If you’ve never heard of Haida Gwaii you’re not the only one. In fact, when I mentioned to my family that Haida Gwaii was on our itinerary for BC the usual response was “where is Haida Gwaii?” To be fair, had I used the colonial name of the Queen Charlotte Islands most would have sorted out that they sit somewhere off the coast of British Columbia. The truth is that Haida Gwaii isn’t completely off the beaten path, nor is it unknown. These islands have gained worldwide recognition for the fishing, outdoor activities and cultural heritage.
As there is a good chance that this region will be a featured article in the next issue of Vagabundo Magazine I’m going to leave you hanging there. Instead, I’m going to take you through a couple days on Haida Gwaii in photos. As a photographer, I wish I had about 3 weeks on the islands to shoot stills, and hopefully someday I’ll be able to return and do so.
We arrived via BC Ferries on the overnight ship from Prince Rupert. The trip takes about 8 hours and the seas can be “playful”. I had a bit of bouncy crossing, but a stateroom so I did manage to sleep some.
I was met in Haida Gwaii by a bird called the Pigeon Guillemot. These little guys are pretty much all over the islands and are quite photogenic.
Immediately after arriving we caught another ferry across to Alliford where we met up with Moresby Island Tours who took us on a tour out and around Louise Island. We ran into about a dozen of the deer, most of which are much smaller than those on the mainland.
After about an hour drive we jumped in a zodiac and began to cruise around Louise Island. How calm is that bay??
You might not realize it, being so far north, but the forests of Haida Gwaii are all temperate rain forests. The mossy ground makes for some great photos.
Through the forest, we ran into an old logging camp which was filled with all sorts of old items left away. Nature has started to take over most of it, as it always seems to do.
On the forest walk, we also crossed through an old cemetery. Like the boot, nature has begun reclaiming these relics to the past as well.
Our second stop on the Louise Island tour was the ancient settlement of Skedans. Although uninhabited now, this village used to be a thriving community for the Haida people. Today it is protected, and nature has begun returning old totems to nature, the way the traditional Haida people preferred it.
All over Haida Gwaii there are opportunities to view bald eagles. I shot a photo of this one from the boat.
Day 2 was a hiking day. We headed to a trail called the Pesuta Shipwreck trail, named so for reasons that will become obvious soon enough.
This is the Pesuta Shipwreck. Somehow, despite the beating it takes from the sea, it still manages to hold strong on this beach north of Skidegate.
I’ve never tried to capture wildlife in HDR, so when I saw this Eagle sitting still, I thought I’d give it a shot. I kind of like how it turned out.
Gotta love how the eagles sweep down so gracefully. Amazing birds!
A dried up starfish on the Pesuta Shipwreck trail
Back in Skidegate where we started, we stopped in at the Haida Heritage Centre. There’s an amazing assortment of totems inside, but photos aren’t allowed. Outside, there are a couple of brilliant ones well worth a snap.
A totem and the Haida Heritage Centre
Sadly, it was time to leave far too soon. I hope that I’ll have the chance to go back again someday.
Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on Google+. to learn a little bit more about me and my work.