Frequently Asked Questions - Base Camp Kayaking Trips
LocationWhere is Kyuquot - I've never heard of it and can't find it on a map!? How do I get there?
ExperienceI’ve never kayaked before, are your trips out of my league?
It’s been a while since I’ve been kayaking, will I be OK?
How much paddling do you do each day?
I’m more experienced – will I be on a trip with people new to kayaking and feel held back?
Is the Base Camp kayaking OK for kids? How young can they be?
MealsDo you provide all of the meals?
I can't or don’t eat x, y or z – should I bring my own food?
EquipmentWhat gear do I need to bring – do you provide everything?
Can I bring my own kayak?
WeatherWhat’s the best time of the summer to go out there?
Q: Where is Kyuquot - I've never heard of it and can't find it on a map!? How do I get there?
A: You're not alone in wondering this. The name "Kyuquot" is often easily confused with better known "Clayoquot" (Tofino and Ucluelet) but lies approximately 160 km further "up" the coast. Getting there is part of the adventure and keeps the location adventurous! Our trip packages help to make this easy, starting with transportation included from the Comox Valley, Campbell River, or Gold River. Depending on the trip you choose, simply get yourself to one of these accessible locations on Vancouver Island and we'll take care of the rest. We're happy to discuss and help with any of the travel logistics, so please be in touch if this seems a hurdle.
Q: I’ve never kayaked before, are your trips out of my league?
A: Our Base Camp Kayaking trips often have guests who are both new to kayaking and more experienced. Our Expedition-style trips away from the base camp are designed for more experienced paddlers. Regardless of your experience, our guides take the time to assess whether to begin with the basics or offer coaching that refreshes and furthers your skills. We want you to think less about the kayaking and more about all of the great scenery and wildlife surrounding you. If you’re on a trip with more experienced paddlers, we can cater to everyone’s needs and interests – keeping it comfortable, enjoyable, and what you’re after. Each day can be about so much more than just kayaking.
If you get the chance to take a short clinic or lesson before coming, that will help to boost your confidence, but certainly isn't a requirement.
Our base camp location is ideally situated with a sheltered bay for learning new skills, with nearby island clusters that are perfect for exploring while you become familiar or reacquainted with being in a kayak.
We take your safety and enjoyment very seriously. We meet and exceed industry standards for guide:guest ratios, safety equipment, and contingency options. We use a mixed fleet of well maintained single and double kayaks suited to a variety of body sizes and experience levels.
Q: It’s been a while since I’ve been kayaking, will I be OK?
A: As above, our guides and location are perfect for getting back into it and learning some new skills. We make our daily activity decisions based on what each person and the group is ready for. From our Wilderness Retreat Base Camp, we have a lot of flexibility for learning progressions, refreshing skills, and interesting route choices. We’re not in the business of scaring people or making you feel like you can’t keep up – otherwise we’d be out of business.
Q: How much paddling do you do each day?
A: OK, we need to be completely non-committal and say “it varies”. Our Base Camp Kayaking trips usually involve day trips with 1-2 h of kayaking before and after lunch. Our Expedition Kayaking trips often involve 1.5-3 h of kayaking (with breaks) before and after lunch. Meanwhile, some days are better suited to shore-based intertidal, beach, or forest exploring on foot. And other days are better suited to early starts and longer mornings on the water, or sleeping in with more of a focus on bona fide rest and relaxation. We listen to individual and group needs, assess the weather, anticipate likely outings and travel for subsequent days, and inevitably reach sensible decisions that sometimes involve a mixed recipe that satisfies different interests.
Q: I’m more experienced – will I be on a trip with people new to kayaking and feel held back?
A: Each week has the mystery of weather, sea conditions, and guest experience. We do our best to schedule more experienced paddlers with one another. That said, everyone describes their experience differently. And just because you’re experienced doesn’t mean you want to bag the miles in nail-biting conditions. Few people enjoy that!
Our Base Camp Kayaking tours offer unmatched flexibility for meeting everyone’s paddling interests and experience – we’re on the doorstep of spectacular sheltered and exposed west coast paddling. Our guides always do their best to ensure you feel stimulated and challenged. During daily outings, there will often be optional conditions and distances depending on what different people are after.
Our Expedition Kayaking trips are geared toward people who already know they are comfortable and prepared for kayaking slightly longer days and in potentially more exposed conditions. We’re never trying to “bag miles” though – there’s way too much beauty to experience and explore. Those with energy to burn can paddle in circles, fish, gather firewood, clean dishes, and practice their roll.
Q: Is the Base Camp kayaking OK for kids? How young can they be?
A: This will vary for each child-parent combo! We’ve had newborns and toddlers enjoy our Base Camp setting and nearby kayak outings. It certainly helps when parents are otherwise familiar with and comfortable with camping and wilderness settings. That said, our base camp infrastructure offers many appreciated camping comforts, including beds, prepared meals, a shower, and space to roam without crashing waves, or history of bears and cougars in the camp area.
We can modify each day’s activities to suit the family recipe, including the option of just doing “nothing” which often makes for a full and magical day of shoreline play, arts & crafts, games, and playing in kayaks close to camp! Sometimes one or more parent and one or more child might be out kayaking or hiking for the day, while others in the family read a book or stay in camp.
Ditto for seniors – great for matriarchs and patriarchs…or older relatives who want to be a part of the experience!
Our fleet of single and double kayaks includes smaller double kayaks that work well for a parent with child (6+ years old…but more to do with size and inclination than age!), and “triple” kayaks where the centre hatch provides a seating space for toddlers and younger children. Add some snacks, a fleece blanket, a small paddle or piece of wood to tow, and shorter outings to shell-laden islets, and it’s usually a recipe for success.
If the weather or sea conditions don’t seem suitable, there is plenty to do on Spring Island and within our camp area. We’re not in the business of rolling the dice, so chose routes and conditions that make it a positive experience.
Kids love to swim and mess about in kayaks (flipping them, climbing back in, paddling on their own) right in front of our camp. Multiple supervisors, warm drinks and shower are close at hand.
Q: Do you provide all of the meals?
A: Yes! That’s one of the biggest “holiday” features – not having to cook for yourself! Guests’ consistently rave about well they're fed, with delicious meals inspired from all parts of the globe and variety that appeals to all palates. We're accustomed, pleased, and prepared to make the menu work for your individual dietary needs and preferences.
Q: I can't or don’t eat x, y or z – should I bring my own food?
A: Maybe. Your pre-trip questionnaire helps us to understand individual dietary requests. We regularly cook for gluten and lactose sensitivities, vegetarian or vegan preferences, and a myriad of other food allergies and sensitivities. The more specific you can be about your needs (and flexibility) the better we can work with you to ensure you feel well fed, e.g., celiac, gluten free, lactose free, vegetarian, ovo-lacto vegetarian, vegan, low carb, Paleo, "love seafood", "won't touch seafood", low fat, high fat, and allergies to tree nuts, peanuts, strawberries, kiwi, shellfish, etc.
Sometimes, if you have very specific foods that work for you (snacks, certain brands, etc.) it is best to bring some of your own supplies and collaborate with our kitchen staff to weave these into our menu or dishes prepared specifically for you. Let’s have this conversation well in advance of your trip so to ensure we have it figured out.
Q: What gear do I need to bring – do you provide everything?
A: You receive a detailed packing list after you register. You need your own outdoor clothing appropriate for west coast conditions (described in the packing list), your own sleeping bag, and any desired alcoholic beverages. We otherwise provide all of the food, kayaking equipment and safety gear, including some paddling jackets and a limited selection of rubber boots for wading about in the shallows when examining intertidal life, or tromping through the enchanted rainforest during or after some, well, rain! We have a few rental sleeping bags that can be reserved upon request.
Q: Can I bring my own kayak?
A: Yes, if traveling in by water taxi from Fair Harbour or aboard the MV Uchuck III from Gold River. We will need to ensure that the specific water taxi is suited to safely carrying your kayak, and that your kayak is safely suited for use in our location. As paddlers, we completely understand and respect the desire to use what’s already familiar and comfortable – rigged exactly how you want it.
That said, our fleet is diverse – with enough early notice, we can often tailor our fleet to ensure we have a kayak model or size that you know works well for you. Chat with us to figure out what will be best.
Q: What’s the best time of the summer to go out there?
A: Aside from saying “when it best fits your schedule”, given that this is often intended as a “predict the weather” question, we need to be completely non-committal! Some summers are dry – seriously, with drought-like conditions – from late June to early September. Other summers are more wet – Kyuquot receives the same annual precipitation as Tofino and Clayoquot Sound: 3.3 m of wetness - fortunately, most of this falls in the fall, winter and spring! We’ve had each week of the summer be calm and glorious, and each week as windy and wet.
Our Wilderness Retreat base camp facilities, expedition equipment, and location are ideal for whatever the weather. Typically, each trip will have one day or night with some precipitation – we actually hope for this as it keeps our water supply up (for dishes and shower), quenches the thirsty forest, and keeps fire hazards down.
Sometimes, really sunny and dry periods will also be very windy with large swell and wave conditions that reduce the scope of our paddling options. Meanwhile, overcast or foggy conditions can be “go anywhere” days…and you get less baked by the sun!
Join us when it fits your schedule – we’ll then work with you and the weather to ensure you have the sense of truly getting away for a diverse west coast adventure.