Want more details about the Lake Superior Voyageur Canoe Tour? It's all here!

Yes, there's A LOT of info here... it's all important to help you prepare for this unique opportunity, so please take the time to read through it all.

First things first... this tour is for you if:
  • You're interested in photographing wild, remote landscapes

  • You have a positive and adventurous spirit

  • You're comfortable spending lots of time outside in all weather conditions

  • You enjoy canoeing and camping (note: this isn't glamping!)

  • You're sure-footed and comfortable walking on uneven terrain

What to Expect

This tour requires a fair degree of physical exertion away from the comforts of home. We've compiled this information to help ensure you're both physically and mentally prepared for all aspects of the trip. By signing up for this adventure, you certify that you will come prepared to participate fully. 

Getting Started:

  • You will be responsible for packing all your own camp gear and personal items. Naturally Superior Adventures (NSA) will be loaning you a dry bag (if you require one) that will fit your tent and clothing. It is your responsibility to pack your camera gear and day-use items in an appropriate dry bag that you bring. Please see packing for more details.

  • Everyone is responsible for bringing all their gear to the canoe so the guides may pack the canoe.

  • Everyone will be helping to get the 36' voyageur canoe full of gear into and out of the water at every stop. We always launch from beaches, which means literally pulling the boat from the water onto shore, walking in the water as we do it. You WILL get wet - anywhere from mid-ankle to thigh deep.

  • You will be climbing into (and out of) the canoe from the side where your seat is. In some cases, you may need to walk down the middle of the inside of the canoe and over some gear.

  • We launch from a mix of sandy and pebbly beaches -- you will get sand and pebbles in your footwear.

In the Boat:

  • It is a heavy 36-ft voyageur canoe with wood benches from bow to stern (front to back) that fit 1-2 people per row. One guide will be in the front, setting the paddling pace. One guide will be in the back, steering the canoe. We ALL paddle together - at a reasonably brisk pace. Less time on the water means more time for photography!

  • Naturally Superior Adventures (NSA) will give us foam pads to help make the seats more comfortable.

  • Our expedition gear will be loaded in the middle of the boat. This includes your clothes and camp gear. It will be inaccessible until we unload at camp for the night.

  • Your day pack with your camera and any essentials will be at your feet when paddling. There's not a lot of room, so keep that in mind! Please note that we will not be hiking throughout the day. When we stop for breaks, we are on beaches.

  • Your tripod will be packed loose in the canoe.

  • You do not need to be a strong or experienced paddler, but you will be expected to paddle at a reasonably brisk pace for roughly 2 hours at a time. Your attention is required when paddling.

  • We may be paddling in varied weather - from calm to rough and choppy water. We will not paddle during thunderstorms. As such, our itinerary and duration of the trip is subject to change for the safety of all.

  • You will be required to wear your PFD properly at all times when on the water. It's okay if you're not a strong swimmer, but you should know how to swim. Some may also choose to swim in the lake as a way to cool off and rinse off -- there are no shower facilities on this trip.

At Camp:

  • When we land at camp, you'll be responsible for selecting a site for your tent, and then taking your belongings there, and setting up your own tent. We encourage people to partner up when setting up tents to make the job easier.

  • Our guides will set up the camp kitchen in a centrally located area and get to work making our evening meal. They will also select a spot for a hand-washing station and "Pooh Kit", which is a bag with toilet paper and hand sanitizer for your bathroom visits.

  • You will be using a "thunder box" (wood box with a toilet seat) for your bathroom visits. When the Pooh Kit is missing, it means the thunder box is in use.

  • You will be getting into and out of a small 2-person tent, and sleeping on the ground.

  • You will be sitting on various surfaces for meals, such as a cooler, bear barrel, logs, rocks, or the ground. Please do not bring camp chairs - we don't have space on the boat.

  • Our guides prepare all our meals. They will be reaching out to you by phone prior to the trip. It is your responsibility to inform them of any food allergies or things you don't eat. Please be specific, or be prepared to eat what is provided. At camp, they let us know when our meal will be ready. It is first come, first served. If you're not planning to eat a meal, please simply let them know.

Photography:

  • Andrew and Helen are there to help with settings, composition, and any photography questions you have. Please ask!

  • We recognize that some are morning people and others are night owls. Therefore, we leave it to you to decide if you'll get up for sunrise, photograph sunset, or even shoot the stars!

  • At camp, you are free to roam and photograph whatever you wish, whenever you wish. On paddling days, we simply ask that you be respectful of the group and be punctual for the time our guides set for our departure.

  • There is no real opportunity to take photos while we're canoeing, as if we stop, we will lose progress. But we do take breaks on shore (mid-morning, lunch, and mid-afternoon), where you'll have the opportunity to take some images while we have a snack and bathroom break.

Other Physical Considerations

  • You will be walking on wet, slippery, and uneven terrain, including under/over fallen trees, up/down steep hills, tree roots, loose or wet sand, mud, small pebbles to large rocks, and across streams. Denison Falls is about a 5km round-trip hike on just about every terrain possible. There is one upper and two lower waterfalls. For safety reasons, we may be able to visit only the lower portion, and may potentially not be able to visit the falls at all. In the event you're uncomfortable doing the hike, you may sit it out, if you wish, and stay at basecamp. It is your responsibility to know your limits and to at accordingly.

  • You will be outside rain or shine.

  • There are mosquitos, black flies, and deer flies that may pester you, particularly around sunrise and sunset. We're in the great outdoors, so you can also expect typical bugs and insects, such as spiders and ants.

Packing Lists

While our canoe is 36', it has to accommodate 11 people (7 participants, 2 photography instructors, 2 NSA guides) all of our camping gear (backcountry kitchen set-up, food, tents etc.), our personal items, as well as our camera gear. We ask that you please pack thoughtfully, and bring only what's necessary. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

Click on a box to jump to that section

Be sure to check out our recommendation at the bottom of the page for how to pack your gear!

 
Photography Equipment
  • One camera body

  • Two lenses - we recommend focal lengths in the range of 14mm to 350mm

  • Batteries -- as many as you have:

    • A dSLR will use about 2.5 batteries/day, a mirrorless will use more. We recommend a minimum of 3 batteries and a way to charge them.

    • Fully charge ALL batteries right before the trip, even if they were charged previously and not used for a while.

  • Memory cards - as many as you have: 

    • Expect to photograph in the range of 2,500 - 4,500 images. Yes, it's a large range. Some shoot a lot, while others are more selective. Image count increases if you use exposure bracketing. When photographing waves, as well as long exposures involving water, we highly encourage you to take many images, as each one will be different. This will give you the option to choose the best.

  • A tripod.

    • This is an essential item. Not having one will significantly limit the variety of images you can capture. Purchasing one for this trip? We highly recommend you don't choose the cheapest available. You always get what you pay for, but a cheap tripod will be one of your most frustrating purchases. Good quality tripods are generally "sold separately" -- you purchase the legs and tripod head separately. We'd recommend a ball head for ease of use, and accuracy. The legs should feel solid and have a reasonable amount of weight to ensure they do their job of keeping the camera steady. Your tripod will go loose in the boat. Leave the tripod bag at home -- it will only get wet and dirty. Helen and Andrew both use and recommend FLM tripods. To view their options available, please visit FLM Canada. We may be able to offer you a discount. Please message Helen for details.

  • Quick release plate to secure your camera to your tripod. If you're bringing a telephoto zoom lens with a tripod collar (the ring around the lens with a foot, typically found on 70-200mm, 100-400mm and 100-500mm lenses etc.), you may wish to attach a quick release plate to that in addition to the one you have for your camera body to make it faster to switch between lenses.

  • A circular polarizer is strongly recommended -- we'd actually put this in the essential category! It cuts reflections and glare on surfaces - specifically, water, which helps the colours and details underneath the water pop. A circular polarizer fits on your lens using the threads around the face of the glass. Since you'll be using this filter mostly with your wide angle lens, we'd recommend purchasing a "slim" filter. Slim filters have threads on the back, but not on the front, which allows it to be thinner. A slim filter will help avoid vignetting in your images due to the filter being visible. To stack a neutral density filter with a slim circular polarizer, you should be able to first attach the neutral density filter to your lens, and then attach the circular polarizer to the front of the ND filter. With care, your filters should last years. As such, we strongly recommend purchasing a quality filter. Cheap versions can cause a number of issues - such as difficulty attaching and removing the filter, and colour casts. Brands we recommend include SinghRay, B+W, NiSi, and Breakthrough Photography. Helen and Andrew will be more than happy to show you how to use these filters on the tour. Andrew is a brand ambassador for SinghRay. Enter Andrew15 for a 15% discount off your purchase.

  • A neutral density filter is also strongly recommended, but if your budget allows for only one purchase, we recommend the polarizer. A neutral density reduces the available light, much like putting sunglasses on your lens. Reducing the light will allow you to shoot longer exposures and create smooth, silky water.

  • A shutter release cord or cordless shutter release. In addition to helping with camera shake, we've found using a cord is a much easier way of timing your shots to get the desired wave position. While you can use the timer on your camera, it's nearly impossible to plan the timing, and it also uses more of your battery!

 

Other Photography-Related Items​​

  • A camera bag you can hike with -- ideally a backpack so your hands are free. When we stop for breaks and lunch on the days we're paddling, you'll have the opportunity to take your camera out of your bag and wander around. But you will want a bag you can hike with for our trip to Denison Falls. We strongly recommend having a way to secure your tripod to your bag when hiking.

  • If you like to have your camera handy while hiking, consider getting a Cotton Carrier. Helen uses this instead of a camera strap, and highly recommends it. It's a chest harness, which is easier on your body than a neck or shoulder strap and safer for both you and your gear. Your camera is secured to it for easy-access, and your hands are free. Helen is a Cotton Carrier affiliate. If you have any questions about it, please message her.

  • Rain Protection -- for your camera and camera bag. OP/TECH has 2-packs of plastic rain sleeves that you can purchase at Amazon or Henry's. If you're bringing both a landscape lens and telephoto lens, we recommend ensuring you have the appropriate sizes, as they come for both short and long lenses. There are lots of options to make your own... plastic bags, ziplock bags etc. will do in a pinch. If your bag has a rain cover that isn't attached, remember to bring it.

  • Microfibre cloths, and whatever you use to clean your lens. Expect to clean your lens often, as you'll be experiencing spray from waves, as well as waterfalls, and we'll be out rain or shine. We recommend bringing a few cloths.

  • A wide rubber band -- this will help you remove a stubborn filter from your lens

  • Headlamp -- you may wish to have one stashed in your camera bag for getting to sunrise locations and get back to camp from sunset locations, as well as having one in your camp kit. Bring spare sets of batteries or charge cords for these!

  • A charging system that includes a battery charger and a portable power bank -- we are travelling completely off-grid with no power. You will need a portable power bank that is compatible with your camera battery charger.

    • ​Please click below for examples of USB battery chargers on Amazon:

    • Here is an example of a portable power bank. Note: Andrew's 20,000 mAh bank charged 4.5 batteries.

    • **We recommend testing your charging system at home to see how many charges you will get out of your battery bank**

 
Personal Items
  • 2 pairs of quick dry pants -- maybe one that zips off and converts to shorts

  • 2 long-sleeve shirts -- quick dry material, or light wool. Long sleeves are best for both sun and bug protection.

  • 2 sweaters / fleece -- one thinner and one thicker (wool is best)

  • Rain jacket -- your jacket should stand up to steady rain. Windbreaker type jackets are not appropriate.

  • Rain pants

  • One set of socks (preferably wool) and underwear for each day

  • We'd recommend bringing a pair of wool long underwear (top and bottom) to sleep in. Wool will help regulate your temperature at night, and keep you warm if you do sweat and then it cools off.

  • Paddling gloves -- we'd recommend the thin work-type gloves with nitrile palms, which can be purchased at Mark's and Canadian Tire. These will help reduce blisters from paddling and improve your grip. 

  • Warm, wool gloves and hat. The evenings will get quite cool.

  • Buff (neck warmer)

  • Sun hat

  • Bathing suit -- although Lake Superior is VERY cold, you may wish to have a dip to refresh yourself after our day of hiking, or paddling

  • Sunglasses and sunglass strap

  • Prescription Glasses

  • Sunscreen

  • Insect repellent -- we may experience deer flies, mosquitoes, black flies, and ants

  • Bug bite relief cream

  • Painkillers -- Advil/Tylenol

  • Prescriptions -- bring twice as much as you need, pack separately in waterproof containers

  • Lip balm with SPF

  • Personal hygiene products: deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush. Naturally Superior Adventures will provide toilet paper and camp soap at a hand-washing station. There are NO shower facilities.

  • Water bottle -- we recommend a 1L Nalgene bottle. Bring a full bottle. Naturally Superior Adventures will be filtering water for drinking throughout the trip.

  • Phone charge cord that can be used with your power bank -- some like to take photos and videos with their phones.

Footwear
 

We launch the boat from a variety of beaches. This requires us to all push the boat into the water as a team, while walking across either cobblestone size rocks, small pebbles, and/or sand. Everyone will get wet -- anywhere from ankle to thigh deep. Here is some honest feedback experienced with popular footwear:

  • Crocs -- can be slippery, will fill with pebbles and sand (which may get stuck in toe area), not great for walking on rocky shore for photos, but dries quickly

  • Tevas -- straps will stay wet, pebbles and sand may get trapped between foot and sole of sandal, grippy and decent for walking in

  • Keens -- straps will stay wet, will fill with pebbles and sand (which may get stuck in toe area), grippy and decent for walking in

  • Neoprene booties /water moccasins -- slow to dry, if properly fit shouldn't fill with sand or pebbles, but harder to remove if they do, not great for walking in

  • Runner style water shoes -- quick-dry, shouldn't fill with pebbles or sand, decent for walking in

You will need one pair of "water shoes" to launch the boat and paddle in. These shoes WILL get wet.

You will need one pair of proper hiking boots/shoes for the hike to Denison Falls.

 

Some wore hiking boots as they explored and photographed the areas where we camped, while some wore their water shoes (with or without socks). Some felt their feet were cold when they wore their water shoes because they were still wet, while others felt they were warm simply paired with wool socks. You may wish to have something like Tevas, Keens, or neoprene booties for launching the canoe, while something like crocs to wear at camp, and hiking boots for hiking. If your feet get cold easily and you're worried about them in the canoe, include a thicker pair of wool socks in your small personal pack (see how to pack section) or consider diving socks.

 
Camping / Canoeing Items
  • Naturally Superior Adventures will provide everyone with their own tent (unless they've identified they would like to share with their partner). IF you have a 2-person tent you would like to use for the trip, please feel free to bring it. The tent should be one that's appropriate for hiking and/or portaging use, not large, or car camping tents.

  • A sleeping bag -- this must be small and stuffable. You may rent these from Naturally Superior Adventures if you don't have one. If you're looking to purchase one for the trip, we recommend a 3-season sleeping bag, as the nights can get quite cool on Lake Superior - even in July & August!

  • A sleeping pad/Thermarest -- Naturally Superior Adventures can provide foam pads, but you may prefer to bring your own. Please do not bring one that requires an electric or battery operated pump.

  • A personal floatation device (PFD)/lifejacket IF you have your own and wish to use it; otherwise, you will be provided with one from Naturally Superior Adventures

  • You will be provided with a dry bag that your personal camping equipment (tent, sleeping bag) and clothing bag will fit into, but we highly recommend purchasing a good, quality dry bag for your camera bag.

  • Small towel

  • A headlamp for navigating around camp in the dark

  • Small packable camp pillow. Many simply use clothing rolled up.

 
How to Pack
  • We recommend you have a small, waterproof bag with essential items for the day, such as sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm, sun & warm hat, rain gear, paddling gloves, and water bottle. If your feet get cold easily, you may wish to include a thick pair of wool socks. You will not need to hike with this bag. It will stay with you in the boat and is designed to give you access to essentials throughout the day. The rest of your gear will be packed in the large waterproof bag provided by Naturally Superior Adventures. That large bag will be inaccessible throughout the day as we're paddling.

  • The motto taught to us by one of our previous guides was, "Be bold. Start cold." It may feel cool when we set out in the canoe, but as soon as you start paddling, you'll warm up. You'll also be wearing a PFD, which will help keep you warm. We recommend quick-dry pants, rolled up to your knees (for getting the boat in the water), and a long sleeve shirt. There is no real opportunity for "grab shots" with your camera from the canoe, as we are all paddling the canoe - and keeping in rhythm. Your opportunity for photos will come when we land for breaks and lunch. But you may wish to keep your phone handy for a few quick pictures enroute. When we all paddle consistently, we reach our destinations faster, which allows us all more time to create meaningful images.​

  • Because you're limiting your camera gear to the essentials, a reasonably small pack should suffice. We strongly recommend purchasing your own, good quality dry bag to keep your camera bag in. A dry bag should be made of heavy duty material and labelled WATERPROOF, not weather-resistant. These bags are traditionally rolled down from the top and secured with a buckle that snaps together. For the bag to be waterproof, the top must be rolled down a minimum of three times. Be sure you test that your camera bag fits properly before you depart home for the workshop. Naturally Superior Adventures may or may not have a suitable dry bag you can use. Your camera bag should contain only the items you would use and take on a hike, including all your memory cards and batteries. Your battery charging system should be packed in your large gear bag, as you'll only have the opportunity to charge your batteries when we make camp.​

  • Consider including a lightweight dry bag (doesn't have to be "waterproof") to keep any wet gear separate from everything else - such as a towel or clothing items that got wet and didn't dry before we pack up camp.​

  • Rather than packing everything in one bag, you may wish to pack a number of smaller bags to keep your items organized. For example, clothing items could go in a compression bag to reduce their space. Toiletries and personal items could go into smaller stuff sacks. Your charge cords and power banks could be packed in a small waterproof bag.​ These would all go in the larger dry bag with your tent, provided by Naturally Superior Adventures.

  • The lighter our gear, the faster we can get from place to place, and the less work we'll have to do to get there... which brings us to our final point: leave no trace -- take only pictures -- leave only footprints. You *will* be tempted to collect beautiful rocks on this journey. Please leave them where they are for others who make this great effort to enjoy Lake Superior in all her natural glory.

Accommodation Options - Pre & Post Workshop

We encourage everyone to arrive in Wawa on Saturday, July 29. We also encourage you to stay the night of Saturday, August 5, especially if you have a long drive ahead.

Our hosts at Rock Island Lodge are offering a discounted rate for those staying the nights of Saturday, July 29, and Saturday, August 5. They have private rooms in the lodge, prospector tents, and a GlamDome available. Please be sure to look at the options and book your preference when you sign up for the workshop. Please visit their website for details at https://www.rockislandlodge.ca/

Another option is to book into an area motel for those nights. Here are a few places close to the lodge:

The Parkway Motel

White Fang Motel

Mystic Isle Motel (there's currently no link directly to their website, so search Google and choose a booking option)

Alternatively, you may also choose to break up your drive and stop along the way, such as in Thessalon at the Carolyn Beach Motel, which is a 4-hour drive from the lodge.

We're excited to share this adventure with you!!

Have you completed your waiver and medical & diet forms for Naturally Superior Adventures?