Kayaking with Orcas in Canada

Whale Watching in Canada

What can be more exhilarating than sea kayaking? Try sea kayaking in waters rife with killer whales. This 6-day kayaking & whale watching trip runs in the Johnstone Strait, a sheltered channel of water running along the north coast of Vancouver Island in Canada. There can't be many things out there that beat seeing a 2 metre dorsal fin piercing the waters near you with an explosive blow!

The Johnstone Strait is an approximately 70-mile long expanse of water cut into Vancouver as a result of glacial activity millions of years ago, and is a physically beautiful place to explore. The channel is unique in its standing as the best place in the world to observe orcas (killer whales). 250 salmon-eating "northern resident" orcas congregate in Johnstone Strait each July through Sept to feast on salmon runs. These orcas are a subspecies that are endemic to the area. Many scientists also gather in the Strait to study these particular orcas.

The term ‘killer whale’ is a double-misnomer, since it is actually a species of dolphin, and orca-related human deaths are so isolated they’re pretty much negligible. In reality, they are gracious and gentle creatures and while kayaking, you may even experience curious orcas swimming around you.

There are two main aspects of the trip which will get the blood pumping for any adventure tourist - camping in the amazing Canadian wilderness and getting the chance to see killer whales up close. But that’s only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. While here, there is also a strong chance of seeing bald eagles hunting for wild salmon and dolphin playing in the waters, in addition to the seals and sea lions. The food on the tour is also praiseworthy, comprising largely of sea food (not involving any of the above!) and other delicacies cooked fresh at each campsite.

And to top it off, what could be better than waking up to a view of snow-capped mountains punctuating the horizon beyond the rain forests?

There are a few limitations imposed on the trip with regards to physicality. Ideally you are over 14 and under 70, physically fit and not overweight. Although you don’t need previous kayak experience (it‘s an easy and fun skill to learn), you’ll find the tour easier if you have a degree of upper body fitness. The kayaking is neatly broken up into two hour blocks during the day with hiking and rambling interspersed throughout, so the tour is nicely paced.

The kayaks provided are top of the range and generally doubles, although there are a few singles available.

If you’re nervous about swimming with killer whales, don’t be - in the many years people have been kayaking in the Johnstone Strait there hasn’t been a single act of aggression shown by the orcas towards humans, nor have there been any accidental bumps from the animals.

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Prices from
1,537 USD (6 days) per person

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