Pacific Northwest Coast -
Kayaking, Rainforest, Sweatlodge Ceremony, Whales & Culture
The highlights of this tour include a private kayak to an ancient site, (no experience needed) a hike through some of the most ancient rain forest of the BC coast, a sweatlodge ceremony presented in a traditional environment, a traditional canoe paddle, a salmon shore barbecue, traditional cedar weaving and a day with the killer whales.
The village of Alert Bay has an aura that seems both mythical and ancient. Its old fishing settlement makes it fascinating but it’s the blending of the village with the prevalent First Nations community with the large numbers of world renowned Kwakwaka'wakw artists that makes the magic in the community.
Located in the region known as the beautiful Broughton Strait, Alert Bay is one of the oldest First Nations communities off North Vancouver Island. The island is saturated with seaside village life and reveals a powerful resurgence of Native culture.
This area is best known as the world’s prime Orca viewing region. Resident pods of killer whales come here to feed in July to early October.
Namgis First Nation welcoming canoes
photos courtesy of Barbara Bianca
Escorted Tour: 6 max per week
2012 Departure Dates: June - October
Location: Horseshoe Bay - Sunshine Coast - Vancouver Island - Alert Bay, B.C. Canada
The escorted tour follows the coastal rainforests of the Sunshine Coast, considered one of the best places to view sea lions, seals, eagles and seabirds in their natural surroundings and is well known for its abundance of fish, crab, clams and oysters.
The tour crosses the ocean on a BC Ferry and travels through the wilderness of northern Vancouver Island to Alert Bay. This tiny 3 1/2 mile long island is home to one of the oldest BC native villages and is regarded as one of the best locations to meet world reknowned master carvers.
The 7- Day itinerary highlights culture, wildlife viewing with First Nation guides through one of BC's remote areas, yet easily accessed from both Vancouver and Victoria.
the all-inclusive escorted tour prices start at
$1750 - quadruple occupancy
$2390 - double occupancy
$4444 - single occupancy
The Aboriginal Guides are high-caliber specialists, anthropologists, interpretive guides, performers and artists that dedicate themselves to rigorous physical and spiritual preparation and training for the tours. They approach traditions with sincerity and with the conviction that they are the hosts and stewards of these lands and waters. They conduct themselves based on this awareness more than any customer service practice or retention strategy.
Candace Campo From Talaysay Tours has grown up in a traditional family in the rich cultural wonders of the Shíshálh [See-Shalh] First Nation. She is a respected leader in her communities of Sechelt & Squamish Nations and welcomes visitors wishing authentic experiences based on traditional culture and values that respects and protects her natural heritage.
Bill Bertschy (Oukcha) from Bear Track Eco-Tours is in the Sliammon First Nation in Powell River. Bill has received many honors for the work he does in spearheading a movement with the judicial system and First Nation youth. He is a Sundance Ceremony Dancer and a leader in the Ghost Dance Ceremony and assists with the reviving of the vanishing sacred ceremonies.
This whale-watching destination is regarded as one of the best locations in the world to view the largest population of resident orcas in the wild
Our tours provide insight and education to local First Nations history and culture
DAY 1 - Horseshoe Bay, Vancouver - the Sunshine Coast
Arrive in Horseshoe Bay this morning from Vancouver and embark on a BC Ferries ship to the Sunshine Coast. While in Horseshoe Bay, make sure you visit Spirit Gallery, an art gallery featuring some of BC's top artisans and carvers. You'll meet with your guide Candace and learn the Sechelt Nation culture on a hike to one of the oldest rain forests in BC. Overnight on the rugged shorelines of the Wilderness Lodge.
DAY 2 - Sechelt - Lund
Today begins with Candace on a cultural kayak to the ancient pictographs in Porpoise Bay. As you explore hidden bays and inlets you can see porpoises, harbor seals, herons and bald eagles. In the village of Sechelt visit the totem poles and First Nations museum. This afternoon travel on the BC Ferris from Earl's Cove to the historic waterfront Lund Hotel located at the top of the beautiful Sunshine Coast. Overnight in Lund.
DAY 3 - Lund
To prepare for the sweatlodge ceremony, a leisurely morning is recommended with a beach and village stroll. Lund is the gateway to Desolation Sound, renowned around the world as the 4th sought after spot for sailing. This afternoon, you'll meet Oukcha and attend a private Sweatlodge Ceremony in Okeover and witness the cultural keepers performing their ceremony rituals. Overnight in Lund.
Day 4 - Powell River to Alert Bay
This morning you'll travel on the BC Ferries to the unspoiled east coast of Vancouver Island, and spot deer, eagles and black bear as you travel the 4 hours to Port McNeill where you will take a short ferry ride to Alert Bay. From Comox you'll travel north through Campbell River and Quadra Island, Telegraph Cove and it is possible to travel all the way to the Queen Charlottes. You can also travel south on the train from here and add days in Courtenay, Nanaimo, Duncan, Chemainus and Victoria. Overnight in Alert Bay at the historic seaside Cannery Row Lodge.
Day 5 - Alert Bay
This morning join Porgie on his boat to observe the killer and humpback whales that frequent the waters on Johnstone Straight. While in this prime feeding grounds he will use a hydrophone to listen to the whales communicate. As you cruise the intricate coastline there is a good chance you might spot dolphins at play as Porgie easily navigates narrow waterways to ancient village sites. Dinner is a traditional beach barbecue with the Cranmer family. Overnight in Alert Bay.
DAY 6 - Alert Bay
Today take advantage of an unscheduled day to immerse yourself in the experience of a First Nations community. The "must do's" include viewing the largest collection of returned artifacts at the U'mista Cultural Centre, visiting the ocean front village art galleries and hiking on the board walk through old-growth rain forest in the ecological park. Make sure to visit the Big House and meet the T'sasala Cultural Group Traditional Dancers and singers, meet with master carvers and local artists, canoe paddle and learn the skill of cedar weaving at Culture Shock, There are many totem poles on the island, at the burial ground and the tallest pole in the world is by the Bighouse. Overnight in Alert Bay.
DAY 7 - Alert Bay - Vancouver
This morning, your Talking Totem Tours escort will transfer you to the Port Hardy airport for your return flight to the Vancouver Airport. On the way, in Port Rupert, meet master carvers Stan and Calvin Hunt and visit the Copper Gallery.
Things To Bring:
comfortable clothing, walking shoes, layers for whale-watching weather, tobacco, sunscreen
- escorted all-inclusive -6 night accommodations
- Aboriginal guided tours as mentioned above
- ancient sweatlodge ceremony
- cultural kayak tour
- traditional canoe paddle
- traditional cedar weaving bracelet
- traditional salmon shore barbecue
- admissions to Big House and dance group
- admissions to Umista Cultural centre
- 3 lunches
- Full-day whale-watching boat tour on Robson Blight with lunch
every thursday- June 2nd - Oct 2012
Pickup/Departure: escorted tour departs every thursday from Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal, Vancouver
travel arrangements available to Horseshoe Bay
Drop-off: escorted tour drop-off every wednesday to airport, Port Hardy BC
travel arrangements available to Vancouver South Terminal Airport. He is able to maneuver his vessel around the islands closhe fa
The 3 1/2 mile long island provides an opportunity to visit without needing a vehicle if you are able to walk distances. Everything is easily accessed by foot. This is where the expert local First Nations guides and master carvers live. Alert Bay offers an opportunity to experience a cultural immersion, amazing nature and rest and relaxation only a few hours from Vancouver and Victoria.
The island has an ecological park with a board walk crossing the marsh with over 100 different species of birds.
Cedar snags, hemlocks and pine trees draped with moss provide an eerie backdrop as you follow the
wind ing trails around this unique rain forest area.
The tour is all-inclusive with accommodations at a refurbished heritage waterfront lodge along the beach with plenty of eagles to watch from the decks.
The non-native community has an east coast fishing village look from the ferry dock, located in the centre of the 3 1/2 mile long island. There are no wild animals on the island, only over a 100 different bird species. This is a cultural immersion for visitors with access to cultural sites, activities and experts.
The whale-watching tour is with an expert First Nations Guide, who mostly takes out scientists to do research. He is able to maneuver his vessel around the islands close to the favorite spot where pods of Orcas return each summer. The area is close to Robson Bight, where the whales go to rub themselves on the barnacle-encrusted rocks, pebbles and gravel sea floor.
Alert Bay is home to over thirty master ceremonial mask and pole carvers and weavers. Basket weavers and cedar carvers have had the information passed down through generations of well-known families and practice the traditional artists ways. It is not uncommon to see poles being carved by carvers alongside the road, in the residential school and in the carving houses. The artists frequent the local eateries and if you ask the owners they can usually introduce you to any that are there. If you are fortunate in your timing it is possible to commission some of these artists and save $1,000's of dollars on an art piece.
Alert Bay's Umista Cultural Centre is home to the largest collection of returned carved masks, baskets, and potlatch ceremonial objects. Visitors to the island that are fortunate enough to be in town when cultural events are taking place, are generously greeted and welcomed to to the Traditional Big House for community celebrations. The Big House, primarily used for Potlatch's, is venue to witness the Tsasala Cultural Group traditional native song and dance performance and is the only way visitors will ever get to see inside, as it is closed to viewing of the public (unless your timing is right).
Add on tours
The whale-watching package can be customized with cultural activities from local experts trained in the culture and Namgis traditions.
- Private Tours to the islands ancient village sites
- scuba cultural tours
- kayak cultural tours
The traditional canoe paddle is a 2 hour journey with a cultural leader and outdoor recreation guide as he shares local First Nation history and songs while you glide through Alert Bay's spectacular natural surroundings under the watchful eye of bald eagles.
The meal is welcomed on the beachfront in town with a knowledgeable 'Namgis fisherman & he will guide you in preparing salmon for a barbeque in the traditional fashion with sticks on an open fire. ($175) for the two of you.
Alert Bay is a short BC Ferries ride from northern Vancouver Island; a five and a half hour drive north of Victoria and a three hour drive north of Nanaimo following the scenic Island Highway. The Route passes through Parkesville, Courtney and Campbell River to Port Mac Neill, where a 30 minute ferry departs six times a day to Cormorant Island, home of Alert Bay. Tour starts and ends in Alert Bay- Arrangement for guests to get to Alert Bay are available as well.
Contact Talking Totem Tours if you want to have an authentic cultural experience.
Talking Totem Tours
1664 Thrums Road, Castlegar BC