Lean in close. We have a secret to share.

It's about the longest paddling trip you can take in Canada without ever having to carry your canoe.

It's the mighty Mackenzie, washing through the Northwest Territories – past rugged peaks and boreal woodlands, across the Arctic Cricle, down the Mackenzie Delta, right to the sea.

If you promise not to tell, we'll give you the lowdown on how to experience it. Here's 21 sweet tips for anyone floating the Big Mac.

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Put in at the friendly community of Hay River, the hub of the South Slave region ...

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... and the gateway to Great Slave Lake.

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Travel alongside the Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary, home to North America's largest land animal, the majestic wood buffalo.

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Pass beneath the new Deh Cho Bridge, the only bridge to span the Mackenzie River.

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Pay a visit to Fort Providence, a friendly Dene and Metis settlement on the north side of the river.

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Watch for plentiful waterfowl as you cross Mills Lake, which is so broad you can barely see from side to side.

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After the river narrows, keep your eyes out for tiny Jean Marie River. This idyllic traditional village is a great spot to enjoy a picnic up on the high bank.

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And not far downriver, you'll come to Fort Simpson, where the Liard and the Mackenzie meet. This is a perfect place to stock up and enjoy the local sights.

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Near Camsell Bend the mountains appear. They'll be within view for most of the rest of your trip. 

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Next up? Fort Wrigley. This quaint community sits at the end of the Mackenzie HIghway. After this, you'll spend the next several weeks beyond the reach of roads.

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Tulita sits at the junction of the Bear and Mackenzie Rivers, in the shadow of legendary Bear Rock.

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Soon you'll pass the Mackenzie's famous oilfields. Here, on manmade mid-river islands, pumpjacks busily extract petroleum from deep beneath the streambed.

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Industrious Norman Wells makes another great place to take a break from the big river. Here you'll find grocery stores, restaurants, museums – even a golf course. 

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Marvel at the sheer-sided Ramparts, where the Mackenzie chokes through a narrow canyon ...

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Then go ashore at the Dene community of Fort Good Hope, home to this church – the oldest, most famous historic site in Northern Canada.

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... where you can watch the sun not set.

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Now arrive in the historic Gwitch'in community of Tsiigehtchic, acccessible via the Dempster Highway.

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Here you enter the winding maze of the Mackenzie Delta. The countless marshy channels are an oasis of wildlife.

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Welcome to Inuvik! It's the capital of the Western Arctic and the largest town along the Mackenzie River. Load up on supplies and check out the local culture.

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Onward to Tuktoyaktuk, the "pingo" capital of the world. Parks Canada staff can take you on a tour of the fascinating Pingo Canadian Landmark.

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You've made it! Here you are, at the mouth of the Mackenzie, where it pours into the Arctic Ocean. Dip your feet in this brisk sea and reflect on your remarkable journey. You've paddled 1800 kilometres – and no portages!

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1800 kilometres. Zero portages. 13 1593647e-8345-447f-ab7c-0d8bc1ba6289

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