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Frequently Asked Questions

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1. What’s the difference between the Chilliwack and the Thompson rivers?

The Chilliwack is a smaller and shallower river, creating long, continuous rapids with chutes and drops. On the Chilliwack, we operate our smaller (16ft), self-bailing paddle rafts. These rafts hold 6-9 people and a guide. All Chilliwack trips are accompanied by a safety kayaker. The Chilliwack is prime when the mountain snow melts, providing the water necessary to create these exciting rapids. Only 90 minutes from the city center.

The Thompson is B.C.’s 3rd largest river. This large volume river creates big, powerful waves and flows through a deep, dramatic canyon. The water flows out of the Shuswap and Kamloops Lakes; by August the water temperature warms up to 18°C. The river’s large rolling waves, reaching 8 or more feet, as well as it’s long, calm stretches are best between June and September. Located in Canada’s “Hot Spot”, Lytton is a beautiful 3-hour drive from Vancouver.

2. What’s the difference between Paddle and Power Trips

Only on the Thompson River we offer both trips so you may choose what is right for you.

On paddle trips, everyone participates by working together to help the guide maneuver the raft through the rapids. All our self-bailing rafts are top quality, and range from 15-21 feet in length. These rafts are designed to hold 8-12 people and a guide. Everyone participating in a paddle trip should be in good health and have some swimming ability. Minimum age is 10 years and 80 lbs.

On power trips, the guide powers you through the rapids providing the necessary speed for an exhilarating and wet ride. On some rapids we are able to power back up river and challenge the rapids again. These rafts range from 22-28 feet in length, providing stability while riding the biggest waves on the Thompson River. All motorized rafts are powered by new 4-stroke motors, which are smoke-free and super quiet, providing the best motorized experience available. Swimming ability is not mandatory; minimum age is 8 years and 65 lbs.

3. When is the best time to go rafting?

It depends on the river and your personal preferences.

The Chilliwack offers higher water levels with fast-paced action from May through June. The Thompson’s rapids get better and better as the river drops – here, we recommend June through September.

The Chilko is at its best during July and August.

Patagonia River Safari the best time its November to January

4. What equipment do you provide?

We provide all the rafting equipment you’ll need, this includes a wetsuit, helmet, splash jacket, life jacket and paddle. Waterproof bags are available for cameras and extra clothing. For our 6-Day expedition trips, our office will supply you with a detailed packing list.
Must bring running shoes that can get wet, no flip flops.

5. How many people in a Raft?

Chilliwack River: 4 – 9 per raft, Thompson River: 4 – 14 per paddle raft,
Chilko River and Patagonia River expeditions: 4 -6 per raft.
On the Thompson river 4 – 20 per power boat.

6. What class are the rapids on the international scale I to VI

On the International Scale of 1 to 6, rapids range from 2 to 5, depending on water levels.

Chilliwack/Thompson: Class 3-4

Chilko: Class 2-4+

Patagonia rivers 3 to 5


The difficulty of a river is classified on a scale of I to VI

I   Waves small; passages clear; no serious obstacles.

II  EASY: Rapids of moderate difficulty with passages clear. Good for canoes

III MEDIUM: Waves numerous, high, irregular, rocks, eddies, rapids with passages clear through narrow chutes requiring expertise in maneuvering

IV  DIFFICULT: Long rapids; waves powerful, rocks; boiling eddies; power and precision required.

V   VERY DIFFICULT: Long and violent rapids; following each other almost without interruption; riverbed extremely obstructed; big drops, violent current, and steep gradient.


7. What about eyeglasses and contact lenses?

Eyeglasses and sunglasses should be worn with a secure sports safety strap. Contact lenses are very rarely a problem and, in fact, are worn by many professional guides.

8. Is there a minimum age?

On the Chilliwack and Thompson River paddle trips, children must be 10 years old and weigh a minimum of 80 lbs. On power trips, the minimum is 8 years old and 65 lbs.

9. Do you provide food?

Our riverside buffet lunch is part of the 1-Day paddle or power trips. On Chilliwack and afternoon paddle or power trips only a snack is provided.
Hyak’s famous barbecue option is available on Saturday evenings for Thompson River guests. On 2-Day trips, meals are provided from lunch Saturday to lunch Sunday. All meals are provided on our 3-Day and 6-Day Chilko/Chilcotin/Fraser trip.

10. Do you provide transportation?

Hyak offers a shuttle service from major downtown Vancouver hotels. Our comfortable 15 passenger vans operate daily shuttle service to the Chilliwack River and Monday to Friday to the Thompson River. Contact us for further information. For school and corporate groups, charter and school bus transfers can be arranged.

11. What about drinking and liquor?

Federal law and common sense will not allow Hyak to permit anyone under the influence of alcohol or drugs to go on the river. However, on overnight and multi-day trips, liquor is allowed at the campsite. Aluminum and plastic containers are preferred. Everyone will also be required to sign a Release of Liability Waiver prior to the commencement their rafting adventure.

12. What about camping equipment?

For weekend and overnight trips, you should bring your own sleeping bag, tent, air mattress and other personal effects. For Fantasy Island 2-Day trips, camping rentals are available; on the Chilko and Patagonia expeditions, all camping equipment is included.

13. What about a camera?

Thompson and Chilliwack – We recommend that you don’t bring expensive cameras on the raft with you. If you would like to take pictures, a waterproof camera is your best option. We have a professional photographer on the Thompson River and a photographer kayaker on the Chilliwack river, you can buy photos at the end of the day.
Chilko and Patagonia Expeditions – There’s lots of opportunity for great pictures so definitely bring your camera! Both the scenery and abundance of wildlife will inspire your photographer’s instinct. As the landscape changes from day to day, so does the wildlife. Countless bald eagles can be seen in the upper reaches of the Chilko as well as mule deer, moose and black bear. The lower Chilcotin Fraser has been designated a reserve for California bighorn sheep. Herds of fifty or more can be seen perched on the desert cliffs high above the river. This river system is also a major spawning ground for Sockeye and Chinook salmon.

14. Do we go rafting rain or shine?

Yes, very often the weather at the river is very different than Vancouver, with the Thompson Valley being among the hottest and driest regions in Canada. Proper dress and a spirit of adventure will ensure an enjoyable expedition under any condition.

Hyak Wilderness Adventures Inc.


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