from Yellowknife to Plummer’s Lodge where they will take a floatplane into the river.
Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories is where the Nahanni River trips start. Fort Simpson is accessed through Yellowknife with Canadian North.
Our clients are required to arrive into Whitehorse or Yellowknife two days prior to departure of their Canoe North Adventures expedition. Early arrival guarantees if your flight is rescheduled , you will not miss your trip. This option ensures your bags will catch up to you if they are delayed and that you have time to acclimatize to the time change from other parts of the world. In Norman Wells, comfortable and convenient accommodation is available at our CNA Timber-Frame Lodge B&B. Departures are always scheduled the day after the trip returns requiring an overnight stay and final night dinner celebration Norman Wells or Dawson City.
As you have camping gear and equipment, you may be required to use Special Services at the airport. All flights now require photo identification. Please be at the airport at least two hours before the flight departure. We have had trip members miss flights in the past! Flights to Whitehorse may arrive in one day. Flights to Norman Wells require an overnight in either Edmonton or Yellowknife, although most trippers prefer to overnight in Yellowknife at The Explorer Hotel. We receive reduced airfare rates from Canadian North and are pleased to pass these savings on to our clients. Our special IT Fare is available through our local agent, Marlain Wietzes, email@example.com . Upon arrival, you will be met at the airport in either Norman Wells by our Canoe North Adventures staff and transferred to either our Lodge B&B & Outfitting Centre or to the floatplane for departure to the river. In Whitehorse, the Goldrush Inn offers airport shuttles to their location. There is storage available at our CNA Lodge B&B or hotel where you can leave your luggage and domestic travel clothing while you are on trip.
You will be given a waterproof barrel pack for your personal gear when you arrive unless you have your own waterproof pack system. You will need to bring your clothing and gear in a suitcase or duffel bag. Airline regulations vary so we ask you to check with your carrier about baggage limits and fees. Personal clothing and valuables like wallets, identification or airline tickets can be left in safe storage at Canoe North Adventures.
Personal Cash & Credit Card
There are bank machines in Norman Wells, Yellowknife and Whitehorse. We suggest you bring a small amount of cash to have on hand.
Accommodations & Reservations
Hotel accommodation and meals in Yellowknife are not included in your CNA expedition fee, although we are happy to assist with your reservations at reduced rates at the Explorer Hotel, Yellowknife.
Accommodation and meals in Norman Wells are at the Canoe North Adventures Lodge B&B and are not included in your CNA expedition fee.
All off-river meals and hotel accommodation in Whitehorse or Dawson City are not included in your Canoe North Adventures fee, however, we can assist with your hotel reservations at the Gold Rush Inn.
Canoe North Adventures Apparel
We have a handsome Canoe North Adventures logo and will be providing each of you with a complimentary four-colour T-shirt and a ballcap. We hope this will make a dynamic addition to your designer wardrobe!