Guest post and photos by Courtney Earle, Summit Lodge Front Office Manager
Every year, between November and January, Brackendale in Squamish is home to one of the largest populations of bald eagles in the world. Thousands of bald eagles migrate here to spend the winter feeding on the salmon that spawn in the glacial-fed Squamish and Cheakamus rivers.
Related post: Bald Eagle Viewing Near Whistler: Squamish, BC
There are a couple of great places to watch the eagles along the riverbanks, but this winter I chose to take the Winter Eagle Float Tour with Sunwolf. The rafts give a unique opportunity to float quietly, and relativity unnoticed, past the birds. This trip is a must-do experience if you’re looking for wildlife photos.
Door to door eagle tour
The tour started at 10.50am when we (myself and my dad) were collected by Sunwolf from Summit Lodge and driven to Squamish. Our driver Tristan, was also an avid fisherman, which made my dad very happy! They swapped stories and Tristan told us about the 20 pound Rainbow Trout he catches in this area – if you’re looking for some good fishing spots he’s the man to see.
We got to Sunwolf in about 45 minutes only to be greeted by the owners Jake & Jess holding freshly brewed coffee and tea, and muffins from Fergie’s cafe (a local’s favourite).
Eagle viewing from the Squamish River
After the quick elevenses pitstop it was time to suit up in our personal flotation vests, full waterproofs and boots, and climbed aboard the raft with the rest of our crew.
We launched our boat into the Squamish river with Sunwolf owner, Jake (who is a hilarious Englishman full of tales) who was also our guide and knows more about the eagles than we could ever imagine. Did you know these particular eagles have around 5400 feathers, and mate for life? Nope, neither did we until Jake told us.
p: two guests on our tour in their waterproofs, all ready to go eagle watching
Another great reason to take Sunwolf’s eagle watching river tour is because it gets you into places you cannot go yourself. Bald eagles are an endangered species and there is a large conservation area surrounding the river that is off-limits to human activity. The only way to go through the conservation area is by river.
By the end of the trip we’d seen seals, a blue herron, and over 200 eagles, some juveniles and some older.
When we were back on dry land Sunwolf made sure we didn’t go hungry (again). They served us an awesome lunch of meat or veggie chili, french bread, sour cream, tortillas, and cheese, as well as another round of coffee, tea, and muffins (must be Jake’s British hospitality).
Once the tour was over, everyone exchanged numbers because we bonded over the experience. It was awesome!!
How to book the Sunwolf’s Winter Eagle Float tour
Included in the tour for $110 per person:
- Transportation from and to Whistler
- Coffee, tea, hot chocolate & fresh-baked muffins on arrival
- In-house smoked meat chili (vegetarian option available) & decadent dessert for lunch
- All necessary rain gear & safety equipment
- Professional & Knowledgeable River Guide
To book just visit the Sunwolf’s eagle viewing webpage, here
Have fun and do not forget to take your camera!