June 07, 2008 | Tips from Us >
Sandspit, Wildlife Tours
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4 days on a boat with 14 strangers....hmmm. I had my doubts that I could do it. How soon I changed my mind. A week later and I am still daydreaming about my trip.
We were boating through the Gwaii Haanas National Park in the Queen Charlottes watching whales, sea lions, birds of every sort, sea urchins, krill, starfish, trees blowing, waves crashing...we were sleeping well thanks to the gentle rocking of the boat, named the Island Roamer; we were eating incredibly well - wholesome, fresh food, thanks to the amazing on-board cook; we were learning lots thanks to our superb naturalist, and the Skipper and the Mate...and we were bonding, the 14 of us...thanks to, well, all the above.
And then there were the trips ashore to see ancient, precious remains of Haida villages, long abandoned, not forgotten. The remaining totem poles and village sites are holding on precariously to the final years of their life, threatened by an eager rainforest reaching out to engulf them. The Haida watchmen that oversee the village remains and interpret what it all means to the visitor are compelling storytellers and genuine in their love for their culture and history. It was spiritual, moving, sad, hopeful and too many other emotions to keep track of. Everyone should see these sites.
Some of my 'new friends' went onto visit the Haida Heritage Centre in Skidegate after the trip ended. I understand their museum visit provided great historical context for what we saw in the Park. I will be heading back to the Queen Charlottes for more, that is for sure.
There are a number of tourism operators that take groups into Gwaii Haanas, or you can do it yourself, but you have to register with Parks Canada. I was with Bluewater Adventures, who have been creating Gwaii Haanas memories for people for 30 years.