Frequently Asked Question’s
Do I need to know how to kayak or wilderness camp?
No. Your guides will teach you how. Our adventures are for everyone, and designed to accommodate all levels of experience and abilities. The majority of people who join our tours are first time kayakers, or have limited experience. All that we require is that you welcome adventure with an open mind and are able to laugh and have fun when encountering the unexpected.
Do I need to be in great shape to join one of the trips?
No. Our adventures are not considered to be strenuous or physically demanding, and we do not require a high level of fitness. You must be capable of a few hours of moderate exercise each day. Keep in mind that good general health will go a long way if we happen to encounter some strong winds, tides, or time restrictions.
Are there age requirements?
Spirit of the West invites the whole family to join our adventures. We do not have any strict requirements on age but do suggest for our multi day tours a minimum of 12yrs old. Those concerned with being ‘too old’ contact us to discuss their physical abilities. We have trippers in their 80’s.
How much paddling is generally done in a day?
It averages between 3-5 hours a day. Paddling time will vary depending on the tour type, plus the group’s general abilities and desires. In our day’s activities we try to incorporate hiking, swimming, beach combing and plenty of leisure/lounging time.
How stable are the kayaks? What is the likely hood of flipping over?
The kayaks we use on our tours are extremely stable. The chance of a capsize is minimal. (In fact we have yet to experience a capsize while on tour) If for some reason a kayak flips, all our guides are skilled with rescue procedures, and recovery training is an important part of your initial group orientation and training.
What if the weather turns bad? Will I be comfortable and warm?
Our weather in the Pacific Northwest is generally pleasant from May to the end of September, but temperatures vary. On a visit to Desolation Sound or the Discovery Islands it is not uncommon in mid summer to need a swim every few hours in order to cool off. Johnstone Strait or Nootka Sound/ Nuchatlitz, being a little further north and more exposed to weather, will have cooler temperatures. Although uncommon, it can rain in the summer. A general rule is to be prepared for any type of weather and you will stay comfortable.
What are the chances of seeing Killer Whales?
How close do we paddle to the Orcas? On our Johnstone Strait tour we stand a high chance of seeing the whales. Understandably we cannot guarantee what nature will dictate, but we can tell you that this area has one of the highest concentrations of Killer Whales on earth, and this is where they spend their summer holiday. You may see them from either your kayak, while traveling on our water taxi, or from the shore. Note that regulations say that we must not paddle within 100 meters of the whales—this is out of respect for their space. If they decide to approach us, you may find yourself within arms reach.
What is the camp set up like?
All of our campsites are in wilderness settings. We seek out sites with beautiful surroundings and solitude. There may be occasions when we are camping next to another group of kayakers. Where possible we set up near fresh water streams. On our Johnstone Strait Ultimate tour we have a permanent camp.
Where do we wash? Are there toilets?
For washing, you have the option of using small streams, the ocean, or one of the fresh water lakes that we may visit. Please bring biodegradable environmentally friendly cleansing agents. Toilet facilities are not common in most wilderness settings, although some areas may have pit toilets. On our Johnstone Strait Ultimate tours we have an established outhouse that has the best view on the coast. On other tours your guide will generally designate an area or system that works for ensuring your privacy.
What if I come alone?
Many of our guests travel solo. We try to arrange your own tent if possible. If not, we will put you together with a suitable partner. If you have any concerns, please feel free to contact us.
Is it appropriate to tip the guides?
Tipping of guides is not expected but very much appreciated. If you feel the guides have done an exceptional job, tipping is an appropriate way to show your appreciation.