Yukon Wide Adventure
To all of you out there who may read this the following occurred during the month of July 2016. Just posting now due to an extended summer vacation.
My wife and I did 2 adventures with Yukon Wide Adventures (YWA), Chilkoot Trail Backpacking trip and the Yukon River Tour part 2. We went with this adventure company because of the National Geographic award they won for being one of the “BEST Adventure Travel Companies.” The following comments reflect our experience using this adventure company.
Yukon River Tour – Part 2
This is directly from the web site…….
"Services included in price:
• Whitehorse Airport pickup and drop off
• 14 days tour from/to Whitehorse
• English speaking guide
• All overnight fees (hotel, campground)
• Overnight stays in two people Dome Tent incl. Therm-A-Rest mats
• 8 days guided canoe tour on the Yukon River
• Canoe for two people incl. 3 paddles, 2 life jackets, bailer and sponge
• 2 full days in Dawson City incl. goldmine tour, etc.
• All meals during the canoe tour
• All transportations
• Emergency equipment including SAT phone
Services not included:
• All hotel meals and during the transportations, sleeping bag, fishing license, tips"
The first thing to notice is that there is not much listed under the heading “Services Not Included.”
For the sake of brevity I will cut and paste from the website the pieces of the itinerary that were changed, or omitted without reason or prior knowledge.
"We start our adventure tour with drive north along the Klondike Highway to the village of Carmacks. We will spend the evening at the Coal Mine campground."
As we arrived in Carmacks and unloaded (limited help from our guide and driver) we were informed that we were putting in and paddling 50K to our first camp. No camping here at Coal Mine Campground.
"Your guide will tell you about the old days and the new days of the Gold rush while we are sitting at the campfire in the evening."
This never happened once as the guide new nothing of the history of the river let alone the gold rush years. She did tell us the name of the occasional hill and stream as she read them from her map. When asked any question about them she could not elaborate.
"The Yukon River now spreads into a large river with several wide arms and hundreds of islands. We use this opportunity to explore some of the smaller channels and we might have the chance to see some wildlife close by."
We never deviated from the guides river map which kept us pretty much in the middle of the river throughout the entire time.
"Arrived in Dawson, we stay for the next three nights at the Yukon River Camping ground."
Didn’t happen, never stayed here. Instead we ended up at a hostel campground (1960's vintage) with no running water. Who knows what we missed by not staying at the Yukon River Campground, again no explanation was given for the change in plans. Oh yes let’s not forget that at the end of the 8 days on the river we unloaded the canoes and reloaded them on makeshift canoe carriers and made to push / portage them about 300 yards uphill to the campground where the canoe racks were located.
We start the day with a sightseeing tour through Dawson City. A drive to the "Midnight Dome" will give us an overview of Dawson and the surrounding area."
Once again this never happened. When asked if we were going we were told by the owner himself that there was a better lookout and he would take us there later on. From looking at the pics on the web the midnight Dome is a far better lookout.
"The visit to the big gold "Dredge No.4" and a side-trip to the discovery claim in the Bonanza Creek conclude our adventure tour."
This did happen but it should be noted that when I asked the owner if we could now go inside to tour the dredge he said, (and I paraphrase) ‘It’s very dark and gloomy, not very interesting, all mechanical and (this is an exact quote) “you wouldn’t understand it”. Who does he think he is???
The following is a list of stuff that was totally unacceptable to me and my wife, and yes we have been on this type of expedition before.
- FOOD!! FOOD!! FOOD!!
- Lunches were always the same.
- The frozen meat we started out with was kept in a cooler for several days with no dry ice to keep it cool.
- Guide did not know how to create a meal let alone cook one.
- The group did most of the cooking.
- The group needed to load & unload the canoes (without help from the guide) even over 4 to 5 foot high cut banks.
- The group had to gather all fire wood (chop & saw) (no help from guide).
- The group had to setup the kitchen, start most fires, gather all necessary water for cooking and drinking. (no help from guide).
- The group did all dishes including scrubbing the carbon build up on the pots every night. (no help from guide).
- Only one wash tub for the dishes, no rinse tube.
- Food safety and handling was non-existent. Cross contamination from using the 1 knife as well as the 1 and only cutting surface.
- No hand sanitizer for folks to use.
- 2 dishtowels for the entire time on the river. They were filthy.
- We were each given one small roll of toilet paper for the entire trip (everyone ran out).
- Very limited fresh vegetables. People actually purchased their own food to bring along.
- The vegetarian in the group was rudely treated by the guide. When asked what she was having for dinner the guide pulled out a package of tofu, tossed it to her and said “they gave this to me for you, I don’t know what to do with it”.
- The water we boiled from the river always tasted of smoke and was gritty from the river sediment. Never even filtered it through anything.
- Guide never gave any assistance to people who were having difficulty in setting up their tent.
- There was no resupply of fresh food when we arrived in Dawson.
- The last 3 meals in Dawson were the same at breakfast, lunch and dinner, Muesli – Salami – Pasta.
This was by far the most enjoyable part of our dual adventure with YWA, but it was not without drawbacks. FOOD!! FOOD!! FOOD!! (sound familiar). We trained for over 12 weeks to be able to complete this backpacking adventure in good shape. Although we were, and are, more than fit to complete the journey we felt under nourished during the 5 day hike. Breakfast, which was the same every day, was introduced to us as Muesli. My understanding of Muesli is a combination of grains mixed with nuts and seeds as well as fruit. Well folks what we got was a large bag of oats with a few peanuts, that’s it. Lunches were instant soups. You know the ones that have 2000mg of sodium. Well the hike is not that strenuous that we would have lost that much water to warrant that kind of sodium intake. All it did was leave us overly thirsty and dehydrated. Dinners were better but having sidekicks alone doesn’t constitute a meal, Oh did I mention that it was pasta for 3 nights running. And let’s not forget that the UV water purifier stopped working the last 2 days – no backup.
Reason of review: Not as described.