Nahanni Hiking Trip Information
We invite everyone to partake in our heli hiking trips in the South Nahanni Ranges of the Mackenzie Mountains of Canada’s Northwest Territories. This is a vacation, an experience, an adventure, a special trip for anyone craving wild places and we will take you everywhere in the spaciousness of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of South Nahanni National Park Reserve and the greater South Nahanni country. No special requirements are needed. Pack up your sleeping bag and come.
The essence of heli hiking is to experience the mountain beauties on two feet but to get there as effortlessly as a bird on the wing. Our hikes are tailored to all levels of fitness, experience and age. With group sizes of approximately two to four clients, this is essentially a customized trip. Your input will determine the daily flights and hikes. If necessary we will split our tiny group so everyone can stay within their comfort or work out level. Altitude levels will not surpass 8,000 feet or 2,200 m.
Without a helicopter the hidden gems of the South Nahanni wilderness are inaccessible - too far away, impossible to get to. Here is your chance then: Join our skilled guide and experienced pilot, the only humans in hundreds of miles of mountains, leapfrog hard days of backpacking safely and effortlessly with our trusty Bell 206 Jet Ranger helicopter, and get lifted to the most breathtaking, amazing and utterly pristine places in an entirely wild, silent, empty land. Be the soaring eagle over mountain tops, perch wherever freedom takes you, feel the thrill of wild places no other human has ever been to.
We will guide you on daily walks, hikes, climbs, whatever you choose, we will establish camp, here, there, and who knows where. The helicopter will lift you gracefully from one spot of eternal beauty to another stunning vista, to the next lovely campsite, making your heart soar above grey or painted mountains below. You may hike as much or as little as you like, you may observe sheep, goats or caribou, you can rest and breathe in solitude, fish for supper, take pictures, find fossils, scratch for minerals, search the skies for the first sign of the evening night hawk. The world of South Nahanni is yours, yours to enjoy, effortlessly.
Our trips are extremely flexible: come to rest, come to scale mountains, stay for a week or make it three. Work out a program suited to your interests with us. Pick out choices from our list of amazing sights to experience. Glaciers? Hotsprings? Ram Plateau? Waterfalls? Ragged Range with lakes like jewels? Virginia Falls? Observe game? Take stunning photographs? Pick Blueberries? Follow meandering wilderness rivers? Hunt for fossils? Dance light-footed over scrubby berries, pale lichen, patches of grass and grey shale? Explore Karsts, Tufa mounds, sink holes, 4000 feet deep canyons? Which one to pick? All. Remember, you are not carrying your household on your back, just your water bottle and spare jacket.
Why a helicopter?
The greater South Nahanni area is so utterly remote that it can only truly be accessed by helicopter. A fixed wing plane will bring you into the general area but only a helicopter, the great bumblebee in the sky, is able to lift you effortlessly and safely from one endless ridge to another, easily leapfrogging mountain ranges, leaving you to enjoy the greater view from above. No plane, no hardcore backpacker, no canoe or kayak can take you where our Bell 206 Jet Ranger can drop you off. There is no other option for the hiker who wishes to see the true wilderness of the high country of remote South Nahanni but by getting there like a bird on the wing.
Safety is as important to us as it is to you. We wish to provide you with an enjoyable, adventurous vacation guiding and flying you safely. Our guides are well trained, First Aid equipment is always on hand, pilots, whether bush plane or helicopter are very experienced and all aircraft is inspected regularly according to strict government regulation. All guests must attend a mandatory and comprehensive safety talk before stepping into the Bell 206 helicopter.
Safety is a shared responsibility and involves you as much as our guides, pilots and aircraft. Nature cannot be controlled and while we will teach you how to step cautiously and climb carefully we need you to be aware of the trail less and uneven terrain as well as unpredictable mountain weather. The thrills of wild nature will elevate your trip from the ordinary and will make it into the unforgettable, out of the way, wild mountain experience you are craving.
How to get there
The true and spectacular North, especially the Northwest Territories, have always been hard to reach and ‘adventure’ is a word that springs to mind immediately when contemplating this vast and empty territory. Modern travel has advanced to daily, scheduled, commercial airliners, and while the service is spectacular you still can't expect the same connections as in the busy, populated areas to the south. Travel to South Nahanni is a transition phase in which you will leave your busy schedules behind.
Your gateways to the North are Calgary and/or Edmonton, Alberta. From there northern airlines (First Air, Canadian North Airlines, WestJet, Air Canada) carry on to Yellowknife, NWT, where you connect to Fort Simpson with First Air or Air Tindi.
You can reach Fort Simpson by road via Edmonton with two routes available. The distance is about 1500 km (almost 1000 miles), some of it on gravel roads. The driving distance from Whitehorse is approximately 1,600 km or 1,000 miles with the last stretch entirely on gravel.
In Fort Simpson pilots from Wolverine Air will pick you up, either from your hotel or at the airport, and will bring you to our Base Camp in a commercial bush plane. During the one hour plus flight pure wilderness undulates beneath the wings of the plane, from the mighty Mackenzie River to moose muskegs and jumbles of triangular grey mountains. Once in the sanctuary of our peaceful mountains your vacation will start to unfold.
You are on vacation. You want to be comfortable, sleep well, eat well. And you will.
You start your trip in the comforts of Base Camp, a home away from home situated on a nameless tributary to the Root River. It is situated in a wide valley, flanked by the symmetry of grey mountains softened by the dark green of spruce and the pale green of caribou lichen. Our camp’s cozy cabins are neat, new, clean, and insulated. Your very own porch invites you to sit down and kick back.
Our large camp kitchen, bright and sunny, will surprise you with excellent home cooking and baking, with books to read and happy company to enjoy. The many kitchen windows might even let you snatch a view of caribou traveling upriver, or of wolves trotting over rocks and sheep standing in the wall opposite, or of a grizzly coming down the mountain slope. You will sit in the middle of nature submerged in comfort.
Our shower house has running hot and cold water at all times. You don't have to miss out on your morning or after-the-hike shower, yes, you can even supplement it with a nice, hot stint in the sauna. A regular washing machine takes care of your soiled things.
Our generator provides a few hours of electricity a day, letting you re-charge your camera batteries. You may also wish to take advantage of our satellite phone and internet complete with wireless router to stay in touch with loved ones or work. All cabins feature electric outlets and lights, but the midnight sun will take care of your lighting needs in July and most of August. Freezers and fridge as well as a walk in cooler enable us to enjoy fresh salads, meats, fruits and dairy products.
While out heli hiking we will be camping using small domed tents, modern gear, freeze dried food and a satellite phone. We provide all camping gear – light, high tech and new or in good working order. Weight is always an issue when flying in small aircraft, including the helicopter Bell 206 Jet Ranger, therefore spike camping, while utilizing tested, modern equipment, is a return to simple basics, consisting of tents, sleeping pads, sleeping bags, stove and fuel, and a little tarp for a kitchen set up where possible.
During the hike food will mostly be freeze-dried but tasty as well as nutritious, balanced and healthy, with additional gourmet perks. Included are homemade flat breads, cheese, salami, sausage, trail mix, granola bars, jerky, fruit bars, chocolate bars and other snacks. We happily cater to your tastes, allergy problems or vegetarian diet. There is no way we will let you go hungry for lack of, or tastelessness of food.
You will be sent a detailed equipment list for your personal items, like hiking boots, rain gear, sleeping bag, etc. We also offer rental equipment to our clients.
Outfitters (Who We Are)
South Nahanni’s Solitude Excursions is family owned and operated by Sunny Petersen and Werner Aschbacher. Over the past 20 years, we have worked in different branches of outfitting, ranging as far as Australia, Europe and South America with the majority of it spent in the Canadian West and North. We are fluent in English, German and Spanish and pride ourselves in understanding and catering to the mentalities of our worldwide clientele.
Outfitting isn’t our job; it is our way of life because of our love of wilderness, bush flying, wildlife and independence. Our commitment not only extends to our business, our staff and our clients, but to the South Nahanni Ranges of the Mackenzie Mountains, by which we are spellbound.
We dedicate ourselves to keeping this land the way it is right now – absolutely and entirely wild.