Situated at the very southern tip of the Haida Gwaii Archipelago, Kunghit Island is named for the Kunghit Haida who occupied this extremely remote island for millennia.
We’ve chosen to focus our 2017 Gwaii Haanas Photography Tour expedition around Kunghit Island because it encapsulates the very essence of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area, and Haida Heritage Site. Within half a day’s travel, we’ll have access to remote white-sand beaches, rugged islets, kelp forests, surge channels, and lagoons teeming with colourful marine life, colonies of tufted puffins, and one of the largest Steller sea lion rookeries in British Columbia.
At sea, we are likely to encounter killer whales, humpback whales, ocean sunfish, pelagic sharks, and myriad other sea birds, including storm petrels and black-footed albatrosses. On shore, we’ll explore ancient coastal rainforests and protected estuarine ecosystems, and we hope to encounter the Haida Gwaii black bear and pine marten, both subspecies unique to these islands.
One of the many highlights of this expedition will be visiting the ancient Haida village of SGang Gwaay Llnagaay, also known at Ninstints. Declared a UNSECO World Heritage Site in 1981 in recognition of the globally significant cultural heritage this site represents, S’Gang Gwaay features a haunting collection of mortuary poles and house remains that stand testament to the traditional ways of the Haida people.
Our group of six participants and four crew will circumnavigate Kunghit Island aboard our classic wooden schooner, Passing Cloud. To maximize the time we’ll have for exploring, photographing, and experiencing the landscapes, wildlife, and cultural heritage of this remarkable region, this tour will start and end with spectacular float plane flights between Sandspit and Kunghit Island. We hope you’ll join us!
“Thank you so much for an excellent adventure. Each day was packed with delights – on Passing Cloud, in the forests, on the beaches, in the sea, around the table. So many Wows! Outstanding meals, warm companionship, natural beauty, and much laughter!“
– Ursula, British Columbia, CANADA
DAYS 1-3: Sandspit, Floatplane, Gwaii Haanas, Burnaby Narrows, Kunghit Island
Your expedition begins with a stunning floatplane into Gwaii Haanas to join the Passing Cloud. Have your camera ready as you swoop down over the Passing Cloud and land in the heart of this remote island archipelago. We’ll begin our expedition in Bag Harbour, and after you’re settled in we’ll go ashore to experience our first taste of the diversity of Gwaii Haanas – from tiny carnivorous bog plants to giant old-growth cedar and spruce trees. The next day we’ll visit world-famous Burnaby Narrows. As we drift through the narrows in our inflatable skiff, we’ll gently place multi-coloured bat stars, massive moon snails, decorator crabs, nudibranchs (sea slugs), and more into a tank for you to observe and photograph before returning them to their home. Tonight after dinner James will lead our first of several image review sessions. Continuing south to Kunghit Island, we’ll sail past cliffs where tufted puffins are nesting – the bold granite landscapes are gorgeous and trying to photograph fast-moving puffins in flight is always a thrill. There’s a good chance of coming across whales in this area, too.
DAYS 4-6: Cape St. James, Flat Rock, Gordon Islands, Marine Wildlife
Cape St. James is the southernmost point of the Haida Gwaii Archipelago. With ocean currents meeting from the east and west, this area explodes with marine life! Break out your telephoto lens and scan the waves for puffins, Stellar sea lions, killer whales, and humpback whales all on the hunt for their next meal in these rich waters. Weather permitting we’ll cruise up the west side of Kunghit Island, on the look out for fin whales, sharks, albatrosses, and other pelagic marine life. We’ll work with the wind and available light to get you to some fast paced seabird photography at Flat Rock Island and also with the tide to allow you some quiet time for exploring the spectacular tide pools in the Gordon Islands. Practice focusing on the fly, macro photography using reflected light and even time-lapse in this wonderfully varied area. The relaxed pace of the day makes it a great time to get some one-on-one coaching from James in the field making images, or behind your computer as you process them. Given our western exposure we’ll be sure to be in perfect position for any sunset light – get your tripod ready! A glass of wine on deck or in the main salon can be the perfect way to end a perfect day.
DAYS 7-8: SGang Gwaay World Heritage Site, Float Plane, Sandspit
The ancient Haida village of SGang Gwaay was inhabited until approximately 1880, and in 1981 was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here we’ll photograph the remains of massive long houses, and a stunning grove of standing mortuary and memorial poles. We’ll enjoy a tour of the village guided by Haida Watchman to learn about the traditional Haida way of life and social systems. We’ll make sure to arrive early to enjoy the morning light falling on this east-facing village, and you’ll have plenty of time to photograph this impressive site. Tonight is our final image review session of the expedition, and James will present a slideshow of the expedition and our adventures together. On our final day, after farewells to ship and crew, we get one last chance to experience breathtaking views of Gwaii Haanas during our 50-minute floatplane trip back to Sandspit, where our journey officially comes to an end.
2017 Expedition Dates and Availability
NOTES ON PRICING
The price of this expedition includes two float plane flights, valued at $850 CAD/person.
Our prices are based on double occupancy, quoted in Canadian dollars, and subject to 5% Federal Goods and Services Tax (GST). All payments must be made in Canadian dollars, by cheque or credit card. All prices are subject to change without notice.
Check out what our guests have to say about this expedition!
“Thank you so much for an excellent adventure. Each day was packed with delights – on Passing Cloud, in the forests, on the beaches, in the sea, around the table. So many Wows! Outstanding meals, warm companionship, natural beauty, and much laughter!”
— Ursula, BC, CANADA
“Thanks for such a special intro to BC and Haida Gwaii. I don’t know how you manage to so competently sail, motor, navigate, chef (from scratch!) yet remain so friendly, relaxed, welcoming, and accommodating. I’ll treasure the many memories and shared good times.”
— Judy, NC, USA
“Many thanks for giving us a window into this amazing country at the edge of the world. It was an excellent adventure, sailing with spectacular wildlife. Matt, you’re a natural leader. We leave with great memories. Russ, captain and crew were excellent ambassadors of the Passing Cloud.”
— Barb and Dave, ON, CANADA
“What a gift! Thanks so much for making this an unforgettable vacation. We so appreciate all the personal attention you gave us. Truly a Five Star experience!”
— George and Sandra, MN, USA
While you are in Haida Gwaii
Since you’re travelling so far to get to Haida Gwaii, we definitely encourage you to spend a little extra time learning about and exploring this remarkable part of the world before or after your days with us. Here are some resources for you:
Haida Nation and Cultural Heritage
Haida Gwaii Museum at Kay Llnagaay
Council of the Haida Nation
Council of the Haida Nation LINKS
Haida Laas Newsletter
Swan Bay Rediscovery Program
Skidegate Haida Language App
James Thompson Photography
FREE Smartphone Phone Photography Guide
Wildlife Photography: A Primer – Part 1
Wildlife Photography: A Primer – Part 2
Essential Photography Accessories for your trip
It IS a rainforest after all!
What’s the best camera to bring on my trip?
Digital Photography Review
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