Sailing to Haida Gwaii
Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands)
Ancient Haida villages, impressive pole carvings, massive trees, Hotspring Island – these are just a few of reasons we spend 4 months in the southern islands of Haida Gwaii. And then there is the wildlife… Sometimes called the “Galapagos of the North”, Haida Gwaii is an incredibly abundant area.
The Islands of Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands) are one of the richest biological and cultural areas in North America.
We will cruise the waters of this remote archipelago seeing ancient Haida villages, an incredible abundance of wildlife and outstanding wilderness scenery. In June 2010 Canada’s first marine protected area was announced surrounding the islands. Our trips primarily explore the eastern & southern shores which lie within the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve & Haida Heritage Site.
Gwaii Haanas is a incredible area with over 100 islands, beautiful forested creek walks, rugged headlands, and protected passageways between towering mountains. Thousands of seabirds nest on the islands. Theories suggest that parts of Haida Gwaii escaped the last ice age, forming a glacial refuge for certain plants and animals. How else to explain the presence of plant species found nowhere else in the world and the noticeably different sub-species of bird, fish and mammal? Haida Gwaii provides a remarkable evolutionary showcase – hence, their description as the “Canadian Galapagos”.
Haida Gwaii is home to the Haida – one of the most culturally rich and developed groups of people to inhabit early North America. The Haida name for the southern islands, Gwaii Haanas, appropriately translates as “islands of beauty” or “place of wonder”.
Among the southern islands are many ancient villages – K’uuna (Skedans), Cumshewa, T’annu and SGang Gwaay (Ninstints). These sites contain the remains of the great long houses and the best remaining examples of original totem poles in the world. The United Nations has recognized the cultural value of these sites and designated SGang Gwaay as a “World Heritage Site, of importance to the history of mankind”.
For many people, the highlight of their trip is the opportunity to listen to a Haida story and learn about the traditional and modern Haida way of life.
Also be sure to watch the Haida Gwaii Video found in my travel journal to get a closer look at this amazing adventure!