SALEM, Oregon – Long before settlers first explored the islands off British Columbia’s shores, the area was home to one of the largest hunter-gatherer populations in the world. Displaced by settlers and plagued with smallpox, the Haida people have all but disappeared.
But the towering wooden totems they carved remain.
Tofino Expeditions, a sea kayaking outfitter that leads trips all over the world, offers a tour of Haida Gwaii – formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands – that gives clients an intimate experience with the island chain’s history and culture.
On The Heart of Gwaii Haanas tour, paddlers don’t just circle around the historic islands, but bask in the natural pools of Hotsprings Island and meet with the Haida Watchmen – volunteers from the remaining Haida Nation camp near the totem poles all summer to guard them from vandals and thieves.
In addition to the wooden totems, paddlers will be treated to the sights of one of Burnaby Narrows, which is host to the highest density of intertidal life in the world.
The trips takes 10 days, and costs $2,495. Each day’s paddling is moderate to intermediate, but the trip is challenging enough that children younger than 13 years old are not allowed.
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