The South Nahanni River is a Canadian Icon. Flowing through its namesake Nahanni National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the river plunges almost 100 meters over majestic Virginia Falls before carving its way through 4 incredible canyons filled to the brim with adventure. Towering mountains surround you and canyon walls soar as you canoe through this incredible untouched landscape for 10 days. This trip, beginning at Virginia Falls, is perfect for those pressed for time but who still want to experience the best of Nahanni. Previous paddling and camping experience required.
Nahanni National Park was originally created by Pierre Elliot Trudeau in 1972, its sister park Nááts’įhch’oh now protect 35 000 km² of the Nahanni headwaters, a pure, pristine mountain wilderness. The Nahanni River flows through traditional Dene Territory of the Dehcho and Sahtu Regions, and we are grateful for the vision of the elders from these regions in protecting this vast wilderness area.
Paddlers from all over the world consider the Nahanni to be their mecca. It travels 375km through the park as it descends to the Liard River that connects to the Mackenzie River at Fort Simpson. Fort Simpson is the leaping-off point for the incredible floatplane flight into NahʔĄ Dehé (Virginia Falls) where the trip begins. There is one portage around Virginia Falls on a sturdy board-walk and of course it is downhill all the way!
Short on time? Starting out at the spectacular Virginia Falls, this trip offers the best that Nahanni has to offer in a condensed package. The pace of this trip is still well managed with lots of breaks off the river for photos, fishing or just taking in the breath-taking scenery. Our guides are great teachers and are dedicated to assisting in developing your teams canoeing skills in order to handle the large-volume wave-trains through the famous Nahanni Canyons. All camp chores are shared equally – including preparing our hearty camp meals. You will be amazed at the quality of fresh foods and frozen meats that we include in our delicious menu. Dried meals are available for the last few days of the trip. In camp there is quiet time to work on your journal or sketch book and there are group activities like short or long hikes into alpine areas or nature walks along the river valley.
||Arrive in Fort Simpson before noon, met by guides, lunch in Fort Simpson, debrief and gear selection prior to charter flight departure to Virginia Falls at 2pm. Stunning flight into the heart of the Mackenzie Mountains arriving at Virginia Falls, set up camp and overnight. Explore the stunning scenery around Virginia Falls on this scheduled layover day with an opportunity to hike to the summit of Sunblood Mountain and take in a spectacular view of Virginia Falls, Rabbit Kettle Valley and the South Nahanni Valley. Parks Canada Staff may offer an interpretive program discussing specific aspects of flora and fauna unique to Nahanni National Park.
||We complete the 2km portage around Virginia Falls and load the canoes prior to entering Nahanni’s legendary canyons - the first which is known as Painted Canyon. The sheer-cliff vaulted canyons inspire the description of Nahanni as the Grand Canyon of the North. As the canyons narrow, the whitewater and standing waves will provide challenging Class II and III waves for our Team. We cover approximately 20kms on this first big day of whitewater.
||We canoe through the Third Canyon with 1200m walls as it makes its way through the Funeral Range. We camp in the shadow of the Nahanni Gate and have an opportunity to embark on a short hike high above Pulpit Rock.
||Another glorious day on the river takes us through the 2nd Canyon traveling through the Headless Range and into Deadman Valley. Many of you will know of the mysterious deaths of the McLeod Brothers. The valley expands with distant views of the Tigotsho Plateau. Camping is at Prairie Creek where there is a large alluvial fan.
||We run George’s Riffle before entering 1st Canyon dotted with hundreds of caves. Here the canyon cuts through the Nahanni Plateau creating the most dramatic canyon in Canada. This is a relaxing section of river to experience the majesty of the canyon. Camping will be at Lafferty’s Canyon.
||A short paddle to Kraus’ Hot Spring for a relaxing soak in the 32-degree waters.
||We enter The Splits, a 75 km braided section of river where the current slows and the country opens up. As we wind our way through the lowlands, we spend the day relaxing and reflecting on the wonders upstream.
||We are met at the boundary of the park by a Local Dene Guide who will transport the group with their personal gear by motor boat to the hamlet of Nahanni Butte. Here, after a delicious lunch, we are taken transported downstream to Lindberg Landing for a final night meal before departing for Fort Simpson for the flight home the next day.
||It's time to say our goodbyes and depart Fort Simpson.