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Book with Confidence
Our flexible booking conditions include a 14-day refund guarantee and free trip changes.
Terms and Conditions apply.

TRIP OVERVIEW

7 days
SwimTrek Retreat
6km/day
Moderate

Trip Dates

2023
23 Jul - 29 Jul, 2023
Available
30 Jul - 05 Aug, 2023
Available
06 Aug - 12 Aug, 2023
Available
Download trip notes

Tour Highlights

  • Explore the gorgeous freshwater wilderness along the Churchill River System in Canada’s Saskatchewan province.

  • Experience the beauty of the boreal forest, visit white sand beaches, mighty river rapids and canoe portages with local Cree Elders. Journey back to a place in time when the river was essential to the survival of the local indigenous peoples.

  • As if Otter Lake was not remote enough - try Dead Lake! Depart after breakfast by float plane (think sea plane) and start your swim day with a scenic 15-minute flight to a beautiful white sand beach at Dead Lake Outpost Camp.

  • Travel to remote wilderness locations, keeping an eye out for eagles, osprey, beavers, otters, pelicans...

Explore the Canadian wilderness along the Churchill River System in Canada’s Saskatchewan province. You will be taken to unspoilt remote wilderness locations where beautiful clear and relatively warm freshwater swims, some in moving water and others across open lakes, will be sure to both challenge and enthral you. Eagles, osprey, beavers, otters, pelicans and even the occasional bear are not an unusual sight.

We take you back to a place in time when the river was essential to the survival of the local indigenous peoples. Experience the beauty of the boreal forest, visit white sand beaches, mighty river rapids and canoe portages that have been created by hundreds of years of travel. Enjoy breath-taking views of your swims from the air on a scenic transfer flight in the ‘workhorse of the north’ - a float plane - and listen to a talk about how survival in the North is just a way of life. The meals on this trip are delicious, the people are amazing, and of course all the swims are incredible.


Who is this trip for?

This trip is for swimmers who want to experience off-grid adventures in remote, unspoilt locations. This is the perfect place to just switch off and focus on enjoying stunning swims in a gorgeous wilderness setting. While your days will be spent out in nature, evenings at Thompson’s Resort will be your opportunity to enjoy all the comforts of home, including online connectivity.

Swimmers should have a basic understanding of open water swimming and be capable of completing the average swim distance of 3km prior to the start of the trip. The average daily swim distance is around 6km (split over a minimum of two swims). Please note: some of the swims are current assisted so you will be swimming on average 5km/day.

We have given this trip a ‘Moderate’ grading most swimmers comfortable in the open water will be able to take part and enjoy one of these trips.


What's included?


What's not included?

  • Travel to and from the start of the tour
  • Dinner on Day 1 in Saskatoon



Related Trips

Daily Itineraries

Please note that the below daily itineraries are an example of the swims that may take place during the course of your trip, however, actual swim locations and distances will vary according to local weather and sea conditions. Your SwimTrek guides and local boat pilot will determine the most suitable swim locations each day and will communicate the plan with all guests as soon as possible.

Trip Schedule

Start Point: Alt Hotel, Saskatoon Start Time: 17:30 on Day 1

Finish Point: Alt Hotel, Saskatoon Finish Time: 15:00 on Day 7

Day 1

On arriving into Saskatoon airport you will make your way to the Alt Hotel - our base in this buzzing city, which is a cradle of Saskatchewan culture and welcoming prairie spirit. In the evening there will be a welcome meeting and drink where we will discuss the plan for the week ahead in more detail.

Day 2

In the morning we depart for Thompson’s Resort in Missinipe, SK. The 6-hour drive is a great opportunity to meet and chat with the group and your guides, who can answer any questions you may have. Breakfast is taken en-route. The view of the Saskatchewan countryside is often mesmerising as well.

After arriving at Thompson’s Resort, which is in the heart of the boreal forest, we will sit for lunch before checking into your accommodation and then heading off for an acclimatisation swim. Following a chance to explore the resort we carry out our first significant swim of the trip as we strike out from the resort on a swim to the Walker Bay headland. As you cross you may sight ospreys which are known to frequent these waters. On arrival, you have extensive views over Otter Lake which is part of the Churchill River system and where several of our upcoming swims will be taking place. On return to the resort there is a chance to relax before enjoying dinner at the main lodge.

Day 3

We start the day with a short boat ride to Paul Island and literally let the current help and take some of the strain as you swim towards Ball Island. The swim is in the centre of Otter Lake and as you pass through the narrow channel by Bennett Island (where walleye and pike sometimes gather) you will get an extra push along to the finish. On arriving you will enjoy a locally prepared lunch, where possible this will include a local fish fry.

Then it is back in the boats, and we ride to the eastern edge of Otter Lake and undertake a scenic swim starting off on Neesokat Island and culminating just above the stunning Upper North Falls. On arrival you can walk along the portage track to glimpse a view of the Lower North Falls which mark the start of Mountain Lake. It has been a big day of exploration, so even more reason to enjoy our base at the main lodge and to sit back and enjoy a glass of wine or beer while you relive the day.

Day 4

After breakfast at the main lodge, we catch a boat to the barren and regenerating landscape of Utie Island (caused by a 2015 forest fire) and towards Rattler Bay with its steep cliff sides which house a number of ancient pictographs. While here an indigenous elder will explain the significance of the paintings and the importance of the boreal forest to the community.

After a locally sourced lunch we head to the Nelson Channel and Neheyow Island. From here we carry out a unique swim as we journey through the narrow gulley which separates Neheyow from Reid Island. You’ll enjoy some fast speed through the channel as the current guides you towards the top of Robertson Falls. On getting out at the portage route, we can walk a short distance to the Twin Falls so we can explore both sets of waterfalls. Before our a homestyle meal at the Twin Falls Lodge for dinner, we will enjoy a fantastic nature walk. After dinner we will catch the boat back to Thompson’s Resort.

Day 5

Prepare yourself for a SwimTrek first as we literally catch a plane to today’s swim site! As if Otter Lake was not remote enough, then try Dead Lake. We depart after breakfast by float plane (think sea plane) which departs from outside our resort. Enjoy the scenic 15-minute flight that will drop you at a beautiful white sand beach at Dead Lake Outpost Camp. From here we take a boat to the outflow of the Lower Chief Rapids. We then swim across Dead Lake towards the camp. Keep your eyes open as pelicans are often spotted here. On arrival at the camp, we enjoy a traditional shore lunch of fresh caught fish while relaxing in front of the campfire. It is an excellent spot to while away a few hours of R&R.

The afternoon swim is to the headwaters of Hood Creek which is an excellent place to finish - from here you have views around most of this majestic lake. It is then back in our float plane to return to Thompson’s Resort and enjoy supper at the main lodge.

Day 6

After breakfast we take the boats up the river. Your morning swim will be from Grandmother's Bay Church to Taylor Island with the current. We return by boat to Grandmother's Bay Church, relax and enjoy a hearty lunch before we hike to the top of the powerful Otter Rapids. We then take to the water for our second current assisted swim, as we head down the Churchill River, you literally feel its power as it carries you downstream. It is a unique final swim of the trip! The journey carries on towards Grandmother’s Bay where you will be picked up and transported back to Thompson’s Resort for our final evening.

Day 7

An early start to bask in the beauty of a sunrise swim before enjoying your final breakfast at Thompson’s Resort as you say goodbye to fellow travellers and the friendly staff. Sit back and enjoy the ride back to Saskatoon with a scheduled stop at the famous Robertson’s Trading Post, one of the last remaining active trading posts in Canada. Arriving in Saskatoon and the Alt Hotel you can head to the airport or extend your stay.

Location Summary

Churchill River

The Churchill River, which is more a series of lakes joined by rapids or falls, flows across Northern Saskatchewan and is an offering of exceptional beauty set within pure wilderness, as it meanders through boreal forest and the rock formations of the Precambrian Shield. During the summer, the water is surprisingly warm and excellent quality which makes it ideal for swimming.

Lookout for bald eagles flying overhead, beavers, otters and white pelicans fishing below the rapids, moose wading in the shallows, black bears wandering along the shore and enjoy being serenaded by common loons. You will also see ancient rock paintings by the Cree (see below).

Saskatchewan

Known as the Land of the Living Skies, Saskatchewan offers abundant wildlife, oodles of open space and national parks a plenty. As its nickname suggests, the skies are a big draw and the northern lights are one of its biggest attractions. Undulating hills, boreal forest, and over 100,000 lakes and rivers all make Saskatchewan a delight for lovers of the great outdoors.

The Cree, First People of the Churchill

The Cree are the largest group of First Nations (indigenous population). The Woodland Cree, Nîhithaw, are the peoples living in this part of Canada around the Churchill River. They call their river Missinipe (big water). Archaeologists estimate that the Cree have been in this region for roughly 8,000 years. There will be opportunities to learn about their culture and way of life during the trip.

Trip Grading

We have given this trip a ‘Moderate’ grading most swimmers comfortable in the open water will be able to take part and enjoy one of these trips.

Swimming Distances

Swim Distance
Walker Bay – Thompson’s Resort 2½km
Neesokat Island – North Falls 3½km (ca)
Nelson Channel – Robertson Falls 4km (ca)
Dead Lake Camp – Hood Creek 2km
Otter Rapids – Grandmother’s Bay 2½km (ca)
Paul Island – Ball Island 3km (ca)
Utie Island – Rattler Bay 4km
Lower Chief Rapids – Dead Lake Camp 2km (ca)
Grandmother’s Bay Church – Taylor Island 3km (ca)

*”ca” = Current assisted swim

Swimming Conditions

The lakes and wider river system are fresh water with decent visibility and excellent water quality. On some of the swims you will have the current assisting you. However, as with any lakes around the world, water quality can vary. If you do feel unwell at any stage after the trip, you should go to your medical practitioner immediately and let them know what you have been doing.

Walking Distances

Walk Distance
Walker Bay – Thompson’s Resort 2½km
Neesokat Island – North Falls 3½km (ca)
Nelson Channel – Robertson Falls 4km (ca)
Dead Lake Camp – Hood Creek 2km
Otter Rapids – Grandmother’s Bay 2½km (ca)

There is a limited amount of walking on this trip, mostly around the resort and on selected portages between the lakes. There are some lovely trails situated around the area, you can choose to enjoy small hikes on before or after the swims. Some walks are along rocky and unstable

Temperatures

Month Water Temp* Air Temp*
July 19- 21°C / 66 - 70°F 20 - 26°C / 68 - 79°F
August 20 - 22°C / 68 - 72°F 20 - 26°C / 68 - 67°F
  • Please note that these temperatures are indicative and should be used as a guide only.

Weather Caveat

For safety reasons, we rely on decent weather conditions when carrying out our swims. As a consequence, open water swimming holidays requires a certain degree of on-trip flexibility which can result in changes to the planned itinerary. These changes often add a touch of uniqueness to your trip and will be communicated to you by your SwimTrek guides as quickly as possible.

Trip Information

Group Size

This trip has a maximum group size of 15. The group will be split into a maximum of two groups, based on speed, with each group being accompanied by their own safety vessel/escort. 

Boat Support

Boat support on this trip includes two pontoon boats with pilot plus a guide on an SUP. At Dead Lake we use two motorboats piloted by your SwimTrek guides. Please note that this boat support is subject to change without notice and cannot be guaranteed.

Extra Activities

Evenings are spent at the idyllic Thompson’s Resort with optional evening activities such as canoeing, kayaking, hiking, fishing, or you can even take a scenic flight. Excursions such as scenic flights, paddling or fishing are available from Thompson’s Resort but your itinerary is quite full so there is little time to take part during the SwimTrek itself.

Equipment Checklist

In addition to your daily non-swimming clothes, we also recommend that you bring the following items:

Item Item
Swimming Costume (x 2) Sweater / Fleece
Swimming Goggles (x 2)* Waterproof Jacket
Sun Hat and Sunglasses Walking Boots / Aqua Shoes / Sandals
Waterproof Sun Cream Insect Repellent
Small Daypack Personal Drink Bottle x 2

For more information, please visit our Packing List page on the website.

Try to bring one clear lens and one tinted lens for different light conditions. **A towel will be provided in your room, please feel free to bring your own swim towel. **A scanned copy of the photo page of your passport will be required by local authorities.

SwimTrek will supply swim hats, water and electrolyte drinks. The guides will no longer distribute shared drinks bottles but will fill your personal drink bottles. Please ensure these are clearly marked to help our guides identify yours. If you would like to use a wetsuit, rash vest or fins during your swims, please ensure that you bring these with you.

Getting There

The easiest way to get to the start of your trip is to fly into John G. Diefenbaker (YXE), Saskatoon’s international airport. The airport is serviced by a large selection of flights most routing through Torono or Calgary. From the airport make your way to the Alt Hotel in Saskatoon, a 16-minute taxi drive from the airport.

The SwimTrek transfer to our accommodation leaves from the Alt Hotel early on the morning of Day 2 and takes around 5 hours by road. We have breakfast on the way up and a packed lunch on the return journey.

As SwimTrekkers come from all over the world, and join our swimming holidays in numerous destinations, we don't currently offer flights as part of our SwimTrek packages. We do however want to do as much as we can to ensure that our guests get the best deals when travelling to one of our trips so check out our SwimTrek flight tips on the website.

Whichever route you choose to take, we recommend confirming your flights and other travel arrangements as early as possible in order to avoid price rises and availability issues.

Accommodation

On the first night we stay in the 3-star Alt Hotel located at the heart of downtown Saskatoon on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River. A comfortable, functional hotel handy for our short stay in Saskatoon.

For five more nights, we stay at the secluded Thompson’s Resort, sitting on the banks of Otter Lake within the Churchill River System. The resort offers an assortment of suites and cabins scattered around the property. There is also a restaurant in the main lodge and a small grocery store on site.

Our accommodation is in the lakefront Walkers Bay Cabins. They have a large deck looking towards the lake and firepit area, a kitchenette, TV, gas fire place and laundry. Each cabin has 3 bedrooms, one with a queen-double bed, one with a double bed and the third bedroom has both a single bed and bunk beds. There is one bathroom and an additional toilet in each cabin. Twin-share and single occupancy rooms can be reserved during the booking process, subject to availability.

Due to the small size and popularity of the resort, our accommodation is booked well in advance and we have limited opportunity to change accommodation options, even if the resort has availability.

Further information about the Thompson’s Resort accommodation can be found here.

Pre/Post Trip Accommodation and Trip Extension Options

If you would like to extend your stay with additional nights’ accommodation before or after your trip at Thompson’s Resort, please contact the resort directly via sales@adventuredestinations.ca. Please note that if extending your stay any additional transfers will need to be arranged and paid for separately to your SwimTrek Trip.

Food and Drink

Thompson’s Resort has an onsite restaurant where we take breakfasts and dinners. All meals are included in this trip except for dinner on Day 1 in Saskatoon. Day 7 is a packed lunch on the return journey to Saskatoon. The close by Churchill River Trading Post sells an assortment of snacks and other groceries.

Thompson’s Resort can accommodate vegetarian diets. We will endeavour to meet other special dietary requests but as this is a remote area and any special ingredients required must be brought in in advance and may not always be available. SwimTrek must be notified of any special dietary requests in advance.

For more information, please visit our food and drink page on the website

Travel Advice

For more information on any of the following sections please visit the Travel Advice page of our website

Money, Extra Expenses and Tipping

You should bring extra money with you to cover such items as souvenirs and drinks. The local currency is Canadian Dollars (CAD). Beer and wine are available on site at the resort, payable locally. There is nowhere to exchange money once we leave Saskatoon. Debit and credit cards are accepted at Thompson’s Resort, Churchill River Trading Post and Robertson’s Trading Post.

In some countries tipping, gratuities, is not part of the culture in others it has become an expected norm. We believe that tipping is entirely at your discretion. If you have been provided with excellent service it may be something you wish to do. Your SwimTrek guides can advise on local norms for service providers like boat crew, waiters or taxis. Nothing is expected for your SwimTrek guides but many groups like to present something to the Guides at the end of the trip.

Responsible Travel

SwimTrek is conscious of the importance of protecting the world’s natural wonders. We are acutely aware of our responsibility to not only take care of the natural environments which we are lucky enough to explore, but also to educate our guests about the importance of conservation efforts and responsible tourism. It’s for this reason that we have worked so closely with our partners to ensure that our trips are conducted in the most responsible and sustainable way possible, working tirelessly to minimise the impact of our presence on local marine life and the natural habitat.

For more information, please visit our Responsible Travel page on the website.

Passports and Visas

Citizens from several countries, including all EU member states, UK, US, Australia and New Zealand, will require an electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) to enter Canada. US citizens do not require a visa to gain entry into Canada.

Non-residents of Canada will require a full passport to enter the country, which should be valid for six months beyond the expected length of stay. Please also be aware that a scanned copy of the photo page of your passport will be required by local authorities. Please note, visa regulations are always subject to change and it is important that you check your own visa requirements prior to travel.

Travel Insurance

We consider comprehensive travel insurance to be essential, and we strongly recommend that you purchase insurance which includes, but is not limited to, cover for illness, accident, emergency repatriation, ambulance, air ambulance, helicopter rescue services, cancellation, lost luggage and delays. Your travel insurance should also cover you for open water swimming and any other activity listed in your trip itinerary (including races and competitions, where applicable). Please read your policy details carefully and remember to take them with you on your trip for your own reference. For further information, please visit our: Travel Insurance page on the website.

Health Information and Recommended Vaccinations

Here at SwimTrek we pride ourselves on our focus on safety and the well-being of all our guests. As we operate in some beautiful and remote locations medical facilities are not always easily accessible. SwimTrek Guides, and many staff working for our local partners, are first aid trained. However we ask that you read our Travel Health page to ensure that you are informed about general Travel and Swim Health precautions.

Internet Access, Electricity and Travel Plugs

There is WiFi available at the main lodge (restaurant) and there is cellular service at the Resort and on much of Otter Lake.

For a useful source of information on the different electrical outlets, electrical plugs, and electric sockets, please visit www.worldstandards.eu/.

  • I have been on a lot of trips and all have that something special. What this one offers is tranquility, space, the feeling you have gotten away from it all and the utter sense of balance you feel as you leave the lakes behind you. This trip offers so much more than the normal trips. It has to be on a par with the special factor the Galapagos had for me.

    Aedin, Switzerland - 2022
  • Looking to swim in a remote stunning location away from it all? This is your trip!

    Kateinka H, Netherlands - 2022
  • This new Canadian Wilderness trip is a must. Fresh water swimming at its best. The variety of swimming options, the serenity of the Canadian woodland that surrounds you, no boat traffic, superb accommodation and fabulously friendly locals. You will leave this trip refreshed, relaxed and back in balance. It is so worth it.

    Aedin NC, 2022
  • Accommodation was log cabins complete with all mod cons. The dining experience was excellent. I fully recommend Swimtreks Canadian Experience. Like me you won't be disappointed.

    WN, 2022
  • The Canadian Wilderness trip was absolutely fantastic. It was a pioneer (first run with guests) trip but everything was well planned out. The swims were gorgeous, the food delicious, and the accommodations excellent. I recommend it without reservation.

    Joy, 2022

Book with Confidence
Our flexible booking conditions include a 14-day refund guarantee and free trip changes.
Terms and Conditions apply.