Five things we learned from Travel Geeks: adventures in the Yukon
On 7 September, National Geographic Traveller (UK) hosted Travel Geeks: adventures in the Yukon, an online event sponsored by Travel Yukon all about discovering the mountains, ice fields and rivers of Canada’s last frontier.
The Yukon is a territory about the same size as Germany, Austria and Switzerland combined, meaning there’s no shortage of adventures to be had. National Geographic Traveller (UK) senior editor Sarah Barrell and a panel of experts — freelance writer and journalist Adam Weymouth, Tutchone Tour owner Teri-Lee Isaac, wildlife photographer Peter Mather and Robin Anderson, manager for Travel Yukon for Europe and UK — discussed how best to tackle it.
The Yukon was made for road trips
“In the summer, visitors often travel by car to explore the nearly 5,000 kilometres [more than 3,000 miles] of roadways,” said Robin, “which include some of Canada’s most epic drives, such as the Dempster Highway, the Top of the World Highway and the Alaska Highway.” However, he added, travellers are increasingly starting to arrive during the winter months, too, combining a ski trip in southern Canada with Northern Lights viewing in the Yukon.
Canoeing is a great way to discover the landscape
“For a proper immersion in the Yukon – to really feel like you’re somewhere totally different than where you came from — paddling down a river is a pretty good way to go,” said Adam. Most travellers will plan a two-week trip, and within that timeframe, Adam recommended canoeing from Whitehorse to Dartmouth, a classic route that even beginners can tackle, with numerous campsites all along the way
Discover the 14 Yukon First Nations
“If you travel from Whitehorse to Dawson City, you’re travelling through all 14 First Nation communities,” said Teri-Lee. Some great destinations to learn more about indigenous culture include Dawson City, where travellers can visit the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre and learn about Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin heritage, and Whitehorse, which hosts the Adäka Cultural Festival every summer.
Get immersed in the territory’s gold rush heritage
To get the adventure side of the gold rush, Peter recommended taking on the three- to four-day hike around the Chilkoot Trail, which was a major transportation route in the 1890s. “It’s very well preserved and safe,” he said. “It goes through coastal rainforests, alpine scenery and drier boreal forests, and you finish on a train ride.” Otherwise, he said, head to and explore Dawson, which was the epicentre of the Klondike Gold Rush.
Kluane National Park, home to largest non-polar ice field in the world, is a must visit
Hiking is the main way to visit the park, and Peter recommended the seven-day Donjek Glacier hike, which, he said, “has got to be one of the best hikes in the world”. Visitors can also camp by Kluane Lake, where they’re likely to spot grizzly bears walking along the shores, or head to the Haines Junction, home to the Champagne, Aishihik and Kluane First Nation communities. There are flight-seeing opportunities available, too.
To watch the full discussion, head here: youtube.com/watch?v=imjgCcl4VyQ
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