Box 1320, Kuujjuaq, Nunavik (QC), J0M 1C0, Canada
Phone: +608-370-5071 / Email
: tundra@thelon.com


-presents-

Customer Trip Reviews: 2005-2004

The best possible explanation about the land, the animals, the camps and level of service that Great Canadian Wildlife Adventures provides is best described by our valued customers who have undergone their own journeys to the Arctic with us. The following testimonials are for real. If you are seriously considering joining us on our trips, please feel free to contact us, and we will be pleased to put you directly in touch with those who have attended our trips over the past few seasons - and then let THEM tell you about the wonderful experiences that Great Canadian Wildlife Adventures has to offer you...

 



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2005-2004

"Dear Tom; Just a quick note to let you know how much I enjoyed a truly unique experience at your Whitefish Lake base camp this past summer. I feel as though I have been privileged to experience something that very few others ever will. The tundra is truly a special place that needs to be preserved! The service provided by you and your staff was first-rate, the food was hearty, the tents dry, and the guides were very knowledgeable. I appreciate the effort you and the guides put into getting our group within viewing range. Thanks again Tom and hopefully I'll get another opportunity to visit the tundra soon!"

- Greg Yahr / Photographer
West Bend, Wisconsin USA

 

 

"To Tundra Tom and the Staff at Whitefish Lake; When I was a young girl I met Gus D'Aoust at his brother's place in Hay River and listened to his tales of trapping and living in the barrens. It really fascinated me and August 19 this year I had an opportunity to travel to your camp at Whitefish Lake in the barrenlands near the site of one of his cabins. The flight from Yellowknife was wonderful as we flew over the spectacular East Arm of the Great Slave Lake to Lutsel K'e and also over the eskers to the camp which was to be our home for a whole week. My friend Donna and I had the good fortune to be part of a very interesting group: a couple from Alberta, a family from Texas, and two photographers from California. We enjoyed the home style meals where we got to know everyone. The food was excellent, especially the baked goodies, not to mention the bannock. I enjoyed the breakfast readings of some of the lore and history of the areas before we set out on our day's activities. Our guides were very knowledgeable about the area and very interesting as they took us on various hikes pointing out things we might have missed such as velvet from the caribou antlers, kivik from the muskoxen, and flints from the chipping stations. We really appreciated your finding the herd of muskoxen for us to stalk. That was definitely the highlight of the trip for me. They were fascinating to watch. The whole trip was truly above and beyond anything I had expected and I thank you and your staff and your sister for taking such good care of us and making us feel so at home. You have an incredible place, Tom. Please keep it just the way it is."

- Bonnie Webb
Hay River, NWT Canada

 

 

"I want to take this chance to finally say thanks for a terrific trip {Clarke-Thelon River Expedition}; this summer. I'd been a little worried that this trip couldn't possibly be as wonderful as the trip I did with you ten years ago. Could the river be more traveled; would I miss the freshness of a first visit? In fact, this trip was even better. One of the great things about traveling with Great Canadian Ecoventures is your intimate and detailed knowledge of the river, so we knew where to find fine campsites, where to look for archaeological sites, where to see the falcons, which we spent an hour photographing. I also really like knowing how hard you are working to protect this amazing river valley. I think it's a model of how Ecotourism should work-- working to recruit the kind of travelers who will appreciate a place, providing them with the information to get past a surface knowledge, and working toward preservation. And, I'd say, expecting the travelers also to help out, when we can, in keeping the Thelon wild. And in logistics, I felt very well taken care of. Your pilot Brad went to some trouble being sure we got the extra food barrel; when we requested canoe repair supplies, they arrived in good time. Within the natural flexibility demanded in Arctic travel, all our flights were timely and well coordinated. And the Thelon itself! Meeting the mournful yearling grizzlies, still moaning that Mom had kicked them out, and having a musk ox run us off its sand dune, and hearing wolves call through many long pink nights--these were wonderful experiences. But more than anything it's just the sheer space, and knowing all those animals are out there, that made me again feel free, and happier than I do anywhere else on earth. Thanks a lot. Keep up your great work!"

Judith Niemi (1991, 2002, 2003, 2005 & 2009)
Women In The Wilderness
St Paul, MN

 

 

"I have just finished editing all my images from my trip this summer up to Tom Faess's camp on Whitefish Lake at the headwaters of the Thelon River. Going through all these images brought back vividly all the good times & photographic opportunities I have enjoyed over the past three years at Whitefish Lake. The incredible beauty and history of the area keeps drawing me back, and Tom's comfortable, well-organized camp always adds to the experience. It continues to amaze me that such comfortable accommodations exist in the middle of the Tundra. The heated library is a great place to relax on those windy autumn days while the food produced in the kitchen is always great. I especially enjoy telling my workshop participants that they will be able to have a hot shower everyday! One of the big benefits of Tom's camp is the onsite aircraft. The ability to fly to where the animals are certainly made our caribou shoot this summer and it's comforting to have such a safe pilot as Tom at the controls. Tom is a safety first pilot and continually checks weather patterns to make sure our flights will be safe. Whether it's checking the latest weather on the satellite phone or looking online from camp - Tom is constantly informing himself of the potential weather problems. The arctic weather is very unpredictable and it's comforting to know that Tom is not taking any chances. Thanks again Tom - I can't wait for the next trip."

Glen Grambo / Photographer
Warman, Saskatchewan, Canada
(2003, 2004 & 2005)

 

 

"An absolutely wonderful experience! I have traveled from Circle City, Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, through the Rockies and Andes and into the Amazon, and to Nepal and Southeast Asia. I worked as a naturalist guide in the Galapagos Islands and as a park interpreter in Banff National Park. My wife and I have hiked and backpacked throughout wilderness areas in the Rockies, Andes and in the Himalaya. In all of my travels, I have never experienced a sense of awe as I experienced in the Barren Lands on my trip with you last September. It is still an experience and a feeling that is difficult to express in words. The Barren Lands are the heart and soul of not only Canada, but all of North America. It is the incredible expanse of untouched wilderness that brings us so much closer to Nature and ourselves. You, your guides, cooks and support staff are all to be commended for being sensitive to both the natural and cultural heritage of these lands and for promoting their protection.

Jeff Waugh / B.Sc. Wildlife Science
Inti Travel and Tours, Inc. (2003 & 2005)
Banff, Alberta

 

 

"Thanks for yet another fantastic wilderness experience in the barrenlands! For what was now my eighth trip with Ecoventures, My daughter and I had a wonderful time exploring the tundra with your guides Andrew and Kyle. My daughter's first trip was filled with some exciting memories -- we saw Arctic wolves, musk oxen and grizzlies. We really enjoyed learning about the history and culture of the Barrens. The Dances With Wolves experience was a highlight. Being able to observe wolves for a long period of time on their home turf was great. This was my eighth trip and I am still awed by this place! Last summer, the Finnie River was a great idea. The river flows through some great country -- wide-open tundra in the upper section, spruce groves along the lower section, and lots of eskers to explore along the way. We saw plenty of wildlife -- arctic wolves, peregrine falcons, musk oxen and lots of caribou. We saw over a hundred caribou cross the river next to our camp one evening. Thanks again for your help in planning the trip and your flexibility in working around our schedule."

- (the late) Larry Kwicinski
(1989, 1995, 2001, 2002 & 2005)
Woodside, California

 

 

"I want to thank you for an amazing canoe trip on the Thelon this August. I would never have had the experience if not for your generosity of the "locals" discount!! It was so kind of you to offer that. The trip was wonderful. I finally got to see the musk oxen!!! Your staff was fabulous!!-extremely knowledgeable, friendly, and their enthusiasm for the Thelon wilderness was contagious!!! I hope to do another section of the River in the future with your team. Thanks again for everything."

- Grace Fitzpatrick
Yellowknife, NT Canada

 

 

"I wanted to allow time for my experiences at Whitefish Lake to sink in before I tried to write about them. The surface stuff, of course, is easy: a beautiful, enigmatic landscape with animals that appear and disappear as though passing to and from another time or dimension; history everywhere you walk and guides that explain it so that it adds yet another facet to the experience; snow flurries, northern lights, wolf paw prints the size of my hand (not palm, HAND), and musk ox bulls butting heads in a scene that would have looked much the same thousands of years ago. What is more difficult to express are what the land, its plants and animals, and its history created in my heart and imagination. For example, as I looked into a snow-speckled sky, watching skein after skein of geese race southward, I thought about how lonely this land must become when winter settles in and wondered what the trappers who stayed here in the bitterest of seasons must have felt as they heard the voices of the departing flocks. To live on this land must have taken great courage and a humble willingness to submit to its rhythms and vagaries. Indeed, many of those who lived here made nearly unbelievable sacrifices to remain - not for any riches they could take from the land but for what the land gave to their spirits. After only two weeks, I began to understand what drove them to such lengths and I, too, know that I must return. Thank you, Tom, for the immense effort you put into preserving this unique place and for sharing the gifts it holds for all who are willing to open their minds and spirits. With love and friendship..."

- Becky Grambo / Author & Journalist
Warman, Saskatchewan (2004 & 2005)

 

 

"Tundra Tom and Staff, I wanted to thank you for a wonderful trip to "the Barrens". Your location provides access to such a variety of geographical features and pristine wilderness. My main goal was to see Musk-ox and you and your staff were quite professional in leading us on the "stalking". Sighting an arctic wolf and a variety of songbirds was just a bonus. Your staff were all helpful and friendly but I was particularly impressed with Sebastien who led us on several educational hikes. He managed to keep our group informed and confident as we followed fresh grizzly tracks down the esker on one of them! I have a wonderful collection of photos from the trip.from flora and fauna to shots of the other travelers and staff. I am attaching a couple that you may enjoy."

- Donna Hakansson
Hay River, NT Canada

 

 

"Never have I been to a 'dance' so extraordinarily beautiful and so rich to my spirit, as this one. The 'dance' never skipped a beat and the choice of 'music', 'partners' and 'step' were all mine. Would it be with lake trout twisting and turning on a line cast from the camp beach? Would it be with time itself and the appreciations for the 'small' things I often miss below the tree line, but are now importantly significant in the unobstructed beauty of this sky and land? Will it be with the colours and creatures.caribou, arctic fox, wolverine, musk ox, bald eagle, wolves on the beach and camera? Perhaps I'll choose history itself and reflect on the good and not so good deposits and mysteries, left by time and inattention, on my own interior eskers. But always there is this land, it's waters, it's gift of life, and the nights.. those dazzling and moving nights, how I miss them. Campfires, shore lunch, Circles of Air, Stone, Stories and a billion stars .priceless! My 'Dance With Caribou' trip of a lifetime was taken with my son and great 'partner' Jim and was absolutely the best investment I've made in myself in years. I want to express my gratitude and thanks to Tundra Tom, guides and staff of Great Canadian Ecoventures. Sweet Peace and Blue skies.."

- Tom Pearcey (2003, 2004 & 2005)
Westborough, MA

 

 

"I have filmed wolves, caribou and grizzly bears in many areas of the Canadian Arctic over the past 15 years and I have to say that the area around Whitefish Lake [upper Thelon River] is without a doubt the most beautiful piece of Arctic tundra I have ever experienced. It is a world-class wilderness with some of the planets most spectacular scenery and wildlife that is hard if not impossible to see anywhere else. I know of no other place where you can go and watch wild wolves around their den. Wolves are one of the most difficult animals to get close to in the wild and Tom and his crew have been doing it here for years. That says a lot about their sensitivity and success as wildlife guides. Tom and his crew at Great Canadian Ecoventures are ideally placed to give access to this wonderful landscape. There is no one with more experience and knowledge of the area and they have setup a comfortable, warm and homey camp with good food and facilities in the middle of this wilderness. They live lightly on the land here trying always to keep the imprint of man to a minimum in this pristine place. I admire and appreciate the work they do and wish them much success in the future."

- Jeff Turner (2003 & 2004)
River Road Films Ltd.
Princeton. BC, Canada

(sub-note: Jeff Turner spent two years working with us on a wildlife documentary titled 'Caribou & Wolves - the Deadly Dance', that was aired in the summer of 2005 in the USA on 'Animal Planet', and in the UK on BBC2 on a series called "The Natural World".)

 

 

"When I left Yellowknife to fly out to the camp, Tom Faess pulled me aside, and said: "Annett, I guarantee you that when you return from your adventure you will not be the same person" Tom was right. I returned to civilization forever changed; I will never forget the magnificent Arctic wilderness or the extraordinary people of the Northwest Territories. Tracking the ever-elusive magical white wolf days on end was a cathartic experience. As I hiked and crawled on my belly through endless sand eskers and tundra, I went through an emotional roller-coaster ride of gloom, insecurity, quiet wonder and immense joy. I had a beautiful and memorable time at Fort Reliance and was honored to be a guest at the Dene' annual spiritual gathering and to be a part of the celebration of the Dene' culture, their heritage and their spirituality. During the six weeks at the Camp at Whitefish Lake, I met some remarkable people from all walks of life. The leader of Ecoventures, the legendary Tundra Tom, the pilot Brad Connell and the guides Andrew McPherson, Lloyd Comber, Allicia Kelly and Larry Bliss all share a passion and love for the land and for their work. They pushed me to the limit, and inspired me to overcome my self-doubts, thus opening my eyes to the wonders of the awesome "Barrenlands". They taught me to see, hear, smell and listen again. A final thanks goes to Jake, Tom's beautiful dog, and to the Alfa-male whose presence made my dream come true. Thank you all for providing such beautiful memories! Your devoted friend.."

- Annett Wolf / Author & Founder
The Wolf Foundation (2004 & 2006)
Copenhagen, Denmark

 

 


"For ten years we have traveled together as a family, always having an interesting and enjoyable time. But the Thelon is only place to which we felt we had to return. We were nervous, as there is always a risk in returning. However, the lure of the Thelon is as strong as ever. The peace andthe beauty were amazing and we had an incredible trip. Our guides were excellent and the food as good as ever. It was lovely to spend time somewhere we felt at home but at the same time be privileged toexperience the wilderness. It would be a desperate situation if this area were to become seen purely as an economic resource and we hope that it will continue to be protected."

- Charlotte Shipton (2001, 2004)
Richmond Surrey, England

 

 

"THE HOLIDAY: This is a holiday where you truly get away from it all! No phones, TV, radio, computers or newspapers to intrude on the perfect peace. It was a wonderful fortnight. I wish I could have stayed the whole summer! THE PLACE: First impressions from the air - the endless landscape of lakes and eskers. The fascinating myriad of patterns of melting ice on lakes and the barren lands. Time is of no consequence in this vast land of daylight - one day merges seamlessly into the next. Previous experience is of very little use in judging time or distance. Visibility over great distances, with few landmarks other than stunted trees deceive the senses. What appears 10 miles away may only be 4. Out exploring, I look at my watch and suddenly realize its 11pm and we've been out for 4.5 hours. THE CAMP: Set on the beach of White Fish Lake, the huts look out over the lake. There's a kitchen, lounge and dining hut with an extensive library; a hot shower in the bathroom. Everything needed for comfort. I was hoping the unaccustomed exercise would help me shed a few extra pounds but, alas, too much of Alicia's baking and Andrew's bannock put paid to that plan. Not to mention the roast turkey, ham steaks etc etc. THE PEOPLE: Our guides, Alicia, Andrew and Lloyd were truly remarkable. While they looked after our every need, it was their passion for the place that they were willing to share unstintingly that added an extra special dimension to the holiday. They shared our excitements and disappointments. Viewing wildlife has a yoyo effect onto the emotions. Hope that you will see the animals, excitement when you get close, delight when they are seen and disappointment when the animals choose not to be seen. It was a perfect opportunity to meet others from all parts of the world who share a common interest. Some of us have maintained contact and shared our photos. THE FLORA: An amazing variety of exquisite flowers bloom on the tundra - the perfect opportunity for macro photography. THE FAUNA: What was the highlight of the trip? Was it! Watching the gyrfalcons raise their family over a period of two weeks. The largest chic was so close to its first flight on my last morning. It sat on the end of the branch flapping its wings and rising about ½ an inch. I longed to stay and see it fly! Or, much excitement as we approached the shore; something was moving in the scrub! Some white fur - perhaps a wolf? But as the animal broke cover and turned to look at us we realized it was a wolverine. A light brown face, brown legs and white shaggy fur on his back. He ran along the shoreline for a few paces and then, with a fluid lope raced up to the crest of the ridge where he turned to look at us and then disappeared from view. Sadly, in all the excitement no one took a photograph. Or, sitting still on a rock while a herd of 10000 caribou walked past. Or, stalking the musk ox and the frisson of fear when the bull wandered over to check us out. Or, sitting for 2 hours watching the fox kit play outside its den. Or, Making friends with the camp sic sic. The list goes on!"

- Beverley Morris
Auckland, New Zealand

 

 

"Each summer for many years my son and I have traveled seeking our own small adventures. Backpacking, canoeing, fishing, we have visited national parks, forests and wilderness areas. Increasingly, we have sought solitude. It was our pursuit of solitude that led us to the Thelon. This place was unlike any we had visited. The depth of solitude was striking, and sometimes almost overwhelming. No people, no planes, no noise beyond the river and the wind and the birds. Days went by not only without seeing other humans, but seeing no evidence of humans, except perhaps the rock flakes or tent rings of previous inhabitants. The wildlife too was unique. Not only had we never previously seen musk oxen or a wolverine, but also our interaction with the wildlife was unusual. While they were not frightened of us, neither were they tame. Wolves, wolverine and grizzlies exhibited a cautious curiosity. Birds often ignored us entirely as they went about their daily routine, except for a brood of goslings that adopted us and chased our canoe down the river. The Thelon is unforgettable for us, and a treasure for all. Tom, we had a great trip. We really appreciate the help you provided. You assistance with advance preparations was thorough. In particular, your annotations on our maps to help us find the Hornby cabin, etc. were great. We also especially enjoyed the stop over at the fishing camp on our return flight. As I stated above, the Thelon is a treasure. If there is any way that we can help protect or expand the area, please don't hesitate to contact us. Best regards and happy holidays,"

- Bill and P.J. Lamberson
Columbia MO, USA

 

 

"Hi Tom; first of all thanks for a good trip. You got us into and out of the river on time and with the weather and flying conditions the way they were, that's an accomplishment. Brad's a really great guy, knowledgeable in what he's doing and always helpful. We all had a really good time and look forward to more experiences up there in your corner of the world. "

- Hans Grim (2004)
Oshawa ON, Canada

 

 

"As I watched the endless lakes and boreal forest glide under the Beaver in the two-hour flight from Yellowknife to Whitefish Lake, I felt like I had traveled back in time to the late Pleistocene. When we approached the lake on our final descent, the partially frozen lake appeared like a retreating glacier on the horizon, and I half expected to see woolly mammoths or saber tooth tigers awaiting us. What I found instead was a very comfortable camp on a sandy esker in the middle of the arctic prairie, a rich oasis of habitat teaming with wildlife in the middle of the Canadian Barrenlands. The next two weeks would afford me opportunities to photograph nesting gyrfalcons, merlins, ravens, and American golden plovers. I would also photograph Harris sparrows carrying insects to their nests, arctic hares in summer pelage, and long-tailed ducks, not to mention a myriad of gorgeous tundra scenery. The moonrise and sunsets were incredible! I would participate in a midnight musk ox stalk on the fourth of July and observe white wolves near their den. While I was busy photographing nesting birds, several others flew out to witness the caribou migration several hundred miles north, and observed wolves taking down a caribou in the middle of a river, a sight few ever see. Tundra Tom's Whitefish Lake camp is an ideal place for anyone interested in observing the workings of an intact sub-arctic ecosystem, whether through the lens of a photographer, the binoculars of a birder, or the curious eyes of anyone who just wants to witness firsthand one of the most wonderful places on the planet. Many others have said that this place gets to your soul, and I couldn't agree more."

- William H. Mullins / Photographer
Boise ID, USA

 

 

"The two weeks I spent in Aug / Sept on the Dance with Caribou trip was great. I was extremely pleased with the entire two weeks. My primary focus during the trip was landscapes -and I got some spectacular photographs. I also got some great wildlife shots too. You and your staff are to be complimented for the great job you do. I would like to come back and spend some time in the future. I was very impressed with your overall knowledge of the Artic. You have done some wonderful historical research that you should make sure is preserved. Your strong knowledge and understanding of both the historical and the ecological aspects of the tundra were significant positive contributions to this trip. Your staff is second to none. All of them were very responsive to guest needs and they did a great job of working within the limitations of a remote base camp. I have nothing but compliments for all of them. In fact, I don't think I have ever seen a group that has worked any harder than your staff."

- Dave Hammaker / Photographer
East Freedom PA, USA

 

 

"An overwhelmingly positive experience! There is magic in the air, and a silence that will astound you. In late summer, there are flaming colours at your feet and overhead in the aurora. There are landscapes to amaze you, star-studded nights to inspire you, knowledgeable and likeable guides to inform you, the staff's great cooking to please you, a hot shower at the end of the day to warm you, and Tom's readings and philosophy that add so much to your understanding of this sublime country. Dance with the creatures, play on the eskers, float on the lake. Delight in these Barren Lands, not at all barren but full of life. This is a breathtakingly beautiful landscape we must all help to preserve and protect. Highly recommended for an escape into magic. A definite addition to my "MUST VISIT AGAIN" list."

- Lori Labatt / Traveler, Photographer
Rockwood ON, Canada

 

 

"Just sitting here in front of the computer on a Sunday evening and thought I'd drop you a line. Hope you are keeping well - and warm. I had a great summer this year doing the things I enjoy. I managed to get a couple of backpacking trips in as well as several canoe trips. Of course the highlight of my summer was the trip on the Thelon. As you are aware, our trip began and ended in Yellowknife. (I came to Yellowknife a few days prior to the trip and stayed a few days after the trip.) I really enjoyed the quaintness and hospitality of the town as well as getting the opportunity to meet with you and talk about the Thelon. Thank you for all your help in providing our group with the floatplane and canoe rentals as well as your personal info about the Thelon. Much appreciated. Our group of six spent 14 days exploring the Thelon Game Sanctuary from Warden Grove to the Thelon Bluffs and each day brought a new adventure. The combination of canoeing/hiking that we did was probably the best way to see this area in detail. Large animals such as musk ox, moose, caribou, bears and wolves were spotted on a daily basis - usually from afar. Eagles, falcons, geese and swans were abundant throughout the trip as we made our way down the river. The weather was typical tundra weather with a lot of windy days, which gave us welcome relief from the multitude of bugs. The fishing was excellent (mostly grayling and lake trout) and provided us with great dinners along the way. I think our timing was a bit off (too late) to view both the caribou migration and active wolf den areas. Another highlight of the trip for me was visiting the Hornby cabin and gravesites. Jack Hornby, Harold Adlard and Edgar Christian attempted to winter on the Thelon in the late 1920's and ended up starving to death. Edgar Christian, who was only 18 years old, kept a diary of events until his death. The diary was found in the cabin a couple of years after they had perished. I had read this diary about 30 years ago and was quite moved by his account of their ordeal. So to stand in the same spot some 70+ years later and observe the cabin remains, gravesites and the surrounding area was certainly a surreal experience. Our trip was an excellent adventure. The Thelon River as well as the surrounding tundra is certainly a unique part of the world. The vastness seemed almost overwhelming and the wildlife viewing was incredible. I feel very fortunate to have had the privilege of experiencing that short time on the tundra. Warmest regards,

- Greg Michaluk
Windsor, Ontario

 

 

"I woke with the northern sun rising pink over Whitefish Lake and hiked the sandy Esker veiled in early morning mist. I picked plump blueberries and tasted their sweetness as I sat surrounded by masses of burgundy-red bearberries. I tiptoed over pale green lichen and slipped behind a black spruce tree to watch caribou slowly graze their way across the Esker. I paddled over crystal clear blue water toward pure white billowing clouds hugging the horizon and making the distant low hills float like a mirage known, until now, only in my dreams. I climbed a high ridge where few had walked before and felt the film of everyday life lift from my eyes as I turned in a 360-degree circle and breathed in the endless expanse of tundra and water before me. I was silenced by the beauty. I watched the cool full moon rise and bathe the lake with white light. I lay down on my back and looked up to the aurora borealis flashing green and mauve streamers across the night sky. I fell in love. I felt more alive then ever before and I long to return. The Barren Lands and the gift given to me by Tundra Tom and his staff will be with me forever."

- Mary Ellen McQuay / Photographer & Artist
Whitby ON, Canada

 

 

"It has been a week now since I have returned from my two-week adventure in the Thelon, the Barrens. I am reflecting on what I experienced and what I returned with. The land, pristine, untouched, timeless, a million lakes, endless. The cycle of life as it has always been for countless years. The caribou come and the caribou go and with them those who feed. The endless sky with weather in constant change always bringing something new. The beauty of the esker, pristine lakes full of magical reflections, a jewel in the middle of the tundra. The endless lake stretching to the east, Whitefish. The crew whose duty it was to keep us fed, multitasking, multitalented, hardworking and always cheerful, Allisa, Elke, Andy, Larry, Brad, Steve and Lloyd, each a very special individual. And then all the special people who I shared the experience with for the two weeks, each adding the own special ness to the experience, it is not everyday that one can spend time with three wise guys from Wisconsin, a Polish Prince, the world greatest photographer (Bill), the world greatest budding photographer (Julie), Canada's best (Courtney), the greatest entertainer (Steve) and everyone else. And who will forget Rod and his wolverine skat! But there was one person who showed me his big heart, a gruff big man who constantly smoked and changed his mind. A man with a special vision that made mine and everyone else's experience a reality, a man who is fighting to keep his dream alive and the land he loves the way it is, untouched by the modern world. Tundra Tom is a special person, and as I struggled through the two weeks with recurring spells of depression, I found a man who knew my experience, for it was his too. In words and actions I saw and felt the big heart of a big man. I thank him for being who he is. My past week has been difficult as I search for meaning a purpose, it is a curse I have been given, but one day at a time I continue to climb the mountain. The very best to all, may your adventures continue."

- Rick Negus / Photographer
Half Moon Bay BC, Canada

 


"I confess I've been putting this letter off for awhile now, trying to sort out what to say when so much has already been written by others. Their offerings are so eloquent I wasn't sure my contribution was even necessary; Rick Negus copied us when he sent his letter earlier, and I imagine others from this year's groups have sent in similarly moving retrospectives. So I'm not going to think of this as an entry for your Testimonial page, but rather as a chance to tell YOU what my trip to the Thelon meant to me. During these weeks since my return, I've noticed certain themes and anecdotes seem to arise every time I describe my trip to other people... I found in the Thelon a beautiful wilderness, where I could sit by myself on a ridge and hear nothing but the wind. I could gaze off into the distance and let my eyes relax, and then follow the flight of a raven that decided to check out the odd lump sitting on the ridge. I remember the wonder I felt as it flew overhead, for I could hear each beat of its wings as it glided by. I remember a hike on a sunny day, with huge, fluffy clouds mirrored in the still waters of the lake. We hadn't even gotten out of basecamp yet, but I had to stop and look at the sky and the perfect reflection. This was just one example of the timeless beauty to be found in the Thelon, and I would pause to appreciate Nature's palette of colors and feel glad that on Tundra time I could stay and absorb the sights and sounds for as long as I wanted to. I remember winds picking up and dark clouds rolling in during one of my hikes away from basecamp. I got caught in a hailstorm that afternoon. I suppose I could have made a mad dash to camp, but why? I covered my camera, zipped my weatherproof jacket, sat under some branches, and marveled at the storm. When the elements realized they had an appreciative audience, they cut the storm and brought out the show-stoppers - a brilliant rainbow arc from the clouds that looked like the express route from Asgard, and a horizon-spanning double rainbow. How terrific was that? I remember lamenting to Stephen after my first week in camp that I was probably the only guest without a good picture of a caribou. He said I'd have one before I left, and sure enough, he made sure I did. We were out on the lake fishing (which is a whole other story!) when we saw a pair of caribou moving just off the shore. He managed to track it from the water, move us in close, and positioned us mere yards from where they paused to graze and rest. I got to watch these magnificent, graceful animals and shoot several frames at the same time, without perturbing the 'boo' in the slightest. That time spent looking at the caribou - with it looking back at me - is one of the 'magical moment memories' I brought home with me. I remember my first night waiting for the Northern Lights. They weren't spectacular that night, but a large number of us were lined up along the shore with our cameras and tripods. Cheerful voices came out of the dark as people suggested apertures and exposure times; I enjoyed the warmth and camaraderie of my fellow guests throughout my stay, even though I had arrived without knowing any of them before this trip. I remember a star-spangled night in South Camp, where the temperature had dropped quickly once the sun set. I sat with my back as close to the campfire as I could for warmth, but kept my eyes towards the sky in anticipation of the Northern Lights. They danced for us that night! Delicate streams of yellow and green, they wove patterns across the Big Dipper and all the stars in the northern sky. I was entranced, even as I tried my best to position tripod and camera, and to time the exposure, as I tried to freeze a fleeting moment of this magical show on film. In the middle of the show, I was surprised when Andrew emerged from the kitchen. It was past midnight, he'd been up since dawn, he'd taken care of the day's meals, and had led us all over the esker during the day, yet here he was still looking after us! He had prepared hot coffee, hot tea, and hot cocoa, AND he'd also managed to make a big pot of popcorn for us. All the elements of that night combined to engender a rare and wonderful sense of well being, seldom felt in my day-to-day routine and so all the more cherished. He probably thinks I'm crazy - I keep thanking him for all the things he did that made my trip special, and since they're things he does all the time for everyone he probably has no idea what I'm talking about. I do have some unfinished business Up North - I managed a few pictures of Northern Lights and caribou, but failed to photograph just about everything else (musk ox, grizzly bear, wolves, foxes, and hare!) It took me about 9 years to get Up There, and hope it doesn't take that long to get there again, but I truly plan to return and try again for the musk ox (I was SO disappointed there was no time to see that herd before I left!!) Please take care of yourself and keep fighting for this magical part of Mother Earth. We would all be poorer if it is lost or damaged. Tom, I came back from the Tundra with a new appreciation for its pristine beauty, a deep respect for your efforts to preserve it, and admiration for the people who live(d) here and love(d) the land. Personally, I experienced an emotional and spiritual relaxation that carried over for weeks after my return. I also had over 900 images to get developed, edited, printed, shown, and sent! (I'll send an invitation to view the on-line album I've assembled - you don't HAVE to look at the pictures, but if there are any you'd like for your website, just let me know and I'll be happy to attach them to an e-mail and send them.) But every picture brings back memories like those I've described above, of a wonderful place and time, and of extraordinarily dedicated and generous people - you and your staff. Thank Andrew, Allicia, Larry, Stephen, Brad, Lloyd - and Yourself - for being my guides."

- Julie Yamaguchi
Chicago IL, USA

 


"Thank you for giving us a life-changing experience! We cannot begin to tell you what this trip and the people have meant to us. Our group still stays in touch by email--it has died down lately, but we expect to hear more around Christmas time. Thanks again,.."

- Dr. Cameron Bilger
Los Altos Hills, CA, USA

 

 

"Being a 51 year old well-seasoned traveler, accepting a chance to visit the Canadian Tundra with Tundra Tom left me with absolutely no idea of what to expect. Siiigghhh. The most incredible scenery took my breath away every time I looked around, walking in places that few people have ever had the opportunity to venture across left me with a feeling of just how special this place was and how lucky I was to be there. Having a chance to experience this with a wonderful group of fellow world travelers made every day easy to adapt to any situation that arose. Thinking each outing could not be "bettered", I was amazed at how each experience got even betterthan the one before. Your staff could not have been more accommodating, helpful and knowledgeable in so many different areas. In life I believe there are no accidents and this experience left me reeling and anxious for the opportunity to tell anyonewho'd listen to the entire trips' stories, until this day. I feel at one with the Tundra and hope in the future to return and share in its existence. My heart cannot express the gratefulness for the privilege of sharing this experience with you and our fellow travelers. Thanks so much for this life changing experience -one I could never have anticipated."

- Steve Carson
Los Angeles, CA, USA

 

 

"It's nothing short of Excellent, Tom. For photographers I really would have to recommend the two-week especially, adamantly. Reason being, looking at my photos, they got better as the week went on, because I became more familiar with the surroundings, began to see vs. look at, which happens over time. I find this the case for me in all destinations and with photography. The terrain is super and the wildlife is stunning when it is sited. I wont soon forget coming face to face with the musk ox, 15 feet in front of me, then blowing snot out and pricking his ears forward. Looking at me - seeing it all through the 400 mm lens was pretty amazing and very close up. The foxes at Gordon's esker were amazing too, Dave mentioned he saw a grizzly later on the second week - this is super! People sited wolves as well, which is great. Animal sittings are always great, and I know unpredictable. I feel very fortunate with what I saw. Guides: all were superb. I think the "sleeper " in it all was Larry. He adds color, and is a very interesting guy. He definitely quietly left a big impression on us. Andrew was great as was Alicia. They really knew a lot and were able to make the tundra come alive for us. And they put up with our silliness rather well. Brad was fun and I had many great conversations with him in the Kitchen. Food: Was very good. Perfect type of food for the application and environment. Home cooking vs. gourmet or whatever else is a damn good choice, its the bush, and I always find people prefer that type of food on that type of trip. It was perfect. Larry really knows how to do Turkey. Brad made superb bannock - just great stuff! Accommodations: Again great, lends the safari tented camp idea to the north. Dave Hammaker was our bunkmate and he was a great guy. Actually I hope to use him in the future, he is a hell of a good photographer and is very quiet about it. He really helped my older brother and they spent a lot of time together photographing landscape. I hope this email gives you a good idea on what I think about your product. I really plan on promoting it, it is the type of stuff I sell and I hope to send you clients, many of them. It's a great product you have and I hope you remain successful through everything and I hope your new camp and lodge works out wonderfully for you."

- Andy Kammer
Adventure Andy's Travel Company
Madison, WI, USA

 

 

"This was a trip full of "firsts", shared with amazing personalities from every walk of life. Tender Tundra Tom puts up a brave, strong, gruff front, the guides and pilots have a very hard job here, and do it all with such passion. From washing dishes, to warming up planes, to guiding and hiking, they all had such incredibly knowledge".

- Caren Banks
Caren's Best (African Photo Safari's)
Beverly Hills CA, USA

 

 

"We are on the fringe of the great North and its living whiteness, its loneliness and replenishment, its resignation, and release, its call and answers -- its cleansing rhythms. It seems that the top of the continent is a source of spiritual flow that will ever shed clarity into the growing race of America, and we Canadians being closest to this source seem destined to produce an art somewhat different from our Southern fellows -- an art more spacious, of a greater living quiet, perhaps of a more certain conviction of eternal values."

-Lawren Harris, 1926,
Canadian painter & member of the Group of Seven

"What has the two weeks in the North meant to me? First of all, I feel profoundly blessed. Maybe what Lawren Harris, the great Canadian Group of Seven impressionist painter, said three-quarters of a century ago still holds true today. I would like to believe that my photographs do convey a sense of place "more spacious of a greater living quiet, perhaps a more certain conviction of eternal values." If a photograph is a mirror of a person¹s inner landscape, then indeed the North has connected me to a vibrant, clean, pure, robust inner reality that has been lying dormant. The light there dances with a little more joy. The colours of the autumn tundra mix and blend magically as if splashed together from the brush of a master painter. I found it difficult to walk because each new step felt as though I were treading on a delicate and fragile Masterpiece -- nature¹s canvas of infinite size and import."

"I open the tent flap and step out into a dazzling light that illuminates the hoarfrost that has blanketed the beach before dawn. There is my friend Jeff, binoculars to his eyes, a distant silhouette on the far ridge. Tundra Tom walks into the kitchen, book in hand, ready for our morning story -- which, legend has it -- he has memorized and only pretends to read!"

"We are cruising the pristine waters of Whitefish Lake on a pontoon boat as a brilliant crimson sunset explodes on the western rim, then spreads like wildfire across the entire hemisphere. Caribou antlers shine iridescent white in the nurturing glow of a pregnant moon. The aurora, like a saucy and unruly sorceress, mocks our inability to keep pace with her dance, or to catch her with our cameras. Rain, sleet, wind, snow, sand, piercing cold, brilliant sun, Arctic light, luminescent colour stream by us and at us in a kaleidoscope of cosmic sensations. I am a child; I am old; I am alive; I can't comprehend; I can¹t cope; I am exhausted, euphoric, mesmerized, satiated, starved for more, eager to return ... and already there. My senses are in overload, my body on the brink of collapse. The spell is cast."

- (the late) Courtney Milne / Photographer & Artist
(2003 & 2004) Grandora, Saskatchewan

 


"The Tundra. A feeling of space, infinitely moving air, miniature gardens, tiny, enduring, huge and fragile. My thanks to you cannot be summed up easily. Your passion and devotion to this land is contagious. More specifically I want to say that I think you strike just the right balance in your programme with scheduled options, free time, natural history, human history - both aboriginal and European. Your hiring philosophy is perfect. Or maybe just the people who made up your staff this summer were perfect. It would be hard to imagine my week without Allicia, Terry, Andrew, Steve and Larry. But then I guess I do believe that this is not chance and that your manner of hiring is what results in these kinds of individuals making up your team. A bonus and much appreciated service is the expediting carried out by Cindy in Yellowknife."

- Adele Curtis / Photographer , Singer & Songwriter
Victoria, BC (2003 & 2004)

 

 

"To be among the Arctic wolves in true wilderness has always been a dream of mine. So when I heard about this trip called Dances with Wolves I thought this could be my chance. I had never been to the Northwest Territories before and even though I read the literature and brochures from Tundra Tom I still was not sure what this trip would entail or what the Thelon and Barren lands would bring forth. Yet somehow I sensed, even before I left Denver, that a special encounter with one of these magnificent creatures would take place before my two-week visit to the Thelon would end. Late Tuesday afternoon on July 2, 2002 the sun was still high in the cloudless blue sky. As I sat alone on the esker hillside where I could watch the wolves in the den area several hundred yards away, the wind shifted and coming from behind me it carried the human scent down the hillside. Immediately the large alpha male looked up the hill towards me. He moved swiftly across the sand and disappeared into the trees. Traveling up the backside of ridge he reappeared within minutes above me and to my right. Looking at him through my camera and telephoto lens was a sight to behold. His head, face and shoulders filled the entire image as he peeked over the top of the ridge searching for my exact hereabouts. He seemed to sense I meant no harm or danger to him so he descended the small ridge, crossed over in front of me and headed for the shade of the esker pine trees that were below me and to my left. There in the shade sat this great white wolf, intelligent, inquisitive and extremely social. No fences, no enclosures, no platforms, no blinds, no vehicles--just the beauty of this wilderness and the two of us enjoying each others company as any two friends would do. Finally the wolf got up and started crossing yet another ridge. There he paused and looked back at me one more time before disappearing over the backside. Today my photographs stand as testament to what was for me a true spiritual experience. The Thelon is true wilderness--vast and remote with its own unique beauty and mystique. While nature and true wilderness can be unforgiving to the creatures who struggle to survive there, whether arctic wolves, foxes, musk ox, caribou, song birds, water birds, birds of prey, moose or bear, we on the other hand can visit this beautiful country with all the comforts of home--good meals, hot showers, warm and comfortable shelter, and a superb staff of people who are there 24 hours a day to serve you and to make sure your trip is the best you have ever experienced. And for those occasional days marked by sporadic rain and wind, Tundra Tom's Whitefish base camp library is the ideal place to go to stay warm and dry while learning more about the history and natural beauty of this land. Memories of the Thelon and the Barren lands along with all the wild creatures who live there are not soon forgotten. This is a world you want to see and experience for yourself. I hope to return in the late summer and fall of next year to photograph the caribou, the Musk Ox and with a little bit of luck, the arctic wolves--all with the fall colors and the northern lights."

- Eric Peterson / Photographer
Engelwood, CO (2002 & 2004)

 

 

"The Thelon was truly an exciting experience. As we landed on Whitefish Lake I hoped to see the caribou that day. As we unloaded the luggage imagine my surprise and delight as four caribou appeared at the top of the esker, leisurely worked their way down and disappeared over the other side. What an amazing start to my adventure and it only got better as the week progressed. I saw caribou, musk ox and wolves, an added bonus. The terrain is very beautiful and the small tundra plant life fascinating, turning color in the cool weather. A comfortable camp, excellent guides, magnificent animals, good food and good company-what more can you ask for!"


- Rita Kinsler (2002, 2004 & 2013)
Mansfield Center, CT

 

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Email: tundra@thelon.com
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