Bowron Lakes Canoe Tour
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We Take Care Of You
We do the planning, logistics, and support. You do the experience and the fun.
From pickup to return, we cover everything you need, except your personal items. We take you to and from the trip start, and feed you well along the way. We can't guarantee weight loss on our tours.
Our guides get out into our areas. They know the ins and outs of the trip and provide exceptional interpretation of flora, fauna and history. You'll know more after you leave.
We give you an entire packet of information on how to prepare, what to bring, how to pack, and a plan for training so you can fully enjoy the trip. Our care for you starts before you even arrive.
10-day Canoeing Tour
The Bowron Lakes are considered the quintessential lake canoeing experience in Canada. The 116 km route, through the ruggedly scenic Cariboo Mountains, is comprised of 6 major lakes and a series of connecting streams, rivers and portages. The portages of the Bowron Lakes are made easier through the use of specially designed carts which allow canoes and equipment to be wheeled between lakes. We compliment our canoeing with some short hikes to view the Isaac River cascades and the impressive Cariboo Falls.
Besides its natural beauty, the Bowron Lakes are a wildlife sanctuary. Paddlers may see beavers, bears, otters, and moose feeding by the waterways.The Bowron River estuary is a birdwatcher’s paradise with an immense variety of bird life, including coots, mergansers, widgeon, mallards and Canadian geese. Campsites along the Bowron Lakes, set aside for our sole use, ensure the solitude so necessary for a meaningful wilderness experience.
- CANOEING DAYS: 7.5
- TRAVEL DAYS: 2.5
- RATING: BEGINNER
This is our typical itinerary for this tour. Because we are travelling in wilderness, itineraries can change. There are many factors that can affect how a tour actually runs. We confirm pickup times by phone, email or SMS at least 12 hours before.
This trip begins in Nanaimo, where we will arrange your pickup to drive to the location where we begin the activity.
Arrival in Vancouver in preparation for pickup and departure the next mornimg.
Transportation from Vancouver to Bowron Lakes, in our 15 passenger van. Pick-up is on the North Shore of Vancouver, early! Our campsite is at Bear River Mercantile. We will use the evening [dependent on our arrival time] to prepare for the next morning.
You’ll be wondering whether this is indeed a canoeing expedition as the two longest portages along the circuit are today. The portages are made easier by the use of specially designed carts which allow canoes and a some equipment to be wheeled between lakes. The first portage is to Kibbee Lake. Kibbee Lake is a short lake, only 2.4 km long. Just the ideal length to begin to work on technique and acclimatizing muscles. Our second portage (2 km) will take us to Indianpoint Lake. A short paddle will bring us to our campsite at Kruger Bay.
From Kruger Bay, Indianpoint Lake narrows and our route wanders through a small marsh. Beaver dams and lodges dot the area. The Isaac Lake portage (1.6 km) brings us to Isaac Lake, the longest lake on the circuit. Some of the most breathtaking alpine scenery is located along Isaac and Lanezi lakes. Our campsite is Wolverine Bay .
Isaac Lake is notorious for its winds and sudden squalls. We will get an early start to take advantage of the morning calm. This will be a day to enjoy the surrounding grandeur and absence of any portages. We will stop to see the cabin at Moxley Creek and take in some of the earlier “artwork” of circuit paddlers. We will camp along Isaac.
Once again we will get an early start to take advantage of the calm. Our paddle continues amidst the surrounding peaks and ridges to our destination at the end of Isaac Lake. This will be a short day. Weather and conditions cooperating, we will have time to play in the fast water of Isaac River.
It’s portage time again. The Isaac River connects Isaac Lake with McLeary Lake. After about a 1.6 km portage we will put in on Isaac River and cross over to the other side and continue portaging (1.2 km) to McLeary Lake. Along this stretch we will hike off the path to view Isaac Falls. McLeary Lake is but a backwater formed by the confluence of the Isaac and Cariboo rivers. Having paddled McLeary we will enter the Cariboo River for a winding (5.2 km) ride into Lanezi Lake. Our campsite is at Turner Creek.
Our paddle on Lanezi Lake takes us past imposing Ishpa Mountain (2530 m). We enter a short section of the Cariboo River at the end of Lanezi. This 1.2 km stretch of river brings us to Sandy Lake. Just before Sandy Lake are mineral deposits which attract animals. Sandy Lake is as the name implies. Shallow water and sandy beaches make it an ideal spot to take a dip. At the end of Sandy Lake we once again enter the Cariboo River for 4 km. Our campsite is Unna Lake. The vegetation is unique here, as it lies in a rain-shadow area, and as a result, is much drier than surrounding areas. After setting up camp, we will paddle to the south end of the lake and then hike 1.5 km to spectacular Cariboo Falls.
You will have become aware of the change from the high mountains and ridges of Isaac and Lanezi to a more undulating topography. We have to portage our canoes to Babcock Lake. Babcock Lake is an ideal location to observe moose, who enjoy the lush vegetation along its shoreline. A short (very) portage (400 m) will bring us to Skoi Lake. No sooner do we put in, than we begin another short (very) and final portage (400 m) to Spectacle Lake. Our campsite is Pat Point.
This is our last day on the circuit. We will leave early in the morning in the hopes of completing our paddle by mid-afternoon. Our paddle will take us past Pavich Island, once named Deadman’s Island, as it was believed that many Takullis died here from small pox. At the end of Swan Lake we will enter the Bowron River for 4 km. The Bowron River estuary is a prime bird area. There is an immense variety of bird life found here. The Bowron River empties into Bowron Lake and the last lake in the circuit. Our hope is that we will have sufficient time to visit Barkerville, restored historical center of the Cariboo Gold Rush. We will stay in Williams Lake for the evening.
We will return you to Vancouver, arriving in the late afternoon or evening.
Included Not Included Transportation from and to the departure location (pick up and drop off) Your transportation to the departure location (from your home) All kayaking gear Water Boots or shoes Dry bags to keep your things dry Sleeping bags or mats (available for rent) All park fees and camping fees National Park entry fees (may change as Parks alters their policies) All meals (except on any travel days) Some food (on travel days) Professional guides Gratuities are not included. Recognizing your guide for their hard work and care is always appreciated; $10-20/day per guide is recommended. Tent (shared) A substantial preparation guide Gear rental options
Getting There And
Where To Stay
If you are travelling into the Vancouver, Victoria, or Nanaimo area from afar, you should arrive at the departure location (in Nanaimo) for your trip the day/evening prior to the trip start date and plan to leave the day following trip return.
You can fly to Vancouver (airport code YVR) or Seattle (airport code SEA) then connect to Vancouver Island using ferry, bus, or air, or arrange flights directly to Vancouver Island.
Flying to Victoria (Airport code YYJ)
Flying to Nanaimo (Airport code YCD)
Nanaimo Airporter shuttle service.
Servicing all of Vancouver Island from airports to ferrys to cruise ship terminals. Tel: 1 250 758-2133
BC Ferries 1-888-BC FERRY (1-888-223-3779)
We will let you know the ferry to take for travelling to Vancouver Island, but if you want to check out times, you can go the the BC Ferries website at:
Where to Stay
Naniamo Pick up & Hotels
Pick up: Departure Bay, Duke Point Ferry Terminal, or the following Accommodations:
Days Inn Harbour View Nanaimo
Address: 809 Island Hwy South, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada, V9R 5K1
Phone (250) 754-8171
Best Western Dorchester Hotel
Address: 70 Church, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada, V9R 5H4
Phone: (250) 754-6835
Painted Turtle Guesthouse
Address: 121 Bastion Street, Nanaimo, British Columbia CANADA, V9R 3A2
Toll Free: 1-866-309-4432
Phone: (250) 753-4432
Preparing For Your Trip
How you prepare for your adventure is important. Being well prepared will enhance the quality of your experience. Because we are travelling in wilderness, it is very important for you and for the rest of your adventure group that you are fit enough to handle the level of difficulty and demand with no problems. Our guides know how to minimize the impact of these demands as much as possible, but they cannot remove them. The depth of your experience can only increase if you have made sure that you have prepared well.
Your preparation will be different for different activities. Preparing for a kayak trip is different from preparing for a hiking trip. We have provided some basic information that can be downloaded through the following links to pdf documents. If you do not have the Adobe Reader, you can download it from the Adobe site by clicking here.
Use the links below to download some of the preparation files for this hiking or kayaking tour. When you book your tour, we will send you a complete preparation packet to help you get ready.Please take this seriously. Most people are unaware of the demands of a coastal environment, particularly with keeping dry and warm. Your preparation will really help make your coastal hiking or kayaking tour a great experience.
We have gear available to rent if you don't want to buy a particular piece of equipment, or need to travel without it.
Look over the following list to help you decide whether you want to rent. If you decide to rent gear, you can tell us on the phone or book it online with your tour.
Item Price Sleeping Bag Rental $55.00 Thermarest Rental $20.00 Water Booties Rental $10.00 Wetsuit Rental $20.00 Helmet Rental $10.00 Rental Bundle 4-sleeping bag+sleeping pad+water booties $65.00