The Nahanni River is the most iconic river in Canada’s North. Flowing 550 Km in total, it snakes past the tallest peaks in the Mackenzie Mountains then plunges almost 100 m over Virginia Falls. Surrounded by a National Park in 1974 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978, the Nahanni’s incredible scenery, indigenous history and legendary whitewater paddling have made this Canada’s canoeing mecca. This 14 day expedition begins 125km upstream of Virginia Falls at Rabbitkettle Lake and provides an opportunity to experience almost everything that Nahanni National Park and the river have to offer including views of the Cirque of the Unclimbables, the Rabbitkettle tufamounds and the incredible canyons of the Nahanni River.
Your journey begins in the small but busy village of Ft. Simpson, where you will meet guides and the rest of your group for a quick orientation. After double checking all the gear, its time to head off to the river. The flight over the spectacular Mackenzie mountains is an absolute highlight of the trip. Beautiful but nameless mountains, creeks and valleys stretch off over the horizon, and thought that you are truly in the wilderness now becomes very real. After a spectacular flyby of Virginia Falls, the float plane zips another 120km upstream to the glacial Rabbitkettle Lake.
After setting up camp and enjoying the incredible view, a Nahanni Parks Staff will lead us on a hike to Rabbitkettle Tufa Mounds. This geological marvel is a terraced limestone feature created by the hot spring here over thousands of years. The next day, we complete a short portage to the river and set off on our Journey downstream! Over the next 14 days, you will have the opportunity to see best of what Nahanni has to offer, from the towering Virginia Falls, to the towering canyons, to the big skies and braided channels of the lower river. Our certified and professional guides will make every effort to make this experience the trip of a lifetime.
Nahanni River / Broken Skull Webinar
||Arrive in Fort Simpson before noon, met by guides, lunch in Fort Simpson, debrief and gear selection prior to charter flight departure to Rabbit Kettle Lake at 2pm. Stunning flight into the heart of the Mackenzie Mountains, including Ram Plateau and the Nahanni Range. In the evening, if there Nahanni National Parks Staff available, they will guide you on an interpretive hike to explore Rabbit Kettle Hot Spring and Tufa Mounds
||After Breakfast, we will begin the less than 1 km portage to the river! A full day of portaging and paddling awaits us to reach hell roaring creek downstream. The ragged range is awe inspiring as we paddle past it and get views of the cirque of the unclimbables.
||We paddle through the large glacial valley of the Nahanni river, and the river Meanders and slows. A shorter day takes us to a large Alluvial fan, with an opportunity for an afternoon hike up a nearby mountain.
||We press onwards though beautiful mackenzie mountains to a small oxbow lake, just a few KM upstream of Virginia Falls.
||After a short 12km paddle we arrive at Virginia Falls before lunch. We spend the rest of the day setting up camp, exploring the falls and beginning our portage.
||A layover day with opportunities to hike and explore the falls or Sunblood mountain, portage or relax.
||We complete the 1.5km portage around Virginia Falls and load the canoes prior to entering Nahanni’s legendary canyons - the first which is known as Painted canyon. Inside its towering walls lay some of the biggest rapids on the Nahanni River, up to class 3 in difficulty, and we will rise to the challenge to meet them. . We cover approximately 15kms on this first big day of whitewater.
||We canoe to the gate of Third Canyon at the confluence with the Mary River, with 1200m walls awaiting us downstream. On our way we pass through Figure 8 and tricky currents rapids. This beautiful day of paddling also features some tricky moments with whirlpools and boily water.
||Another glorious day on the river takes us through the 3nd Canyon to the Gate, a huge cleft in a canyon wall that the Nahanni river squeezes through. Arriving around noon, we take our time to set up our camp and then ascend up to the top of the gate for a panoramic view of the surrounding area.
||After taking one last look at the spectacular Gate, we depart down river through 3rd and 2nd canyons into the Headless Valley, a place shrouded in mystery, myth and legend. A longish day, we arrive late in the afternoon at Dry Canyon camp, with 1st canyon just in sight downstream.
||Upon awaking people have the opportunity to take a short early morning hike up Dry Canyon before we descend into the maw of 1st canyon. Nahanni has saved its best for last! Guarding its secrets however is the famous Georges Riffle, a class 2-3 rapid that cannot be walked around. After navigating through this thrilling maelstrom, we paddle through the deepest canyons in Canada, in awe of their beauty. After some time we arrive at Lafferty creek where we will camp!
||Layover day to, weather permitting, explore the spectacular side canyon of Lafferty Creek. After a pleasant but boulder strewn 5km hike you arrive at a slot canyon carved in the limestone through the eons which you will have to swim up while exploring!
||We leave the canyons behind and after shooting Lafferty's Riffle, a class 2-3 wavetrain, bathe ourselves in the relaxing waters of Kraus's Hotspring. A long day of paddling through the braided channels of the splits gets us to Last Chance camp, just 20km upstream from the end of our Journey..
||After 20km of flatwater we arrive at the lovely hamlet of Nahanni Butte- a short distance upstream from the end of the Nahanni River. From here we take a short plane ride back to Fort Simpson where we will stay the night and celebrate our adventure together!
||Its time to say our goodbyes! after a scrumptious breakfast at our BNB you depart home from Fort Simpson.