Wilderness Experience FAQ Canada

Your Wilderness Adventure

Prior to departure

Do I need specific requirements or abilities to apply for the course?

In order to apply for our Wilderness Experience in Canada you need to be 18 or older and be able to effectively communicate in English. Since this project requires you to be physically active we need a doctor’s certificate confirming your state of health and physical fitness. You should be comfortable living mostly outdoors, function well in team but able to work independently when needed. Moreover, you should be passionate about nature and the outdoor life. For all advanced courses (Advanced Horseback Guide, Advanced Bushcraft course, Advanced Survival course, Extreme Survival course) it is important for you to be experienced in that specific field.

Depending on your nationality and the duration of your stay you need to apply for eTA or a visa. You might check out the foreign department’s website for the visa standards or ask the NATUCATE team directly.

What services are included?

Prior to your departure we will help you organize and plan your whole stay. We will help you find a good flight and arrange your eTA/visa application. Furthermore, your accommodation and daily meals will be provided. Flights, visa fees and transport are not included.

Do I need certain medical precautions or requirements?

You definitely need travel insurance to start your volunteering work with NATUCATE. When taking part in the horseback guide courses, you need to make sure that your insurance covers horse riding activities. We can help you find a suitable one. In general you need to talk to your doctor and make sure you are vaccinated against Measles, Mumps and Rubella. Other suggested vaccinations include hepatitis A and B, diphtheria, pertussis, influenza, polio, tetanus and pneumococcus. For current information and warnings regarding your destination you should check out the homepage of the foreign department. In general, you should be in good physical condition since long day trips in rough terrain can be exhausting.

How long can I stay in the course?

Wildlife Viewing course: 4 days

Horseback Guide course | Basic: 1 or 2 weeks – Advanced: 1 week

Hiking Guide course: 1 week

Bushcraft course | Basic: 4 days – Advanced: 4 days

Survival course | Basic: 4 days – Advanced: 4 days – Extreme: 5-10 days

What kind of equipment should I take with me?

Please bring practical clothing, preferably layers. You will be spending a lot of time outside; therefore, you should consider packing tough clothing which can get dirty. You should also pack rain pants and a rain jacket as well as practical footwear (hiking/work boots) and rubber boots. Students who are going to camp are required to bring a sleeping bag (3-season, rated to -10°C), a pillow and should also bring towels and personal toiletries. Furthermore, we advise you to pack a sunhat, sunscreen, bug repellent, flashlight, alarm clock and extra batteries. As a student in any of the Guide courses you should further bring along a Western hat, bandana, jeans or comfortable riding pants, gloves, an empty pillow case and a small pocket knife. If you like, you can also bring a helmet (Horseback Guide courses), binoculars and a spotting scope. Don’t forget your passport, necessary medications and your camera.

Arrival

How do I arrive at my destination, do I have to organize it myself?

You need to book a flight to Vancouver International Airport where you preferably arrive one day before the course starts. After you’ve spent a night in the city of Vancouver you will be picked up by an Express Shuttle (with an extra charge) in the morning and taken to the ranch, your – depending on the course – base station or accommodation for the following four days.

On site

How big is the group?

Each group consists of 8 participants.

What is the accommodation like?

Wildlife Viewing course: Your base station is a horse and guest ranch, nestled in the pristine wilderness of Southwestern British Columbia. With its prime location at the doorstep of Big Creek Park and the South Chilcotin Mountains, the ranch provides an ideal launching point for a special brand of remote, deep wilderness journeys. The horse ranch is a modern day equivalent of the last outpost – the place where early explorers and mountaineers would stock up on supplies for their daring expeditions. Today, you’ll see the guides gathering provisions and gearing up at the ranch before each and every outdoor adventure. Even once your journey is underway, the horse ranch continues to provide the logistical support that makes every deep wilderness journey possible. Along with all the basic amenities, the ranch house provides private rooms with ensuite bathrooms for the wildlife viewing participants.

Horseback Guide & Hiking Guide courses: While at the ranch, students and staff are provided with accommodation in tent cabins. They are canvas A-frame wall tents built on a wooden platform and covered with tarps for waterproofing. Each tent has two beds for shared accommodation. Some furniture is available, but we recommend you bring your own pillow. The ranch has two main buildings, the ranch house is for our guests. There is a communal dining room and kitchen that everyone shares. The living room and bedrooms in the ranch house are for our guests, but student and staff are welcome to relax by the fire when guests are not present. The guide cabin is located next to the tent village and has bathrooms, showers, and a common room. Coin-operated laundry is two loonies and three quarters per wash, dryer is free. The ranch does not provide change for the washing machine, so be sure to bring your own. When leaving the ranch and heading into the Chilcotin Mountains you’ll be accommodated in the ranch’s wilderness camps, each day a different camp. Our wilderness camps run the spectrum of British Columbia camping styles, from basic canvas tents on raised platforms to solid mountain cabins. Regardless of what corner of the park you’re in and which camps you stay at, you’ll get to savour the solitude and refreshment of remote wilderness. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are prepared by the group and will be enjoyed either in the camp or while being on a trip.

Bushcraft and Survival courses: After your arrival at the ranch you’ll meet your team members and head to British Columbia’s backcountry. Your experienced instructor will show you how to build shelters for longer wilderness stays in which you will sleep the following nights.

How is the food provided?

As long as you are at the ranch you’ll be provided with three meals per day – breakfast, lunch and dinner. As soon as you leave for the Canadian bush you and your group will be responsible for preparing meals together. Breakfast and dinner are usually enjoyed in your wilderness camp, lunch preparation takes place while being on a trip.

Do I have a contact person on site?

Yes, you will find a contact person at the ranch. Additionally you will be looked after by a supervisor.

What expenses do I have to expect during the project? Can I withdraw cash on site and do I have to pay in local currency?

The Canadian dollar is the official currency of Canada. A few weeks prior to departure to Canada you can get a certain amount of dollars from your local bank for the day you arrive. There are also foreign exchange places at the airport. You should take a credit card with you to withdraw cash at the airport or in the city.

During your time in the course you basically do not need any money at all except for a few coins to be able to use the washing machine (if you need to). The ranch is located in the remote wilderness of British Columbia, without any stores or shops in the surrounding area. You’ll be provided with accommodation and food – so there’s nothing to spend money on. We recommend you, though, to bring a certain amount of cash with you – just in case.

How can I contact family and friends at home?

Participants should not expect to be able to frequently communicate via internet or telephone during their Canadian outdoor adventure. WiFi at the ranch is available from 8PM to 7AM. You are welcome to use the ranch’s phones any time, but there’s no cell phone range.

What’s the weather/climate like?

The Chilcotin area enjoys a drier, continental climate. Summers are usually warm and dry, winters are cold but not damp. In the Chilcotin area, most snow packs melt by early April and average daily highs reach 13-15°C. The area experiences warm summers along with frequent dry spells. During the day temperatures can reach 19-22°C through July and August. As you travel north, temperatures become cooler. September and October are classic autumn months in the Chilcotin area. Weather is hard to predict during this time and early snowfalls can occur in late September. Daytime temperatures often reach highs of 15°C but easily drop to freezing at night. Snow usually starts to fall anytime after mid-November in the interior regions. You can expect temperatures between -4° and -12°C.

Are there any rules and restrictions?

There is a no drug- and alcohol policy at the ranch, so alcoholic beverages are not offered.

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