Province/Territory: Northwest Territories

Rafting “The Wildlife River”

  • 20000 migrating caribou
  • 205 kilometres (130 miles) of river rafting
  • 12 days of Arctic wildlife

Raft down the Burnside River marvelling at a sea of 20,000 caribou sweeping across the tundra of Nunavut’s Barrenlands on their annual migration from summer to winter grounds. See baby caribou prancing alongside their mothers. It’s as easy as grabbing rubber boots and a bug shirt and jumping on a bush plane to paddle with Canadian River Expeditions through one of the world’s great wildlife spectacles that even beginners can witness on a raft; experts can tackle the rapids in two-person canoes. Meet up with local Inuit and learn how traditional hunters relied on caribou, making use of every part of the animal. Hear the thundering hooves of muskoxen. Aim your binoculars at grizzly bears. Drift through high canyons of red and white rock. Photograph an Arctic fox and hike across tundra to spy on an active wolf den. Camp by a waterfall then drop a fishing line into a stream and land your own dinner to savour by a campfire beneath the soft, warm rays of the midnight sun.

Why you should visit
  • Unique opportunity to watch thousands of Bathurst Inlet caribou on the move across the tundra and crossing the Burnside River.
  • Spotting muskox, wolves, fox, grizzly bears, raptors and arctic migratory birds.
  • Tundra hiking and wildflowers.
  • Crossing the Arctic Circle.
  • Visiting the NWT capital of Yellowknife.
  • Finishing the trip at Burnside Falls where the river is squeezed between narrowing banks that rise 180 to 215 meters.


  • Be prepared for a wide range of tundra weather conditions.
  • Summer weather varies from intense, 24 hour hot sun to foggy, windy, cool days with possible rain showers, sleet, even snow.
  • The average daily maximum during summer months is 15°C, but temperatures ranging into the 20's or down to 0°C are not uncommon.
  • Precipitation is light - less than 250mm per year (10 inches) - mostly falling as rain during spring and summer.
  • Discover local weather information. Research local weather patterns at Environment Canada's Canadian Climate Website.
Visitor information
  • Rates and dates for Canadian River Expedition’s Burnside River Rafting trip.
  • In Yellowknife there are banks and a good variety of shops, hotels and restaurants.
When to go
  • Late June to early July offers the best chance of seeing the migrating caribou.
Need to know
  • The rafting trip is open to river-lovers of all levels, including beginners.
  • Consult the packing list.
  • Restrict your gear to an effective but lightweight set of outdoor clothing and equipment as you’ll be flying a small plane charter with a luggage limit of 40 pounds.
  • Rubber boots and a rain jacket are essential.
  • Bring sunscreen, insect repellent and a bug jacket that will likely come in handy.
Getting Here
  • Trips begin at the Yellowknife Airport (YVF), in the Northwest Territories with a number of airlines serving it from Southern Canada.
  • Yellowknife is also accessible on a 1,500 mile drive up the Mackenzie Highway from Edmonton, Alberta.
  • Depart Yellowknife by bush plane to the starting point on the river.