Canada Outdoor Adventures
If you're hot for adventure but strapped for cash, our neighbor to the north has just what you need!
Devotees of adventure travel find more of it for less in Canada than anywhere else. With the U.S. dollar exchanged for about CAD$1.34, the outdoor bargains there are awesome, as we attempt to show in the following seven examples. (All prices are listed in U.S. dollars and are based on double occupancy.)
Nestled within Newfoundland's Gros Morne National Park, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in part because of its unique combination of quartzite rock and wetland terrain, the Long Range Mountains are among the few remnants of pristine wilderness within a three-hour flight of New York, Boston, or Chicago. In Gros Morne, there are no roads, no power lines, not even manicured trails with the requisite hiking maps and wooden signs that show you which way to go and the exact mileage to get there.
The Long Range Traverse is a 22-mile, semicircular route where topographical maps and a compass are a necessity to find your way among the web of caribou paths. Thus, there's the need of a guide like local outfitter Gros Morne Adventures (800/685-4624, grosmorneadventures.com/). On their eight-day, seven-night trek through Gros Morne National Park, they'll take you into stunning fjords and up snowcapped peaks where the caribou and moose far outnumber backpackers. Most of the hiking is on bog-like ground where water is ubiquitous. Sure, you'll slip and slide in the muddy moss, but you can also dip your water bottle into a running creek the color of gin and not have to worry about filtration. Backpacking experience and decent physical condition are musts. Cost of the eight-day trip is $1040, including two nights' accommodations at a B&B, all meals, camping equipment, boat tour, airport shuttle, and park permit.
Biking Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island will always be synonymous with that 11-year-old girl in braids that Lucy Maud Montgomery made famous in her 1908 book, Anne of Green Gables. Indeed, the Green Gables site and Lucy Maud Montgomery's home are the top two places visitors venture to as they make their pilgrimage to this banana-shaped island in eastern Canada. Yet, there's a smaller group of folks who return to PEI as often as possible to bike through the bucolic countryside.
Local outfitter MacQueen's Island Tours (800/969-2822, macqueens.com/) will provide you with a bike, detailed routes, lodging at B&Bs, breakfasts daily, and emergency road repair on their six-day, five-night self-guided tour of the island. Daily route cards average a leisurely 30-35 miles a day but can be adjusted according to expertise. You'll start in the capital city of Charlottetown before heading southeast past seaside communities. Pedal around the Rossignol Estate Winery in Little Sands before heading to the fishing village of Murray Harbour. The latter part of the trip takes you inland past brilliant-green potato farmland to the riverside town of Montague. And since the routes are designed by locals, rest assured that most of the biking is on less-traveled country roads and converted railroad beds. Cost of the trip is $742 (single supplement $246.)
Sea kayaking Quebec
Writer Walt Whitman described the waters of Quebec's Saguenay Fjord as "dark as ink, exquisitely polished and sheeny under the August sun." Quebec Adventures (888/678-3232, quebecadv.com/) offers a five-day, four-night tour of Saguenay in which you'll be up close and personal with that same water as you kayak the length of the fjord. Two guides will lead you through this St. Lawrence estuary, a Marine Park in Canada, alongside walls of ash-colored rock that rise some 1,150 feet. An added bonus is that this sheltered cove is a rich feeding ground for whales. Humpbacks, smaller minkes, and the curious white beluga whales have all been spotted on past trips. Each night, you'll be sleeping at campsites along the shores that only a kayak can venture to. The put-in is located two-and-a-half-hours northeast of Quebec City. No previous kayaking experience is necessary. Cost of the trip is $795.
A mere three-hour drive north of Toronto, Algonquin Provincial Park provides paddlers with a seemingly endless connection of waterways snaking through forests of tall pines, birches, maples, and cedars. Voyageur Quest (800/794-9660, voyageurquest.com/), an Algonquin-based outfitter, offers a five-day, four-night guided paddle on a few of Algonquin's 1,500-plus lakes and rivers. You'll spend two nights camping and two nights at a rustic log cabin on this trip geared toward families.
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