Kayak With Whales - Orca Waters Base Camp Kayak Tour
Imagine waking one morning to the sound of a humpback whale's blow as it swims past your ocean side tent. Later that same day watch in awe as a pod of killer whales, also known as orcas, swim past your kayak as a bald eagles swoops down to catch a salmon. This can all happen on Kingfisher's Orca Waters Base Camp kayak tour.
There is no better place in the world to kayak with both killer whales and humpback whales than Johnstone Strait and Blackfish Sound off the northeastern corner of Vancouver Island. This area is recognized as one of the most predictable places in the world to see these great marine mammals and Kingfisher's Orca Waters Base Camp is located right in the heart of these wildlife rich waters on an island covered in old growth rainforest.
During a four day and three night stay at the Orca Waters Base Camp you explore the variety of kayaking routes the area has to offer. Killer whales and humpback whales regularly pass by the camp, often while you are enjoying the morning's first cup of french pressed organic coffee or a dinner of locally caught salmon around the campfire. The nearby waters are home to harbour seals, porpoises, minke whales, and rich inter-tidal life. A number of bald eagle nests and a Steller sea lion haul out are all within easily paddling distance of camp and it is not uncommon to see humpback whales lunging through swarms of krill as they fatten up for their migration south.
Kingfisher's guides are well acquainted with the natural history, whales, and other wildlife of British Columbia's coast, knowledge which they eagerly share. It is hard to miss a killer whale's six foot dorsal fin as it passes your kayak, but your guides also help you spot the less obvious sea stars, urchins and anemones in the shallows and educate you about the other whales, seals, porpoises, and dolphins that frequent these waters.
The Orca Waters Base Camp offers a very comfortable camping experience and with Kingfisher's knowledgeable kayak guides this tour is suitable for adventurous travellers even if they have little or no kayaking or camping experience. Roomy tents, each raised off the ground on wooden platforms, are situated throughout the forest with views of the ocean. New for 2014 are tents providing standing room for most guests (1.9 metres tall) and are outfitted with wooden beds with the thickest and widest Therm-a-rest mattresses made. Sheets, fleece blankets, full size pillows, and hot water bottles are all provided to ensure a good nights sleep. For cooler nights, warm barrel style sleeping bags are also provided. A re-charging station for digital cameras, an extensive library of natural history books, a propane heated shower, a rustic beach side sauna, and a large covered kitchen and dining area made from locally milled red cedar makes for a very comfortable camping experience.
On the water we use stable single and double fibreglass kayaks and lightweight carbon/vinyl paddles. Waterproof kayaking jackets and neoprene kayaking mitts are provided to keep you warm and dry while kayaking. On a full trip with eight guests and two guides we use six single and two double kayaks allowing guests to spend time in each type. If you prefer to use a double kayak for the entire trip just let us know in advance and we will ensure one is available for you.
Port McNeill, Vancouver Island
Cost: $1325 CAD per person plus tax
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Taxes: Canadian Residents pay 5% GST. Visitors to Canada receive a 50% point of sale rebate on the GST.
All prices are charged in Canadian funds. Your credit card company will convert to your home currency using their exchange rates. The above foreign exchange prices are approximate and for reference only and are updated daily using rates provided by www.coinmill.com
Grizzly Bear Viewing Tours: Many of our guests add a grizzly bear viewing day trip before or after they join us kayaking. Let us know if you would like to add this activity and we will make all the arrangements.
A note on June Base Camp departures: June is a great time to be kayaking in Johnstone Strait and Blackfish Sound and there is an unbelievable assortment of wildlife. The resident (fish eating) orcas, however, do not usually return for the summer until early July. They may be intermittently seen during June along with the transient (mammal eating) orcas but are not as consistent as later in the summer. You can be assured that if you join us during June you will have a great kayaking experience and see a wide variety of wildlife without all the extra people that visit later in the season.
The Orca Waters Base Camp: All the camping equipment at the base camp is bigger, roomier and more comfortable than what you will find on our expedition style kayak tours. We provide very roomy four person tents (one couple per tent and slightly smaller tents are available for single travellers), thick comfortable sleeping pads, warm barrel style sleeping bags and full size pillows. The tents are raised off the ground on wooden platforms and permanently set up for the summer. The tents are situated throughout the forest with views of the ocean. A large covered kitchen and dining area made from locally milled cedar makes for a very comfortable camping experience.
The base camp is equipped with a permanently installed hydrophone so we can listen to whales from camp (we also have a portable version to take with us kayaking), a re-charging station for guests cameras, an extensive library of natural history books, a propane heated shower, rustic beach side sauna, and an outhouse with a fantastic view.
Includes: We provide you will all the necessary kayaking and camping equipment, including kayaks, waterproof paddling jacket, PFD (life jacket), group shelters, tents, sleeping pads, camp chairs and sleeping bags(you may bring your own). A comprehensive list of required personal items can be viewed here. All meals during the kayak trip are provided and prepared by your guides. We’re proud of our menu that includes abundant fresh fruits and vegetables, a wide variety of international dishes, and freshly baked treats. Most dietary restrictions can be accommodated given sufficient prior notification. Transportation is all-inclusive from Port McNeill by our network of vans and water taxis.
What is not included: We do not provide transport from your home to Port McNeill, nor do we provide airport transfers. Accommodation in Port McNeill is not included. Any meals outside the kayak portion of the tour are your responsibility. Travel insurance for accidents or emergency evacuation is not provided; we recommend you purchase a policy before leaving home. The trip price does not include guide gratuities; should you feel that the service was exemplary, it is always appreciated.
Suggested reading: Our base camp has a library of field guides and local history books, including many listed below. We recommend the below books if you want to learn a bit about the area before visiting. Each title is linked to Amazon.com and will open in a new window. .
Operation Orca: Springer, Luna and the Struggle to Save West Coast
Listening to Whales: What the Orcas Have Taught Us
Full Moon, Flood Tide: Bill Proctor's Raincoast
Heart of the Raincoast: A Life Story
Charts: You do not need to bring charts on this kayak tour. Your guides have charts of the area and will review them with guests each day. If you wish to bring your own chart(s) they are listed below. Each chart is linked to the corresponding page on the Canadian Hydrographic Service's website and you can search where to buy these charts locally (links will open in a new window).