Nahanni - river of dreams

The South Nahanni river of the Canadian Northwest Territories is a national park as well as one of the first UNESCO World Heritage sites. The lower part of the river, below Virginia Falls, twice the height of the Niagara, is travelled by a limited number of outfitters and a limited number of groups every year. It holds some of the most spectacular wilderness river canyon scenery imaginable. The upper river, with the headwaters being well outside the 30 000 sq kilometer park, is visited by very few people each year. My plan for the summer is to hike in to the headwaters across the Yukon-NWT border, which is also the continental watershed in these parts, and float down almost 600 kilometers of wilderness river in my packraft. Here are a few teasers, I'll get more specific in future postings.

By Jörgen Johansson

The official park video from Parks Canada, showing a number of the unique features of the Nahanni, like the Rabbitkettle Tufa mounds, the mighty canyons and Virginia Falls.

A short and sweet film of the lower parts of the Nahanni, where it has become a powerfull river indeed, including the in-famous Figure 8 rapids.

Example of canoeing in the "rock gardens" of the upper Nahanni, about 50 kilometers of continous whitewater.

A canoe running one of the riffles in the more frequented lower part of the South Nahanni river. This is about 400 kilometers downstream of the head waters and the rock gardens.

Anyone who have 18 minutes to spend is recommended this link, a somewhat aged 1960's film of legendary Albert Faille. Faillie, reportedly a gentle soul was not that fond of the film picturing him as gold hungry. Personally I find his portage up around Virginia Falls the highlight of the film. The man was around 70 years old when it was filmed.

I will make more blog entries about the planning and gear for my upcoming trip in the next few weeks up until I'm flying out to Calgary on June 27.


  1. Great film of Albert Faille.
    Hang on to your skull!

  2. David H,
    Yeah; Murder Creek, Headless Valley, Funeral Range. Even a hundred years ago the Nahanni must have had a copy writer bent on drawing a crowd...

  3. Sounds like an awesome trip, I assume apart from rapids, waterfalls you will have to contend with bears when on land. Look forward to more details.

  4. Hi Jorgen
    Ranulph Fiennes book The Headless valley covers some of the area you're planning to travel.

  5. Wow. Canoeing the Nahanni is on my list. Your plan to hike in makes it an entirely different undertaking altogether. Given your apparnet affinity for water I'fd advise to take a good repair kit :-)

  6. Whoa! That's quite an adventure you have coming up! Makes my upcoming packrafting trip look like a flow in the park pool. =D

    I'm eagerly looking forward for more detailed info!


Post a Comment