It’s been a beautiful autumn so far, and we’ve been out and about enjoying it. If you’re looking to get out and admire the fall colours, this trio of posts might give you some ideas for family outings both expensive (but worth it!) and free, all part of my ongoing exploration of Ottawa’s Hidden Treasures.
The first weekend in October, we piled into the van with Granny and headed northeast into Quebec for a visit to Parc Omega. I’d been hearing about it for years and had been meaning to check it out. We figured a crisp fall day with the leaves turning scarlet and gold would make for a lovely drive. It was lovely, but rather long – by the time we picked up Granny and cut across the city, it took us the best part of two hours to get there.
Parc Omega is a kind of African Lion Safari with native Canadian animals like wapiti and wolves and bears instead of lions and baboons. It’s the same concept, though. You drive a 10 km loop through gorgeous forests and plains amidst the (mostly) free-roaming animals. Instead of baboons crawling on your car, you can feed carrots (and, in our case, soda crackers) to these friendly girls. I think they’re wapiti. Or maybe red deer.
At the furthest point on the trail, you can hop out of your car for a stretch and a wander along some easy hiking trails. We didn’t go far, but we did make it up to this lovely gazebo overlooking a little meadow full of white-tailed deer.
And then we stopped to see if deer like soda crackers, too. (They do, but they’re less fond of noisy little boys full-to-bursting with kinetic energy after nearly three hours in the car.)
The day was getting late and the sun low in the sky as we made our way through the second half of the park when we heard an alarming cry that sounded for all the world to me like the angry Tusken Raider brandishing his staff over Luke Skywalker. Turns out fall is rutting season, and this guy was on the prowl for a Saturday night date. We named him Ralph and had a lot of fun at his amorous expense. (If you have particularly observant kids and don’t want to answer a lot of “birds and bees” type questions, you might want to avoid the park around rutting season. But nothing says ‘Canadian adventure’ quite like watching frisky wapiti on the make!)
We had to peer patiently into the forest to catch a glimpse of these lazy arctic wolves snoozing in the late-afternoon sun.
But there was no mistaking the plethora of big black bears hanging around, including this guy who looked for all the world like he was waiting for the shift change so some other bear might take a turn posing for the tourists.
We also spied coyotes, more wolves, bison, wild boars, ibexes, a handful of birds we couldn’t identify and about a million chipmunks… a pretty cool cross-section of animals. In all, we spent about six hours in the car that day, enough to drive out to my brother’s place west of Toronto, but all three boys were surprisingly patient and well-behaved. To make the drive home a little more interesting, we took the ferry back across to Cumberland, adding another $8 to an already rather expensive outing, but the boys were tickled by the ferry ride.
In all, we spent $75 on admissions for three adults and two kids (Lucas was free) plus a quarter-tank of gas. An expensive day out, but worth doing once a year or so. Next time, we’ll leave much earlier in the day to give us a little bit more wander time to explore the park!
Coming up next: my favourite wander, much closer to home and free!
Related posts (automatically generated):
- Friday Family Fun: Five places to meet the animals As I mentioned yesterday, this summer I’m launching a new bloggy series: Friday Family Fun! I thought I’d get us started with one of my favourite summertime activities: meeting the animals. Here’s five great places to visit if you’d like to get to know our furry friends in and around...