|MEETING PLACE:||Vancouver’s Airport South regional airfield (Terminal TBD)|
|MEETING TIME:||For our flight to Williams Lake (specific time TBD)|
|RETURN TIME:||Approximately 3:00-4:00 PM to Airport South, Vancouver’s regional airfield|
|RIVER RATING:||Class III-IV|
|PUT-IN:||Chilko River Headwaters|
|AGE LIMIT:||Minimum age is 13 years old|
|TRIP LENGTH:||8 days / 7 nights|
|BOAT TYPE:||Paddle raft with oar assist|
|ACTIVITIES:||River rafting, inflatable kayaking, hiking, fishing|
This journey of discovery is one of the most ecologically diverse and personally satisfying expeditions found anywhere. We’ll fly over the towering mountains and massive glaciers of the Coast Range in a small aircraft. After arriving to the beautiful wilderness of Chilko Lake (elevation 3845 ft), we’ll float 120 miles on the crystal-clear, then turquoise, then silty-brown waters of this incredible alpine forest-to-desert river system, which drops over 3000 vertical feet. On the last day of our expedition, we’ll fly back to Vancouver, crossing over the 2000-foot canyons of the lower Fraser, and the lakes and mountains of the southern Coast Range. Experiencing such a variety of phenomenal scenery has made guests claim that this eight-day trip was the best of their lives.
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every trip is different depending upon the group, other trips on the water and sometimes the weather. The following is a sample of what your trip might be like:
The details of our flight from Vancouver will be confirmed closer to the 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 to arrive a minimum of three hours before our potential departing time; you 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.
We will board our plane for the incredible flight over the mountains and glaciers. Upon arrival, we’ll transfer by vehicle to our riverside camp at Bear’s Den, a 4-hour drive*, where we’ll meet the rest of our guides and prepare to depart on our expedition down the mighty Chilko River.
*Other flight options exist, avoiding this drive – please ask us for details.
Upon arrival at our camp, we’ll familiarize ourselves with our new surroundings, discuss the plan for the coming week and then enjoy our first of many delightful meals in the wilderness.
Bear’s Den Basecamp
We awake at Bear’s Den to a delicious and hearty breakfast. Today we enjoy the amazing sights and adventures Chilko Lake has to offer. You can choose to enjoy an easy hike to Green Lake, a big hike up Mt. Tullin, mountain biking on fun double track, inflatable kayak the Chilko’s upper 20 miles back to Bear’s Den, cast a line for trout, or simply hang out in our scenic riverside camp and prepare for tomorrow’s big water adventure.
Bear’s Den Basecamp
We’ll board the rafts after breakfast. You will quickly notice that the pace of the river has increased from the upper 20 miles (if you chose to float the river the day before). Today we descend through Lava Canyon and challenge the longest continuous rapids of the trip. Heart stopping hydraulics and towering standing waves cascade for more than 14 miles through deep and narrow lava gorges, making for non-stop excitement. It is no surprise Lava Canyon has become world famous among whitewater enthusiasts. We will choose a secluded riverside camp just above or below the confluence with the turquoise Taseko River, where the Chilko doubles in size. At camp, a delightful evening under the stars and celebration is in order after a fun-filled day of adventure.
After a leisurely breakfast, the Chilko River will carry us into the Chilcotin River. The river valley opens as we emerge onto the Chilcotin Plateau. Birdlife abounds and our casual float is a welcome reprieve after the previous day’s excitement. This is a great time to try inflatable kayaking or the oars—everyone will be encouraged to give them a try. Arriving relatively early into camp, there will be time for swimming or plain old loafing around. Try your hand at some fishing, or sit and watch the sunset on the metamorphic rocks across the valley.
An early departure will set the stage for an action packed day. In the morning, we will enjoy some friendly Class II and III rapids before arriving at our lunch site near an ancient Indian fishing spot deep in the 1500’ deep canyons. This stop offers outstanding hiking, swimming and, for the more adventurous, cliff jumping into the refreshing waters of the Chilcotin. After lunch we ride the Goose Neck Rapids while Bald Eagles soar high above us. We’ll make our camp at the confluence of Big Creek. Here, there will be time to hike or fish for rainbow trout in Big Creek. If you feel less active, you’ll be able to wander with your camera through this beautiful valley or simply relax with a good book.
Our layover at Big Creek allows time to sit back and soak-in the surroundings of this spectacular river canyon and ponder the greatness of this expedition. You can bide your time with a long hike up Dome Mountain, fishing for trout, soaking in the creek and relaxing in our wilderness camp. It’s a great day for appreciating how far you’ve come and how special this remote region is.
Fueled by another great breakfast and ready for more white water, we will break camp and immediately enter the Big Creek rapids. Lots of fun, splashy rapids and accelerating current keep the pace up as we whirl past towering hoodoos and dramatic canyons. Our adventures are capped with a wild ride through Farwell Canyon as we eventually enter California bighorn sheep country, hopefully spotting a herd or two. Soon we’ll enter the Gates of Mordor and challenge Big John Canyon. This stretch of the Chilcotin River features countless massive wave trains that roller coaster for miles in a rushing chorus down deep desert canyons only to dissipate into the mighty volume of the Fraser River. In this country, there will be plenty of photo opportunities for the camera buff. The rolling grasslands and the massive canyons provide a dramatic backdrop to the white-water experience. Tonight we will camp on one of the many massive beaches of the Fraser River.
After a peaceful float down the mighty Fraser River we’ll arrive at our take-out point by the historic Gang Ranch. Here we’ll board our vehicles for the shuttle to Williams Lake Airport to meet our plane for the spectacular ride back over the Coast Mountains and eventually reach the Pacific. Weather permitting, we plan to arrive back to Vancouver by 3:00 PM.
Included in Your Trip Cost
- Skilled, professional guide service provided by our affiliate operator
- 7 nights catered camping along the river
- All meals from dinner on day 1 through lunch on the day 8
- Quality beer, wine, and some liqueurs in camp
- One large expedition-sized dry bag to hold your gear for the river trip
- One small waterproof dry bag for camera and other small items you’ll want during the day
- Camp tent based on double or single occupancy
- Sleep kit—consisting of a sleeping bag, sleeping pad and pillow
- Personal flotation device (PFD) which must be worn at all times on the river in compliance with safety regulations
- Camp chairs
- Eating utensils, cups and plates
- Highest quality inflatable rafts and related equipment
- Wetsuit and spray jacket
- All park fees and necessary permits
- 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
- Roundtrip air & ground transport package: Vancouver to Williams Lake (OARS will arrange)
More direct options via charter flight are available at an increased rate, please ask us for details
- Pre- and post-trip accommodations and meals
- Excess baggage charges (on the flights)
- Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan or mandatory emergency medical & evacuation coverage
- Fishing gear and license
- Items of a personal nature (see Suggested Packing List)
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 roundtrip 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 12:00 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 our riverside 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 Airport South.
*If you wish to avoid the 4-hour drive from Williams Lake to the Chilko River, we can arrange a direct charter flight for an additional cost. Options include flying into the nearby airstrip at Chilko Lake, or to 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 in Canada.
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.
Please 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.)
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.) While on the river, we recommend you pack your passport in a zip-lock bag that you can store in the bottom of your waterproof dry bag.
Visas are not required for U.S. citizens to enter Canada. For non-U.S. 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
The Chilko-Chilcotin-Fraser is considered a Class III-IV river system with a number of extended drops. The Chilko flows into the Chilcotin River, which flows into the mighty Fraser River. This free flowing waterway is perfect to raft from May through September. Our Chilko River adventure winds through lush alpine forests, narrow canyons, high desert plateaus and skyscraping hoodoos, and then ends 3,000 vertical feet lower and one week later on the Fraser River, the lifeblood of Canada’s largest river system. The route runs through Lava, Big John and Farwell canyons, and it is known to have the continent’s longest stretch of commercially navigable whitewater.
Paddle Raft with Oar Assist—The most agile of any boat in the OARS fleet, your guide steers the raft with two hefty oars while the crew wields paddles up front to provide the necessary horsepower. Helmets required. (Four to eight paddlers)
Inflatable Kayak (day 2 only)—Inflatable kayaks float low to the water, putting you in touch with the pull of the current and splash of every wave. On most trips, double and single inflatable kayaks are available, depending on group size. Helmets always required.
Our first two nights are at the Bear’s Den basecamp, where you’ll be accommodated in our pre-set tents. Beginning day 3, after each active day on the river, we pull ashore to camp for the night. Upon arrival, our first task is to unload the boats using a bag line of crew and passengers to expedite the process. Individuals then collect their waterproof bags and locate an area on the beach to camp for the night. On the first night in camp, a crew member will give a demonstration on setting up a tent, which you’ll see is quick and easy. The guides will set up the kitchen and central dining/seating area with camp chairs. They will also locate a secluded area away from camp to set up the portable toilet, where privacy is assured.
As dinner is being prepared by the guides, hors d’oeuvres will be served and you will have an opportunity to relax, enjoy a drink if you wish, and reflect on the day with your fellow traveling companions.
In the morning, the first wake-up call will let you know that coffee, hot water for tea or cocoa, juice, fresh fruit and cold cereal are ready on the hors d’oeuvres table. You can fill your mug and grab a bite, then begin to pack up your personal belongings and sleep gear as the guides prepare breakfast. After breakfast is served, the entire camp will be broken down and packing will be completed. The gear will then be loaded onto the boats and we’ll head downstream to see what new adventures await us.
The meals we serve are hearty and delicious, complete with fresh ingredients and a variety of foods. A typical morning on a multi-day trip might start with French toast, bacon, fruit, orange juice, and coffee or tea. Lunch might be a delicious spread of cold cuts and cheeses with several types of bread, or pitas stuffed with veggies and hummus. There are always cookies and a cooling drink to top it off. At dinner, our guides’ cooking skills truly shine—sizzling steaks or salmon, chicken enchiladas, and delicious pasta dishes are all part of their repertoire. Dinner generally includes a salad, and desserts are frequent. Hors d’oeuvres are a pleasant surprise before many meals.
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 appropriate 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.
Our drinking carried with us from Bear Camp or comes from the river and is filtered for consumption (no iodine is used in the purification process). We store the purified water in large containers that are accessible in camp, at lunch time and before hikes for filling personal water bottles.
Hiking / Side Creek Exploration
Each day varies, but on an average you’ll spend 4-6 hours a day on the boats. The rest of the time will be spent exploring, relaxing in camp or eating. While we generally plan a few guided hikes on each trip, there is ample opportunity for the curious to explore the area at length. Please let your trip leader know if you are an avid hiker and remember to bring a water bottle and good shoes. All hikes are optional, and you can choose to lie on the beach, sit by the river and take in a few tanning rays or read a book instead.
The Chilko River watershed is a world-class fishing destination. For fly fishermen, there are plenty of rainbow trout and dolly varden. It has the third largest sockeye salmon run in the province (over 2 million return annually) and is a spawning ground for spring and coho salmon, as well as steelhead. Opportunities to fish are limited to camp and our one lay-over day at Big Creek. If you plan to fish, you will need to bring your own gear. We suggest you bring a rod with case and the smallest of tackle boxes with the appropriate lures or flies. Many sections of the Chilko are restricted to fly fishing only (spin rods aren’t permitted).
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.
U.S. citizens fall under the Non-Resident Alien category.
www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/fish/licences/#Basic – This license is good for Chilko Lake (which you’ll visit on day 2) and everything downstream of the upper 17 miles of the Chilko River.
www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/fish/licences/#ClassifiedWaters – Fishing the classified waters section of the Chilko River (17 mile section from the headwaters; fly fish only) requires a “Class II” license (plus the basic license if fishing further downstream).
The Portable Toilet
While the idea of a river trip is appealing to most people, many are inhibited or reluctant because of modesty or uncertainty. To minimize our impact, we carry out all solid human waste and use a portable toilet system that is set up each day at camp in a secluded location a discrete distance from tent sites. It is essentially a toilet without plumbing, and it is available from the time you pull into camp each afternoon until you leave camp the next day. Toilet paper and a convenient hand-washing station are provided.
We also carry a small container called the “day tripper” that can be easily accessed during the day should the need arise. It is a personal disposable toilet, which includes an odor-proof transport bag, chemical solidifier and odor eliminator, toilet paper and oversized hand wipe.
On popular stretches of wilderness rivers, the common refrain is “dilution is the solution to pollution.” We practice this approach by urinating in the river during the day.
Bathing is allowed in the river here and many people enjoy a swim. We recommend using a liquid biodegradable soap such as Campsuds or Dr. Bronner’s which can be purchased in most stores that have a camping section or at your local health food store. These soaps can also be used to wash clothes. Disposable anti-bacterial towelettes (Coleman Swash Cloths, baby wipes, etc.) are especially convenient as well.
We provide a small waterproof bag (17” tall x 9” diameter—approximate sealed size) to hold your camera and other items you might need during the day. While these bags are designed to be waterproof, you may wish to place your camera in a zip-lock plastic bag or waterproof casing for additional protection. 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 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 bag. 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.
We are not able to provide a power source for recharging devices. To keep cameras, phones, GPS and other devices working you may need spare batteries or portable power. Options include compact portable solar panels that can recharge devices directly, portable power banks that store power, or a combo unit that can be charged before the trip and recharged with a built-in solar panel.
Once you are on the river there is limited communication with the “outside world.” Cell phone service is not available. Our guides carry satellite phones which are strictly used to call out in case of an emergency situation during the trip. If you have someone that needs to contact you about an emergency at home, they should call our office (800-346-6277). If possible, we will relay the message to you. Keep in mind it could be several days or longer before the message actually reaches you. For your family at home you should define for them what you consider an emergency and provide them with instructions to call our office in the event one occurs during your vacation.
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.
You may want to check one week prior to your trip for an up-to-date weather forecast. We recommend looking at the forecast for Chilko Lake prior to your trip.
The weather is one of the few details we can’t control. However, we plan our trips for times when the likelihood of good weather is greatest. The Chilko-Chilcotin tends to be dry in climate and much warmer than the coast. In summer, daytime temps in the interior of B.C. can be quite warm, while the temperatures drop quite a bit during the evenings. While we don’t expect rain, it 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.
Average Air Temperatures/Rainfall at Chilko Lake
|MONTH||HIGH (°F)||LOW (°F)||RAINFALL|
The temperature of the lake tends to be in the low to mid 50’s (°F). You’ll find the river to warm as we travel downstream, noticeably upon arriving at the confluence of the Chilcotin River and the Fraser River.
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 holiday. Credit cards are widely accepted.
American dollars are accepted everywhere. If 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 everywhere.
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 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. More information can be found at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/bsnss/tpcs/gst-tps/rbts/vstrs/trprtr/nnrs/menu-eng.html
For Women Only
Even if you aren’t anticipating your menstrual period, come prepared for it. We recommend you bring some sandwich size zip-lock bags to separate and store your necessary items. They can be used during the day while you are on the river or hiking and can be disposed of when you reach camp. (For tampon users: o.b. ® tampons are ⅓ the size of regular tampons, tuck discreetly into pockets and have less paper wrapping.) Many women suggest bringing a small supply of baby wipes.
River Runners 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 camp.
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
Click on this link for helpful information about packing for your trip: https://www.oars.com/video/pack-river-rafting-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.
During the day—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.
In 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.
During the day—The best choice on the river 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. Sport sandals with a heel strap are a good option, especially on rivers with sandy beaches. Neoprene, wool or fleece socks are recommended to help keep your feet warm while rafting. Find professional-grade options made by Chaco®, the official footwear sponsor of OARS guides.
Hiking—Hikes along the river are short and can likely be done wearing your river shoes. If you prefer better support and comfort, lightweight hikers or running shoes should be sufficient for any hikes.
In camp—We recommend wearing shoes in camp due to risk of kicking a rock buried in the sand or stepping on a sharp stick. The athletic shoes or light hikers you bring for hiking can double as your camp shoes. It’s nice to put on dry socks and shoes after a day on the water. Flip flops or slip-on sandals are OK for wearing in camp only.
Please note: If you buy new shoes or sandals for the trip, make sure you break them in first!
During the day—Wide-brimmed hats are a good choice for sun protection. Ball caps are useful since they fit under helmets, which are required attire when paddling our whitewater rivers.
In camp—When the weather is cool or cold, you’ll want a beanie-style hat to wear in camp. It is the perfect remedy for bed-head as you rise from your sleeping bag to secure your morning cup of coffee or tea, or for retaining warmth in the evening hours after the sun sets.
To Avoid Being Cold
Synthetic or merino wool long underwear is a must-have on river trips. It can be worn under shorts, rain gear, T-shirts, etc., then stripped off when the chill of the morning has worn off. It keeps you warm even if it’s wet (which can happen easily), dries quickly, and it’s compact enough to be stuffed into your small waterproof bag or daypack after you take it off. It can be layered under your waterproof rain jacket and pants. In cooler weather, a rain jacket and pants work better than a wetsuit because the jacket and pants can be put on when it’s cold or when you’re going through whitewater, then easily taken off when the sun comes out and it’s hot. Be aware that cotton items, once wet, do not insulate; only synthetic and wool materials will keep you warm during cool, wet weather.
Something warm for your top & bottom: You need to be prepared for inclement weather. Bring a good fleece or wool top and bottom, along with a warm hat and gloves. You’ll want to double-up on your base layers so that you’ll have a set to wear in the boat and a set for camp.
Rain gear protects you 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 if you’re not wearing a wetsuit.
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:
☐ At least one 1-liter water bottle: durable and reusable
☐ Locking carabiner (for clipping a water bottle or personal dry bag into a raft or inflatable kayak)
☐ 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
☐ Small, quick-drying towel
☐ 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)
☐ Cash for gratuities and incidentals
☐ River shoes or sandals with a heel strap (such as those made by Chacos®)
“Aqua socks” strongly discouraged
☐ Athletic shoes or lightweight hiking boots: 1 pair, comfortable and with good tread
☐ Socks: 2-3 pair of neoprene, wool or fleece socks for the river
☐ Socks: 2-3 pair lightweight for hiking
☐ 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: 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, location)
☐ Down or synthetic insulated jacket or fleece jacket
☐ Warm hat and gloves
☐ Camera and accessories
☐ Bathing wipes: pre-moistened disposable towels
☐ Binoculars: small
☐ Paddling gloves
☐ Fishing rod with case and tackle
☐ Sarong: useful for sun protection, evaporative cooling, changing clothes, etc.
☐ Small bags: stuff sacs, zip locks or similar for organizing items in your dry bag
☐ 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 and are prepared for both land and water environs. The personal equipment list addresses what you will need to wear in conjunction with our gear. Weight restrictions come into play with our domestic flight, so please follow our recommendations closely.
We recommend you take on the river only what’s absolutely necessary. Keeping gear to a minimum ensures it will fit into the waterproof bags we supply and reduces unnecessary packing and unpacking in camp. If you have extra luggage, you may be able to store it at the hotel where you are staying prior to the river trip, if you are planning to return there. You can also leave items at our basecamp and we will return your luggage to you at take-out (on day 8) before your flight back.
We recommend that you leave your valuables at home. For personal items like wallets, purses and cell phones, we recommend putting them in a zip-lock bag at the bottom of your waterproof bag with your clothing. Items can be left at our basecamp and will be returned to you at take-out on day 8, but we assume no responsibility for lost or damaged items.
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.
Gear up in the OARStore where 15% of all purchases help fund outdoor adventures for under-resourced youth
Shop for the latest in top-quality clothing, footwear & outdoor gear
Explore gear made and tested for water-lovers
Watch our “How To Pack For A River Trip” video
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Terms & Conditions
Reservations and Deposits
A $500/person non-refundable deposit is required at the time of reservation. The balance is due 90 days prior to departure.
Cancellations and 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 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 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 it has 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 4 guests), and other factors. There is risk in whitewater rafting, particularly during high-water conditions. Rafts, dories 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 may decide, at any time, to exclude any person or group for any reason we feel is related to the safety of our trips. We are experienced at accommodating people with various disabilities. Please give us an opportunity to make you feel welcome. We need to discuss any special requirements ahead of time.
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 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.