The Sahtu, "Great Bear Lake", forms the heartland of the Northwest Territories. Great Bear Lake, the world’s eighth largest lake, comprises its eastern boundary. North America’s second longest river, the Mackenzie, flows through the region. Rugged mountain ranges separate the Sahtu from the Yukon to the west. Sahtu Adventures will package a great introduction for you to Dene and Métis traditions, the amazing wildlife and the untouched scenery of this Sahtu region.
For thousands of years the Dene and Métis of the Sahtu shared stories, legends and history at community feasts and drum dances. Storytelling is a part of every tour, a way for your hosts to share the stories and survival skills that have allowed people to live comfortably in this rugged and beautiful land. Dene hero, Yamoria, lives large in this landscape, a legend Sahtu Adventures is eager to share with you.
Let your hosts introduce you to the culture of the Sahtu as you explore the land and the communities of this region. You might see a moosehide boat on the Mackenzie River, a stunning example of Dene innovation, and an ideal subject for photographers. Expert craftspeople in each community fashion traditional tools and clothing, using resources from the land. Visit with Dene and Métis families and see how moccasins are made from locally tanned moosehide, just one of many unique and time-honoured examples of local ingenuity and Sahtu culture.
Sahtu Adventures offers many opportunities to see and photograph wildlife up close, and safely. Spot a herd of mountain caribou crossing a rock bar in the Keele River. Snap shaggy, shy, muskox, native to the north, but relative newcomers to this region. Eavesdrop on a "conversation" between a pair of lynx in early spring. Many species roam free in Sahtu woods and valleys - foxes, wolves and bears are often seen.
Whether you want to do a multi-day trek on the Canol Trail or a scenic day-hike outside a community, Sahtu Adventures will provide you with guides or supports. A favourite day-trip is to historic Bear Rock at the confluence of the Bear and Mackenzie rivers, near Tulita. Travel by boat from Norman Wells to Bear Rock to hike the trail with your guides, and learn the stories of Yamoria. Local history tells that Yamoria killed three giant beavers here and draped their vast pelts on the rock, forming three dark circles still visible today. Your hosts have deep roots and deeper knowledge of the region, thanks to knowledge passed on to owner Jennie Vandermeer by her mother and other Sahtu Elders. Stories and traditions are shared from generation to generation, so important skills and knowledge are preserved. It is the way of the people.
If you want to get out on a stand-up paddleboard for a few hours or head out in a canoe for a few days, Sahtu Adventures can make that happen. There's no limit to what you can do: any adventure can be customized to fit your schedule and skill-level. Take a day-trip on Great Bear Lake or challenge yourself on a two-week journey down the Keele or Mountain rivers. Or go for a leisurely paddle on the Mackenzie River - the region's super-highway - to get a sense of the Deh Cho's majesty and its importance to the people of the Sahtu. No adventure is the same, but each provides its own unique scenery and serenity.
Sahtu Adventures is the only operator in the Northwest Territories that offers comfy shoal tents for camping on lakes or rivers. A shoal tent is an inflatable raft with a tent on top. Imagine being gently rocked to sleep, anchored beside a beach on Great Bear Lake or a smaller lake or river. Easy to move from place to place, these shoal tents provide ideal accommodation on any Sahtu adventure.
Heard about the world-class fishing in the Sahtu and want to give it a try? Sahtu Adventures offers anything from afternoons on the river or a local lake, to remote, multi-day excursions away from it all. Famously massive lake trout, Northern pike, walleye, Arctic grayling and whitefish are some of the species challenging fishers in Sahtu rivers and lakes.
Custom packages to visit any Sahtu community are available - and a specialty - of Sahtu Adventures. Travel to one or more of the region's unique communities. The small community of Colville Lake's log church is a must-see attraction. Fort Good Hope is home to one of Canada's most treasured historic sites, a church constructed more than 160 years ago. Tiny Tulita has a rich cultural heritage, and Deline, on Great Bear Lake, combines Sahtu culture and the world's best lake trout fishing. Your base is Norman Wells, where the visitor centre tells the story of the Canol Trail. Tell Sahtu Adventures what you want to do and they will put together a custom package for you - whether it's a summer day-trip to a community, magical nights of aurora-viewing in autumn or early spring, or weeks-long journeys on historic Canadian trails and awe-inspiring waters.
Sahtu Adventures owners James McPherson and Jennie Vandermeer both grew up in the region and they will host your Sahtu experiences. James is from Tulita, across the river from his new home in Norman Wells, and Jennie is from Deline, on the shores of Great Bear Lake. Jennie and James have a wealth of Northern knowledge they want to share with you.