Andrew Doherty shines a spotlight on Outaouais in Canada’s Quebec region, which offers wildlife, plush spas and history aplenty
How would you feel waking up next to a pack of wolves, a floor-to-ceiling glass window the only thing stopping you from becoming breakfast?
This is one of many wildlife encounters clients can experience at Parc Omega in Canada’s Outaouais region, as I discovered after speaking with tourism representative Melisa Vazquez Cortina.
“With around 10 miles of driveable tracks in the park, visitors can embark on their own safari to spot elk, wild boar and bison. In addition to the wolf lodges, which are commissionable, we also have two new ‘bear cabins’ coming this summer. Of course, they have better protection than glass windows,” she laughed.
Situated on the north side of the Ottawa River opposite the Canadian capital, Outaouais, part of Quebec and incorporating the city of Gatineau, is renowned for its nature, adventure and wellness offerings.
“We have one of the largest spas in North America,” enthused Vazquez. “The Nordik Spa-Nature in the municipality of Chelsea offers a number of Scandinavian and Russian-influenced treatments in three large zones, meaning that it never really feels crowded. The walkways between them are heated too to keep things comfortable in the colder months.”
Vazquez recommends intrepid visitors head to Gatineau Park – close to the city centre – where they can go camping, hiking, canoeing and fishing in 90,000 acres of green space.
For culture vultures, the city itself has plenty of attractions to experience too, including the Canadian Museum of History, home to the world’s largest indoor collection of totem poles; and the recently reopened Canadian History Hall, which follows the journey of the nation and its inhabitants.
Those keen to delve deeper into the culture of Canada’s First Nation peoples can travel to nearby Ottawa (less than a 30-minute drive away) and join Jaime Morse of Indigenous Walks on a guided tour of the nation’s capital from the perspective of the region’s First Nation population (tours commissionable when booking through the tourism board).
So whether it’s rubbing shoulders with Outaouais’ wolves and bears, or delving into its rich history, there are plenty of reasons to add this region to clients’ Canadian bucket lists.
Flights: Daily direct flights from Heathrow to Ottawa with Air Canada. Flight time is 7 hours 30 minutes.
Visa: An ETA (Electronic Travel Authorisation) is required, costing around £4 (visacanada-eta.com).
Climate: Temperatures in summer (Jul-Aug) can reach 30°C, falling to around -14°C in Dec, Jan and Feb.
Currency: Canadian dollar. Language: French/English.