The Nahanni River is one of the world’s great wilderness destinations. It is the experience of a lifetime to explore this remote, pristine alpine river valley. You will discover a mountainous wonderland with breathtaking canyons, a magnificent waterfall, diverse wildlife, and exciting paddling on this fast flowing river. The two week Nahanni Classic trip is the most popular canoe expedition on the Nahanni River. The route follows the river from the old park boundary at Rabbitkattle Lake to Virginia Falls, through the spectacular canyons section to the Mackenzie Lowlands and the confluence of the Liard River. The trip is highlighted by fun class I and 2 whitewater, interesting day hikes up tributary canyons, wildlife viewing and exploring Virginia Falls (also known as Nailicho). Although well known, the river is so remote that on average, only 200 people paddled the river in each season. The Nahanni Classic trip is suitable for paddlers with some previous canoe camping and whitewater experience but advanced whitewater skills are not required.
The surrounding mountains and glaciers are the largest in the Northwest Territories. Part of the Nahanni watershed was established in 1976 as a National Park Reserve, pending the settlement of Dene land claims. Since then, the Park has been designated a World Heritage Site of global significance by UNESCO and the South Nahanni River has been recognized as a Canadian Heritage River.
The Nahanni is a boreal environment, consisting of forests of black and white spruce, with aspen and poplar in the valley bottoms, which give way to open alpine tundra in the mountains. In places, forest fires have created a varied vegetation allowing many stages of plant life to develop. The park has excellent moose and beaver habitats. Woodland caribou, Dall sheep, deer and black bear are often observed in the park. Grizzlies, with their large range, are not common. Over one hundred and seventy species of birds have been recorded, including trumpeter swans, bald and golden eagles, gyr and peregrine falcons. The river has several fish species, however, the river is quite silty, fishing is not great. Dolly varden, lake trout and arctic grayling can be caught in the clearer waters of tributaries.
Join us for this famous authentic Canadian paddling trip of a lifetime!
- Paddle the Nahanni, a UNESCO world heritage site
- 260 km of canoeing on Canada’s best famed river
- Abundant wildlife and amazing landscapes
- Remoteness of the North West Territories only accessible by bush plane
- Accessible to all, even with little paddling experience
- Varied activities : paddling, hiking, photopgraphy, hot springs, the great outdoors
- Luxurious backcountry camping
Noon ! Your guides will meet you at the airport and transfer you to the base camp for a pre-trip meeting, gear check and orientation at the National Parks office. The group will board a chartered flight to Rabbitkettle Lake (weather permitting).
If there are several flights you may have to wait of several hours while aircraft returns from the river, refuels and reloads. Arriving at our first camp we set up for the night and start practicing our first canoeing strokes.
NOTICE : Flight from Edmonton Airport to Fort Simpson. (EDMONTON / FORT SIMPSON FLIGHT NOT INCLUDED IN TOUR PRICE)
The Rabbitkettle Lake area is famous for its limestone tufs and hot springs that are the source of this particular relief. During these 2 days you will approach these natural beauties. First hike around Rabbitkettle Lake and canoe to get to the Nahanni River. Finally, in front of you, the river meanders between the mountains. You will reach it by a marked path of 1 km, the canoe on the back.
This time, you are comfortably seated inside your canoe. We start the descent of the river. The currents are there, but the descent is easy. In the distance, the noise roars. These are the famous Virginia Falls. Before reaching them, we set up the camp at the shore, on a small pebble beach.
Departure early this morning. We put away the camp and take the road aboard the canoes. As the sun rises we distinguish in the distance the fog caused by these tons of water hitting the river 92 meters below. Near the falls, a second day of hiking awaits us to climb to Mount Sunblood and discover, on a clear day, the entire course. The 118 km route is more calm, no big rapids.
This section is located in a valley with a slope of about 0.7m / km. Nights in wild camping.
The erosion caused by the flow of the high falls of 92 m dug the Fourth canyon and it is from there that the river reveals to you its exceptional personality. Your route imprints this section with 4 fabulous canyons that make the reputation of the Nahanni Basin. Peacefull or rumbling, the Nahanni welcomes you for 5 days in a grandiose setting with its rapids, deep canyons, Deadman Valley salty land whose Dall sheep love, its meanders and pinnacles, its walls exceeding 450 m, its door from Hell or she meanders hairpin before entering a narrow canyon.
The rapids roar and its waves will challenge the bravest. The river will also offer you beautiful moments of rest at coves Lafferty and George, where you can indulge in hiking, fishing, photography or exploration of its banks. This part of 150 km, up to the thermal springs follows a slope of 1.7m / km which will soften downstream of the sources to reach 1.1 m / km. From there, the river splits into many fast-flowing channels called "Splits". Before riding them, we can get a peaceful evening.
This first day, we take the famous Splits, these channels which seems dividing the river.
The next day, after having closed the camp, you will begin the last portion of your expedition on the Nahanni.
Some easy rapids to reach Nahanni Butte. Here, motorboats await you to make your way to your Lindberg Landing accommodation on the banks of the Liard River.
There you can have a good shower and enjoy a meal prepared on the BBQ.
Goodbye Nahanni River ! This Morning, you will take the van shuttle back to Fort Simpson, transfer to Ft Simpson airport for flights home.
Dates & prices
25 June 2021 7195 $CA (CAD) availableFree quote
18 July 2021 7195 $CA (CAD) availableFree quote
1 August 2021 7195 $CA (CAD) availableFree quote
- Accommodation D1 to D12 : 12 nights camping
- 1 night in rustic homestay In Linberg Landing on D13
- Transport : bush plane transfer from Fort Simpson to Rabbitkettle Lake on day 2
- Meals : All meals and snacks from diner day 1 to breakfast day 14.
- Experienced and extremely qualified canoeing guides
- All canoeing equipment o custom 17’ ABS expedition canoes with spray decks and knee pads o paddles, pfd’s, throw bags, paddling helmets
- All camping equipment : o tents - free standing custom expedition dome tents - 2 per tent o ‘kitchen’ - tarp, fire box, cooking stoves, utensils, dishes, etc o containers for food and group equipment
- Safety equipment : o Firrst aid, safety, river rescue, and repair kits o Communications equipment (satellite phone)
- Seaplane transfer on Day 1
- Boat transfer on D13 to Lindberg Landing
- Land transfer from Lindberg Landing to Fort Simpson on day 14
- Transfer to Fort Simpson airport on D2 et D14
- Accomodation D14
- Entry fees to Nahanni National Park of 175$/person
- Non mentioned meals in the program
- All transport to and from Edmonton
- Personal clothing and gear - a recommended clothing & equipment list will be provided
- Travel insurance – emergency evacuation
- Expenses due to canceled flights (accommodation and meals)
- Tips for guides and leader
- Personal expenses
- Taxes (GST - 5%)
Groups are comprised of people from various parts of the world, with different nationalities and backgrounds. Bilingual tours are given in both French and English.
A Canadian canoeing expert leader who knows the area extremely well will lead the tour. The ratio on this canoeing expedition is 1:5. Most probably other guides will join tour. The guides are always ready to provide coaching and helpful advice on any aspect of the trip and will attempt to maximize the spirit of adventure for each individual. Your safety is their prime concern and your guide will make decisions with this in mind. We must stress that listening carefully to instructions and directions given by the guide is your responsibility and in the best interest of you and the group.
Information about activities / Physical level
This trip is suitable for the paddler with some previous experience on river canoe trips. The river has non-technical rapids with big waves in long canyons, sections of strong current and sections of easy, shallow braided rapids running through gravel bars. Experienced paddlers can take a more exciting route in some rapids while a novice can avoid many of the more challenging sections of whitewater. You should be comfortable with basic strokes and maneuvers on flat water. Ideally you will have some familiarity with whitewater skills such as eddy turns, front and back ferries, braces and basic river reading skills. You should understand basic safety and rescue techniques. A pre-trip whitewater clinic or trip would be a good warm up. You should be of at least average fitness for your age so you can enjoy the paddling and side hikes. At the campsite everyone pitches in with setting up tents, collecting firewood, preparing meals, telling stories etc. The guides coordinate things and are always ready to assist you in any tasks. They will provide expert coaching and lots of personal attention. Feel free to call our office to discuss your suitability for this trip.
Camping along the Nahanni river and homestay in Lindberg Landing
Meals are cooked over camping stoves from a combination of fresh, dried and freeze-dried products. Our light weight ovens allow us to bake breads, muffins and desserts. Breakfasts generally consist of fruit, cereal (either hot or cold) and main course such as blueberry pancakes or breakfast burritos. At lunch you will enjoy a selection of breads (rye bread, bagels, tortillas) with cheese, dried salami, tuna salad … and of course, good old peanut butter and jam. This would be followed up by granola bars or dried fruit. Dinner consists of hors d’oeuvers, followed by a main course then dessert. Main courses may be a pasta-based dish such as Pesto-Pine Nut Fuselli, or a rice based meal such as an Oriental Stir Fry. On cooler days, a hearty mug of steaming soup is always available, as well as tea, coffee, hot chocolate and cold drinks.
We encourage participants to contribute as much as you wish to meal preparation. The guides are more than happy to share their expertise around the campfire kitchen … it is always a fun part of the day and an opportunity to share thoughts, ideas and stories. If you have a food allergy or a significant dietary restriction you must inform our office. You may be required to assist in your food planning and preparation. Given the remoteness of the route, the implications could be profound if you could not eat the food or became seriously ill.
The climate in the park is considered ’Cold Continental’ but the weather is influenced by the mountains. Average daytime highs are 20°C with average night time lows of 10°C but the absolute
maximum and minimums are 30°C and 0°C. Expect night time frost in late August and early September. The average rainfall in July, the wettest month, is 54 mm or a little less than Toronto or New York. However temperatures decrease and precipitation tends to increase with elevation. It can snow at anytime of year. Sudden changes in the weather and local orographic rainfall are common. The water will be cold. You need to be prepared for a wide range of conditions. Insects can be challenging especially if the day is warm and still. The breeze usually provides relief. A bug jacket and insect repellent will help keep you comfortable. A personal clothing and equipment list will be provided.
AUYUITTUQ NATIONAL PARK TRAVERSE
- Experience an arctic trip with jaw dropping wilderness landscapes of the Canadian Arctic
- Visit the small Inuit communities of Qikiqtarjuaq and Pangnirtung
- Walk on the heart of the giant, on the foot of Mount Asgard (2015m) and Thor, emblematic mountains of Nunavut!
- Culture, Hiking