Wondering about COVID-19 and trip planning? Please read our message.
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Box 569 Heriot Bay, British Columbia, Canada V0P 1H0
North America: 1.800.307.3982 | Local & Overseas: 1.250.285.2121


We are here to assist you in any way we can.
North America: 1.800.307.3982
Local & Overseas: 1.250.285.2121
[email protected]



    Whales & Wilderness Glamping

    Kayaking tours in the heart of Blackfish Sound

    REMOTE GLAMPING - WEST COAST KAYAKING AND WHALE WATCHING

    Length:

    4 Days

    Location:

    Blackfish Sound, British Columbia

    For Who:

    Everyone, focus on whales and diverse paddling

    Tour Price:

    CAD $1995*

    What's Included?

    Click to learn more

    Minimum Age:

    6 (on private tours), 12 all other tours
    Easy/ comfortable
    Glamping
    Scenic, mountains
    Whales & marine life

    * Kayaking trips & tours are priced and charged in Canadian dollars and are subject to 5% GST and optional $20 sustainability fee. Please see our Terms and Conditions for complete terms.

    We are currently accepting reservations from Canadians and tentative reservations from those outside of Canada (we continue to closely watch how travel restrictions unfold). You may appreciate the info in our Travel Safe and with Confidence section and our Travel Insurance guide. Please contact our office to learn more about options available for guests from outside of Canada.


    Book this tour for youR private bubble group

    Click below to find out more about how to make your tour private for the ultimate peace of mind. See all available dates and pricing for private bubble tours. Please feel free to get in touch with our office and we will help find the perfect trip for you!

    Learn more


    WIDE OPEN SPACES, FRESH SEA BREEZEs, AND ABUNDANT WILDLIFE

    Want to get out camping, kayaking, and wildlife watching in the wilds of BC, but not sure how to do it in a world with COVID-19? We have you covered and in style! 

    Join us kayaking and glamping on Swanson Island in the heart of Blackfish Sound. Bring your private bubble group for the ultimate peace of mind or on join as a solo traveler, couple, or small group of independent travelers (select dates only). We have re-designed this tour to help minimize risk and maximize your enjoyment of your well-deserved summer vacation.

    RELAX, RECHARGE, AND ADVENTURE RESPONSIBLY

    Our comfortable outdoor basecamp allows us to have comprehensive systems and infrastructure to help keep you safe while still being able to get to stunning and remote places, exploring by kayak by day, and relaxing in comfort every evening.

    Our professional guides and full-time camp hygiene manager are all thoroughly trained and supported by solid policies, procedures, and infrastructure designed to keep us physically distanced, but still have a wonderful time together.

    your safety is our number one Priority

    -> Please click on the tab ‘COVID Safety’ at the top of the page to learn more about our policies and procedures designed to help keep you and our crew safe.


    YOUR ACCOMMODATION – GLAMPING

    We have all the details covered. The only thing you have to do is to arrive, relax, and enjoy every moment.

    Imagine beautiful, big white cozy tents set against the backdrop of towering fir trees and the blues and greens of the ocean lapping at your doorstep. The sounds of silence interrupted only by the occasional blow of passing whales or the songs of the birds as they wake with the sun.

    Tents are large 10×12′ (3×3.6m), bright and spacious cotton canvas tents complete with real beds, private outdoor toilets and sinks, and sweeping views of the forest and/or ocean. The tents are perched off the ground on cedar platforms spaced out throughout the forest for privacy. The beds (twin or king-size bed settings available) each have a 6-inch thick soya foam mattress, 2 pillows (one thick and one thin), crisp white linens, a warm duvet, and fleece blankets for those cooler nights. We have 8 tents available for each tour (if you are traveling solo and would like your own private tent, please indicate this at the time of reservation). The camp also has multiple hand washing sinks, 2 hot water showers, a comfortable lounge and wood-fired hot tub both overlooking the ocean.

    The Setting

    A stunning private campsite on remote Swanson Island. We have exclusive rights to the use of this little piece of heaven. The site overlooks Blackfish Sound which is renowned for its biodiversity including being home to many humpback and orca whales. This site offers extraordinary land-based whale watching, sunrises and sunsets, and diverse kayaking at the edge of the Broughton Archipelago.

    The Area

    Sandwiched between the mainland mountains and Vancouver Island, tidal currents stir up the water column and create an environment rich with nutrients and oxygen. Abundant marine life of all shapes and sizes make their home here, from the smallest crustacean to the largest whales. From our camp, we have the opportunity to look out into the open waters of the Sound and paddle among the small islands and narrow passages, an ideal combination for the wildlife enthusiast.

    What’s cooking?

    Fresh, hearty, and locally inspired. One of the perks that comes with the basecamp site is a well-established kitchen which allows us to prepare tasty food while easily maintaining food safety. Enjoy locally caught wild fish, fresh garden veggies and so much more. Meals will be enjoyed under a covered but open-air dining area overlooking the ocean or on one of the many beaches. Please call our office to discuss your dietary needs and restrictions.


     

    Endless PADDLING Options

    Kayaks are a great way to get outside together and explore while easily maintaining physical distance. Your guides will share their love and passion for the coast and kayaking with you.

    The days on the water are flexible based on the abilities and desires of each group. Longer explorations or shorter excursions are both an option as long as we maintain our guest to guide safety ratio. Your guides will always make sure to keep an eye on the weather conditions and help design each day’s activities appropriately.

    We’ll head off in our kayaks to explore the many nooks and crannies of the shoreline. Keep your senses alert for the tell-tale blow of some of the area’s more famous residents like orcas and humpback whales.

    The Best Place for Whale Watching in BC

    In addition to orcas, we are lucky to share the ecosystem with humpback whales, bears (it is not uncommon to see black bears foraging along the shores for seafood during low tide), deer, cougars, shore and seabirds, minks, river otters, dolphins, and porpoise – to say nothing of the abundant, vibrant and colourful intertidal life one can see below the surface. Witnessing these incredible creatures in their natural habitat is truly breathtaking.

    Trip HIGHLIGHTS

    • Exceeds government health and safety standards both on and off the water. To view our comprehensive policies and procedures please click here.
    • This camp location provides for a great chance of viewing orcas, humpbacks, and bears, and all sorts of wildlife in their natural habitat
    • Explore the coastal environment responsibly and safely by kayak with our wonderful, highly trained guides
    • Small group sizes or make your trip private by booking with your bubble.
    • Flexible paddling distances and speeds; paddle as much or as little as you wish or stay and enjoy the camp – you choose.
    • Hot tub overlooking the ocean
    • Private toilets and hand-washing sinks right at your tent
    • Outdoor hot showers with ocean views
    • Delicious and locally-inspired meals prepared for you using strict hygiene protocols
    • Attention given to the smallest details to make for the perfect trip
    • Large bright spacious tents, comfortable beds, warm duvets
    • Responsible ecotourism, sustainably run operation that gives back to research and conservation in the area
    • So much open space to breathe, relax, recharge, and savour. The supernatural beauty of BC is (literally) all yours!

    WHAT’S INCLUDED?

    • Professional guiding service
    • Kayaking as much or as little as you wish
    • All kayaking equipment (including kayaks, PFDs, paddles, pumps, ropes, dry bags, and sponges)
    • All meals and snacks (dinner day 1 to brunch day 4) and wine to accompany dinners
    • Everything you need for a wonderful glamping experience: spacious tents, comfortable beds, all linens, and towels, private toilets and sinks, hot showers, flashlight/headlamp, a library of natural history books, camp binoculars, and more
    • Private return water taxi service from Telegraph Cove
    • Park and land use permits

    WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED?

    • Flights, airport transfers, ferries, or any transport required to get to our meeting spot
    • Accommodation before and after your tour
    • Travel/medical insurance (Please read our guide – Travel Insurance in a World with Covid-19)
    • Carbonated beverages
    • Rain gear (may be rented if you prefer; laundered between every guest)
    • Personal items (toiletries, clothing, etc.)
    • Gratuities (if you feel you had exemplary service)

     

    Spirit of the West operates in the unceded traditional territory of the Mamalilikulla-Qwe'Qwa'Sot'Em, 'Namgis, Tlowitsis, Nuu-chah-nulth, We Wai Kai, Homalco, Klahoose and Heiltsuk First Nations.

    COVID Safety on your Tour

    We are taking the risks associated with COVID-19 very seriously and have the track record to prove it having run tours in summer 2020 without incident. Our thorough policies, procedures, infrastructure changes, and training all help to minimize risk while maximizing fun and enjoyment. In addition to the measures outlined below, please visit our Travel with Confidence page for more information including our complete COVID – 19 Mitigation & Operations Plan and helpful resources for keeping all your travel COVID safe.

    *As a result of border travel restrictions, at this time we are only accepting tentative reservations from travellers from outside of Canada. Please DO still contact us to let us know you are keen and we will do our best to get you out on the water! Thank you for your patience and understanding.

    OUR EFFORTS TO MAKE THIS A SAFE and ENJOYABLE TOUR

    Below is a list of the primary, and most visible, measures we’re implementing for our Whales and Wilderness Glamping tour. In addition, Spirit of the West Adventures has taken the lead on developing best practices for the sea kayaking sector in British Columbia which has been reviewed by WorkSafe BC.

    View Full Operations Plan

    • Small group sizes (max 10 guests)
    • Affordable options for private bubble groups allowing you to travel with your bubble for the ultimate piece of mind.
    • Short 40 min. water taxi transfer to camp. The boat has an open-air back deck if you would like to avoid any enclosed spaces. Masks will be worn by all during the transfer. Only staff and guests from your tour will be onboard.
    • Thorough training of all staff on COVID-safe health and safety procedures, kayak rescues, and first aid, evacuation procedures, etc.
    • Staff and guides will maintain a 2-meter distance from you and your group at all times.
    • Personal protective equipment (non-medical face masks and latex gloves) available and used when appropriate.
    • Masks will be worn by both staff and guests on any occasion in which a 2-meter distance cannot be maintained (this should be minimal if any). We provide a buff to be worn by guests and staff for a quick access mask for on the water and around camp.
    • Proper hand hygiene, gloves, and masks will be worn for all food preparation.
    • Thorough cleaning of all camp common areas and high touch areas multiple times per day.
    • A redesigned camp layout that includes multiple hand washing stations, private toilets and hand-washing facilities for each tent, and plexiglass barriers in food prep areas (don’t worry we can still smile at each other and have a conversation, just with a layer of safety between us).
    • Tents will be thoroughly cleaned, opened up to air out, and then left unoccupied for a minimum of 3 hours between groups. All surfaces in the tent will be sanitized.
    • Pillows, duvets, and blankets will be cycled out and left for 3 days between uses and of course you will be provided with freshly laundered (on a high heat cycle) pillow protectors, sheets, pillowcases, and duvet cover
    • All meals will be prepared in our controlled camp kitchen and served plated or boxed up for you to enjoy on the beach while out kayaking
    • Hot tub will be available on via a reservation system to allow for physical distancing and sanitized between users. The entire tub is drained and thoroughly cleaned between trips.
    • This is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of all the procedures and policies in place designed to minimize risk for us all. If you have any questions or concerns or would like to know more, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

    Our commitment to each other

    As a measure of our commitment to safety and each other, we are introducing two documents that we will kindly ask you to read and sign before joining the trip. The Statement of Understanding is your acknowledgment of the expectations we have around our requirements and guidelines while on the trip and our pledge to keep each other safe. The pre-trip screening questionnaire is completed by both guests and staff and attests that you’re not sick when joining the trip. Please take your time to review them and contact us anytime if you have questions.

    View Statement of Understanding

    View Pre-trip Questionnaire

    What to Expect

    • Friendly & helpful team who take care of the details to help keep us all safe and having fun.
    • We will ask for you and those you are traveling with (your bubble) to work together to help each other with tasks like carrying your luggage, lifting and moving kayaks, etc. to help maintain physical distance from those, not in your bubble.
    • We ask you put the linens on and off your bed yourself so you know your linens are untouched and to minimize risk for our staff.
    • There will be some physical barriers at camp to help keep us all safe, but we will still be smiling and able to interact, just with a safety barrier in place.
    • Guides and staff will be keeping their distance from you and you from them, but if you are traveling with others in your bubble do not have to distance from them. Guests traveling independently will be asked to maintain distance between themselves and others (even if you become fast friends!)
    • Hearty and healthy meals, but with an increased focus on COVID safety versus presentation or elaborate meals. All meals will be prepared by the guides.
    • Great days spent exploring the coast by kayak. Kayak as much or as little as you wish and enjoy the camp amenities when home.

     

    Gallery

    Itinerary

    Our adventure begins the moment we step off the docks onto our water taxi. Relax in comfort as we whisk you up the scenic waterways to our remote wilderness camp in Blackfish Sound.

    VIRTUAL PRE-Tour MEETING

    WHERE & WHEN: VIA YOUR COMPUTER BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME

    Our team will be in contact with you to set up a Zoom (virtual video) pre-tour meeting. This meeting gives us a chance to answer any questions you may have, for you to meet our team, go over the logistics of the tour, and to discuss what to expect. We plan this for 7 pm, 3 days before your trip starts, but alternate times may be arranged to suit your schedule.


     

    Tour MEETING LOCATION

    WHERE & WHEN: TELEGRAPH COVE MARINA FUEL DOCK AT 3 PM

    On day 1 of your trip you will meet the water taxi driver, James Wilson from Silver King Ventures, in Telegraph Cove at 3 pm on Vancouver Island. (An approx. 5.5-hour drive by car north of Victoria or 4 hours north of Nanaimo.) There is a parking and unloading area conveniently located near the general store and dock entrance. You’ll find the Silver King boat (“Rainbow Chaser”- which has yellow and black taxi markings) at the very end of the boardwalk at the bottom of the ramp at the fuel dock. Please arrive 20 minutes early to allow time to unload, carry your luggage down to the dock, and arrange parking (if necessary).

    Your water taxi journey will be approx. 40 minutes and will give us the remainder of the day for settling into camp, camp orientation, paddling, and enjoying this beautiful setting.

    The previous group at the camp will have checked out at midday, so the Spirit of the West Team will have had time to thoroughly clean and sanitize tents and common areas.


     

    ITINERARY

    Below you will find our recommended or typical trip itinerary. Please remember that paddling times and distances may vary based on group desire and abilities. Your guides have extensive training and will let you know what is possible in terms of safety, weather, and sea conditions.

    DAY 1

    Rise and shine ready for adventure!

    We suggest spending part of your day in Telegraph Cove exploring this historic village. Telegraph Cove is home to a restaurant, cafe, and a small general store if you wish to enjoy a meal on the boardwalk.

    Start your trip with a visit trip to the Johnstone Strait Killer Whale Interpretative Centre. A visit to this centre is the perfect primer for your kayaking adventure, with impressive displays of full-sized whale skeletons, interpretative information about the area, and helpful and knowledgable guides to show you around the Centre if you wish. Please check-in at the desk and let them know you are a Spirit of the West guest and we cover your admission fee. (We recommend reserving approx. 1 hour for your visit to the Centre)

    At 3 pm (unless otherwise informed) meet your water taxi at the end of the boardwalk by the fuel dock. After a safety briefing, our captain James takes us across Johnstone Strait into Blackfish Sound. En route, sightings of marine life such as porpoises, dolphins, sea lions, and whales are common.

    After arriving our team will provide a thorough safety briefing and orientation. We will then settle into the camp and have dinner followed by a kayak orientation and set off on a post-dinner paddle. Enjoy the sunset from the lounge or hot tub overlooking the ocean before retiring to rest for more explorations in the morning. *Hot tub available via reservation system for groups of independent travelers (those not privately bubbled together – see your option to book this camp as a private bubble tour.)

    DAY 2 and 3

    After a hearty camp breakfast, we will meet to discuss our plans for the day. Our route and schedule will depend on weather conditions, wildlife viewing opportunities, and group preferences. Generally, we set out in our kayaks after breakfast and paddle to one of the area’s many pocket beaches for a picnic lunch before paddling ‘home’ again in time for some relaxation time before dinner. There is always something to see and learn around the camp. On our way, we’ll take breaks for stretching and snacks, and we always take lots of time to explore the intricate shoreline, rich intertidal world, and marine and land-based wildlife.

    DAY 4

    This is our last day of exploration. For those that are keen we will have an early morning paddle returning to camp for brunch and to pack up our things and soak up the last bit of tranquility before the water taxi arrives between 12-12:30 to transport you back to the starting point. You should be back in Telegraph Cove by approx. 1 pm for your onward travels or to explore more of what North Vancouver Island has to offer.

     

    FAQ

    Where can I learn about you COVID - 19 safety plan?

    Click here to visit our COVID – 19 Resource Centre:

    • learn about safety measures, mitigation plan, and procedures
    • see answers to our most frequently asked questions about COVID
    • learn how to travel and adventure safely in British Columbia.

    To read our Terms and Conditions, please click here.

    We also published a Travel Insurance 101 and a guide for Travel Insurance in a World with Covid-19 which will help you answer basic travel insurance questions, such as ‘What is travel insurance?’ and ‘Why do I need it?’

    Please don’t hesitate to contact our office if you have any further questions. We are here to assist you every day from 9am onwards.

    What is the minimum age required to join our tours?

    On our regularly scheduled tours – for groups of independent travellers that come together for this experience we have a minimum age of 12.

    If you book this tour as a private bubble group tour, you are welcome to bring your younger kids starting at age 6. The tour can be tailored to you and our family. Depending on your desire and abilities we can custom design the daily schedule and kayaking.

    Can you accommodate food allergies/special diets?

    We are well versed in accommodating dietary restrictions. We are able to offer gluten-free, vegetarian, pescatarian, dairy light, and vegan menus with prior notice. Other dietary requests may involve additional charges and need to be discussed in advance with our food crew. We are NOT a nut-free facility.

    Will I comfortably fit in the kayaks?

    If you are over 6ft (182cms) tall, if you are on the more petite side of things, have larger hips or weigh over 250lbs (115 kg) we have certain kayaks that may work best for you. Please give us a call and we can ensure we have the appropriate kayak available for you.

     

    What is included in the tour costs?

    We supply everything that you will need for kayaking and camping except for a few personal items such as your own face mask and hand sanitizer for travelling and for the water taxi ride to camp, clothing, toiletries, and rain gear (rain gear can be rented if needed). Please note that bedding is provided on the Whales & Wilderness Glamping tour.

    We provide all meals from dinner on day one to brunch on the last day. Non-alcoholic beverages including a variety of teas, coffee, juices, hot chocolate are provided. Alcohol is not provided and you are welcome to bring your favourite wine, beer or pop to enjoy responsibly.

    What do I need to bring?

    We ask you to bring your own face mask and hand sanitizer for travelling and for the water taxi ride to camp. Please find all details in the packing list.

    Once you book your Whales & Wilderness Glamping tour you will receive a detailed guest handbook which includes a comprehensive packing list. If you would like to see what type of clothing and items we recommend before that, please click on the ‘packing’ tab above.

    How much kayaking experience is required?

    This tour is designed to cater to all levels of experience and abilities from first-timer to expert paddler. 

    Remember that this tour can be booked as a customized and tailored trip for your private group. Paddling days on the water can be adapted to shorter or longer excursions depending on your group desire and abilities. Your guides have extensive training in keeping all sea kayaking excursions safe and joyful and will always consult the group in terms of the weather and wind forecasts. You will be able to discuss your daily schedule with your guides or share any trip ideas with us before booking or at the virtual pre-trip meeting.

    If you are new to kayaking and camping, our basecamp tours could be the perfect fit for you: Whales and Wilderness Glamping and Johnstone Strait Ultimate.

    If you are looking for more rustic camping and more paddling check out our expedition style tours; the Johnstone Strait Expedition, Orca Lite, Nuchatlitz, Desolation Sound or Great Bear Rainforest Tours.

    Do I need to be in great shape for this trip?

    The majority of our adventures are not considered to be overly strenuous or physically demanding and therefore do not require a high level of fitness. Each tour is slightly different in its demands so if you are concerned, please do contact us. As a general rule, you need to be capable of a few hours of moderate exercise each day and be comfortable with the uneven ground of a wilderness environment. The Whales and Wilderness can be suited to folks with mildly limited mobility or those who wish to be in the wilderness, but not do any kayaking (you can always choose to stay at camp on our base-camping style tours). Please keep in mind that good general health will go a long way towards the enjoyment of your tour. Most important though is an adventurous spirit.

    How much paddling do we do each day?

    Generally, we travel between 3-5 hours a day on our basecamping style tours. We set a pace which is manageable and enjoyable for all.

    Is there electricity at the camp?

    We have plenty of electricity supplied by solar panels and a battery bank. When the weather is nice, we have more power; when it’s not, we have a little less. Each of the tents have LED lighting to see at night. Everyone should be able to charge a camera battery or phone during the trip, but we are not able to power high-demand appliances like hair dryers.

    How many people sleep in each tent?

    The tents are designed for two adults, or two adults and up to two children. Each tent contains two twin beds that can be pushed together to make a king size bed if you prefer. We have 8 tents at this camp and it usually is no problem to have your own tent. The exception would be if we have a large number of solo travelers joining your particular date. If this was the case we would do our best to pair you up with a suitable tent mate. Call us in the office if this is a concern and you would like to see what the composition of the group on particular dates is like.

    For our private bubble group tours, of course you can decide amongst yourselves how the tent arrangement works for group.

    How stable are the kayaks? What is the likelihood of flipping over?

    The kayaks we use are stable and designed for comfort. Your guides will give you thorough instruction on how to safely use and enjoy the kayaks and what to do in case of a capsize. Nonetheless, if it does happen your well-trained guides will be there before you know it to help.

    What happens if my kayak flips over?

    In the rare event of a capsize, all of our guides are trained in rescue procedures in order to quickly and efficiently get you back in your boat, with appropriate modifications to maintain physical distancing. At this point, we will take you to the nearest shoreline to change into some warm clothing and carry on with our journey when you are ready. While we are out on the water, it is of the utmost importance that the group stays together for safety.

    If the weather turns bad? Will I be comfy and warm?

    Our weather in the Pacific Northwest is generally pleasant from May through until September. For a reference please check the Port McNeill, BC weather forecast.

    Fog is very common on summer mornings, however, this nearly always clears at midday. Although it is uncommon, it can rain in the summer. Be prepared for any type of weather and you will stay comfortable. Layering is the key. It allows you to put on or take off layers while on the water if you need to. This camp offers two hot showers and a wood-fired hot tub to keep you fresh and warm end of the paddling day.

    What sort of wildlife might we see?

    The diversity and abundance of wildlife in the Pacific Northwest and in particular in the Blackfish Sound region where our glamping camp is located are one of our great privileges. From the rich marine life of colourful plants and invertebrates, seabirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, mink, otter, seals, sea lions, dolphins, and whales, to the land animals of deer, raccoons, cougars, wolves, and bears, we are bound to see something.

    For those keen to see humpback whales, you are in luck. The population of humpbacks in our area is doing well and we are fortunate to often see these whales any time of the year. If orcas are your main priority then we recommend traveling between mid-July and mid-September.

    Please just remember that wildlife is just that wild and we cannot control sightings. That said, the whales are the icing on the cake in this stunning, rich and diverse area.

    How close to we paddle to whales & other wildlife?

    We do our very best to provide awesome sightings of whales but all the while ensuring that we do not disrupt the natural behaviour of all the wildlife we encounter. We abide by the Canadian whale watching regulations which means we do not approach killer whales (orcas) any closer than 200 meters (656 ft) and all other cetaceans no closer than 100 meters (328 ft).

    To learn more about how we do our best to minimize our impacts on whales, check out nimmsa.org the North Island Marine Mammal Stewardship Association. Your trip fees help to fund whale research and conservation efforts through the NIMMSA fund which Spirit of the West contributes to.

    What is the camp setup like?

    If you are looking for the most comfortable camping experience, this tour is your best choice! The Whales and Wilderness Glamping provides large walk-in canvas wall style tents, real beds with organic soy foam mattresses, pillows of various levels of firmness, warm bedding, two hot showers, wood-fired hot tub, a large deck with a comfortable lounge and our Blackfish Sound Bistro to enjoy your meals.

    Since 2020, the newest camp addition include private outdoor toilets for each tent as well as a hand-wash station!

    Where do we wash and are there toilets?

    You are offered two hot freshwater showers and established pit style outhouses. We provide soap but if you want to bring your own, we kindly ask you to bring biodegradable, environmentally friendly brands.

    Since 2020, the newest camp addition include private outdoor toilet for each tent as well as a hand wash station!

    Where can I leave my vehicle while on tour?

    TBD

    Where do I have to get to to start this trip and how long does the boat ride take into camp?

    TELEGRAPH COVE MARINA FUEL DOCK AT 3 PM

    On day 1 of your trip you will meet the water taxi driver, James Wilson from Silver King Ventures, in Telegraph Cove at 3 pm on Vancouver Island. (An approx. 5.5-hour drive by car north of Victoria or 4 hours north of Nanaimo.) There is a parking and unloading area conveniently located near the general store and dock entrance. You’ll find the Silver King boat (“Rainbow Chaser”- which has yellow and black taxi markings) at the very end of the boardwalk at the bottom of the ramp at the fuel dock. Please arrive 20 minutes early to allow time to unload, carry your luggage down to the dock, and arrange parking (if necessary).

    Your water taxi journey will be approx. 40 minutes and will give us the remainder of the day for settling into camp, camp orientation, paddling, and enjoying this beautiful setting.

    What about kayak preferences? Do you provide double and single kayaks?

    We use a mix of single and double kayaks on every trip. Double kayaks offer great advantages for carrying cargo, matching paddler abilities, or sharing the load if someone is feeling a little tired one day. If there are a lot of people on one trip that prefer singles then we take turns in the double(s), so we ask that everyone have a bit of flexibility with regard to what they paddle.

    If I would like to tip the guides, what is the industry standard?

    If you would like to express your appreciation to the guides through a gratuity, such recognition would be enthusiastically received. The industry standard for tipping is approx. 10% per person of the trip cost. All tips received will be collected and disbursed amongst your guides & basecrew by the trip leader.

    Reviews

    We're proud of our great reviews - but don't just take our word for it, see what people are saying over on Trip Advisor. View Reviews

    THE EXPERIENCE

    “During the pandemic we felt super grateful to be able to have this amazing experience. You handled the change in logistics wonderfully. Our guides were impeccable, informative but also allowing for quiet times.”

    Claudia Casper

    September 2020

    “Exceeded expectations in all respects. Wonderful hosts/guides who provided personal attention: Brandon, Bev, & Mel went to every length to accommodate me (with a back injury). Kayaking was wonderful and well planned and led. Saw lots of marine life- orcas & humpbacks superb! Really appreciated the guides’ knowledge and sharing.”

    Ian Hill

    July 2020

    "We were very satisfied with the COVID precautions and the guides did a great job working within the rules as well as set a good example for my family to follow."

    Chris Bulowski

    August 2020

    "Exceeded Expectations! Highly Recommend!"
    It was the trip of a lifetime! Everything was perfect. I'm from the West Coast and have seen lots of whales in my lifetime... or so I thought. We saw many humpacks, pacific white sided dolphins, orcas, porpoises, eagles, and sea lions.
    We fell asleep to the sounds of whales and sea lions at night. We soaked in the hot tub after long days of kayaking and played with the bio luminescence at night. Dolphins interacted with humpbacks and killer whales and multiple pods of dolphins road our wake and swam all around us. It was like heaven for a whale enthusiast like myself!

    Ash and Rowan were fantastic guides with incredible knowledge and positive vibes. The kayaking everyday was easy and enjoyable for everyone. Neil is an incredible chef.

    I have done a lot of travel throughout Canada and I think this tops it all - a big thank-you!"

    Sarah

    September 2019

    "The Best of BC: Wild nature, wonderful people. It doesn't get better than this!"

    Alastair

    July 2018

    "Whales and Glamping! Who could ask for more? This was an amazing experience. We hadn't even got in our kayaks when our guide (Kevin) had to rush onto the water to rescue a drowning juvenile bald eagle. Scooped onto the deck of his kayak via a paddle under his butt, he dried out for several hours on the shore and recovered. Hard to top that, but we did. So many humpback whale viewings, sea lions, convocations of eagles and orcas. The campsite is located in a truly outstanding location, hot showers, gourmet food and fabulous staff rounded out our trip. If you are looking for an outdoors trip, this is it."

    Anna-Loise

    June 2018

    "If ever you want to kayak and get up close and personal to whales and orcas and dolphins and... Followed by perhaps a cold swim and or a hot tub and comfortable beds and great food, this is the trip for you. Oh, and fabulous guides as well!"

    Jan

    August 2018

    "My husband purchased this trip for us both as last year's Christmas present - it turned-out to be the best Christmas present ever! I'd never been to coastal British Columbia before, and the scenery is beyond amazing. And the wildlife is unbelievable - I can't believe how much we saw in just four days. This company is very organized, the trips are well-run, and the guides are great. Also, the food is amazing. We got lucky with great weather and nice people on the trip, but the rest is definitely due to the great team at Spirt of the West. It's also worth sticking around the area a few days after the trip - there's so much to see and do!"

    Alison

    August 2019

    "From the moment you start communicating with the SOTW team, you understand immediately why they have an excellent rating. They were informative when I was researching, helpful when I had complex travel needs, incredibly FUN and safety minded. We had all gear and full delicious meals and lots of adventures. I had such an amazing time getting to know the guides (truly incredible) and the fellow guests (a fun bunch for sure!). We had lots of hours on the water and such unbelievable sightings of wildlife. I was quite sad and emotional to end the week - saying good-bye knowing that this moment would not likely be repeated. This is truly an incredible way to take a vacation, get off the grid and reconnect in many ways."

    Sue

    July 2016

    "Beautiful scenery, expert guides, great equipment and DELICIOUS food. I can't rate Spirit of the West highly enough - and what a beautiful are of the world to explore in a kayak!
    We saw lots of wildlife (including humpbacks and eagles), our guides were exceptional - thank you!
    I've done broadly similar trips in Finland and Ontario in the past - as good as they were, they don't even compare to Spirit of the West. Not sure how my future vacations will ever live up to this amazing experience!"

    Soph

    September 2016

    "The water taxi ride to and from the base camp was so much fun, especially on the way home. The White-sided dolphins played in the water beside us for 15 minutes, jumping and chasing us. A highlight of the trip."

    Kath

    September 2016

    "Without a doubt the best trip I have ever taken! I'm still in Awe and Wonder."

    Henry

    August 2016

    "It was incredible to see orcas, humpback whales, minkes, eagles... the wildlife was superb. Our guides were awesome: very friendly, helpful, hard working but also relaxed. They created a great group atmosphere. I would highly recommend this trip... a once in a lifetime experience."

    Christina

    August 2016

    "Awesome! I love you guys! Want to bring my daughter. Thank you so much for a trip I will never forget! Thank you all!"

    Yvonne Piazza

    “A Whale of a Time... again!”

    Nic

    July 2016

    "Best honeymoon ever"

    Wendy Foster

    Summer 2015

    "Outstanding outfitter for sea kayak expeditions! Everything was organized top notch starting with getting us there, keeping us safe, well fed and teaching us all about the sea, marine life and environment.
    Our guides were fantastic!
    Highly recommended!"

    Kyle

    June 2016

    "Over the top! I hate writing reviews but Spirit if the West certainly deserves an EXCELLENT PLUS. This was my 4th trip with Spirit of the West and as usual nothing on the coast can compare with the experience!"

    Ray

    September 2015

    THE GUIDES

    “Above and beyond! We so very much appreciated the guides knowledge of the environment/wildlife and their attention to detail and the guests. Everything was wonderful and lots of fun! Thank you!

    Michele Wallcraft

    August 2020

    "Everyone very helpful and patient. Food, kayaking, accommodations all great. People before trip on phone very helpful. A trip we will always remember. Thank you!"

    Ruth Gilmour

    "We both really enjoyed the trip. The guides, area and wildlife were amazing. Great balance between organized time and "own time" Guides were very accommodating, relaxed, made all feel welcome!"

    Heather and Mark Elliott

    "Experience of a life time. I will be back with my family. Your dedication to your company 'shined' through your staff."

    Lynun Rtley

    "The trip was all around awesome.
    This guides and organization was phenomenal."

    Charles Berdemann

    "So impressed with the guides depth of knowledge and how the trip is run so smoothly. Base camp is a wonderful place. Would be happy to wake up every morning there."

    Helen McDonnoll

    THE CAMP & FOOD

    “Quality of the accommodations were exactly what we hoped kayaking was great with enough but not too much instruction. Location is spectacular.”

    Earl Lawson

    July 2020

    "Friendly guides, fun, great food, and group was super too! Hot tub and shower unreal! "

    Carol

    "With my dietary limitations, everyone at Spirit of the West went out of their way to make delicious food. I have never gotten service like that before."

    Carmen Petrick

    “Great trip, great camp, never seen a beautiful hot tub in such a beautiful scenery.”

    Andreas

    “Awesome! Most luxurious camping trip ever with fun and knowledgeable staff!”

    Ryan

    The food… ahhh yum. The hot tub and tent amenities were luxurious! Overall I feel very satisfied and unwilling to leave! Thank you to the great staff for a wonderful experience!”

    Jenny Berger

    “Fantastic overall. Wonderful food and accommodations top notch (hot tub!) Amazing guides, great pace. Essentially a perfect trip. Bascamp, food, guides are all amazing. Keep it up! Thank you for being awesome!”

    Peter

    THE WILDLIFE

    “Oh the whales and the sea lions and wild weather and the eagles….a perfect West coast experience. We loved every moment."

    Jennifer Black

    September 2020

    “Welcomed on day 1 by orcas & humpbacks!!! 3 days of viewing orcas, humpbacks, and porpoises was unbelievable. Completely calm water most of the time. Great food. Great guides.”

    Anita Winkle

    July 2020

    "Beyond expectations - deluxe guiding, food and hot tub! The kayaking was amazing, The wildlife just incredible!"

    Ben Smith

    "A truly wonderful and inspiring trip. I slept under the stars last night to hear the orcas and was lucky enough to see an incredible asteroid shower. A once in a lifetime experience. (Although I hope to repeat it soon!)"

    (John) Brian Weir

    "OMG!! Saw everything, whales, humpback, bear, eagle, seals. The guides were amazing, knowledgeable, funny and friendly! The guests were great everyone got along. Felt like we were all old friends."

    Pam Vandumeu

    Packing

    On our Whales and Wilderness 2020 tour we are transported to our wilderness base camp by boat which is equipped to carry all of our passengers in a comfortable, safe and COVID-19-responsible way. With this style of tour we are not restricted in the amount of luggage and gear we can bring as our gear does not have to fit in the kayaks. Although your gear will be stored in the cabin of the boat, you may want to waterproof some items, in the unlikely event that it may get wet while being transferring to and from the boat.

    At our glamping paradise on Swanson Island we have dry bags (waterproof bags) that will be given to you for use while kayaking. The small dry bags are great for cameras, sunscreen, and other small personal items that you would like to have near you. The larger ones will be for your spare clothing for the day.

    TEMPERATURES

    Please note that our summer temperatures from July until September are generally quite comfortable with temperatures from 18-30 degrees Celsius / 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s not uncommon to find mid day summers hot enough to want to cool off in the ocean! June and later September will have cooler temperatures, and at ANY TIME OF YEAR we can have rain & wind, with temperatures occasionally as low as 13 C / 55 F. So, we say it is best to come prepared for any type of weather.

    PLEASE NOTE WHAT WE PROVIDE:

    • All safety & kayaking gear
    • Everything you need for the perfect glamping experience:

    – WALK-IN CANVAS TENTS ON WOODEN PLATFORMS
    – REAL BEDS (2 TWIN SIZE OR 1 KING SIZE)
    – THICK SOY FOAM MATTRESSES
    – WARM BLANKETS, 2 PILLOWS, LINENS
    – BATH TOWELS
    – FLASHLIGHT/HEADLAMP
    – HOT WATER BOTTLE

    – MOSQUITO REPELLENT (Insects are generally not a significant concern for us on the coast)
    – TEA/COFFEE MUG
    – DRY BAGS
    – LIBRARY OF NATURAL HISTORY BOOKS
    – CAMP BINOCULARS (you may wish to bring your own pair for paddling)

    The following is a list of suggested items to bring along. If you have any concerns or questions about the list, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

    • Face mask & hand sanitizer – You will be asked to bring your own face mask(s) and hand sanitizer for travelling and for the water taxi ride to camp. We will also provide them at the camp for use in certain circumstances where physical distancing cannot be maintained and or as identified by your guides.

     

    • Wetshoes – A pair that can get wet such as sturdy full strapped sandals (such as Keens, Tevas or Chacos), neoprene booties, crocs, or rubber boots. Please avoid flip-flops/thongs. Spirit of the West has a wide range of rubber boot sizes (youth – men’s size 13) available to borrow free of charge if you don’t have your own wet shoes or have limited space in your luggage. 
    • Camp footwear – An additional pair of footwear that you plan to keep dry. Runners, trainers or light hikers are great.
    • Hat – A sun hat such as a baseball hat or full-brimmed hat as well as a wool or fleece warm hat for evenings or cooler days.
    • Sunglasses & sunscreen – A must for protection from sun and glare off of the water. Safety cords on your glasses are highly recommended.
    • Camera – In a waterproof bag or case, or you may use our dry bags.
    • Medication – If you are bringing medication please ensure that… 1) The name and expiry date of drug is on the container; 2) You have the detailed instructions of your dosage and frequency; 3) It is packed in a water and sunproof container; 4) You bring a full extra dosage of your medication in a separate container to leave with your guide, in case you misplace or lose yours, or are weathered in. If you are flying, please pack all necessary medication in your carry-on luggage. This will help eliminate some stress should your checked bags be misplaced in transit.

    • Ziploc bags or other large plastic bag – We will provide you with dry bags, but these come in handy for transporting laundry and/or wet clothing.
    • Gloves (optional) – Biking gloves work well to protect your hands from blisters. If you are really concerned abut cold hands, and are paddling in the spring or fall seasons, you may want to invest in neoprene gloves or pogies.
    • Beverages – We supply a wide range of teas and coffee as well as juices. You are welcome to bring along soda pops or alcoholic beverages if you choose to. Please note however that we do expect our guests to consume alcoholic beverages responsibly and strictly enforce a no alcohol on the water policy.
    • Personal items – Toothbrush, toothpaste, biodegradable soap/shampoo, washcloth, feminine hygiene products, hairbrush, etc.
    • Book or journal
    • Fishing gear (optional) – Make sure you have a valid B.C. fishing license. These can be purchased on-line at http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/rec/licence-permis/index-eng.htm
    • Gratuity for your guides – at your own discretion.

    CLOTHING

    Clothing should be suitable for the time of year, bearing in mind that it could become cold and wet at any time of year. Layering is the best way to regulate body temperature and maintain warmth. We suggest avoiding cotton (except for those hot days). Cotton has no insulation value when wet. An inner material that wicks moisture from the body and gives a comfortable dry feeling even while wet is the best first layer (Polypropylene, Lycra, Nylon, Polyester). A synthetic material such as fleece or pile makes the best second layer to provide warmth. Wool is also suitable.

    • Rain jacket & rain pants – For the unexpected nasty weather. To test your waterproofness – jump in the shower and see if you stay dry! (we’re serious!). If you would like to rent/hire rain gear from us, please reserve in advance of the tour. Tops and bottoms can be rented for $25 plus tax for the set.
    • Light windproof jacket (optional)
    • Long-sleeved non-cotton shirt (synthetic/wool) – 2
    • Long pants – 1 pair of fleece or warm comfortable pants. 2 lighter pairs made of a quick drying, synthetic fabric. Athletic style pants (running or yoga) are generally appropriate. Jeans are NOT recommended for paddling.
    • Shorts – 1-2 quick dry nylon
    • T-shirts – 2 or 3
    • Lightweight long underwear – 2 pairs, helps to keep you warm at night or as a base layer during the day. We recommend one set for kayaking and one set which is reserved for sleeping and always stays dry.
    • Sweaters – 2 warm wool or fleece sweaters (one may be all you need, but it is nice to have a spare in case one gets wet)
    • Bathing suit –  For the hot tub, or brave ocean swimmers!
    • Warm socks – 3 to 5 pair (1 warmer pair for around camp)
    • Undergarments
    • An extra set of clothes that you may want to reserve for the end of the trip.

     

    Book Now

    Our online booking system allows you easy access to booking your tour with Spirit of the West Adventures, any time of day. If you think that you would like to book a trip, but need time to look into other travel arrangements, please contact our office and we will place a temporary hold on your spaces. We also offer real humans to speak with if that’s your preference, so feel free to call our office at 1-800-307-3982 (from within Canada and the U.S) or 1-250-285-2121 (from overseas). We can be reached by email at [email protected] If, for any reason, you are having trouble booking your trip, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are always happy to help!


    IMPORTANT NOTE

    Cancel For Any Reason insurance is essential to protect your investment in your experience. Policies must be purchased within a limited timeframe after paying for any portion of your trip: within 72 hours for Canadians and within 1-2 weeks for Americans. Please learn more here.

    If you are booking from outside of Canada, do not use this booking form. Please contact us by phone or email to place your tentative reservation. Click here for more details.



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