The best possible explanation about the land, the animals, the camps and level of service that Great Canadian Wildlife Adventures provides is best described by our valued customers who have undergone their own journeys to the Arctic with us. The following testimonials are for real. If you are seriously considering joining us on our trips, please feel free to contact us and we will be pleased to put you directly in touch with those who have attended our trips over the past few seasons - and let THEM tell you about the wonderful experiences that Great Canadian Wildlife Adventures has to offer you...
- 2001-2000 Kudos
"The business of photography can take one many places. I've been in the business many years and have been fortunate to have visited (on assignment) nearly 50 countries. In that time, you do have your favorites, each bringing up a different set of memories: some good, some bad, some utterly life-changing and stamped indelibly in your mind. I've worked quite a bit in northern Canada and Alaska on assignments for National Geographic and Conde Nast Traveler. My assignment from Traveler, late in the summer of 2000, was to photograph Canada's Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary and second-generation guide "Tundra Tom". I'd never been fortunate enough to visit "Shield Country", and was not sure what to expect. The "Dance with Caribou" part was something I had no idea about. The entire trip/experience proved to be one of the incredible memories in this career. The eskers, the light, the wildlife (musk-ox, arctic wolves, caribou, all as guaranteed) as well as the companionship (and food) and expertise of Tom and staff naturalist Terry Elliott was staggering. In between assignments, sitting in my office, daydreaming of where I would like to be, Tom's camp and surrounding wonderland keeps creeping to the top of my list."
"I've worked all over the world, including Antarctica, and the Thelon is one of the most unforgettable places of all. It touches a human deeply and originally - not just to know that such an intact, alive landscape still exists, but to actually feel it. Thanks for providing such a beautiful, memorable, and expert entry into that exalted space."
"I just wanted to say that my experiences on the 'Dance with Caribou' trip are ones that I will treasure for a lifetime. I was with the Lonnie Brock group. You provided an excellent wilderness experience in a beautiful place. I am planning at present be up again in 2003. I look forward to seeing you all and your beautiful country again at that time. I should also mention that your crew was professional in every way. Terry kept us all out of harms way and taught us so much. Larry, Andrew, Mike, and Steve were pros as well. I truly treasure my experience and look to have another great one in 2003. Thanks so much and continued success to you. You provide the kind of wilderness experiences that should be a model for other eco-tourist type businesses."
"Thank you again for offering such a wonderful experience in the Barrens! I had the time of my life up there! I've wanted to be in the Barrens for twenty-four years and this was a dream come true for me. As you already know, because you told us, Terry is a phenomenal guide. He worked extremely hard to ensure that we all found what we were looking for in this trip. He shared his vast knowledge of the area with us, which helped the land "come alive". I felt I was able to glimpse the lives of those who lived there in the past. Additionally, his ethics are beyond reproach. I wanted to see the wildlife without causing them any real stress or disturbing them in any way because we were there only for a short time and this was their home. Andrew is a great guide as well. He was very generous with his time, patience and knowledge and within a very short time, I was able to find my way anywhere on the esker. Like Terry, he is very easy-going and very willing to help in any way. His ethics in how the wildlife is treated is admirable. You are fortunate to have them both. I expected to be thrilled to see the wildlife, and I was. I never expected to be so deeply touched by the land and it's history. Often on my solo walks, in my mind's eye, I could envision the Natives going through their daily lives in their camps. Envisioning the last gathering at the "Rock" was especially moving. It was hard for me to believe that a land so vast and so apparently empty could be so full of life as well as so full of voices from the past if one were willing to listen. I hope to return again, hopefully next year, to see the caribou, but even more importantly, just to once again be in the Barrens. Have a great season! Thanks again!"
"I want to thank you all for your suggestion of the Snowdrift River as a adventure destination for our family. I had reservations about not going back to the tundra as we had in our previous trip through you, but those reservations were wiped away when we set up our first campsite along the river. The beauty of the river and shoreline was outstanding. Most every campsite allowed us to camp in the shelter of trees, setting the tent on moss and lichen, but also to have great sandy beaches sloping to the water. Many a day we broke camp only to find even better site just around the corner. Musk ox and Moose were everywhere coming down to the river to watch us pass with curiosity. One musk oxen even spent the evening with us on one of those sandy beaches. We heard wolfs, saw black bears and many birds. Caribou antlers lined the river, but we did not see any live caribou. The current on the river was a pleasant surprise. I had some concern that the river flow would not help us along, but to my surprise we had excellent flow all the way down to the take out. On that last night on the big lake, we heard loons. In the morning we found a flock of baby loon on our beach who, along with us, was surprised as your plane came in. Your pick up and delivery service is the best. Our experience of traveling in the arctic for over 20 years has usually been hurry up and wait. Your staff was helpful, cooperative, timely and competent. I was most pleased with them and even a little embarrassed to fine that we were not prepared to leave when you arrived to pick us up, therefore making you wait.. Thanks Tom for your suggestion of the Snowdrift River and timely pick ups, and thanks to your staff for their assistance. You can expect to see us again and again!!
Sandy, Brittni, &
"Every few years my brother and I get together for a trip. He lives in California USA and I live in London Ontario Canada. 2001 would be another expedition that would give me lifetime memories. Larry my brother has traveled with "Tundra Tom" many times in the NWT. When I arrived at the Yellowknife airport it was like I have never left this great land of ours. Tom with his smiling face and ready to drop us off at the Mighty Finnie River. Anyways..as things go. My brother missed his flight! So I experienced Yellowknife and all it had to offer. Great friendly people and excellent site seeing. I heard the last time people canoed the Finnie was in the 80's. We were finally on our way. Tom and my brother were discussing where we could land and get on the headwaters of the Finnie. Of coarse, Tom knew a place and we were there. 10 days of canoeing, camping, exploring, fishing and wildlife viewing. We caught grayling, pike and lake trout. We saw musk oxen, caribou, ptarmigan, peregrine falcon, wolves and plenty of mosquitoes. We also saw patches of snow and ice (the end of July). The scenery was unbelievable. I do mean it! This trip was the best wildlife viewing area I have ever experienced. Actually we had a heard of 300+ caribou pass right by our camp. I get chills thinking about it. Till next time!"
"We had a brilliant (Dance with Wolves) trip, and it has been thought about a lot as our son Miles had to do a holiday project this summer, and he eventually produced 2 volumes about our 2 weeks at the upper Thelon camp! Although the daily hikes were longer than first expected, in fact we felt that it made seeing the wolves feel like much more of an adventure! We had been worried about spending 2 weeks in one place, but we agreed that the chance to relax and spend time on the tundra made us appreciate it that much more. We thought all guides were wonderful, and very tolerant of the children, who all really appreciated the conversations and information, as did we. The cooking was very good. We thought the accommodations were also very good, and hot showers were an enormous bonus. We certainly hope to return. We feel that the tundra has taken possession of us! We would be very happy for you to use our comments for customer testimonials. The memory of our trip has not faded and we all look back on it as a most fantastic experience, which we hope to repeat. Our very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year. I certainly wish we could take one of your winter trips!"
Charlotte & Tim
"What I now feel of the Thelon: I am now in "Arctic Fever"! When I was at Ft. Good Hope, the elders said "if you really want to see the paradise on earth, just go to Barren Land". When I got my first sight of vast Tundra, I feel like I was in hell because I did not know how to survive there and it looked to me there was nothing there. But day-by-day I recognized there was everything I wanted. Life of every living thing, even little grass and small bush, has a lot of power and spirit. Then it became one of my heavens in northern Canadian wilderness. Next summer, I will paddle down the Thelon River all through to Baker Lake spending three month. I am looking forward to get back to Thelon so much now! Camp: It was too comfortable to me. I could not feel it was in the middle of wilderness. Hot shower... good meals! It was one of my best trips that I ever experienced!"
Katsuyuki Tanaka /
"Just a short note to let you know how much I enjoyed my time canoeing down the Thelon River and exploring the eskers around Whitefish Lake with staff and patrons of Great Canadian Ecoventures. From the moment I was picked up at Yellowknife to the morning I returned to the airport, your staff not only made me feel at home but their enthusiasm only increased my anticipation and enjoyment of the trip. Once we started canoeing the Thelon, Terry and Andrew's knowledge of the birds, animals and fauna, kept me enthralled. They definitely do know their business. The meals were exceptional and chef's should consult them for advice. From crystal clear waters to tundra, criss-crossed with caribou trails, the Thelon River and the barren land area we passed through is the most incredible area I have ever seen. Sighting a pure white artic wolf leaving it's den and watching a herd of musk ox grazing are moments which still amaze me. Wolf tracks and musk ox tracks, going by the camps serve as constant reminders that it is we who are intruding in their domain. The vastness of the territory is unbelievable. The sunsets and sunrises are awe-inspiring. I feel honored to have had the opportunity to observe such a fantastic wilderness area. Keep it Pristine. Again, many thanks to yourself, Tom, to your guides, Terry and Andrew and to Larry and Mike--you all made my trip unforgettable!"
"Hi Tom! There were really several parts to our Great Summer Caribou Migration that made this a fantastic trip. First, the research into the tundra before we left home: We read several books about the current state of the ecosystem and also about the history. This meshed perfectly with your team's interest and the stories you read us and told us about this beautiful area. Exploring the archeology of old camps and natural history of the esker was a treat! We really felt part of land because of your knowledge. Second, getting the right gear and camera equipment. I was very happy to have comfortable, bug proof, dry gear. You, Terry, and Craig enabled us to take some of the best pictures ever. We photographed musk ox, caribou, wolves and wolf puppies, many kinds of birds and of course the incredible scenery, sunsets, sun rises, and the full moon! Third, the staff: I had a sense that we had chosen our adventure for 2000 correctly when Naomi met us at the airport and helped us to the hotel. The extra time you spent with us the day before we left to familiarize us with the trip and the staff was great. I should not forget the wildlife biologist you arranged to have meet with us to talk about interacting with the caribou and how they live. We felt very fortunate to have help from Terry - an experienced and capable naturalist - who really knew about the tundra, and his ability to research, from your compact but effective library any unanswered questions. Craig can cook! And, he like everyone else was eager to help us with anything that would make our trip more comfortable and enjoyable. I always felt safe in the air, whether I was with you or Will in the pilot's seat. The flying was great fun and helped us to understand the bigger Tundra experience. We felt very well taken care of: I felt bad when you had to fly back to main camp to get the cooking utensils we left behind! Fourth, the richness of the wildlife: We had repeated encounters with lots of animals. More than I expected. We enjoyed a broad spectrum of life on the tundra; from ancient man to ancient mammal to the family of wolves, we enjoyed and witnessed an incredible ecology happening around us. And, we helped preserve the land for others by your staff's approach to witnessing all the richness of the Tundra life with out disturbing it. Fifth, our fellow adventurers: you guys attract great people. Our group was fantastic! A fascinating mix of interest, intellect and humor not to mention the sensibilities of the staff. A writer, a naturalist, a seasoned arctic traveler, a crusty independent business man all mixed together added real spice to evenings around the fire or under the moon. Well, I could go on, but, I don't have to tell you about fun, and you can't possibly print this much from us as it stands. We miss you guys and talk about you regularly. Our friends know you all by our story telling. Please edit this as necessary. You have our unbridled endorsement. God be with you, all."
Court & Meg
"What a truly remarkable place! Just to stand atop a lakeside esker in the Barren lands imparted a sense of opening a doorway to the beginning of time. Whoever coined the phrase "The Land Where God Began" sure hit the nail right on the head. I believe people generally are drawn to natural places for their scenic grandeur and majesty. I found these qualities in my Barren lands experience, but more subtly and even spiritually. I found them in the sheer vastness of sky and space in a land untouched and pristine. They also were evident in the colorful tapestry of the rich and vibrant springtime floral display. It was as though tucked away in every nook and cranny of the tundra, just around the next corner or over the next rise was a special treat awaiting the curious and adventurous: the majestic peregrine falcon perched high atop a ridge; the lone grazing musk ox bull encountered round a corner; plovers nesting on the tundra; wolf pups at play outside their den; the cross fox that investigated us as thoroughly as we observed him while hiking to the village ruins; and, most unforgettably, the adult wolf that practically walked into out laps while we were perched on the side of Daoust esker. Then there was the rich variety of plant life so uniquely adapted for survival in the harsh and extreme environment -- who would have believed the tundra harbored arctic versions of orchids, laurel and even rhododendrons? Equally as impressive at the place were your staff and facilities. Terry, Dave, Craig, Will, Naomi and Jen were simply wonderful. I found them always attentive, instructive and helpful, but never intrusive. It always was obvious that each of them shared your great affection and respect for the Barren lands, its wild inhabitants, and its history and culture. I both congratulate and compliment you on your choice of staff personnel. The Whitefish Lake base camp facilities were complete and most enjoyable (I have not been so well fed since my submarine service days in the early sixties). My sincerest thanks, Tom, for the Barren lands experience you provided. I look forward to my return!"
Cpt. Aaron & Ilana
"I was a part of the 'Dance with Wolves trip in July, 2000, and I had a fantastic time. This was due to a number of factors. Firstly, Tom and his staff were friendly, helpful and extremely generous. They went out of their way to ensure that I, as well as the other guests, were happy and getting out of the trip what we specifically wanted. This tailoring of the trip resulted in a fair amount of extra work for Tom and his staff, but from what I could tell resulted in a group of happy and satisfied guests. The staff were also extremely knowledgeable about the local flora and fauna, which meant that they could successfully answer most of the questions posed to them from what seemed to be a rather learned group of guests. I also enjoyed meeting and talking with the other guests and staff. Most seemed extremely well traveled, and had interesting stories to share about their various adventures in the Canadian North and elsewhere. The base camp on Whitefish lake was luxurious considering it was hundreds of miles from civilization, yet still in keeping with an eco-tourism destination. The surrounding landscape was incredibly beautiful. I would recommend a 'Great Canadian Ecoventures trip to anyone with a love of the outdoors and an adventurous spirit."
"We were glad we got to spend 2 weeks with you and your top-notch staff this August and September on Whitefish Lake [Dance with Caribou]! Staying there for two weeks provided us with opportunities to watch the tundra change from green and brown to spectacular red, yellow and orange. We also experienced about every type of weather, from rain and wind to snow showers to clear blue skies. We got some great photographs of the Northern Lights which we saw every clear night and of mirror reflections on the esker kettles. The time you spent telling us about the land, its history and people and your experiences there, gave us an even deeper appreciation of this magnificent wilderness. Being on "The Barrens" with Inuksuit, musk ox, caribou, wolves and even a wolverine, was truly unique. We especially appreciated the efforts you and your staff made to "go the extra mile" to provide us with the best opportunities, including the overnight stay at South Camp where we got to see several herds of caribou at the water crossing just outside of the camp. "Stalking musk-ox from the plane and on the ground was unforgettable! The staff was "awesome". They made great meals and were terrific guides and naturalists. Thanks for a great trip!! We are looking forward to our 3rd trip with you to "the Barrens!"
"Thank You Great Canadian Ecoventures - it was a wonderful journey of discovery [Wolves, Musk-ox & Gyrfalcons]. The Thelon shared some of its gifts with me and captured my heart. Great Canadian Ecoventures made this possible. The upper Thelon valley still beckons to me. My thoughts often return to this wild and hauntingly beautiful place. Memories are vivid and indelible. I will never forget the experience of arctic summer life, throbbing with intensity and framed in a vast unending landscape-a myriad of colors and textures blending sky, land and water where the footprints of man are thankfully few. It was a privilege to travel with you all. The food was delicious, accommodations comfortable and the great staff was capable, considerate and sensitive to my needs and our surroundings. All this added up to make an unforgettable trip that far exceeded my expectations. If you follow your heart, dreams do come true. Thanks Great Canadian Ecoventures."
"Tom, I am sitting down to write this three weeks after returning home. I still have yet to come down from the natural high that I was on during my time on the tundra. The haunting beauty of the Barren lands will stay with me always. Having traveled extensively across much of North America in my work as a nature photographer I can honestly say that my time spent in the Barrens was photographically the most productive two weeks that I have ever spent in the field. The diversity and beauty of the landscape, combined with the ever-present wildlife made for an experience that will be deeply cherished for the rest of my life. The day that I watched and photographed Caribou, Musk Ox and an Arctic Wolf all within the span of less than two hours was a day that only happens in the wildest dreams of a nature photographer. The last day of staking out a water-crossing for caribou was an unbelievable day! I wasn¹t settled in for five minutes before a herd of a dozen caribou swam across thirty yards away. After a period of about three hours I saw not less than five crossings ------ the largest herd had nineteen caribou! That herd crossed twenty five feet away from where I had positioned myself! I would have called that day the thrill of a lifetime if I had not had the experience of stalking Musk Ox on the day when the fall colors peaked. ---- I don¹t think I have had a day in my life when I felt more alive than I did while stalking Musk Ox across the tundra. Returning to base camp after a full day on the tundra and watching the Aurora dance across the sky into the wee hours of the morning was an experience that I will never forget. The trip was truly amazing! The land is unforgettable! The experience was priceless! Your guides are the absolute cream of the crop. Base camp had all of the amenities that anyone could want in such a remote location. I hope to return to the Barren lands with you and your staff in the very near future. It is with deep gratitude that I say thank you for providing this incredibly unique opportunity."
Schrader / Photographer
"Tom: The Upper Thelon is still working its way through my system, even after having some fabulous experiences in Nunavut with different kinds of animals: seals, polar bears and beluga whales! The trip was beyond all my expectations [Great Summer Caribou Migration]. Once I got used to really being outside again, I was completely overwhelmed with the esker-anchored landscape, the flying and wildlife watching: face-to-boss with a musk ox, watching wolves and pups, catching lake trout and stalking a herd of 10,000 caribou. These were the highlights but it was the composite tone of the place and the experience that made the trip stand out among others. I was feeling like this well before we saw the caribou. I loved the camp and being out on the barrens-I even love saying, "when I was out on the barren lands" to people. It makes me sound so adventurous! The truth is your trip, camp and tour make this stunning land and its animals accessible to people willing to let their minds and spirits compel them to a place perhaps more wild and epiphanic than they could have predicted."
M. Senecal /
"Every time Vicki and I talk now we wish we were back on the tundra with everyone. We had an absolutely amazing time. It really was a life changing experience for myself because it put my life into perspective. The little things we worry about in the city don't really matter. My pictures turned out really well thanks to Terry and Roger. I will send some to you. Words really are limiting because my experience was more of the "feeling type". We took part in the physical things like fishing for trout, walking for a few kms., talking about the land and the history we saw and finding pieces of interesting nature but nothing could replace the feeling of the crisp air on your cheeks, drinking water from the lake, walking barefoot in the sand, stalking a caribou, listening to the silence and being alone. This trip was really inspiring for me because it made me want to be creative again (something which I have little time for in my other life). I went for a walk one evening and sat and listened. I heard my heart beating and turned around to see a sic sic staring at me....what a cutie. Tell Tom I will send him a book of mushrooms and will flag the ones I picked to eat. I am not able to identify the fungus that was pink and appeared as if it was bleeding. Terry will know this one. I will have to take the picture to a mushroom expert at the U of A or a mushroom club. You have a great group of people working for your company and everyone made the trip that much more amazing. The stories told to us about the land and meeting Richard added so much more to the experience. When people ask me if I would go back I just say "when are we leaving." Say hello to everyone and give Tom a big extra big hug from me. He deserves many hugs... and really enjoys them too! I can still hear his laugh and it still makes me want to giggle.... Best to you all!"
"Hello Tom & gang, I wanted to send you a quick message a let you know again how grateful we are for participating in your 'Dance with Caribou' trip. Both Maria and I had a wonderful time and we hated to leave. To be completely honest, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect on this trip and I was not anticipating so much history and culture involved. This was a very pleasant surprise and I loved the way you incorporated this history into the hikes. It made the day much for interesting and meaningful. The camp was very comfortable and the food was excellent. The luxury of having a shower each day so far from civilization was a bonus. Both Terry and Craig were great. Now that I have experienced the trip first hand, it will be much easier for me to sell the trip to my clients and give them a better idea of the level of hiking involved, accommodations etc. The Thelon region is truly an amazing place and I think every Canadian should visit this part of Canada at least once. I can understand why you have adopted it as your home and I hope it stays as untouched and wild as it is now. The idea of the area being invaded with mining equipment makes me shutter. Please thank Terry and Craig and Naomi for all their help and service and thank the caribou and musk ox for being so cooperative. Also, thank you for offering to put us up for an extra week, we would have loved to stay, if not for all of our responsibilities back in civilization."
"Spending 8 days on the tundra [dance with Caribou] was an experience of a lifetime. About your guides, we have two words:WHAT COMMITMENT! Okay, more than two words...They were there whenever needed them, and, not, when we didn't. When we expressed our goals for the trip, they made sure we achieved them. Brigitte ,in particular, was very sensitive to our goal for a Christmas card shot, and she bagged it for us at the Inukshuk. To be out in the middle of 'nowhere' and to be so comfortable, added immeasurably to an already astounding experience. Tom, I came to the wilderness hoping for deep star-filled nights, but I was not at all prepared for the profound silence. Silence so consuming, so rewarding, so alluring to an city dweller. I basked in it. Tom, we really appreciate your speedy response to our initial inquiry last winter. Also, keep up the good work on your website. We are always referring to it when friends ask us about the Northwest Territories. We wish all our friends could join you on the tundra. Warmest regards,"
Lynne & John
where we are and how to get to us
|Great Canadian Wildlife Adventures|
Click here to download our current trip calendar in PDF
Come warm yourself by our fire.
Great Canadian Wildlife Adventures