A Canadian Safari

Can’t make it to the Serengeti for that safari you’ve always dreamed of? Skip the sun and try Algonquin Park in Ontario. Only three hours from Toronto, Algonquin is home to over 400 species mammals, birds, reptiles and fish. There are also thousands of different plant and fungi.

By far the coolest thing I saw when there were the moose. The creatures were the least elusive animals we saw but probably the most amazing. We left our camp spots just before dawn on our second day there and waited patiently. Watching the sun rise across the serene, dewy forest would have been enough for me but we got lucky and a bull (male moose) strolled into view. I’m glad we were at a distance because he was huge. In a frightened state of awe, I was entirely amazed watching the animal graze in the early morning light – a scene from a photographers dream.

Another of my favourite experiences in Algonquin was the day trails. Of the 14 trails, we did six. My favourite was the Mizzy Lake trail. It was by far the longest day hike we did at 11 km, but it was worth it. We visited nine small ponds and lakes and saw more wildlife on that trail than any other day. I particularly loved stopping by a small pond for lunch and having animals pass through the wilderness behind you, indifferent to your presence. Also, the flora was absolutely beautiful coming into bloom in every direction you looked. If you do decide to take on this trail, bring lots of water, a lunch and snacks and start early because it will take a full day.

I was there in the early summer and thought the weather was perfect for hiking and tolerable for a not-so-hardcore-backpacker. I’m really not a rough and tough kind of girl, so I was happy to stay in a warm tent in the Parkway Corridor close to Hwy 60, with all the amenities close by. However, if you’re more adventurous than me, there are four campgrounds on the far sides of the park that have no amenities. There are also at least three backpacking trails that allow you to camp in the woods.

If you like winter, try out one of the dog sledding trails that are available to the public during the winter. I never tried this as I was there in the summer but if that isn’t a truly Canadian experience, I don’t know what is. I’m not a huge fan of winter and snow but it’s on my list of activities to try for sure. In a day trip of course. Make sure you check the website for conditions before you head out though.

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