For many years now, tour operators have capitalized on the draw of the culture and history of the indigenous peoples. Although it is unclear how humans first reached the islands, they are known to have been inhabited for around 13,000 years. An abundant supply of food from the sea and land enabled these settlers to thrive and develop a rich and unique culture that can be enjoyed by visitors today.
This culture is documented in a museum that is part of the Haida Heritage Center. This is one of several excellent museums on the islands and provides a fascinating history of the native peoples. The site includes a performance center, gift shop and cafe, and also hosts regular workshops for visitors.
There's another side to the island's culture that came with its European settlers, and their exploitation of its natural resources. The Ports Clements museum features some of the machinery that was used for fishing, logging, mining and transportation. It also houses extensive photographic records of the hardy settlers who endured the pioneer life.
With an emphasis on maritime history, the Dixon Entrance Museum was opened in 2001 and is located in the Greater Masset part of the islands (an area at the north of the region). Housed in a historic building, it its exhibits cover aspects of Masset's fishing and processing industry, and its shipbuilding industry. Like the Port Clements museum, it also has an extensive record of photographs of the people who worked in these industries.
For visitors interested in birds, a number of operators offer tour packages to see them in spectacular surroundings. The islands are on the migratory path of many species of birds and present some superb bird-watching opportunities. Many of them can be seen at The Delkatla Wildlife Sanctuary which annually plays host to birds such as the Great Blue Heron, the Canada Goose and the Bald Eagle.
Another big attraction for many visitors are the many sports and outdoors-based tours on offer. The excellent hiking is a big draw for many, with plenty of guided excursions to take them through picturesque parts of the islands. All ability levels are catered for, with hikes ranging from the short and easy to the drawn-out and challenging. Hikers also have access to a good number of campsites and other overnight facilities.
Other pursuits for the more sporty visitor include sailing, kayaking biking and boating. There are tour companies offering all of these activities and more. Some also incorporate complementary activities like photography, painting and writing for visitors wishing to make the most of the inspiring landscapes.
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