Haida Gwaii Expedition: Islands At The Edge
Experience Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area, & Haida Heritage Site
June – August 2020 | 9 Days | 6 Guests |
Experience life on the edge of the world within Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area, and Haida Heritage Site. Explore ancient and modern Haida cultural heritage enmeshed in the stunning ecological tapestry of this remote island archipelago.
Prices from $6,795 CAD pp, including floatplane surcharge
This Gwaii Haanas – Islands at the Edge expedition explores the remote island archipelago of Haida Gwaii, formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands. Situated approximately 100 kilometres (62 miles) off the northwest coast of British Columbia and often described as “the Canadian Galapagos,” this is truly a unique world. Giant, moss-laden trees tower above ancient villages, and the abundant marine life includes puffins, albatrosses, sunfish, jellyfish, killer whales, and humpback whales.
Through sailing, shore excursions, inflatable boat tours, and kayaks, you’ll explore Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site, collectively referred to as Gwaii Haanas. You’ll enjoy spectacular wildlife viewing and learn about the deep cultural history of the Haida people from the Haida Watchmen who safeguard the most significant archaeological sites, including the haunting mortuary poles and longhouse remains of the ancient village of SGang Gwaay Llnagaay, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981.
We’ll begin our Gwaii Haanas expedition with a private tour of the Haida Gwaii Museum, for an immersive introduction to the cultural history of Haida Gwaii. Tonight, we’ll be treated to a traditional Haida feast at Keenawai’s Kitchen in Skidegate. The next morning we’ll travel the short distance by ferry to Moresby Island and by backroads to Moresby Camp where we’ll meet the schooner, Passing Cloud to set sail for the ancient village of K’uuna Llnagaay (Skedans). Haida Watchmen will guide us through the cultural history of this ancient Haida village and introduce us to mortuary and memorial poles. We’ll continue our voyage south to the village of Taanuu Llnagaay (Tanu) and tour the remaining house depressions from this once-bustling community that was a gathering place for many villages.
As we work our way south, we hope to sail a few miles from shore into the pelagic zone for a chance to view marine wildlife, such as pelagic seabirds, sharks, giant ocean sunfish, Pacific white-sided dolphins, and humpback whales. Another highlight of Gwaii Haanas is the incredible marine biodiversity of world-famous Burnaby Narrows. Using our kayaks and inflatable skiff, we’ll follow one of our crew in snorkeling gear and check out giant predatory sunflower stars, multicoloured bat stars, massive moon snails, decorator crabs, and nudibranchs (sea slugs). Weather permitting, we’ll visit Cape St. James at the southernmost extremity of the Haida Gwaii archipelago. With ocean currents meeting from the east and west, this area is alive with marine life, including tufted and horned puffins, sea lions, and killer whales on the hunt for their next meal.
We’ll visit the World UNESCO Heritage Site of SGang Gwaay, the jewel of Gwaii Haanas. Here we’ll walk through the ancient village site amongst remains of massive longhouses, and a stunning grove of standing mortuary and memorial poles. We’ll also explore the beaches, tide pools, and spectacular vistas of the Gordon Islands. Our days will be spent exploring moss-laden coastal rainforests, intricate river estuaries, intertidal zones, and coastal bog ecosystems. We’ll discover the remnants of wooden-stake fish traps dating from more than a thousand years ago, and contemplate the interconnectedness of salmon, bears, coastal rainforests, and people.
We’ll continue on to Hlk’yah GaawGa (Windy Bay), where we’ll walk through the old-growth forest of massive cedar and spruce trees that ultimately led to the creation of Gwaii Haanas. The Haida Watchman here will share with us the story of Gwaii Haanas as told by the Legacy Pole. We cap off our day by enjoying a late afternoon sail before dinner. Make sure to keep a sharp lookout for the mammal-eating killer whales that frequent this area. This evening, our last night aboard Passing Cloud, we’ll share our highlights and reflect on all that we’ve experienced and learned over the past week. On our final day, we’ll say farewell to the Passing Cloud and crew and return to Sandspit, where our expedition officially comes to an end.