You may want to consider one of the outfitters with guide service that run the Nahanni => mind blowing wilderness with expert guides.
I have a friend who is a very experienced canoe tripper (several week solo trips, I only do 1 week solo!) who used an outfitter when getting deep into the wilderness (Nahanni) because the margin for error is so slim.
Here is a link to Nahanni National Park. http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/nt/nahanni/index.aspx Also a UNESCO world heritage site!!! Nahanni Park is 30 000 sq km of protected wilderness with a "nice little river" running through it. Nahanni should be on everyone's bucket list!!!
You can search google for " canoe Nahanni " and check out some outfitters sites.
If you insist on doing the trip solo ie., not travelling with a group of canoes, another option would be Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario. It is a canoeing hotspot in Eastern Canada. Algonguin Park is 8000 sq km with 2000 km of canoe routes.
The park is accessible from Toronto or Ottawa and there are outfitters at the entrances of the park that rent the complete kit, canoe, tent, sleeping bag, stove, food , etc, etc, etc. That would make your trip much easier as you would not need to bring all that stuff on the airplane!
Here is a link to the a website about the Park's Back country canoe routes
The main draw back with Algonguin is that any 1-2 week trip will involve a few portages every day. They are well marked on the popular routes and even the difficult ones are easier if you take it slow.
Algonguin is very popular and access points along Highway 60 (closer to Toronto) will be busy on the weekends. It is best to start a trip on a Tuesday or Wednesday if accessing the park from that area. That will help you avoid the traffic jams at the portages on the popular canoe routes. Leaving mid-week means you will be out of phase with most trippers and will see much less other campers. Accessing the park from the Northern or Eastern edge will greatly reduce the number of fellow trippers.
Another option would be La Verendrye Natural Reserve in Quebec. Here are some links re. canoeing in the Park. Once again, a Canadian Provincial Park => 13 600 sq km of wilderness with 2400 km of canoe routes and complete outfitter services at the entrance.
Main advantage to La Verendrye is that there is much less traffic. You will not see any other canoes after your first few hours on a loop. Some of the circuits only see a group of canoes once every 5 years!
Have fun doing your research on these excellent locations!
Hope this helps.
THank you very much for such a lot of information. I looked at all the other river routes, via a website from one of these earlier messages, and it seemed to point to Yukon in order to avoid portage, and advanced river and lake routes.
THe idea of pure wilderness really does sound attractive to us, we are antisocial old buggers, but I can understand what you are saying. And I will look at the guided trip option. THey will be like-minded folks after all.
Can you tell me please, about the dangers of bears? - we don't get bears in the UK. You use tight-lidded rigid containers for food, and for clothes too, to keep all human and food smells out of the air. anything else has to be hung from a tree as far away from your tent as possible. Does a campfire keep bears away? And we were thinknig, is it possible to use an electric fence? Using solar cell batteries for power?
Bears are not an issue-most Bears are more afraid of humans than humans are of Bears.
Here is a link to general bear safely info from Parks Canada. It has all the basic stuff you need to know.
Bears are more of a problem in fixed camp sites where they have become accustomed to people. Other people's silly habits have created problems for you. The biggest real risk in a wilderness area is if you come across a bear's food cache... Like a dead deer covered in branches and leaves. Bears can get very aggressive defending their food. Back out of the area using the same path you took to get in. This is a more likely problem for hikers.
Fire for Bears
Fire does not keep bears away, especially if there is a strong attractant like food.
Best to avoid encounters but you should have Bear Spray and Bear Bangers with you just in case. These will have to be purchased locally as these product are not allowed on commercial airplanes. Have your ID with you as you will need it when you purchase these items. I have no experience with the portable electric fences. They seem expensive! You may be able to rent them from an outfitter. I suspect that, as with most devices, it will work well with curious bears (ie., didn't really need it) but it will not work at all for bears that are in predator mode.
Food and Smells
The basic rule is have your food prep/cooking area about 50 - 100 yards down wind from the main camp site and don't bring interesting smells back to your tent. If you have training in micro-biology, your aseptic technique will be very useful!
Re. Smell of food in cloths.
Here is a common scenario, people will fry freshly caught fish on a camp fire, get their shirt splattered with "cooking" juices, then get changed in their tent before bed.... bring those clothing into there tent? Hmmmm.
Get changed and wash everything at your cooking site right after supper. On a backcountry trip, you will not have many change of clothing with you. Best to wash the day's clothing every night after supper and hang stuff up to dry by the camp fire. After supper routine, clean dishes and stove => Clean you (in river) + current day's clothing => put on new clothes. You will feel refreshed as the river will be cool.
The easiest way to control food smells is to use pre-made meals for canoe trippers or backpackers. High calorie, dehydrated food, and some of it is even tasty. Just boil up some water and add it directly into the pouch. You only have the utensils to clean. Each pack usually feeds 2 people and they cost $5-8 dollars. You will have a selection for breakfast, lunch and supper.
Re. River Water
The water may be crystal clear, but it will likely have some nasty micro-organisms. Read up on Beaver Fever and how to avoid it.
Enjoy the Yukon!
As SamSalmon noted, bears are rarely a "real" problem. But a few precautions won't hurt you.
I have seen bears, and have heard them snorting/huffing around my tent or on trails, but for the most part, they will avoid you, especially in the backcountry.
PS. I have also seen Timber Wolves and survived. The key is to not be on your way to Grandma's house while wearing a red cloak!
Here is a link to recent study on Black Bear attacks in North America that will help you put the risk in perspective.
Bottom line is 44 documented fatalities from Black Bears in 109 years. How many murders in London per year => the average is 170!
Wiki page on Bear Attacks
The map at the bottom shows only 3 deaths due to Brown/Grizzly bear attacks in the Yukon.
Driving a car is by far the most dangerous thing most of us do. Get out there and enjoy nature!!!
My biggest concern for you is general camping/survival knowledge. Good backcountry habits are developed over time and become second nature. Remember, small problems can get big very fast when you are isolated.
That's it for my advice unless you have some more specific questions.
Ha Ha! I always wear a red cloak when I am in my canoe
I know this is an old thread. But I hadn't set foot in a canoe before, me and my husband did the Whitehorse to Dawson City. We both adored it! Yes, the lake is long - too long. But Dennis rigged up a sail and that worked really well, we had to wait for a morning to get a favourable wind, and then we were away, but you have to have some knowledge of sailing for that. But as for the rest - it was exquisite. We explored all the creeks, and it took us 17 days. What a simple and natural life it was. We are from England, so had no experience of bears, so we sang when we went walking. The people of Canada are so friendly. Dawson City is such a special place. Do it do it do it!
Jane, thank you so much for digging up this old thread and letting us know what happened.
Sounds like you had a gas, that's really fabulous country that you paddled/sailed through.
All the best to you.
Short after-trip reports are always appreciated by those who tried to help. Glad you had a great time and that your sailing experience was useful.
Do you have a blog of your trip? If so, I would like the link!
Now you can do a lot more canoe trips! Is the Tour International Danubien (TID) next on your list?