|MEETING PLACE:||Vancouver’s Airport South regional airfield (terminal TBD)|
|MEETING TIME:||For our flight to Williams Lake or to Chilko Lake (time TBD)|
|RETURN TIME:||Approximately 3:00-4:00 PM to Airport South, Vancouver’s regional airfield|
|RIVER RATING:||Class II+
|AGE LIMIT:||Minimum age is 6 years old|
|TRIP LENGTH:||Multisport – 6 days; Bear Viewing – 5 days
|ACTIVITIES:||River rafting or inflatable kayaking, lake kayaking, canoeing and SUP, hiking, biking, fishing, horseback riding, wildlife viewing|
Our adventure begins with a breathtaking flight from Vancouver over the towering mountains and massive glaciers of the Coast Range. After arriving at the beautiful wilderness of Chilko Lake (elevation 3845 ft), we spend our days exploring the countryside and valleys that have made this region famous. Situated at the border of Ts’yl-os Provincial Park, the north end of Chilko Lake and the headwaters of the Chilko River system, we’ll indulge ourselves in the variety of adventures at our doorstep. The principal activities will be paddling on Chilko Lake, hiking in the alpine terrain and wildflowers among glacier-capped peaks, paddling the crystal-clear Chilko River, and horseback riding through pristine forests. The balance of the days will be filled with options like fishing for world famous rainbow trout, exploring Chilko Lake by boat or SUP, biking, wildlife viewing or simply reading a great book by the fireplace. Each day, we will return to the comfort and charm of Bear Camp to indulge in fine wine and great food, all while surrounded by 10,000 foot peaks in this seemingly endless wilderness area.
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every trip is different depending upon the group, other trips in the area and sometimes the weather. The following is a sample of what your trip might be like:
Day 1 – Vancouver to Bear Camp at Chilko Lake
The details of our flight from Vancouver will be confirmed closer to the trip date. However, the departure time may be as early as 8:00 AM and as late as 3:00 PM. For those arriving to Vancouver International Airport this day, it is essential you arrive a minimum of three hours before our departing time, as you’ll need to allow enough time for possible flight delays, time to clear customs and time to transfer from the Vancouver International Terminal to the regional airfield at Airport South. Therefore, we suggest arriving one day early and spending the previous night (ahead of day 1) in Vancouver.
We board our plane for the incredible flight over the mountains and glaciers of British Columbia. Our 6-day Multisport programs utilize a commercial flight to Williams Lake Airport, from where we have a 4-hour transfer by vehicle to Bear Camp. Our 5-day Bear Viewing programs may utilize a commercial flight to Williams Lake or a charter flight directly to the airstrip at Chilko Lake, just a few minutes drive from Bear Camp.*
Once at Bear Camp, a hike, paddle on the lake or casting a line for trout are great ways to unwind after your travels. A spectacular view, dinner and an evening to discuss your coming days’ activities will help you settle-in to the moods and rhythms of the trip.
*Your return flight to Vancouver will be the opposite logistic (commercial or charter). Other flight options exist, avoiding the 4-hour drive – ask your OARS Adventure Consultant for details.
Days At Bear Camp – Multi-Sport Activities
Chilko Lake is one of the world’s premiere alpine lake destinations. During your trip you will explore it unobtrusively by sea kayak, canoe, SUP or fishing boat. Surrounded by massive glacier-capped peaks and wilderness, you can spend the days paddling the lake and picnicking on sandy beaches.
Some might hike nearby trails while others try their luck with a fly or spin rod. The Chilko is world-famous for its wild rainbow and massive bull trout. Learn to fly fish or take a spin rod on the lake, the choice is yours. Regardless, there will be time for a quick paddle on the lake or lounging around the fire before a sumptuous dinner.
We will explore the area by horseback, with many great destinations to choose from. Utilizing well-trained mountain horses, our local wrangler will treat you to a day on horseback riding in the mountains that you’ll never forget. For those not keen on horses, we have options for hiking or biking on the double track and dirt roads surrounding the valley and lake. In any case, you’ll be treated to breathtaking mountain scenery, vivid blue waters and endless fields of wildflowers. After a glorious day in the mountains, we’ll settle in to our lakeside camp and enjoy the spectacular views and sunset.
On our river journey, we’ll jump in our inflatable kayaks and challenge up to 21 miles of the Chilko River. For the less-intrepid adventurers, we have a comfortable, custom-designed drift boat where the ride is high and dry; ideal for soaking up scenery instead of waves. In either scenario, a riverside picnic will be in order and there should be plenty of time when we return to camp for fishing, hiking, biking or a swim.
Late afternoons may be spent on a hike to Green Lake, while others may wish to take in a massage, yoga or kick back and enjoy a cold drink and watch the salmon and bald eagles.
During bear season we highly recommend you join us for an early morning paddle, returning to camp for a delicious and hearty breakfast. Watching the bears as the sun rises is otherworldly and something everyone should experience. After breakfast, we have a host of other activities, which can also incorporate bear viewing.
Final Day – Chilko Lake to Vancouver
After another delicious breakfast, we transfer back to Williams Lake or the local airstrip for our flight to Vancouver. You should arrive late-afternoon, usually between 3:00-4:00 PM. We recommend spending the night in Vancouver at the end of the trip in case delays due to weather.
Included in Your Trip Cost
- Skilled, professional guide service provided by our affiliate operator
- 4 or 5 nights deluxe safari tent accommodation
- Roundtrip air & ground transport package to & from Chilko Lake (arranged by OARS)
6-day Multisport programs utilize a commercial flight to Williams Lake Airport, from where we have a 4-hour transfer by vehicle to Bear Camp. Our 5-day Bear Viewing programs may utilize a commercial flight to Williams Lake or a charter flight directly to the airstrip at Chilko Lake. The return to Vancouver will be the opposite logistics.
More direct options via charter flight are available at an increased rate, please ask your OARS Adventure Consultant for details (flying direct into Chilko Lake avoids the 4-hour driver between Bear Camp and Williams Lake)
- All meals from dinner on day 1 through breakfast on the final day
- Quality beer, wine, and some liqueurs in camp
- Towels, soap and shampoo
- All activities and equipment as outlined in the itinerary
- 27-oz Klean Kanteen water bottle
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Transportation to and from Vancouver
- Pre- and post-trip accommodation (in Vancouver) and meals
- Excess baggage charges
- Single supplement fee
- Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan or mandatory emergency medical & evacuation coverage
- Optional heli-hiking (minimum three people)
- Fishing license
- Items of a personal nature (see Suggested Packing List)
Canada’s Goods & Services Tax (GST)
Canada has a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 5% and the province of British Columbia has a 7% Provincial Sales Tax (PST), as well as a liquor tax and hotel tax. For non-residents of Canada, a portion of the GST taxes (including those paid for your river trip) can be recuperated. Be sure to keep receipts and ask customs officials on your departure from the country for the necessary forms and information.
Details can be found at: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/businesses/topics/gst-hst-businesses/gst-hst-rebates/gst-hst-rebate-tour-packages.html
TRIP PREPARATION CHECK LIST
☐ Consider Purchasing Travel Protection: We recommend the purchase of the OARS Travel Protection Plan to help protect you before and during your trip. A travel protection plan can help with reimbursement of your non-refundable payments in the event you have to cancel your trip due to listed reasons such as a covered illness or injury. Because we begin working to prepare for your trip upon receipt of your deposit and may be turning other prospective guests away while holding space for you, there are cancellation fees that will apply regardless of why or when you might need to cancel. We list the cost for the optional OARS Travel Protection Plan on your trip invoice.
10-Day Free Look Period: This stipulation allows you to cancel your travel protection plan within 10 days from your effective date of coverage or before your scheduled departure date, whichever comes sooner. OARS will refund all of your premiums paid if you cancel coverage within the time specified, provided you have not already filed a claim under the travel protection plan. Effective date refers to 12:01 AM the day after the policy premium is paid.
Insurance coverages are underwritten by Arch Insurance Company, NAIC #11150, under policy series LTP 2013 and endorsements thereto. Policies are administered by Arch Insurance Solutions Inc., 855-286-8351, CA license #0I18111, TX license #1787195. Your policy is the contract that specifically and fully describes your coverage. Certain restrictions and exclusions apply and coverages may vary in certain states. Please refer to your policy for detailed terms and conditions; online at: https://www.oars.com/tpp
Consumer disclosures can be found at: https://oars.archinsurancesolutions.com/disclosures
Please note, we require all participants have a minimum of emergency medical evacuation coverage to participate. This coverage can be purchased as a stand-alone policy, or is typically included in a travel protection plan. If you don’t have proof of coverage at the start of the trip, you cannot take part in the expedition. For a basic policy that includes coverage for emergency medical and evacuation situations, visit www.oars.com/tmp
☐ Trip Forms (online): Each participant will need to complete the required trip forms within two weeks of making a booking. Refer to your confirmation e-mail for the link to the online forms. If you prefer to fill out paper forms, please let us know right away. If you are reserving within 90 days of departure, your forms must be completed immediately to ensure we can properly plan for your trip.
☐ Reserve flights, shuttles and lodging: Verify with your Adventure Consultant that your trip has met minimum numbers prior to booking flights and/or reserving overnight lodging for the night before and after your trip, if applicable.
☐ Whitewater Orientation: To increase your safety, we expect everyone to watch our 23-minute Whitewater Orientation video before joining us. Watch at https://www.oars.com/experience/safety/ or call 800-346-6277 to request a free DVD. Please don’t leave home without watching.
☐ Physical Requirements: Your outdoor adventure will be an active participatory trip. Please inform us of any physical limitation you may have as soon as possible. Make sure you are exercising frequently in the months leading up to your trip.
☐ Payments: Final payment is due in our office 90 days prior to your trip (refer to your invoice for final payment date). Please let us know if you would like us to automatically charge your credit card on file when final payment is due.
Meeting Place & Time
The details of our flight from Vancouver to Williams Lake Airport will be confirmed closer to the trip date. It’s likely the departure time will be as early as 8:00 AM and no later than noon and will depart from Airport South, near the Vancouver International Airport. This is not the main Vancouver International Airport. Any taxi can take you to Airport South from the main airport (a 10-15 minute drive) or from your hotel. For those driving, there is long-term parking available for a daily charge.
Check-in begins one hour before our scenic flight to Williams Lake Airport, about a one hour flight. You will not be met by an OARS guide in Vancouver; instead, you’ll meet one of our guides upon arrival to Williams Lake. We’ll have lunch in Williams Lake then transfer by vehicle to Bear Camp, a 4-hour drive.*
If you are going to be late for our flight, please call us as soon as possible (800-346-6277) to see if we can hold the plane. This may not be possible and participants missing our flight will be responsible for their own airfare and expenses to Chilko Lake.
We recommend that you arrive in Vancouver the day before your trip begins. You’ll feel more rested if you’ve arrived the night before and you won’t have to worry about arriving in time for your flight to Williams Lake.
Please note: If you plan to arrive at Vancouver International Airport on day 1, it is essential you arrive a minimum of three hours before our flight. You need to allow enough time for possible flight delays, time to clear customs and time to transfer from the Vancouver International Airport to another terminal.
*If you wish to avoid the 4-hour drive from Williams Lake to Bear Camp, or from Bear Camp to Williams Lake, we can arrange a direct charter flight for an additional cost. Options include flying into or out of the nearby Chilko Lake airstrip, or to & from the Chilko Lake by amphibious plane. Note, these flights are sensitive to weather conditions and therefore at greater risk of being delayed or cancelled. For more information please speak to your OARS Adventure Consultant.
Regardless of the flight option you choose, the planes used for these regional flights are small. If you’re not comfortable flying in small planes, please let us know so we can advise you of your options.
Getting to Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver International Airport is served by numerous air carriers and unless you have pre-trip plans elsewhere in Canada, this will be your point of arrival.
Let us know if you’d like assistance with arranging your international flight logistics. Our partners at Exito Travel specialize in international destinations and we’d be happy to obtain a quote from them on your behalf.
Do not purchase airfare until your departure has been confirmed by the minimum number of required guests.
Vancouver, British Columbia is 140 miles from Seattle, Washington and the drive itself takes approximately 3 hours. Keep in mind you will have to cross the border and there may be traffic delays depending on your timing.
There is parking available for a daily charge at the airport terminals.
After Your Trip
On the final day of your adventure, we typically arrive back to Airport South, Vancouver’s regional airfield, by 3:00-4:00 PM. This should allow time to make a flight departing Vancouver after 7:00 PM, but we recommend you overnight in Vancouver and depart the next day.
Pre- and Post-Trip Accommodations
If you plan to arrive early or stay late, we recommend that you make reservations well in advance in order to guarantee lodging (pre- and post-trip lodging is not included in the trip cost). There are too many hotel options in & around Vancouver Int’l Airport to list, but here a few options:
Essential Travel Documents
If you don’t have a passport, apply for one immediately because the process can be lengthy. If you do have a passport, find it and check the expiration date to see that it is valid for at least 6 months from your planned entry into Canada. Make a photocopy of the photo page of your passport and carry it separately from your passport. It is also a good idea to leave a copy with your emergency contact at home. We request that you send us a copy to keep on file for emergencies during your trip. If your passport is lost or stolen, a photocopy will help the local consulate speed up authorization for replacement. Also check your passport for blank pages. If you do not have at least two blank pages in your passport, we recommend that you apply to have extra pages added.
Do not pack your passport in your checked luggage. If you are carrying a customs form, please keep it in a safe place at all times (we do not recommend carrying it in the passport because you often must submit the passport at hotels, where reception clerks can easily lose the form).
Visas are not required for US citizens to enter Canada. For non-US citizens, please check with the consulate.
Mandatory Evacuation Insurance
We require that you purchase emergency medical evacuation insurance to participate in this expedition. For a policy that includes coverage for emergency medical and evacuation situations, visit www.oars.com/tmp
We strongly recommend that you protect yourself, your belongings, and your vacation through the purchase of a travel protection plan. We offer the OARS Travel Protection Plan to help protect you, your travel investment and your belongings before and during your trip. Travel Protection can reimburse you for non-refundable payments if you should have to cancel your trip for a covered reason such as your illness or the illness of an immediate family member. For complete details go online to: www.oars.com/tpp
About Bear Camp
Bear Camp offers deluxe camping (if you can call it camping!) on raised wildlife viewing platforms overlooking Chilko Lake. The spacious and deluxe safari tents are on the water’s edge and feature a king bed or two double beds, indoor and outdoor lounging areas, spacious decks and all the adventure opportunities one could imagine. Down duvets, hot showers and catered dining take “camping” to new levels of comfort. Situated at the north end of Chilko Lake and the headwaters of the Chilko River, Bear Camp offers the only facilities adjacent to Ts’yl-os Provincial Park.
Established in 1994, Ts’yl-os (pronounced sigh loss) is 233,240 hectares in the Chilcotin Ranges of the Coast Mountains. Although Chilko Lake is the centerpiece of the park, it is just one of many incredible natural features. Though there is much to explore in the region, it is rugged and un-serviced leaving its visitors up to their own devices. This is where we fit in.
- Lake paddling: Chilko Lake is one of the world’s premiere alpine lake destinations. During your trip you can explore it unobtrusively by single or double sea kayak, canoe and SUP. Surrounded by massive glacier-capped peaks and wilderness, you can spend the days paddling the lake and picnicking on sandy beaches. We have a variety of vessels for getting around on the lake. Sea kayaks, canoes and stand up paddle boards (SUPs) are available.
- Hiking: There are wonderful hiking opportunities from our base at Bear Camp into Ts’yl-os Provincial Park. The hike up Mount Tullin is a full-day excursion, covering almost 4000 vertical feet, with 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers. The view of Chilko Lake is extraordinary. Others may choose a shorter, less strenuous hike to Green Lake, not too far from Bear Camp and alongside Chilko Lake. Heli hiking can also be arranged at additional expense (but is worth every penny) and visits a number of valleys and nearby glaciers.
- River running: From camp we offer the upper 21 miles of the Chilko River. This Class II+ section allows participants to inflatable kayak, traditional raft or simply lounge in our comfortable, custom-designed drift boat. The drift boat ride is high and dry, ideal for soaking up scenery instead of waves. For the more adventurous, the inflatable kayaks put you right in the action. We can travel a half-day (10 miles) or an entire day (21 miles with a picnic lunch) and navigate some fun and scenic water that is still appropriate for little ones.
- Wildlife viewing: There is a variety of wildlife in our neck of the Chilcotin region, but come late August and September as many as 2 million salmon come to the headwaters of Chilko Lake to spawn. By mid-September more than 80 grizzlies and hundreds of bald eagles come to the mouth of the river to feed on nature’s bounty. By boat, kayak, bike and even horseback we can witness this amazing spectacle. In our drift boats and kayaks we safely and silently float past bears often less than 50 feet away.
Bear Viewing (September & October trips): We highly recommend you join us for an early morning paddle, returning to camp afterward for a hearty breakfast. Watching the bears as the sun rises is otherworldly and something everyone should experience. After breakfast, we have a host of other activities, which can also incorporate bear viewing.
- Horseback riding: Friendly horses and astute wranglers can tailor rides for all abilities on mountain trails, through fields of wildflowers, or riverside to beautiful waterfalls. You’ll soon know what we mean by “happy trails”. We utilize incredibly fit and well cared-for mountain horses that will get you to places unimaginable.
- Biking: Flowing double track, winding dirt roads, coasting along the rivers edge or gliding through pine-scented forests, we’ve got it all. Our fleet of Kona mountain bikes comes with vehicle support and a knowledgeable guide. What more could you want? Eliminate the hills? We can do that too!
- Bushcraft: There are many options for paddling, fishing, hiking or biking but one of the big highlights of this trip is the option for “bushcraft”. This involves a hike or drive up to Scotty Meadow to meet survivalist expert, Mike Yates, a.k.a. “Grizz.” Mike ran a survival school for decades and was better known as the Marlboro Man for the cigarette manufacturer’s advertising series in Europe and abroad. Participants will see how to live off-the-grid, learn about plants and wildflowers as well as learn about constructing traditional log homes. By the day’s end you will be ready to face even the worst zombie apocalypse…or at least light a fire and build a shelter!
- Fishing: For fishing enthusiasts, Chilko Lake and upper section of the Chilko River are truly world class. This prime location where sockeye salmon and rainbow trout are found together produces some of the best fishing in British Columbia. You can fish from shore, in waders or by boat (paddle, drift or power). One can expect to catch wild rainbow trout in the river and massive bull trout in the lake. The river is “fly fish only, catch & release” and we have jon and drift boats and all the necessary gear to wade and fish this pristine waterway. We can teach beginners to fly fish or you can take a spin rod on the lake, the choice is yours. We include a half-day of guided fishing and there is no cost for fishing on your own. Additional guided fishing may incur an additional cost and can utilize deluxe flat bottom riverboats that have forward and aft fishing platforms with stanchions for stable casting. Float-plane or heli-fishing trips are also available at an additional cost. When exploring the lake by boat or kayak you can stop to fish many of the inlets and creek mouths where trout are plentiful. All Bear Camp guests have access to fly or spin rods, Gore-Tex waders and felt boots. However, if you have a favorite 5-6 wt. fly rod or spinning set up, we recommend you bring it along.
If you plan to fish you must have a license. A fishing license can be purchased online at the following links or in Vancouver if you have time. The actual user days can be allocated once you’re at Bear Camp. Since the permits for river fishing are date-specific (and activities weather dependent), guests can wait to select the fishing days at camp, but since our internet is quite slow and the process for registering new anglers is time-consuming, anglers should have their profile prepared in advance so we can just add days as desired.
U.S. citizens fall under the Non-Resident Alien category.
www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/fish/licences/#Basic – This license is good for the Chilko Lake and everything downstream of the upper 17 miles of the Chilko River.
Begin by requesting an Angler Number, then you can choose between a 1-day or an 8-day license. A 1-day license requires you choose the date when you apply, while an 8-day license will allow you to fish all days over an 8-day period.
www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/fish/licences/#ClassifiedWaters – Fishing the classified waters section of the Chilko River (17 miles, from camp & downstream/fly fish only) requires a “Class II” license (plus the basic license if fishing further downstream).The 17 miles of the Chilko River immediately downstream of Bear Camp is fly fish only (catch and release). You are allowed to use spin-casting equipment on Chilko Lake and can keep some fish, based on current regulations.
- Yoga: We have a yoga instructor on site to lead daily classes
Additional Activities (incur additional cost)
- Heli-hiking: With two Bell (6 passenger) helicopters servicing the area, the heli-hiking opportunities are endless. Here you’ll hike for the day at 7000-9000 feet above sea level. Surrounded by mountaintops and wildflowers, grizzly sightings are common and the scenery second to none. An additional cost and minimum participants apply.
- Rafting Lava Canyon: Paddle the longest, most continuous stretch of commercially-navigable Class IV whitewater in North America on this 2-day adventure. The 2-day Lava Canyon add-on is available with any Bear Camp program. The last day of your scheduled Bear Camp program is day 1 of the Lava Canyon section, so adds one day total to your trip. An additional cost and minimum participants apply.
- Massage: Should you need a little extra help to soothe your spirit, book our massage therapist for a relaxing treatment in the privacy of your own tent
Life at Bear Camp
Bear Camp’s deluxe safari-tent camping is adjacent to Ts’yl-os Provincial Park at the north end of Chilko Lake, the headwaters of the Chilko River. The spacious tents are perched on wildlife viewing platforms at the water’s edge and feature a king bed or two twins, indoor and outdoor lounging areas, private decks and bathrooms in a separate, shared facility. Down duvets, hot showers and catered dining take “camping” to new levels of comfort.
Treat your palette to fresh gourmet cuisine starting with wholesome breakfasts, picnic lunches, indulgent hors d’oeuvres and a glass of wine before your sumptuous family-style meal in the spectacular dining tent. The food is created from some of the finest local seafood, fresh organic produce and perfectly prepared wild game. Throughout your stay and in part because we have only 12 guests at once, you will have the thoughtful attention and service that you deserve.
We need to know as soon as possible about any dietary restrictions we should consider in planning your trip. If you have food allergies or restrictions, we will do our best to accommodate your needs. However, there may be a supplemental menu fee ranging from $5-25 per person per day, to cover any increase in our costs.
Beyond our standard menu, we can provide options for vegetarian, vegan and many allergy-restricted diets without applying a fee. However, we cannot always provide the same diversity or sophistication for restricted diets as we do for our regular menu. Similarly, certain allergen-free snack foods are difficult or impossible to source in our locations, so feel free to bring your own favorite snacks to supplement our provisions. Please let your Adventure Consultant know if you intend to do so.
We cannot guarantee that cross-contamination from allergens will not occur during meal prep, and reserve the right to refuse service to anyone as it relates to safety, including the potential for a medical emergency caused by a severe food allergy. Also, due to the constraints of cooking for a large group in a wilderness setting, availability of ingredients or specialty items in remote locations, and limited packing space, we are unable to cater to dietary preferences (likes or dislikes).
Beverages / Alcohol
We provide a selection of beer, wine and some liqueurs in the evening. We also supply a selection of non-alcoholic beverages with meals and plenty of fresh drinking water throughout the day. For your safety and the safety of others, alcoholic beverages are limited to camp at the end of the days’ activities.
Our drinking water at Bear Camp is a combination of filtered well water and filtered water from the lake. It is of great quality and you’re able to drink the water directly from our water sources in camp.
There are no laundry services while at Bear Camp.
At Bear Camp our electricity is solar generated with a fuel powered generator as back up. Outlets are in each safari tent and in the lodge for recharging batteries and devices.
Please bring a small bag or carrying case, preferably waterproof, to hold your camera and other items you might want during each day. To further protect your camera you may wish to place it in a zip-loc plastic bag, or special waterproof camera case. We also recommend padding it with a towel or clothing. Sand can be a problem – so clean your camera every night with tissue, a brush and lens paper. We also strongly recommend you take out a rider on your homeowner’s policy to cover your camera – especially if it’s fine equipment. If you are planning on bringing a digital camera make sure to bring additional memory cards, batteries, and any other extras you will need. Disposable waterproof and panorama cameras are also a fun option.
Electronics & Technology
The use of electronic devices, especially music players and flying drones, on your trip may represent an intrusion into the wilderness experience of your fellow guests. We ask that you please be mindful of the impacts to others and respect the wilderness nature of the trip. Please bring headphones if you intend to listen to music during the trip and leave your drone at home.
Many of our guests travel with their smartphone although cell service may be limited once you leave Vancouver. On a trip like this, there is always the risk of water damage to smartphones and other electronic devices, even when they are stowed in a dry case. If you intend to take your phone or other electronic device with you on the water, consider investing in a small, waterproof container just for your phone.
Because of our remote location at Bear Camp, cellular phones are not an option. Bear Camp does have a land line for receiving calls. Internet is available while at Bear Camp via a satellite connection, therefore the speed is slow and can’t facilitate streaming, but can manage emails and similar online usage.
Fire activity frequently impacts the air quality on our trips, and occasionally wildfires may be present in the immediate vicinity of where we’re traveling. Smoke impacts are more likely in the latter-half of the summer season, so those with asthma or other respiratory conditions may wish to steer clear of this time frame. In general, we will not cancel a trip on account of smoky conditions, except in cases of clear danger to life or property. Necessary changes to logistics and/or destination may occur with very short notice as fire conditions are constantly changing. We will do our best to keep you apprised of excessively smoky conditions that can be foreseen for your upcoming trip.
Our standard cancellation terms & conditions apply should you choose to cancel due to environmental conditions resulting from a wildfire near to where our trip operates. Please review our Terms & Conditions section in this document, below. Furthermore, we recommend you consider investing in a comprehensive Travel Protection Plan that provides you the ability to “cancel for any reason” should you feel conditions from a nearby wildfire may result in you canceling your reservation.
Check the weather prior to your trip for an up-to-date forecast. We recommend the following website:
The weather is one of the few details we can’t control. During late June through early August, the Chilko-Chilcotin region tends to be dry in climate and warmer than the coast. In mid-summer, daytime highs in the interior can reach the high 80’s° F, while temperatures can drop significantly over night. Rain is always a possibility in British Columbia. Be sure to follow our recommended equipment list, as our experience suggests a multi-layering approach with a range of temperatures and conditions in mind.
Late season trips, from late August through October, can experience wild swings in temperature and weather.
Average Air Temperatures at Chilko Lake
|MONTH||HIGH (°F)||LOW (°F)|
Chilko Lake is located in the same international time zone as the US west coast, Pacific Standard Time.
The Canadian monetary unit is the Canadian dollar (CDN). Like U.S. currency, coins are the penny, nickel, quarter and the dollar or “Loonie” piece. More recently, a two-dollar coin has come into circulation to replace two-dollar bills. Avoid carrying large sums of cash at any time during your travels.
American dollars and traveler’s checks are accepted everywhere though at exchange rates that thieves envy. When converting American to Canadian dollars, you’ll get the most favorable rates at banks. Most banks are open from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM Monday to Friday, though some branches stay open later and on Saturday mornings. ATMs are prolific in Vancouver.
Credit cards are widely accepted in Vancouver, especially Visa and MasterCard.
Canada’s Goods & Services Tax (GST)
Canada has a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 5% and the province of British Columbia has a 7% Provincial Sales Tax (PST) as well as a liquor tax and hotel tax. For non-residents of Canada, most of these taxes can be recuperated. Be sure to keep receipts, and ask customs officials on your departure from the country for the necessary forms and information.
Information is at: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/bsnss/tpcs/gst-tps/rbts/vstrs/trprtr/nnrs/menu-eng.html
Health and Medical Information
Although we do not require any immunizations to participate in this trip, it is important that you be up-to-date on several standard immunizations and that you check with your physician prior to departure. The CDC is a good resource for recommendations pertaining to international travel immunizations.
For Women Only
Even if you aren’t anticipating your menstrual period, come prepared for it. You can use sandwich-sized Ziploc baggies during the day to store feminine products while you are on the river or hiking, and you can then discretely dispose of the baggies when you reach Bear Camp. When possible, we recommend o.b.® tampons, which are 1/3 the size of regular tampons, tuck discreetly into pockets and have less paper wrapping. If you use pads, be sure to bring extras. Many women suggest bringing a small supply of baby wipes. We provide some feminine products on most trips for emergencies.
Traveler Responsibility Code
1. Read the pre-trip literature and arrive at the meeting place on time.
2. Understand the risks: your safety is ultimately your responsibility.
3. Wear the issued and properly–fitted Personal Flotation Device (PFD) at all times when in the boats or swimming. Wear a helmet when required.
4. Wear clothing and personal protective equipment suitable for the current conditions.
5. Listen to and follow the guides’ instructions.
6. Abide by the managing agency’s rules.
7. No drugs or alcohol during the day; alcohol is allowed in moderation in the evenings.
8. Minimize your impact on the environment.
9. Treat your fellow guests and guides with respect and courtesy; harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.
10. Your children are your responsibility!
Essential Eligibility Criteria for River Trips
The following are the physical and mental eligibility criteria for all participants on any OARS river trip.
1. Ability to remain seated and balanced while in a whitewater craft while holding on with at least one hand.
2. Wear a Type V Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device (maximum chest size of 56 inches). Wearing leg straps may be required to ensure proper fit. Where required, properly wear a helmet.
3. Ability to independently board and disembark a boat four to ten times each day. This may require stepping into the boat, and then maneuvering your body over and across tubes and fixed objects into a seated position.
4. Ability to independently navigate shoreline terrain, including safely maneuvering around and across boulders, rocks, and slippery and uneven surfaces, under low branches, and around vegetation. This includes the ability to maintain your balance near precipitous ledges or cliffs.
5. Ability to independently swim in whitewater or swift currents while wearing a PFD. This includes being an active participant in your own rescue, including having the ability to (a) keep your airway passages sealed while underwater, and regain control of your breathing when being submitted to repeated submersion under waves or currents; (b) orient yourself to new “in-river” surroundings; (c) reposition yourself in the water to different swimming positions; (d) swim aggressively to a boat or to shore in whitewater; (e) receive a rescue rope, paddle, or human assistance, and possibly let go of the same; (f) get out from under an overturned boat.
6. Ability to swim 100 yards in flat water while wearing a PFD.
7. Ability to assist another passenger who has fallen out of the boat by pulling them back in.
8. Ability to follow both verbal and non-verbal instructions given by guides in all situations, including during stressful or dangerous situations, and to effectively communicate with guides and other guests.
9. Ability to carry personal dry bags and other personal gear (as heavy as 20-30 pounds) uphill from the boats to your camping location and back the next morning, independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member. (This only applies on multi-day trips).
10. Ability to manage all personal care independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member.
11. If taking prescription medications, have the ability to maintain proper dosage by medicating independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member.
12. Ability to remain adequately fed, hydrated, and properly dressed so as to avoid environmental injuries such as hypothermia, heat related illness, sunburn and frostbite.
The above criteria, if not met, will disqualify a person from participating in a river trip with OARS. The criteria exist for your own safety and that of all trip participants. None of the criteria are meant to discriminate on the basis of any physical or mental disability, and are applied uniformly to all potential trip participants, irrespective of the presence or absence of any disability. OARS is committed to making reasonable modifications to any trip for any persons with a disability, so long as they do not fundamentally alter the nature of the trip.
Further Information About Our Expectations of Trip Participants
The following paragraphs are meant to further inform all potential participants of the expectations for all participants in order to promote a safe, enjoyable experience for everyone on a trip. There may be requirements, whether physical or mental, that are not specifically applied “essential eligibility criteria”, but that help our guests understand the reality of being on a wilderness river trip.
Our primary goal is to minimize the risks associated with adventure trips in a wilderness environment. The trip involves physical exertion and exposure to the elements, including cold water and the potential for heat, sun, wind, rain and snow. We have experience accommodating people with a wide range of physical disabilities and/or health conditions. However, individuals who are overweight, lack conditioning, or have other physical limitations or ailments that interfere with the realistic encounters on a wilderness river can endanger themselves, other guests, and the guides. Please consult your doctor if you have medical or health conditions that could impact your ability to participate in this outdoor adventure.
It is very important that each trip participant take an active role in their own safety. You will likely encounter wilderness conditions that you are unfamiliar with, and those conditions may change rapidly. It is critical to pay attention at all times, to be aware of your surroundings, and to avoid taking unnecessary risks. Even a non-life threatening injury in a wilderness setting can become a major emergency for you, and can endanger the entire group. Swimming alone or hiking alone is discouraged. Excessive alcohol consumption or illicit drug use is not tolerated. Using common sense and following both the explicit instruction and the lead of your guides can go a long way towards keeping yourself and the group safe. Some obvious things to avoid in camp and on shore (by way of example) are: walking around without shoes in camp, approaching wild animals, not paying attention to what is above or around your tent site that could harm you, not paying attention to hazards such as poison ivy and rattlesnakes, and walking near precipitous ledges.
River trips, particularly those involving whitewater, are inherently risky. While the risk of a trip is part of what makes it an exciting adventure, you must be entirely respectful of the risk that such a trip poses. It is important that you are confident in your swimming ability, and your ability to stay calm in the event you become a non-voluntary swimmer. Your odds of becoming a non-voluntary swimmer change with the classification of a rapid, boat selection and environmental factors. On class IV and greater whitewater, the probability that you will become a non-voluntary swimmer is significant. A swim in whitewater is much more difficult and physically draining than swimming in flat water. Swimming in cold water can cause a gasping effect on your respiratory system. This can be overcome by focusing on your breathing and calming yourself down. Swimming in cold water will also much more quickly sap your energy and decrease muscle function than swimming in warmer water. While our guides are highly trained and will do their absolute best to rescue you, a successful rescue is greatly hampered by a swimmer who is unprepared for a swim in whitewater, who fails to actively participate in their own rescue, and who is not able to follow directions while under stress. You will receive a detailed orientation talk at the start of your river trip, but you can get a better idea of what to expect by watching a version of an orientation talk here: http://www.oars.com/videos/oars-whitewater-orientation.
Due to the physical nature of this trip, we highly recommend that you engage in regular exercise for at least three months prior to departure to ensure preparedness. No gym membership required! Simple exercises like push-ups, sit-ups and squats go a long way to improving core fitness. Start with these exercises and do three sets of ten repetitions each, three to four times per week. Aerobic training is also easy to accomplish without expensive equipment. Take 30 – 40 minutes two to three times a week and go for a brisk walk, easy jog or bike ride around town. If you have access to a pool, lake or the ocean, swimming is obviously an ideal choice for aerobic exercise. It provides a full-body workout and is training that is useful in the event of an involuntary swim in a whitewater rapid. It is important to push yourself in the months leading up to your trip by increasing your strength training repetitions and the pace of your aerobic training. Check with your doctor prior to beginning any exercise program to be sure you are medically safe to participate. Starting an exercise program that is more strenuous than you are ready for may result in injury or risk exacerbating existing health conditions. Getting in shape will certainly add to your enjoyment of the trip.
Packing for Your Trip
The information below is subject to when your trip takes place. The need for warm weather or cold weather items should be based on a reliable weather forecast leading up to your trip.
Late season trips, from late August through October, can experience wild swings in temperature and weather. Therefore, be sure to bring warm layers & outerwear, warm hat & gloves and raingear. We have rubber boots and insulated flotation jackets available at camp for cold or wet days on the water.
Active clothes—Bring a combination of lightweight cotton and synthetic or merino wool fabrics that breathe well for hiking, biking or fishing. Whatever you choose, be sure you have comfortable freedom of movement, especially for uphill and downhill activity. Conditions may vary greatly day to day, particularly on late August through October trips – so plan for all conditions!
On the river—Start with a swimsuit and/or swim trunks and synthetic or merino wool shirt as a base layer. Additional layers for sun protection or insulation can be added and subtracted depending on the weather, temperature and how wet you’re getting in the rapids. Wetsuits are provided.
At Bear Camp—When the weather is warm, lightweight cotton pants/skirt or shorts and shirt make great camp-wear. Anytime the forecast calls for cool evenings and cold nights, a dry set of long underwear is the perfect base layer under long pants and a fleece sweater.
In the boat—The best choice is an amphibious shoe that drains water, protects your toes and won’t come off in swirling current. A retired pair of athletic shoes can work well, too. Sport sandals with a heel strap are a good option, especially on rivers with sandy beaches. Find professional-grade options made by Chacos®, the official footwear sponsor of OARS guides.
Hiking—The importance of good footwear cannot be overstated. Given that our trails are often gravelly or sometimes muddy, you need a good walking shoe or boot with a firm sole, good ankle support and a degree of water resistance. It’s now easy to find a “hybrid” walking boot, which combines the lightweight, ventilated features of a shoe with the support and durability of a boot.
Please note: If you buy new shoes or sandals for the trip, make sure you break them in first
Socks–Bring at least one pair for each day of hiking. We recommend merino wool material. It may be a good idea to bring along some additional items such as foot powder, cushioned pads and/or bandage or 2nd Skin®, which provides cushioned comfort with an antiseptic for blistered and sore feet. You will want a pair of neoprene, wool or fleece socks for the river. They will keep your feet warm, even when wet.
During the day—Wide-brimmed hats are a good choice for sun protection. Ball caps are also useful since they fit under helmets, which are required attire when paddling the river.
At Bear Camp—In the evenings, mornings or when the weather is cool, you’ll want a beanie-style hat to wear. They are the perfect remedy for bed-head as you rise from your safari tent to secure your morning cup of coffee or tea, or for retaining warmth in the evening hours after the sun sets.
Rain gear protects you from rain, wind and the splash of the rapids. It is one of the essential items that all passengers should have no matter what time of year you are traveling. Look for jacket and pants that are 100% waterproof, not just water resistant. A hooded jacket is recommended as well as good secure closures around your head, neck, wrists and ankles. Do not bring a rain poncho as it cannot be worn under your PFD.
Protecting yourself from the sun should be taken very seriously. A hat, sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses are a must. In many cases, a long-sleeve shirt is the best method for preventing sunburn on your upper body. Light-weight long pants may also be appropriate to protect your legs. Be sure to bring a good hat that offers full coverage, such as a wide-brimmed hat.
Bugs & Mosquitoes
Bugs and mosquitoes vary depending on location and time of year. It’s a good idea to come prepared with insect repellent. Long sleeved shirts and pants may be desirable at times.
Equipment and Personal Items:
☐ 1-liter water bottle: durable and reusable
☐ Daypack for short hikes (to carry a water bottle, camera, rain gear and more)
☐ Headlamp or flashlight (consider bringing extra batteries)
☐ Sunglasses (preferably polarized) with securing strap and a spare
☐ Toiletries including biodegradable soap (such as Campsuds or Dr. Bronner’s)
☐ Sunscreen and lip protection: waterproof & SPF 30 or higher (aerosol sprays not recommended)
☐ Moisturizing lotion or cream
☐ Insect repellent
☐ Personal first aid kit (medications, Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, ibuprofen, moleskin, eye drops, etc.)
☐ Spare pair of glasses and/or contacts (wind and blowing sand can cause problems for contact wearers)
☐ Locking carabiner (for clipping a water bottle or personal dry bag into a raft or inflatable kayak)
☐ Cash for gratuities and incidentals
☐ Athletic shoes or lightweight hiking boots: 1 pair, waterproof, comfortable and with good tread
☐ River shoes or sandals with a heel strap (such as those made by Chacos®)
“Aqua socks” strongly discouraged
☐ Socks: 2-3 pair lightweight for hiking
☐ Socks: 1 pair of neoprene, wool or fleece for the river
☐ Long-sleeved shirt: 2-3 lightweight and light color for sun protection (UPF rated shirts are great)
☐ Long pants: 1-2 pair lightweight and quick-drying
☐ Shade hat, ball cap or visor with securing strap and a spare
☐ Rain jacket & pants: waterproof (not water resistant) A hooded jacket with secure closures is recommended
☐ Swimwear; a two-piece is recommended for women for changing and using the restroom. Tankinis and board shorts are a great option.
☐ Shorts: 1-2 pair
☐ T-shirts/tops: 2-3
☐ Synthetic or merino wool long underwear: 1 set top & bottom (light-, mid- or expedition-weight
depending on the time of year & weather forecast)
☐ Down or synthetic insulated jacket or fleece jacket
☐ Warm gloves – to be worn during various activities and while at camp
☐ Warm hat
☐ Paddling gloves – particularly useful on fall trips (late August through October)
☐ Camera and accessories
☐ Bathing wipes: pre-moistened disposable towels
☐ Binoculars: small
☐ Flip-flops or similar for camp
☐ Fishing rod with case and tackle
☐ Small bags: stuff sacs, zip locks or similar for organizing items in your travel bag
☐ Sarong: useful for sun protection, evaporative cooling, changing clothes, etc.
☐ Sketchbook, notebook and pen, paperback book
☐ Ear plugs
Find all the gear you need for your trip online in the OARStore + 15% of your purchase helps provide under-resourced youth with outdoor adventure experiences.
Packing Your Gear
On our standard flight & travel package from Vancouver to Williams Lake, the checked baggage allowance is limited to 50 lbs (23 kg) per passenger. Baggage exceeding the allowance is subject to excess baggage fees. For details about the baggage restrictions on this commercial flight, visit the Pacific Coast Airlines website.
Please note – if you are upgraded to a direct/charter flight to and/or from Chilko Lake (by request or by default), please pack your belongings into a soft duffel bag as the small passenger planes can not easily accommodate hard-sided suitcases.
Also, the weight restriction may reduce to 40 lbs per person.
While we encourage you to travel light, you’ll also want to be sure you pack all the essentials. Although we are returning to the comfort of Bear Camp each evening, we want to make sure you are prepared for both land and water environs. The personal equipment list will address what you will need to wear in conjunction with our gear. Weight restrictions come into play with our local, domestic flight, so please follow our recommendations closely.
Late season trips, from late August through October, can experience wild swings in temperature and weather. Therefore, be sure to bring warm layers, outwear, hat & gloves and raingear.
Canada is very safe for travelling, but still there is no point in carrying lots of valuables when travelling. Regrettably, tourists are among the most easily targeted, so please exercise caution. We recommend that you check your personal insurance policy before travelling to ensure that you are covered for theft and loss while travelling. As a safety precaution, do not travel with excessive cash or jewelry if it is not necessary.
Tipping is optional but appreciated by our staff. If you are wondering how much to tip, you may consider that we operate in a service industry with a host of behind-the-scenes contributors in addition to the guides on your trip. In general, we suggest a gratuity based on approximately 10% of the OARS trip cost. It is customary for gratuities to be given to the Trip Leader, who will then distribute appropriately among all the guides and support staff. You’ll want to plan ahead and have cash with you, however a gratuity can also be provided via check, credit card or PayPal.
In reviewing your statement, you’ll note a $1 per person per day donation to the Fraser Basin Council, a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to ensuring that the Fraser River Basin in British Columbia – a mighty salmon-producing watershed almost the size of California – continues to support the healthy ecosystems upon which sustainable communities depend. One-hundred percent of these funds go directly to fostering collaborative solutions to improving water quality, raising awareness on the importance of a healthy Fraser Basin, and inspiring youth to become actively engaged in shaping a sustainable future. Please notify our office if you would prefer to delete the donation from your balance.
If you enjoyed your trip, consider donating to The Pam & George Wendt Foundation. This organization is a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 organization with the express goal of providing opportunities for young people to experience the magic of the outdoors. Visit https://www.oars.com/oars-foundation/ to learn more about how a tax-deductible donation can change young lives for the better.
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Shop for the latest in top-quality clothing, footwear & outdoor gear
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Terms & Conditions
Reservations & Deposit
A $500/person deposit is required at the time of reservation. The balance is due 90 days prior to departure.
Cancellations & Refunds
If you find it necessary to cancel your trip, please notify us as soon as possible. The cancellation fee after you’ve made your deposit can range up to the entire trip cost, based upon the number of days prior to your trip that we receive your cancellation notice. We regret we cannot make exceptions for personal emergencies. For this reason, we strongly urge you to consider purchasing a travel protection plan (see Travel Protection).
|DATE OF CANCELLATION||CANCELLATION FEE|
|90 or more days prior to your trip||Full deposit ($500)/person|
|89 to 0 days prior to your trip||100% of the trip price/person|
Requests to transfer a date will be treated as a cancellation, per the terms above.
OARS International and the outfitter R.O.A.M. Adventures, Inc. reserve the right to cancel any trip due to unforeseen circumstances. In such a case, you will be given a full refund of the tour cost, but OARS International and R.O.A.M. Adventures, Inc. are not responsible for additional expenses incurred in preparation for the trip.
Under most circumstances, if you are of an adventurous spirit and in reasonably good health, you should have no problem enjoying this trip. People with medical conditions, including pregnancy, should have a physician’s approval before taking an adventure travel trip.
We offer the OARS Travel Protection Plan to help protect you, your travel investment and your belongings before and during your trip. Travel Protection can reimburse you for non-refundable payments if you should have to cancel your trip for a covered reason such as your illness or the illness of an immediate family member. For complete details go online to: https://www.oars.com/tpp
Please note, we require all participants have a minimum of emergency medical evacuation coverage to participate. This coverage can be purchased as a stand-alone policy, or is typically included in a travel protection plan. If you don’t have proof of coverage at the start of the trip, you cannot take part in the expedition. For a basic policy that includes coverage for emergency medical and evacuation situations, visit www.oars.com/tmp
Everyone is required to sign a standard liability release form before the trip, acknowledging awareness that there are inherent risks associated with the trip. Due to the nature of the activities, a condition of your participation is that you will sign this form and return it to our office before the trip begins. Anyone who refuses to sign the form will not be allowed to participate, and consistent with OARS. International cancellation policy, there will be no refund of the trip fees at that time.
Responsibility – An Important Notice
O.A.R.S. International, Inc., R.O.A.M. Adventures, Inc. and cooperating agencies act only in the capacity of agent for the participants in all matters relating to transportation and/or all other related travel services, and assume no responsibility however caused for injury, loss or damage to person or property in connection with any service, including but not limited to that resulting directly or indirectly from acts of God, detention, annoyance, delays, and expenses arising from quarantine, strikes, theft, pilferage, force majeure, failure of any means of conveyance to arrive or depart as scheduled, civil disturbances, government restrictions or regulations, and discrepancies or change in transit over which they have no control. Reasonable changes in itinerary may be made where deemed advisable for the comfort and well-being of the participants, including cancellation due to water fluctuation, insufficient bookings (this trip requires a minimum of 2 guests), and other factors. There is risk in whitewater rafting and inflatable kayaking, particularly during high-water conditions. Rafts and kayaks do capsize. You could be swept overboard. Your guide will make every attempt to assist, but you must be strong and agile enough to “self-help” and “float-it-out” without further endangering yourself or others. We reserve the right not to accept passengers weighing more than 260 pounds or with a waist/chest size exceeding 56 inches. We are experienced at accommodating people with various disabilities. Please give us an opportunity to make you feel welcome. However, we need to discuss any special requirements ahead of time. We may decide, at any time, to exclude any person or group for any reason we feel is related to the safety of our trips.
OARS trips occur in areas where unpredictable environmental conditions are to be expected. To moderate dangerous situations for our guests and guides, it is important that all travelers obey the rules and regulations as determined by the managing agencies and the Trip Leader and demonstrate reasonable consideration for other guests and OARS employees. We reserve the right to remove any guest from a trip if, in our opinion, that guest’s actions or behaviors pose a threat to the safety of her/himself or others, or if those actions or behaviors compromise the enjoyment of the trip for others. Should a guest be asked to leave a trip, there will be no refund for the unused portion, nor will OARS be responsible for additional expenses incurred by the guest for accommodations, return transport, change fees, etc. On advancement of deposit the depositor agrees to be bound by the above recited terms and conditions. Prices and itinerary are subject to change without notice.
R.O.A.M. Adventures, Inc.
R.O.A.M. Adventures, Inc., a travel partner of OARS. International, is the operator of this trip. Upon arrival, a representative will meet you and escort you throughout the program. These staff members are the very best and will strive to ensure your complete satisfaction.