3 Day Adventure
On our 3-day base camp adventure, you will explore the Johnstone Strait, Blackfish Sound and the narrow tidal passages around Hanson Island by kayak, searching for marine wildlife. This tour typically spends one night at a Vancouver Island base camp and one night at a Hanson Island base camp.
Johnstone Strait and Blackfish Sound are two of the best areas around Vancouver Island to see wildlife. Though they are next to each other, their different depths invite different wildlife activity. Humpback whales and Steller sea lions sightings are more likely in Blackfish Sound.
This unique, all-inclusive tour is always led by experienced certified guides who will provide you with an engaging, on-water experience, seven delicious and hearty meals, and a comfortable stay at two of our base camps.
You can expect to spend four to six hours a day on the water, eat lunches on remote beaches, and explore the Vancouver Island shoreline within the Johnstone Strait. If weather conditions are favourable, you may cross the Strait to the Plumper Islands. The timing and routes of our trips are always determined by our guides. This allows them to create the best possible experience, based on the daily conditions, your group, and wildlife! No two trips are ever the same.
ENVISION YOUR TOUR
The Day Before
We recommend that you stay in Telegraph Cove or Port McNeill the evening before your scheduled departure. We will have your dry bags available for pickup at our office anytime before 5:30 p.m., the day before your trip. If you are wondering about nearby slumbering places, please see our list of places to stay!
At 8:45 a.m. on your departure date, you will meet your guide at the North Island Kayak gathering area, at the end of the historic Telegraph Cove boardwalk. Your kayaks will be set out on our dock and all of the group gear will already be loaded. There will be some onshore orientations regarding the area, the gear, the kayaks, and paddling. After logistics are taken care of, you will launch and embark upon an incredible adventure in the Johnstone Strait!
In the early afternoon, your group will stop to stretch its legs and enjoy a picnic lunch on a remote beach before paddling the last stretch towards camp for the night.
You will likely reach one of our six base camps in mid-afternoon. You'll be able to get settled into camp with lots of time to enjoy the late afternoon sun. Orca, Steller sea lions, dolphins, eagles, river otters and seals are frequently seen hunting in the kelp forest near our camps. Keep your eyes and ears open!
Once you are settled, an appetizer will be served while your guide cooks up a homemade beachside BBQ dinner that will leave you smiling, stuffed, and nourished.
After dinner, enjoy card games with your party, take a stroll and explore the beach, or hang around the campfire and get to know the other members of your group.
Wake up to the smell of hot coffee and sizzling breakfast. Breakfast will be served between 7 and 8 a.m., and there will be lots of time to relax and get organized.
Your route home will depend on the weather forecast, but our focus will remain what the group desires and possible wildlife viewing. If your group happens upon a pod of orcas, your guide can deploy a research grade hydrophone and amplifier, allowing you to listen to their incredible conversations.
Tidal rapids to the east and west of Hanson Island create tide rips which funnel smaller fish and often attract orcas and humpback whales. You will likely be paddling in Blackfish Sound at some point, so keep your eyes out for Steller sea lions who also congregate here.
Your second day will include another picnic lunch at a remote beach and a few more hours of afternoon kayaking as you make your way to a new base camp for the evening.
There you will enjoy another homemade dinner from our beachside BBQ while you reminisce about the day’s activities and fun.
You will wake up once again to breakfast cooking and coffee brewing. After the kayaks are packed, you will slowly start the journey home. The route will vary depending on the weather forecast, but our focus will remain on wildlife viewing.
Your final picnic lunch will be on another remote beach before beginning the last leg towards Telegraph Cove. Your group will return to the cove by 3:30 p.m.
This is a sample itinerary. In order to provide the most exposure to wildlife and scenery, we plan to camp at up to two of our six base camps in the area; however, we may need to make changes due to weather or tidal considerations. Our goal will always be to provide you with the best possible wildlife and kayaking experience.
While we do not guarantee sightings on any of our tours, the Queen Charlotte and Johnstone Straits attract an abundance of marine mammals during the summer. Because of this seasonality, we ask guests to pair their wildlife hopes appropriately with the dates of their visit. Your guide will be using marine VHF radios to communicate with other guides regarding wildlife sightings. If there are any reports of orcas, humpbacks, bears, or other mammals in your immediate area, your guides will do their best to ensure your group does not miss the opportunity to see them!
EXPERIENCED SEA KAYAK GUIDES
Our outstanding team of certified guides is the backbone of our company, facilitating your experience from start to finish. On trips, our guides fill the roles of group leader, paddling instructor, naturalist, risk-manager, weather forecaster, chef, and wildlife tracker.
Our network of base camps allows us to offer a completely unique experience. Our trips include guaranteed accommodations each evening, which means we may arrive at camp at any time, without the possibility of it already being claimed by another group. Our two people to one tent ratio allows you lots of space to relax. Each of our camps has its own unique and beautiful geography, but all have their own beach where you can enjoy some peace and quiet, or gather around a crackling fire at sundown.
Base Camp Amenities:
- Wilderness kitchens with full sized BBQ
- Covered dining areas with picnic tables
- Small Library
DELICIOUS HOMEMADE MEALS
You will not go hungry on a NIK trip!
We provide homemade breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day, plus appetizers, desserts, granola bars, coffee, tea, and water. If you are still hungry, your guide will whip up something else to fill you up. Our menu is designed to be nutritious, delicious, substantial, locally sourced, environmentally friendly, and flexible to dietary restrictions. We can safely manage food allergies, as well as cater to gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian diets upon request.
All our guides are Foodsafe Level 1 certified.
We guarantee your guide will surprise you with their culinary skills. Here are just a few examples of what you could be served on your trip:
- Breakfast burritos
- Granola and fresh muffins
- Pancakes or french toast
- Fresh fruit
- Greek salad with hummus and pita
- Chickpea salad
- Bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon
All lunches include fruit, cookies, and chips
- BBQ salmon with risotto and roasted vegetables
- Halibut and prawn soba noodle stir-fry
- Homestyle chili
- Quinoa soup and burritos
We provide all kayaking equipment for our day tours. Come with the clothing and personal items noted in the ‘What to Bring’ section and we do the rest. Some of the equipment we provide for our trips includes:
- DOUBLE KAYAKS: Top of the line Seaward fiberglass kayaks, the best way to enjoy your tour together!
- DRY BAGS: Photos are a must, having a waterlogged phone is not.
- PADDLES, SPRAY SKIRTS, PFDS, AND SAFETY EQUIPMENT: The essentials for safety and comfort.
No two trips are the same! We pride ourselves on our fluid itineraries. The weather, tides, wildlife, and interests of groups are different every trip. Because of this, we both trust and empower our guides to adapt the trip as they see fit, so you can have the best experience possible!