Bear Camp – Raft Combo
The Bear Camp Combo is the ideal combination of a 3-night stay at Bear Camp with a 3-night river adventure on the Chilko River. There are many ways to reach Bear camp but we highly recommend you trip starts with a spectacular plane ride up into British Columbia’s fabled “Chilcotin Country”. Here we will meet your guides and spend 3 days exploring the glorious Chilko Lake region by boat, kayak, SUP, canoe, horse, foot and bike. Each night you will return to the gorgeous safari-camp and be treated to outstanding meals and hospitality in one of Western Canada’s most spectacular boutique facilities. Perched high above the shore, Bear Camp is a safari-style tent camp with a Canadian twist.
Your rafting adventure is a journey down the world-famous Chilko River which offers dramatic scenery, ever-changing vistas and some exciting rapids. Deluxe camping for two nights, you will hardly be roughing it – as we treat you to delightful meals, guided hikes and memorable evenings under the stars. When we reach the historic Alexis Creek Ranch we’ll be picked up and transferred to the Williams Lake airport for flights back to Vancouver.
|Trip Length||7 days|
- Itinerary at a Glance
• Meet in Vancouver for flights to the Chilcotin
• Check into Bear Camp and enjoy 3 nights of chef-prepared meals and safari-styled accommodations
• Hike, bike, ride, kayak, SUP, fish and boat around Chilko Lake and the gorgeous headwaters of the Chilko River
• Burn off some calories in complimentary yoga classes or an optional massage
• Meet your guides for your 3-night river rafting adventure
• Ducky or float to your first nights camp and prepare for the first of many gourmet river meals
• Run class II-IV+rapids of the world-famous Lava Canyon
• Celebrate at Bumper Camp with a final riverside dinner and party
• inflatable kayak or raft to our takeout between Alexis Creek and Hanceville before catching flights back to Vancouver
◦ Experienced professional guides
◦ 3 nights deluxe camping at Bear Camp
◦ Expedition equipment including: tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, wetsuits, pfd, splash jacket, and dry bags
◦ All meals from dinner on Day 1 through lunch on Day 7
◦ Beer, wine and some liqueurs on the river
◦ Park fees and necessary permits
• R/T Vancouver to Williams Lake plus transfers on commercial plane $400 pp
• One-way direct charter to Bear Camp/ return to Vancouver commercial plane from Williams Lake $700 pp
Float plane or heli access – quotes by request
- Detailed Itinerary
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every trip is different depending upon the group, other trips in the area, and sometimes the weather. Our daily distances can fluctuate depending on weather, activities, and park notices. The following is a sample of what your trip might be like.
Day One (Thursday):
We meet in Vancouver for our for flights. Important Note for Those Arriving at Vancouver International Airport on Day One: It is essential to arrive no less than three hours before our domestic flight. You need to allow enough time for possible flight delays, time to clear customs, and time to transfer by taxi or shuttle from the Vancouver International Airport terminal to the SOUTH Terminal.
Please make sure your gear is packed in soft luggage as this will allow for easy storage and transfer into the aircraft. As soon as everyone’s gear is stowed, we will board our plane for the incredible flight over the mountains and glaciers. Once at the headwaters, we will check into Bear Camp, meet our guides, go over last-minute details and issue expedition equipment. Tonight will be a delightful riverside feast. Overnight Bear Camp
Day Two and Three:
Based out of Bear Camp for two more days, participants have a choice of hiking Mt. Tullin, fishing for record trout, kayaking on crystal clear waters, horseback riding or exploring the region via mountain bike. No matter what you decide, it’s certain to be magical days in this pristine environment allowing you to unwind and prepare for your exciting river adventure. Overnight Bear Camp.
After a hearty breakfast, we will head to the boats, go through the safety procedures for the trip and teach any “would be” paddlers the basics. The swift currents and gentle rapids will carry us 20 miles to our camp, located in a beautiful meadow along the riverbank and surrounded by lodgepole pines. Upon arrival we’ll go through the camping procedures and then enjoy the first of many delightful meals in the wilderness. There will be plenty of time for a leisurely walk, fishing for rainbow trout or simply watching the bald eagles from the river bank.
Today , based out of the Bear’s Den, you will meet the rest of the rafting crew and choose from options like hiking, biking, casting a line for trout or simply chilling out in camp and preparing for tomorrow’s big water adventure
You will quickly notice that the pace of the river has increased. Today we descend through Lava Canyon and challenge the longest, continuous rapids of the trip. Heart-stopping hydraulics and towering, standing waves cascade for more than 18 miles through deep and narrow lava gorges, making for some non-stop excitement. It is no surprise Lava Canyon has become world-famous among whitewater enthusiasts.
This afternoon we run the “Gap”-a 20-foot wide chute that carries us into the Chilcotin River. The river valley opens as we emerge on the Chilcotin Plateau. Once at camp, a delightful evening under the stars and celebration is in order after a fun-filled day of adventure in North America’s longest stretch of continuous whitewater. Overnight Chilcotin River
Day Seven (Wednesday):
After a riverside breakfast we have a mellow morning floating downstream to the village of Alexis Creek. At lunch we will meet our drivers for a shuttle back to the airport and flights to Vancouver. Weather permitting and depending on flight schedules, we plan to arrive back at the air terminal by 4:00 PM, but recommend participants plan to overnight in Vancouver.
- About the Region
Why the Bear Camp Combo?
This journey of discovery is one of the most ecologically diverse and personally satisfying expeditions found anywhere. We’ll start with a flight over the towering mountains and massive glaciers of the Coast Range to the Chilcotin wilderness. After a few days of exploring the beautiful wilderness of Chilko Lake, we’ll challenge the best section of the Chilko River and the longest continuous stretch of whitewater in North America. The Chilko is considered a Class IV river system with a number of extended drops. On the last day of our expedition we’ll fly back crossing over the 2000-foot canyons of the lower Fraser and the lakes and mountains of the southern Coast Range. The trip combines the best of both world’s – Chilko Lake and Chilko River.
Our trip begins at the north end of Ts’yl-os Provincial Park. Established in 1994, Ts’yl-os (pronounced sigh-loss) is 233,240 hectares in the Chilcotin Ranges of the Coast Mountains. Although Chilko Lake is the center-piece of the park, it is just one of many incredible natural features. Though there is much to explore in the region, it is rugged and unserviced leaving its visitors up to their own devices. This is where we fit in.
The Chilcotin River flows near Nazko Lakes Provincial Park and Stum Lake Provincial Park. Both were recently expanded to protect wildlife habitat and BC’s only colony of nesting white pelicans, respectively. This is the heart of Chilcotin country, where steep escarpments rise from the river to horizontal plains, separated by vertical cliffs.
Participants are continually overwhelmed by the excitement and beauty of this natural corridor. The Chilko flows into the Chilcotin, which flows into the mighty Fraser making this free flowing waterway perfect to raft from May through September. When compared to busy rivers south of the border this circuitous system is a wilderness waterway. The dramatically different sections of river offer a diversity of scenery, wildlife and roller coaster rapids that will keep you grinning from start to finish. Obviously the Province of British Columbia agrees with us as they have established more than 17 new parks in the Cariboo-Chilcotin region.
To First Nation people of the Nemaiah Valley, Ts’yl-os is much more than a provincial park. Ts’yl-os was a man, or at least he used to be long ago, and like any man he had his moods. Given his towering height of 3,061 meters (Mount Tatlow on a map), it is wise to respect him and especially not to point at him. His presence can be so dominating that when occasional bad weather hits the valley, the 250 native residents wonder if it is a message from their spiritual protector.
For the isolated Tsilhqot’in (Chill-co-tin) First Nation, their agreement on the park represents an important step toward reconciliation with the outside world.
- Trip Planner
Planning Your Trip
We are very excited that you will be joining us on this incredible expedition. Richard Hobson, a pioneer Chilcotin rancher and author once said that the Cariboo-Chilcotin was “a land that drew me like a magnet into its soul.” We have prepared this trip planner to help you get ready for the adventures ahead in this truly unspoiled part of the world. We have tried to anticipate questions you might have concerning travel arrangements, what to bring, and getting in shape.
If any of your questions remain unanswered, please don’t hesitate to call. We strive to fully prepare you for what to expect on your trip so you can spend your vacation running rapids, hiking and landing monster trout rather than wondering whether or not you brought the right pair of shoes.
Personal Equipment Notes
The personal equipment list we provide you with has been developed through years of practical experience. It is important that the clothing you bring will withstand the rigors of the trip. Your personal equipment should not weigh more than 40 pounds and all clothing should be quick drying and be made of synthetics. Warmth and comfort are the main objectives with this outline. Weather conditions can vary considerably in the North. It’s important to dress in layers so that you can maintain a comfortable body temperature no matter what Mother Nature may have in store. The inner layer should move perspiration outside, where it can evaporate. The intermediate layer should insulate while the outside layer should act as a barrier to wind and rain.
On this trip we’ll be more likely to have the occasional shower than an entire day of rain. Still, you’ll be more comfortable if you stay warm and dry, so be sure to pack some rain gear-both tops and bottoms. They should be compact enough to fit easily into your daypack.
Pile or Fleece
The best we’ve found is 200-weight Polar Plus, which is used by a variety of companies. This fabric is warm, dries quickly and is not excessively bulky. It can be found in many different styles and colours.
Synthetic materials like polypropylene, polyester and natural fibers like silk and wool work well. Both are quick drying and bacteria resistant, as well. Do not bring cotton long underwear. When wet, cotton dissipates heat from your body and takes a long time to dry.
Choose lightweight, synthetic fabrics that breathe well for warm weather walking. Whatever you choose, be sure you have comfortable freedom of movement, especially for uphill and downhill walking.
Footwear for Hiking and Walking
The importance of good footwear cannot be overstated. What may seem like a good shoe at home could leave you with sore feet on your trip. Given that our trails are often gravelly or sometimes muddy, you need a good walking boot with a firm sole, good ankle support and a degree of water resistance. It’s now easy to find a “hybrid” walking boot, which combines the lightweight, ventilated features of a shoe with the support and durability of a boot. If you buy new walking shoes or boots for the trip, make sure you break them in well before you go.
Bring at least one pair for each day unless you want to wash them out each night. We recommend synthetic/wool blend as these tend to draw the perspiration from the foot and will keep your feet warm, even when wet. It may be a good idea to bring along some additional items such as foot powder, cushioned pads and/or bandages to place inside your footwear-just in case. Another worthwhile product is something called Spenco 2nd Skin, which provides cushioned comfort with an antiseptic for blistered and sore feet. Many people find a product called moleskin gives them great relief from blisters. The guides carry a blister kit as part of their first-aid supplies.
Bring a daypack that holds approximately 20-35 litres to carry raingear, camera and water bottle.
Personal Equipment List
- 1 pair light hiking boots with appropriate number of socks
- 1 pair river sandals (Tevas) with neoprene socks and/or wetsuit boots
- 5-7 pairs warm wool socks
- 2 long-sleeved shirts
- 3 T-shirts
- 2 long underwear tops (synthetic)
- 1 pile or fleece jacket (100-200 weight)
- 1 high quality waterproof rain jacket
- 1 down or synthetic jacket or vest (for early or late season departures)
- 2 pairs long underwear bottoms (synthetic)
- 2 pairs of light shorts (quick-drying)
- 1-2 pairs of quick-dry pants
- 1 pair high quality waterproof rain pants
- Undergarments (ideally 1-2 of them synthetic)
- 1 swimsuit
Head & Hands
- 1 sun hat or visor
- Fleece hat
- 1 pair lightweight fleece gloves
- 1 day pack (for use on boats or day hikes)
- 1-liter water bottle or hydration system
- Toiletry kit (personal medications)
- Sunscreen, lip salve, insect repellent
- Sunglasses with safety strap and extra prescription glasses (if necessary)
- Small flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries
- Camera with extra batteries (optional)
- Notebook, journal, reading material (optional)
- Binoculars (optional)
- Fishing rod, with case and tackle (optional)
We are flying from Vancouver in small passenger planes, so please pack your gear into soft duffle bags (NO SUITCASES). The gear should weigh less than 40 pounds in total. The airline may charge you for excess baggage or even, in rare circumstances, refuse your bags.
Getting Insured -Trip Cancellation Insurance
R.O.A.M. strongly recommends that you purchase trip cancellation insurance. You risk forfeiture of all monies paid, if you cancel your trip. You have the option of purchasing an insurance policy that meets the specific needs of our travellers.
Please make sure you understand what the insurance will and will not cover. Please consult the policy for exact coverage, details of other risks insured, and for other benefits and limitations of the insurance.
Getting in Shape
Our trips are designed for people who enjoy the out-of-doors, rather than for fitness fanatics. Still, they are active holidays. Age is unimportant when it comes to your ability to do the rafting, walking, and/or hiking-the more important consideration is your physical condition. If you haven’t attempted the kind of exercise levels required by our trips within the last couple of years, please be aware of the sort of trip you’re taking. It’s an active one, and you’ll enjoy it more if you’ve been doing some exercise before you go. No previous river experience is required.
Your guides will give you an orientation to expedition practices and teach you all the basic skills that you’ll require to enjoy the different aspects of the trip. Our prime consideration is to provide you with a trip that is as safe and comfortable as possible while still maintaining the integrity of a wilderness experience. Activities that involve aerobic conditioning, such as swimming, walking, jogging, squash, and tennis are great for overall physical conditioning. Keep in mind the relative topography of where you live compared to the region you will be visiting. If you live in flat country, for example, consider supplementing your training with artificial hill training on a treadmill or stair-master.
A Thumbnail Training Program
- Two-three months before the trip starts: try to do exercises that involve aerobic conditioning three times each week-swimming, walking, jogging, squash, cross-country skiing, tennis, biking.
- One month before the trip: go for a couple of longer walks each week.
- The week before your trip: try to go for three long walks.
- Be sure to stretch after exercising-it reduces the chances of injury, muscle pain, stiffness, and fatigue.
Our kayaks are manufactured in B.C. and are ideally suited for the waters we are paddling. When on the river, we utilize state-of-the-art self-bailing rafts. The rafts have been designed with center-mount oar rigs and allow participants the option of paddling or just soaking up the views. The mountain bikes are made by Kona and have disk brakes and good suspension. Our fishing boats are custom made by Koffler Designs and are specially designed for the Chilko. With a little advance notice, a bush plane on floats or helicopter can be located to the lodge for those wishing to add heli-hiking or fly-in fishing to their adventure.
For the fisherman, Chilko Lake is a truly world class. Home to large populations of rainbow and bull trout, the river is one of B.C.’s best fisheries and has a special classification because of it. If you plan on fishing a lot, you may want to bring your favorite 5- to 6-weight rod with case.
The Chilko-Chilcotin tends to be dry in climate and much warmer than the coast. Daytime highs in the interior can reach 90 degrees F and the temperatures will drop quite a bit during the evenings. While we don’t expect rain, it is always a possibility in British Columbia. Be sure to follow our recommended equipment list, as our experience suggests a multi-layering approach with a range of temperatures and conditions in mind.
Making Your Travel Plans
To Downtown Vancouver
Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in North America, and you should plan to spend some time here, either before or after your trip. There are many ways to get downtown from the airport. The easiest way is by taxi, which takes about 20 minutes and costs about $40. There is also a regularly scheduled airport shuttle that goes to all major hotels and costs about $25. Should your plans call for a rental car, you’ll find all the major agencies represented at the airport.
Unless told otherwise, your Chilko trip and flight departs 11:00 AM sharp from a private terminal near the international airport. Closer to the date, we will let you know the exact terminal (they are all close to each other) as it can vary. Assume for the time being (as a default), we will fly from the Million Air Terminal. This is not the main Vancouver International terminal-it is smaller private departure lounge near the south terminal
Million Air Terminal – Vancouver
5455 Airport Road South
Richmond, British Columbia, V7B1B5
Any taxi can take you to the Million Air terminal from the Main International Terminal (10 minute drive) or from your hotel. For those driving, there is long-term parking available for a daily charge.
We are flying from Vancouver in small passenger planes, so please pack your gear into soft duffel bags
Here you will meet your pilots and load the aircraft for the scenic flight up and over the Coast Mountains. If you are going to be late for your flight, please call us as soon as possible (888 639 1114) to see if we can hold the plane. Unfortunately this may not be possible, so participants missing our flight will be responsible for their own airfare and expenses to Chilko Lake.
After Your Trip
After your trip, you will be dropped off in Vancouver. Weather permitting, you should arrive in time to make connecting flights that depart after 7:00 PM but we highly recommend you overnight in Vancouver. It is approximately 10-15 minutes by shuttle to the main terminal of the airport.
The Canadian monetary unit is the Canadian dollar (CDN). Like U.S. currency, coins are the nickel, quarter, the one dollar “Loonie” and two dollar “Toonie.” The most common bills are 5, 10, and 20-dollar denominations. Avoid carrying large sums of cash at any time during your holiday. Credit cards are widely accepted, especially VISA and MasterCard.
American dollars and traveller’s cheques are accepted everywhere though at exchange rates that thieves envy. When converting American to Canadian dollars, you’ll get the most favourable rates at banks. Most banks are open from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM Monday to Friday though some branches stay open later and on Saturday mornings. ATMs are everywhere.
Canada is very safe for travelling, but still there is no point in carrying lots of valuables when travelling. Regrettably, tourists are among the most easily targeted, so please exercise some caution. We also recommend that you check your personal insurance policy before travelling to ensure that you are covered for theft and loss while travelling. As a safety precaution, do not travel with excessive amounts of cash or jewelry if it is not necessary.
Canada is officially a bilingual nation with English and French being the two recognised languages. However, the chances that you will hear any French spoken out west are slim. Of course, once you are “oot” and “aboot” on your Canadian holiday, you shouldn’t have any language problems, eh? Once a forbidden subject, it is now okay to speak to Canadians about Olympic Hockey.
A passport is required for all travel to and from Canada
On our trip, we’ll be traveling through some environmentally and historically sensitive areas. Our excursions are designed to promote an understanding of the delicate ecosystems that make our province unique while preserving their fundamental integrity. We ask participants to share our concern for the environment by practising low-impact touring in this sensitive area.
R.O.A.M. operates on a “leave-no-trace” policy, meaning we travel in a self-contained manner, carrying in what we require and carrying out all garbage and human waste. We believe the survival of the natural environment and the wildlife it supports depends on establishing an economy beyond simple resource harvesting. Our goal is to immerse our clients in B.C.’s vast natural beauty, which, in turn, supports eco-tourism as a viable, economic choice.
Canada’s Goods & Services Tax (GST)
Canada has a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 5% and the province of British Columbia has a 7% Provincial Sales Tax (PST).
Telephone and Fax
Phoning and faxing in Canada is the same as in the United States. Coin-operated public telephones are the norm in Canada, and there are also phone-card-operated machines. To make a local call using coins, the cost is 25 cents. Local phone numbers in Vancouver require the area code (604) followed by the 7 digits. For international calls, you begin by dialing 1, and overseas calls begin with 011.
Our trip leader carries a satellite phone for emergency purposes. Should you need a phone at your disposal, you should make arrangements for your own satellite communication. Because of our remote locale, cellular phones are not an option.
Our guides are as impressive as the scenery; passionate about their work, they are delighted to pass on their knowledge and skills. They have an intimate knowledge of a region’s wildlife, natural history, culture and folklore. Trained in wilderness first aid and professionally certified to the highest provincial level in British Columbia, our guides are eager to please and will ensure you have a memorable experience.
Tips and Tipping
- Tipping is common in Canada, and fairly similar to U.S. practices. Of course, there are some exceptions, which we have noted.
- Taxis – 5% is appropriate for good service and 10% is generous.
- Porters – $2 per bag.
- Restaurants – It is appropriate to leave 15% before tax.
The tipping of R.O.A.M. guides is entirely discretionary, and we feel strongly that gratuities should not be offered to them if they lead anything less than a great trip. However, we expect that our guides will do a great job in making your trip memorable and, when they do, it is not uncommon for our travellers to offer a gratuity. The guides very much appreciate it. We are often asked what is appropriate. In general, we have found that when our travellers offer a gratuity, it is in the range of a “thank you” to 15% of the trip cost per person. But again, tipping is entirely at your discretion.
The Granville Island Hotel* and Sandman Signature Vancouver Airport* offer our travelers “preferred rates” if booked through our Canadian office.
*Granville Island Hotel
1253 Johnston St
Tel 683-7373 Fax: 683-3061, US/Canada 1-800-663-1840
Easy to get to and hard to leave, this is my personal favorite. This island retreat in the heart of the city is right on the water, and within walking distance of the Public Market and other attractions. Centrally located, you can even take the water taxi to shopping districts downtown.
*Sandman Signature Vancouver Airport
10251 St. Edwards Drive
Tel: 604.278.9611?Fax: 604.233.7733 US/Canada 1-800-726-3626
Offering the latest in upscale hotel elegance. Enjoy the convenience of staying at the airport, while still only a short taxi ride to downtown.
845 Hornby Street
Tel (604) 689-7777, Fax (604) 608-5348, US/Canada 1-800-663-0666
If you are looking for a small country inn with downtown elegance, the Wedgewood is for you. Proudly owned and managed by Eleni Skalbania, the Wedgewood has loads of character. Eleni’s European heritage is reflected in every detail, from the charming guest rooms to the hotela