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Great Excursions has a knack for making the "out-of-the-way" gems...

Great Excursions has a knack for making the "out-of-the-way" gems that one would normally "stumble across" by chance int

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Gwaii Haanas - Queen Charlotte Islands Sailing Adventure in Canada

By Sue Lorraine, United Kingdom


Hi CJ, Yes I'm safe home but would have been quite happy to stow away on the Island Roamer and do it all again!! Told the crew I can't ever take another holiday as nothing would ever compare. It was a mind blowing holiday-we saw 50 times more whales than people around the Queen Charlotte's, a bear, sealions and such incredible undersea life it could have been the Barrier Reef - except no coral!

The crew were extraordinary-professional, Caring, skilled, knowledgeable - I could make an endless list - they were the difference between a great holiday and a truly exceptional one.

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

There were so many highlights: probably the most extraordinary was on the first afternoon when we saw the whole undersea foodchain in action before our very eyes: millions of krill eating plankton, to be in turn gobbled up by the pilchards twinkling on the water surface by their thousand, to be in turn hoovered up by tens of humpback whales, working as teams, waving their pectoral fins, diving with flukes aloft. The photos of the whales cavernous mouths are pretty spectacular! Another highlight was the incredible smell of food each time we returned to our mother boat:of superb quality and variety. And believe me, that kayaking makes you real hungry!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Don't take too many belongings with you as space is limited but do take lots and lots of warm layers even in midsummer: if you want to sit on deck and not miss any of the extraordinary wildlife you will freeze without warm hat, gloves, layer after layer of warmth and full wet gear. There is an enclosed observation area but it just isn't the same! If possible take a back up camera (and enough film or cards to last). There are no shopping opportunities on the trip. My wallet had a good rest! I managed to knock my new digital into the hotspring and despite valiant efforts of the crew it did not recover. So was so grateful to have my trusty 35mm backup and even my mobile phone. There is however no phone reception in the Queen Charlottes: hallelughia!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Absolutely: certainly travelling by a boat fully undersail when possible, must be ecologically sound. The crew were skilled at respecting wildlife - not overcrowding whales or sealions; not allowing us to tramp through precious intertidal areas. Our food and drink was locally sourced and in season where possible.The crew had diplomatic and respectful contacts with the Haida Watchmen and encouraged us to behave similarly. They respected their request to have only 12 people on site at once, to stick to paths and conceal evidence of our being there - eg our life jackets. The donations paid to the nature reserve must benefit its protection and the memory of the people who lived there

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

This was a truly great holiday-made exceptional by the crew who were professional, skilled,caring, knowledgable, fun -the list is endless.I told them that I can never take another holiday as nothing could ever compare!And I did threaten to stow away and do it all over again......

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