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Near Vancouver island, orcas, kayaks and a discount

August 16, 2011|By Christopher Reynolds | Los Angeles Times staff writer
  • British Columbia's Johnstone Strait is one of the world's top spot for sighting orcas, and several outfitters offer kayak-camping expeditions.
British Columbia's Johnstone Strait is one of the world's top… (Gary Luhn/Sea Kayak Adventures )

It’s been a good summer for orca sightings among kayakers in British Columbia’s Johnstone Strait, and at least one outfitter is offering discounts on its last trip of the season.

The Johnstone Strait, home to the Robson Bight (Michael Bigg) Orca Preserve, draws many kayak-trip outfitters, including Sea Kayak Adventures, which is based in Idaho but has been running Johnstone Strait trips since 1996.

This year, said S.K.A. co-owner Nancy Mertz, “they had a late spring, and it suddenly blossomed into sunshine and orcas. And we’ve never seen so many humpback whales. And Minke whales. And Pacific white-sided dolphins… There must be good fish going on.”

S.K.A. is leading a six-day guided paddling trip to the area Aug. 28-Sept. 2 – its last of the season -- and is offering a $100 discount in hopes of luring five more paddlers by Aug. 20. (S.K.A. trips typically include 13 paddlers and a guide.)

S.K.A. typically offers Baja kayak expeditions in winter and B.C. trips in summer.  The Johnstone Strait trips typically feature two-person kayaks. Participants camp in tents on island beaches. Not counting the new discount offer, cost of the six-day, five-night  trip is usually $1,450 per person, 10% less for children. Taxes and airfare are excluded.

The 2-mile-wide Johnstone Strait, off northern Vancouver Island, is sometimes called an “orca freeway” for 200 or more “killer whales” that often gather there in summer, looking for salmon to eat. Bald eagles sometimes alight on the trees along the shoreline.

For a detailed list of other outfitters and lodgings that offer whale watching in the area, here’s a guide gathered by British Columbia tourism officials.

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