Tofino Expeditions Honors Your Passion Internationally
A kayak has a way of putting you in the middle of your dreams’ panoramic picture. With Bend’s abundance of rivers and lakes just minutes away in every direction, it’s difficult not to want to spend some time on the water in a kayak—even if only for an afternoon.
“There really isn’t any better way to experience nature than with the silent approach of a kayak,” says Grant Thompson, owner and operator of Tofino Expeditions.
Thompson’s tours are exclusively conducted with kayaks as the main mode of transportation and are offered in exotic locations throughout the world.
A recent addition to the Bend community, Thompson specifically chose our area to have an authentic place to call home when he returns from his world adventure tours. Being surrounded by local lakes and rivers sure didn’t hurt, nor does the easy access to air travel.
“The flights offered from Redmond’s airport really made the move work,” Thompson reports, after measuring 125,000 miles on his air odometer last year alone.
The word ‘authentic’ comes up often in a conversation with Thompson when discussing life, kayaking, tours in remote places, and creating and maintaining business relationships. The former art dealer got into the world of kayaking after having two major physical setbacks in life. On the mend from suffering a knee injury while ice climbing in Canada, he switched his adventure sport to kayaking after a chance meeting with New Zealander John Dowd, author of Sea Kayaking–A Manual for Long Distance Touring. The second setback came in the form of a major car accident that resulted in six months of recuperation and a forced absence from work. Having an epiphany, Thompson realized his life really needed to be about creating authentic kayak touring experiences and offering them to like-minded travelers.
Because of his thorough research and resonant concern for the environment and people in each destination, he has been able to offer unique experiences for his small group tours. In Venice, the tour group spent the morning on a barrier island learning how to row a gondola before paddling through the city amongst the gondolas. Their instructor happened to be a champion Venetian style rower who competed in rowing for Italy in the 1964 Summer Olympics. On a trip to an Amazonian village, the home to one of his local guides, the group spent time learning about local governance and touring a local school.
One of the ways he experiences authenticity in Bend is through interactions with those involved in our local beer culture. Thompson sees to it that this kind of food and drink experience is offered daily on his tours as well.
“From servers to brewers to bartenders, there is a level of pride, enthusiasm and commitment that is distinctive and exceptional,” explains Thompson.
This attention to detail and local culture garners high praise from Thompson’s clients.
“Floating and listening, you hear and see everything,” explains four-time tour participants Phil Johnson and Peg Gerlock. “Sounds, smells, views; you are a true participant in the experience, not just a passenger.”
After 28 years of providing quality, unique kayaking experiences in all parts of the world, Thompson is now enjoying the role of advisor, guide and partner to a like-minded business. A testament to his efforts lies in calls received from kayak guides around the world who are interested in attracting mindful clients like Thompson’s; those who will truly appreciate their surroundings.
In fact, that’s how tours of Italy formed. An Italian guide hounded him for months via email in order to present him with a new tour to share with a wider audience. Thompson acquiesced and told the local guide to set a test itinerary. They took the tour together and it became Thompson’s popular Cinque Terra/Sardinia trip and grew into the four Italy tours now offered by Tofino Expeditions.
“Come on the trips from a place of genuine interest,” Thompson encourages.
Tours include 8 to 13 participants, last between 6 and 12 days and cost between $1,135 and $4,850. Those who are interested in relationships and honesty will appreciate his approach to tours of places as wonder-filled as the Galapagos, Costa Verde in Brazil, Croatia, the Sea of Cortez, Espiritu Santo and Isla Carmen.