Day 0 (Sept 1st): You will be met at the Whitehorse airport and shuttled to your accommodation. You will have time to explore some of Whitehorse’s historic sites*.
Night in hotel in Whitehorse.
Day 1 : Shortly after breakfast we take the hour drive to Lake Laberge, immortalized in the poem “The Cremation of Sam McGee” to begin our paddling adventure. This 50 km by 5 km lake is renowned for cold water and dangerous winds. For this reason, we will cross the lake to the north end by motor boat. There, we load the canoes with all our gear and take our first strokes on the Yukon river. Immediately we travel back in time, as we explore a few sites with remnants and artefacts from the time of the of the gold rush. We take the afternoon to go through safety briefings etc. You will also get a chance to go on the water and practice your strokes if you desire. In the evening, we enjoy our first meal around the fire!
Night in tent. L-D
Day 2-12 : This morning we begin our 12 day adventure paddling 600 km down stream to Dawson City along this historical river. After the discovery of placer gold on Bonanza creek by three prospectors in 1896, thousands of men and women travelled the Yukon River to try their luck “striking it rich” in the Dawson area. For the first few days, we paddle the wildest section of the river where we have the best odds of observing northern wildlife. There are numerous historical site along this stretch: abandoned woodyards and telegraph stations, remains of old steamboats, etc.
Each evening, we set up camp on one of the numerous camping spots along the shore of the river, and cook gourmet foods on the camp fire!
In September, in this remote land, far away from light pollution, we will have the opportunity to watch stars in the clear night skies and maybe even a show of northern lights!
Shortly after passing by Carmacks, we encounter the only rapids on the Yukon river between Whitehorse and Dawson, Five Finger Rapids. During the gold rush, these rapids were a major obstacle for the prospectors’ wooden rafts, but at the beginning of 20th century, a channel was blasted to allow passage for larger steamboats. Today, Five Finger Rapids are a rather small challenge on our way.
Further down stream, we visit of the most famous historical sites along the Yukon River: Fort Selkirk, a Hudson Bay Company trading post dating back to 1852.
Next the White River, a major tributary flowing from the southwest and heavily laden with glacial silts, joins the Yukon River. From this point on, the clarity of the Yukon River is dramatically changed and its flow quickens. Ten kilometres further downstream, the Stewart River flow in from the northeast. From here, we paddle straight north on the last stretch to our destination Dawson City.
Nights in tent. B-L-D (every day)
Day 13 : Finally, after 11 days on the river, we have arrived in Dawson City in the beginning of the afternoon. You will have the afternoon to discover the small city ! Tonight, we will check out Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall, the oldest casino in Canada! Complete with cancan girls, you will have the chance to relive the heady days of the Gold Rush.
Night in hotel. B-L
Day 14 : Today we drive along the Klondike Highway to Whitehorse where we should arrived in the evening. Your last night in Whitehorse will be free.
Night in hotel. L
Day 15 : Connection to the airport or to your next adventure.
* Note that if you're flight is schedule to arrive after 9:30pm we won't be able to pick you up but you'll be able to enjoy a free shuttle from the hotel.
"Lundi, jour de reprise de boulot.
à 01H26 cette nuit, je me suis reveillé pour mater les aurores boréales....
Bon y'avait bien de la lumière, mais les reverberes, c'est pas pareil
06H30 : je prends mon petit dej. c'est triste un bol de Céréales quand on a eu de somptueux petits déjeuners variés pendant 2 semaines, ou sont les muffins, pancakes, et les cinnamon rolls préparés sur le feu de camp par Boris ou Max ?
09H00 : je fredonne "est ce que tu viens pour les vacances", suivi de Jingle Bells en portugais....
09H30 : UN OURS !!! ah non, c'est mon collegue Charle-Kévin, qui a vraiment une sale tête au reveil.
10H00 : je suis convoqué par mon chef, crier "Yep" en allant aux toilettes, les flécher avec des fanions depuis mon bureau, c'est pas terrible. Y avoir creusé un tou et laissé une pelle à l'entrée est une très mauvaise idée.
10H30 : Pause café, le distributeur ne donne ni marshmallows maison à la rose, ni nanaimo bar, ni cookie ou sablés maison. Je touche mes kilos, puis j'essuie une larme nostalgique.
12H30 : je fache le cuistot du restau d'entreprise en lui racontant mon voyage. Il comprends qu'il y a 2 gars qui m'ont cuisiné des plats merveilleux en mobilité sur des canots avec un feu et de la nourriture stockés dans des bidons, meilleur que lui avec tout son matos professionne, ses frigos et son approvisionnement quotidien..
14H30 : UN AIGLE !!! ah non, c'est un goéland....
15H30 : j'ai construit un radeau en assemblant mon bureau, celui de ma voisine, et un porte manteau. Les paperboards ont été vidés pour faire les voiles. J'appelle le vent du SUD, il ne vient pas....
18H00 : je sors du commissariat de police, non se laver dans le ruisseau au milieu du campus n'etait pas une bonne idée. Je leur ai montré les photos du voyage, ils m'ont libéré en pleurant.
20H00 : j'apprends que je suis viré, je suis content , je vais pouvoir retourner au Yukon avec Boris, Mylena et Max !"
Seb, September 2019
"…”but we didn’t see a moose”, was Max’s lament. He seemed disappointed but he shouldn’t be for we did see wildlife. Oh yes, we certainly did see wildlife. We saw 23 bears from our canoes (many more than we would normally expect to see) most of whom were far up on the mountainside fattening up on berries before their long winter’s nap. And also from our canoes just 20 or so metres away we saw a momma black bear with her two cubs feeding at the river’s edge. And we saw a grizzly feeding at the side of the road, aware of us but totally disinterested. We saw literally tens of thousands of migrating Sandhill cranes on their annual trek south, sometimes flying so high we could hardly see them (we could hear their distinctive and cacophonous honking long before we could see them). We saw so many bald eagles it almost became old hat (for whatever reason, the eagles were seen frequently associating with at least two ravens). We saw fat porcupines waddling up the beach and we saw, believe it or not, a squirrel swimming across the Yukon River. But we didn’t see a moose.
We experienced raw nature at its finest. It took a few days to slough off the city and to begin to feel the awesomeness, the immenseness of the Yukon and when we did, the feeling of oneness with our surroundings was fabulous.
Up at 6:30 in the morning and in the canoes by 9, we worked hard paddling 50 km., typically, every day (70 km. on at least one day) to accomplish the 600+ km. to Dawson City and we worked hard setting up the camp, pitching our tents and cutting firewood for the campfires. Then breaking camp again the next morning. We slept well at night.
Max did the cooking. And what Max can do with only an open campfire is nothing short of phenomenal. He created numerous French gourmet meals such as Coq au Vin. My birthday happened to occur on our first day on the water and Max (remember only on a campfire) created a cheesecake and presented it complete with birthday candles. We had sandwiches made from bannock cooked over the campfire and one morning we even had cinnamon buns for breakfast, prepared right before our very eyes.
Max and his partner, Milena, are obviously totally committed to the environment, to the Canadian Far North Country and to providing an authentic wilderness experience for their clients. They are hardworking, very well organized and they plan diligently to see that the total experience is genuine.
Should you take your trip in early September as we did, I would recommend warm clothing. But would I recommend a tour with Terre Boréale? Absolutely.
Fred B., January 2018