Canadian Wilderness Expedition Down The Magpie River
Get dropped off by a float plane in the middle of true Canadian wilderness, and then hike, raft and wild camp your way back to civilisation
1 week off work
Up to 12 people
Sept Îles Airport
Hotel · Wild camping
This is a wild and remote expedition, so bring along some moderate fitness, an adventurous spirit, and a love of the great outdoors
Gaze down over the expanse of boreal forest as you're dropped in to the wilderness for a week of true Canadian backcountry adventure
Raft down exhilarating white-water rapids and stand-up paddle board your way along the calm stretches of the Magpie River
Pitch up at some of the most epic wild camp spots imaginable, hike through boreal forest and catch your own trout for dinner
Float plane into the wilderness
Expert, English-speaking local wilderness guides
2 nights in a hotel, 5 nights wild camping
All meals throughout the trip
Airport transfers and everything in between
All your rafting gear, expedition tents and cooking equipment
River rafting permits
Flights to and from the meeting point
Tips for your guides
Sept Îles Airport
Sept Îles Airport
Your host will meet the group at Sept Îles Airport on day 1 and transfer you over to your accommodation for the first night. At the end of the expedition, you'll be picked up at your accommodation on the morning of day 8 and transferred back to Sept Îles Airport in time for your onward flight.
Sept Îles Airport is accessible by routes via Montreal, Quebec City and Toronto. The town of Sept Îles is set deep in Canada's north-eastern interior, so if you wish to drive there it will take approximately 7 hours from Quebec City or 10 hours from Montreal. The remote and rugged scenery if you do drive to the start point of this adventure makes for an epic road trip.
Hotel · Twin share
Day 2 – Day 6
Wild camping · Twin tent
Hotel · Twin share
Hotel · Twin share
What is the food like?
Your host has partnered up with a local organic restaurant to provide high-quality gourmet food, specifically vacuum packed for each expedition. These packs provide the base for each of your lunches and dinners on the expedition. The meals will differ each day and the chef insists on traditional Canadian meals using lots of fresh locally grown vegetables and locally sourced fish. Fresh speckled trout are easy to catch during your time on the river and are delicious grilled, while your guides are also knowledgable about certain foods that can be foraged from the forest during the expedition. Breakfast is prepared by the guides each morning, consisting of fruits, bread, eggs, cereals, coffee, chocolate and tea. There'll be a Poutine night, indulging on the traditional Quebecois dish of french fries, cheese curds and brown gravy which literally translates as 'mess'. Snacks and drinks are available at all times on the river to keep you fuelled.
What is the accommodation like?
On nights 2-6 you'll be wild camping out in the wilderness at a variety of epic camp spots on beaches, islands and gorges. This really is one of the true highlights of the trip, and some of the best wilderness camping you're likely to find anywhere in the world. Expedition tents are twin-share, and you'll need to bring your own sleeping bag and mat for the expedition. All the cooking equipment is provided by your host. The expedition will involve some mucking in with putting up and taking down camp each night; all part of the adventure.
Before and after the expedition you'll stay in twin-share rooms at Chateau Arnaud, located on the waterfront next to Sept-Îles marina with sweeping views of the ocean. The hotel makes for a super comfortable stay before and after your 5 nights camping out in the Canadian wilderness. Chateau Arnaud is a good launchpad for the final night of the trip as you celebrate a successful expedition with a few drinks and some poutine in town. Continental breakfast is included on both you stays here.
For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room and tent can be booked for an extra charge, see Optional Extras for the price. Please request this at the time of booking (this is subject to availability).
Arrive at Sept-Îles
Get your first glimpse of the Côte-Nord region of Quebec as you land at Sept-Îles Airport. Your host will meet you and transfer you over to your accommodation for the first night. Grab some dinner with the group and discuss the adventure to come...
Hop in a float plane over infinite boreal forest to the start point
2hrs · 6km
Adventure kick-offs don't get much better than hopping in a floatplane to fly over a vast expanse of boreal forest to the start point. Gaze down over the wilderness of lakes, rivers, steep cliffs, and forested valleys which will be your home for the next week as the plane lands you and your expedition gear on Lake Magpie, a few metres from the river’s start point. Before getting on the water your host will run you through river safety, practice strokes, and raft maneuvers, and then the expedition begins! Today you'll ease your way into life on the river with an easy few hours of paddling through ever-changing scenery of boreal forest, steep hills, and open tundra area. Set up the first wild camp on the river banks and enjoy the nature around you with a swim, a hike to a hilltop lookout point, or cast your rod into the river to grab a speckled trout or two for dinner.
Your first taste of big whitewater rapids
6hrs · 10km
Stand Up Paddleboarding
1hr · 2km
Enjoy breakfast and coffee by the river before the adrenaline kicks in quickly this morning. You'll raft down a series of class IV rapids starting with Marmot, a class IV+ cascade of white water which will be sure to wake you up if the coffee didn't do the trick. Eventually, after a thrilling series of rapids, you'll reach two grade VI rapids - we do not raft down these! Hike along the riverbank and enjoy lunch next to the thunderous torrent of water while your guides expertly rope the rafts safely around. The river calms down later this afternoon so you can inflate a paddleboard and stand-up paddle your way along a serene stretch of water towards a beautiful small island surrounded by beaches that make for a perfect camp spot. The calm stretches of water on the Magpie are a perfect opportunity to take in this incredible place and keep an eye out for signs of local wildlife such as wolves, bears, moose, and osprey.
Run a mile-long rapid
5hrs · 13km
Stand Up Paddleboarding
1hr · 2km
1-2hrs · 3-4km
Waking up on your island idyll, grab a morning swim in the river before coffee and breakfast ahead on another big day on the water. This morning you'll raft a series of easy and fun class 3 rapids on the way to the mile-long class IV Saxophone Rapid which makes for a joyous crescendo to an amazing morning. Enjoy a well-earned lunch by the riverbank ahead of a more chilled afternoon as you hop on a paddleboard to glide down to the next camp. There'll be plenty of time to go for a good hike after you arrive at camp, stretching your legs in the forest and swimming in the river.
The big ones
6hrs · 14km
1-2hrs · 3-4km
Today you'll raft the biggest rapids of the trip: Double Drop, Ledges, Picket Fence and the 13-foot-high Trust Falls. Each one is a class IV rapid, with some calm stretches in between as you catch your breath and your raft guide expertly picks out the correct line down each rapid. In the afternoon, you'll paddle across a lake to a gorge to set up camp for the evening. This is the most spectacular camp of the trip; perched on the edge of a sheer-walled gorge containing three consecutive class VI rapids forming a stunning torrent of water. This section of the river is far too dangerous to raft down, so a long portage begins this evening and tomorrow as you spend some time off the water. Muck in with helping the guides to begin moving the rafts over the canyon and then head off for a hike in the woods before dinner.
Portage day + swim and camp next to Magpie Falls
4hrs · 6km
2hrs · 6km
Waking up at possibly the best wild camp spot you've ever slept at, you'll fuel up on breakfast before hiking down to the base of the first falls in the gorge, helping with the portage as you go. This is a perfect spot for a swim and a cool down. The hike and portage continue on down the gorge, eventually reaching a lake that you'll raft across to marvel at Magpie Falls. Here the entire river leaps down to a pool thirty meters below, forming an ever-present rainbow from the spray. The rest of the day is spent relaxing by the lake, taking a side hike or two by the waterfalls, and helping the guides continue the portage. Hauling the rafts and expedition gear overland on this section is tough going, but a bit of team effort easily gets the job done. Your camp for the night directly across from the falls is another incredible place to enjoy dinner around the campfire and another night in the wilderness.
The home stretch
Spend some time soaking up your last morning out in the wild today, relax at camp before the final float down the final stretches of the river and out across a lake to the take-out and the end of the expedition. You'll have a lakeside lunch, toasting a successful journey, and enjoying one last swim before jumping in the van and head back to Sept-Îles. Back in civilization, grab a hot shower at your hotel before heading out for a celebratory dinner and a few drinks to toast a successful expedition in style.
Sadly the adventure is over as your host drops you off at Sept-Îles Airport in time for your onward flight.
All our adventures take place in wild places. Things can go wrong in wild places. Your perfectly planned itinerary may change a bit (or a lot) if the weather turns, someone gets hurt, or a volcano erupts. Usually though, changes make it all the better.
15% Off Outdoor Gear
In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock, Runner's Need, and Cycle Surgery.
- All your rafting gear
- Helmets and life jackets
- Stand up paddleboards
- Expedition tents and all cooking equipment
What do I need to bring?
- Lightweight sleeping bag (2-3 season)
- Packable travel pillow
- Lightweight Thermarest or sleeping mat that packs down small
- Soft overnight duffel bag or rucksack, to be left with your host in Sept-Îles
- Rucksack for personal gear on the expedition (20-25 litres)
- Waterproof cover for your expedition rucksack
- Waterproof jacket with hood
- Waterproof trousers
- Light, packable down or synthetic jacket
- Light, packable fleece jacket
- Woolen base layers
- Worn in hiking shoes, ideally waterproof
- Goretex or waterproof shoes for the raft
- Flip flops for evenings at camp
- Hiking socks, ideally woolen for quick drying. Avoid cotton!
- Thin gloves
- Warm hat
- Sun cream with a high SPF and lip balm with UV protection
- Water bottle
- Personal toiletries (please bring biodegradable products)
- Personal first aid kit, including antihistamines/bite relief for any bug allergies
- Insect repellent (ideally DEET free)
- Padlock for left luggage
- Universal travel plug adapter
- Power bank or solar charger
- Passports (and visas)
- Alcohol hand-gel
- Headtorch or torch
- Biodegradable wet-wipes
This is a wild and active expedition. You'll be on the move for the majority of each day; rafting, hiking, paddle boarding and helping to set up and take down camp. On top of a reasonable level of fitness, perhaps more importantly you'll need to have a head for serious adventure and feel comfortable being on a remote expedition for 6 full days. You'll be as out in the elements as its possible to be - this is what you came here for! You'll be camping on river banks, small islands, and on top of gorges. This is a participatory expedition, and while your guides will do the majority of the legwork, you'll need to muck in every now and then. Camp is put up and taken down by everybody each evening and morning. On trips with more than one raft (5 or more adventurers), an additional guide will be on the expedition purely to cook each meal, giving your raft guides free time to keep the adventure ticking along nicely. You'll be rafting in groups of 4 or 5 depending on numbers on the trip, and there is a safety kayak manned by the guides at all times. Inflatable paddleboards are provided by your host to be used on the calm stretches, you can also learn to kayak using the safety kayak when it is not needed for the rapid descents. You are in the hands of expert wilderness kayak guides who know the area intimately (they even have their own TV show in Quebec where they showcase their adventures kayaking down some of Canada's most extreme rivers).
Days on the expedition are long and action-packed and you'll be exposed to the elements on a week in true wilderness, so a love for adventure and the great outdoors is a must on this trip. The rafting and hikes are easily manageable by anyone with decent fitness levels. Day 6 is the toughest day with a big portage for the group to muck in and achieve together, however there are plenty of moments to rest and swim in the lake, so it's easily doable for everyone with a good team spirit!
A portage is a process of moving a watercraft - such a raft, canoe or kayak - overland to traverse an obstacle or a section of the river which is not safe to paddle down. On this expedition, there's a big portage section when we reach three consecutive class VI rapids - about as big and dangerous as a rapid can get! So part of the adventure is helping the guides portage the rafts and expedition gear around these rapids on day 6 ready for the final camp at Magpie Falls and the final section of paddling on day 7 to reach the end of the expedition. The portage does involve some hard graft, however, it's a real team effort and there are plenty of scenic rest and swim stops throughout the day, plus some paddling and swimming when you reach the lake beneath Magpie Falls. The guides will ensure you have plenty of fun and soak up more of the wilderness during the portage. You're experiencing a time-honored Canadian river tradition, as explorers through the ages carried their canoes around river obstacles and from lake to lake, covering incredible distances and pioneering river travel as an iconic Canadian wilderness tradition.
The trip runs in Canada's summer months, so on the July and August dates you can expect temperature ranging between lows of 15°C / 59°F and as high as 30°C / 86°F. Things are a little cooler in September 5°C / 41°F and highs of 25°C / 77°F. September trips benefit from the beautiful autumn/fall colours in Canada that time of year.
You can experience rain on the trip, so it's important to come prepared with good waterproofs and a waterproof cover for your expedition backpack. Your host does not run trips from mid-August to mid-September as this is the peak rainstorm season.
Your host knows the river and the surrounding area better than anyone and has carefully planned the departure dates to ensure the best chance of good conditions on and off the river, avoiding the stormy season that rolls in for a few weeks during mid-August. The one element of this trip which can be affected by extreme weather is the float plane into the wilderness on day 2. Simply put, if the conditions are not suitable, the flight won't go ahead. This is relatively rare within the dates that the expedition has been planned around, however nature can and does throw even the best made plans off-course. Your host has made contingency plans for this outcome, so in the rare and unfortunate event that the flight can't take place, day 2 will involve an alternate day trip to an island or national park within range of Sept-Îles. In this instance, the float plane will take place on day 3 and the expedition condensed into 5 days instead of 6 (this is easily manageable with a bit of extra time on the river each day).
Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.
Tips are not included in the cost of your adventure, and tipping in Canada is customary. You should budget 10-15% of the price of the tour per person as a suggestion for your guides on the adventure, with the upper end suggested if your guides did an amazing job. We also suggest you budget extra spending money to cover tips while dining out in Sept-Îles, as tipping in restaurants is mandatory in Canada.
Your guides will bring along filtering equipment and water purification tablets. However, you are in a pristine wilderness environment so a lot of the water from the streams and rivers on the expedition can be drunk with no purification required.
Yes, your host can store your luggage at their base in Sept-Îles at the start of the trip, to be collected on return ready for much needed fresh clothes.
We’ve teamed up with the guys at World Nomads to offer insurance designed for adventurous travellers across 140 countries that includes overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities. To get yours sorted, click here.
We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book the trip, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!
All of our group adventures are especially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded.
"I cannot recommend this highly enough! The people on the trip were amazing. Easily the best trip I've ever been on!" Charlotte, 2019, Trustpilot.
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Free Date Changes
Free date changes up to 31 days before departure.
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