Eagle-watching in Squamish at its peak now through mid-February

 

It’s December, and that means it’s prime eagle-viewing time in the Sea-to-Sky corridor.

From mid-November to mid-February every year, thousands of eagles come to the area to prey on salmon following the fall spawning. Day-trip floats down the Cheakamus River near Squamish offer a chance to see these magnificent birds in their natural habitat, in some of the largest gatherings of bald eagles in the world.

Your friendly neighbourhood Inside Vancouver correspondent went on one of these day-trips courtesy of Squamish Rafting Company. This is what we experienced.

Getting there (and back)

Day-trip tours depart from Squamish Rafting’s main office in downtown Squamish (at 38145 Second Ave.)  at 11 a.m. At 9:45, we caught the Sea-to-Sky Connector shuttle at Library Square; there are three pickup options, including the Hyatt Regency and Canada Place.

After shuttling to the Sea-to-Sky Gondola, a Squamish Rafting representative named Jordan picked us up in a van and took us to the main office. We dropped off anything we might not need and were taken, raft in town, to a point at the river where our journey was to begin.

Later, our other Squamish Rafting guide, Jen, drove us back to our Connector stop. We were back in downtown Vancouver by 4 p.m.

What to wear

Squamish Rafting recommends rain-proof everything—a shell, pants, rubber boots. I only had a rain-proof jacket, but the company supplied us with weather-proof pants and rubber boots. Before we got in the raft, we were given life-jackets. (The trip, however, is safe, in shallow water with only some baby rapids to cross.) Some of our expedition were without gloves or mitts. I would certainly recommend bringing those as well.

On the day we went, the trip was a little chilly and there was some rain at first, but the sun  broke through halfway into the trip.

Rafting down the river

The journey takes just over an hour and covers four kilometres down the Cheakamus. The raft fits nine comfortably, including Jordan, our guide. People from Germany, Austria, Texas, and Scotland were among the rafters.

At first, the eagles were somewhat scarce—Jordan was a little worried we would see some but not hundreds of birds. Happily, as we neared the final leg of the trip, we found ourselves in eagle-watching nirvana. The birds were everywhere, primping, preening and standing guard on bare branches. We saw fully mature as well as juvenile eagles. Hunting hours are mornings and evenings, according to Jordan, so we didn’t see much diving. But we saw quite a few take off and glide the air currents.

Lunch

Following the excursion, we hiked a short distance back up to the rode. Jen and Jordan took us back to camp, where some hot chili (veggie option included) awaited us. On the rafting trip itself, Jordan brought along hot chocolate, which we had in a little spot called Pirate’s Cove.

Planning Your Trip

Seeing the eagles in their natural habitat was awe-inspiring. I would definitely recommend the excursion to nature-lovers and anyone wanting to see more of B.C.’s natural beauty—or anyone who just wants some cool photos for their Instagram accounts.

To book a Wilderness & Eagle Viewing Float, visit Squamish Rafting Company. Prices are $119 for adults, $79 for children (5-16 years). Minimum age/weight: 5 years old/50 lbs or 22kg. Shuttle from Vancouver is $35/person through squamishconnector.com.

Tours depart Squamish at 11 a.m.

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One Response to Eagle-watching in Squamish at its peak now through mid-February

  1. natural beauty