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Paddle after paddle, under a heating sun, our kayaks are splitting the water like blades. We are moving in turquoise blue and calm waters; getting the impression of disturbing nature with our swashing. Pollen is lying upon the water and it deforms the light into a rainbow. We feel carried away in a fairy tale. Nights are of a scaring quietness; but accumulated fatigue takes over us.

Kayak su l'eaux calme du lac Isaac
Lake Isaacs’ calm waters

Carte de la situation géographique de Bowron Lake en Colombie-Britannique The Provincial Park of Bowron Lake, located in British Columbia with a surface of 150 000 hectares (the equivalent of 300 football fields), is without doubt a wild and fascinating place. Its 166km of navigable circuits, through mountains of eternal snow and of limpid waters, make this place one of the most beautiful kayak-canoe tour in the world, according to the Outdoor Magazine.

The tour
It takes six to ten days to paddle the whole circuit. A minimum of experience is required for those who will attempt to realise the run. A total of 10,8 km of portage path will bring you to ten lakes and rivers. Fifty-seven sites have been installed for kayakers’ and canoeists’ needs. There also are six shelters for accommodating wet campers. On each site, there is a locker used for stocking food, to avoid bears from eating your lunch. At the moment of our passage, agents of the Park had just reopened a site that had been closed due to an important presence of grizzlies. The park has a considerable topographic diversity. The West side of the tour is formed of high hills, of sand beaches and of swamplands; while the East side plunges you in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Many summits go past 2000 m high.

cuisines à aire ouverte permettent aux aventuriers de préparer leur repas au secsentier de portage
On the left: four open space kitchens allowing adventurers to prepare their meals while staying dry. On the right: portage path.

Orignal à Bowron Lake
Huard à bowron Lake

One of the reasons why the park receives so many visitors is its biodiversity. Sometimes, you see animals closer than you wished for. Black bears, grizzlies, moose, mountain goats, caribous, and royal eagles are some examples. During our first night, a black bear visited our camp ground. A few words were enough to scare it away. We learned the same bear came back the day after. It’s what we call a regular, that is to say it made the association between this particular site and the food we eat. There are the bears that we must fear since they always return to the same spots to get food. You represent nothing more than an obstacle to them. Twice, we surprised a few moose on our way. We were at only 20 m from them. They didn’t seem to care about our presence. Fishing lovers will find their pleasure. Lakes are full of trout and kokanee. For the best catches, June and September are favorable. 

Above: Twice, we approached moose at less than 20m.
Down: A Great Northern Diver fluttering its wings.


The costs
The experience is really affordable. Aside the plane ticket, you’ll have to spend 60$ (taxes included) per person to access the circuit. Renting a kayak or a canoe is 130$ to 180$ for the whole tour. Then add the rental of a two wheel carriage that facilitates the portage. With the intention of preserving the environment and to provide a unique experience to the visitor, the Park accepts only 30 visitors each day for achieving the tour. So make sure to book your place in advance. The reservation fees are 18$ for each craft.

Coucher de soleil sur le lac Isaac à Bowron Lake
Sunset on Lake Isaac

A German couple, who were a dozen of kilometres in front of us, will certainly remember their experience for a long time. On the second day of the expedition, they forgot a food bag on the shore. So they decided to accelerate the rhythm in order to finish the tour more rapidly. Unfortunately, at their passing in Caribou River their canoe rolled over and found itself in an inauspicious position. This river can be quite dangerous, the stream is strong and there are many dead trees in the middle. Inevitably, the canoe got trapped. The strength of the stream made it overturn and broke it in half. They finished the tour in a motorboat accompanied by forest rangers.

Lac Lanezi long de 14,8 km à Bowron LakeLac Isaac long de 31,2 km à Bowron Lake
On the left: Lake Lanezi, 14,8 km long. On the right: Lake Isaac, 31,2 km long.

Good to know
-The use of dish and body soap, biodegradable or not, are unauthorized in the Park. So get used to it!
-In order to prevent the damage of the portage paths, a total of 60 lb are accepted on the carriage (excluding the craft). Exceeding stuff must be carried on your shoulders. Only bring the necessary with you.
-Visit the Bear River Mercantile, close to the Park’s Reception. You’ll discover a little museum about Bowron Lake.
-The closest airport: Prince George.


For more information
Official site :http://wlapwww.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/bowron.htm
For renting kayaks and canoes.
Beckers Lodge: http://www.beckerslodge.ca
Bowron Lake Lodge and Resorts: http://bcadventure.com/bowron/index.htm