Safety, camp life, food & activity levels
Here are more details on what to expect about backcountry camping, menus and cooking, activity levels, and our wilderness travel style on the Algonquin Park Packrafting.
Safety is always our #1 priority, and our guides embody that with their years of experience, training, and knowledge of the river.
Many people think of whitewater paddling as extreme. In fact, with the right approach to decision making, we have a lot of control over our exposure to risk. Throughout the trip, as you learn about how the river works, you’ll see that whitewater is actually predictable. The area you’ll be travelling through is remote and so we take a calculated approach to hiking and river running.
Every trip has an extensive safety plan. Even though our guides are rescue and safety instructors on industry-leading international certification courses, we still train together specifically for the Petawawa and Ottawa Rivers with practice scenarios. In all of our training we focus on prevention and good decision making, and we practice what we preach.
Packrafting safety practices
- The maximum guest to guide ratio on the Algonquin Park Packrafting trip is 4:1.
- Our guides have extensive and current industry-leading safety credentials and certification. Every trip has a minimum of 2 guides with Wilderness First Responder (an 80-hour medical course) and Whitewater Rescue Technician certification. As well, many of our guides are instructors in those disciplines.
- Each trip carries 2 emergency communication devices: a satellite phone and an InReach messenger device and locator beacon. They are always carried by the guides in separate waterproof containers in different boats.
- Each trip carries extensive first aid kits and river safety equipment.
- All activities are ‘challenge by choice’, meaning it is up to you if you want to participate or we will offer an alternative.
Nonetheless, wilderness travel has inherent risks and we will ask you to read through and sign our waiver form (linked in your trip InfoPack).
Health and immunizations
We recommend that you visit your family doctor or a travel clinic while planning your trip.
Contact us if you have any questions at all about safety. It’s one of our specialties and we enjoy talking about it. As lifelong wilderness travelers our guides certainly feel more safe on a river trip than they do in the city. Our primary goal is for you to feel the same way!
Food & menu choices
Great food’s a highlight of every trip. You need to be properly fuelled to stay safe—and have energy on the water and trails.
In our pre-trip questionnaire, you can tell us about allergies, dietary requirements and menu requests. We always plan options for vegan, gluten free, and really any specific choices— just let us know in advance so we can prepare.
For the days when we’ll be self-supported packrafting, we’ll split up the food so everybody carries some. You’ll learn about lightweight food systems, which are based around high quality meals and good planning.
You’ll learn how to:
- split and pack the food and cooking equipment between a group of 3 in the most efficient way
- divvy up the cooking and cleaning responsibilities
- use lightweight backpacking stoves safely and efficiently
Teamwork & camaraderie
The key to any successful expedition, but especially one that’s so far off the beaten path, is teamwork. We divide our loads, share responsibilities, and everyone has to watch out for each other. A positive attitude and patience are fundamental to a backcountry packraft trip like this one.
You’re itinerary includes 3 nights expedition camping on the riverside, and 3 nights camping at OWL Rafting (a riverside resort with full bathroom, shower, and restaurant facilities).
For camping, we provide stoves and cooking gear, water filters, group tarps, safety gear, etc.
We provide you with your own tent or Henessey Hammock (you decide)
Three technical items that you can either bring your own or rent from us are:
- A 3-season sleeping bag rated to -0°C-/ 32°F —with a compression sac. Rent for $95 or bring your own…just make sure it’s lightweight and compressible. Max weight 1.5kg / 3lbs,5oz.
- A suspension backpack like this one. We recommend 100L or even more, so you can fit all your camping gear, food, and packrafting gear. Rent from us for $65.
- An inflatable sleeping pad – high quality and lightweight like this. Rent for $35.
Of course we also provide you with the packraft and paddle and all the group gear — see a full list of what’s included and what to pack.
hygiene & washing
You’ll appreciate the easy to use hand washing system that we set up at camp and our riverside lunch spots. Good hygiene is key on wilderness trips and this system enables you to wash your hands just as well as you can at home.
Minimizing our footprint - sustainable tourism
Minimal impact camping techniques (sometimes called “Leave No Trace”) differ across the world depending on the type of environment and the amount of people travelling through.
With all of our cooking, washing, and bathroom procedures, your guides will show you the systems we use to stay comfortable and healthy. At the same time, we’ll be minimizing our impact on the surrounding ecosystem.
When we’re on the river expedition and camping on the riverside, we’ll treat our water:
- A gravity filter hangs at camp (like a pump filter but without the need to pump). The guides will always make sure there is filtered water available. You can fill your bottle with this water to keep with you during the day.
- We bring plenty of water purification tablets and you can keep a few on you to purify your own bottle any time.
On the expedition when camping, we’ll explain a couple of options for pooping comfortably in the woods.
Most backcountry campsites in Algonquin Park have ‘thunder boxes’ (open-air outdoor toilet)
Activity level & conditioning
The Algonquin Park Packraftiing Trip is 3.5 out of 5 on our activity level scale.
You don’t need any whitewater experience or river expedition experience, but you need to be in good enough physical condition to enjoy the trip.
Hiking with all of your gear requires endurance, strength, and energy. Because of that, if you’re joining this adventure you should be fit enough to jog 6.5 km/4 miles and comfortable hiking with a full backpack for a full day. If you’re used to backcountry paddling and hiking in parks and comfortable carrying heavy loads, you’ll be fine.
Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about fitness requirements.
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast who regularly spends long days on the water or trails you should be fine, but it won’t hurt to do more. And your enjoyment will only improve the more fit you are. To get in shape for the trip we suggest:
- Do some cardio work, such as jogging or cycling for at least an hour, 3 or more times a week
- Lift weights 2 or 3 time a week. Alternatively, cross train with activities such as swimming, hiking, climbing or paddling 2 or 3 times per week
If you’d like a more detailed program you can ask us, or even join a gym and tell the trainer what you’re conditioning for.
Trip Details at a Glance$3,949 CAD tax included
7 days of whitewater and expedition skills on the Ottawa and Petawawa Rivers
Departs fromOttawa or Foresters Falls, Ontario
Group size4 to 8 participants
- Jul. 26-Aug. 1, 2020
- Jul. 18-24, 2021
- Jul. 25-31, 2021